The Thursday Takeaway
“What is a catch?”—one of the more complex existential questions of our time, albeit usually only in the context of the NFL and the subjectivity of its rules. In Thursday’s Cardinals-Reds game, though, it got a relatively rare turn in baseball’s limelight.
The game entered the eighth tied at two runs apiece, following strong outings from both Adam Wainwright and Brandon Finnegan. The former put up a season-high nine strikeouts, looking closer to his old self than he has all year, while the latter showed seven Ks and just one walk. But the Reds bullpen wasted no time in engaging in a bit of quintessentially Reds bullpen behavior (that is, allowing the other team to score) and so Cincinnati entered the bottom of the inning down by one. They weren’t going down without a fight, though, starting off with a Tyler Holt single. After a strikeout came an Ivan de Jesus, Jr. hit into shallow right field… snared by Stephen Piscotty in a diving catch on the run.
Or was it? Bryan Price and Co. appeared immediately skeptical about whether or not Piscotty had trapped the ball after a bounce. The umpires took it to review, and on a second look (or however many looks are taken in three minutes of deliberation) the play was no longer a catch. The slow motion low angle provides perhaps the most compelling evidence for overturning the call—
—but it’s hardly a clear-cut call. It was enough for the umps, though, and so de Jesus was put on first and credited with the single while Holt moved up to second. For his part, Mike Matheny left the dugout to make his case, but the shouting match was to no avail, and so the Cardinals went from defending their late-game one-run lead with one on and two out to doing so with two on and one out. But the Reds couldn’t capitalize on their second chance here, and a popup and a force out later, the inning was over with no damage done to the score. In the end, the non-catch catch mattered not at all, as the Cardinals pulled off the 3-2 victory to tie the Pirates for second place in the division.
While this season has brought Josh Tomlin some of the best results of his career—sure, the 4.24 DRA isn’t much to look at, but you still have to be doing something right to jump out to an 8-1 record, senseless as wins may be—he’s not too fundamentally different from the pitcher he’s always been. Of course, that pitcher is one defined by two true outcomes, one of which is good (so few walks!) and the other of which is not (so many home runs!). By that characterization, Tomlin was very much himself against the Mariners Thursday night. In 6 1/3 innings of work, he walked none and allowed two home runs, both solo shots.
Despite giving up nine hits, though, Tomlin allowed no other runs and so left the Indians in a pretty solid position, despite little in the way of run support—entering the eighth with the game tied at two runs apiece. Tyler Naquin then broke things open with a two-run home run, and while the Indians weren’t quite out of the woods yet—a Robinson Cano homer in the bottom of the inning kept things interesting, as did two Mariners singles in the ninth—Cody Allen held it together for the four-out save and the Indians came away with the 5-3 win to split the series with Seattle. The victory put the Indians three games ahead of the Royals and Tigers for the top spot in the AL Central, while the Mariners slipped to 3.5 behind the surging Rangers.
Of relatively little consequence to the game, but of great consequence to all who enjoy good-natured displays of charm and cheer on a ball field—this adorable Francisco Lindor embrace of Chris Iannetta after being thrown out at the plate.
The Orioles continued their surge Thursday, beating the Blue Jays to win their fifth straight and eighth of their past 10. Though Marcus Stroman added to his trend of recent struggles—failing to go six innings for the third straight game—it was the combination of Chris Davis and Toronto’s bullpen that sealed the deal for Baltimore. Davis first homered off Aaron Loup to tie the game in the seventh, and he then played the hero in the ninth with a sacrifice fly to score Joey Rickard and give the Os the 6-5 victory.
Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of Carlos Correa’s call-up to the majors, but baseball didn’t give him much time to celebrate. Running out a groundball Thursday, Correa rolled his ankle and left the game before being listed as day to day. Jose Altuve took his place, looking pretty comfortable in his first career appearance at short. Adding insult to literal injury, though, the Astros went on to lose 5-3 to the Rangers.
Starting for the fourth game in a row, Ichiro continued his surprisingly successful run at the plate this season in a 10-3 drubbing of the Twins. Adding two hits to his total after Wednesday’s three-hit outing, Ichiro now sits at 2,971 for his career—with the possibility of hitting 3,000 looking less and less like the vague “maybe” it was at the start of the year. The sample is small, sure, but his current TAv of .292 is the highest he’s posted since 2009 and, at the very least, it’s fun to watch.
Defensive Play of the Day
The Yankees completed a four-game sweep of the Angels to put themselves back at .500 (albeit still 6.5 games out of first). This was among the highlights, with nothing getting a past a diving Didi Gregorius and a flip for the forceout at second to boot.
What to Watch on Friday
Matt Harvey’s last two outings almost made it look as if he’d been able to exorcize the demons that haunted him earlier this season; Friday, he’ll try to strengthen that impression. Harvey lasted seven innings in each of those two starts—the only times he’s done so this season—and collectively gave up just one run and one walk in the two games combined. He’ll face off against Junior Guerra and the Brewers at 8:10 EST.
After being sidelined with an oblique injury, Anthony DeSclafani will make his first start of the season Friday. Though DeSclafani was nothing spectacular as a rookie last year, he was more than serviceable and showed some notable improvements in the second half—though bad batted ball luck meant you had to go searching for them. The Reds take on the Athletics, with Sonny Gray on the mound, at 7:10 EST.
Finally, a West Coast battle of the aces should serve as a satisfying nightcap, with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers taking on Johnny Cueto and the Giants. Kershaw is coming off his weakest start of the year—six innings of shutout ball with one walk and four strikeouts, so, you know, what would be a standout night for most pitchers. But a guy with a sub-2.00 DRA and a K-BB ratio over 18 is obviously a far cry from most pitchers, and we’ll see what he does next at 10:15 EST.