Derek Lowe

Cliff Lee has 16 strikeouts, takes backseat to Derek Lowe

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9:50 p.m. EDT – Kimbrel settled for one strikeout, getting Ryan Howard to end the Braves’ 5-0 victory.  Four Braves pitches combined on a two-hit shutout as Cliff Lee notched his 16 strikeouts in a losing cause.

9:40 p.m. EDT – The Braves padded their lead with two runs in the top of the ninth before Chipper Jones fanned to end the frame.  If Craig Kimbrel strikes out the side in the bottom of the ninth, the two teams would tie the NL record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, which is 30.

9:35 p.m. EDT – A big night for strikeouts.  The Marlins and Nationals have combined for 23 through 7 1/2 innings.  Ricky Nolasco had 11 in seven innings for Florida and then three relievers combined for three strikeouts in the top of the eighth.

9:30 p.m. EDT – 26 strikeouts through eight innings for the two teams combined.  The big-league record in a nine-inning game is 31, established by the Rangers and Mariners in a game on July 13, 1997.

9:25 p.m. EDT – The injury to Polanco was a right big toe contusion.  He appears to be day-to-day.

9:20 p.m. EDT – Worse news for the Phillies than a loss tonight would be a lengthy absence for Placido Polanco.  He was injured on the double that knocked Lowe out of the game and was replaced by Wilson Valdez.  NL third basemen really do appear to be cursed this year.

9:15 p.m. EDT – Taking lessons from Lee, Eric O’Flaherty struck out three in a row to bail Lowe out the jam and protect Atlanta’s lead.  And, as expected, Lee is done.  J.C. Romero took over to start the eighth.

9:05 p.m. EDT – And Lowe is done after giving up back-to-back hits to begin the bottom of the seventh.  Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has gone to lefty specialst Eric O’Flaherty to face Ryan Howard in the 3-0 game.

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Cliff Lee just struck out the side in the top of the seventh for the Phillies, giving him 16 strikeouts against the Braves, yet he’s given up three runs and is going to be on the losing side unless the offense can come up with a late rally, as Derek Lowe took a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh for Atlanta.

Shane Victorino singled to lead off the bottom of the sevnth, breaking up Lowe’s bid, but the right-hander remains in the game, going for his first win since April 16.

Lee got each of his final seven outs via the strikeout. He was at 117 pitches through seven, so it seems like a safe assumption that he’s not coming back out for the eighth.

Lee had never fanned more than 13 batters in a game before tonight.  His previous high was established against the A’s in a complete-game victory July 27, 2010.  It’s his 13th career 10-strikeout game.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.