How quickly things change in the game of baseball.
Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez kicked off the top of the third inning with a bloop single to right-center field, Carlos Ruiz got hit by a pitch, then a bunt by Roy Halladay that should have been called foul was, for some reason, ruled fair.
An error in the next at-bat by Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff gave Shane Victorino second base and allowed both Ibanez and Ruiz to score. Huff should have had the routine groundball, but it bounced off his glove and traveled into shallow center field. 2-1, Phillies.
The odd half-inning was not over. Placido Polanco nearly got beaned by a high-and-tight fastball from Tim Lincecum, stared Lincecum down for a moment, then roped a single to left-center that gave Victorino an easy path toward home. 3-1, Phillies.
Halladay will take the mound in the bottom of the third inning with a two-run lead and the Giants don’t exactly have an explosive offense. Maybe the Phils can survive this NLCS Game 5 and push the seven-game series back to Philadelphia, just as the Yankees did Wednesday in the ALCS. Or, as so often happens, this matchup that has been billed as a “great pitcher’s duel” could turn into an all-out slugfest.
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.