Cliff Lee has 16 strikeouts, takes backseat to Derek Lowe

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9:50 p.m. EDT – Kimbrel settled for one strikeout, getting Ryan Howard to end the Braves’ 5-0 victory.  Four Braves pitches combined on a two-hit shutout as Cliff Lee notched his 16 strikeouts in a losing cause.

9:40 p.m. EDT – The Braves padded their lead with two runs in the top of the ninth before Chipper Jones fanned to end the frame.  If Craig Kimbrel strikes out the side in the bottom of the ninth, the two teams would tie the NL record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, which is 30.

9:35 p.m. EDT – A big night for strikeouts.  The Marlins and Nationals have combined for 23 through 7 1/2 innings.  Ricky Nolasco had 11 in seven innings for Florida and then three relievers combined for three strikeouts in the top of the eighth.

9:30 p.m. EDT – 26 strikeouts through eight innings for the two teams combined.  The big-league record in a nine-inning game is 31, established by the Rangers and Mariners in a game on July 13, 1997.

9:25 p.m. EDT – The injury to Polanco was a right big toe contusion.  He appears to be day-to-day.

9:20 p.m. EDT – Worse news for the Phillies than a loss tonight would be a lengthy absence for Placido Polanco.  He was injured on the double that knocked Lowe out of the game and was replaced by Wilson Valdez.  NL third basemen really do appear to be cursed this year.

9:15 p.m. EDT – Taking lessons from Lee, Eric O’Flaherty struck out three in a row to bail Lowe out the jam and protect Atlanta’s lead.  And, as expected, Lee is done.  J.C. Romero took over to start the eighth.

9:05 p.m. EDT – And Lowe is done after giving up back-to-back hits to begin the bottom of the seventh.  Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has gone to lefty specialst Eric O’Flaherty to face Ryan Howard in the 3-0 game.

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Cliff Lee just struck out the side in the top of the seventh for the Phillies, giving him 16 strikeouts against the Braves, yet he’s given up three runs and is going to be on the losing side unless the offense can come up with a late rally, as Derek Lowe took a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh for Atlanta.

Shane Victorino singled to lead off the bottom of the sevnth, breaking up Lowe’s bid, but the right-hander remains in the game, going for his first win since April 16.

Lee got each of his final seven outs via the strikeout. He was at 117 pitches through seven, so it seems like a safe assumption that he’s not coming back out for the eighth.

Lee had never fanned more than 13 batters in a game before tonight.  His previous high was established against the A’s in a complete-game victory July 27, 2010.  It’s his 13th career 10-strikeout game.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.