Since earning a promotion to the big leagues in June 2011, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has compiled a meager .606 OPS against left-handed pitching. In 2013, his third season in the Majors, he finished with a .546 OPS against southpaws. So when the Royals acquired infielder Danny Valencia — author of a career .879 OPS against lefties — from the Orioles in exchange for outfielder David Lough several weeks ago, there were some that thought Moustakas and Valencia would work well as platoon partners.
As Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star writes, the Royals still view Moustakas as a full-time starter at third base.
“Mike Moustakas is our everyday third baseman,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “It just gives us more depth, and our job as a baseball operations staff is that Ned (Yost) and the coaching staff have as much depth as possible and are in a position to match up as they see fit on any given night.”
Moustakas is just 25 years old and isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season, so the Royals certainly have some incentive to let Moustakas continue to learn and grow as a player. At the same time, they are also trying to compete in 2014 to end a 28-year playoff drought, currently the longest drought among all 30 Major League teams. They finished at 86-76 last season, their first season above .500 since 2003, but still finished in third place, seven games out of first. Squeezing out small advantages where possible could mean the difference between playing meaningful baseball in October or scheduling a golf outing.
The Marlins were somehow able to muster up the strength not only to play Monday night’s game against the Mets, but also win it convincingly one day after losing Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident. The Marlins and Mets helped pay tribute to Fernandez prior to the start of the game as outlined here.
When the game started, the Marlins came out of the gate with a bang. Dee Gordon homered in his first at-bat, then the club hung a four-spot in the second inning. They tacked on two more in the third inning to chase starter Bartolo Colon and take a commanding 7-0 lead. The Mets chipped away for two runs in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer and tacked on one more in the eighth, but ultimately fell short by a 7-3 margin.
Gordon finished 4-for-5 with the homer and two RBI. Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with a single, double, triple, and a walk along with an RBI and two runs scored.
A.J. Ramos, who closed out the win, placed the ball on the pitcher’s mound for Fernandez. The Marlins huddled around the mound and said a prayer. The players huddled closer to the rubber on the mound, then left their hats behind as they retreated to the clubhouse as fans at Marlins Park chanted, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”
In a post-game interview, Gordon called his first-inning home run “the best moment of my life,” as NBC 6 Sports reports.
The Indians beat the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park on Monday night, clinching the AL Central for their first division title since 2007. Starter Corey Kluber lasted only four innings before exiting with right groin tightness, but the Indians were able to overcome the adversity.
Coco Crisp gave the Indians their first two runs with a two-run home run in the second inning off of starter Buck Farmer. The Tigers would promptly tie the game on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the bottom half of the inning.
In the fifth, an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli put the Tribe back on top 4-2. The Tigers answered once again with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the bottom half to make it 4-3.
Roberto Perez homered for the Indians in the top of the top of the seventh, and Cabrera answered with another RBI single in the bottom half to keep it within one run at 5-4.
The Indians tacked on another insurance run in the eighth on three consecutive two-out singles by Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Perez. Carlos Santana then hit what should have been the final out of the eighth inning, but J.D. Martinez botched the catch, allowing the Indians’ seventh run to score.
Cody Allen shut the Tigers down in the bottom of the ninth, protecting the 7-4 lead for his 30th save of the season.
The last time the Indians won the AL Central, their starting lineup featured a 28-year-old Victor Martinez, a 25-year-old Jhonny Peralta, a 24-year-old Grady Sizemore, and a 26-year-old CC Sabathia. It’s been a long time.
The American League playoff picture still isn’t set yet, so the Indians will be intently watching the final week of the season to see who will be their playoff opponent.