Holliday just spent six weeks on the disabled list with the very same injury. He re-injured it Wednesday night at Busch Stadium while chugging down the first base line on what would have been an infield single, and it seems very possible that the 35-year-old is now done for the remainder of the season. Stephen Piscotty entered Wednesday’s game in left field and could be the everyday guy there down the stretch for the Cardinals. It’s now even more imperative that St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak secures a first baseman before the July 31 trade deadline. There’s been some connection to the Brewers’ Adam Lind.
Indians 8, Rays 1: So close to a no-hitter for Carlos Carrasco, but not quite. And maybe it was inevitable given his pitch count, which was up over 100 to begin the ninth inning, which happens when you strike out as many guys as he did (13 by the time he was pulled). In the ninth he walked Asdrubal Cabrera and then plunked Brandon Guyer before a fielder’s choice and a strikeout. Then Joey Butler singled on Carrasco’s 124th and final pitch of the game. Still a great start for the guy and crazy-dominant given how many swings and misses he generated by Rays hitters: 30, which is a BIG number. Who knows, maybe this is a look ahead to a great second half in 2015 like he had in 2014.
Reds 2, Twins 1: Johnny Cueto gave the Twins nothing to work with, holding them to one run over eight innings while striking out eight. Given the schedule and the All-Star break, there is a chance this was the last home start for Cueto as a Red. If so, he left the hometown folks happy.
Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 2: Yesterday everyone made jokes about how Bobby Bonilla is still being paid by the Mets for doing nothing. Maybe the bigger scandal is that the Red Sox are paying Rick Porcello for this. The Jays teed off on him — Justin Smoak hit two homers — and now Porcello has given up 16 homers on the year. This from a sinkerballer who is supposed to leave things on the ground. Mercy. And Happy Canada Day!
Athletics 4, Rockies 1: Remember the other day when Billy Butler fell a triple short of the cycle and I made some joke about how he’d die on the base paths if he had tried to leg out a triple? Well, Billy Butler hit a triple. To be fair, the only reason he could do it was because the outfielder crashed into the wall and hurt himself, leaving the ball to roll around forever. Still: box score says it’s a triple, so it’s a triple. The fifth of his career. I assume the previous four also involved injured and incapacitated fielders. Watch:
Mariners 7, Padres 0: Taijuan Walker shut the Pads out on one hit over six innings and the bullpen did the rest, allowing only two more hits the rest of the way. Robinson Cano doubled, homered an drove in three, proving that he may not, in fact, be in a coma. The second shutout in a row for the M’s over the Padres.
Yankees 3, Angels 1: An inefficient start for Nate Eovaldi pitch count-wise, but a good one results-wise, as he shut the Angels out into the sixth inning. Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius each hit RBI singles. I watched the first couple of innings of this game in a bar. Early on Alex Rodriguez came up and singled. A guy down the bar from me said, with disgust “guy gets caught with his hands in the cookie jar and he’s still here.” I turned to him and said “you know he missed a year and lost over $20 million in salary, right?” The guy, still digusted and unimpressed said “Yet here he is!” I guess nothing short of a literal execution would be enough for some people. In other news, don’t tell me that sports columnists and talk radio dudes don’t have influence.
Orioles 4, Rangers 2: Wei-Yin Chen mostly tamed the Rangers boomsticks and JJ Hardy hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the seventh. Oh, and this happened:
Brewers 9, Phillies 5: Adam Lind homered and Scooter Gennett doubled twice, tripled and drove in three runs. The Phillies will certainly cure what ails ya.
Pirates 9, Tigers 3: Neil Walker drove in the go-ahead run in the 14-inning on Tuesday night and then, comes into this game and hits two homers among his four hits overall. Alfredo Simon, who started for the Tigers, gave up 15 hits in five and two-thirds innings. Which is a lot of dang hits to give up. He’s lucky he only allowed six runs.
Braves 4, Nationals 1: The Braves beat the franchise that is now the Nationals for the first time since Rusty Staub played for ’em. At least that’s what it feels like. A.J. Pierzynski and Juan Uribe, who I have come to think of as colorful mercenaries on a team that is otherwise not that fun to watch, hit back-to-back homers in the fourth. Rookie Matt Wisler — one of the young guys who are actually likely to be part of the next winning Braves team — only allowed one hit and no runs in five and a third, atoning for his start against the Nats last week which was . . . not as good.
Cubs 2, Mets 0: Mets pitchers have allowed three runs in two games and the Mets have lost both games because their offense is basically chipped beef on toast. Everyone was scoreless until the 11th in this one, when the Cubs scratched across two runs on singles. Both Jon Lester and Bartolo Colon shut the opposition out for seven innings and deserved better fates in this one. Mets pitchers always deserve better fates.
Marlins 6, Giants 5: There are walkoff homers and then there are three-run homers when your team is down two. That’s the kind Justin Bour smacked to win the game for Miami. The Giants turned five double plays in this one to keep that lead late, but it wasn’t enough.
Astros 6, Royals 5: The sweep, as Jose Altuve had three hits and scored the tiebreaking run, Chris Carter and Marwin Gonzalez hit solo homers and Evan Gattis drove in two. Bad news, though: George Springer was plunked on the wrist and may be missing some serious time. Updates on this when we hear them.
White S0x 7, Cardinals 1: Jose Quintana allowed one run over six. Effin’ Quintana, man. That creep can roll. A five-run ninth turned this one into a laugher, though. St. Louis had a six-game winning streak heading into this series but were limited to one run in both games.
Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 3: With Joc Pederson out Kike Hernandez got the start. All he did was triple, double, scored twice and drive in a run. The Dodgers have taken nine of ten from the Dbacks. Both Arizona and Atlanta should get together and have a discussion of what a “rival” is.
And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights
Nationals 8, Yankees 6: Down by four after four and a half innings, the Nats chipped back and then won the whole dang thing on a Ryan Zimmerman two-run walkoff homer in the tenth inning. Bryce Harper homered too. It was his 15th, which leads the NL. Washington is now 13-4 in May and are tied for first place in the NL East. So much for all of that April hand-wringing.
Cardinals 10, Mets 2: Not gonna say that this was a laugher, but Cardinals lefty specialist Randy Choate actually had a plate appearance here. Drew a walk! The guy has played for 15 years. This was just his sixth plate appearance ever — his first since 2004 — and the first time he has ever reached base. I wonder if anyone gave him a GPS in order to find first. Randy Grichuk drove in three and every Cardinals starter had a hit except for Matt Holliday.
Diamondbacks 4, Marlins 2: A.J. Pollock hit a pinch-hit, tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth. The righty Pollock hit it off of lefty Mike Dunn. Chip Hale said after the game that Pollock would not have been used as a pinch hitter if the Marlins had a righty up in the pen, ready to bring in to face Pollock:
“We were watching the pen real carefully and there was no righty up at the time,” Hale said. “That was the only way I was going to use him for Peralta. If there had been a righty up I probably wouldn’t have done it.”
After the game, new Marlins manager Dan Jennings said that he had his lefty face Pollock because he “went with the gut feeling.” That gut, at that point in time, had less than two full games’ managerial experience in it.
Twins 8, Pirates 5: A lot of weird things here. Like, in the second, Joe Mauer came up with the bases loaded and poked a single through the left side. Just a weak rolling grounder hit the opposite way. And it cleared the dang bases:
Clint Hurdle’s comments about that play after the game were harsh, but fair:
Oh, and Pedro Alvarez hit a home run into the Allegheny River on the fly. And it landed in a boat. For real:
Angels 3, Blue Jays 2: Hector Santiago has started eight games this year. In six of them, this one included, he has allowed one earned run or fewer. Not too shabby. Especially given how well the Blue Jays have hit left-handers this year.
Brewers 8, Tigers 1: Six runs in the third inning for the Brewers, thanks in part to back-to-back-to-back homers from Ryan Braun, Adam Lind and Aramis Ramirez. Note: you can hit back-to-back-to-back homers, but three guys can’t stand back-to-back-to-back. Physically impossible. Baseball is a funny game.
Orioles 9, Mariners 4: Jimmy Paredes homered and drove in four. Paredes has reached base in 20 straight games. His big game came at a good time too, as last year’s DH, Nelson Cruz, was in town. He homered, but the local fans had no reason to long for him last night.
Red Sox 4, Rangers 3: The otherwise slumping Mike Napoli went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI. David Ortiz homered too and Wade Miley pitched well (7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 7K), which hasn’t happened too often lately.
Indians 3, White Sox 1: Trevor Bauer snapped the White Sox’ winning streak by pitching one-run ball into the eighth and striking out seven. He has made three starts against Chicago this year and has owned them completely.
Royals 3, Reds 0: Yordano Ventura, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis combined for a four-hit shutout. This after the Royals shut out their last opponent, the Yankees, on Sunday. Johnny Cueto took the loss and is now 3-4. He has received a total of two runs of support in those four losses. He’s probably going to be dealt at the deadline. I’m guessing he can’t wait.
Astros 6, Athletics 4: Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus each hit two-run homers. Houston has the best record in the American League and Oakland has lost five of six.
Rockies 6, Phillies 5: Philly’s six-game winning streak is over, as Nick Hundley hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth. The Rockies, despite the win, struck out ten times. That’s the seventh straight game in which they’ve done that. According to the gamer, that’s one shy of the record, currently held by the 2011 San Diego Padres.
Padres 4, Cubs 3: James Shields got a no-decision, but he struck out 11 while allowing two runs in seven innings, outdueling Jason Hammel. Derek Norris hit a two-run double in the eighth to break a tie. Former University of San Diego player Kris Bryant made his return to town and went 1-for4.
Giants 2, Dodgers 0: Six and a third shutout innings for Tim Hudson as the Giants win their fourth in a row. They’re three and a half back in the west. Which is fairly interesting.
If you didn’t watch the entire clip, Cardinals right-hander Mitch Harris is the first graduate of the United States Naval Academy to appear in a major league game since 1921. He struck out Adam Lind — the first batter he faced — and then worked around a couple singles and a couple walks to deliver 1 1/3 scoreless frames.
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 2015 season. Next up: The Toronto Blue Jays.
The Big Question: Is it going to be all-mash, no-pitching for the Blue Jays once again?
The Blue Jays made some intriguing additions this past offseason. They signed Russell Martin. They made a couple of key trades in acquiring Josh Donaldson and Michael Saunders and, according to some, made some additions by subtraction in getting rid of Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind. Now, leaven your excitement at least a little here given that (a) Melky Cabrera also left, and he’s been a big contributor (as was Lind last year for that matter); (b) Russell Martin’s 2014 was his best offensive season ever and, coming as it did at age 31, it’s not likely to be replicated at age 32; and (c) Saunders has battled injury all spring and, frankly, all career, so expecting him to be an impact player is not the safest bet ever. But those caveats aside, this is a team that should, once again, be one of the most mash-happy offenses in baseball. As it has been for the past several years.
The knock on the Jays those past several years, however, has been that the pitching staff has been mashed in return. Toronto had one of the worst AL staffs in runs allowed and homers allowed in 2012 and 2013 and, while it took a moderate step forward in 2014, it was only moderate. And the most promising part of that improvement came from Marcus Stroman, who tore his ACL early in spring training and will be gone for the year. Add that to a bullpen which was near the bottom of the ladder last season and didn’t really improve in the offseason, and it seems like the Jays, for all of their changes, stood mostly still this past offseason.
Not that that keeps them out of contention, of course. They won 83 games last year in a league where 88 wins got you into the Wild Card Game. The AL East, as we’ve noted several times this spring, is something of a crap shoot. And, as we’ll note below, the Jays have a couple of intriguing dice they’re getting ready to roll.
But if you are a betting man, it’s hard to look at the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays and see anything radically different than what you’ve seen in the past: some big bats, some holes in the bottom of the lineup and a lot of question marks with the pitching staff. That’s the sort of thing that makes a gambler want to hedge his bets.
What else is going on?
The impact of the Stroman loss is so, so big. With R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle getting long in the tooth, Stroman’s electric stuff looked poised to put him at the top of the Jays’ rotation. Now his transition into ace-hood is delayed a year, and the bottom half of the Jays’ rotation is filled with uncertainty. But it’s worth noting it’s not without promise: Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris are two rookies with oodles of talent and each will get a chance to stick there all season. Still, rookies are rookies and sometimes rookies take some time to adjust. If Sanchez and Norris do — or if innings limits or what have you limit them at some point this year — the starting pitching depth available to John Gibbons is less-than-stellar.
The bullpen has some issues of its own. Saying bye-bye to last year’s closer Casey Janssen is no big tragedy — the guy was falling off — and replacing him with strikeout machine Brett Cecil is an upgrade. Beyond him, though, it’s not a scary bunch of relievers. Marco Estrada and even Johan Santana could be contributing here. That is if they aren’t pressed into duty as starting pitching reinforcements. Not exactly encouraging.
For all of the thump (Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson), on-base ability (Russell Martin) and table setting skills (Jose Reyes) near the top of the order, there are some question marks farther down. Another pickup from Seattle was Justin Smoak. He and his career line of .224/.309/.380 is the starting first baseman. There is some promise at second base with Devon Travis — picked up in a steal from the Tigers last year — and center field with Dalton Pompey slated to start. But each are young and unproven, so you have to expect some sort of growing pains here.
Indeed, there are all kinds of youngins being paired with oldins here. Norris, Sanchez, Travis and Pompey as mentioned, but also some bullpen arms like Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro are all embarking on rookie seasons. Sometimes youth can inject vitality. Sometimes youth can induce some frustrating slaps to the head. John Gibbons’ biggest job this year will be getting out of the way of the former and limiting the damage from the latter.
Prediction: It’s not hard to write a story of the 2015 Blue Jays in which Reyes and Martin are on base for a lot of those Bautista, Encarnacion and Donaldson homers, Dickey and Buehrle show that they still have something left in the tank, the young arms of Norris and Sanchez surprise and the young bats of Travis and Pompey don’t embarrass themselves. It’s not hard to tell another story, however — a quite familiar story, actually — in which the Jays mash but the pitching stinks and they find themselves in either third or fourth place, depending on whether the Yankees crater. I’m going to take a pessimistic approach here, because the Jays have not exceeded expectations in some time and say Fourth Place, American League East. It’s up to some young guys to prove me a fool.