25-year-old Cory Luebke didn’t have the easiest of assignments Friday night against the Rockies. Not only was he making his major league debut, he was being asked to stop the bleeding of a seven-game losing streak. No pressure or anything.
Luebke was predictably a little shaky, giving up a pair of two-run homers over five innings while walking two, hitting a batter and committing a fielding error. Edward Mujica, Mike Adams and Ernesto Frieri followed with seven strikeouts over four innings of hitless ball, but it wasn’t enough. The Padres lost 4-3 and have now dropped eight consecutive games.
Chase Headley told Corey Brock of MLB.com that it’s hard to point to any one thing as the reason for recent skid.
“The frustrating part of this is that we haven’t been playing bad
baseball in this streak,” Headley said. “It’s been one little thing that
can change the game.”
Headley is staying positive, but it’s not really a mystery. As David Pinto of Baseball Musings tells us, the Padres have batted .220 over the course of the streak, including .174 with runners in scoring position. The team’s pitching hasn’t been awful, but their opponents have batted .410 with runners in scoring position.
The Padres were 6 1/2 games up on the Giants on August 25. They’re now three games up with 29 left to play. Fortunately for the Padres, the Giants lost Friday night, so they didn’t lose any more ground. Jon Garland will try to snap the streak when he opposes Jason Hammel later this afternoon.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.