Phillies pitchers

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 7, Braves 0: I talked about the no-hitter at length yesterday when it happened, so allow me to ask why we haven’t seen more of these in the past couple of years. More strikeouts and less contact. More hard throwers. More bullpen specialization. It seems to me like these should happen more often than they do. I guess that they don’t shows that, yes, these are still special, obviously, but conditions favor such beasts now more than they have for a long time.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 4: The Cards, for the first time all year, are alone in first place in the NL Central. The lore about this team is that if a relatively lackluster Cards squad makes the playoffs, watch out, they’re bound to win it all. I guess that’s happened a couple of times, but I suppose they’d rather finish strong and with the division going away.

Cubs 4, Brewers 2: Not that it’s up to them. The Brewers, however, need to not do things like drop six in a row, which is what they’ve done. Here Jorge Soler helped do them in, doubling twice and scoring a run. He has extra base hits in all five of his major league games so far. He’s the third guy to do that in his first five games in the past century.

Padres 3, Diamondbacks 1: Cory Spangenberg — which sounds like the name of a tight end from the 1980s more than a big league third baseman — made his big league debut. He hit a two-run single. He also irked the Padres by announcing on Twitter that he was being promoted and making his debut before they had a chance too. So it was a big day.

Marlins 9, Mets 6:  The Mets had a chance here — it was tied heading into the bottom of the eighth — but they blew it thanks in part to Jeurys Familia’s two throwing errors on a single play and a wild pitch. Oh, and the wild pitch was accompanied by a throwing error by Travis d’Arnaud. Six errors for the Mets in all, after which manager Terry Collins said afterward that “It wasn’t a big-league baseball game, I can tell you that.” Not that he needed to tell us that.

Athletics 6, Mariners 1: The A’s get back on track, thanks to new addition Adam Dunn. Who, let’s be honest, was born to be an Oakland Athletic. Dunner hit a homer in his first at bat in the green and gold and added another hit later. Five first inning runs for Oakland, which ended things before they started. A strong performance from Jason Hammel as well plus a two-run single for Geovany Soto. Viva La Mid-Season Imports.

Tigers 12, Indians 1: Miguel Cabrera was given a bit of a rest — allowed to DH rather than play 1B — and it must have paid off: two homers on a 4 for 5 day. This after an August in which he only his one homer the whole bleedin’ month. David Price did his part too, allowing one run over seven and striking out eight. Corey Kluber, who has somehow lost his super powers, allowed five runs and couldn’t escape the third inning.

Giants 4, Rockies 2; Rockies 10, Giants 9: The first game took three months to complete. Really, guys, we HAVE to do something about the pace of play. *Someone whispers in my ear and explains that it was the resumption of a suspended game from May*  Ahem, never mind. The second game took about three hours and forty-four minutes. I’m gonna err on the side of caution and assume it was suspended and resumed too. *guys whispers in my ear again.* Well I’ll be damned. Charlie Blackmon with a walkoff single. The Giants’ six-game winning streak comes to an end. They are now only two back of the Dodgers because  . . .

Nationals 6, Dodgers 4: . . . The Dodgers dropped their third game in four tries. The dingers did it here. Denard Span socked two homers and Jayson Werth and Asdrubal Cabrera added their own. Gio Gonzalez was solid and won his first game in ages. He also [altogether now[ helped his own cause, singling and scoring. The Nats have the most wins in the NL.

Twins 6, Orioles 4: Four RBI for Joe Mauer. Phil Hughes allowed three runs in eight innings, but none of them were earned. Hughes has 15 wins on a team that only has 60 overall.

Rays 4, Red Sox 3: Matt Joyce had an RBI single in the bottom of the tenth to help the Rays salvage a split. I basically got nothing else here. It’s weird when normally good teams are just playing out the string.

Royals 4, Rangers 3: Sal Perez homered and drove in three as the Royals won for the first time in a week. This was your standard Royals win: close game and then in the late innings Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland shut the door with hitless relief. Regarding what I said in the Phillies recap at the top? If just one Royals pitcher can toss six hitless innings — or, heck, five maybe — this is the sort of pen which can pretty much end the game when it comes in.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.16.51 AM
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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.