The Wednesday Takeaway
The first six innings of Wednesday afternoon’s game between the Rockies and Yankees had an extremely similar feel to the game that the two teams played on Tuesday. That contest ended 8-4 in favor of the Rockies, and it seemed as if Colorado was ready to leave the Bronx with two consecutive 8-4 victories. Colorado had managed to run CC Sabbathia from the game in the fifth inning after the Rockies a 4-0 deficit (after two innings) into a 5-4 lead by the end of the fifth. Colorado added three more runs, and by the seventh inning it seemed as if the fans at Yankee Stadium were about to endure a repeat. But not all sequels are unoriginal.
The first man to throw a major wrench in Colorado’s plans for a two-game sweep was the ageless wonder himself, Carlos Beltran. The 39-year-old outfielder is currently hitting .286/.323/.573 and entered Wednesday with a TAv of .301 and 18 home runs. Some people bow to Father Time, but Carlos Beltran absolutely refuses to do so.
Home run no. 19 of the season for Beltran—matching last year's total—couldn’t have come at a better time for the Yankees. The seventh-inning rally started innocuously enough with catcher’s interference putting Rob Refsnyder on base to lead off the inning. Brett Gardner reached base on a one-out single, and Beltran unleashed his moonshot.
That brought the game to a one-run margin, and the Yankees wouldn’t have to wait too long for the equalizer. Didi Gregorious looped a two-out single over a leaping Trevor Story to tie the game. Just like that, the script had been flipped.
The key to any successful sequel is a dramatic ending, and Starlin Castro stepped up to deliver the exciting climax to this one. The first pitch that Castro saw in this at-bat landed safely in the catcher’s glove for strike one. The next pitch that Castro saw landed safely in the right field bleachers for run no. 9 of the day and victory no. 35 of the season for the Yankees.
Sometimes, sequels that are similar in nature to the original are fun. Other times, you want to see a sequel veer out of its comfort zone and give you something new in the process. This particular game fell in the latter category. Blame Beltran.
On Tuesday, Corey Kluber sent a reminder to the baseball world that he’s still one of the best pitchers in the game today. On Wednesday, Trevor Bauer decided to pick up where his fellow Cleveland rotationmate left off. Bauer threw a complete game against the Rays, and struck out 10 in the process while giving up one run. After falling victim to those two performances, the Rays are probably ecstatic to be leaving Cleveland. In fact, nobody’s excited to be heading to Cleveland recently, as the AL Central leaders currently have a perfect 11-0 record at Progressive Park this month.
The good news for the Houston Astros is that after yesterday’s 3-2 victory over the Angels, they’ve won five straight games and have finally eclipsed the .500 mark for the first time since Opening Day. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Marwin Gonzalez launched a ball into deep center field and it eventually landed in the booby trap that is Tal’s Hill. George Springer was able to score from third base, and the Astros eventually added an insurance run to make sure that this big hit didn’t come in vain.
The bad news for Houston is that they’re still 10 games behind the red-hot Rangers. There’s still plenty of baseball left to be played, so there’s still time for things to get interesting in the AL West.
The Mets eventually beat the Royals 4-3 on Wednesday, but they went through two major scares in the process. Noah Syndergaard has been pitching wonderfully this season, but he didn’t quite live up to his lofty expectations. Worse, an elbow problem bothered him through six innings of work. That nasty slider of his was still working wonders, though.
Yoenis Cespedes also left the game in the sixth inning due to an apparent wrist injury. However, the Mets received relatively comforting news when it came to both players—Syndergaard’s elbow showed no structural damage, and Cespedes is only day-to-day with a mildly-strained wrist. That sound you’re hearing is a huge sigh of relief from Queens.
Defensive Play of the Day
Shortstop/defensive maestro Andrelton Simmons saw an opportunity to get two outs instead of just one and immediately pounced on the chance. He let a broken-bat blooper from George Springer fall near second base, picked it up, touched second for the first out and unleashed a cannon of a throw to beat Springer at first. Simmons plays defense like someone whose very life force is enriched by recording outs.
What to Watch on Thursday
To say that James Shields has been going through some massive struggles as of late would be an understatement. His is one of the worst stretches of starts we've seen from a quality pitcher in recent memory, bloating his DRA to 6.24 and his cFIP to 123. Unfortunately for Shields, it might get worse before it gets better, because he’s got to deal with the Red Sox and their powerful offense this afternoon.
The good news is that the White Sox will be entering this game riding a wave of positive momentum. They’ve won three straight and are one win away from sweeping Boston at Fenway Park. Maybe Shields can put past horrors behind him and help keep the White Sox in a position to keep their streak going. Either that happens, or we’ll get another unfortunate chapter in what’s been an unenviable run of form for Shields.
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