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July 19, 2016

What You Need to Know

J-Fer Effort

by Emma Baccellieri

The Monday Takeaway

Jose Fernandez’s night didn’t get off to a particularly auspicious start—an Odubel Herrera double, later driven in for a run to put the Marlins in a 1-0 first inning hole.

But he closed out the inning with a swinging strikeout of Tommy Joseph, and from there, Fernandez was rolling.

At the end of six, he’d allowed just one more hit—and a total of 13 strikeouts (including the 500th of his career), with his curveball as the culprit for all but two of them. There was just one problem. Phillies starter Aaron Nola hadn’t been quite as flashy as Fernandez, but he’d been even more effective, giving up just two hits in his six innings of shutout ball. The Marlins entered the seventh still down 1-0, and Fernandez, nearing 100 pitches, opened things up by allowing a Tommy Joseph solo shot on his very first pitch of the inning.

Fernandez was left in long enough to collect one more strikeout, bringing his total for the evening to 14, but walking Freddy Galvis meant his night was over before he could make it through the seventh.

Heading into the ninth, it looked as if his display of double-digit strikeouts might have been for naught. Miami’s bullpen had held things down—including a sequence in which David Phelps and Nick Wittgren made five outs on just seven pitches—but the offense had done nothing, and so they entered the ninth to face Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez trailing by one.

But they left the ninth under considerably brighter circumstances. A Christian Yelich double had driven in J.T. Realmuto, and extra innings were the result.

With two on in the tenth, the Marlins looked as if they had a chance to take the lead thanks to a J.T. Realmuto line drive to left field—but Cody Asche had other things in mind, namely a diving catch that put an end to Miami’s scoring threat.

The Marlins wasted no time in the 11th, however, with Martin Prado going yard on a Brett Oberholzer fastball over the middle of the plate to start the inning.

With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Philadelphia looked for a moment to be poised to take the lead back, with a Maikel Franco flyball deep to center field… only to be caught at the wall by Marcell Ozuna, ending the game and giving Miami the win on Fernandez’s big night.

Quick Hits

After getting lit up in his last start before the All-Star break, Chris Sale snapped back to his usual fine form Monday night. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

Sale was sharp through eight innings of work, giving up just one hit. The Mariners weren’t able to get multiple baserunners until he finally showed some cracks in the seventh by hitting two batters. But a filthy swinging strikeout, with Kyle Seager as victim, got him out of the jam, and the White Sox made it out with their 3-0 lead intact.

Enter David Robertson in the bottom of the ninth, and Seattle made it clear that being one-hit just wasn’t on their to-do list. The damage didn’t look insurmountable to begin with—a single, a forceout that moved the runner over, a walk (aided by some truly questionable framing from Dioner Navarro). And then a strikeout, meaning the White Sox were one out away from wrapping the whole thing up. But the path to that one out ran first through Seager, who would not strike out again…

...and then through Adam Lind, who was brought in to pinch hit and did not disappoint.

After notching just one hit against Sale in eight innings, the Mariners had nailed three against Robertson in less than one, and they had a walk-off victory to show for it.

***

Chris Sale had good company in the club of excellent starts rendered meaningless by bullpen failures—Corey Kluber. The Indians’ Monday night unraveling was messier and less dramatic than that of the White Sox, perhaps, but the basic script was the same.

It was the first time in over a year that Kluber was pitching with someone behind the plate other than Yan Gomes, thanks to the struggling catcher’s recent trip to the disabled list, but he did just fine with Roberto Perez in Gomes’ place. Kluber gave the Royals little to work with in his seven innings, striking out eight while giving up five hits and leaving the Indians with a 2-0 lead. But though he came out to the mound to start the eighth, cramps sent him back to the dugout before he threw a single pitch, and things went downhill in short order.

First came the end of Bryan Shaw’s scoreless streak, which had sat at 13 appearances heading into Monday’s game. Some poor judgment on defense led to one Royals single, then came another, and Christian Colon put the first nail in the coffin with a double that drove in both runners.

Shaw couldn’t get himself out of the inning, and two walks later, he was pulled in favor of Jeff Manship—two on, two outs, the score tied at two.

But Manship was sunk from the start, first giving up a Paulo Orlando single that drove in one run and then issuing a walk to load the bases… and then giving up a grand slam to Jarrod Dyson, the centerfielder’s first home run of the season.

Kluber’s shutout innings seemed a distant memory as Cleveland tried to mount a comeback in the ninth. They managed to squeeze one run out of Chris Young, but Wade Davis took things over from there and the final score was Kansas City 7, Cleveland 3.

Defensive Play of the Day

With the game tied and a man on second, Carlos Gomez saved a run by snaring this Ryon Healy shot in a leaping catch at the wall, limbs stretched out for extra style points. The As went on to beat the Astros, 7-4.

What to Watch on Tuesday

As far as pitching matchups go, Noah Syndergaard versus Jake Arrieta is hard to beat. Each brings a set of recent struggles to the table—Syndergaard’s injury scares; Arrieta’s stretch of uncharacteristically poor starts, including four runs or more in each of his last three—but even with that in mind, it’s still a matchup of two of baseball’s best arms as the Mets take on the Cubs (7:05 EST).

Meanwhile, Reynaldo Lopez will get the call-up for the Nationals, making his first career start against the Dodgers. The prospect team has got you covered on what to expect as he goes head to head with Scott Kazmir here (7:05 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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