Mark Melancon goes from closer to likely minor leaguer

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As far as wins and losses go, it didn’t matter if Mark Melancon pitched a perfect inning or got lit up by the Rangers tonight, not with the Red Sox already behind 8-2 in the eighth. However, that he failed to retire any of the six hitters he faced will almost certainly play a role in his immediate future.

Melancon, who closed for the Astros last year and was a candidate to occupy that role for Boston when Andrew Bailey went down, gave up three homers tonight and saw his ERA jump to 49.50.

Melancon has made four appearances this season, but he’s pitched just two innings and he’s already allowed five homers. That’s as many as he gave up in 74 1/3 innings for Houston last season.

With the Red Sox in need of a fresh arm after Jon Lester’s two-inning start tonight, there’s a good chance Melancon will be optioned to Triple-A prior to Wednesday’s game. Clayton Mortensen and Junichi Tazawa would be the favorites to replace him on the roster.

At this point, it’s likely the best thing for the Red Sox and Melancon. The 27-year-old right-hander needs a chance to clear his head, and with Boston at home for four more games and the boos likely to rain down, he’s not going to get that opportunity at Fenway.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.