Update #3 (6:43 PM EST): Hamels finished off his no-hitter, getting Addison Russell to ground out, struck out Dexter Fowler, then with a full count got Kris Bryant to fly out to Odubel Herrera in center field — making a ridiculous catch — on his 129th pitch of the afternoon.
Update #2 (6:26 PM EST): The Phillies tacked on two runs in the top of the eighth on a little league home run, pushing their lead to 5-0. Hamels doubled but was stranded. He went back out to the mound and brought his no-hitter into the ninth. He retired Starlin Castro and David Ross on fly balls (Odubel Herrera made a spectacular catch in left-center on the fly ball hit by Ross), then Schwarber grounded back to Hamels for a 1-3 putout. He’s thrown 112 pitches.
Update (6:06 PM EST): Hamels struck out the side in the seventh, retiring Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, and Chris Denorfia on strikes to carry his no-hitter into the eighth inning. He now has 12 strikeouts and has thrown 99 pitches.
Phillies starter Cole Hamels, making what could be his final start for the team that drafted him, is absolutely dealing at Wrigley Field against the Cubs this Saturday evening. The lefty has yet to allow a hit through six innings. The only blemishes on his record are two walks: to Dexter Fowler to lead off the game and to Fowler again with two outs in the sixth. Hamels has struck out nine while throwing 85 pitches.
The Phillies gave Hamels three runs of support on a Ryan Howard three-run home run off of Jake Arrieta in the third inning.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark quoted an unnamed baseball executive on Friday, who said that Hamels’ start against the Cubs could be his most important for the Ruben Amaro , Jr. administration, despite having pitched in the World Series for the club in 2009. The Phillies are rebuilding and Hamels is by far the team’s most valuable trade asset.
Hamels entered the start with a 3.91 ERA and a 124/37 K/BB ratio in 119 2/3 innings.
We’ll keep you updated as Hamels attempts to keep the Cubs hitless over the final three innings. Hamels has never officially thrown a no-hitter, but was the starter on September 1 in Atlanta against the Braves last year when he banded together with Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Jonathan Papelbon to toss a combined no-hitter. The Cubs have baseball’s longest active streak of not being no-hit at 7,931 games, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax tossed a perfect game against them on September 9, 1965.
Last night the Cubs lost to the Dodgers. The last play of the game featured Cubs batter Chris Denorfia smacking a base hit into the left field corner. It looked like a sure double, but Scott Van Slyke fired the ball to second base and shot down Denorfia as he slid into the bag head first.
Or did he? It was a close play at first blush, and it went to instant replay:
Close to be sure, but the center field angle made it look like Denorfia touched the bag before the tag touched his chest. Replay officials ruled that the call on the field stood, as there was not definitive evidence to overturn the out call.
That play may not have made the difference in the game — the Dodgers were up by three at the time — but it certainly got under Joe Maddon’s skin.
“I think it screams for an independent group back there to research the video,” Maddon said after the game. “That’s what I think it screams for as opposed to working umpires that are actually on the field. I think you should get a bunch of nerds back there that know how to look at a videotape and then come to a conclusion. I think it would be much more interesting that way.”
Maddon seemed to be particularly upset about something we talked about last week, which is the whole burden of proof thing, in which calls on the field are given deference unless there is definitive evidence to overturn this. Maddon seems to be saying what I was saying about how the calls should be made clean by replay officials, with their better view substituting for the judgment of the on-field umpires who, especially in this case, did not have a great look at the play. Why they are given deference is a mystery to me.
Also, the “nerds” comment seems to be Madden wondering why it’s field umps working the replay booth back in New York. He didn’t come out and say it, but I will: why would they be eager to overturn their on-field brethren when umpires are no doubt judged on how often they’re overturned? Next week it could be them, after all, and the notion of overruling another ump may be distasteful to them unless they absolutely have to do it.
Independent, de novo review of challenged calls makes far more sense than the system we have now. Major League Baseball needs to implement such a system.
And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights
Phillies 11, Yankees 6: Maikel Franco had five RBI for the second straight night and homered once again. This either has Yankees fans hating his guts or, as is their habit and primary defense mechansim, telling people exactly how long it is until Franco is a free agent and photoshopping him into Yankees gear.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 4: Adam Jones is out, David Lough is in center field in his place. No worries, as Lough hit a three-run homer. John Farrell got ejected after arguing balls and strikes. His comment: “I said a thing probably one too many times.”
Jerry Remy: I’ve never seen John so angry. And frankly, sports fans, he used a word that’s a no-no with umpires. Millie: [turns TV off] John must’ve called the guy a ______. Mrs. Farrell: Mmmmm. How romantic.
Tigers 7, Indians 3: Who says no one likes going to Cleveland? Detroit is 20-5 there since the beginning of the 2013. They were likely inspired by this:
David Price allowed one run while pitching into the seventh. Yoenis Cespedes and Nick Castellanos each drove in two. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Andrew Romine each notched two hits.
White Sox 6, Twins 2: Jeff Samardzija allowed two and struck out seven over seven innings. Jose Abreu notched four of the White Sox’ 15 hits. This paragraph appears in the box score:
The White Sox had eight of their 15 hits with two outs for four RBI. They had two-plus hits with runners in scoring position for the first time in 19 games, going 5 for 16.
At some point we need to have a national conversation about how hitting with two outs and hitting with runners in scoring position is not a skill and is not necessarily even significant in any way despite the fact that it’s satisfying for certain people. This paragraph appears because someone asked Robin Ventura about it, as if it were something requiring his insight as opposed to just being a thing that happened. Most stuff is baseball are just things that happen.
Rays 4, Blue Jays 3: Chris Archer was solid again, allowing one earned run and striking out seven in eight innings. Three of his nine wins have come against the Blue Jays this season. He’s 6-1 against them lifetime. Two of the Rays four runs were made possible by a wild pitch and a passed ball from R.A. Dickey. Live by the knuckler, die by the knuckler.
Brewers 3, Mets 2: Michael Cuddyer misplayed a double off the wall allowing Carlos Gomez to come around to score the go-ahead run. That’s six straight losses for the Mets, who currently have Travis d’Arnaud David Wright and Daniel Murphy on the disabled list. That they’re only two and a half back of Washington is something of a miracle. Imagine if they, you know, had a lineup.
Nationals 3, Braves 1: Stephen Strasburg came back from the DL and pitched five shutout innings, striking out six. He was backed by four hits from Anthony Rendon. The Braves threatened in the ninth, but it amounted to nothing. Storms delayed the start of this one by two hours, giving Braves fans extra time to dwell on how bad their lineup looks without Freddie Freeman in it.
Pirates 7, Reds 6: Down 4-0, the Pirates hung seven runs in the fourth inning and then hung on themselves as the Reds came close but not close enough. A two-run homer for Andrew McCutchen and a three-run shot for Francisco Cervelli. After McCutchen hit his homer he was almost the victim of a beaning when a breaking ball thrown his direction failed to break. So he did pushups.
Athletics 8, Rangers 6: Josh Phegley homered and had a two-run double. Oakland dug themselves too deep a hole in April and May but they’re 12-8 in June.
Cubs 1, Dodgers 0: Four in a row for the Cubs as they walk off on a Chris Denorfia sac fly. Strong pitching performances from Zack Greinke (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and Jason Hammel (7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER) both went unrewarded with a decision. Los Angeles has dropped six of eight.
Rockies 10, Diamondbacks 5: Nolan Arenado hit two homers. He now has 19 on the year. Wilin Rosario, D.J. LeMahieu and Brandon Barnes all homered as well. The Dbacks hit three of their own to make it eight overall in the game. Which was in Colorado, by the way. In case you did not know that.
Astros 13, Angels 3: Luis Valbuena hit two homers. Carlos Correa hit a three-run homer to give the Astros a 4-0 lead early and they never looked back. Correa is at .308/.338/.569 with four bombs in 15 games. He had three hits in all. The Astros lead baseball with 107 homers. Which is a lot of homers.
Mariners 7, Royals 0: Rookie Mike Montgomery tossed a four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. He was a first round pick of the Royals back in 2008 and they traded him away. It was in the famous James Shields/Wade Davis trade, however, so I figure Kansas City is cool with that even if this one smarted a bit.
Padres 3, Giants 2: Madison Bumgarner was cruising until the eighth — by the time that inning had started he had been shutting out San Diego and had struck out 13 on his way to 14Ks in all — but then he gave up two runs which eventually forced extra innings. Alexi Amarista singled in the go-ahead and, ultimately, the winning run in the 11th.
Jorge Soler takes batting practice for first time since ankle injury
Jorge Soler has been sidelined since June 1 due to a left ankle sprain, but he’s getting closer to rejoining the Cubs.
According to Tony Andracki of CSNChicago.com, Soler was able to take batting practice yesterday for the first time since the injury. He resumed throwing over the weekend and was recently able to shed his walking boot. He’s likely not far off from a minor league rehab assignment at this point.
After a strong showing during his first stint in the majors this season, the 23-year-old Soler was off to a bit of a slow start prior to the injury, batting .265/.322/.402 with four home runs and 19 RBI over 49 games. Chris Denorfia is playing right field in his absence.
Much like Kris Bryant before him, 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber has had his way with minor league pitching since the day the Cubs signed him. After hitting two homers for Double-A Tennessee on Sunday, he’s sitting at .333/.448/.657 with nine homers in 108 at-bats for the season. His career line of .341/.434/.641 in 370 at-bats is nearly a match for Bryant’s .327/.426/.667 line.
Meanwhile, Cubs left fielders have hit .217/.283/.370 in 138 at-bats this season. It’s not a total disaster, but it’s certainly not good. Most of the playing time has gone to Chris Coghlan, who has hit .194/.269/.370 overall. Chris Denorfia was expected to be his platoonmate, but he’s been hurt.
Given that the Cubs are all in, having already called on Bryant and Addison Russell, there’s going to be some point at which it might make sense to add the 22-year-old Schwarber to the mix. One slightly complicating factor: Schwarber isn’t currently a left fielder.
While Schwarber played 36 games in left (and 20 behind the plate) after being selected out of Indiana last year, the Cubs recommitted to him as a catcher over the winter. All of his starts this year have come behind the plate (21) or at DH (eight). He hasn’t excelled defensively — he’s given up 35 steals in 42 attempts over the course of 21 games — but neither has he been such a failure to cause the Cubs to doubt their decision.
The Cubs, though, did pick up Miguel Montero over the winter, committing $40 million to him through 2017. He’s been terrific this year, and there’s every reason to think he’ll be a solid starter through the end of his contract. The Cubs could always trade him when they think Schwarber is ready to play, but given that Montero is a better defender now than Schwarber is ever likely to become, there’s still a good chance Schwarber is going to end up in left field anyway. Unless someone else steps up, it might as well be sooner, rather than later.