The Tuesday Takeaway
Brendan Ryan played right field and pitched yesterday. The Astros batted around thrice. Besides that, it was just another day at the yard in the Bronx.
It all started with Ivan Nova on the hill for the Yankees, and say this for Nova: He twice got Jose Altuve out on one pitch. Trouble is, he did that twice in the first inning, which means he did a whole lot of less impressive stuff in between.
Our advanced metrics weren't buying into Nova's 3.72 ERA, pegging him with a 109 cFIP. The Tommy John surgery survivor's regression began with a two-out walk drawn by Carlos Correa. Colby Rasmus tripled home Correa, and then Evan Gattis walked, putting two aboard for Carlos Gomez, who doubled in Rasmus. The next batter, Luis Valbuena, doubled in both Gattis and Gomez, and Marwin Gonzalez singled home Valbuena. Jason Castro drew Houston's third two-out walk of the frame, but that one proved harmless when Altuve grounded out.
So it was 5-0 Astros. Nova settled in during the second, third, and fourth. When the fifth rolled around, Rasmus doubled and Gattis homered everyone home and sent Nova to the showers:
No. 20 of the year for Gattis made it 7-0 Astros, and they'd go on to bat around on Nick Rumbelow's watch, with the help of an error by Ryan, carrying a 9-0 lead into their third everybody-hits frame of the night.
That would be the seventh, when Ryan moved to right field, appearing there for the first time since 2008. He watched helplessly as Chris Capuano issued three walks, the last of them with the bases loaded. Then he saw Gattis single. And then he watched this big fly off the bat of Gomez sail out of the park:
Ryan caught a Valbuena line drive to end the frame, then ascended the bump down 15-0 and tossed two scoreless innings on 28 pitches.
That afforded the Yankees an opportunity to
climb back into the game salvage a shred of dignity after they were stifled for seven innings by Dallas Keuchel. The left-hander struck out nine before handing it over to Vincent Velasquez, who ceded a ninth-inning run before the fat lady sang.
The 15-run outburst marked the first time in nine games that the Astros have exceeded five runs, and it equaled their output from their previous seven games combined. Not surprisingly, it coincided with a big night from Gomez, a marquee deadline acquisition who'd batted just .181/.218/.241 since his Houston debut. The center fielder sparked a benches-clearing incident, then let his bat do the talking with his seventh-inning tater.
In other words, Gomez was Gomez. And if Gomez is back to being Gomez, the Astros won't have so much trouble scoring runs the rest of the way.
Quick Hits from Tuesday
The Mets, who reportedly scuttled a Gomez deal over concerns about his hip, have no such buyer's remorse about their Plan B:
That two-run blast was Cespedes' seventh with New York, and it got the visitors started in a game in which Noah Syndergaard's road woes continued despite a new warmup routine. The right-hander struck out nine and only gave up two earned runs, but he served up a pair of homers and fought erratic command, needing 96 pitches to get through five.
On the bright side, Syndergaard chipped in an RBI double at the plate on a night when the Mets needed every run they could get. Terry Collins' club walked its way to a tie in the sixth, and the third free pass of the frame, drawn with the bases loaded by Travis d'Arnaud, featured the Bat Flip of the Day:
Syndergaard was up next, so Collins called for a pinch-hitter in the person of Michael Cuddyer, who brought home the go-ahead and eventual winning runs on an 0-2 mistake by Jeanmar Gomez.
Plate umpire Dan Bellino didn't count the premature delivery, but that didn't satisfy Larry Bowa, who let Robles have it from the dugout, and then tore into Bellino, who told him to take a hike. Both dugouts emptied before Bowa, who's friends with Collins, left the field. Bowa was apparently already steamed about the Mets' bat-flipping and seemed to issue a beanball threat to Daniel Murphy when the quick-pitch pushed him over the edge.
Play eventually resumed, but both sides were done scoring, so the 6-5 tally held through the end.
Span, Werth, Rendon, Harper, Escobar, Zimmerman, Desmond, Ramos, pitcher.
And, it turns out, the 100 percent Washington offense is pretty good, as James Shields discovered when the Nats sent him off after 5 2/3 rough innings. Shields was charged with eight hits and four walks, striking out only two and spending 121 bullets on the grueling defeat. All the Nats' starters had reached base at least once by the time he departed.
Pat Murphy called on Marc Rzepczynski to face Bryce Harper, and Scrabble flubbed the task, granting the MVP frontrunner a walk. That prompted Murphy to go to Bud Norris, who proceeded to walk Escobar. And then Ryan Zimmerman did this:
The grand slam, which gave Zimmerman a team-record five, blew the 4-2 game wide open. San Diego would score only once more, going down 8-3 as the Nats kept pace with the Mets.
The Braves were down 4-1 after the seventh-inning stretch last night, with the Rockies visiting Turner Field. Then they drew four walks and benefited from a wild pitch, climbing right back into the game thanks to the generosity of Tommy Kahnle.
Wait, what's that? They got four walks and a wild pitch and failed to score?
Sure did. Kahnle began by walking Andrelton Simmons. Then he walked Michael Bourn. Pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco grounded into a 5-4 double play, reaching first while Simmons and Bourn were retired. With the bases now a little clearer, Kahnle walked Markakis, advancing Ciriaco to second. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, opening first base for a walk to Nick Swisher. And none of those runners scored, because Christian Friedrich relieved Kahnle and struck out Freddie Freeman.
According to the Baseball-Reference Play Index, Kahnle is the first pitcher in at least a century to walk four and uncork a wild pitch in less than an inning of work without allowing a run.
All of that came on the heels of a no-good, very bad day for third baseman Adonis Garcia, who was, perhaps, a bit intimidated by being Nolan Arenado's opposite number in this series. When Arenado hit a sharp grounder toward Garcia in the first inning, Garcia …
… had it roll under his glove for an E5 that gave the Rockies an early edge. In the top of the fourth, Nick Hundley led off with a groundball to Garcia, who …
… had it go right through the wickets for his second E5 of the day. Hundley would ultimately score on a two-run single by D.J. LeMahieu, which made it 4-0 Colorado. Both runs were unearned. With one away in the top of the fifth, Garcia got a slow chopper off the bat of Ben Paulsen and …
… he couldn't handle that, either. Since Paulsen doesn't run well enough to collect an infield single on that type of play, it went into the book as the third error of the day for Garcia. It's the most Es a Brave has made at the hot corner since Mark DeRosa was charged with four in 2004.
And that's how Mike Foltynewicz wound up giving up four runs, none of them earned, en route to the loss in the 5-1 decision. Chad Bettis chucked five innings of one-run ball for the Rox in his return from the DL.
Brendan Ryan wasn't the only player to appear well beyond his usual surroundings Tuesday. Out west in San Francisco, Juan Perez got the nod at second base when Bruce Bochy pulled some of his regulars in the late stages of a blowout.
Unfortunately for the Giants, the blowout wasn't going their way. That's no surprise, considering that Jake Arrieta came in having logged 12 consecutive quality starts. He made it 13 straight by holding San Francisco to an unearned run on four hits and a walk while whiffing eight. Matt Cain, who offered Giants fans a glimmer of hope that he'd return to his erstwhile peak form with a strong performance in St. Louis, squandered his chance to make it back-to-back quality starts early on.
Kyle Schwarber mauled an 0-1 pitch for a three-run tater in the third inning
and Miguel Montero crushed a first-pitch changeup that sat up on a tee
to extend the Cubs' lead to 5-0.
Cain took a seat after five innings of a six-run drubbing, only to watch long man Yusmeiro Petit cough up two more tallies, one of them on a solo shot by Starlin Castro. The rest of the Giants' bullpen did its job, paving the way for an inspired but insufficient rally.
Bochy's bunch scored four times in the last of the eighth, and Perez—making his first big-league appearance at the keystone (indeed, his first at any level since 2009 in Low-A)—reached on an infield single to string it along. Andrew Susac supplied the big blow in the inning, a bases-clearing double off Clayton Richard that compelled Joe Maddon to use Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.
Whether that comeback will pay dividends later in the series remains to be seen, but it was too little, too late in the opener. The Cubs won 8-5, as the Giants—now 7½ back in the Wild Card hunt—continued to dig their own grave by dropping another head-to-head meeting with one of the frontrunners:
Giants lose. They are 1-11 against the Cubs and Pirates. Yeah. The wild card "race" is over for them.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) August 26, 2015
Jonathan Lucroy hit two homers and a double yesterday, flashing a few more signs that he might yet emerge from the slump that followed his DL stint earlier in the year. When a catcher hits a double and two homers, his team usually wins the game. Not so for the Brewers.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin and his relievers survived Lucroy's onslaught because the top of the Tribe's order relentlessly pounded Wily Peralta, Kyle Lohse, and company. Hitting leadoff, Jason Kipnis went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk, furthering his batting-title hopes by raising his average to .324. No. 2 hitter Francisco Lindor also went 3-for-4, contributing a two-bagger and driving in three. Finally, third-place hitter Michael Brantley went 3-for-4, and his swings were the loudest; he matched Lucroy's two jacks and collected four RBI.
Peralta was gone after 2 2/3 innings, with six hits, four runs (two earned), and two walks on his line. He threw first-pitch strikes to just four of 17 foes, which is no way to go through life, especially not against three hot bats. Lohse was better in the first-pitch-strike department, going 7-for-12, but no better at anything else, surrendering five runs (all earned) on four hits and two walks in 2 1/3 frames.
That put the Indians well on their way to an 11-6 romp and left the Brewers hurtling toward the list of teams—now at 20 since 1914, per the Play Index—that have gone down in defeat despite a two-bagger and two round-trippers from their catchers.
The Defensive Play of the Day
Lindor might've had four hits if not for this barehand play by Elian Herrera:
BONUS! The "Make It Look Easy" Defensive Play of the Day
They say some players make it look easy. Exhibit A:
What to Watch on Wednesday
Looking ahead to their weekend battle with the Mets, the Nationals shuffled their rotation, bumping Gio Gonzalez into today's tilt against the Padres so that Max Scherzer would see their East-division rivals in September. The move keeps Gonzalez on regular rest, though the southpaw has looked like he could use a break of late, lasting just 2 2/3 innings versus the Giants on August 15th and coughing up five runs in five innings to the Brewers his last time out.
Gonzalez won't find many familiar faces in Pat Murphy's lineup, as none of the eight position players who started in his last meeting with San Diego remain with the club in a playing capacity. Mark Kotsay, the hitting coach, appeared as a pinch-hitter that day.
The lefty will take on Tyson Ross, who has fanned 71 in as many frames dating back to June 20th, leading the Friars to a 9-3 record in his last 12 assignments. Under the rearranged Washington rotation, Tyson will miss a duel with his brother, Joe, by a day (7:05 p.m. ET).
The early- and mid-evening slate in the American League is loaded with aces and Cy Young Award hopefuls. If you miss Felix Hernandez taking on the A's because you're at work during the afternoon (3:40 p.m. ET), fear not, because these guys have you covered:
Strikeout fiend Chris Archer hosts the Twins at Tropicana Field, coming off a one-hit shutout over the Astros in which he fanned 11 (7:10 p.m. ET). About an hour after that, fine-pitching connoisseurs will have three more junior-circuit games to keep tabs on. David Price and the Blue Jays are down in Texas, facing off with Colby Lewis and the Rangers (8:05 p.m. ET). Since Toronto is the road team in that slightly earlier contest, Price is likely to be on the hill concurrently with Johnny Cueto and Chris Sale, who host the Orioles and Red Sox, respectively, five minutes later (8:10 p.m. ET).
You know that four-game feature on MLB.TV? It'll come in handy tonight.
Because John Lackey spent the bulk of his career in the American League, and because the Diamondbacks are a heavily homegrown team with few position players acquired from outside, Lackey has only stared down three of the 25 players on Arizona's active roster in a big-league game. The veteran right-hander has seen plenty of Aaron Hill, locking horns with the second baseman on 30 occasions, and he's matched wits thrice each with catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Welington Castillo. All the other Snakes will only have advance scouting to lean on when they dig in this evening.
That's unlikely to spook A.J. Pollock, a sparkplug atop Chip Hale's order and one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Pollock carried a 27-for-57 (.474/.500/.754) surge into play on Tuesday, and that triple-slash bonanza leaves out his eight stolen bases in as many tries. Pollock has bagged nine multi-hit games since August 10th, and among NL batters with 100 or more plate appearances since the All-Star break, only Joey Votto boasts a higher OPS.
Pollock will go to bat in support of Patrick Corbin in the third game of this four-game set at Chase Field (9:40 p.m. ET).