A shift-happy Baltimore squad unveils a new approach against the Athletics' switch-hitting leadoff hitter.
At the end of May, I introduced the idea that some teams were going from playing nearly straightaway to using a full overshift once they got two strikes on certain pull-heavy, bunt-threat lefties. The idea was that teams would probably prefer to implement a full overshift earlier in the count, but were hindered by the hitter’s ability to bunt for a base hit. This was inspired by the Orioles using a two-strike overshift numerous times against Michael Bourn, and the Pirates doing it a couple of times against both Denard Span and Danny Espinosa.
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The Reds and Pirates battled for the Central this weekend. Lots of other action also happened.
The Weekend Takeaway
While the Brewers and Cardinals duked it out in Milwaukee for the National League Central lead, the division’s other two playoff contenders exchanged blows in Cincinnati to try and keep pace with the first half of the season coming to a close.
How have the Rays outfielder's opponents shifted against him with the bunt in mind?
At the end of May, I introduced the idea that some teams were going from playing nearly straightaway to using a full overshift once the count went to two strikes against certain pull-heavy lefties whom they deemed threats to bunt. The idea was that teams would probably prefer to implement a full overshift earlier in the count, but were hindered by the hitter’s ability to bunt for a base hit. This was inspired by the Orioles using a two-strike overshift numerous times against Michael Bourn, and the Pirates doing it a couple of times against both Denard Span and Danny Espinosa.
The White Sox lefty tops All-Star Game skipper John Farrell's Red Sox, plus more from Wednesday and what to watch on Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
When the rosters for next week’s All-Star Game were revealed on Sunday, arguably the most glaring omission from either side was the absence of Chris Sale. The lanky southpaw did miss a month of the season with a muscle strain in his pitching elbow, but on a start-by-start basis, he’s been one of the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball. The White Sox are well represented at the Midsummer Classic and Sale is still likely to make the trip to Target Field—he currently leads the American League Final Vote. But their skipper, Robin Ventura, still questioned how Sale’s gaudy numbers didn’t earn him an automatic ticket to the event.
Detroit goes from a 5-0 hole to a 14-5 romp, Jacob deGrom blows away the Braves, plus more from Tuesday and what to watch on Wdnesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The Tigers looked like they’d be in for a long night when the Dodgers jumped all over Justin Verlander in the top of the first inning of Tuesday’s clash between the two first-place clubs.
The Blue Jays walk off against the Brewers, Mookie Betts goes deep, and much more action from Wednesday, plus what to watch over the long weekend.
The Wednesday Takeaway
The Brewers and Blue Jays have been the most surprising division leaders heading into the July 4th weekend, and the two clubs hooked up for their second straight day game on Wednesday to close out their two-game series finale. Replays, manager ejections, and dingers were all recurring themes, with the contest finally decided in the ninth inning with a game-winning blast.
Rick Porcello keeps the ball on the ground to notch a shutout, and the Angels sweep a doubleheader, plus more from Tuesday and what to watch today.
The Tuesday Takeaway
After walking off against Sean Doolittle and the Athletics in dramatic fashion on Monday night, the Tigers quickly disposed of the American League West leaders on Tuesday to clinch a series win. The game breezed by in just two hours and 13 minutes, as Rick Porcello tossed his second consecutive shutout and needed just 95 pitches to complete it.
Cole Hamels pitches well, Cody Asche flashes leather, and Chase Utley whacks a walkoff homer, plus more from Thursday and previews for the weekend.
The Thursday Takeaway
The Phillies squandered opportunity after opportunity to send the Citizens Bank crowd home happy during extra innings on Thursday night. But after a slew of remarkable defensive plays by Cody Asche and a 14th-inning stretch, Chase Utley finished off the Marlins in walk-off fashion.
Cole Hamels took the hill for the Phillies and fired seven strong innings, with his only blemishes coming in the form of solo home runs. The southpaw fanned seven and issued no walks while notching 10 swings-and-misses with his changeup for the second straight game.
Jake Arrieta's breakout season continues, two games last beyond the 13th inning, plus more from a wild Tuesday and what to watch today.
The Tuesday Takeaway Jake Arrieta entered Tuesday coming off a trio of superb outings over which he allowed just one run and 10 hits with a shiny 27-to-2 K:BB ratio in 20 innings of work. The 28-year-old right-hander continued his breakout campaign by flirting with perfection and twirling seven outstanding innings against the Reds.