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June 29, 2016

What You Need to Know

Giolito vs. Harvey vs. Rain

by Emma Baccellieri

The Tuesday Takeaway

A little rain wasn’t enough to ruin Lucas Giolito’s parade. Enough to delay it and cut it short, maybe, but what we got was worth the hype.

After a 55-minute delay pushed back the heralded Nationals prospect’s major-league debut, Giolito opened up his career by giving up a leadoff single to Curtis Granderson, courtesy of a fastball down the middle on a 1-1 count.

But Giolito settled in with the very next batter, and he was more or less rolling from there. Here we got the first look at the beauty of his curveball, though it was a 96 mph heater that got Asdrubal Cabrera out swinging for Giolito’s first—and, so far, only— career strikeout.

Then Giolito breezed through the second inning, using just nine pitches (seven of which were strikes) to get through the frame.

In the bottom of the inning, Giolito got a lead to work with from an Anthony Rendon triple that knocked in a run. His third inning was similar to his second, with the only baserunner coming in the form of Granderson once again, this time from a four-pitch walk. And then after a scoreless fourth inning came another rain delay, this one nearly an hour and a half, and so along with it was the end of Giolito’s night.

Matt Harvey was also done for the evening, after a showing that was a far cry from his two meltdowns against the Nationals earlier in the season. With three Ks in his nearly four innings, the run he’d allowed in the second was the only score on the board. But after the rain subsided, the Nats managed to break things open against the Mets bullpen, highlighted by a two-run Bryce Harper shot in the fifth that set Washington up for the 5-0 win.

Cut short though they were, Giolito’s four scoreless innings left a good impression: no hits other than the leadoff single, two walks, 29 of his 45 pitches for strikes, and proof that the curveball really is what it was made out to be. Just not enough to control the weather.

Quick Hits

Giolito wasn’t the only rookie pitcher with a memorable night. Though Julio Urias struggled with his command—five walks before he was out of the fourth inning—he managed to keep the Brewers to two runs over six frames for his first career win, with six strikeouts and two hits. He also contributed to the offense with his first big-league hit, an RBI single to center to score the Dodgers’ fifth run of the night.

The Dodgers’ night wasn’t all smooth, though. The Brewers made things uncomfortable in the bottom of the eighth, scoring three off Pedro Baez to pull within one. Most frightening, however, were not the runs but a Joc Pederson catch that saved a run but came with an injury. After crashing into the center field wall to snare a deep fly ball from Chris Carter, Pederson was escorted off the field. But the Dodgers still came away with the win, 6-5, and Pederson’s x-rays came back negative with what turned out to be a bruised joint rather than any broken bones.

****

After the previous day’s statement win—the historic 5-for-5 day for Kris Bryant, plus a pitcher homer from Jake Arrieta—the Cubs’ woes from last week seemed as if they might be fading quickly into the background. As far as ways to rebound, after all, a series against the hapless Reds seems like a pretty good way to go. But Tuesday night showed it wasn’t going to be that easy. Despite a strong outing by John Lamb—two runs, seven strikeouts over six innings—the Reds entered the eighth down 2-0. That changed with a Billy Hamilton solo shot off Jon Lester, followed by a Eugenio Suarez single off Hector Rondon to score Brandon Phillips and tie the game in the bottom of the ninth.

And then, with the Reds bullpen tasked with something that’s traditionally been a struggle for them this season (operating as a functional major league bullpen), they ... actually did it. For a while. After getting out of a jam in the 10th, they held it together without further incident until the 15th, even after the Cubs found themselves playing relievers in the outfield as they’d run clear out of position players. But with midnight drawing near, the pen turned back to its old self, not just allowing the Cubs to score on a go-ahead single from Kris Bryant but then giving up a Javier Baez grand slam that helped the Cubs to a five-run inning and the win.

***

The Indians came out in first inning ready to show that the task of preserving their winning streak wasn’t one they took lightly—especially not Francisco Lindor. He kicked things off in the top of the inning by taking home in a double steal ...

... and showed off some of his signature defensive prowess in the bottom of the inning with this gorgeous double play.

Corey Kluber was near flawless until the sixth inning, when Ender Inciarte singled in two runs to tie the game. But Carlos Santana stepped up in the ninth to give the Indians the go-ahead, and Cleveland pushed its streak to 11--its longest since 1982.

***

The Giants put together 18 hits Tuesday and were offered the gift of a shaky performance from Oakland closer Ryan Madson, but it still wasn’t enough for a win. Up 8-5 entering the eighth inning, San Francisco watched its lead slip away thanks to rough performances by Cody Gearrin and Javier Lopez that allowed the A's a five-run inning, highlighted by a three-run shot from Jake Smolinski. Despite chances for redemption—Madson gave up three runs in his six-out save, including back-to-back homers to open up the ninth—the Giants went down, 13-11.

Defensive Play of the Day

Melvin Upton, Jr. made life hard for J.J. Hardy, stealing a home run away from him with a leaping catch at the wall, before trumping Mark Trumbo to make it a double play.

What to Watch Wednesday

David Price returns to his old stomping grounds to take on the Rays as the Red Sox look to close the gap at the top of the AL East. Now four-and-a-half games back of Baltimore, they’ll face Matt Moore to wrap up the series in Tampa (12:10 EST).

After sending Nick Tepesch down after just one start, the Dodgers have given Brock Stewart the call up. The righty, drafted as a reliever, has garnered attention this year after bumping up his velocity and seeing success in the minors. He takes on Junior Guerra and the Brewers for his major-league debut at 8:10 EST.

Emma Baccellieri is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Emma's other articles. You can contact Emma by clicking here

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