The Tuesday Takeaway
When Ben Revere arrived at Globe Life Park yesterday evening, he did so three plate appearances shy of the post-World War II record for the highest total amassed without a big-league home run. As far as I could tell by scanning his spray chart and digging up video of deep fly balls, this triple on September 23, 2012, is the closest he’d ever come:
Whether Revere was aware of that fact, or whether he cared a whit about it, we will probably never know.
Either way, his first two tries against Rangers starter Martin Perez were ominous. Revere struck out swinging in the first inning and looking in the third. The latter K brought him into a tie with 1970s Brewers and Blue Jays infielder Tim Johnson, who made 1,408 career plate appearances without going yard. Revere’s next time in the box would be do-or-die.
Cesar Hernandez led off the top half of the sixth with a double, bringing Revere to the plate with nobody out. If Revere cared about dodging the aforementioned record, he did not let it affect his assignment at the plate: to put down a sacrifice bunt and advance Hernandez, the go-ahead run in a scoreless game, to third. Revere bunted the first pitch—a ball that would have hit him in the face had he not placed the barrel on it—well enough to do the job, and he reached base himself when Perez opted to gamble and throw to third. Hernandez, who beat the throw, scored on a single by Jimmy Rollins, and the Phillies had a 1-0 lead.
That’s when Revere’s night took a turn for the worse. Perhaps with the home-run drought weighing on his mind—but almost certainly for reasons unrelated to it—Revere took a slightly bigger lead off of second than he could afford. Perez threw over, and while umpire Cory Blaser initially called Revere safe, the ruling was overturned following a replay review.
Marlon Byrd subsequently singled, moving Rollins over to second, and Ryan Howard drove the shortstop in with a double. Byrd was stranded at third when the inning ended. The Phillies got two runs, but had Revere not been picked off, they might have had three. And they could have used the third, because the Rangers plated one each in the sixth and seventh and then won the game in walk-off fashion in the ninth (more on that later).
It has been nearly a year since Revere told MLB.com’s Zack Meisel, “It has been a while,” referring to the last time he hit a home run at any level. He is a season and a month or two away from breaking the Live Ball Era record currently held by Tom Oliver (2,073 PA).
Yet if Revere lost sleep last night, it probably wasn't over the four plate appearances he added to his homer-less tally. It was over the blunder at second base that might have cost the Phillies the game.
Quick Hits from Tuesday
- One more thing from that Phillies-Rangers match: The ninth inning of a tie game is maybe not the best situation in which to have an anonymous 25-year-old rookie make his major-league debut. Manager Ryne Sandberg admitted as much after the game.
Alas, that’s the precisely the spot that Sandberg chose for Mario Hollands’ first trip to the mound, forgoing the option to use closer Jonathan Papelbon because the contest took place in a venue other than Citizens Bank Park. The southpaw walked Shin-Soo Choo, was gifted an out on a sacrifice by Elvis Andrus, and then walked Prince Fielder, the other like-handed batter he’d been tasked with retiring. That was all for the UC Santa Barbara product, and when B.J. Rosenberg coughed up a single to his first foe, Adrian Beltre, Hollands was saddled with his first big-league “L.”
If it’s any consolation to Hollands, Rosenberg felt his pain. The righty was dealt a loss in his own debut, back in 2012.
- They say good things come in threes. For Brad Miller, they seem to come in twos. The second-year Mariners shortstop went to bed last night with 10 career home runs. And counting last night’s two-homer outing, he now has four of those in 78 big-league games. Miller’s fifth-inning solo shot expanded Seattle’s lead to 5-2; his ninth-inning two-run bomb gave closer Fernando Rodney some unneeded insurance, as the 8-3 gap cost the first-year Mariner a save.
- CC Sabathia’s strong spring had the Yankees bullish about his chances to bounce back from a rough 2013 season, during which he regressed into a barely-over-replacement-level starter. But his offseason weight loss notwithstanding, Sabathia had little oomph on his fastball in the early innings of his date with the Astros, and his inability to spot the pitch on the corners—in tandem the Yankees’ shaky defense—cost him dearly. The Astros scored four times in the first and twice more in the second, and while Sabathia blanked them from the third through the sixth, the half-dozen runs were more than enough.
Scott Feldman, making his Houston debut after inking a three-year, $30 million hitch during the offseason, made sure of that. He held Joe Girardi’s lineup scoreless for 6 2/3 frames, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out three.
- Instant replay was expanded to mitigate the human element, but as the Giants found out on Tuesday, satisfaction is not guaranteed. Manager Bruce Bochy challenged a pickoff play at first base on which A.J. Pollock was called safe but looked out. The camera angles available in the command center were deemed inconclusive, and after a double that advanced him to third, Pollock crossed the plate on a passed ball. Except replays showed that Matt Cain—covering the plate on the relay from Buster Posey—tagged the bottom of Pollock’s foot before he touched the plate. With his challenge gone, Bochy could only beg home-plate umpire Eric Cooper to reconsider—a futile effort made more frustrating by the Giants’ eventual one-run loss.
The Defensive Play of the Day
This throw. That is all.
What to Watch for on Wednesday
- There’s a rain-induced split doubleheader in Oakland today. Why is that special? Well, the last time a game at the Coliseum was washed away was on Cinco de Mayo in 1998. The forecast for Oakland looks better today, so they’ll play two. Corey Kluber locks horns with former teammate Scott Kazmir in the matinee, and Zach McAllister will be matched up against Josh Lindblom, Oakland’s hand-picked 26th man, in the nightcap (3:35 p.m., 9:00 p.m. ET).
- Ubaldo Jimenez’ first start in an Orioles uniform is set for tonight’s battle with the Red Sox, in which he’ll duel John Lackey. The former Indian might still be having nightmares about his lone encounter with John Farrell’s club last season, even though it came nearly a full year ago. In that outing, Jimenez issued as many walks as he recorded outs and was removed after 1 2/3 innings with seven runs on his line. But that was the bad, first-half Jimenez; the one the Orioles paid $50 million over four years for was the good, second-half one. We’ll see if he shows up tonight (7:05 p.m. ET).
- Mark Buehrle didn’t have much fun facing the Rays last year: They touched him up for a .310 average and left him with a 5.76 ERA over four winless starts. The 35-year-old, one of six lefties who have logged at least 200 innings in each of the last four seasons, will try to turn his luck against Joe Maddon’s squad while facing a fellow southpaw who is still searching for the efficiency and durability to withstand a 200-frame workload. Matt Moore allowed 36 baserunners and uncorked six wild pitches in 17 1/3 innings of Grapefruit League play, so he’ll have to hope that he got the wildness out of his system in Port Charlotte (7:10 p.m. ET).
- Quadragenarian Bartolo Colon makes his Queens debut in the middle match between the Nationals and Mets. The big right-hander induced fly balls on 41.5 percent of the pitches put in play against him last year, ranking among the top 20 qualified starters, a profile that should serve him well in front of Terry Collins’ new-look outfield, which Chris Young is expected to join this evening. Center fielder Juan Lagares put his stamp on the opener by going 2-for-4 with a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning; he’ll look to do more on defense as Colon squares off with Gio Gonzalez (7:10 p.m. ET).
- When it comes to facing three of the Dodgers’ key hitters, for Tyson Ross, a small sample of at-bats provides the only consolation. Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasiel Puig enter tonight’s game a combined 9-for-16 with two doubles and a home run versus the right-hander, who emerged as a reliable starter for the Padres when converted from the bullpen last year. Ross fanned 85 batters in 80 innings during the second half and posted a 2.93 ERA over 13 starts. He’ll try to carry that effort into his first assignment of the 2014 campaign, a duel with new Dodger Dan Haren (10:10 p.m. ET).