Note: With Craig out of town, we have a “Settling the Score” in place of the usual “And That Happened.” Don’t worry, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming on Tuesday.
While two teams clinched playoff spots yesterday, the American League Wild Card picture remains a crowded one. The Rangers and Rays will enter the weekend tied for the two Wild Card spots after splitting a four-game series this week. The Indians find themselves just a half-game back (one back in the loss column) following a thrilling win over the Astros in 15 innings last night. While the Orioles lost to the Red Sox last night, they are just two games back and will begin a four-game series against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field. The Royals were idle yesterday and sit three games back. Meanwhile, the Yankees lost to the Blue Jays yesterday to fall 3 1/2 games behind and appear to be the biggest longshot of the bunch. We might not have a ton of intrigue in most of the other races, but the AL Wild Card should keep us plenty occupied over the next week and a half.
Your Thursday box scores:
Padres 1, Pirates 10
Mariners 4, Tigers 5
Giants 2, Mets 1
Astros 1, Indians 2 (11 innings)
Cubs 5, Brewers 1
Yankees 2, Blue Jays 6
Cardinals 6, Rockies 7 (15 innings)
Orioles 1, Red Sox 3
Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 6
Rangers 8, Rays 2
Marlins 2, Nationals 3
Twins 6, Athletics 8
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.