Phillies 4, Reds 0: Joey Votto, after the game, explaining what it was like to face Roy Halladay: “It’s like trying to hit nothing.” Someone is going to repeat that phrase at Halladay’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It will be written in his obituary.
Some no-hitters don’t seem so impressive as you’re watching them. Edwin Jackson’s, for example. Even Dallas Braden’s perfect game was less than overwhelming in many respects. Hallday’s Game 1 was not one of those games. It was as if the ball was on a track, destined to end up in a part of the strikezone at a specific velocity that made it impossible to hit no matter what the Reds attempted. He went 0-1 on 25 of the 28 batters he faced. He looked like he could have thrown 12 or 13 no-hit innings. I don’t recall ever seeing a pitcher as locked-in as Halladay was.
Rangers 5, Rays 1: Man, if the Phillies hadn’t been so dumb as to trade Cliff Lee they’d be up 2-0 on the Reds already. OK, that was a joke. But trades certainly had an impact here. The Rangers’ heroes of the game — Lee, Francoeur and Bengie Molina — were all mid-season pickups. Picked up, you’ll recall, when the team was in ownership litigation turmoil. Indeed, they may not have been able to even do these deals without signoff from Major League Baseball, which had the Rangers on a line of credit at the time. I wonder how the Rays’ owners feel about that today?
Yankees 6, Twins 4: And this is why, despite my objective assessment of the team’s strengths, I had to pick the Yankees in this series. You just can’t kill them. Down 3-0,you just knew they’d string together a few base hits to rally. Tied at 4, you just knew that they’d score again. Or maybe you didn’t know — and maybe you couldn’t have predicted Teixiera going long on Crain — but there certainly shouldn’t have been any surprise when it happened. Well, hell, maybe you could have predicted the homer given that, just before it happened, TBS showed a replay of him going long to the right field corner on Jessee Crain from back in May. Oh well.
It’s weird to say this about a Game 1, but it was a game the Yankees really needed to win given all of the uncertainty in the rotation behind CC Sabathia. And speaking of Sabathia — if the plan really is to bring him back on short rest, why on Earth did Girardi not bring out the hook for him in the sixth? He was clearly gassed, and ended up throwing 111 pitches.
If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.
It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:
Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.
The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.