Rays get to Rivera again

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Stat of the day: After his latest adventure
against the Rays this afternoon, Mariano Rivera has now allowed an un
Rivera-like nine runs this season after yielding 11 all of last season.

Of course, it’s well-documented that he’s already served up five
homers in just 23 1/3 innings this season. That’s the most he’s allowed
in a season since 2001 — but, of course, that was over the course of
80 2/3 innings. Pretty alarming, no? Following offseason shoulder
surgery, there were some early and obvious concerns about his velocity,
however he was throwing his cutter at about 93 MPH this week, pretty
much where it was before the procedure.

Bad outings from relievers tend to inflate statistics — and after
his last blowup against the Rays on May 7, giving up back-to-back
homers for the first time in his career, Rivera had a season-high 3.97
ERA. But since then, Rivera had allowed just one run over his last 11
1/3 innings pitched, including five consecutive scoreless appearances
leading into Saturday. He entered today’s game with a 2.38 ERA, the
lowest it’s been since April. Also, his trademark control remains
intact, with a 28/2 K/BB ratio thus far.

Yeah, I know, the sports-talk radio folk are gonna say Rivera just
isn’t the same pitcher. And maybe he isn’t. It makes for great drama,
especially when a fanbase has been spoiled for this long. But in a
bullpen full of Tomko’s, Robertson’s and Coke’s, Rivera is the least of
their problems.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.