What we're watching: Nats go for ninth straight win

Leave a comment

– Junichi Tazawa will make his first major league start in front of a home crowd at Fenway as the Red Sox play the Tigers tonight. Fortunately, Boston was able to halt its six-game losing streak last night, taking some of the pressure off the 23-year-old import. The Tigers will also be starting a rookie in Rick Porcello, who lost to the Red Sox after giving up three runs in 4 1/3 innings on June 2. He’s 10-7 with a 4.30 ERA.
– Also making their first career starts tonight are Seattle’s Doug Fister and Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin. Fister stands 6-foot-8, but command is his forte, as he walked just 11 batters in 106 1/3 innings for Triple-A Tacoma this season. He’ll be relying heavily on Seattle’s league-best outfield defense when he faces the White Sox. Chacin, a far superior prospect, is going to make a spot start against the Pirates with Aaron Cook out. He’s allowed one run and struck out nine in five innings since joining Colorado’s bullpen last month.
Game of the Night
Washington vs. Atlanta – The Nationals go for a ninth straight victory with ace John Lannan on the mound tonight. Lannan, who has gone 8-8 for a 40-72 team, ranks 15th in the NL in ERA despite recording just 64 strikeouts in 148 2/3 innings. He’s going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Braves this season. Trying to cool off the Nats will be young Tommy Hanson, who outpitched Lannan in his July 4 start only to see the Braves bullpen blow a two-run lead. He’s 6-2 with a 3.22 ERA.

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

Getty Images
1 Comment

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.