Sunday afternoon was not a good day for relief pitchers wearing a Mariners uniform. The Mariners entered the bottom of the ninth inning against the Angels with a healthy 9-3 lead. Casey Fien had the responsibility of keeping the game out of reach for the Halos, but it was a responsibility he could not fulfill.
Albert Pujols led off with a solo home run to center field, making it a 9-4 game. Fien then walked Cliff Pennington, allowed a single to C.J. Cron, and walked Ben Revere to load the bases. Edwin Diaz came in to relieve Fien and he at least got an out when Danny Espinosa hit a ground ball to second base. Diaz fanned Martin Maldonado for the second out. Despite all that happened, the Angels still only had a 1.8 percent chance of winning according to FanGraphs.
Unfortunate for the Mariners, Yunel Escobar followed up with a bases-clearing double, cutting the deficit to 9-7. During the next at-bat, facing Kole Calhoun, Diaz uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Escobar to move to third base. Diaz finished off the at-bat by issuing a walk to Calhoun on four pitches, then walked Trout on four pitches to re-load the bases. Pujols, up for his second at-bat of the inning, singled to right field, plating two runs to tie the game at nine-all. Pennington ended it with a single to right, scoring Trout for the walk-off win.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, teams had lost 346 consecutive games entering Sunday when they trailed by six or more runs entering the ninth inning. The Angels ended that streak.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.