What we're watching – June 30

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– Tim Lincecum dominated Albert Pujols and the rest of the Cardinals
with a two-hit shutout on Monday. Now St. Louis will try to even up the
series with Chris Carpenter on the mound. Carpenter has lost two of his
last three starts with the Cardinals’ offense struggling, but he still
hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start this season. He’s 5-2
with a 1.78 ERA. 302-game winner Randy Johnson will get the ball for
the Giants. The Cardinals are one of three teams against which he has a
losing record over the course of at least a dozen starts. The Yankees
and Mets are the other two. Albert Pujols is 9-for-21 with three homers
and three doubles off him, giving him a .429/.478/1.000 line.

– John Smoltz will look to bounce back from a rough Boston debut
when he faces the Orioles in Baltimore. Smoltz showed pretty good stuff
last week, but he gave up five runs over five innings in a loss to the
Nationals. The Orioles will counter with Rich Hill as they try to avoid
what would be a ninth straight loss to the Red Sox at Camden Yards.
Hill is 3-2 with a 6.03 ERA in eight starts.

– While the Red Sox have been remarkably solid, they’re not opening
up any wider of a lead in the AL East. The Yankees will go for their
sixth straight win tonight at home against the Mariners. It will be a
matchup of relievers-turned-starters Brandon Morrow and Joba
Chamberlain. Also, the Rays will go for their seventh straight victory
versus the team the recently overtook for third place in the East, the
Blue Jays. The AL East currently boasts the teams with the first,
second, fifth and seventh best records in the AL.

Game of the Night

Colorado vs. L.A. Dodgers – The two teams played what was probably
Monday’s game of the night, with the Dodgers winning on an Andre Ethier
walkoff homer on the 13th. Tonight’s game will feature a pair of
starters trying to become the NL’s first to 10 victories (unless Johan
Santana, in a game being played two hours earlier, beats them to it).
Jason Marquis is 9-5 with a 4.22 ERA. He beat the Dodgers in his
previous start against the team this year, throwing 7 1/3 innings of
three-run ball back on April 26. Chad Billingsley is 9-3 with a 3.10
ERA. He’s also 1-0 against his opponent tonight, as he beat Aaron Cook
by allowing three runs in six innings on April 18.

Kolten Wong lashes out after losing his starting role with the Cardinals

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Kolten Wong is no longer the only second baseman being considered for a starting role on the Cardinals’ roster, and he’s not happy about it. On Saturday, GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny hinted that Wong could lose playing time to Jedd Gyorko or Greg Garcia in 2017 — in other words, an infielder who brings a little more pop at the plate. Prior to the Cardinals’ game against the Marlins on Sunday, Wong gave his heated response to the media. Via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

I don’t think you give somebody a contract for no reason,” Wong said. “When you are given a contract, you are expected to get a chance to work through some things and figure yourself out. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, all these guys never figured their stuff out until later on down the road. It’s the big leagues. It’s tough, man. For me, the biggest thing is I just need people to have my back. When that comes, it will be good. But, I think right now, it’s just staying with my play, understanding I’m working toward getting myself more consistent, understanding what kind of player I can be. If that’s going to be with another team, so be it.

When pressed, Wong said that he would rather be traded away from St. Louis than step into a limited role with the team. “I don’t want to be here wasting my time,” he told the press. “I know what kind of player I am. If I don’t have the belief here, then I’ll go somewhere else.” The 26-year-old was inked to a five-year, $25.5 million extension prior to the 2016 season, complete with a $12.5 million option and $1 million buyout.

Part of Wong’s frustration stems from the Cardinals’ backtracking on their stated commitment to him as their starting second baseman last winter. Mozeliak admitted that while Wong had the defensive tools necessary to hold down the position, he failed to impress at the plate. It’s an argument that Wong hasn’t been able to rebut this spring, going 8-for-44 with two extra bases and 10 strikeouts in camp. He hasn’t looked much better in the regular season, sustaining a career .248/.309/.370 batting line with a .678 OPS and 5.1 fWAR over four years with the organization.

Still, the second baseman feels that he should have been given some heads up that he was playing to keep his starting role this spring, admitting that he entered camp with the mentality of someone who had a guaranteed spot on the Cardinals’ roster and not someone whose job security was dependent on his day-to-day results. “I need the time to consistently figure out how to be me and succeed at this level,” said Wong. “Everybody goes through it. Not everybody is Mike Trout.”

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.