Bottom of the sixth inning, the Reds coming back. A Ryan Ludwick homer brings them to within three runs. Then, Jay Bruce walks, Scott Rolen singles, putting Bruce on second. Ryan Hanigan comes up to the plate — still no one out — and works the count full. Matt Cain is on the ropes!
Then Dusty Baker sends Jay Bruce on a steal of third for some damn reason, Hanigan either doesn’t realize it or doesn’t care, and fails to swing at Cain’s pitch, which is called a strike, and then Buster Posey fires it down to third and nails Bruce by a couple of steps. Stike-em-out-throw-em-out double play. Cain is off the hook and then after a pitching change Drew Stubbs grounds out to end the inning. We’re in the seventh now, with the Giants up 6-3.
Why Baker is sending Bruce in that situation, in that park against a pitcher who is fighting for his life is a mystery. But he gave the Giants a free out and, depending on what Hanigan was thinking, maybe two. Just a disastrous sequence of events.
But Dusty sure showed us who can manage, in every active sense of the verb “manage.”
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.