And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

40 Comments

Braves 4, Marlins 3: The Braves clinch a playoff berth on a Freddie Freeman walkoff jack. It only guarantees them a slot in the one-game gimmicky thing next Friday, but that beats the hell out of last September. The only thing that would have made this better is if Heath Bell, as the the Marlins walked to the clubhouse, went up to Ozzie Guillen and told him that he wouldn’t have blown the save if Ozzie wasn’t such a jerk and kept him from closing.

Tigers 3, Royals 0: Anibal Sanchez comes up big, tossing a three-hit, ten-strikeout shutout, and the Tigers take advantage of an earlier White Sox loss for the first time in what seems like forever. Things are all tied up in the AL Central.

Indians 4, White Sox 3: Tied up because the Sox’ 9th inning rally off Chris Perez, though quite promising for a while, fell short. Russ Canzler had a big day. Meaningless but fun: Canzler has played two games against Chicago this year and he is 4 for 8 with two homers and a double and three driven in.

Phillies 6, Nationals 3: A four game lead with eight to go is pretty safe, but really Washington, you don’t want to be doin’ this. Not that I’m gonna stop you from doin’ this, but dudes, seriously. Not the best night ever for Cole Hamels, but he won his 16th, which sets a new high for him.

Reds 4, Brewers 2: This series could be the Brewers’ Waterloo. And I’m not talking about the one on Highway 89 northeast of Madison.  The loss, combined with the Cardinals win drops them four and a half back in the wild card.

Cardinals 4, Astros 0: About that Cardinals win: Jaime Garcia tossed seven shutout innings. I haven’t checked it, but I bet — win or lose — the Astros have had the most impact on the NL playoff race this year. Be it knocking off the Phillies or laying down to the contenders, the Astros have paid a rich and meaningful role in the pennant race.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 0: Another classic six-pitcher shutout. Viva September. Aaron Laffey led the way with five innings of goose eggs.

Twins 5, Yankees 4: I guess Denard Span wasn’t lying when he told Adam Jones he was trying to help the O’s the best he can. Span drove in two and the Yankees can’t put any more daylight between themselves and the Orioles. The gap remains one and a half.

Angels 5, Mariners 4: Angels pitchers strike out 20 M’s batters — Greinke fanned 13 in five innings himself — and hold on for a 5-4 victory. Justin Smoak had two bombs in a losing effort. Losing team effort, anyway. His effort was smashing, baby.

Rays 5, Red Sox 2: David Price continues to be a beast. He notches his 19th win while striking out 13 Red Sox. Jeff Keppinger’s second inning three-run shot was all the Rays needed.

Pirates 10, Mets 6: At least Pittsburgh managed to avoid being mathematically eliminated for an extra night. Which is something. Approximately 236 players were used in this game.

Rockies 10, Cubs 5:  DJ LeMahieu singled, doubled and tripled but had his shot at the cycle cut short due to rain, as this one was called after six and a half innings. Stinks for him, but ending a late-season Cubs-Rockies game early is a positive in humanitarian terms. Indeed, I view the rain as evidence that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 2: Paul Goldschmidt homered and drove in five. Tim Lincecum had been on track but then pinches off a Seven run on five hit four inning performance heading into the playoffs. Troublesome.

Padres 2, Giants 1: Edinson Volquez had seven shutout innings as the Dodgers continue to sink.

Athletics 3, Rangers 2: George Kottaras hit a leadoff homer in the 10th inning. He hit it off Mark Lowe who, for reasons which are clear only to Ron Washington, was pitching in a tied game in the 10th inning. This is the sort of magic that folks point to when they say that Washington, however good a manager he is over the long haul, costs his team individual games.

Jeurys Familia’s domestic violence suspension to be announced today

Getty Images
2 Comments

Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the announcement of Jeurys Familia‘s domestic violence suspension is expected some time today.

Familia was arrested in October following an incident at his home. Criminal charges were dropped in December. As we know, however, MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require criminal proceedings to be commenced, let alone completed, before the leveling of league punishment. MLB has been investigating the incident for the past several months.

Billy Witz of the New York Times reported Monday that the suspension is “almost certain” to be lighter than the 30-game suspension Aroldis Chapman received one year ago. However much time Familia misses, the Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

2017 Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Getty Images
1 Comment

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Let’s look first at the strengths. There’s Mike Trout, the undisputed best player in the game. That’s always a good start. I could bore you with a bunch of stats and historical comparisons here but we’re friends here and, let’s be honest, we don’t need or even want that. The guy is good, ’nuff said.

Indeed, I had an impulse to simply photoshop Trout’s head on this poster and be done with the entire Angels preview:

 

You could almost stop reading now and know what’s up in Anaheim this year.

But honestly, Trout isn’t the only strength here. The Angels have the best defensive shortstop in the league in Andrelton Simmons and a lot of other good defensive players as well, from Kole Calhoun in right, Cameron Maybin in left, Luis Valbuena at first (or wherever he’s slotted once he comes back from a hamstring injury) and Danny Espinosa at second. Their catching corps — Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez — are solid too. When you lack team depth and have pitching challenges like the Angels do, not kicking the ball all over the field is a good thing. The Angels have kicked the ball a lot in recent years but they’ll be pretty good with the leather in 2017, and that can make up for a lot of faults.

But I ain’t gonna lie, there are a lot of faults here.

Garrett Richards is back from a UCL injury that sidelined him most of last season. He didn’t get Tommy John surgery — he went with stem cell treatment — so the recovery time is lower. Still, it seems like a lot of guys who go the rehab route end up going under the knife eventually anyway, so everyone will have their eye on the Angels’ ace as the season goes on.

Beyond Richards the rotation is suspect. Matt ShoemakerRicky NolascoTyler Skaggs — also coming back from injury — and Jesse Chavez do not, as a group, strike fear into anyone’s hearts. I guess the hope here is that Nolasco’s pitching after he came over from Minnesota is more indicative of what he can do than what he did earlier in the year. Or, for that matter, for the past three seasons. If Richards is healthy he’s an ace. The rest of these guys are basically average at best.

The pen has issues. Cam Bedrosian had a fantastic 2016, but it was definitely a huge step up for him and may have been an aberration. closer Huston Street did not have a fantastic 2016, is recovering from a strained lat now and it’s fair to ask whether he’s got what it takes to close in the bigs anymore. Even if that’s too pessimistic an assessment, he’s missed a lot of time this spring. Andrew Bailey, like Nolasco, pitched well after coming to Anaheim last summer but poorly before that, with the poorly looking more like his true level than the well. Otherwise Mike Scioscia has a lot of young arms but not a lot of particularly good ones. Look for his bullpen to feature a cast of thousands.

As for the lineup: Trout is Trout. Albert Pujols is recovering from yet another foot issue. He still has old man strength and can hit some dingers, but he’s a shell of his former self and it’s fair to ask how many lower body maladies a guy whose primary value is tied up in power can tolerate. Yunel Escobar, Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron are useful and predictable, even if they’re not game-changers. The Angels were 10th in offense in the AL last year. It’s hard to see them making a big leap from that level this year, even if they’re not likely to be too much worse either.

Ultimately, there’s not enough pitching here and there’s not a scary enough secondary or tertiary offensive threat behind Trout to make the offense difficult to deal with. If you play the Angels you’ll score some runs and you can pitch to everyone who isn’t wearing the number 27. That’s not gonna cut it in the AL West this year.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League West.