A week ago it appeared the Rays may be reduced to the role of spoiler when they faced the White Sox and Orioles in their final seven games of the season. Now, they’re right back in it after winning their eighth straight game on Thursday night against the Pale Hose.
Evan Longoria homered in the top of the ninth and Fernando Rodney closed the game with yet another scoreless inning as the Rays prevailed 3-2. It was Rodney’s 46th save of the season.
The White Sox got their only two runs off James Shields on a HBP in the fourth and a Paul Konerko double-play ball in the fifth. Jake Peavy was left with a no-decision after a strong effort that saw him allow two runs in 7 1/3 innings. Brett Myers took the loss in the ninth.
At 86-70, the Rays control their own destiny, even though they’re still three games back of the Orioles and two behind the A’s in the wild card. That’s because they still have three games against Baltimore next week.
The White Sox, on the other hand, have lost three straight to fall two games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. They don’t get to face Detroit again, so their fate is out of their hands. Since the Tigers finish with the Twins and Royals, the White Sox may have to win out to have a shot.
But that’s going to be exceedingly difficult with three more games against the Rays on the slate. The White Sox have look putrid against mediocre pitching of late, and now they’re getting Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and David Price this weekend.
If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.
It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:
Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.
The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.