– Ted Lilly, who had his first start after the break pushed back with what the Cubs called a sore knee, is slated to land on the DL with a sore shoulder.
Given the Cubs’ history with when it comes to injuries and Lilly’s own
past, I’m just going to assume that it was the shoulder bothering him
all along. Fortunately for the team, Ryan Dempster could be back before
the end of next week. Sean Marshall will almost certainly be left in
– Mark Kotsay was placed on waivers by the Red Sox to make room for the newly acquired Adam LaRoche.
I assumed the Red Sox would stash either Kotsay or Rocco Baldelli on
the DL, but perhaps neither veteran was willing to go along with the
plan. LaRoche is obviously a big upgrade from Kotsay as the alternative
to Kevin Youkilis at first base, but assuming that the Red Sox do lose
Kotsay — he could accept a minor league assignment if he clears
waivers — they’ll be awfully thin in the outfield. They have Chris
Duncan in Triple-A now, but Baldelli probably can’t play regularly and
Jonathan Van Every is out for the year after knee surgery, leaving the
team without a legitimate backup in center.
– Rather than turn back to Travis Buck or Aaron Cunningham, the
A’s have called up Eric Patterson to replace Matt Holliday on the
Patterson was extremely hot in Triple-A, going 17-for-37 with seven
extra-base hits in his last eight games. Overall, Corey’s younger
brother was hitting .326/.392/.523 with 34 steals in 40 attempts. The
A’s did figure to give him a long look at some point, but Buck and
Cunningham were the logical candidates to be installed as the new left
fielder. Patterson still doesn’t have a position, having been used at
second, center, left and third in Triple-A this year. He could get most
of the time in left for now, making him a nice pickup in AL-only
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.