Mariners call up Justin Smoak, place Michael Saunders on the disabled list

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Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders is headed back to the disabled list. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Saunders has been diagnosed with an oblique injury, which he suffered on a check-swing in the eighth inning of Thursday’s game against the Twins. Saunders was previously on the disabled list between June 11-27 due to inflammation of the A/C joint in his right shoulder.

Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that it’s a Grade 2 oblique strain. According to manager Lloyd McClendon, “it’s going to be a while” before Saunders can get back on the field. Saunders had been performing well for the Mariners prior to his bout with the injury bug. In 219 plate appearances, he slashed .276/.327/.434 with six home runs and 28 RBI.

In a related move, the Mariners have called up Justin Smoak from Triple-A Tacoma. Smoak went on the disabled list on June 10 with a strained left quad and was optioned to Tacoma on July 4 after having rehabbed for two weeks there. In 19 games at Triple-A, Smoak hit three home runs with an .824 OPS in 74 plate appearances.

Smoak struggled at the big league level, slashing .208/.282/.361 with seven home runs and 28 RBI over 241 plate appearances.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”