The A's ace adjusts but struggles again, the Yankees hit bombs, Corey Kluber bombs, and the best Bad-Braves Fun Fact we heard yesterday.
The Monday Takeaway
When this season began, Sonny Gray was Sonny Gray. Seven innings of one-run work on Opening Day paved the way for three more quality efforts, amounting to a 2.73 ERA four starts into his 2016 campaign. Then, on April 27th, the Tigers sent Gray to the showers after just two-plus innings. And while the right-hander bounced back to log seven innings six days later, the Mariners tagged him for 11 hits and seven runs during his time on the hill.
Whoppingly unexpected records in the NL East, Jake Arrieta allows a run, and more.
For every underperforming team like the Astros, there is a club that shocks us with its refusal to shut up and lose like it's supposed to. One of those teams is the Phillies. At 12-10, they sit just a breath out of first place after completing a sweep of the division-leading Nationals. Thursday’s victory was a 3-0 effort that saw yet another cathartic and well-earned walloping of Jonathan Papelbon. This could easily be a space to talk about the euphoric feeling of dunking on the schoolyard bully who picks you last for basketball in gym class, but instead we’ll talk about Bryce Harper and Elvis Araujo.
Testing the belief that ninth-inning losses hurt more.
There’s nothing more thrilling in baseball than a ninth-inning comeback. Unless, of course, it’s your team being victimized by the comeback. Then, there’s nothing worse. To have fought for eight innings and held the lead, only to have the game snatched away in the ninth. It might leave the other team breathless, but it will leave you with a nasty scar.
The league throws harder now, but Craig Kimbrel throws even harder.
I was listening to the Red Sox home opener earlier this season, and after one of Craig Kimbrel’s fastballs reached its destination the voice of Joe Castiglione cracked through my radio: fastball in there for a strike . . . at 97. That’s fast. Sort of.
On the flabbergasting fact that 32,085 paid to watch the Braves on Sunday.
If you were in the Atlanta area on Sunday, you could have seen matinee performances of ‘Dream Girls’ (at the Cobb Civic Center in Marietta) or ‘Ragtime’ (at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center). You could have attended an Italian Film Festival at the Plaza Theatre, or the Sweetwater 420 Festival in Centennial Olympic Park, where the craft beer was flowing and live music played. It was a free entrance day at several National Parks, including nearby Chattahoochee Park. Instead of pursuing any of those opportunities, 32,085 people bought tickets to see the Braves host the Mets, and I’m writing this article just to ask a simple question: Why?
Why, when the Braves started 4-13 in their final season as true residents of Atlanta, rather than white suburbia, keep throwing good money after very, very bad? Why, when this team’s upper management threw a temper tantrum over a bad month and a half in late 2014 and traded away nearly all of what was a tremendous, successful core of exciting young players, place any faith in their current plan to stomach years of losing in the hope of building another such core? Why, when this team is going nowhere this season and benefits far more from losing than from winning, go to the park and implore them to do the latter?
The Braves and the Twins slouch toward the first overall pick, while Jaime Garcia almost pulls a Velasquez.
The Thursday Takeaway
It’s early, we say. Indeed it is. For the Braves and Twins, the season is but nine games old. Yet they have been a very long nine games for both teams; a fruitless and unforgiving nine games. All 18 games have ended in losses. The two teams both lost on Thursday.
Six months of waiting end in almost immediate disappointment for two players.
Talk to enough diehard baseball fans and you’ll find people who find comfort in the length of the baseball season. Baseball will never really feel like an event because it isn’t one—it’s mundane, quotidian. Football is a vacation. Football happens once a week on national TV—you block out your day to watch football. Baseball happens six times a week, times 30 teams if you’re an MLB.tv addict. You don’t block out your day to watch baseball, but baseball’s on the radio while you’re driving home from work or doing the dishes. It’s on the TV when you’re at the bar with your friends. It’s humming in the background while you fall asleep on the sofa on Sunday afternoon.
Baseball is always there when you need it because baseball is always there.
The Braves' outfield battle is down to three contenders, while the Orioles and Yankees try to round out their pitching staffs before Opening Day.
The Braves’ fourth outfield spot is still open to Jeff Francoeur, Michael Bourn, or Emilio Bonifacio Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn may have been a package deal for the Braves at the 2015 deadline, but it’s almost certain that they’ll be parting ways by Opening Day. The Braves are narrowing down their bench candidates, and according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Nick Swisher is likely to get the boot by the end of spring training if he fails to net a trade offer. Assuming the Braves offload the veteran outfielder by absorbing the rest of his $15 million contract, they’ll still have to rid themselves of another outfield candidate to set their 25-man roster. That leaves just three outfielders to duke it out: Bourn, clubhouse personality Jeff Francoeur, and bargain backup Emilio Bonifacio.
The challenge of upgrading on Daniel Nava in Anaheim, the Braves' surprising semi-bid on Justin Upton, and the closer who wants to be a starter.
The Los Angeles Angels are trying to acquire an everyday left fielder
The Angels are currently set to go into this season with 33-year-old Daniel Nava as their starting left fielder, joining the 2014 Red Sox, the 2011 Pawtucket Red Sox and the 2007 Chico Outlaws as the only teams who can say that. Although Nava is smashing in spring training, his PECOTA projection (1.5 WARP) and his 2015 output (Zero.Zip WARP) have a little more authority than his .500/.619/.719 Cactus League line. As a result, the Angels are reportedly looking for an everyday left fielder to replace him.