Rangers lefty Derek Holland had more first-inning trouble Saturday in Game 6 of the ALCS, allowing a leadoff single to Austin Jackson. Ryan Raburn hit into a double play to erase that initial threat, but Miguel Cabrera launched an opposite-field homer a moment later to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.
Holland entered the night having thrown 28 and 25 pitches, respectively, in the first inning of his previous two postseason starts. He needed only 17 pitches in tonight’s ALCS Game 6, but that Cabrera blast helped quiet an Arlington crowd that was rocking well before first pitch. It also put Texas in an early hole.
Detroit starter Max Scherzer missed location on a one-out single to speedy Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus in the bottom half of the first, but rallied back by retiring Josh Hamilton on a flyout to center field and Michael Young on a foul pop-up near the first base bag. Scherzer allowed three earned runs in a six-inning Game 2 start in Texas. He’s trying for even better.
Holland registered his first strikeout of the ALCS against Delmon Young in the top of the second, but Jhonny Peralta hit the Tigers’ second opposite-field home run of the evening in the very next at-bat. It just squeaked over the right field fence, landing not too far from Cabrera’s first-inning shot.
The Rangers are known for having a power-packed lineup, but it’s the Tigers putting on the home run derby. They have 17 postseason dingers, already tied for the club record set during 2006’s World Series run.
Tigers 2, Rangers 0. It’s the top of the third inning on a cool and breezy night in east Texas.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.