The Tuesday Takeaway
Entering Tuesday’s game against Cleveland, Wade Miley had yet to allow a walk this season. Entering the fourth inning, this was still true. Then that changed in pretty dramatic fashion.
With the Mariners down 1-0 courtesy of a Mike Napoli RBI double in the third, Miley opened up the fourth by striking out Yan Gomes. Of his 48 pitches at that point, 37 had been strikes, with both his four-seamer and his changeup looking fairly solid. But things started going downhill for Seattle’s lefty shortly after that. It started with a Marlon Byrd single. Then away went the fastball command and in came the walks.
First, Miley missed low on a full count to put Juan Uribe aboard. Then came a quick four-pitch walk to Colin Cowgill. With the bases loaded, still one out, Rajai Davis was at the plate. Miley missed low with the fastball, he missed high with the fastball—and then, with that 2-0 count, he got Davis to chase after a slider before fouling off two in a row. But he then went back to missing his mark, erring low with the fastball once again to bring in a run with his third consecutive walk.
It was the eighth time in his career that Miley had allowed a bases-loaded walk. He had never had two in the same game, let alone the same inning—but you know what they say about a first time for everything. Miley next faced Jason Kipnis, with Mike Montgomery warming in the pen, and it appeared for a moment that his command had returned after its three-batter vacation. He struck Kipnis out swinging, nailing him with the same fastball that had been so disastrously errant a few minutes earlier. But that success was fleeting for Miley, as Francisco Lindor came to the plate with the bases still loaded. He missed low, low again—then one strike on the corner, before a fastball that went too low once again, and, for some variety to end it all, finally a fastball that missed high. Miley issued his second bases-loaded walk of the inning, adding another run on the board for Cleveland and putting an end to his day.
In total, Miley’s ugly fourth inning lasted 35 pitches, only 16 of which went for strikes.
It was the first time this season that any team has issued two bases-loaded walks in one game, not to mention by the same pitcher and in the same inning. All on its own, the inning was almost enough to bring Miley’s walks-per-nine up to its usual point—the four walks brought him from 0.0 to 2.3 BB/9 on the season, compared to his career mark of 2.8.
After last week’s dazzling performance, Vince Velasquez reminded us that he is, in fact, human. Following the shutout ball of his first two starts, including last Thursday’s 16 K complete game, he gave up his first runs of the season en route to an 11-1 loss at the hands of the homer-happy Mets. In 4 1/3 innings, Velasquez gave up five runs, two of which were earned (with a Ryan Howard error scored as the culprit for the other three). It started early, with a Michael Conforto two-run shot in the first, and continued with a three-run contribution by Yoenis Cespedes in the third. After Velasquez was pulled, the Mets continued to spread the home run love through their lineup. Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker (twice!) all went yard on the Phillies’ bullpen.
Less than a week after Bryce Harper’s first grand slam of the season marked his 100th home run, he followed it up with a second one Tuesday. As part of a seventh inning in which four different Nats hit home runs—a first in team history—Harper added four to the board courtesy of Marlins reliever Chris Narveson. Early as it may be, Harper is showing no signs of slipping from last year’s ridiculous season, with a TAv of .446 and seven home runs so far. Those seven are almost good enough for best in the league, just one shy of the top spot—but there’s still a rookie with another Story to tell there.
The White Sox’s one year signing of Mat Latos for $3 million wasn’t a particularly flashy move, but so far, it’s paying off. Latos earned his third win Tuesday, shutting the Angels out in 6 2/3 innings of work and keeping them hitless into the fifth. After a spring training that gave the White Sox seemingly little to look forward to with him, Latos has given up just one run and six hits on the year so far. As Daniel Rathman pointed out here yesterday, his success so far has come in part from a remarkably low BABIP, which shouldn’t be sustainable in the long run—but Tuesday, at least, the good results were sustained a little longer.
Joe Kelly got off to a poor start against the Rays, walking two of his first three. It got much worse from there, as Kelly was pulled from the game and placed on the disabled list with what was later announced as a shoulder impingement. Though no timetable for his return has been announced, recovering from the injury typically takes somewhere in the realm of one to two months.
Back on the field, the night didn’t end much better for the Red Sox. Apart from a lone Jackie Bradley, Jr. single, Boston was held hitless by Drew Smyly, who struck out 11 over eight innings. The crew of Red Sox relievers called on to fill in for Kelly kept Tampa scoreless into the 10th, but a Kevin Kiermaier homer gave the Rays the win in extras.
Honorable mention: Carlos Correa, dashing into shallow center field for this backward sliding gem.
What to Watch on Wednesday
Chris Archer’s start to the season has looked dramatically different from his breakout campaign last year. In three starts so far, all losses, he’s put up a FIP of 5.77 and has only managed to make it out of the fifth inning once (and on that occasion, he didn’t make it out of the sixth). Partially to blame is a BABIP of .436, which can’t be expected to stay so high for too long. But there are other factors that are a bit more concerning. While his strikeout rate is up, so is his walk rate, now sitting at 4.7 per nine innings. Most notably different from last year are his home runs—he’s given up five in scarcely 15 innings, with three of those coming off his slider. Wednesday, he’ll face off against Rick Porcello and the Red Sox (7:10 ET).
Wednesday’s matchup of Zack Greinke and the Diamondbacks against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants is something of a meeting of mirror image narratives. The Diamondbacks have won three straight; the Giants have lost three straight. Greinke finally looked a bit like himself in his last start after the ace was roughed up to start the season; Bumgarner got roughed up in his last start after opening the season solidly. But the Giants don’t seem to have an equivalent to the recent heroics of Jake Lamb—who’s provided for Arizona in the series’ first two games with the triple that broke open the score on Tuesday and the home run that sent Monday’s game to extras. (10:15 ET).