Daily Dose: Peavy out for up to three months

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So much for all the trade talk. Jake Peavy will be sidelined for at
least one month and as long as three months after an MRI exam revealed
a slightly torn tendon in his ankle. He suffered the injury while
running the bases on May 22 and had one good start, one decent start,
and one terrible start since, but Peavy will now wear a protective cast
for the next several weeks.

Peavy is a long shot to be ready to pitch by the July 31 trade
deadline and even if he somehow makes it back by then the Padres would
have an extremely tough time getting anything resembling full value for
him. In other words, expect him to finish this season in San Diego
whether that means on the disabled list or in the rotation. Remember,
he’s still signed through 2012 with a team option for 2013.

While the Padres’ chances of avoiding last place take a major hit, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Howie Kendrick came into the season as a 25-year-old career .306
hitter in 997 plate appearances, but after batting just .231 through 51
games the Angels sent him to the minors Saturday. Kendrick’s
strikeouts, walks, and power are basically all the same as usual, but
he just doesn’t have the secondary skills to be useful without hitting

Even with this year’s struggles he’s a .294 hitter in the majors
after hitting .360 in the minors, so Kendrick will smack around
Triple-A pitching for a while and rejoin the Angels. In the meantime
Sean Rodriguez was picked over Brandon Wood to replace Kendrick on the
roster, although it remains to be seen if he’ll actually get any action
after hitting .290/.377/.637 with 42 homers in 124 games at Triple-A.

* Johan Santana cruised through 11 starts, going 7-3 with a 2.00
ERA, but tied a career-high by serving up four homers to the Phillies
last week and turned in one of the worst outings of his career Sunday
versus the Yankees, allowing nine runs while recording nine outs. The
good news is that he allowed just one homer, but Mets fans will have
reason to be nervous when he faces the Rays this weekend.

* Cliff Lee took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Sunday versus
St. Louis, settling for a complete-game, three-hit shutout. He now has
a 2.88 ERA and 69/20 K/BB ratio in 97 innings spread over 14 starts.
Through his first 14 starts last year, Lee had a 2.45 ERA and 79/15
K/BB ratio in 96 innings. Of course, the big difference is that poor
run support has Lee with a 4-6 record as opposed to 10-1 last year.

* As if passing on him to select
mega-bust Matt Bush with the No. 1 pick in 2004 wasn’t enough, Jered
Weaver reminded the Padres of their mistake by shutting them out
Sunday. Weaver followed his great college career and impressive 2006
debut by disappointingly posting a 4.13 ERA over the past two seasons,
but he’s now 7-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 74/25 K/BB ratio in 90.2 innings
this year.

AL Quick Hits: Brad Penny is eligible to be traded Monday and
the Red Sox have reportedly received multiple offers … For now at least
Toronto is hoping that Roy Halladay (groin) can make his next scheduled
start Saturday … Despite tossing seven shutout innings Saturday,
Anthony Swarzak is back at Triple-A
after filling in for Glen Perkins … A.J. Burnett struck out eight while
shutting out the Mets for seven innings Sunday … Scott Kazmir
(quadriceps) is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Wednesday at
Single-A … Gordon Beckham hit his second two-run double in as many
games Sunday, but is still just 4-for-35 … Oakland activated Travis
Buck (oblique) from the disabled list Sunday, but only to option him
back to Triple-A … Coco Crisp was put on the shelf Sunday after
initially trying to play through a shoulder injury … Scot Shields is
expected to undergo season-ending knee surgery Tuesday … J.P. Howell
struck out the side Sunday for save No. 3.

NL Quick Hits: Out for nearly two months, Jose Valverde (calf)
set down all four batters he faced over the weekend … Milwaukee finally
saw enough from Manny Parra after he was rocked for six runs in 1.2
innings Saturday, sending him back to Triple-A … Josh Johnson gave up
three runs Sunday in a complete-game win over Toronto … In the midst of
a 0-for-32 slump, Willy Taveras sat out Sunday’s game … Ryan Doumit
(wrist) has been cleared to resume baseball activities, but remains
weeks from returning … J.A. Happ struggled Sunday by walking six and
giving up seven hits, including a homer to Josh Beckett … Taylor
Buchholz tried to rehab his elbow injury, but will miss the next year
after opting for Tommy John surgery … Derek Lowe was knocked around for
seven runs while failing to make it out of the third inning Sunday and
faces Boston at Fenway Park next … Hitting coach Gerald Perry was fired
Sunday after the Cubs led the NL in runs last year.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.