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July 17, 2017

What You Need to Know

Marathons, Robberies, and Debuts

by Ben Diamond


The Weekend Takeaway

After the 12th frame or so of extra-inning baseball games, a fascinating shift occurs in the mindset of those watching. Many beat writers, missing their dinner reservations and bitterly thinking about the recap they’ll have to write before the game is over (deadlines can be a nightmare), often grow cranky and start the newest "extra-inning rules" debate on Twitter. Fans at the game either pack it in and head home because of work the next morning, or get ready for the long haul and the story to tell afterwards. Some fans at home, like me, begin watching the game completely differently from the first 11 innings, going from pulling for their favorite team to rooting for team chaos—it’s that weird little twinge of disappointment you get when your team walks it off in the 14th inning, because you really wanted to see that utility player get a chance to pitch the 15th.

Yankees fans have gone through the full extras experience more than once; first, sitting through an 18-inning win against the Cubs in May and watching a 16-inning marathon played against the Red Sox on Saturday. Coming in just short of six hours, this battle would never have happened had it not been for two excellent outings from the starters. For the Yankees, Luis Severino went seven innings and allowed just one run on four hits and two walks, striking on six. More impressive, though, was the Sox’s Chris Sale, who was dominant and blew away the opposition with 13 strikeouts over 7 2/3 scoreless, giving up all of three hits and two walks.

Sale’s great outing should have been enough for a Boston victory, but the normally dominant Craig Kimbrel blew his first Fenway Park save when Matt Holliday crushed a 1-1 heater over the Green Monster to tie the game (take note of the fact that it is still very much day time in this video, and won’t be in the next clip).

What followed next was six very strange innings of baseball, which included a nearly 10-minute replay review when Holliday, out on a force play at second base, slid into first base to disrupt the throw and prevent the double play. If you’re confused, you aren’t alone, and the runner at first, Jacoby Ellsbury, was eventually called safe for reasons nobody understands.

The 1-1 tie was eventually broken in the 16th by the Yankees, when an Ellsbury double, followed by a pair of singles from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius, finally brought home a run.

Two more runs would score that inning, and a clean inning pitched by Ben Heller ended the game at 4-1. Oh, and the Yankees and Red Sox had to play a doubleheader the next day for good measure. That’s 34 innings in two days, if you’re counting.

Quick Hits from the Weekend

Just a few days ago, the Cubs and White Sox made the first big splash of trade deadline season with a crosstown trade the netted the defending champs a new frontline starter in Jose Quintana. While the White Sox may need to wait a couple years for their haul to make a big-league impact, Quintana immediately served as a game-changer for the Cubs when he made an outstanding debut on Sunday.

It’s hard to pitch much better than Quintana did (unless you’re the aforementioned Sale), as the 28-year-old southpaw went seven shutout innings, allowing just three baserunners on a trio of scattered hits while striking out 12 batters. On the back of Quintana’s start, the Cubs powered past the Orioles with an 8-0 victory, making them 3-0 since the start of the second half. I hope you didn’t give up on the Cubbies, because this could be the start of a huge post-All-Star-break resurgence.

***

I’m sorry, Blue Jays fans, but you didn’t really think I was going to forget about the shrimp of the weekend, did you? Yes, the Jays and Tigers found themselves tied up at five in the bottom of the 11th inning when a particularly painful walk off occurred: the literal walk off.

Jeff Beliveau entered the game for Toronto and walked two while watching another player reach on an error, leading to a bases loaded jam with two outs. Miguel Cabrera strolled to the plate, and then strolled to first base on a seven-pitch walk to hand Detroit the 6-5 win.

***

If you’ve read my thoughts on benches-clearing brawls, then you know how (un)enthusiastic I am about most of them. But, come on, even a curmudgeon like me had to laugh at Nelson Cruz’s faux mound charging of Derek Holland, a former teammate.

And, hey, some fun during the game looks even better when you follow it up a few innings later with a pivotal, go-ahead home run in the 10th inning.

Holland did get another chance to shine as well, making quite the play in the fourth inning to retire Robinson Cano. Not only did he make an excellent, behind-the-back stab, but with the ball stuck in Holland’s mitt, some quick thinking led to a glove toss to first base.

Defensive Play of the Weekend

Aaron Judge has had a rough start to the second half, recording just one hit thus far, and his weekend got just that much worse on this play, when he skied a ball to the deepest part of Fenway Park and watched Jackie Bradley Jr. rob his home run.

Watch to Watch on Monday

Kicking off Monday’s slate of games is the Nationals/Reds at 12:35 pm ET, with Stephen Strasburg (3.43 ERA) facing off against Scott Feldman (3.94 ERA). You’ll have to wait until the evening for more baseball, and one game worth watching will be the Blue Jays in Boston, as Marcus Stroman (3.28 ERA) will look to stay hot against Eduardo Rodriguez (3.54 ERA) at 7:10 pm ET.

An hour later, Lance McCullers Jr. (3.05 ERA) will try to strike out all the Mariners, who will have Ariel Miranda (4.15 ERA) taking the mound. Five minutes after that. Surprising ace Jason Vargas (2.62 ERA) will look to continue ... acing when he faces the Tigers and Jordan Zimmermann (5.87 ERA).

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

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