The Tuesday Takeaway
The scouting report on Henry Owens has never exactly depicted him as a command-and-control guy. In Christopher Crawford's writeup on the Boston left-hander on Monday, he concluded:
While the stuff is certainly where it needs to be to get big league hitters out right now, the control and command are not. As stated above, the fastball command is below-average, and the change and curveball are pitches that are much better when he's ahead in the count – as is the case for all pitchers. He's made some strides with his control this summer, but there's going to be starts where he struggles because of too much self-inflicted damage.
Sure enough, Owens had trouble hitting his target in the early going and the Yankees decided they were going to make the youngster throw strikes. He went to a three-ball count against four of the first six batters he faced in the first inning, with the Yankees swinging at just 12 of his first 34 offerings. But the left-hander quickly settled in. After giving up a leadoff single to Chase Headley in the second inning, Owens proceeded to retire the next dozen Yankees. Four of those outs came via strikeouts, including this curve to freeze Chris Young
and this slider that got Jacoby Ellsbury chasing on a full count.
Unfortunately for Owens, things didn't go his way the third time through the order. He dug Chris Young into an 0-2 hole and left the subsequent curveball up enough for the outfielder to lace the pitch into left for a single to lead off the sixth inning. Owens then got ahead of Alex Rodriguez 0-2 but promptly let a couple of fastballs get away to let the slugger back into the at-bat. Rodriguez spoiled a fastball on the black and Owens came back with his vaunted changeup, but Rodriguez waited on the pitch and drilled it to the warning track in center field, knocking Owens out of the game.
Owens pretty much lived up to the scouting report, as his raw stuff proved to be big-league ready but he missed up in the zone on several occasions—with his breaking pitches in particular—even while he was getting the Yankees out.
Another possible area of concern for Owens was his inconsistent release point throughout the night. The left-hander's release points appeared to vary throughout the game according to pitch type
which could lead to trouble once advance scouts get the book on him. Visually, here's an example of Owens dealing with release points issues within a single at-bat against Didi Gregorius in the fifth inning. The image of Owens releasing the pitch closer to the rubber is a first-pitch curve; the image of Owens releasing the ball farther from the rubber is a 1-2 slider that Gregorios swings through.
Back to game action: After Owens departed, in from the bullpen came Robbie Ross Jr., but the left-hander was unable to strand Young and Rodriguez in scoring position. The Yankees went single, double, ground out, and just like that the Red Sox were trailing 4-2.
Boston got one back in the seventh inning when Pablo Sandoval sent Masahiro Tanaka to the showers with a towering solo home run, but the Yankees pulled ahead with a four-run bottom half. Jacoby Ellsbury led the inning off with a routine grounder to shortstop, but Xander Bogaerts bounced the throw to first and Mike Napoli was unable to make the pick. Jean Machi was unable to pick up his defenders, walking Young and giving up a single to Rodriguez before giving way to Craig Breslow. The Yale graduate struck out Teixeira upon entering and then got Brian McCann to a two-strike count, but hung his 2-2 offering and was not at all pleased with himself.
With the game all but out of reach, Red Sox manager John Farrell left Breslow in to get out of the inning, but the reliever was unable to cool off the Yankees' scorching bats. Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley smacked back-to-back doubles off Breslow, who then retired Gregorius, but allowed the next two batters to reach. Farrell finally got Breslow out of the game and brought in Alexi Ogando to face Young. The Yankees' outfielder jumped all over the very first pitch from the former Ranger, yanking a home run down the left-field line to cap the nine-run inning.
Young's home run—one of his three hits on the night—extended the lead to 13-3, the eventual final score.
Quick Hits from Tuesday
Those filing into U.S. Cellular Field were expecting to be treated to a pitcher's duel on Tuesday with Chris Archer on the mound for the visiting Rays and Chris Sale getting the ball for the White Sox. Archer delivered on his promise, spinning seven splendid innings of two-run ball, striking out seven and walking just one along the way.
Sale didn't hold up his end of the bargain. The White Sox's ace was on the heels of getting shelled for seven runs on 12 hits against Boston last week and got off to a bumpy start again last night. It appeared as though he would be able to work around a leadoff walk issued to Brandon Guyer, retiring the next two Rays and getting to a two-strike count against Logan Forsythe. But Sale fired a 97 mph fastball down Broadway to the second baseman, who deposited the pitch into the left-field stands to give Tampa Bay an early 2-0 lead.
The two clubs traded runs through the next five innings, with Chicago getting on the board on a Tyler Saladino solo home run in the third and Tampa Bay answering in the fifth with a dinger off the bat of Mikie Mahtook. But everything fell apart for the White Sox in the sixth.
Forsythe worked a walk to lead off the inning and moved up 90 feet when Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a single to right field. Sale issued his third free pass of the day, to Richie Shaffer, loading the bases, but bounced back to strike out Mahtook. Up next was Kevin Kiermaier, who blooped a single into center field to score one more. With Cabrera holding at third base, Adam Eaton nonchalantly threw the ball home to Tyler Flowers, but the ball inexplicably squirted through the five-hole of the Chicago backstop, allowing Cabrera to scamper home.
That was it for Sale, but the Rays weren't done adding runs to the southpaw's final line. Daniel Webb came in and gave up three singles and allowed three more runs to score before the inning was over, two of which were charged to Sale. It was the first time in Sale's career that he's given up at least six runs in back-to-back starts.
But the Rays weren't done having fun. Cabrera led off the seventh against Webb with a solo jack to right field and Shaffer followed suit with his first major-league hit: a home run!
The blast cleared the right-field fence, just beyond the reach of Melky Cabrera; the ecstatic youngster was greeted with the silent treatment from his teammates when he got back to the dugout. Shaffer's response was classic.
The Rays would go on to win by a final of 11-3, keeping them two games back in the hunt for second American League Wild Card spot.
Tied for that second AL Wild Card spot going into the day's action were the Blue Jays and Twins, who squared off for their second of four games in Toronto. The Jays are the overwhelming favorites to secure the final playoff spot and helped bolster their chances by acquiring Troy Tulowitzki at the trade deadline. Tulo has already impressed during his brief time in Toronto, but he really got Blue Jays fans on their feet with a tape measure shot off Phil Hughes in the third inning.
Tulowitzki's second-deck blast traveled an estimated 450 feet and left the bat at 111 mph, one-upping teammate Josh Donaldon's solo shot in the first inning, which landed 437 feet away and had an exit velocity of 108 mph.
The two blasts would be enough run support for Marco Estrada, who held the Twins to one run on two hits over 6 2/3 innings. Mark Lowe, Aaron Sanchez, and Roberto Osuna shut down the visitors, and the Jays added one more run for good measure in the sixth inning. Coupled with Baltimore's 5-0 loss to Oakland, Toronto now holds sole possession of the second wild card spot.
Break up the Phillies!
The National League East cellar-dwellers entered Tuesday a cool 12-3 since the All-Star break and were looking to keep their hot streak going against Alex Wood, who was making his Dodgers debut. But first, the Citizens Bank Park crowd made sure to welcome back a franchise hero.
Jimmy Rollins got a resounding ovation from Phillies fans in his first game back in the place he called home for 14 seasons before being traded last offseason; he finished the game 2-for-5 with a double. Philadelphia drew first blood against Wood in the third on an Odubel Herrera RBI double, but Los Angeles evened the score in the fifth on a single by Andre Ethier that drove in Howie Kendrick.
Wood cruised through six innings, but ran into some trouble in the seventh. Carlos Ruiz led off the inning with a single and moved up a base on a ground out by Domonic Brown. A pair of walks (one intentional) loaded the bases and brought an end to the night for Wood, who struck out eight and walked two on 109 pitches. In came Joel Peralta, who hung a 1-1 curve to Maikel Franco. The ball didn't stay in the yard for very long.
The Dodgers would threaten in the eighth inning, as they pushed across a run against Jeanmar Gomez to make it 5-2 and force Pete Mackanin to go to his closer, Ken Giles, with the bases loaded. Rollins worked a full count and thought he had drawn a walk, but home plate umpire Brian O'Nora rung up the shortstop on Giles' triple-digit heater.
Giles would turn in a clean ninth inning after getting an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Phillies the opening game of the series.
The last time Carlos Carrasco took the mound, he tossed a complete against the Athletics, allowing just one run in the first inning and setting down the last 16 batters he faced. In fact, he didn't allow a hit after the first inning in that start, and issued just a fourth-inning walk. The Venezuelan right-hander picked up right where he left off on Tuesday against the Angels, retiring the first 11 batters of the game to complete a hidden perfect game.
Immediately after retiring his 27th straight batter, Carrasco walked Mike Trout on four pitches. His streak of 12 straight no-hit innings ended in the fifth when David Murphy singled for the Angels' lone hit of the game against the Indians' starter. The only other baserunner to reach against Carrasco over his nine innings of work was Johnny Giavotella, who was plunked to lead off the ninth but stranded on second base.
Carrasco's entire repertoire was working, as he racked up four swing-and-misses with each of his secondary offerings, his changeup, slider, and curveball. In addition to striking out seven, he was able to pound the bottom of the zone throughout the night and pick up 12 groundballs.
Despite Carrasco's second-straight masterful outing, he was unable to come away with the "W" because the Indians were unable to muster any offense against Matt Shoemaker and the Angels bullpen.
Shoemaker racked up 10 strikeouts over his six innings of work, and Trevor Gott, Joe Smith, Huston Street, and Jose Alvarez combined to shut out the Indians through 11 innings. Bryan Shaw and Zach McAllister matched zeroes to keep the game scoreless for Cleveland, allowing Giovanny Urshela to put the visitors ahead in the top of the 12th.
Urshela's fourth home run of the year made sure that Carrasco's spotless outing would not go to waste, as Cody Allen set the Angels down in order to secure the middle match of the series.
What to Watch on Wednesday
A pair of pitching prospects will take the hill for the first time in the big leagues on Wednesday, with one youngster being called upon to plug a hole in the rotation of an October contender and the other getting an audition to see if he can fit in as part of the big-league rotation in 2016. The Yankees announced that they will be without Michael Pineda until at least September; as a result, highly touted right-hander Luis Severino will get the call in the middle match of their series against the Red Sox. Christopher Crawford broke down the call-up of Severino on Monday and indicated that there's reason to believe the 21-year-old can enjoy success with the big-league club out of the gate. With the Orioles on a roll and the revamped Blue Jays ready to make their charge, the Yankees hope that Severino can help them hang on to their division lead down the stretch (7:05 p.m. EST).
On the other hand, the Tigers conceded defeat in 2015 by selling off David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Joakim Soria at the trade deadline. Fans of the club may have been sad to see Price leave, but a brilliant debut outing by Daniel Norris on Sunday helped cushion the emotional blow and served as a reminder that the package of young pitchers from Toronto justified punting a low-percentage playoff run in 2015. In addition to Norris and young left-hander Jairo Labourt, Detroit nabbed Matt Boyd, a former senior sign out of Oregon State whose recent velocity spike has turned him into a legitimate prospect. The Tigers have decided to see what they have in Boyd by calling him up for his debut and throwing him into the fire against the Royals. Opposite Boyd will be the newly acquired Johnny Cueto, who will look to bounce back from a so-so Royals debut against the Blue Jays last Friday (7:08 p.m. EST).