Phillies’ right-hander Ben Lively is scheduled for his first big league start on Saturday, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. The club appears to be hurting for rotation depth, contrary to general manager Matt Klentak’s recent comments, with all five starters currently pitching above a 5.00 ERA and Vince Velasquez landing on the 10-day disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow.
The nail in the coffin? Jerad Eickhoff lasted just 2 2/3 innings during Friday’s series opener against the Giants, sinking the Phillies 10-0 and handing Giants’ starter Ty Blach his first career complete game shutout. Klentak chalked up the team’s struggles to the “growing pains” of the rebuilding process, telling reporters he was content to wait another year before reassessing the organization’s pitching depth. In the meantime, there’s no denying that Lively’s presence on the mound on Saturday could bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to the last-place Phillies.
Lively, 25, was initially recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in April to serve as emergency bullpen depth during Pat Neshek‘s absence, but was not utilized in a game during his brief stay in the majors. He’s pitched to a strong 2.40 ERA through 56 1/3 innings in Triple-A this spring, going 6-1 in nine starts with a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.