Thanks to a makeup doubleheader in Motown, we had an overstuffed 16-game slate for Friday. That means we better get to work …
- Tigers 3, Royals 2 – Game 1 (box score)
- Blue Jays 8, Yankees 5 (box score)
- Phillies 2, Pirates 1 (box score)
- Orioles 3, Indians 1 (box score)
- Royals 3, Tigers 2 – Game 2 (box score)
- Rays 8, Twins 7 (box score)
- Mets 5, Braves 3 (box score)
- Mariners 6, Rangers 2 (box score)
- Astros 10, White Sox 0 (box score)
- Brewers 8, Marlins 0 (box score)
- Cardinals 4, Reds 2 (box score)
- Cubs 16, Rockies 5 (box score)
- Padres 4, Diamondbacks 1 (box score)
- Red Sox 7, Athletics 3 (box score)
- Giants 8, Angels 1 (box score)
- Nationals 5, Dodgers 2 (box score)
Scherzer does it all against Kershaw
Max Scherzer vs. Clayton Kershaw is as tasty a pitching matchup as we’ll find, on paper, but Scherzer took this one over. Kershaw would give up four runs on nine hits in seven innings, only striking out four. That’s a bad outing for him. Scherzer bested him, allowing just a run on four hits in six innings while striking out nine. Neither really had his best stuff (Scherzer’s command was off; Kershaw’s run prevention was), but it was still the chance to watch two of the best four pitchers in the world, if not the top two. Scherzer got the upper hand on the mound and in the batter’s box as he singled off Kershaw in his second at-bat.
Maybe this one didn’t really live up to the hype, but Scherzer has a 1.36 ERA while Kershaw is at 2.45. We’re fine here.
The Nats even themselves up at 10-10 while the Dodgers are 8-10.
The Red Sox never lose
Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz gave up three runs in the first inning to the A’s, but it was of no concern. The Red Sox spent the rest of the game outscoring their opponent 7-0. A Mitch Moreland grand slam in the sixth inning broke the tie and was the difference:
The Red Sox are now 17-2. Yowza.
Padres still without a no-hitter
There is one team in Major League Baseball that has never had a no-hitter: the San Diego Padres. Tyson Ross flirted with the no-no on Friday night in Arizona, but it wasn’t to be.
Ross took the no-hitter into the seventh, but he started to lose command as he worked up to the 120s in total pitches on the game. Remember, Ross made only 11 starts combined in 2016-17 due to multiple injuries, so this wasn’t just a case of an ordinary pitcher working a high pitch count.
Still, Ross got two outs before pinch hitter Christian Walker hit a deep fly ball to center. The Padres’ center fielder entering the season was Manuel Margot, but he’s on the disabled list right now. Replacement CF Franchy Cordero initially came in on the ball, but then realized it was deeper and tried to hustle back on it to no avail. Cordero didn’t touch the ball, so it was ruled a double and the no-hitter was over. A run scored, too, making it a 1-1 tie. Ross was removed from the game at 127 pitches and he takes the no-decision.
That’s obviously a rough one, but the odds Ross was going to get three more outs when he was running up toward — at that point in the ninth — 140 pitches didn’t seem great. Padres manager Andy Green did his best to toe the line between pulling a veteran from what could be a career moment and ruining the game. Honestly, it was probably best to give up a single to start the eighth inning or something, so Green could have moved to his bullpen.
The Padres would get three in the top of the ninth and win the game. Thanks to the W-L stat for individual pitchers being dumb, though, Brad Hand took the win.
Regardless, the big story here is that the Padres remain the lone franchise without a no-hitter.
Baez stars as Cubs crush Rockies
The Cubs won the first game of a three-game set in Coors Field, and second baseman Javier Baez might just be making The Leap. We’ve seen the talent in the field and on the bases. We’ve seen the upside on offense, but Baez’s propensity to chase and swing-and-miss far too often has made him more “really fun to watch” than “good player” before this season.
The approach this season so far is pretty encouraging. He brought a 28.9 career strikeout percentage into the season and he’s at 20 percent after Friday night. He’s also walking more, though some of that came via intentional walks when batting eighth. Speaking of the spot in the batting order, Baez has been moved to the two-hole by manager Joe Maddon, hitting in front of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras. Baez was 5 for his last 9 with a double, triple and home run coming into Friday.
His first at-bat Friday?
Notice how he took the outside pitch to right. He did that in a first-inning triple on Thursday, too. Baez would end up going 4 for 6 with a double, home run, four RBI and two runs scored Friday. He didn’t strike out, either. He’s now hitting .290/.371/.742 with four doubles, three triples, six homers, 20 RBI and 16 runs in 17 games. He leads the NL in RBI and slugging.
In all, the Cubs scored 16 runs on 18 hits. Albert Almora had four hits. Kyle Schwarber was 3 for 4 with a homer and four RBI, moving his season line to .283/.406/.566, but the most important thing here is Baez and his improved approach at the plate.
Angels struggling after hot start
The Angels were a feel-good story heading into this week, sitting at 13-2. They now head to Saturday on a four-game losing streak. What’s worse, they aren’t just losing. They are getting their butts whipped. The scores:
Yes, they have been outscored 35-4 during the last four games. That’s sub-optimal, to say the least.
Good season debut for Shark
Giants starter Jeff Samardzija started the season on the disabled list, but he was able to rejoin the rotation on Friday night. He would work five scoreless innings against the aforementioned Angels. The four walks were concerning, but he wasn’t really squared up, allowing just two hits (both singles) and striking out four.
Blue Jays take slugfest in the Bronx
The starting pitchers combined for 10 earned runs allowed on 12 hits in 8 1/3 innings in this one. Yankees starter Sonny Gray walked four against zero strikeouts. There were five home runs total, two with Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte going deep for the Blue Jays while Giancarlo Stanton (he didn’t strike out that time!), Tyler Austin and Miguel Andujar went deep for the Yankees.
The difference here was the Blue Jays bullpen settling in. The Yankees didn’t score a run after the fourth inning, while the Jays got three more to take the game 8-5.
Let’s zero in on Solarte, too. The Blue Jays traded two minor-leaguers for Solarte in January in an under-the-radar move. He can play every infield position, which is especially valuable for the Blue Jays, considering they have some injury-prone infielders. Now with both Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson on the disabled list, Solarte has been one of their most important players. Through 17 games, he is hitting .283/.413/.583 with five homers, 10 RBI and 13 runs scored.
The Yankees are again .500 at 9-9, while the Blue Jays are now 13-6 and that’s after starting the season 0-2. They’ve been playing some great baseball as they look to re-establish themselves as contenders.
Phillies still playing well behind good rotation
The Phillies entered Friday night fifth in the majors with a 3.26 ERA for their starting pitchers on the young season. Jake Arrieta, Aaron Nola and Nick Pivetta all carried ERAs under 2.50 while Vince Velasquez was at 3.80. The only one not carrying his weight so far was Ben Lively at 5.87.
That changed Friday against the Pirates, as Lively would allow just one run on five hits in six innings of work. Still, the game was tied heading into the eighth and an Odubel Herrera RBI triple would be the difference. It was of the incredibly-placed variety:
The Phillies are playing excellent baseball right now, having won 11 of their last 14 games. It would appear all the noise around first-year manager Gabe Kapler has silenced — at least the negative noise.
Also of note: the Phillies won in spite of a dreadful baserunning double error late in the game. It came after the Herrera triple and a Rhys Hoskins walk:
Pitcher George Kontos went to pick Hoskins off first, Hoskins took off, the first baseman threw to second, Herrera went home, was thrown out, Hoskins tried to go to third and the center and left fielders got involved to get him.
Bundy finally gets some help
One of the better pitchers in baseball to this point in the season has been Dylan Bundy, but heading into Friday he was 0-2 on the season, thanks to some awful run support. Through three innings on Friday, counterpart Trevor Bauer had held the Orioles without a hit, too. It looked like more of the same. The Orioles’ bats woke up enough to give Bundy three runs through the fifth inning and that’s all he’d need.
In six innings of work, Bundy struck out nine and allowed just one run on five hits. Through five starts and 31 2/3 innings, Bundy has a 1.42 ERA and 40 strikeouts against nine walks. This is going to be just the second full year in the rotation for the former first-round pick. He’s 25. This very much looks like his breakout season.
Reliever scores go-ahead run for Mets
Ah, the anomalies you get with extra-inning baseball. In the 12th inning Friday night, Mets right fielder Yoenis Cespedes singled home the go-ahead run in the form of relief pitcher Robert Gsellman! Gsellman was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. The Mets’ victory runs their record to 14-5 here in the early going.
Rays take wild one in walk-off
What a weird last three innings in the Trop. The Rays had a 3-2 lead through the sixth inning and then things went into overdrive. In the top of the seventh, the Rays would bring eight hitters to the plate and score three runs. So they had a 6-2 lead going to the eighth. Eddie Rosario would tie the game with a grand slam. It came with two outs, too.
In the ninth, Max Kepler would hit a go-ahead homer for the Twins, but in the bottom half, the Rays manufactured a run off Fernando Rodney. With two outs, Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch. He stole second and then scored on a Brad Miller single to send the game to extras.
Then, in the bottom of the 10th, the Rays would walk-off on an infield single.
Mariners win with big ninth
The Mariners and Rangers went to the ninth tied at two, but the M’s would prevail here with a big rally to avert extra innings. Dan Vogelbach singled, Gil Heredia moved the pinch runner to second with a bunt as they attempted just to push one across. Dee Gordon would single and then Jean Segura doubled home two. After a Robinson Cano strikeout and Nelson Cruz intentional walk, Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger would come through with RBI singles.
Brewers win fourth straight
It’s come against the Reds and Marlins, but good teams take care of business and that’s what the Brewers have now done for four straight games. This one was a laugher. A five-run fourth that was highlighted by a Christian Yelich triple preceding Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw going deep back-to-back was the impetus for an 8-0 win. Again, that’s four in a row for the Brew Crew, who are 12-9 this season.
Tigers walk it off again
In the first game of their Friday doubleheader against the Royals, Detroit prevailed in extras via walk-off home run …
That’s JaCoby Jones‘ first career walk-off, but it’s the second Tigers walk-off blast in the last three days (Dixon Machado victimized the Orioles on Wednesday). Somewhat quietly the Tigers have now won four straight and are within one game of the .500 mark. It’s highly doubtful that they’ll remain within spitting distance of the .500 mark over the long haul, but for now they’re playing respectable baseball.
Not playing respectable baseball? The Royals. The loss you see above dropped them to an AL-worst 3-14 on the year. On that front …
That’s … not optimal. The Royals coming in figured they were going to be one of the worst teams in the league, and they’ve met expectations. But let’s close on a positive note. Mike Moustakas on Friday homered for the fifth time, and now he’s hitting .333/.359/.627 on the season. Given his bargain contract — Moustakas saw the market for his services crater this past winter — he’s likely to be a valuable trade chip later in the first half. So that’s … something.
The Royals did salvage the second game of the doubleheader, pushing their record to 4-14. That’s still bad.