This is not a preview of tomorrow night’s WBC matchup. I’m really just saying that I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been pretty WBC resistant of late, and I still quibble with its importance and place in the grand scheme of baseball, but there are a lot of things that are unimportant yet still fun. Indeed, most fun things fit that description if you’re living life properly. And based on the buzz on the ground here in Phoenix, USA-Mexico is gonna be a hoot.
Rather than get a press pass I got tickets, and I am going to with my friends Connor and Voros. If you’ve followed my Arizona exploits these past couple of years you’ll remember those two from that time we almost got beat up because someone thought we were racists. And the time we met the guy with the gigantic head wound who said that if he had a time machine the first thing he’d do is travel back and prevent women from getting the right to vote. Really, when I come here I have nine days of peace in the desert and then one day with Connor and Voros in which I come face to face with death and horror.
So you can imagine things are going to go totally well on Friday night. Especially when Conor and I independently came up with the idea to dress in green and lustily cheer for Mexico over the Americans as a means of pissing off the Arizonans. It should be quite the scene, man. If we survive the night I’ll be sure to give you a report.
But that’s tomorrow. Today: I’m going to Maryvale to take in the Brewers and Diamondbacks. Maryvale Ballpark, as many have noted, is in something of a bad neighborhood. You might even say it’s gritty. In which case I give Kirk Gibson and the Dbacks a distinct advantage in today’s contest.
Yu Darvish will be limited to 85-90 pitches when he makes his 2016 debut for the Rangers against the Pirates on Saturday, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports. Darvish hasn’t pitched since August 9, 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Pitching coach Doug Brocail said, “That would be a good pitch count. It all depends on how he looks during the game and how many pitches he has. We’re not going to have him go out there and throw 150 pitches. Hopefully he gets out there and uses his fastball to get early outs and uses his pitches wisely and keeps us in the game.”
Darvish has made five minor league rehab appearances beginning on May 1. Over three starts with Double-A Frisco and two with Triple-A Round Rock, the right-hander yielded four runs (two earned) on nine hits and six walks with 21 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez protected the Tigers’ lead in the ninth inning for what turned out to be a 3-1 victory. In doing so, he notched his league-leading 14th save of the season and the 400th save of his 15-year career. Rodriguez gave up a leadoff double to Freddy Galvis followed by a Maikel Franco single. However, he was able to retire Tommy Joseph on a sacrifice fly, Ryan Howard on a 4-3 ground out, and Carlos Ruiz on a strikeout to end the game.
Rodriguez is the sixth member of the 400-save club, joining Mariano Rivera (652), Trevor Hoffman (601), Lee Smith (478), John Franco (424), and Billy Wagner (422).
Rodriguez blew a save opportunity on Opening Day, but has gone 14-for-14 since. He carries a 3.57 ERA and a 16/6 K/BB ratio in 17 2/3 innings on the year.
Former major leaguer Jose Canseco will be a guest at the Frisco Rough Riders game against the Springfield Cardinals on June 4. After the game, he’ll participate in a Home Run Derby Challenge in which he takes on local challengers and attempts to break his own world record for the longest softball home run at 622 feet.
Here’s the link to the Roughl Riders schedule, which offers details on the event.
For those who might not know, the Rough Riders are the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate. Springfield is the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate.
The Mets considered skipping Matt Harvey‘s start against the Nationals on Tuesday, but the right-hander said he wanted to make the start, so the club relented. Harvey has struggled mightily this season, entering the start with a 5.77 ERA and a 43/15 K/BB ratio in 48 1/3 innings.
Harvey was slammed for nine runs (six earned) in 2 2/3 innings in his most recent start against the Nationals last Thursday. He failed to finish the sixth inning in six of nine starts.
Things didn’t get any better for Harvey against the Nationals on Tuesday. He yielded five runs on eight hits — including three home runs — with two walks and a strikeout in five innings. Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, and former teammate Daniel Murphy each clubbed homers against him. Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg continued to dominate.
One wonders, if there isn’t anything physically wrong with Harvey — and there’s reason to suspect there might be, particularly due to a decline across the board in velocity — the Mets might just put him on the disabled list to give him a couple of weeks to clear his head. Harvey was booed by the home crowd last week, and failing to live up to expectations in New York can put a lot of pressure on a person.