Sometimes it just isn’t your day, but Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Phillies is the latest sign that this just isn’t the Cubs’ year.
Carlos Marmol, who struck out the side in impressive fashion on Friday, entered Saturday’s game protecting a one-run lead. After getting Greg Dobbs to fly out to begin the ninth inning, he walked Brian Schneider and Ross Gload to put the tying run into scoring position. Marmol was able to strike out Shane Victorino for the second out, but surrendered a game-tying RBI single to Placido Polanco, who was activated from the disabled list prior to Saturday’s game.
Tyler Colvin, who was playing left field, actually made a very strong throw to the plate, however catcher Geovany Soto was unable to come up with the ball and apply a tag. Game tied. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Not only did Marmol walk the next batter Jimmy Rollins on four pitches, he threw ball four to the backstop, allowing Gload to score with the go-ahead run. Yeesh.
Marmol then intentionally walked Ryan Howard to load the bases after Jimmy Rollins stole second base. And that would make tons of sense if Marmol was capable of throwing strikes. He wasn’t. At least not on this particular day. Marmol proceeded to walk Jayson Werth, too, his fifth free pass of the inning. Just to put things in perspective for a minute, Cliff Lee has walked just six batters all freaking season.
Anyway, Cubs manager Lou Piniella finally pulled his closer from the game after he threw just 15 of 39 pitches for strikes. Again, bad day for Marmol, but he’s really been the least of the Cubs’ problems this season. Consider today’s painful loss just another notch in the “sell” column.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.