What to watch tonight: Frenchy takes on New York

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With an unusually light schedule this afternoon, here’s what to watch tonight:

– At Citi Field, all eyes will be on No. 7, err, No. 12 as Jeff
Francoeur makes his unlikely debut as a New York Met against Johnny
Cueto and the Reds. The Mets have been shut out in three of their last
five games and haven’t homered in 66 innings dating back to last
Thursday. Omar Minaya hopes the Frenchy trade can “shake things up.”
We’ll see about that one.

– John Smoltz (0-2, 6.60 ERA) is still in search of his first win,
as the Red Sox take on the Royals. He looks to avoid a new-found
penchant for the big inning, including a four-run fourth against the
Athletics on Monday. Still, the 42-year-old Smoltz feels like he’s
“almost there.”

– Matt Kemp looks to continue to his hot-hitting against the
Brewers. He is 15-for-27 with a home run and nine RBI since Manny
Ramirez returned to the lineup. All this despite often hitting eighth in Joe Torre’s lineup.

– Cole Hamels (5-5, 4.70 ERA) toes the rubber against the Pirates
tonight. The Phillies, who started the season 13-22 at home, have won
seven of their last eight at Citizens Bank Park. With Pedro Martinez
and some guy from Canada on their radar, the Phillies seem poised to
run away and hide in the NL East.

– Jason Marquis (11-5, 3.60 ERA) sets his sights on becoming the
majors first 12-game winner against the Braves on Saturday night.
Because, as we all know, wins = awesome pitcher.

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.