The Thursday Takeaway
A game that stays scoreless into the 10th sounds like a textbook example of a pitchers’ duel. This presumption gets a bit weaker when the teams in question are the Orioles, who had not scored in 12 innings heading into Thursday, and the last-place Yankees, who have hardly been a model of offensive capability this year. Regardless, keeping the scoreboard empty into extras is a feat, and both Masahiro Tanaka and Kevin Gausman looked sharp yesterday—particularly Gausman, who held New York to three hits with no walks over eight innings.
In the four years since Gausman was drafted, he’s been seen (among other things and in no particular order) as: a top prospect, a question mark, a disappointment, a popular example of every question around the Orioles’ pitcher development, and a young man painfully familiar with the road between Baltimore and Norfolk. Right now, he’s a back-of-the-rotation starter, and on Thursday, he was a very good pitcher.
Especially effective was his splitter, which went for 19 strikes in 27 pitches.
After Gausman headed for the dugout, Baltimore got a boost from Matt Wieters, who exploited some questionable Starlin Castro action on the basepaths, and Zach Britton, who struck out the side to shut down the Yankees in the tenth.
Finally, Pedro Alvarez ended it for Baltimore with that most anticlimactic of game-ending hits—the walk-off sacrifice fly—to give the Orioles the 1-0 victory.
Though Thursday’s Red Sox-White Sox game was a matchup of two first place teams, you’d be forgiven for assuming otherwise based on the quality of play. Together, the teams stranded 21 men on base, 14 of whom were left in scoring position, and they walked 16. Henry Owens got into trouble quickly and exited early, giving up six walks in three innings and allowing a solo Avisail Garcia home run on the only plate appearance he saw in the fourth, but the Red Sox still came away with the victory—due in no small part to the White Sox’s inability to score their runners. On a night where 17 White Sox reached base, just three of them scored.
The Padres and the Mets have a bit of a history when it comes to no-hitters. There’s the obvious—that they were for several years the only two teams without a no-hitter on the books, until Johan Santana put an end to the Mets’ drought in 2012. (And the last team he faced before that no-hitter? The Padres.) But there’s also the fact that the Padres’ first legitimate no-hit bid came against the Mets, back in 1970, when Clay Kirby held the team hitless through eight only to be pulled in favor of a reliever who blew not just the no-hitter but also the save.
And as of Thursday, there’s also Colin Rea and Yoenis Cespedes. Rea took a no-hit bid into the 7th, but Cespedes beat the shift to make sure that the Padres stay lonely with their zero in the no-hitter column. After Rea was pulled for Brad Hand in the ninth, Cespedes stuck around to make things interesting with a two-run homer, but Fernando Rodney closed it out to preserve the 5-3 win for the Padres. Rea finished the night with three hits and one walk, as well as five strikeouts.
Edwin Encarnacion had a pretty great night. Derek Holland very much did not. Encarnacion drove in six runs in Toronto’s 12-2 trouncing of Texas, with two doubles and a home run. Holland was missing his spots right from the start—opening the first inning with two singles, a wild pitch and a walk before giving up the first of Encarnacion’s doubles. That was all before he recorded the first out, and as bad as that was, things really only went downhill for him and the Rangers from there. Holland didn’t make it out of the third inning, allowing 11 runs on 11 hits and three walks without a strikeout.
Holland can at least take solace in the fact that he wasn’t alone in the category of miserably self-esteem-shattering games. Matt Cain had a similarly distressing outing, and though his line in the box score ultimately read slightly better than Holland’s, his was likely made even more painful by the fact that it was his fifth ugly performance in a row. Cain gave up 10 hits, including two home runs, in just over four innings of work—and the Rockies’ offense only lit up more after he was pulled in the fifth. Colorado set a franchise record with the 13-run inning, roughing up three San Francisco pitchers to the tune of 10 hits, including four doubles and a home run, with some additional help from two Giants errors.
Defensive Play of the Day
George Springer hearkened back to his days as a childhood gymnast with the little somersault on this diving catch. He may have saved a Nelson Cruz hit here, but the Astros went on to lose to the Mariners, 6-3, as Seattle stretched its winning streak to four.
What to Watch on Friday
Ben Zobrist drove in four runs to push the Cubs past the Nationals in the first game of this division leaders showdown series. But Chicago should have a stiffer challenge Friday facing Max Scherzer on the mound, with John Lackey as his counterpart. Scherzer will look to build on the strength of his most recent outing, which featured a season-high nine strikeouts and no walks against the Cardinals. As Demetrius Bell wrote in this space yesterday, it’s early to call this a playoff preview, but the odds are somewhat in its favor, and regardless, it should be pretty fun to watch.
Chris Archer’s season got off to a notably rough start. On the bright side, there were plenty of strikeouts; on the more reasonably lit side, there plenty of runs that rendered those strikeouts fairly insignificant. Two weeks ago, it looked like he had recaptured the Archer of last year, with 10 strikeouts and no runs or walks in more than six innings of work, but his last start was a bit less promising—though he gave up just one hit, a low this year, he also walked four, a high. He takes on Cory Rasmus and the Angels Friday night.