What’s on Tap: Previewing Tuesday’s action

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There have been many factors in the Astros’ resurgence — they’re 24-13 since June 18 — but starter Lance McCullers is chief among them. His 2016 debut, on May 13, was a rough one as he gave up five runs and couldn’t complete the fifth inning. He pitched well in seven starts after that, putting up a 3.27 ERA until a blister caused him to miss a couple turns in the rotation.

McCullers returned on July 4 and has caught fire over five starts. He’s yielded exactly one run in four of them and he struck out double-digit batters in three of them. That includes a July 22 start against the Angels in which he pitched into the ninth inning, nearly registering his second career complete game.

McCullers, now 22, was selected by the Astros in the first round — 41st overall — in the 2012 draft. He ascended quickly through the minor leagues and he’s showed why over his first 35 career big league starts. He has a 3.21 ERA while averaging over a strikeout per inning pitched. McCullers’ 3.18 ERA this season is 12th best in the AL among starters who have logged at least 70 innings.

The Astros’ starting rotation has left a lot to be desired this year. Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, for example, has a 4.86 ERA. The rotation in aggregate has put up a 4.23 ERA, only slightly better than the league average (4.43). McCullers has been the backbone of that rotation and he could be the ace in the very near future.

On Tuesday night, the Astros host the Blue Jays. McCullers will take on knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Also of note during Tuesday’s action:

  • Shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia will debut for the Brewers
  • Outfield prospect Andrew Benintendi will be in uniform for the Red Sox (but will debut on Wednesday most likely)
  • The Rangers’ lineup will include new acquisitions Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran

The rest of Tuesday’s action…

San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Zach Eflin), 7:05 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Yu Darvish) @ Baltimore Orioles (Dylan Bundy), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (James Shields) @ Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Andriese), 7:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Kyle Gibson) @ Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) @ New York Mets (Jacob deGrom), 7:10 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 7:10 PM EDT

Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez) @ Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel), 8:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Brandon McCarthy) @ Colorado Rockies (Jon Gra), 8:40 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea) @ Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker), 10:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Seattle Mariners (Wade LeBlanc), 10:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Zach Davies) @ San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo), 10:10 PM EDT

McCutchen’s sacrifice fly lifts Pirates to 5-4 win, extends Athletics’ road losing streak to 15

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

PITTSBURGH – Andrew McCutchen’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted Pittsburgh to a 5-4 victory over Oakland on Monday night, extending the Pirates’ win streak to six games and sending the Athletics to their record-tying 15th consecutive road loss.

The 15 straight defeats away from home matches the Athletics’ record since they moved from Kansas City in 1968. Oakland set that mark in 1986.

The major league-worst Athletics (12-50) have lost five games in a row overall. They are on pace to finish the season exactly 100 games under .500 at 31-131.

“It’s tough,” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. “Tonight’s game, we didn’t play well enough to win the game. I don’t want to say we gave the game away but there were a lot of instances where we had a chance to capitalize on opportunities and didn’t do it.”

McCutchen also singled and drew three walks to go with two RBIs. The 2013 NL MVP now has 1,998 career hits.

With the score tied at 4, Ji Hwan Bae led off the decisive eighth inning with a single off Sam Moll (0-3) and advanced to third on Austin Hedges’ one-out single. McCutchen’s sac fly plated Bae.

“I was just trying to get the job done. I understand the situation there,” McCutchen said. “We just need to get the run. I was trying to bear down against a hard thrower and trying to get that run in as much as I can, and I was able to do it and have a good at-bat.”

Angel Perdomo (1-0) retired both hitters he faced. and Colin Holdeman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first career save. It was an eventful inning for Holderman as the first three batters reached base, but he struck out Carlos Perez with runners on the corners to end it.

“I began my career as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues but ever since I was switched to relief, this has been the goal, to get a save in the big leagues,” Holderman said.

Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo gave up three runs and four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Oakland left-hander JP Sears did not allow a hit until Mark Mathias’ leadoff single in the fifth but was unable to make it through the inning. Sears was charged with one run in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two hits, walking five and striking out six.

Sears has not allowed more than two runs in five consecutive starts. His nine no-decisions are the most in the major leagues.

Ryan Noda and Brent Rooker had two hits each for the Athletics.

The Athletics tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz’s run-scoring double. Oakland left the bases loaded, though, when Nick Allen hit an inning-ending flyout.

Consecutive bases-loaded walks keyed a three-run sixth inning that put the Pirates 4-3. McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds each worked bases on balls off Shintaro Fujinami to tie the score at 3-all and pinch-hitter Jack Suwinski followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Athletics opened the scoring in the first inning when rookie Esteury Ruiz reached on catcher’s interference, stole his MLB-leading 30th base of the season and scored on Noda’s single. Seth Brown doubled in a run in the third and came home on Perez’s sacrifice fly to push Oakland’s lead to 3-0.

Connor Joe hit an RBI double for the Pirates in the fifth.

The Pirates drew 10 walks, their most in a game in nearly two years.

“We had a bunch of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize (on), but the thing I think I was most proud of is we got down and we didn’t rush to get back,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We were still patient.”


Athletics: LHP Kirby Snead (strained shoulder) is expected to pitch in the Arizona Complex League on Tuesday, which will be his first game action since spring training. … RHP Freddy Tarnok (strained shoulder) will throw a bullpen on Tuesday.


Pirates catching prospect Henry Davis was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona. In 41 games at Double-A this season, the 23-year-old hit .284 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases.

“He was performing offensively at a level where we felt like he was more than ready to meet the challenges,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He improved as an offensive player even since spring training, focusing on the things we were challenging him on. Defensively, he’s made strides too.”

Davis was the first overall selection in the 2021 amateur draft from the University of Louisville.


Athletics RHP James Kaprielian (0-6, 8.12 ERA) will make his first start in June after taking the loss in all four starts in May and face RHP Mitch Keller (7-1, 3.25). Keller has eight or more strikeouts in seven consecutive starts, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher in the modern era (since 1901).