It looked like the Twins finally had one in the bag when Scott Baker turned a 5-0 lead against the Angels over the bullpen after seven excellent innings. It should have been the elusive third victory for Baker, who had seen the Twins score more than three runs in just three of his nine starts.
Alas, the eighth proved terribly unkind to the club once again.
Alex Burnett, Dusty Hughes and Jim Hoey combined to give up five runs in the frame, and Hoey went on to take the loss in the ninth as the Angels stormed back to win 6-5. The Twins, already with baseball’s worst record, fell to 16-33.
Incredibly, the Twins have given up 49 runs in the eighth inning of their 49 games. We’re no experts, but that’s almost like a run per game or something.
It seems likely that more changes are in store for the Twins bullpen after this one. The three pitchers who combined to blow the lead — Burnett, Hughes and Hoey — have ERAs of 7.11, 9.95 and 10.61, respectively. It’d be no surprise at all to Burnett and Hughes go down Saturday, with Chuck James and perhaps former first-round pick Carlos Gutierrez coming up to replace them. Anthony Slama is another in line for a chance.
The Twins have more problems than the pen, and the shuffling of the chairs there probably won’t do a lot of good. But they have to do something and since a long-term benching of Delmon Young probably isn’t in the cards, they’re low on alternatives.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”