Entering Sunday’s matinee against the Indians, Justin Verlander was prepared to ink his name in the history books yet again. The Tigers’ right-hander was riding a 331-game streak of consecutive appearances with at least one strikeout — a streak so impressive, in fact, that it ranked sixth-longest among all MLB pitchers, tied with Curt Schilling’s own 331-game streak from 1993 to 2005. During what should have been Verlander’s tie-breaking 332nd game, however, the righty was tagged for nine hits and seven runs, failing to fan even one of 22 batters before getting pulled in the fourth inning. The streak was over.
According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the last time Verlander recorded a zero-strikeout game was on April 28, 2007. The 24-year-old hurler was fresh off of a Rookie of the Year award-winning season and his first postseason appearance with the Tigers. He didn’t look it that afternoon, however, handing the Twins five runs on eight hits in the first three innings. It was the third such start of his career to date, preceded by a seven-run implosion against the White Sox and an unorthodox eight-inning shutout against the Twins, both in 2006.
Following Verlander’s snafu on Sunday, the Tigers dropped their second consecutive game to the Indians, 11-8. A few zero-strikeout games every decade isn’t reason for concern, but it didn’t do much to improve Verlander’s pitching line, either. The Tigers’ ace currently holds a 4.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 4.6 SO/9 through 98 innings and has gone 5-5 in 17 starts this year.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.