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)
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.