The Monday Takeaway
The Rockies and Marlins combined to hit eight home runs yesterday. Let’s have a look at—and note something significant about—each of them.
That cookie became no. 14 on the year for Ozuna, but it was just his second on a changeup. He entered batting .411 and slugging .711 on four-seamers, and .393/.661 on sinkers, but just .217/.391 when opponents pulled the string. So the pitch selection was all right; it was the execution that did De La Rosa in.
And we might say the same thing about this 2-2 fastball to the very next batter, Giancarlo Stanton:
Location mistakes to Stanton weren’t so perilous for the last four weeks or so, as the powerful outfielder slipped into a 7-for-67 slump. But Stanton, who went 2-for-4 on Monday, has now collected multiple hits in three of his last four games, and that first-inning missile was his first homer since May 24th.
All that good work at the plate would soon be undone by Marlins starter Paul Clemens, who was taking his first big-league turn since 2014. Clemens and the Fish thought they’d struck out Trevor Story to begin the second inning, when Story swung at a 3-2 pitch that appeared to hit him on the way by:
But the umpires stuck with the foul-ball call, and on the very next pitch, Story went yard:
Two batters later, Clemens unwisely threw Mark Reynolds the sort of hanging curveball Reynolds sees in his dreams:
As Reynolds’ blast cleared the wall, play-by-play man Drew Goodman said on the telecast that the Rockies had hit back-to-back homers. That was inaccurate, because Ryan Raburn had grounded out between the dingers. But maybe, just maybe, Goodman had seen the future…
…and the future held a Nick Hundley bomb. The second-inning shot was just the third of the year for the catcher, and all three of them have come away from Coors. Hundley’s done a lot right at the plate this year—improving his discipline to the tune of a 15-to-13 BB:K ratio after whiffing nearly four times as often as he walked in 2015—but he hadn’t gone deep since April 29th. And now he has.
Hundley made it 3-2 Rockies, but Ozuna wasn’t through with De La Rosa just yet:
Another ill-placed offspeed pitch by the lefty begat another dong from the righty, his 15th in a loud breakout season. Ozuna is now 25-for-59 (.424 average) with seven long flies in 64 plate appearances versus southpaws this year.
But Ozuna wouldn’t book the only multi-homer effort in this one. Mark Reynolds wanted in on that action, too, and Brian Ellington granted him admission:
And so, Reynolds, who entered with just four taters on the season, despite bringing his light-tower power to the thin air of Coors Field, boosted his total by 50 percent yesterday at the Marlins’ expense.
The Fish were done homering for the night, so Reynolds’ second would’ve sufficed as the game-winner, but in the top of the ninth, Charlie Blackmon decided to throw in one more for the road:
That was the eighth homer in the game—which, as you’ve surely noticed, was played not at Coors Field, but at spacious Marlins Park. It brought the score to 5-3 Rockies, the eventual final—which means that each of those eight blasts, together representing all of the runs scored in the game, came with nobody on base.
And that’s a major-league record. Not by one solo shot, not by two, but by three:
— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) June 21, 2016
Quick Hits from Monday
All losses sting a little. Some sting more than others. And then there are those that feel like wearing a suit of bees.
The Red Sox experienced that kind of defeat Monday, when Steven Wright continued his outstanding season with nine innings of one-run brilliance, in which the lone blemish was unearned. Miguel Gonzalez and Nate Jones matched Wright through eight, but opportunity knocked, hard, in the last of the ninth.
Zach Putnam took over for the White Sox and walked Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley, and Chris Young in succession. That Putnam managed to do so while throwing nine strikes mattered little. The bases were loaded with nobody out. And with Zach Duke sprinting from the bullpen to Putnam’s rescue, Dustin Pedroia was coming up as a pinch-hitter.
Here is Pedroia’s whiff rate for the season on left-handers’ hard stuff:
And here is the pitch-type sequence from his at-bat Monday night:
Knowing all that, pitch no. 7 sure looked troublesome for the White Sox. But you can’t predict baseball, so…
…naturally, it wasn’t.
Now, the next batter was Christian Vazquez, and the pitch chart to Vazquez wound up looking like this:
That would appear to spell trouble for the White Sox, too, but…
…Vazquez elected to swing at a 2-2 curveball with which he could do little of use when it came to driving in the winning run. And that left it all up to Ryan LaMarre…
…who couldn't help himself against Duke’s breaking stuff, either.
And so, the game headed into extras, where it didn’t take long for the South Siders to pounce. Jose Abreu doubled in a deuce
and that was all she wrote at Fenway. White Sox 3, Red Sox 1.
While we’re on the subject of squandered opportunities, the Mariners had plenty of them in a see-saw affair at Comerica Park.
Three frames of bonus baseball were needed to decide this one, and Seattle was well positioned to score in each of them. In the 10th, Leonys Martin fanned with men at the corners and two down. In the 11th and 12th, the Mariners produced a leadoff double. The runner only reached third after a double play the first time, so manager Scott Servais called for a sacrifice bunt the second time. But that strategy failed, too, when Franklin Gutierrez’s grounded out against a drawn-in infield, and Ketel Marte lined out to end the threat.
And that’s when Justin Upton, still struggling to justify the Tigers’ offseason investment with his batting line at .237/.291/.393, found a path into the good graces of the Detroit faithful:
Upton’s walkoff shot off Vidal Nuno meant the M’s would have no further chances, as the Tigers sent everyone home happy, 8-7.
In 1-0 ballgames, a defensive play, or non-play, as the case may be, can make all the difference. When Erik Kratz launched a high, deep drive toward the left-field stands in the fifth inning Monday, Angel Pagan leaped and appeared to glove it. But the Giants left fielder couldn’t hang on:
As it turned out, Kratz’s wall-scraper would be the only run scored in a fine duel between Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Locke. Three Pirates relievers teamed with Locke to hold the Giants off the scoreboard, as the Bucs prevailed 1-0.
Bumgarner went the distance for the Giants, striking out eight in as many innings and lowering his ERA to 1.85. In so doing, he continued a remarkable run, unparalleled in the club’s San Francisco era, and nearly 40 years beyond:
Assuming Bumgarner is done, he becomes 1st Giants pitcher to make 12 consecutive starts allowing 2 runs or fewer since Jesse Barnes in 1920.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) June 21, 2016
Conversely, Monday’s home win ended a brutal rut for Locke, who’d been bashed for 18 runs in his previous 8 2/3 innings, taking road losses to the Rockies and Mets.
Finally, and speaking of history, Monday was supposed to bring something historic at Chavez Ravine:
Crazy fact: This is the first matchup of two NL pitchers with 10 wins this early in a season in over 100 years, according to STATS, LLC.
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 20, 2016
Strasburg scratched with upper back strain, Petit to start https://t.co/8FP511pt50
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 21, 2016
…the fans in attendance would have to settle for just Kershaw. Which is a hell of a consolation prize these days, with the lefty tacking on eight more strikeouts to his total for the season, and meanwhile holding the Nationals walk-free to improve his K:BB ratio to 141-to-7.
The Defensive Play of the Day
We’ve already seen the Defensive Non-Play of the Day, courtesy of Angel Pagan. But the Giants-Pirates game also featured the Defensive Play of the Day, via the left-field ball girl at PNC Park:
What to Watch on Tuesday
When the Diamondbacks last traveled to Toronto, the baseball facility there was still known as the SkyDome, Steve Finley was still on the team, and tonight’s starting pitcher, Patrick Corbin, wasn’t yet old enough to drive. The date of the last north-of-the-border contest between those teams was June 13th, 2004.
But, the D’backs broke out their passports Monday and made the trek up for the series opener, in which they’ll face Marco Estrada. After leading the American League with a 6.7 H/9 rate last year, Estrada has managed to shave a full 1.3 knocks off that pace, coming in at a league-best 5.4. That’s the product of a .188 BABIP, which in turn is the product of a 15.7 percent line-drive rate coupled with a 18 percent infield-flyball clip, the latter leading all qualifying starters by 1.1 percentage points. The Jays have won six straight with Estrada on the bump (7:07 p.m. ET).
Outside of one calamity, Clay Buchholz fared well during a three-week-long demotion to the bullpen—or well enough, at least, to earn another shot at starting. With Eduardo Rodriguez getting pushed back so that he can work on his mechanics in an additional between-starts bullpen session, Buchholz is jumping back into the rotation, and he’ll face a tall order right off the bat, with Chris Sale set to oppose him.
Buchholz enjoyed a mild boost in his arsenal while being deployed in short bursts,
as the ability to just grip it and rip it, without worrying about pacing himself over 100-or-so deliveries, added 1-1.5 mph to each of his offerings. It’ll be worth monitoring whether Buchholz’s fastball returns to the 92-mph range from its 93-94 mph perch out of the bullpen, and whether he has the command on Monday to regain the job he ceded in mid-May.
Sale, meanwhile, would love to erase any lingering memories of his visit to Fenway last year. He was singled to death last July 30th, giving up a career-high 12 hits—11 of them of the one-base variety—and seven runs in 5 2/3 innings of an 8-2 defeat (7:10 p.m. ET).