Kendrick on fire since returning from minors

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Last night the Angels bounced back from Wednesday’s umpire-aided loss to the Red Sox, picking up a one-run win at Fenway Park thanks in large part to Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick homered off Josh Beckett early and then delivered a go-ahead single off Billy Wagner late, with embattled closer Brian Fuentes getting the final two outs for his MLB-leading 42nd save.
After hitting just .231/.281/.355 through 51 games Kendrick was demoted to Triple-A in mid-June despite being four seasons into his big-league career. He went 27-for-78 (.346) in 20 games at Triple-A, which is no surprise given his lifetime .360 batting average in 399 games as a minor leaguer, and has stayed hot since rejoining the Angels in July.
Kendrick is 58-for-153 (.379) with five homers and 11 doubles in 44 games since returning to the majors, bringing his batting average all the way up to .298. And despite managing just 21 homers and 40 non-intentional walks in 347 career games, Kendrick has shown that his amazing batting averages in the minors were no fluke by hitting .304 in 1,359 plate appearances.
Here’s the complete list of all the second basemen in baseball history with a higher batting average then Kendrick through the age of 25: Eddie Collins, Tony Lazzeri, Billy Herman, Dustin Pedroia, Rod Carew, Charlie Gehringer. That’s it, six guys. Five of them are in the Hall of Fame and the only one who isn’t was last season’s AL MVP.
Problems staying healthy and a lack of power or plate discipline makes it unlikely that Kendrick truly belongs in that company, but he has an awfully unique skill set that makes him one of the most interesting hitters in baseball to watch and has come up very big for the Angels in the second half.

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

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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

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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.