Mike Clevinger and Jason Hammel went head-to-head in a true pitcher’s duel on Saturday, each posting several no-hit innings while their respective offenses scrambled to get on the board. Center fielder Bradley Zimmer backed Clevinger’s efforts with a five-star catch in the fifth, bellyflopping on a deep fly ball to preserve the shutout and end the inning.
Zimmer came through again for the Indians again in the bottom of the sixth inning, working a full count against the Royals’ Jason Hammel and lacing a single just under the glove of Alcides Escobar to break up the righty’s perfect game attempt.
That appeared to open the floodgates for the Indians’ offense, who broke through with Roberto Perez‘s two-RBI home run and added two solo shots from Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana to take a four-run lead. The Royals, on the other hand, still couldn’t find a toehold against Clevinger, who exited with six frames of four-hit, nine-strikeout ball and left the rest of the shutout in the capable hands of Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero and Cody Allen for the Indians’ third win in a row.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.