It wasn’t the expected result in Anaheim on Saturday night, as Jered Weaver went without a strikeout for just the second time in 152 career starts and was outdueled by rookie Alex White in the Indians’ 4-3 victory.
Weaver’s only previous strikeout-less performance came on June 10, 2007, when he allowed three runs in three innings against the Cardinals. He came into this one having led the AL with 55 strikeouts in seven starts this season. He fanned 15 in a win over the Blue Jays on April 10 and 10 in his shutout of Oakland on April 25.
But whether it’s the illness that pushed him back a day in the rotation a week ago or fatigue from having thrown so many pitches early on, Weaver just didn’t seem to be his usual self tonight. His velocity was OK, but his slider was flat and the Indians had plenty of good hacks.
Weaver managed to keep his team in the game anyway, allowing four runs over six innings, but White was just enough better. The 2009 first-round pick fanned six while giving up three runs over six innings. Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestana and Chris Perez followed with scoreless frames, giving the Indians their 22 win against 10 losses.
For White, it should have been the first of many. The 22-year-old right-hander has an excellent 91-95 mph fastball and a plus slider. The splitter that serves as his changeup wasn’t really necessary tonight, as most of the power in the Angels lineup comes from the right side of the plate.
White probably isn’t up for good; he’ll survive Carlos Carrasco’s return from the DL, but he is supposed to head back to Triple-A after Mitch Talbot is activated at the end of the month. Yet even if White does spend another month at Columbus first, he should be a big factor in the second half. There’s a long way to go yet, but if the Indians do reach the playoffs this year, it’d be a surprise if White isn’t in their ALDS rotation.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.