The Tuesday Takeaway
Last week, the Reds operated as a palate cleanser of sorts for the Cubs. Chicago entered the three-game series against Cincinnati having lost six of their previous seven, and they exited it with a sweep that made it look as if that streak of ugliness was over.
But the ugliness returned as soon as the Cubs left Cincinnati—four losses to the Mets that were interesting, at least, in that they swung between blowouts and one-run close calls—and so this week, the Reds looked poised for that same role of palate cleanser again, another chance for the Cubs to get their swagger back by beating up on the division’s weakest link.
This time, though, Cincinnati isn’t having it.
In large part, John Lackey’s to thank for that. He started the day without much of anything in the way of command—a three-walk first inning that allowed Cincinnati to put two on the board before the Cubs came to the plate…
…and he didn’t get much better from there, walking two more batters by the end of the third and exiting after the sixth after giving up six runs.
But a disastrous third inning from Reds starter Brandon Finnegan gave the Cubs enough to work with to make it close. It started with a slider right over the middle of the plate that Javier Baez took deep…
…and then came a meaty fastball in right about the same place, taken advantage of by Kris Bryant…
And Finnegan wasn’t done giving up dingers. Russell tacked on another in the fifth, pulling the Cubs to within one.
But the day’s scoring for Chicago stopped there, the four home runs not enough for a victory. Cincinnati took advantage of the Cubs’ pen to pile on some insurance—Joey Votto driving in Billy Hamilton with a double in the seventh, Jay Bruce putting the nail in the coffin with a two-run homer in the ninth—and Chicago came away with a 9-5 loss and proof that their streak of ugliness isn’t over just yet.
The Angels, all things considered, are sad no matter what timed perspective you use—there’s a recent past with nothing to remember fondly, no future or farm system to speak of, a present that’s pretty depressing. But that last one comes with a caveat, and that caveat is watching Mike Trout, and that caveat has been part of the present for Angels fans for 145 consecutive games. Or, rather, had been part of the present for 145 consecutive games until Tuesday, when Trout did something he hasn’t done in nearly a year—take a day off.
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) July 5, 2016
But the Angels did just fine without him. Despite a start from Tim Lincecum that was not particularly encouraging—five runs off of 10 hits, unable to make it through the fifth inning—Los Angeles pulled away from the Rays in the sixth and didn’t look back, with C.J. Cron the biggest offensive stand-out thanks to two homers that scored four.
And while the Angels may not have needed Trout on Tuesday, he showed up anyway. With Los Angeles up 11-5 in the ninth, Shane Robinson was hit by a pitch and replaced on the basepaths by none other than Trout himself, who went on to score the game’s final run in the Angels’ 13-5 victory.
This season has provided no shortage of examples of Cleveland roughing up Detroit, but the Indians’ Tuesday victory was their most lopsided over the Tigers yet. Just about everything was clicking for the Tribe in the 12-1 win, with Lonnie Chisenhall standing out with a 4-for-5 day. Every member of the lineup either knocked in a run or scored himself, save Yan Gomes, who went 0-for-4 and looked just as hapless as his miserable .198 TAv would have you believe. The catcher’s struggles aside, the Indians were rolling, including, as per usual, some glorious defense from Francisco Lindor—
As far as match-ups go, Twins-Athletics is right up there with the most wretchedly boring of all possibilities this year. Starting the night off with a rain delay of more than two and a half hours does not help matters in this regard.
But it did bring the best outing of the year so far for Tommy Milone (which isn’t a very high bar for a guy with a 6.23 ERA and 5.47 DRA, but still), lasting six innings for the first time since April and holding the As to one run. Minnesota broke the game open in the fifth, with homers from Kennys Vargas and Max Kepler pushing the score to 7-1, and though the bullpen faltered and gave Oakland a three-run eighth, Brandon Kintzler closed it out to give Minnesota the 7-4 victory at 1 a.m. local time.
The bit of #WeirdBaseball also included a post-midnight big league debut for Oakland reliever Patrick Schuster. Of course, he’ll probably remember giving up three runs in his first major league inning more than he’ll remember that it happened after midnight, but you never know.
One wonders how many Major League debuts have happened during #weirdbaseball. At least one: Patrick Schuster. Right now.
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 6, 2016
Defensive Play of the Day
Manny Machado celebrated his 24th birthday a day early with some nifty backhanded glovework to nab Trayce Thompson. This came an inning after he got the party started on offense with a three-run homer that broke open a tie game, en route to a 4-1 Orioles win over the Dodgers.
What to Watch on Wednesday
Now that Cleveland’s stretch of dominance has been snapped, baseball’s hottest streak belongs to the Pirates, who have taken six in a row—which still leaves them nine and a half games behind the first-place Cubs, but just a half game behind the Cards. They’ll try to take a third straight from St. Louis and leapfrog into second place at 8:15 EST Wednesday, with Jeff Locke going up against Jaime Garcia.
The first two games of the Wade LeBlanc renaissance have been surprisingly strong, a pair of six-inning outings with three hits and one walk apiece. He’ll try to keep the magic going Wednesday night as he faces off against Mike Fiers at 8:10 EST, with the Mariners trying to chase the Astros for second place in the AL West.