Author: Bill Baer

Aaron Nola
AP Photo

Phillies now leaning against shutting Aaron Nola down

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After Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin talked with upper management, there is a better chance the team won’t shut down rookie starter Aaron Nola, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

Nola is scheduled to start Sunday against the Braves. There had been some thought that it would be his final start of the 2015 season as he’s thrown 65 2/3 innings in the majors and 109 1/3 in the minors. The total 175 innings is a huge workload increase and he’s only in his second year of professional baseball.

Nola, 22, has mostly pitched well in his first 11 starts, compiling a 4.11 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and a 59/16 K/BB ratio. He was the Phillies’ first round pick, taken seventh overall, in the 2014 draft.

Mets power past Yankees to take Subway Series opener

Lucas Duda
AP Photo

The first-place Mets and second-place Yankees did battle against each other in Queens on Friday night in the opener of the “Subway Series”. Both teams are vying for a return to post-season glory, with the Mets coming into the night leading the NL East over the Nationals by eight games and the Yankees trailing the first-place Blue Jays in the AL East by 3.5 games.

The Mets continued to show they belong, taking a 5-1 victory. Starter Steven Matz outdueled Masahiro Tanaka, pitching six innings of one run ball. He scattered seven hits and a walk while striking out four. Tanaka allowed two runs in six frames, giving up five hits in total with four strikeouts and no walks.

Both of the Mets’ runs against Tanaka came on solo home runs. Lucas Duda hit a line drive off of the facing of the second deck in the second inning, and Daniel Murphy broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with a no-doubt solo shot to right-center. Juan Uribe would tack on a two-run home run to the opposite field in the seventh off of reliever Chasen Shreve, and Eric Young, Jr. scored on a James Pazos wild pitch in the eighth. Closer Jeurys Familia got into some trouble in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with one out, but he bounced back to get Brett Gardner to fly out and Chase Headley to strike out.

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, one of the best hitters in baseball since joining the Mets at the trade deadline, went 0-for-4. He’s been held hitless in each of his last three games.

Meanwhile, the Nationals’ bullpen couldn’t get the job done again. They brought a 4-3 lead over the Marlins into the ninth inning but closer Jonathan Papelbon allowed a leadoff double which eventually led to the Marlins scoring the tying run. The game is 4-4 in the 10th inning as of this writing. As for the Yankee-relevant part of the scoreboard, the Blue Jays topped the Red Sox 6-1 to stretch their lead in the division to 4.5 games.

Noah Syndergaard of the Mets and Michael Pineda of the Yankees will take the hill on Saturday afternoon as the Subway Series continues.

Video: Carlos Santana crushes a grand slam off of Chris Sale

Chris Sale
AP Photo
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White Sox starter Chris Sale has had better Fridays. The lefty, already down 2-0, saw the Indians go up 6-0 in the third inning when first baseman Carlos Santana crushed a grand slam to left field. The Indians had hit three singles, drawn a walk, and had a base runner reach on a Carlos Sanchez fielding error leading up to Santana’s smooth slam.

Thus continues Sale’s inconsistent season. It’s the fifth time this season, in 29 starts, that Sale has allowed five-plus runs in a start. He didn’t do it once last season.

Sale entered the start with a 3.55 ERA and a 250/37 K/BB ratio over 187 2/3 innings. He was one of several pre-season favorites to win the American League Cy Young Award.

Joe Maddon criticizes Cardinals’ book of unwritten rules

Joe Maddon
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Things got testy in Friday afternoon’s game between the Cardinals and Cubs. Cubs starter Dan Haren hit Matt Holliday in the head with a fastball, forcing the outfielder from the game in the fifth inning. Both benches were promptly warned by home plate umpire Dan Bellino. Nevertheless, Cardinals reliever Matt Belisle attempted to exact revenge in the seventh, throwing a fastball at first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Belisle was tossed from the game.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wasn’t happy about the Cardinals’ attempt to get revenge. He defended Haren, saying his pitch to Holliday was “an absolute mistake” and that there was “no malicious intent whatsoever”.

Following that, he criticized the book of unwritten rules that the Cardinals purport to follow. Maddon said, “I never read that particular book that the Cardinals wrote way back in the day. I was a big Branch Rickey fan, but I never read that this book that the Cardinals had written regarding how to play baseball.”

Maddon was saying that in reference to the Cardinals playing their first baseman behind Chris Denorfia, who had walked and was on first base with one out in the bottom of the eighth with the Cubs leading by five runs. He threatened that, in the future, he would have his runner steal second base. According to the book of unwritten rules, teams shouldn’t take advantage of that situation given their lead. But, as Maddon explained, playing for an extra run would help them in the next inning as it would prevent them from having to warm up closer Hector Rondon.

Maddon also said about the Cubs, “We don’t start stuff, but we will stop stuff.” Here’s video from the Chicago Daily Herald:

It didn’t seem like it took long for the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry to heat up again. Following Friday’s win, the Cubs are 86-61, six games behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central. The Cubs trail the Pirates by 1.5 games for the first NL Wild Card slot.