What we're watching: Beckett looks to bounce back

Leave a comment

– Brad Penny makes his first start for the Giants in a big game against Philadelphia. The Phillies won a sterling contest 1-0 last night, as Cole Hamels pitched a two-hit shutout to outduel Jonathan Sanchez. That allowed the Rockies to reclaim a one-game lead in the wild-card race. The Giants will likely need a strong outing from Penny if they hope to hang in there against J.A. Happ, who is 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA. Penny turned in just one quality start in his last five trips to the mound for Boston. He was released by the Red Sox after going 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts.
– The Red Sox will be looking for Josh Beckett to bounce back against a Rays team he’s struggled against lately. The former 20-game winner has allowed 20 runs over his last three starts, taking his ERA from 3.10 to 3.80. He’s 1-1 with a 5.60 ERA against Tampa Bay this year, and he gave up 10 runs in 9 1/3 innings versus the club in the ALCS last year. His opponent tonight might just be the one pitcher in the league the Red Sox least like to see: Matt Garza. Garza is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four starts versus Boston this year. Including last year’s postseason, he’s 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 12 career starts against the Red Sox.
Game of the Night
Los Angeles vs. Seattle – Well, technically it’s a late afternoon game in Seattle, but that’s good enough for us East Coasters. Scott Kazmir will make his Angels debut in a showdown against Cy Young contender Felix Hernandez. Kazmir had his high strikeout game of the year in his final start for Tampa Bay before being traded for three prospects. He allowed one run in six innings and fanned 10 against Toronto to finish off a month of August in which he went 3-1 with a 5.10 ERA. Hernandez is aiming for his first win of the year against the Angels after going 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA in his first two starts.

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

Getty Images
Leave a 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.