Justin Verlander snapped an unusual streak on Saturday evening when he whiffed the Indians’ Bradley Zimmer to end the fourth inning. The strikeout was Verlander’s first of the month, following a rare strikeout-free appearance against the Indians last Sunday. Until Zimmer’s three-pitch strikeout, the Tigers’ right-hander had faced 41 straight batters without fanning a single one, a streak that dated back to the sixth inning of his start on June 27.
Given the way Verlander pitched the rest of the night, however, it’s unlikely that there’s any significant cause for concern. He touched 98 m.p.h. with his fastball and held the Indians scoreless through four innings, eventually giving up a run on Michael Brantley‘s RBI double in the fifth. His lone strikeout to Zimmer seemed to open the floodgates, and he exited in the seventh inning after issuing six hits, four walks and six strikeouts.
It’s been an uncharacteristically rough season for the 34-year-old, who’s coming off of a Cy Young-worthy campaign in 2016. He entered Saturday with a 4.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 8.4 SO/9 through 98 innings, and his 92 strikeouts are only good for 24th-most among qualified major league starters — just 162 shy of the league-leading mark he set last year. While he’s struggled to produce the sub-4.00 ERA of seasons past, Verlander is still drawing substantial interest around the league and is expected to command a hefty return should the Tigers decide to push forward with their rebuild this summer. He’ll look to bounce back in the second half when he returns to the mound in the next couple of weeks.
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.