Little reason to intentionally walk Ichiro

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The A’s and Mariners were tied at 3 in the top of the ninth tonight when Rob Johnson walked with one out and advanced to second on an infield chopper. That brought up Ichiro Suzuki with the go-ahead run at second. Like most managers would have in that situation, Bob Geren opted for the intentional walk and then brought in his closer, Andrew Bailey, to face Chone Figgins.
Again, it’s what most managers would have done. It was undeniably the wrong strategy, though.
Ichiro is, of course, the game’s best singles hitter. If Johnson had been on third, rather than second, than walking Ichiro probably would have been good idea. It also might have been justifiable with one out, as it would have set up a double play. With two outs, it was an awful idea.
Ichiro entered the day with 489 career plate appearances with a runner at second and no one else on. In those, he had been intentionally walked 70 times. In his 384 official at-bats, he had 142 hits, good for an exceptional .370 average.
Yet, those 142 hits had plated all of 73 runs. 124 of them were singles, many of the infield variety. With the catcher running, it’s pretty unlikely that an Ichiro single would have scored a run.
Figgins, on the other hand, had 196 career at-bats with men on first and second and knocked in 46 runs. Not an exceptional rate by any means, but still significantly better than Ichiro’s with merely the man on second. And this wasn’t a situation in which one run would have ended the game. The A’s made it far more likely that the Mariners would score multiple runs with their strategy.
And that’s exactly what happened. Figgins hit what should have been an inning-ending grounder to third, but Kevin Kouzmanoff, who had an absolutely horrible game in his A’s debut, made a wild throw and everyone was safe. Casey Kotchman followed with a two-run single to make it a 5-3 game.
So, yeah, maybe the luck was even worse than the strategy. But Geren made the wrong call and paid dearly.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.

The Dodgers are concerned about Julio Urias’ shoulder

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Things are going great for the Dodgers lately. They’ve won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. They lead the National League in wins and are in first place in, arguably, the best division in baseball.

But there are a lot of moving parts on a baseball team, and even when some things are going great, other things can go not-so-great. Like this:

Urias has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and shut down indefinitely. An MRI last week showed no structural damage, but his shoulder is still bothering him. He has not pitched in the bigs since late May, when he allowed seven runs in less than three innings against the Miami Marlins. He was sent down after that and went 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA, six walks and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts with Oklahoma City before being shelved.