We’ve heard a lot recently about the Orioles’ success in one-run games and the Rays’ inability to win one. Well, their fortunes finally reversed today.
We’ll start with the Orioles. They entered the bottom of the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead against the Yankees, but things unraveled from there. Wei-Yin Chen was ahead of Jayson Nix 0-2 with two outs and a runner on first, but he ended up walking him. Eduardo Nunez then delivered an RBI single before Buck Showalter brought the hook. His replacement, Pedro Strop then issued two walks, including one to Derek Jeter to force in a run. The go-ahead run scored after J.J. Hardy mishandled a hard-hit ball up the middle off the bat of Nick Swisher.
The Yankees didn’t get much from starter David Phelps, who gave up three runs on three hits and six walks over just 4 2/3 innings, but the bullpen was excellent. Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano combined to give up just one hit and two walks over 4 1/3 shutout innings. The loss snapped a streak of 13 straight wins in one-run games for the Orioles dating back to June 20 against the Mets. With today’s 4-3 win, the Yankees have a three-game cushion again in the American League East.
As for the Rays, they ended up hanging on thanks to a five-out save from Fernando Rodney and some heroics from B.J. Upton and Jose Molina. Colby Rasmus hit a single to center field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Upton made a strong throw to Molina, who blocked a charging Omar Vizquel from scoring the tying run. You’ll recall last night’s game ended in the same exact fashion, as Blue Jays’ catcher Jeff Mathis was able to hang on following a collision with Elliot Johnson. Crazy.
As you can see with the video here, it looked like the 45-year-old Vizquel hit a brick wall. Molina came up limping after the collision, but he was able to hang onto to the ball to help secure the 5-4 victory. The Rays entered today’s action with 11 losses in their last 12 games decided by one run, but hey, maybe they are turning a new leaf now that the calendar has flipped to September.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.