Daily Dose: Back scratches Lincecum

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Tim Lincecum was a last-minute scratch from his Tuesday night start with back pain, so the Giants called up top prospect Madison Bumgarner from Double-A to take his place versus the Padres. Bumgarner was a teenager until last month, but the former first-round pick was 9-1 with a 1.93 ERA at Double-A and handled himself pretty well against the NL’s lowest-scoring team, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings.
Bumgarner’s numbers as a pro as insanely good, with a 27-5 record and 1.65 ERA, but his 69/30 K/BB ratio in 107 innings at Double-A suggest that he’s not quite ready to dominate. He’s without question one of the top pitching prospects in baseball and the Giants obviously believed that he was ready for the challenge Tuesday night, but don’t count on the young southpaw being a fantasy asset until at least mid-2010.
While the Giants unveil their next stud starter and pray that Lincecum’s injury proves minor, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Charlie Manuel reiterated Tuesday afternoon that Brad Lidge will remain his closer despite an MLB-high 10 blown saves. And then Tuesday night he pulled Lidge in the middle of a save situation and brought in Ryan Madson to close out a 5-3 win. Lidge allowed a single and a walk, plunked a batter, and uncorked a wild pitch while getting just one out, at which point Madson got the call and cleaned up his mess.
* After sitting out since mid-June with a knee injury Carlos Beltran returned from the disabled list Tuesday and went 1-for-4 while narrowly missing a grand slam. Beltran deserves credit for working hard to make his way back for the final four weeks of the season despite the fact that his team is completely out of contention after going just 27-42 in his absence. If he looks healthy, Beltran should be undervalued for 2010.
* Alex Gordon returned to the majors Tuesday after batting .313/.435/.493 during his three-week demotion to Triple-A, which despite Kansas City’s claim that suppressing his service time wasn’t a factor was just long enough to delay his free agency for an extra year. Gordon is now under the Royals’ control through at least 2013, although he’ll need to turn things around to be of any use by then. He’s a nice buy-low target.
* Rotoworld’s whole baseball crew is now on Twitter, from Matthew Pouliot’s frequent updates during each night’s games to my mindless babble about things that have no fantasy baseball relevance whatsoever, so check us out:
Aaron Gleeman – @aarongleeman
Matthew Pouliot – @matthewpouliot
Drew Silva – @drewsilv
D.J. Short – @djshort
Nick Nelson – @nnelson9
Eddie Schmid – @edwinthethird
Thor Nystrom – @thorku
Evan Brunell – @immortalkid
Our current goal is to collectively get more followers than Gregg Rosenthal, because his incessant bragging around the office is becoming tough to take.
AL Quick Hits: Michael Young (hamstring) is hoping to rejoin the lineup by the end of the week after jogging Tuesday … Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) is due to make his final rehab start Wednesday at Single-A … Julio Borbon smacked a pair of homers Tuesday and also swiped his 13th base … Joe Crede (back) came off the disabled list Tuesday and should be the primary third baseman down the stretch … Fernando Rodney appealed his three-game suspension for throwing a ball into the press box last week … Jake Peavy (elbow) will toss a bullpen session Wednesday with an eye on joining the White Sox’s rotation next week … Wade Davis will stick in the rotation following an impressive debut, bumping Andy Sonnanstine … Dustin Pedroia had his first career multi-homer game Tuesday … Carlos Carrasco struggled again Tuesday, giving him a 12.38 ERA through two career starts … Francisco Liriano (elbow) threw a simulated game Tuesday and reported no problems, setting up a bullpen move.
NL Quick Hits: J.A. Happ will miss a second start because of his strained oblique, so Jamie Moyer will again fill in … Manny Parra left Tuesday’s start after just one inning because of neck spasms … Casey Blake (hamstring) sat out his fourth straight game Tuesday, with Ronnie Belliard starting at third base … Garrett Jones homered again Tuesday, giving the career minor leaguer 19 long balls in 235 at-bats … Corey Hart (appendicitis) returned from the disabled list Tuesday, but won’t rejoin the lineup until Wednesday … Fredi Gonzalez indicated Tuesday that Jeremy Hermida (oblique) is not expected back any time soon … Colby Rasmus sat out Tuesday’s game with the heel injury that has plagued him all season … Ken Macha said Tuesday that Casey McGehee will play more down the stretch than Mat Gamel … Raul Ibanez went deep twice Tuesday, totaling 30 homers for the second time … Reed Johnson (foot) is not expected to play again this year.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.