Padres rookie starter Chris Paddack is a good one. Over six starts he’s got a 1.91 ERA and an excellent K/BB ratio of 35/9 over 33 innings. He throws gas but changes speeds wonderfully and doesn’t walk many guys. He’s only 23 but he’s exactly what you want in an ace. All he lacks is the experience.
Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso is a good one. Over 34 games he’s got a line of .280/.364/.600 with 10 homers and 27 driven in. He also just won Rookie of the Month honors for April. He’s only 24 but he’s exactly the sort of slugger Mets fans had been hoping the team would develop for many, many years.
Tonight they’ll face each other in San Diego as Paddack starts for the Padres against the Mets.
Yesterday Paddack did what not many baseball players do: he name-checked Alonso as a guy he perceives as a rival with specific reference to Rookie of the Month/Rookie of the Year honors and said, in no uncertain terms, that he’s gunning for him:
“He’s a great player, no doubt. Does he deserve (the Rookie of the Month honor)? Absolutely. But I’m coming for him. We’ll see Monday who the top dog is. That’s something I’m looking forward to, for sure. And I’m not saying that in a cocky way. I’m saying that because I know what I want, just like I’m sure he knows what he wants. It’ll be a fun little matchup.
“Do I wish it was me? Yeah. But the way I look at it is, do you want to be Rookie of the Month or Rookie of the Year? We’ll see, man. We’ve got a long season and I’m looking forward to Monday, competing against him.”
Given all the “he’s a great player” and the comment that Alonso “absolutely” deserved Rookie of the Month honors, that’s not really even close to trash talk, even if the New York tabloids portray it as trash talk after today’s game. But it’s a lot closer to it than the typically bland mutual admiration society that you tend to see from ballplayers talking about other ballplayers.
Thing is, almost all of them think the way Paddack talks. It’s rather refreshing to hear him be so honest about it.
Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.
It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.
The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.
In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.
Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.