Daily Dose: Brewers add Lopez at second base

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Craig Counsell and Casey McGehee have done a nice job platooning at
second base following Rickie Weeks’ season-ending wrist surgery, but
the Brewers went for a change anyway Sunday by acquiring Felipe Lopez
from the Diamondbacks for a pair of marginal prospects in Cole
Gillespie and Roque Mercedes. Lopez hit .305/.368/.416 in 84 games with
Arizona after batting .283/.347/.387 last season.

While not necessarily an upgrade over the previous second-base
platoon, Lopez potentially enables the Brewers to shift the
Counsell-McGehee duo to third base while phasing rookie Mat Gamel out
of the action and perhaps even back to the minors. Gamel has hit just
.239/.339/.413 through 127 plate appearances, which along with his poor
defense made him a weak spot in the short term.

Moving away from Arizona’s hitter-friendly ballpark hurts Lopez, but
he figures to continue leading off in Milwaukee and could be given a
chance to run more after swiping just six bases in nine tries. Ryan
Roberts is expected to replace Lopez in Arizona, but doesn’t offer real
fantasy value and the other in-house alternative is the similarly
underwhelming Augie Ojeda.

While Lopez joins his fifth NL team since 2006, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Joel Zumaya coughed up multiple runs Friday for the fourth time in
his last nine appearances, but more importantly came out of the game
after hearing a “pop” in his shoulder. He was immediately placed on the
disabled list and an MRI exam revealed that Zumaya aggravated the
stress fracture that shut him down for the final six weeks of last
season and delayed his debut for three weeks this year.

Zumaya never ceased lighting up radar guns and actually threw harder
than ever prior to the latest setback, averaging a career-high 99.3
miles per hour with his fastball. The other good news is that a stress
fracture is less troubling that a torn labrum or rotator cuff in terms
of his long-term outlook, although at this point he’s been on and off
the disabled list for three years and is likely done until 2010.

* Ramon Hernandez has been disappointing for the Reds, batting
.249/.330/.355 in 77 games while managing just five homers and 12
doubles in 273 at-bats after coming over in the winter trade that
cleared room for Matt Wieters in the Orioles’ lineup. And now he won’t
have a chance to improve his stats in the second half, as the team
announced Sunday that he’ll miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery.

Hernandez being sidelined may not be such a bad thing for the Reds’
offense, as Ryan Hanigan has hit .307/.399/.385 in 285 plate
appearances of backup duties during the past two years. He’s not that
good, but Hanigan also posted a similar .296/.376/.378 line in 125
games at Triple-A and can definitely get on base at a better clip than
Hernandez. However, lack of power limits his fantasy upside.

AL Quick Hits: With trade rumors swirling, Roy Halladay allowed
one run Sunday in a complete-game win over the Red Sox … Brett Anderson
tossed eight scoreless innings Sunday, but got a no-decision against
John Lackey’s nine shutout frames … Ichiro Suzuki reached base four
times and made a game-saving catch in the ninth inning Sunday … Luke
Hochevar had a career-high nine strikeouts versus zero walks in a
no-decision Sunday … Edwin Jackson took another tough-luck loss Sunday,
falling to 7-5 despite a 2.52 ERA that ranks third in the AL … Mark
Grudzielanek could get a look at second base in Minnesota
soon after inking a minor-league deal Sunday … Joba Chamberlain
rebounded from an ugly stretch by striking out eight while allowing one
run in 6.2 innings Sunday … Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup
Sunday after sitting out two games with the flu, but went 0-for-4
against Halladay.

NL Quick Hits: Jake Fox went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs
while subbing for Aramis Ramirez at third base Sunday … Joel Pineiro
kept rolling with seven innings of one-run ball Sunday, slicing his ERA
to 3.09 … J.A. Happ improved to 7-0 with seven shutout innings Sunday …
Mark DeRosa went 0-for-2 with a walk Sunday, making him hitless in 15
at-bats since being dealt to St. Louis … Jimmy Rollins is batting .377
this month after notching three hits Sunday … Scott Olsen (shoulder) is
scheduled to be examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews … Matt Cain picked
up his 11th win with seven frames of one-run ball Sunday … Alfonso
Soriano homered for the second straight game Sunday after coming back
from a dislocated finger … Andrew Miller tossed just 29 of 65 pitches
for strikes while failing to make it out of the third inning Sunday …
Rick Ankiel (shoulder) will play on despite an MRI exam revealing what
Tony La Russa called “some issues.”

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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

Athletics 10, White Sox 2: Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto stole the spotlight on Saturday, going deep for the first home runs of their respective major league careers. Not only was it a franchise first for the Athletics, but it was the first time three rookies accomplished the feat for any major league team to date. The last trio to pull it off did so for the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League, when Duke Kenworthy, Art Kruger and John Potts went yard for their first home runs in 1914.

Lost in all the mayhem? James Shieldscareer 2,000th strikeout, a 1-2 knuckle curveball that caught Khris Davis looking to end the second inning.

Rangers 8, Yankees 1: Aaron Judge may be unstoppable, but the Yankees are not. The rookie slugger collected his league-best 26th home run on Saturday afternoon, putting the Yankees on the board with a solo shot during the sixth inning.

It was a mistake Texas’ right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx wouldn’t make again, shutting down four of the next five batters he faced and leaving the bullpen to polish off the win with two scoreless frames.

Royals 3, Blue Jays 2: Jason Vargas may not have the pinpoint control of Ivan Nova or the sheer strikeout power of Chris Sale, but as of Saturday afternoon, he now owns the best record in the American League. He cruised to his 11th win against the Blue Jays, spinning seven innings of two-run ball and striking out just two of 27 batters. Marco Estrada matched him pitch for pitch, but lost the edge after Alex Gordon tripled to break the 2-2 tie in the seventh.

Nationals 18, Reds 3: It’s safe to say this was not the season debut Homer Bailey had been anticipating. The veteran right-hander was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday and lasted just 1 2/3 innings against the Nationals’ blistering offensive drive. A six-run second inning forced Bailey’s early exit and brought his ERA to a bloated 43.20 mark after he surrendered eight runs on six hits and two walks. Trea Turner and Michael Taylor were the centerpiece of the Nationals’ 18-run drubbing, combining for nine hits, two home runs and five RBI as the Nats coasted to their 45th win of the year.

Orioles 8, Rays 3: Goodbye, ugly losing streak. Hello, Dylan Bundy. The Orioles pulled within five games of the division lead on Saturday, giving up fewer than five runs for the first time since June 2. Bundy led the charge, issuing three runs on five hits and four walks and striking out eight over seven innings for his eighth win of the season. An explosive four-run effort propelled the club to a comfortable lead in the seventh inning, while Manny Machado‘s eighth-inning sac fly put the finishing touches on an 8-3 finale.

Cubs 5, Marlins 3: After 12 years in the majors, Cubs’ veteran lefty Jon Lester still had some career firsts left to record — including his first win against the Marlins. He cut through Miami’s lineup with expert precision during Saturday’s win, giving up a J.T. Realmuto home run in the first inning and settling down to retire 18 of the next 20 batters he faced. The next team on his list? The Red Sox, whom the Cubs are not scheduled to face this season (barring a chance meeting in the World Series, of course).

Braves 3, Brewers 1: Is R.A. Dickey… good again? The knuckleballer commanded his third quality start on Saturday, squelching the Brewers’ offense with just one run and six strikeouts over seven innings. His only snafu came in the first inning, when he turned to pick off Travis Shaw at third base and was instead penalized with a balk, his first of the year.

The Freeze, meanwhile, was not nearly as successful as his parent club, missing the finish line by mere inches during the customary between-inning sprint around the warning track.

Twins 4, Indians 2: There’s nothing more tragic than a solid pitching effort gone to waste. Corey Kluber allowed two runs and fanned 13 batters for his fifth quality start and second no-decision of the month, dropping what looked like a guaranteed win after Brian Dozier and Chris Gimenez reclaimed the lead with a pair of home runs in the eighth and ninth.

Angels 6, Red Sox 3: Not everyone was as delighted about Kole Calhoun‘s run-scoring balk as the Angels were. Calhoun plated a run in the seventh inning after Fernando Abad stopped his delivery on a 3-1 pitch, boosting the Angels’ lead to three runs and eventually securing their 6-3 win. Neither Abad nor Red Sox manager John Farrell saw eye-to-eye with crew chief Bill Miller, however, and contested the ruling after Abad claimed that he inadvertently balked after seeing Calhoun call for a time out.

Mets 5, Giants 2: From injuries to slumps, it’s been a rough ride for the Mets this month. Enter Jacob deGrom, who crafted his third consecutive quality start with eight innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and going 1-for-3 with a single against the Giants’ Johnny Cueto. The Giants, on the other hand, became the first team to record 50 losses this season after the bullpen blew a 1-1 tie in the eighth.

Pirates 7, Cardinals 3: Look, there may be plenty of legitimate baseball-related reasons to skip out on a wedding reception. I can’t think of any compelling enough to leave your own wedding, however, at least not just to watch Lance Lynn give up seven runs during the Cardinals’ 40th loss of the year.

Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 0: Clayton Kershaw is still very, very good. After faltering in a six-run outing against the Mets last week, the Dodgers’ ace returned with six shutout innings against the Rockies, striking out eight and matching Jason Vargas’ league-best 11 wins. He manufactured his own run support, too, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the third inning to cement the club’s four-run lead:

Padres 7, Tigers 3: The Tigers continued their eight-game skid with a tough loss at PETCO Park on Saturday, marring six solid innings from Anibal Sanchez with a five-run implosion in the eighth inning. Andrew Romine put up two of the Tigers’ three runs on an RBI double and single, but wasn’t able to single-handedly rally from a four-run deficit in the ninth.

Astros 5, Mariners 2: Sometimes, it’s difficult to identify the exact moment when a game swings out of control. Other times, it’s all too obvious. For the Mariners, that moment could be traced back to one line drive in the seventh inning:

In Mitch Haniger‘s defense, clearing 69 feet in under five seconds is a feat few can pull off, even with the game on the line.

Diamondbacks 9, Phillies 2: Nothing the Diamondbacks and Phillies did — not even the Ben Lively home run that made this play possible — was as impressive as the coordination and grace of this lone D-backs fan:

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.