Despite facing a very tough left-hander in Chris Sale, the Royals had Mike Moustakas batting cleanup today. Why? Because Ned Yost wants a set lineup. Pay no attention to those splits behind the curtain.
That set lineup:
LF Alex Gordon
SS Alcides Escobar
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
1B Eric Hosmer
CF Lorenzo Cain
RF Jeff Francoeur
2B Chris Getz
The problem here is that while it’s a fine lineup for Yost to use against righties, it makes zero sense to stick Moustakas in the cleanup spot against lefties. The 24-year-old is a career .233/.283/.349 hitter versus southpaws. Francoeur, for all of his faults, is a .289/.341/.479 hitter against lefties. Common sense would dictate that he and Perez, in either order, would be the Royals’ No. 4 and 5 hitters against lefties.
That’s not part of Yost’s strategy, though. In Monday’s opener, Escobar and Butler both reached safely twice apiece. Moustakas had six men on base over the course of his four at-bats and went hitless, striking out twice. Francoeur, on the other hand, singled twice out of the eighth spot. Unable to put their hits together, the Royals lost 1-0. For that, Yost deserves some of the blame.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.
Pirates first baseman John Jaso hit for the cycle on Wednesday night against the Cubs, becoming the first Pirate to do so since Daryl Ward against the Cardinals on May 26, 2004. Jaso’s cycle is the first to be hit at PNC Park. It’s also the third cycle of the 2016 season, as Jaso joins Freddie Freeman and Rajai Davis.
Jaso singled in the second inning for his first hit. He smashed a three-run homer in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie. He hit an RBI double in the fifth to push the Cubs’ lead to 5-1. Then, in the seventh, Jaso hit an RBI triple to make it an 8-4 game.
Coming into Wednesday night, Jaso was hitting an adequate .259/.342/.384 with six home runs and 35 RBI in 416 plate appearances. He’s been limited mostly to right-handed pitching as the Pirates have used David Freese and Josh Bell at the position as well.