Just when you thought the trade deadline couldn’t possibly get any more exciting, the Pirates trumped every other move Wednesday night, landing Joe Blanton in a deal with the Royals.
Cash considerations were the reported return for Kansas City. Blanton had just been DFA’d to make room for Johnny Cueto on the roster.
Blanton had a 3.89 ERA and a 40/7 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings for the Royals, making four starts and 11 relief appearances. The 34-year-old former 16-game winner announced his retirement in 2014 before coming back this year.
The Pirates likely will use Blanton out of the pen and hope that their big ballpark can keep his home run totals down. He could always start if needed, but Vance Worley is ahead of him in line should anything open up.
Royals get left-hander Danny Duffy back from disabled list
Here’s a perfect example of how baseball is simultaneously amazing and bizarre: Monday night Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez, a former Cy Young winner with the most wins in the league this season, matched up against Royals right-hander Joe Blanton, who briefly retired last year and has a 5.00 ERA since 2000.
Blanton out-dueled Hernandez, tossing six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts and zero walks. Last time Blanton allowed one run or fewer with at least seven strikeouts and zero walks in a start? June of 2012. And before that it was August of 2010. And before that it was never, because Monday was just the third time in his 11-season, 250-start career Blanton has had such an outing.
Hernandez wasn’t exactly terrible, allowing four runs in 6.1 innings, but he continued a pattern of alternating great starts with bad starts that dates back to late May.
May 27: Complete-game shutout
June 1: Seven runs in 4.2 innings
June 6: Seven innings of one-run ball
June 12: Eight runs on 0.1 innings
June 17: Eight shutout innings
June 22: Four runs in 6.2 innings
Blanton, meanwhile, has a nifty 1.73 ERA and 24/3 K/BB ratio in 26 innings for Kansas City and the Royals somehow keeping chugging right along in first place with a patchwork starting rotation.
Phillies 11, Yankees 8: A bright spot for the Phillies in this otherwise dark year: Maikel Franco. A prospect who’s actually young (22) and not just young for the Phillies. A prospect who’s good and not just good for the Phillies. And, last night, a prospect who broke the hell out, going 4-for-5 with two homers and five driven in. He also did this:
Franco is hitting .312/.353/.574 with nine homers and 24 driven in in his 36 games. One of the great things about baseball: even when things are at their worst, there is the chance to see hope for the future.
Royals 4, Mariners 1: Have you ever said a nonsense sentence just for the sake of hearing it and for the sake of thinking “no one in the history of the world has EVER said this”? I do that sometimes. Like, I’ll just be driving down the road and I’ll say something like “Don’t ride your bicycle into the paella, Marie Curie, for there are Bigfoots in it!” Really, in a thousand years of English, no one has EVER said that. It’s a neat and nerdy little game to play! Here, let’s do another one: “Joe Blanton outdueled Felix Hernandez.”
Angels 4, Astros 3: Yet another guy with two homers last night: Albert Pujols. Who now has 23 on the year — on pace for 52 — and a line of .275/.336/.581. Report/death/exaggerated. The fireworks notwithstanding, the Erick Aybar and Angels scored the go-ahead run on a safety squeeze. But man, Aybar probably should’ve been out. Watch the play and ask yourself what in the hell Chris Carter is doing throwing a shovel pass home like this:
Fielding is fundamental.
Tigers 8, Indians 5: The Tigers own the Indians, particularly at Progressive Field. Ownership continued last night, with Yoenis Cespedes homering and driving in three. Miguel Cabrera singled twice and walked twice, once with the bases loaded. He’s 24-for-37 with five homers and 16 RBI against the Indians this year.
Blue Jays 8, Rays 5: Drew Hutchison wasn’t great — three runs and nine hits over five innings — but it was enough on a night when he got some good run support. Asdrubal Cabrera had an interesting night too, tossing his bat and helmet out on the field after getting ejected. Which were then confiscated by Joe West for some reason. Which is not a thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s Joe West and he’s his own man.
Oh, and at one point in this game some of the lights in Tropicana Field went out for no reason. Because Tropicana Field.
Twins 13, White Sox 2: Kennys Vargas went 4-for-4 with a three-run homer and four RBI and Byron Buxton had three hits and scored three times hitting at the top of the order as God and Gleeman intended. Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier homered too, as the Twins romped.
Cubs 4, Dodgers 2: Two homers for Kris Bryant, one of which came off of a Clayton Kershaw curve ball. Six Cubs pitchers combined to stymie the Dodgers.
And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights
Reds 8, Tigers 4: Todd Frazier plays the hero with a 13th inning walkoff grand slam. It was his second homer of the game and second day in a row in which he hit two homers. Between the 13 innings and an hour and a half rain delay, this thing ended at almost 1:30AM. Todd Frazier may be one of the more overlooked players in baseball, but all he’s doing is hitting .294/.361/.639 and is on a 55-homer pace.
Mariners 2, Giants 0: King Outduels Bum. Felix Hernandez has alternated good and bad starts lately, but this one was good. And necessary, as he was facing Madison Bumgarner. Felix shut the Giants out for eight innings, however, while Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano hit a triple and a double, respectively, off of Bumgarner in the sixth for the M’s only runs.
Rays 5, Nationals 0: Steven Souza was a hero in Washington the last time he played a regular season game in Nats Park. That’s when he saved Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter with an acrobatic catch in the last game of the 2014 season. Last night, as a Ray, he had three hits including a homer. The home crowd probably wasn’t as welcoming of that. They were probably even less welcoming of the fact that the Rays tossed a two-hit shutout in what was basically a bullpen game for them.
Yankees 2, Marlins 1: The Yankees’ winning equation: good starting pitching and old guys coming through. It was a gamble at the outset of the season and one that seemed like a longshot, but it’s paying off often enough for them to keep them in contention. Here the formula played out with Michael Pineda looking sharp into the seventh and both Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran knocking in a run.
Orioles 6, Phillies 4: Chris Parmelee homered for the third time in two games. That’s twelve wins in their last fourteen for Baltimore. Nine losses in a row for Philly. When Ryne Sandberg was asked about the club’s record he said “It’s surprising.” Have to expect heads will be rolling soon.
Blue Jays 8, Mets 0: Drew Hutchison bounced back from a poor start to shut the Mets down into the sixth. Kevin Pillar went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBI. Terry Collins: “We’ve got to start playing better on the road. We’ve got to start winning some games.” Between him and Sandberg it must’ve been Obvious Night last night.
Cubs 17, Indians 0: I sort of operate like the guy from that old HBO series “Dream On,” in that when stuff happens in life, little movie or TV clips play in my head to characterize it. In the past couple of days this has been getting worn out as I peruse the box scores:
Kris Bryant had a grand slam and Kyle Schwarber was 4-for-5. For the second night in a row we saw two position players take the mound for a team, this time Ryan Raburn and David Murphy, who combined to allow seven runs in the ninth. None of them were earned, however, as all seven runs scored after Francisco Lindor booted what would’ve been out number three in the inning.
Braves 5, Reds Sox 2: Boston has now lost eight of nine overall and 11 of 12 on the road. Nick Markakis knocked in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. Pedro Ciriaco knocked in two. John Farrell lost a replay challenge, argued when asking for an umpire replay review later on and then got tossed arguing balls and strikes. Tough night at the office.
Pirates 3, White Sox 2: No one knew whether Jung Ho Kang’s gaudy numbers from Korea would translate to the majors, but he’s doin’ just fine, no? A two-run homer in this one puts him at .280/.363/.420 on the year and I think the Pirates are quite pleased with it. That’s seven wins in a row for Pittsburgh, who actually made up a game in the standings because . . .
Twins 3, Cardinals 1: . . . The Cardinals finally lost a game on a night Pittsburgh won. Tommy Milone gave up one run in seven innings and Glen Perkins notched a four-out save. This from the AP gamer strikes me as odd:
Carlos Martinez (7-3) gave up two runs — one earned — on five hits and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings for the Cardinals, who are embroiled in a federal investigation into allegations that members of the team’s baseball operations hacked into the Houston Astros’ personnel database.
Multiple additional words appear about the hacking thing as well. I guess context is context, but it seems really odd to me to insert this into a game story as the scandal seems so very far removed from actual game play. Especially given that no one is quoted talking about it.
Royals 10, Brewers 2: Joe Blanton got his first win — and made his first start — in nearly two years. I suppose this now means he’ll be the starting pitcher for the American League All-Star team.
Astros 8, Rockies 4: Carlos Correa hit one of Houston’s four home runs and he and George Springer each had three hits. In his first nine games he’s hitting .359/.375/.641 with three homers. And he won’t be able to have a legal beer for over three months.
Diamondbacks 3, Angels 2: Paul Goldschmidt and Welington Castillo each hit homers and Yasmany Tomas had three hits with an RBI triple. Goldschmidt is putting up video game numbers this year: .363/.481/.679 with 19 homers and 54 RBI. He’s five homers and eight RBI behind Giancarlo Stanton for the lead in all three triple crown categories. Heck, we actually could have a Triple Crown race this year between him and Bryce Harper.
Athletics 16, Padres 2: Another blowout, this one paired with a dominating pitching performance from Jesse Chavez, who struck out 11. Billy Butler had a big game, hitting a homer on a 4-for-5, 3 RBI night. And of course we got more position player pitching, this time from Alexi Amarista. He only threw two pitches, though, which is kind of sad. We’ve come to expect so much more this week.
Rangers 5, Dodgers 3: Clayton Kershaw struck out ten but he was touched for a Joey Gallo homer and a lot of timely Rangers hitting. Sort of the story of his year, really. Good stuff but you look up at the end of the night and wonder how he gave up four runs.