Things are looking up for the Twinkies through two innings at Minneapolis’ Target Field.
Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano struck out Yankees leadoff man Derek Jeter to open the first inning,
then promptly retired Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira on balls that did
not get out of the infield.
CC Sabathia escaped a Denard Span single with a little damage control in the bottom of the frame, accepting a free out on a sacrifice bunt by Orlando Hudson and then fanning All-Star catcher Joe Mauer before inducing a groundball against Delmon Young.
With two outs in the top of the second, Liriano walked Marcus Thames and allowed a soft single to Jorge Posada. But Curtis Granderson, he of the .228/.341/.447 regular-season batting line with runners in scoring position, was quickly retired on a liner to first base.
Sabathia nailed Jim Thome in the bicep to lead off the bottom of the second inning, which injected a little energy into the Target Field crowd. That energy turned to pandemonium just three pitches later as Michael Cuddyer launched a monstrous two-run blast to straightaway center field, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.
Let’s get a weather update out of the way for those who still believe that Minnesota is covered in snow 90% of the year and does not participate in the season called autumn. The temperature at game time was 63 degrees with no blizzards in sight, and even warmer temperatures are on tap for Game 2. Target Field is rocking because, for now at least, the home team is winning.
The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.
It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.
Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.
The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.
While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.