Indians bang out 14 runs in first two innings against Astros

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We knew that the 5-11 Astros, with a -20 run differential, were bad — but not this bad. The 5-10 Indians, with a -21 run differential themselves, bashed Astros starter Phil Humber for eight runs while recording only one out in the first inning. Dallas Keuchel relieved Humber after ten batters and recorded the final two outs of the first inning without any further damage, but it was only the beginning.

The first inning went: fly out, single, single, RBI double, two-RBI double, walk, three-run home run, double, single, two-RBI double, ground out, ground out.

The Indians weren’t done, though. Keuchel returned to the hill for the second inning and received a beating himself as the Tribe posted a six spot.

The second inning went: single, walk, error, RBI single, strikeout, RBI single, RBI walk, RBI ground out, RBI single, RBI double, pop out.

To the Astros’ credit, their offense didn’t quit at the sight of a 14-run deficit, as they took three runs back in the bottom half of the second inning on an RBI ground out by Ronny Cendeno and a two-run home run by Brandon Barnes.

Carlos Santana immediately homered to lead off the third, so it looks like there’s no end in sight for the Indians’ offense.

Of the 2,430 regular season games played last year, a team scored 15 runs in 24 one of them (1%). In 2011, the feat occurred 34 times, and 32 times in 2010.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.