Matthew Pouliot

Mike Trout

Mike Trout walks off in ninth to give Angels 1-0 win

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Mike Trout launched his third career walkoff homer off Koji Uehara with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Friday, giving the Angels a 1-0 win over the Red Sox.

Uehara was able to get ahead with a fastball to begin the at-bat against Trout, but he opted to throw him another one right away, rather than go to the trusty splitter. Trout deposited it over the walk in left-center to end it.

Trout had been 0-for-5 with three strikeouts against Uehara in his career.

Both starters threw gems in this one, only to be left with no-decisions. Boston’s Wade Miley took a no-hitter into the seventh before Kole Calhoun doubled. He pitched scoreless ball into the eighth. The Angels’ C.J. Wilson completed eight scoreless despite never turning in a one-two-three inning. The win ended up going to Joe Smith, who pitched a scoreless ninth for the Angels.

With the homer, Trout moved into a tie with the injured Giancarlo Stanton for the major league lead at 27. He also leads the majors with 70 runs scored.

Kyle Schwarber collects three hits, two errors in first start behind plate

Kyle Schwarber
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Filling in for the injured Miguel Montero, Kyle Schwarber had three hits Friday in his return to the majors, but he also committed two errors in the Cubs’ 4-2 loss to the Braves.

Schwarber’s first error came a Nick Markakis steal in the bottom of the first, with his throw going to the outfield and allowing Markakis to take third. It was just Markakis’s second steal attempt in 89 games this season. He came around to score on Kelly Johnson’s single.

The other error came on catcher’s interference in the sixth, allowing Johnson to reach. Johnson didn’t go on to score.

Of course, the Cubs well know than Schwarber’s bat is well ahead of his glove. He had more than a third of the Cubs’ seven hits on the night, including their lone extra-base hit, a double off Julio Teheran in the fifth. Unfortunately, that came immediately after Dexter Fowler grounded into a double play, leaving no one on base.

The Cubs don’t believe Schwarber is ready to be an everyday catcher right now, which is why they’re carrying three backstops in Montero’s absence. However, they also haven’t given Schwarber a single inning in the outfield at any level this year, suggesting that Schwarber won’t contribute as more than a pinch-hitter when he doesn’t start at catcher. They still might want to change their minds about that one and start having Schwarber work out in left. If could take away from his practice time behind the plate, but Schwarber’s bat can be a big help to the team this year, even after Montero returns.

Dodgers-Nationals game suspended after lighting problems

Jordan Zimmermann
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Nationals Park just wasn’t able to handle all of the electricity generated by right fielders Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper facing off. Friday’s game had to be suspended following three lighting delays, and it will be picked up on Saturday.

The problem was with a bank down the left-field line. Play was initially halted for 82 minutes in the fourth, with subsequent delays in the fifth and sixth.

The Nationals were up 3-2 in the sixth when play was officially halted for the night. Both starters had already exited because of the delays. Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann allowed two runs in four innings, while Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger gave up one run in four innings.

Yunel Escobar, not Puig nor Harper, was the offensive star of the contest to date. He had a two-run homer and a double in three at-bats. Adrian Gonzalez homered for the Dodgers.

The marginalization of Oswaldo Arcia

Oswaldo Arcia
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There are currently seven major leaguers 24 and under with a career OPS+ over 100 in at least 500 at-bats.

167 – Mike Trout
135 – Bryce Harper
108 – Manny Machado
105 – Christian Yelich
104 – Oswaldo Arcia
103 – Avisail Garcia
101 – Nolan Arenado

Six of those guys are considered building blocks by their teams. The other, Arcia, seems to be at a career crossroads already, even though he’s hardly tasted failure at any point in his career.

Arcia arrived in the majors before his 22nd birthday, debuting in April 2013. He was demoted a few times that season, even though his numbers were decent, if unspectacular, throughout. He finished up at .251/.304/.430 with 14 homers in 351 at-bats.

The next spring, Arcia was penciled right in as the Twins’ right fielder, only to develop wrist troubles very early on. He was placed on the DL on April 9. He went on to excel in his rehab assignment, hitting .308/.349/.487 in 12 games, yet the Twins optioned him to Triple-A for a spell anyway. He came back in late May and played regularly the rest of the way, finishing up at .231/.300/.452. Despite the low average, he had a 108 OPS+, largely because of his 20 homers (second on the Twins).

After last season, the Twins took away Arcia’s position by signing Torii Hunter, but he was still seemingly assured the left field job. However, weird things happened right off the bat. The left-handed-hitting Arcia started Opening Day against lefty David Price, only to find himself on the bench against a righty three days later. Arcia went on to sit three times in the first nine games. He slumped. He only started to pull out of it at the end of April, going 7-for-13 with a homer in four starts. That’s what a hip injury put him on the disabled list.

Despite that promising surge, it was apparent right away that Arcia might not immediately reemerge in Minnesota’s plans following his return. For one thing, the team needed a break from playing three liabilities in the outfield, as it often was with Arcia in left, Jordan Schafer in center and Hunter in right. Arcia’s struggles against lefties and his strikeout rate were also problems, even though he didn’t fan overly much during April (15 K’s in 65 PA).

Sure enough, Arcia was sent down after going hitless in the first four games of his rehab assignment. It’s the third time in three years he’s been optioned out. Whether it’s the hip, his frustrations over being buried or something else, he’s continued to slump since the demotion, hitting .214/.227/.310 in 12 games.

Arcia is a flawed player. The troubles against lefties aren’t going away, and he’s a poor outfielder perhaps best suited to DH duties. That seemed like a big problem at the start of the year, following Kennys Vargas’s emergence. But with Vargas also struggling to find his way with these 2015 Twins, there’s plenty of room for Arcia at DH should the team decide to go that route. Obviously, it hasn’t happened yet.

Still, it’s not at all reasonable that the Twins are so down on him. Beat writers have speculated that he’ll be traded. One writers suggested this spring that he should begin the season in the minors. Of late, there’s been more talk about prospect Miguel Sano becoming the Twins’ DH than Arcia. Oddly enough, Arcia is playing regularly in right field in Triple-A, even though the team surely won’t ask Hunter to change positions this year. It makes little sense. Right-handed power is difficult to come by these days, and young hitters as productive as Arcia rarely prove to be flops.

Maybe all of this turns around if Arcia turns it on in Triple-A over these next few weeks. After all, the Twins have given Shane Robinson two starts and Eduardo Escobar one start in left field over these last five games. Vargas has slumped since his return from Triple-A and has no sort of handle on the DH job. It’s not hard to imagine Arcia spending the final three months of the season as one of the Twins’ best hitters. Unfortunately, it’s also not hard to imagine him getting traded for a veteran security blanket as the Twins try to gear up for a playoff run.

The red-hot Blue Jays have gone 18 straight wins without a save

Brett Gardner, Brett Cecil
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It’s one of those things that simply doesn’t seem possible these days: the Blue Jays, despite having now won eight straight games, don’t have a single save since May 4.

After beating the Marlins 7-2 on Wednesday, the Jays are 18-16 since closer Brett Cecil (or anyone else on the team) last picked up a save. 14 of those 16 losses have included saves by the opposition. But none of the 18 wins. Let’s look at the scores of those wins.

May 6: 5-1
May 8: 7-0
May 9: 7-1
May 12: 10-2
May 18: 10-6
May 21: 8-4
May 24: 8-2
May 25: 6-0
May 26: 10-9 (walkoff victory)
May 29: 6-4
June 2: 7-3
June 3: 8-0
June 4: 6-2
June 6: 7-2
June 7: 7-6 (walkoff victory)
June 8: 11-3
June 9: 4-3 (walkoff victory)
June 10: 7-2

14 of the 18 wins came by four or more runs, with three of the remaining four being decided in the Jays’ final at-bat. The only real chance for a save was on the May 29 game against the Twins, when the Jays scored twice in the top of the ninth to take a 6-4 lead. Under normal circumstances, that would have been Cecil time. Manager John Gibbons, though, decided to let Mark Buehrle finish it, which he did with a flawless final frame.

It rates as quite the oddity. I know of no way to find out the last team to go 18 wins without a save, but I’m guessing it’s been a long while. Last year, AL teams earned saves in 619 of 1,228 victories, so just over half of the time. The Jays had 45 saves in 83 victories then. If we just go with 50 percent of wins as being frequency of saves, then it’s a 1/524,288 chance that a team would go 18 straight wins without one.

With the winning streak, the Jays are 31-30 for the season. Because of the abundance of lopsided wins and close losses, they have the AL’s best run differential, having scored 325 runs and allowed 266.