Most teams would feel embarrassed after getting shut out in an entire series the way the Marlins were by the Brewers. The Marlins, though, seem more impervious to public sentiment than most, so it wouldn’t have been shocking if they just stood pat and hoped to bounce back they way they seemed to throughout June and most of July. They didn’t, however — the Marlins demoted outfielder Marcell Ozuna and second baseman Derek Dietrich to Double-A Jacksonville, and promoted outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. Both are in tonight’s starting lineup against the Rockies. Yelich will bat second and play left field, Marisnick will bat sixth and play center field.
Ozuna started off his Major League career on fire, posting an .834 OPS in the month of May, but as he logged more plate appearances and pitchers learned more about his weaknesses, he was quickly exploited. In June, he posted a .685 OPS, and in July, merely .484. Dietrich performed exactly at replacement level, posting a .679 OPS with subpar defense since making his Major League debut on May 8.
Yelich entered the season as one of the 15 best prospects in baseball according to both Baseball America and MLB.com. Still just 21 years old, he performed well against Double-A competition in 222 PA, leaving with an .883 OPS. Marisnick was rated as the #64 overall prospect by Baseball America and #70 by MLB.com. In 298 PA at Double-A, he had an .860 OPS.
After snapping their streak of 37 consecutive scoreless innings yesterday, the Marlins are hoping to end a skid in which they have lost nine of their previous 13 games. They own the National League’s worst offense (averaging 3.2 runs per game), and subsequently, the worst run differential (-96) as well.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.