The Wednesday Takeaway
It just wasn't meant to be.
But he did come pretty darn close. Carlos Carrasco became the third-straight Cleveland starter to pitch a perfect game through five innings, and then went a little longer, remaining flawless until the seventh, when he walked Joey Butler. Carrasco kept the no-hitter going until Butler managed to line that single over Jason Kipnis' head with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Still, it let baseball fans know that this guy who entered the game with a 4.16 ERA is actually really, really good. He's been so since last season. After being demoted to the bullpen after a rough start to 2014, Carrasco rejoined the rotation in August and proceeded to put up a 1.30 ERA and average nearly seven innings in 10 starts through the end of the season. Carrasco may not have a great ERA this year, but Cleveland's defensive struggles have been well documented; they rank 26th in baseball in defensive efficiency. Carrasco entered Wednesday's game with a 2.88 FIP and a 3.59 DRA.
Carrasco's stuff is normally pretty nasty, but it was really working last night, as his four-seam fastball had a little extra juice and most of his pitches featured extra bite.
April 8-June 24
Carrasco had 9.9 K/9 in the first three months of the season, good for fifth in the American League, and he brought that to over 10 with his 13-strikeout performance last night. Carrasco's 1.9 BB/9 also give him the league's sixth-best K/BB, at 5.1.
On the offensive side, Jason Kipnis added to his league-leading hit total by going 2-for-5 after a hot June in which he hit .358/.441/.484. Brandon Moss had five RBIs and a home run as well in the 8–1 victory.
Quick Hits from Wednesday
It was Canada Day, and Toronto came out swinging. The Jays, who lead baseball in runs but are sixth in TAv, scored five in the first inning off Rick Porcello and the Red Sox and never looked back. The Blue Jays—who also lead baseball in OPS—hit five home runs, including two by Justin Smoak. Big boppers Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson also contributed to the homer barrage.
Perhaps the most impressive performance, however, was by Jose Reyes, who collected four singles and four runs. Reyes had an uneven June, hitting .304/.361/.446 in 61 PA between June 2nd and June 15th before going .211/.262/.368 through the rest of the month in 62 PA. Reyes went cold, hitting more grounders and more fly balls in the second half of the month while hitting far fewer balls up the middle. With a .326 BABIP in the beginning of the month and one of .200 from there on, expect his production to lie somewhere in between those two extremes.
Not to be lost in the offensive flurry was another stellar outing by Mark Buehrle, who has allowed two or fewer runs in six or more innings in each of his last five starts. He's still barely striking out or walking anybody, but he's inducing far more groundballs. In turn, he's allowing fewer line drives, and significantly fewer fly balls, which is limiting homers. There is a certain amount of luck at play here—after allowing a BABIP of .301 in the first two months of the season, his opponents' BABIP was an unsustainable .234 in June—but FIP and xFIP believe there's some legitimacy to what he's doing, with both giving him a 3.56. Just when you think the wily old lefty's run out of gas, he always proves he has another trick up his sleeve.
In Wednesday's series finale between the American League's two best teams, the Astros tried to banish any doubt about who reigns supreme in the junior circuit. On the back of a strong game by Jose Altuve—which included three hits, two runs, two stolen bases, and the nifty slide below—the Astros pulled out the series sweep with a come-from-behind 6–5 victory.
Edinson Volquez gave up one run in his first four innings before allowing the Royals' 3–1 lead to slip away by giving up four runs in the fifth inning. Volquez's luck may have run out: After allowing a BABIP of .258 through 2014 (in which he put up a 3.04 ERA) and the first two months of 2015, batters have hit .308 on balls in play against Volquez in his past five starts. Kelvin Herrera also struggled, allowing the go-ahead run on that Chris Carter RBI, although Wade Davis is still pretty nasty: He's still given up just one run this season, and he pitched his eleventh scoreless inning in a row last night.
Drew did manage to collect a hit, however, in the Yankees' 3–1 victory over the Angels to salvage the final game after two losses in Anaheim.
What to Watch on Thursday
Yovani Gallardo gave up just two earned runs in June, and both came in a seven-inning, ten-strikeout start against the A's. In other words, he was really, really good. He's currently working on a 20 1/3-inning scoreless streak. However, nothing has appreciably changed in regards to his stuff or his command, and his groundball rate—while better than last year's on the whole—was lower in June than it was in April and May. What Gallardo's done is allowed a .220 BABIP and no home runs. He struck out 6.8 batters per nine in June, in line with his average over the last two years of 6.7, and walked 2.4, closely matching his 2.6 two-year average. We'll see if he can keep up his luck tonight against the Orioles (7:05 PM ET).
It'll be an exciting night in Florida for baseball fans. Two young studs will make their long-awaited returns to the mound as Matt Moore and Jose Fernandez will return from Tommy John surgery. Moore, who last pitched in April 2014, will help a Rays team that is fighting with the Yankees for first place in the American League East. Fernandez, as many will remember, went down in May 2014 after winning Rookie of the Year award the previous year. The Marlins are all but out of it for this year, but it'll be great to see perhaps the most exciting pitcher in baseball back on the mound. He'll face Matt Cain, who is also making his season debut after having bone spurs in his elbow and his ankle removed late last season (both at 12:10 PM ET).
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now