Thoughts from Tuesday's games

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Twitter is broken for me and a bunch of other new users, so let’s post some quick notes here:

– Hopefully, Tuesday’s ninth inning will bring an end to manager Terry
Francona’s attempts to keep Nick Green in the shortstop mix for the Red
Sox. Green did better than expected as a stopgap in place of an injured
Jed Lowrie and a gimpy Julio Lugo, but he doesn’t get on base, he
doesn’t have much range and he’s just not a very smart ballplayer. Two
ugly plays led to two runs against Jonathan Papelbon tonight, allowing
the A’s to tie it up.

Lowrie needs to play regularly for the next few weeks, allowing the
Red Sox to see whether they truly need an upgrade at short for
September and the postseason. Green should be thought of strictly as a
utilityman.

– MVP candidate Jason Bartlett hit ninth for the Rays tonight.
Against a left-hander. Against an ace left-hander he’s actually slugged
.483 against in his career. Bartlett is hitting .333/.386/.511 this
season. He’s hit .328/.381/.464 against southpaws in his career. He was
9-for-29 against CC Sabathia. And the Rays arranged it so that he would
potentially get one less at-bat than Pat Burrell, Gabe Kapler or Dioner
Navarro.

For the record, leadoff hitter B.J. Upton was batting .184/.311/.254 against lefties this season.

– Ross Gload walkoff blast against Rafael Soriano in the bottom of
the ninth Tuesday was his fourth homer for Florida in 134 at-bats this
season. He hit three homers in 388 at-bats for Kansas City last year.
Sadly, the Royals may well have been better off with him instead of
Mike Jacobs. They’re still paying most of Gload’s salary, and the
pitcher they gave to the Marlins for Jacobs, Leo Nunez, got the win in
relief tonight.

– Poor Scott Downs. Battles back from bases loaded with no outs in a
tie game against the Mariners by getting a 5-2 groundout and a
strikeout and then gets 0-2 on Ichiro Suzuki with a chance to send the
game into extra innings. He throws a perfect breaking ball off the
plate and barely off the ground and Ichiro somehow bloops perfectly in
between the shortstop and center fielder, ending the game. No one else
in baseball gets that pitch in the air.

Downs now has three losses and an additional blown save in his last five appearances.

He wouldn’t have even had to face Ichiro tonight if the defense had
done a better job on the 6-2 groundout. It was just to the right of
third base, and Scott Rolen could have touched third and still had
plenty of time to throw home, with the caveat being that the runner
would have been in his throwing lane. When he fired home instead, the
Jays still might have had a chance for the double play at third base,
except the shortstop was late getting over to cover the bag.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics