Daily Dose: Nationals give up on Milledge

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Pittsburgh made a pair of trades to shake up the outfield Tuesday,
sending Eric Hinske to the Yankees for a pair of mid-level prospects
and then swapping Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals along with Sean Burnett
for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan. Morgan has emerged as a very
solid all-around player, offering elite defense and nice on-base
skills, but Andrew McCutchen made him expendable.

Morgan dramatically upgrades the Nationals’ outfield defense and
certainly has a good deal of value, but he’s also 29 years old with a
modest .286/.351/.376 mark in 157 career games. Milledge has far more
long-term upside even considering his various issues, but clearly
Washington had given up on him and Hanrahan as pieces of the puzzle
going forward.

Morgan was already playing every day in Pittsburgh, so the only big
change from the trade will be his moving back to the leadoff spot. That
should give him a little boost, but his basic value remains the same.
Hanrahan’s value dries up now that he has no chance for another crack
at closing duties and Burnett isn’t worthy of a fantasy roster spot in
any circumstances, leaving Milledge as the deal’s winner.

Demoted to Triple-A all of seven games into the season, he’s
currently rehabbing a broken finger and should get an extended shot in
the Pirates’ new-look outfield once healthy. Milledge has been a large
disappointment both on and off the field so far, but he’s still just 24
years old with a promising power-speed combo. If he can get on track
and live up to some of the hype, the Pirates will have done well.

While the Pirates likely look to trade Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson next, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Carlos Beltran received good news Tuesday as the second opinion on
his knee injury confirmed the initial diagnosis of a bone bruise. He’s
been advised to rest through the All-Star break, which while longer
than the original return timetable is better than possible year-ending
and perhaps career-threatening microfracture surgery. Fernando Martinez
and Jeremy Reed have been splitting full-in duties.

* Mike Lowell would have been unavailable for as long as week after
receiving a lubrication injection in his surgically repaired right hip,
so the Red Sox decided to place him on the disabled list Tuesday. He’s
expected to return once the 15-day stint is finished, but in the
meantime Kevin Youkilis started at third base Tuesday as call-up Jeff
Bailey went 3-for-4 with a walk while playing at first base.

AL Quick Hits: Josh Hamilton (abdomen) reportedly could come off
the disabled list as soon as this weekend … As expected, Josh Outman
underwent Tommy John elbow surgery Tuesday and will be sidelined until
at least mid-2010 … Erik Bedard (shoulder) has been penciled in to come
off the DL for Saturday’s game against Boston … Adam Jones left
Tuesday’s game with shoulder and neck pain after crashing into the
outfield wall … Scott Downs threw off a mound Tuesday for the first
time since spraining his toe two weeks ago … Ervin Santana (triceps)
threw a bullpen session Tuesday and is expected to rejoin the rotation
at some point this weekend … Adrian Beltre opted to go under the knife
Tuesday and will miss 6-8 weeks following shoulder surgery … Matt Garza
tossed seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday for the Rays’ seventh
straight win … Justin Duchscherer (elbow) has finally been cleared to
begin a throwing program.

NL Quick Hits: Jimmy Rollins went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in
his return to the lineup Tuesday and is now hitless in 24 at-bats …
Albert Pujols had his seventh multi-homer game of the year Tuesday,
extending his MLB lead to 30 … Edinson Volquez (elbow) has been cleared
to begin a throwing program … David Wright homered Tuesday for the
first time in 78 at-bats … Bronson Arroyo allowed six runs Tuesday,
serving up his MLB-high 19th and 20th homers … Colby Ramus is available
to pinch-hit despite being diagnosed with a hiatal hernia that he
blamed on “heavy late-night eating” … Martin Prado went 4-for-5 and
drove in four runs Tuesday, including a walk-off single in the 10th
inning … Yunel Escobar (hip) and Nate McClouth (hamstring) were
scratched from the lineup Tuesday … Chad Tracy came off the disabled
list Tuesday after missing 27 games with an oblique injury … Ross
Ohlendorf tossed seven scoreless innings with a career-high eight
strikeouts Tuesday … Dan Haren allowed just one run and hit a homer
Tuesday.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Giants 5, Padres 4 (12 innings): A big fourth inning from both the Padres and Giants gave the teams the backing they needed for another extra-innings affair, but this time, it was the Giants who prevailed in the end. Hours before the seagulls of McCovey Cove even entertained the thought of swarming the field, Nick Hundley broke a 4-4 tie in the 12th inning with a walk-off RBI single, his first walk-off hit for the Giants in 2017:

Cubs 3, Cardinals 2: The Cubs fueled their hot streak with another win on Saturday, resting on 5 2/3 perfect innings from Jon Lester to lock down a one-run lead over the Cardinals. The win, Lester’s seventh of the season, was made all the more poignant by its circumstances. He took the mound just one day after the death of his uncle on Friday, and dedicated his performance to him with the letters “PLACT” (“Play Like a Champion Today,” a motto from his uncle’s alma mater, Notre Dame) etched on the front of his cap.

Lester was phenomenal on the mound, retiring 17 consecutive batters to start the game and losing the perfecto with Adam Wainwright‘s first-pitch single in the sixth. The Cardinals eventually took the lead in the eighth inning, plating a pair of runs with back-to-back homers from Paul DeJong and Randal Grichuk to gain a two-run edge. They were met with three runs in the bottom of the inning, however, and Anthony Rizzo‘s two-out, go-ahead double secured the win.

Astros 8, Orioles 4: Marwin Gonzalez became the unlikely hero of Saturday’s win over the Orioles when he blasted a 387-foot home run out of Camden Yards:

The dramatic three-run knock was the product of unusual circumstances: Astros’ starting third baseman Colin Moran was removed from the game in the sixth inning when a foul ball deflected off of his bat and struck him near the left eye. He crumpled to the ground and was carted off the field before finishing his at-bat, at which point Gonzalez subbed in and promptly clubbed his 18th homer of the year. Houston ran with the two-run lead, earning their 65th win after another two-run effort from Evan Gattis and Carlos Beltran in the ninth.

Brewers 9, Phillies 8: The Brewers huffed and puffed their way to a win on Saturday, snapping a horrendous six-game skid to stay atop the NL Central standings, albeit by a narrow margin. They carried a seven-run lead into the seventh inning, highlighted by Ryan Braun‘s incredible dash from first to home plate after first baseman Tommy Joseph overthrew the bag at second base.

The Brewers nearly lost it all when the Phillies mounted a massive rally to tie the game in the eighth, but Domingo Santana persevered with a clutch RBI single in the ninth, saving the team from another extra-inning debacle and netting the team’s 52nd win of 2017.

Twins 6, Tigers 5: Kyle Gibson went the distance for the Twins on Saturday — that is, he lasted more than seven innings, a feat in and of itself for the 29-year-old hurler. It was his longest start since September 2016 and a much-needed winning effort for the Twins, who have gone 4-4 since the All-Star break. The Twins backed Gibson’s three-run, five-strikeout outing with six runs, but nearly lost it all when the Tigers rebounded for five runs in the eighth.

Marlins 5, Reds 4: An hour of rain did little to upset the Marlins’ plans on Saturday night. Chris O’Grady got shelled by the Reds’ offense, giving up three runs on four hits and six walks in just 4 1/3 innings, but the club found their salvation in a two-homer performance from J.T. Realmuto:

Not only did the win position the Marlins to execute their first sweep of the second half, but it set a new franchise record:

Mets 6, Athletics 5: With the trade deadline only a week away, it stands to reason that most teams want to put their best foot forward. For the Mets, that meant sticking Asdrubal Cabrera at third base for his first career start in the hot corner.

Luckily for the veteran infielder, nothing tricky or unusual broke his way. He fielded two easy ground balls and only missed Ryon Healy‘s line drive single into left field in the eighth. While that might not have been the most convincing showcase for Cabrera’s versatility around the horn, the 31-year-old upped his marketability with a single and double at the plate. The spotlight quickly shifted to Wilmer Flores in the ninth inning, though, as the second baseman broke a 5-5 tie with a two-out, walk-off home run.

Rangers 4, Rays 3: Chris Archer was left hanging after another dominant performance on Saturday night, turning in four runs, a walk and 11 strikeouts in a losing effort against the Rangers. In six starts with at least 11 strikeouts this season, the Rays’ hurler carries a 2-4 record and an average 4.67 runs of support (skewed slightly by a 12-1 win over the Royals in May).

A lack of run support wasn’t the only thing to blame for Archer’s defeat, however. He lost the game on a tie-breaking wild pitch to give Adrian Beltre the go-ahead run in the sixth:

Indians 2, Blue Jays 1 (10 innings): Francisco Lindor was all smiles after notching his first career walk-off home run during Saturday’s extra-inning win. The Indians’ shortstop waded through a seven-pitch at-bat before selecting Danny Barnes‘ 2-2 heater for a 438-foot homer in the 10th:

The blast backed an impressive start from Cleveland right-hander Danny Salazar, who made his first appearance of the second half after rehabbing a strained right shoulder. He fired seven pristine innings of one-hit ball and struck out eight of 21 batters in his fifth no-decision of the season.

Royals 7, White Sox 2: “Dingers” was the name of the game on Saturday, when the Royals fueled Jason Vargas‘ winning efforts with five home runs to secure the lead. Melky Cabrera got the White Sox on the board with a solo home run and RBI double, but the rest of the offense failed to materialize as the Royals crafted a seven-run rally. Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas went back-to-back in the sixth…

…shortly followed by another solo blast from Brandon Moss, his 12th of the season:

Jorge Bonifacio plugged another home run in the seventh, while Moustakas returned for a second helping in the eighth. It was the second time the Royals combined for five home runs in 2017, following another five-homer performance back in June, but they still fell one dinger shy of the all-time franchise record set against the Mariners in 2003.

Rockies 7, Pirates 3: The Pirates’ six-game win streak came to an abrupt end at the hands of rookie right-hander German Marquez, who held the Bucs to just three hits and two runs over seven innings on Saturday. His one mistake? Plunking Andrew McCutchen in the sixth, which resulted in some old-fashioned retaliation from Colorado starter Chad Kuhl and a predictable, benches-clearing dispute:

Nationals 4, Diamondbacks 3: Anthony Banda finally got the call he’d been waiting for this weekend. The Diamondbacks plucked him from Triple-A Reno and inserted him into Saturday’s lineup for his first big league start, though things didn’t go quite as smoothly as expected. Banda punctuated his first major league inning with a home run to Bryce Harper, one that cleared the wall in center field and landed on the concourse. The Nats returned in full force in the sixth inning, amassing another three runs on RBI doubles from Harper and Ryan Zimmerman and an RBI single by Anthony Rendon and preserving their 11-game lead in the NL East with their first win of the series.

Angels 7, Red Sox 3: When Mike Trout is at bat, there are few less enviable positions than that of the opposing pitcher. Except, maybe, the photographer crouching in foul territory:

The end result of that at-bat was only slightly less thrilling: Trout worked a nine-pitch walk and scored on Albert Pujols‘ two-run double for the club’s first two runs of the evening. Andrelton Simmons clubbed a go-ahead home run to finish off the four-run inning, bringing the Angels within four games of a wild card berth.

Dodgers 6, Braves 2: A modified delivery appears to be working wonders for Dodgers’ southpaw Rich Hill, whose resurgence proved instrumental to the team’s first win of the weekend. Hill lasted 6 1/3 innings — the fourth time he’s pitched into the sixth inning this season — and issued six hits, two runs and eight strikeouts as he improved to 7-4 on the year. Chris Taylor powered Hill’s efforts, padding the Dodgers’ one-run lead with a solo shot in the seventh inning and a bases-clearing triple in the eighth.

Mariners 6, Yankees 5 (10 innings): Aaron Judge packs a mighty punch with his home runs, and Saturday was no exception. The slugger produced his 32nd homer of the season, though this one didn’t find the crevices of Safeco Field quite as easily as Friday’s epic blast.

Judge’s penchant for dingers wasn’t quite enough to get the job done for the Yankees, however, and the teams found themselves at an impasse by the ninth inning. Nelson Cruz came through in the clutch, pushing the Mariners within a win of .500 after scoring Clint Frazier on a walk-off single — the first walk-off Seattle had seen since June 20.

Astros place Colin Moran on 10-day disabled list with facial fracture

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The Astros placed third baseman Colin Moran on the 10-day disabled list with a facial fracture, the team announced Sunday. Moran sustained both a concussion and a fracture during the sixth inning of Saturday’s 8-4 win against the Orioles, when he was carted off the field after a foul ball struck him in the face near his left eye. An estimated return date has yet to be specified by the club.

Postgame comments from Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch revealed that Moran immediately felt faint after sustaining the injury. Via MLB.com’s Mandy Bell:

He wasn’t feeling very well and he wanted to get off the field, like all players do. Nobody wants to sit down, and as soon as he got up, he thought he was going to pass out, kind of got nauseous,” Hinch said. “So we put him back down and called for the cart.

While Moran was treated at a nearby hospital in Baltimore, he was replaced on the field by pinch-hitter/third baseman Marwin Gonzalez, who finished the at-bat with a three-run home run to give the Astros a late-game lead. Gonzalez won’t be the only one shouldering infield duties in Moran’s absence, however, as the team penciled in Alex Bregman at the hot corner for Sunday’s series finale.

In a corresponding move, the Astros also recalled infielder Tyler White from Triple-A Fresno. White, 26, broke into the big leagues in 2016 with a .217/.286/.378 and eight home runs in 276 PA for the Astros. He’s off to a hot start in Triple-A this season, slashing .299/.371/.517 with 19 homers in his first 408 PA of 2017.