The battle of leading Cy Young Award candidates Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital went 5-0 to the Dodgers and right-hander Zack Greinke.
Greinke allowed just three hits and one walk over eight scoreless innings against the Nationals, striking out a season-high 11 batters before getting lifted for pinch-hitter Justin Turner with a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth. Nationals ace Max Scherzer pitched well but not quite well enough, yielding a run in the top of the fourth inning on a wild pitch and seven total Dodgers hits. He did strike out eight.
Greinke has now gone 43 2/3 straight scoreless innings, the longest such streak in Major League Baseball since Orel Hershiser set the record with 59 scoreless frames in 1988. Greinke, now with a 1.30 ERA on the season, gets the light-hitting Mets next.
That opt-out clause in his contract is looking better and better with each passing week.
Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia told Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest on Sunday that he expects to begin a minor league rehab assignment later this week. It seems possible that he would only require one start before returning to the St. Louis rotation.
Garcia has been on the disabled list since late June because of a left groin strain. He threw a bullpen session without issue Saturday at Busch Stadium and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny noted afterward that Garcia “had a little hop in his step.”
Garcia owns a stellar 1.69 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 48 innings (seven starts) this season, but injuries have been a constant speed bump for him over the last three years. He holds an $11.5 million option for 2016 and a $12 million option for 2017, so these next few months will be hugely important to the 29-year-old’s future.
Tim Cooney has been filling in as the fifth starter for the MLB-leading Cardinals.
Here’s a juicy bit of information from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports …
Cueto entered his start Sunday afternoon against the Indians with a 2.73 ERA (140 ERA+), 0.90 WHIP, and 113/22 K/BB ratio in 118 2/3 innings. He’s used to pitching in power-friendly environments: Yankee Stadium and Great American Ball Park are second and third behind Coors Field in runs allowed for the 2015 season.
Cueto is also thought to be drawing serious interest from the Royals and Dodgers, and there are a number of other teams that would make sense for him. The 29-year-old right-hander is due to become a free agent this winter. He could be the first domino to fall in a major trade-deadline fire sale for the rebuilding Reds.
Via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano was on crutches as he walked into the visiting clubhouse on Sunday morning on O.Co Coliseum.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the 22-year-old phenom suffered a sprained right ankle during pregame work before Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Oakland A’s.
Sano served as the Twins’ designated hitter in that loss despite suffering the injury. He struck out in his first three at-bats but hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning and may have made the ankle worse while running it out. Ryan wouldn’t speculate whether the 22-year-old is going to need a disabled list stint.
Sano, one of the top hitting prospects in baseball, has batted .326 with a .992 OPS and nine RBI over his first 13 major league games. It would be a huge loss for the second-place Twins if he needs two weeks off.
Minnesota’s other top rookie, Byron Buxton, has been out since late June with a thumb injury.
Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel left his final start before the All-Star break — an important outing against the rival Cardinals — after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring. But it appears he won’t miss a single turn in Chicago’s rotation.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Hammel made it through a successful side session on Saturday afternoon and is lined up to start Tuesday night against the Reds. “It was as close to normal as I could get,” Hammel said of Saturday’s workout.
The 32-year-old owns a superb 2.86 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 105/18 K/BB ratio in 103 2/3 total innings this season for the Cubs. He’s been a bargain so far on a two-year, $20 million free agent deal.