What we're watching – Joba takes on the Halos

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– A pair of surging seven-game winners will face off with the White Sox
in Minnesota tonight. John Danks has pitched seven scoreless innings in
back-to-back victories and has a 1.51 ERA over his last five starts.
Nick Blackburn is coming off his third complete game of the season, a
6-2 win over the Tigers. He was on the mound when the Twins walloped
the White Sox 20-1 on May 21. Since that date, he’s 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA
in eight starts.

– Tim Lincecum fall apart a bit after six no-hit innings on
Thursday, so perhaps Dan Haren is still a candidate to start for the
Nationals League in the All-Star Game. A stellar outing tonight against
the Marlins wouldn’t hurt his chances, and the Diamondbacks could
certainly use the strong effort after their pen gave up 14 runs in
Thursday’s loss. A win could be tough to come by, though, as Ricky
Nolasco has been on fire for Florida. He’s won each of his last four
starts, and he has a 1.54 ERA and a 45/7 K/BB ratio in six starts since
returning from the minors.

Game of the Night

N.Y. Yankees vs. L.A. Angels – Joba Chamberlain may not have given
up more than three earned runs in any of his last 11 starts, but he was
still lit up last time out, when he surrendered eight runs — three
earned — in 3 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays. He’s pitched seven
innings just twice all year, and his average against is up to .273
because of the 18 hits he’s given up in nine innings his last two times
out. Fortunately, he won’t have to face the Angels’ best player this
season or the team’s best player over the last several years after both
Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero landed on the DL on Friday. Joe
Saunders, who has also struggled of late, will get the ball for
Anaheim. He’s given up 13 earned runs over nine innings in his last two
starts, taking his ERA from 3.66 to 4.44.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.