Brewers 1B/OF Eric Thames homered in his fifth consecutive game in Monday’s series opener against the Cubs. It came on a 3-2 breaking ball thrown by starter John Lackey leading off the top of the third inning at Wrigley Field. Thus continues the odyssey of Thames, who went from major league washout to a feared slugger in Korea and carried that power back with him for a second stint in the majors.
Lackey and Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio are suspicious. Though neither came right out and said it after Monday’s game, both hinted that something might be up with Thames.
In his post-game press conference, Lackey said (via the Chicago Tribune) that Thames’ home run was “kinda one of those things that makes you scratch your head.” Lackey seemingly very intentionally winked at the reporter who asked him the question.
Bosio appeared on the Mully and Hanley show and was asked about Starling Marte‘s recent suspension after testing positive for Nandrolone. Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports provides the transcript:
Well, the bottom line is [Thames] has hit the ball and we gotta figure out a way to get around [it]. All that other stuff, I’ll let other people worry about. But he’s doing stuff that I haven’t seen done for a long time.
You start thinking about Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez when he went to the Dodgers, Barry Bonds … You’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever play this game. So, yeah, it’s probably a ‘head-scratcher’ because nobody knows who this guy is. And when he was here before, his body has changed. But, like I said, I’ll leave that to everyone else and we’re just gonna try to worry about how to pitch him better and get him out.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Thames was given a drug test immediately after Monday’s game against the Cubs.
Entering Thursdays’ game against the Cardinals, Thames is hitting .408/.500/.959 with seven home runs and 12 RBI. And, for now, his 8-8 Brewers are neck-and-neck with the 8-7 defending world champion Cubs.
Giants’ right-hander Mark Melancon is considering surgery for an undisclosed injury, the pitcher told reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Phillies. Melancon did not divulge the exact location of the injury, but revealed that it had been plaguing him off and on since the 2012 season and was a separate issue from the right pronator strain that kept him sidelined through much of July and August. Giants’ head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner called the injury day-to-day and has not revealed a timetable for the right-hander’s return, should surgery become necessary.
Melancon, 32, has struggled to replicate the sparkling pitching line he produced with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016. He’s toting a 3.80 ERA through 25 appearances with San Francisco, flanked by a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 23 2/3 innings. His season has been significantly shortened after multiple trips to the disabled list for a right forearm strain, and while he looked to be in line to resume his closing duties this week, the Giants will likely play it safe with the veteran righty to keep him from compromising his health in 2018.
Although the injury doesn’t appear to be severe in nature, it’s clearly intensified over the last few months. Per MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Melancon said he’s “had discomfort every day this season,” though he hopes to continue pitching through the remainder of 2017. The Giants aren’t on the verge of contending by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid end to the 2017 season could help Melancon make some headway as he looks to reclaim his status as the team’s closer next spring.
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.
Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.