James McDonald has been a big part of the Pirates’ surprising season, but he just hasn’t been the same pitcher since the All-Star break. He hit rock bottom last night against the Padres, giving up a season-high seven runs over just 4 1/3 innings as part of an eventual 9-8 loss.
McDonald actually cruised through the first four innings before coming unglued in the fifth. After issuing a one-out walk to Cameron Maybin, he gave up five straight hits to blow a 7-1 lead. The big blow was a game-tying three-run homer by Chase Headley.
McDonald has an ugly 8.71 ERA over six starts since the All-Star break after posting a 2.37 ERA in 17 starts during the first half of the season. The big problem? The home run ball. He has allowed eight home runs in 31 innings since the All-Star break after giving up just seven in 110 innings during the first half. He has also issued 21 walks after giving up just 31 for the entire first half.
Regression was probably inevitable for McDonald anyway, but it’s hitting him all at once and at the worst time for the Pirates. It will be interesting to see whether the Pirates continue to exercise patience or send McDonald to the bullpen while giving Kevin Correia another shot in the rotation.
Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.
While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.
Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.
SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.
Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.
Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.
At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.
In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.