According to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, new Diamondbacks pitcher Taijuan Walker said he was dealing with 10 bone spurs in his right foot, which impacted his ability to push off and use his lower body. The biggest bone spur was three-fourths of an inch in size, Gilbert adds.
Moving from the more pitcher-friendly Safeco Field in Seattle to the more hitter-friendly Chase Field in Arizona, Walker said he plans to add a two-seam fastball in an attempt to keep the ball on the ground. The 24-year-old last season allowed 27 home runs in 134 1/3 innings. As a percentage of fly balls, his 17.6 percent home run rate was eighth-highest among pitchers who logged at least 130 innings. Despite the home run issues, Walker did manage to keep his ERA at 4.22 while averaging better than three strikeouts for every one walk. If he’s able to tamp down the homers, it will be interesting to see if he can live up to his potential with the Diamondbacks.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.