April 23, 2015
What You Need to Know
Baseball on Ice!
The Wednesday Takeaway
The clip above showed the snowfall at its peak but it continued to fall throughout the inning, which couldn’t have done any favors for Price. Headley kept the line moving with a single through the left side and came around to score shortly after on a bases-clearing double by Gregorio Petit.
That brought things back to the top of the order and Jacoby Ellsbury kept the onslaught going with a base knock to left. Petit boldly decided to challenge Yoenis Cespedes’ arm and can now lay claim to a story most mortal men aren’t able to tell, sliding in safe after Alex Avila was unable to corral the one-hopper from Cespedes.
But Adam Warren had his own problems to deal with in the first inning. The Yankees right-hander ran into control issues out of the gate, walking four of the first five batters of the inning. The Tigers now had a run in and the bases loaded for Yoenis Cespedes. What followed was a pair of mental lapses by Didi Gregorious that prolonged the inning.
Not many shortstops make that stop in the first place, so it’s tough to put too much blame on Gregorious for this one. But a little more field awareness makes this subsequent underhand toss 30 feet away from the bag on a potential double play ball less costly.
Alex Avila made sure to make the Yankees pay for Gregorious’ miscues with a base knock the other way to make it a 6-4 game. Adam Warren then got Jose Iglesias to pop out, which finally brought an end to the first inning. It lasted 51 minutes and took a combined 87 pitches between Price and Warren to complete.
Warren proceeded to settle down and kept the Tigers off the board before being pulled in the sixth inning. Price’s struggles, however, followed him into the second inning, with the Yankees tacking on two more runs before sending him to the showers in the third inning. By the time Price departed, he had gained entry to a club to which he surely won’t be a proud member.
Daniel Rathman (@DanielRathman) April 23, 2015
It was the second start in a row against the Yankees that Price was tagged for eight runs. During his start on August 27th of last season, Price got through two scoreless innings before the Yankees strung together nine consecutive hits to chase Price from the game. The left-hander is probably glad he’s no longer in the AL East.
As for Wednesday’s game, Detroit’s offense never got back into it and the bullpen didn’t fair all that much better than the Tigers' ace. Mark Teixeira added a three-run shot off Al Alburquerque in the seventh inning to run the score to an eventual final of 13-4 and give Detroit back-to-back losses for the first time this season.
Quick Hits from Wednesday
Squaring up high-90s cheese is difficult enough. Add in a passing blizzard and Jorge Soler never had a chance.
A night after blowing a two-run ninth inning lead, Pittsburgh’s bullpen nearly coughed up another win. Jared Hughes let all four batters he faced in the eighth inning reach base, with two of them coming around to score. But Tony Watson put the brakes on Chicago’s rally, retiring all three batters he faced in the eighth while stranding the tying run on third base. The southpaw promptly shut down the Cubs in the ninth, blowing a 3-2 fastball by Kris Bryant for the final out of the game.
There was just one matinee contest on the Wednesday docket, and fans tuning in would have pleased to find an enticing pitching matchup scheduled between Corey Kluber and Jeff Samardzija. Kluber had been outstanding in each of his first three starts of the season while Samardzija’s season had featured a mixed bag of results. Unfortunately for Indians fans, their side of the match up didn’t quite live up to expectations.
Jose Abreu was the lone White Sox hitter able to mount any offense against the Carlos Carrasco on Tuesday and the first baseman went yard for a second straight day on Wednesday, tattooing a Corey Kluber cutter that didn’t do much cutting.
Abreu’s two-run double was the 13th hit of the day off Kluber, which was the most hits the reigning AL Cy Young award winner has ever allowed in a single start. There were a handful of cheap hits sprinkled in throughout the outing, but all in all Kluber wasn’t nearly as sharp as we’ve been accustomed to over the last year. Just one of those days. We’ve all had them.
On the other hand, Samardzija entered the game with the second-longest active streak of batters faced without issuing a free pass. That streak ended at 65 in the second inning when Brandon Moss drew a one-out walk but the right-hander was able to minimize damage throughout the day. He didn’t miss many bats, with just three strikeouts and five swing-and-misses over the course of the start. However, he served up just one extra-base hit—a double by Moss in the sixth inning—and managed to keep the Tribe off the board in six innings of work.
Armed with a fastball that rarely touches 90 mph, Doug Fister’s success is contingent on his impeccable control and pounding batters low in the zone with his sinker. When he starts leaving fastballs up in the zone, the ball gets out in a hurry.
But that lead quickly evaporated with some assistance from a pivotal mental error by John Lackey. With one out in the inning the Nationals went single, single, single, sacrifice fly, walk to bring Ryan Zimmerman to the plate with the bases loaded. Matt Adams was playing far off the first base line and when he knocked down Zimmerman’s groundball, he looked up to toss the ball over to Lackey. Except the veteran pitcher was nowhere to be found.
That momentary lapse immediately came back to haunt Lackey, as Yunel Escobar cleared the bases moments later to even the score.
He then proceeded to break the tie with an opposite-field double off Blake Treinan to bring home Jon Jay and give the Cardinals a 6-5 lead. The visitors tacked on an insurance run in the ninth before Trevor Rosenthal locked down the save and the St. Louis win.
The first run of the game was pretty standard Hamilton shenanigans. He led off the game against Jimmy Nelson with a single and promptly swiped second base to improve to 9-for-9 in steal attempts this season. The Reds as a team are 17-for-17. Joey Votto promptly drove Hamilton in with a single to draw first blood.
Fast-forward to the ninth inning with the game tied at 1-1. Hamilton drew a one-out walk against Francisco Rodriguez and then went first-to-third on a hard-hit single to center by Votto. Todd Frazier popped out for the second out of the inning. Brandon Phillips flew out for the third out. But not before Hamilton scampered home to score the go-ahead run on a ball in the dirt that bounced off Martin Maldonado’s chest and about 15 feet away.
The defensive duo kept the game close enough for Corey Dickerson to knot up the score in the eighth inning off Joaquin Benoit with his second home run of the day. Daniel Descalso walked it off for the Rockies in the ninth.
The late-night duel between Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner was easily the most hyped matchup of the season to date given the West Coast rivalry and that it was the first time the reigning regular season and World Series MVPs had ever squared off against each other. No, Kershaw and Bumgarner didn’t end up with dueling no-hitters, but they each turned in superb performances. Both southpaws attacked the opposing team with fastballs up in the zone and breaking balls down at the knees but Kershaw boasted the better command of the strike zone.
With that home run, Alex Guerrero is now 3-for-6 this season in pinch-hit plate appearances with a pair of home runs and a double. Not bad.
The Defensive Play of the Day
Juan Lagares has made some pretty incredible plays during his brief career. So when the Mets center fielder says that his over-the-shoulder grab on Wednesday was the “hardest catch he’s ever made,” you know you’re in for a treat.
What to Watch for on Thursday
—Mark Melancon has gotten off to a rocky start this season, nearly letting a four-run lead slip away against the Tigers last week and then serving up three runs in the ninth inning to take the loss against the Cubs on Tuesday. After an ugly 2012 in Boston, the University of Arizona product has emerged as one of the top bullpen arms in the game, permanently taking over as the Pittsburgh closer in early May last year. During that time, Melancon dominated with a 94 mph cutter and a big bat-missing knuckle curve. But take a look at what Melancon has come armed with this year and it’s clear why opposing hitters have been teeing off on him.
That’s a full 3 mph lost across the board. That’s a lot! Granted, it’s a sample of about 100 pitches but velocity stabilizes rather quickly and such a steep plummet certainly raises some red flags. It’s not even a matter of Melancon consciously taking his foot off the pedal, as he admitted to reporters that he hadn’t even been aware of the decline in his velocity. Manager Clint Hurdle insists that an injury isn’t behind the precipitous drop and is optimistic that Melancon’s velocity will improve but it’s fair to wonder there’s more here than the club is letting on. Melancon remains Pittsburgh’s closer for the time being and his velocity readings should be closely monitored if he’s called upon to protect a lead in the series finale against the Cubs (12:35 p.m. EST).
—Yordano Ventura has yet to get through a start without making an early exit. His first two starts ended prematurely due to a thumb cramp and a calf cramp and then he was tossed from his latest start for drilling Brett Lawrie. The 23-year-old will need to fire some quality innings for the Royals to take the series opener against the White Sox, as he will be opposite Chris Sale, who has hit the ground running after missing the start of the season with a fractured in his right foot (8:10 p.m. EST).