Remember last June when Joe Maddon had Sam Fuld warm up as a relief pitcher for the sole purpose of giving his real reliever, Cesar Ramos, more time to get loose? And how he admitted that he lied to the umps about Fuld having an injury so as not to run afoul of the rules which require relief pitchers to face a batter before being pulled? Yeah, MLB has changed the rules to combat that kind of nonsense:
A season after the Tampa Bay manager put outfielder Sam Fuld to the mound to warm up for the sole purpose of giving a reliever extra time in the bullpen, Major League Baseball closed the loophole.
MLB has amended Official Baseball Rule 3.05 regarding such shenanigans. The change will “prohibit a manager from sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch because a relief pitcher is not ready to enter the game.”
It’s more of a refinement than an actual rule change, I suppose. Going more specifically at the intent than the previous version of the rule which dealt simply with whether a reliever had faced anyone. Which is a good thing, because even if what Maddon did wasn’t a capital crime, that kind of gamesmanship is just kinda lame.
Other rule changes: hitters can now use bats with scoops on the end of them as deep as 1 1/4 inches, up from 1 inch. I’d be curious to know what inspired that. Probably intense lobbying from the woodworking industry. Also: the word “baseline” has been replaced with the word “base path” in several places. That was probably the result of intense lobbying from the paper industry. That extra space will amount to more paper usage over time, you know, and that means money to Big Paper.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.