And now for the most inevitable thing since Newton’s Laws: the Phillies have clinched a playoff spot.
Philadelphia beat the Astros 1-0 today behind Roy Halladay’s first shutout of the season. Indeed, it was the first shutout for any Phillies pitcher this season not named Cliff Lee. Lee has six. Halladay scattered six hits and struck out seven. It was his 18th of the year. The whole game took two hours and six minutes. It’s almost as if these guys had a plane to catch or something.
As Matt Gelb tweeted, this is the earliest the Phillies have ever clinched a playoff spot. They clinched the pennant in 1915 in 148 games. Today was the Phillies’ 146th.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.