The Angels tied a major league record Tuesday as five pitchers combined to fan 20 batters in a 5-4 defeat of the Mariners.
Zack Greinke struck out 13 and allowed one run in his five innings of work, but with his pitch count up to 110, the Angels decided to pull him early. That didn’t reduce the errant swings, though. Garrett Richards fanned the side in the sixth, Kevin Jepsen added two in the eighth and Ernesto Frieri got two more in a scoreless ninth to tie the record.
For all the whiffing, the Mariners actually made a game of it in the seventh against Scott Downs. The Angels chose to pull Richards despite all of his success in the sixth, and it proved costly, as Downs gave up two doubles and homer to the five batters he faced.
Between the seventh and the eighth innings, the Mariners sent eight straight batters to the plate without any strikeouts. However, after Miguel Olivo singled and Trayvon Robinson put down a sac bunt in the eighth, Jepsen rebounded to strike out Mike Carp and Dustin Ackley to end the inning.
The Angels became the first team in major league history to record 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game using multiple pitchers. The previous three official 20-K games were all single pitcher affairs (Roger Clemens in 1986 and 1996 and Kerry Wood in 1998). Randy Johnson also had a 20-strikeout game against the Reds in 2001, but that one ended up going into extra innings.
As for the victims, Ackley led the way with four strikeouts, followed by Robinson and Brendan Ryan with three apiece. Justin Smoak hit two homers and walked for Seattle, but even he struck out once in the contest.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.