Giants' midseason moves haven't paid off

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Part of the reason why the Giants find themselves 3.5 games behind the Rockies in the Wild Card race despite baseball’s best pitching staff is that the midseason trades they made in an effort to upgrade a punchless lineup haven’t worked out at all.
Prior to getting second baseman Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates and first baseman Ryan Garko from the Indians, the Giants averaged 4.0 runs per game. Since then San Francisco has scored 4.1 runs per game.
Basically zero change, which is what happens when Sanchez hits .278/.290/.322 while being sidelined half the time with a shoulder injury and Garko earns a seat on the bench by hitting .232/.291/.347.
Last month I wrote about how dangerous the Giants could be in the playoffs because of their Tim Lincecum-led pitching staff, but that premise assumed that Sanchez and Garko would at least give the lineup a couple decent bats to compliment Pablo Sandoval. Instead they’ve just joined the crowded club of Giants hitters providing below-average production.
In fact, among the 16 hitters who’ve had at least 100 plate appearances for the Giants this season only Sandoval, Juan Uribe, and little-used reserve outfielder Andres Torres have an adjusted OPS+ above average. And (with apologies to Rockies fans) it’s a shame, because I’d love to see the league’s best pitcher, the league’s top-hitting Panda, and maybe even the best left-handed pitcher of the past 50 years in the playoffs.

Travis d’Arnaud’s position in Wednesday’s box score read “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B”

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The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud — normally a catcher — borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.

The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.

The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.

Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.