It wasn’t what they needed, but the Twins still have some life after winning two out of four games in Detroit. Thursday’s game turned into a rout in the eighth as Minnesota ended up winning 8-3. That leaves the Twins two games back with three to play.
What’s left may favor the Twins a bit. They have three home games against the Royals this weekend, while the Tigers have a home series against the White Sox. Let’s look at the probable matchups:
Kansas City at Minnesota
Fri: Lenny DiNardo vs. Jeff Manship
Sat: Zack Greinke vs. Nick Blackburn
Sun: Luke Hochevar vs. Brian Duensing
Chicago at Detroit
Fri: Jake Peavy vs. Edwin Jackson
Sat: Freddy Garcia vs. Alfredo Figaro
Sun: John Danks vs. Justin Verlander
Minnesota‘s starters are all tentative at the moment, but that’s how it’s lining up. Manship appears likely to get the nod on Friday because Francisco Liriano threw an inning Wednesday. Blackburn would be starting on short rest after being pushed back from Monday to Tuesday by the rainout.
The Tigers aren’t in such an urgent position, so they won’t go with Verlander on short rest Saturday. Verlander will probably be limited to a couple of innings Sunday if the Tigers have clinched by then. The Tigers will also probably want Rick Porcello to throw a couple of innings then.
The Greinke roadblock is huge, so even if the White Sox step up and claim two out of three games this weekend, the Twins have their work cut out for them to force a one-game playoff.
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.
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.