First, the quote of the day from Mark Bradley of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution:
“Tim Hudson in the 162nd game. A team could do worse. For example: Derek Lowe in the 161st game …”
Yup. And we know this is true for reasons beyond the fact that Lowe, on general principles, sucks. We know that because the Braves were in the exact same position last year. They had a big lead — though a softer, earlier one — for a playoff spot in 2010. They blew it. Less of a collapse than it was Philly remembering that they were good and overtaking them, but they blew the lead regardless. They stumbled on offense down the stretch and then, on the final game of the season, they needed a win from Tim Hudson against a Philly team with nothing to play for in order to secure a playoff spot.
The result last year: an 8-7 win over Philly, with Tim Hudson picking up the win after giving up four runs in seven innings. As will likely be the case tonight, last year Charlie Manuel used the game to give multiple starters some work. Cole Hamels pitched two innings. Joe Blanton and Roy Oswalt each pitched an inning. There’s no Danys Baez around this year to blow it like he did last year, but Manuel will likely give multiple bullpen arms some work.
Like they say in the mutual fund ads, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But the fact is, the Braves have been here before.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.