What we're watching – June 2

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– The only five-game winner to start Monday was Todd Wellemeyer.
Tonight, we get aces Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Dan
Haren and Jake Peavy, along with Erik Bedard, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rick
Porcello, A.J. Burnett, Ubaldo Jimenez and Joe Saunders. Plus, there
are seven-game winners Kevin Slowey and Bronson Arroyo, as well as Zach
Duke, Randy Wolf, Randy Wells and their sub-3.00 ERAs. In other words,
it’s a good night for pitching.

– Unfortunately, that’s going to make it hard to watch the two
starters making their major league debuts: Oakland’s Vin Mazzaro and
Philadelphia’s Antonio Bastardo. Mazzaro, 22, had a 2.38 ERA, 42 hits
allowed and a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 56 2/3 innings for Sacramento. I
suspect that he’ll be a long-term reliever, but he’s worth watching as
a starter with his low-90s fastball and slider.

Seeing Bastardo get the nod over Andrew Carpenter in Brett Myers’
place was a pleasant surprise. The 23-year-old lefty is hardly a sure
thing, but he has a very good changeup to complement an average
fastball. He had a 1.89 ERA and a 51/10 K/BB in 47 2/3 innings between
Double- and Triple-A to start the year.

– The AL’s only two teams with 30 wins will begin another series
tonight. This one will take place in New York after the Yankees won two
out of three in Texas least week. Vicente Padilla will return from the
DL to start for the Rangers. A.J. Burnett will get the ball for the
Yankees. Both right-handers have identical 3-2 records and ERAs in the
4.70s. Mark Teixeira will get another crack at his old team agter going
5-for-14 with two homers and five RBI in the series last week.

Game of the Night

Boston vs. Detroit – Matsuzaka, an 18-game winner last year,
searches again for his first victory of 2009 after giving up seven runs
over 10 innings in his first two starts back from the DL. The Tigers
will counter with Porcello, who has won five straight and lowered his
ERA from 6.23 to 3.48 in the process. As impressive as Porcello has
been, he’s mostly beaten up on weak teams. In his three starts against
the AL’s top five offenses, he’s 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA.

Marlins defeat the Mets, then pay their respects to Jose Fernandez on the pitcher’s mound

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Miami Marlins players all wearing jerseys bearing the number 16 and name Fernandez honor the late Jose Fernandez before the game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images
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The Marlins were somehow able to muster up the strength not only to play Monday night’s game against the Mets, but also win it convincingly one day after losing Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident. The Marlins and Mets helped pay tribute to Fernandez prior to the start of the game as outlined here.

When the game started, the Marlins came out of the gate with a bang. Dee Gordon homered in his first at-bat, then the club hung a four-spot in the second inning. They tacked on two more in the third inning to chase starter Bartolo Colon and take a commanding 7-0 lead. The Mets chipped away for two runs in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer and tacked on one more in the eighth, but ultimately fell short by a 7-3 margin.

Gordon finished 4-for-5 with the homer and two RBI. Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with a single, double, triple, and a walk along with an RBI and two runs scored.

A.J. Ramos, who closed out the win, placed the ball on the pitcher’s mound for Fernandez. The Marlins huddled around the mound and said a prayer. The players huddled closer to the rubber on the mound, then left their hats behind as they retreated to the clubhouse as fans at Marlins Park chanted, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”

In a post-game interview, Gordon called his first-inning home run “the best moment of my life,” as NBC 6 Sports reports.

Indians defeat Tigers, clinch AL Central for first division title since 2007

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians hits an RBI single during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field on September 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
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The Indians beat the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park on Monday night, clinching the AL Central for their first division title since 2007. Starter Corey Kluber lasted only four innings before exiting with right groin tightness, but the Indians were able to overcome the adversity.

Coco Crisp gave the Indians their first two runs with a two-run home run in the second inning off of starter Buck Farmer. The Tigers would promptly tie the game on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the bottom half of the inning.

In the fifth, an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli put the Tribe back on top 4-2. The Tigers answered once again with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the bottom half to make it 4-3.

Roberto Perez homered for the Indians in the top of the top of the seventh, and Cabrera answered with another RBI single in the bottom half to keep it within one run at 5-4.

The Indians tacked on another insurance run in the eighth on three consecutive two-out singles by Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Perez. Carlos Santana then hit what should have been the final out of the eighth inning, but J.D. Martinez botched the catch, allowing the Indians’ seventh run to score.

Cody Allen shut the Tigers down in the bottom of the ninth, protecting the 7-4 lead for his 30th save of the season.

The last time the Indians won the AL Central, their starting lineup featured a 28-year-old Victor Martinez, a 25-year-old Jhonny Peralta, a 24-year-old Grady Sizemore, and a 26-year-old CC Sabathia. It’s been a long time.

The American League playoff picture still isn’t set yet, so the Indians will be intently watching the final week of the season to see who will be their playoff opponent.