Brandon Moss

MLB.com

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

28 Comments

Good to be back after a few days off. I got married. The food and drink was cool. And the family looked great. What’s new with you?

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rockies 6, Reds 4: The Rockies hit four homers off of Bronson Arroyo. One of them came from starting pitcher Kyle Freeland. Colorado takes two of three from the Reds and maintains the best record in the National League.

Angels 12, Mets 5: Mike Trout homered , doubled and drove in three and C.J. Cron hit a grand slam. Andrelton Simmons and Jefry Marte also homered as Anaheim built an early 9-0 lead and never looked back.

Yankees 3, Rays 2: Like the Mets, the Yankees avoid a sweep, this thanks to Brett Gardner hitting a homer and CC Sabathia allowing one earned run — two total — over five. Also helping? This catch from Aaron Judge:

 

If Judge was only 6’6″ instead of 6’7″ that’s extra bases and a run scored.

Blue Jays 3, Orioles 1: Devon Travis hit a three-run homer in the first inning and that’s all the Blue Jays needed. Well, the seven and two-thirds of one-run ball avec 12 strikeouts from Marco Estrada came in pretty dang handy too.

Nationals 3, Braves 2: Daniel Murphy homered, Bryce Harper singled in a run and a run scored when Ryan Zimmerman hit into a double play. Stephen Strasburg pitched into the eighth, striking out 11. The Nats snapped their four-game losing streak.

Pirates 1, Phillies 0: Aaron Nola pitched seven innings of one run ball but still got the loss thanks to Chad Kuhl‘s five innings of shutout ball and the Pittsburgh bullpen’s four innings of the same. The only run in the game came when Nola hit David Freese with a pitch with the bases loaded. The only reason the bases were loaded was because Nola issued an intentional walk to set up a double play.

Indians 8, Astros 6: Cleveland sweeps the best team in baseball thanks in part to Yan Gomes‘ five RBI. The Astros have lost three series this year. Two of them have come against Cleveland, who are 5-1 against Houston.

Royals 6, Twins 4; Twins 8, Royals 4: In the first game, Brandon Moss hit two of Kansas City’s four home runs. Salvador Perez and Jorge Bonifacio hit the others, each of them two-run jobs. Mike Minor came in in relief and got the win. It was his first victory since 2014. In the second, Robbie Grossman, Max Kepler and Chris Gimenez homered to help Adalberto Mejia get his first ever win and salvage the double header split. Mejia was then sent right back down to Triple-A because life is nothing but a seven to ten decades of absurdity and pain.

Cardinals 8, Giants 3Matt Carpenter homered and Adam Wainwright allowed one run and five hits in six and a third. Wainwright even (all together now) helped his own cause with an RBI double. The Cards ended a four-game losing streak.

Cubs 13, Brewers 6: Kris Bryant hit two jacks and Jake Arrieta surrendered only one run — unearned — in six innings. The Cubbies’ offense rattled off 13, with Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist also homering and Willson Contreras going 3-for-3 with three RBI . It wouldn’t have even been this close if it wasn’t for Cubs mopup man Dylan Floro allowing five runs over the final two frames.

Red Sox 12, Athletics 3: Boston avoids a four game sweep. Mitch Moreland homered for the third game in a row and Eduardo Rodriguez was solid for eight innings, retiring 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.

White Sox 8, Mariners 1: Derek Holland had a five run cushion before he threw his first pitch but he didn’t rest on that, going out and tossing eight one-run innings instead of pitching to the score.

Dodgers 6, Marlins 3: Brandon McCarthy allowed one run over six innings, putting things back on track after two less-than-great starts. Adrian Gonzalez went 3-for-4 and drove in three. He was able to do that, in part, because Yasmani Grandal went 3-for-4 in front of him.

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 1: The Padres snap a five-game losing streak. Clayton Richard was the big man here, tossing a complete game. His only mistake was a third inning homer allowed to Chris Iannetta. Richard even drove in a run himself with an RBI single.

Rangers 5, Tigers 2: Yu Darvish wasn’t efficient — he tossed 105 pitches in five innings, walking four — but he got the win. Mike Napoli hit a long fifth inning homer to break a 2-2 tie and make that possible. Later Pete Kozma and Jonathan Lucroy went deep for insurance.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

Getty Images
1 Comment

Saturday’s games featured Bryce Harper‘s impressive game-winning blast, Brandon Belt‘s first splash hit of the year and the reemergence of the infamous Rally Squirrel. Here are the rest of the day’s scores and highlights:

Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2: The Blue Jays aren’t playing like a last-place team these days. Marcus Stroman led the charge in the team’s sixth win of the week, delivering nine strikeouts and two runs over six solid innings. Jose Bautista came through with the three-run blast in the seventh, powering a five-run lead while the Mariners lost yet another starting pitcher to injury.

Giants 3, Reds 1: Whatever fatigue the Giants may have felt after their 17-inning victory the night before seemed to vanish by Saturday afternoon. Brandon Belt clubbed his first splash hit of the season, sinking a 2-1 pitch from Lisalverto Bonilla into McCovey Cove to get the Giants on the board in the first inning. Bonilla tossed the first complete game of his career, keeping the Giants to a three-run spread over eight innings and recording his first career hit, but was left hanging by a lackluster offense, who couldn’t solve Matt Moore to tie the game.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 3: Neither Jon Lester nor Carlos Martinez escaped with pristine pitching lines in Saturday’s match-up. Lester was dinged with four runs and four walks, falling victim to Jedd Gyorko‘s solo home run, an RBI single by Magneuris Sierra and a two-RBI effort from Tommy Pham. Martinez surrendered a home run to newcomer Ian Happ, who went 1-for-3 in his major league debut.

While the Cardinals eventually prevailed, taking a two-run lead for their 20th win of the season, both Lester and Martinez had another thing in common: they each produced an RBI base hit to get their respective teams on the board.

Twins 4, Indians 1: Jose Berrios cut a commanding figure on the mound during Saturday’s 4-1 win, imposing four strikeouts on the Indians and issuing just two hits, a walk and a run in his first outing of the season. Nearly as impressive: this party-crasher, who took a lap around the infield in the sixth inning and managed to evade capture after dashing into the stands.

Red Sox 6, Rays 3: Behind every great pitcher is a great offense, so the saying goes. Chris Sale‘s 12-strikeout effort was decorated with six runs from the Red Sox’ lineup, including Mookie Betts‘ sixth home run of the year:

Betts combined with Deven Marrero and Xander Bogaerts for an impressive run in the fifth inning, collecting three hits and four runs off of beleaguered Rays’ starter Blake Snell. With the win, the Sox sit 2.5 games above the Rays for third place in the AL East.

Nationals 6, Phillies 4: Bryce Harper is having a pretty remarkable weekend. Hours after inking a one-year, $21.65 million contract extension with the Nationals, Harper smashed a two-run shot off of Philadelphia reliever Edubray Ramos for his second walk-off home run of the season:

In the words of Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker: “Nobody can say he ain’t worth the money.”

Braves 3, Marlins 1: It’s probably nothing more than pure coincidence that the Marlins’ five consecutive losses overlapped with the five games they decided not to close the roof in Marlins Park this week. On Saturday evening, however, the lack of cover cost them an important run when Marcell Ozuna lost track of a ball during the fourth inning, losing it against the light-colored sky and allowing Freddie Freeman to stretch a routine fly ball into a leadoff double. Freeman came home to score two batters later on Nick Markakis‘ RBI single, putting the Braves up 1-0 and setting the stage for their eventual 3-1 win.

Brewers 11, Mets 4: With an injury-riddled rotation and the recent loss of closer Jeurys Familia, the Mets entered Saturday’s match at a clear disadvantage. Not helping matters was starter Robert Gsellman, who took his third loss of the season after the Brewers engineered an eight-run attack in the fifth inning. After dropping three straight games, the Mets sit a full seven games back of the division-leading Nationals with a 16-19 record.

White Sox 5, Padres 4: The Padres technically lost their 24th game of the year on a controversial play at the plate, but defensive miscues from starter Trevor Cahill set up the loss several innings in advance. In the fourth, Jose Abreu reached on a fielding error, then moved to second base when Cahill issued a wild pitch to Avisail Garcia:

That wild pitch was followed by another:

And another:

Not surprisingly, Abreu became the first White Sox player to score on three wild pitches since 1961.

Royals 4, Orioles 3: Striking out 12 batters in a single outing is a feat for any pitcher, but doing it in just five innings is almost unheard-of. Nate Karns delivered 12 strikeouts over five frames on Saturday, joining Jake Arrieta, Chris Archer, Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb and Zack Greinke as the only major league hurlers to record 12+ whiffs in five or fewer innings. (Most impressive is the Rays’ Alex Cobb, who struck out 13 batters in just 4 2/3 innings back in 2013.) There was plenty of excitement at the plate, too — the Orioles’ Francisco Pena clubbed his first and second home runs of the year, while Brandon Moss went deep for the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.

Rangers 6, Athletics 5: The A’s wasted another gem from Sonny Gray on Saturday, dropping their second game of the series after the Rangers exploded for four runs in the seventh inning. Yonder Alonso brought the team within one run of tying the game with his 12th home run of the year, but the rest of the offense fell short against Texas right-hander Matt Bush, who needed just 13 pitches to send the A’s packing in the ninth.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 0: Coors Field isn’t exactly what you’d call a pitcher’s park, but its hitter-friendly reputation didn’t seem to faze the Dodgers’ Alex Wood at all. Wood crafted six scoreless innings against the Rockies, allowing five hits and a walk and striking out 10 of 23 batters for his fourth win of the season. Although the left-hander commanded an inflated 7.16 run support average through his first seven outings of 2017, he needed just four runs to clinch Saturday’s shutout, including RBI doubles from Austin Barnes and Justin Turner, Brett Eibner’s first home run of the year, and Wood’s own sacrifice bunt.

Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 3: The Pirates finally caught a break on Saturday after sustaining a six-game skid last week. Right-hander Trevor Williams, whose performance has been inconsistent at best and downright terrible at worst, rebounded to deliver five innings of one-run, four strikeout ball, even generating his own run support after reaching base on a run-scoring error in the fourth inning. The Diamondbacks put up three home runs, including Nick Ahmed’s twin blasts off of Williams and reliever Tony Watson, but stranded the tying run on a game-ending pop-out in the ninth inning.

Tigers 4, Angels 3: J.D. Martinez is back, and boy, are the Tigers glad to see him. Martinez was a welcome, if underwhelming presence in the lineup during his season debut on Friday, but returned on Saturday to go 3-for-4 at the plate with two home runs — including the game-winning shot:

The Angels did cool things, too — Mike Trout hit his longest home run of the season and Albert Pujols tied Carl Yastrzemski with the 11th most career RBI in major league history — but faltered in the ninth inning for their 21st loss of 2017.

2017 Preview: Kansas City Royals

Getty Images
4 Comments

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Kansas City Royals.

 

Last season the Royals set out to defend their World Series title. They finished 81-81. What happened?

Injuries — particularly the one to Mike Moustakas — have been cited as the biggest reason for the disappointment. That’s not untrue, but it is a bit misleading. The Royals actually had fewer total days on the DL across their entire roster than many teams. The contending Royals of 2014 and 2015, however, were teams blessed with exceptional health. Exceptional health which made up for what many saw in the preseason of those years than less-than-contending talent. Maybe those projections were based on reality, but you can beat your projections by being super healthy, catching the ball well and catching breaks. It takes a superior roster — and a lot of depth — to overcome injuries and still contend, and though the Royals are good, they’re were not good enough to overcome the injuries they had.

Setting injuries aside, the biggest problem the Royals had in 2016 was simple underperformance. Which, yes, in some cases, can be attributed to nagging injuries and wear and tear, as was the case with Lorenzo Cain and the no doubt exhausted Salvador Perez. But whatever the cause of the mediocrity, the fact of the matter is that only two regulars had an OPS+ of 100 or greater, which led to the Royals falling to 13th in the American League in runs scored.

That should be improved with Moustakas returning and with the addition of Brandon Moss and Jorge Soler, each of whom had better offensive seasons in 2016 than most of the Royals lineup, not that that’s saying much. What they really need is for Alex Gordon, Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Perez to simply be better. They are better than they showed last year, though, so that’s not exactly a tall order. And most of these guys continue to catch the ball with the best of them, so defense should not be a concern.

You can’t talk about the pitching without first talking about the tragic death of Yordano Ventura this offseason. His loss obviously stands separate and apart from baseball analysis, but it unavoidably affects the Xs and Os as well. Dayton Moore went out and got Jason Hammel to try to fill the gap. Danny Duffy has a new contract extension and will lead the rotation following an excellent 2016. Ian Kennedy and Nate Karns return to the rotation with the now completely-healed-from-Tommy John surgery Jason Vargas rounding things out. It’s a good rotation, not a great one. Between Kennedy’s gopherball habit, Hammel’s poor second half and Vargas’ health concerns, there is  plenty of potential for bad seasons from starters with seemingly only Duffy capable of truly starring. The rest of the guys are who we thought they were. Possibly less.

Wade Davis and Greg Holland are gone but Kelvin Herrera is still there from the dominant pens the Royals featured in 2014-15. Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm set him up. Scott Alexander will serve as a lefty specialist. Travis Wood is a new addition. He’s started in the past and there’s talk about using him as a swingman, but he pitched 77 games in relief last year and was pretty darn good doing so. This is not the shutdown pen the Royals have featured in the past, but it should be good enough to support a contender.

The contending, however, is largely in the hands of the offense and the non-Duffy parts of the rotation. There was a lot that went wrong with all of that last season and a lot of change to all of that this offseason. It makes the Royals one of the hardest teams to predict in the American League. The Royals won in 2015 without having the best rotation in the world, so if the lineup is totally healthy and snaps back into form the Royals could be back in business. But the bullpen won’t save their bacon enough to make them a truly strong pennant contender, I don’t think, even if it should make them better than the .500 team they were last year.

A lot went wrong last year, though, and it’s a lot to ask all of it to go right. If it’s just some — the smart bet — the Royals will be good, but not great. And I think that adds up to them falling just short of the Tigers with both teams miles behind Cleveland.

Prediction: Third Place, American League Central.