A short Monday yielded no shortage of action, particularly in sterling defense in center from Juan Lagares, Gregor Blanco, and Ezequiel Carrera
The Monday TakeawayPablo Sandoval came through in big spots for the Giants on more than one occasion during a Monday matinee against the Mets that was highlighted by one-upmanship from the clubs' center fielders.
The last full day before the trade deadline featured walk-off drama, pitchers dueling, and more
The Wednesday Takeaway
Fans who bought tickets to last night’s scheduled battle between Felix Hernandez and Corey Kluber were greeted by a Progressive Field setting that should have been considered a pitching aficionado’s paradise. King Felix entered the night on a stretch so dominant that he was on the verge of setting a modern MLB record. Armed with an arsenal of nasty secondary pitches, Kluber has broken through this season as a bona fide ace and was a start removed from the most impressive outing of his career.
The stage for pitching mastery was perfect and the duel proved to live up to expectations.
Standout pitching all around, as the Royals climb over the Indians, the Blue Jays get a glimpse of a bright future, and Joe Nathan earns another ninth.
The Thursday Takeaway
For the second night in a row, Blue Jays fans watched one of their talented young arms baffle Red Sox hitters. Wednesday night, it was Aaron Sanchezmaking an impact with two perfect innings out of the bullpen in his major-league debut. Last night, Marcus Stroman continued to work his newest weapon into his arsenal as he flirted with a no-hitter and dominated Boston in his best start to date.
Bartolo Colon, Aaron Sanchez, and Yoenis Cespedes, among others, had eventful nights.
The Wednesday Takeaway
When Bartolo Colon made his major league debut for the Indians in 1997, Taijuan Walker was a few months away from turning five years old and had probably not yet been enrolled in kindergarten. Fast-forward 17 years and Colon is now pitching for his seventh organization and Walker is looking to tap into his massive potential in his first full season with the Mariners. Walker is expected to make his mark on the league in the not-so-distant future, but Wednesday’s rubber match between the Mets and Mariners was Colon’s time to shine.
The Mets spotted Colon an early 1–0 lead and he quickly went to work against Seattle, pounding the strike zone with his low-90s fastball and getting the Mariners to chase an occasional slider. Not a single Seattle batter was able to reach base during the first two times through the order, with Kyle Seager, Corey Hart, Jesus Sucre, and Logan Morrison all falling victim via strikeout.
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.
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.