The Royals won their fourth consecutive game this afternoon thanks to clutch hitting from Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. Trailing the White Sox 5-3 going into the ninth, the Royals were 18% to win according to FanGraphs win expectancy. It fell as low as 9% when Alcides Escobar flied out to center with runners on first and second for the second out. Butler, though, doubled to right-center, plating his team’s fourth and fifth runs to tie the game.
After Royals reliever Greg Holland retired the White Sox in short order in the top of the tenth, the offense went back to work. With two outs and Lorenzo Cain on second base, right-hander Brian Omogrosso intentionally walked the left-handed Chris Getz to bring up George Kottaras. Omogrosso couldn’t find his control as he unintentionally walked Kottaras on five pitches to bring up Alex Gordon. Gordon swung at Omogrosso’s first pitch, a 91 MPH fastball, and drove it deep to right field out of the reach of Alex Rios, plating Cain for the walk-off victory.
The win expectancy chart from FanGraphs is fun to look at:
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.