The National League East has become a one-lane comfort cruise. The Braves topped the Marlins 5-0 last night at Turner Field to extend their winning streak to 14 games.
Brandon Beachy tossed eight scoreless innings for his first win since Tommy John surgery last June. He gave up just three hits and one walk while striking out six. There are questions about the Braves’ rotation, but if Beachy manages to regain his form down the stretch, that would be a big boost come postseason time. Remember, Beachy had a 3.07 ERA in 41 starts in the majors prior to the surgery.
The Braves got all of their offense last night from the home run ball, as Justin Upton and Chris Johnson went deep in the bottom of the first inning while Brian McCann connected for a solo blast in the third. After hitting just four home runs in 77 games between April 28 and the end of July, Upton has amassed six of them through eight games so far this month.
With a win later today, the Braves would tie for their longest winning streak (2000) since the team moved to Atlanta. They currently hold a 15 1/2 game lead over the Nationals, with their first division crown since 2005 looking like an inevitability.
Your Friday box scores:
Phillies 2, Nationals 9
Twins 7, White Sox 5; Twins 3, White Sox 2 (10 innings)
Padres 2, Reds 7
Angels 5, Indians 2
Cubs 3, Cardinals 0
Tigers 3, Yankees 4 (10 innings)
Pirates 1, Rockies 10
Athletics 14, Blue Jays 6
Mets 4, Diamondbacks 5
Red Sox 6, Royals 9
Rangers 9, Astros 5
Brewers 10, Mariners 5
Rays 6, Dodgers 7
Orioles 5, Giants 2 (10 innings)
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.