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The Thursday Takeaway

For the vast majority of Thursday’s game between the Brewers and Red Sox, the pitchers were in complete control of proceedings. The Red Sox only scored their first run of the day thanks to an error from Jesus Aguilar. Other than that, Boston had a rough time dealing with Jimmy Nelson.

You could say the same thing for the Brewers when it came to trying to figure out a way to push hits past Eduardo Rodriguez and the rest of the Red Sox. Milwaukee managed to manufacture a run in the sixth and final inning of Rodriguez’s start, but that was all they could manage to get off of him.

The game eventually came down to what the team’s high-leverage relievers could do, and this is where the gulf in quality between the two came to the forefront. With a runner on in the bottom of the eighth inning with the game still tied at one run apiece, the Red Sox decided not to mess around and gave the ball to Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel immediately took control of the game by striking out the pinch-hitting Eric Thames and then overcame a single and a runner advancing on a wild pitch to strike out Keon Broxton to get out of that inning.

Meanwhile, the Brewers gave the ball to Neftali Feliz for the ninth inning. This was after Corey Knebel managed to get in and out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, so the hope for Milwaukee was that Feliz could overcome his recent struggles with closing games. Thursday wasn’t that day, though.

Feliz walked the first batter he saw, and with runners on first and second and one out, Mookie Betts came up to bat. Betts scored Boston’s first run of the day, and he brought in Boston’s next three runs when he clubbed a four-seamer that Feliz sent right across the middle of the plate.

Dustin Pedroia hit a single immediately afterward, and that was the end of the day for Feliz. Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel came out for another inning and picked up exactly where he left off in the eighth inning—he struck out the side on nine pitches and locked down Boston’s 18th win of the season.

Boston’s closing situation looks very solid to say the least, but you probably can’t say the same about Milwaukee when another bad outing from Neftali Feliz cost them a game on Thursday.

Quick Hits

The Astros and Yankees both played like they deserve to be where they are in the standings, as there was barely anything separating the AL West leaders and a team that’s currently battling with Baltimore for the top spot in the AL East. The pitchers were on point—Dallas Keuchel went six innings, struck out nine, only walked one, and gave up no earned runs.

Meanwhile, Michael Pineda made it through 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and only one walk. However, Pineda did give up three runs and two of those came from a player who really enjoys himself at Yankee Stadium—Carlos Correa.

The Yankees did come within one run of tying the game, but that run was thrown out at home plate for out no. 27 of the game when Jake Marisnick’s laser of a throw beat Jacoby Ellsbury to the dish.

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The Rockies had a 10-run lead going into the fifth inning and things appeared to be going swimmingly for the home team—especially after Hyun-Jin Ryu balked in the 10th run of the game for Colorado.

However, life came at the Rockies pretty quickly and by the time the ninth inning rolled around, Greg Holland came into the game and the Dodgers had come back to the point where this was now a save situation. Fortunately for Colorado, he was able to lock down the victory and save the Rockies from being on a Dodgers’ memory clip that you’d watch again and again in the future.

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After a relatively underwhelming first season in the desert, it’s clear now that Zack Greinke has gotten used to life with the Diamondbacks and is starting to get into the groove of things. Greinke had his best start in a Diamondbacks uniform yet (and the uniform was those fantastic throwbacks from their World Series-winning days) as he went eight innings, struck out 11, and only gave up one hit against the Pirates.

The one hit came in the eighth, which is when Gregory Polanco turned a foul ball on one pitch into a party-ruining homer on another.

Arizona ended up getting the last laugh, because the game ended with Josh Harrison getting caught stealing while trying to get into scoring position. That’s always a fun way to end a game—assuming you aren’t rooting for the guy who got nabbed on the basepaths.

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Kevin Kiermaier has had a weird week. Normally we’re used to seeing Tampa Bay’s defensive maestro make spectacular plays—and apparently his defensive spirit has been transferred into the body of Corey Dickerson, which you’ll see below. Back on Monday, Lorenzo Cain hit a Little League home run thanks to a mistake from Kiermaier. Amazingly, Kiermaier repeated the mistake on Thursday and Whit Merrifield hit Kansas City’s second Little League homer of the series.

Defensive Play of the Day

I feel bad for everybody who took the field for the evening slate of games on Thursday knowing that Corey Dickerson already had this prestigious award sewn up at around 1:20 pm ET.

What to Watch on Friday

Last season, the Cubs basically led the NL Central wire-to-wire on their way to finally bringing a World Series title to the North Side. This year, things aren’t going so well and the Cubs are actually off to a relatively slow start. Their hated rivals in MIssouri have taken advantage of this and are currently leading the NL Central.

The Cardinals will be going into Friday on a six-game winning streak and currently hold a slender 2.5-game edge on Chicago. The obvious question here is whether the Cardinals can keep things going in the early stages of the race, or if the Cubs can get their rotational issues under control and start to make a surge in the Central.

Meanwhile, another surprise package involves the matchup in Colorado, which is where the Dodgers will be trying to even the four-game series against the NL West-leading Rockies. Colorado’s pitching—particularly their bullpen—is a big reason why they’re currently atop the standings, but the Dodgers will probably have the advantage when it comes to pitching on Friday.

L.A. will be sending Clayton Kershaw to the mound, and he’s proven in the past that the elements of Coors Field don’t really prevent him from being the elite pitcher that he’s been for the majority of his career. If he keeps it up, then Friday could be a tough night for the Rockies in their continuing quest to defy all expectations for them this season.