As I wrote last week, baseball can’t promote its stars in a game-specific manner. It can’t — like the NBA can with LeBron James and Steph Curry or the NFL can in the battle of two marquee quarterbacks — guarantee you that two superstars facing off in an upcoming game will shine in said game. Sometimes the greatest player goes 0-for-4. Sometimes a reliever and a utility infielder are the most important dudes in a game.
Last night, however, Bryce Harper‘s Nationals and Mike Trout‘s Angels faced off, and the two biggest stars in the game each rose to the occasion.
In the first inning, Bryce Harper hit a homer. And not only did he hit it, he hit it directly over Mike Trout’s head in center field. Then, in the bottom half of the first, Trout hit a homer of his own. Watch:
Harper didn’t stop with his homer, though. He had two singles and a triple on top of that to finish his night 4-for-4. Trout’s homer would be his only hit of the night, though he did knock in a second run with a ninth inning grounder.
This is only the second series in which baseball’s two best players have faced off. The first time took place in April 2014. In that series Trout went 5-for-14 while Harper went 1-for-11. They only have one more game in this short, two-game series. Though there are no guarantees in any given game, it feels like one we should tune into tonight.
The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.
As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.
The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.
Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.
It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.
While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.