The Wednesday Takeaway
Walk-off victories are clearly the most exciting victories there are in baseball, but there are within the category clearly the most exciting walkoffs in baseball. There have been some especially intriguing contenders of late: Josh Harrison hit a Little League home run to send the Pirates to victory last night, and the Padres won a game via walk-off balk this past Saturday. However, nothing beats a walk-off home run for symphonic release, and one team that’s been taking particular joy in ending games via walk-off dongers has been the Seattle Mariners.
Dingers didn't seem likely to be the story on Wednesday, as Felix Hernandez returned to the mound for his first start since joining the disableds with a calf injury in late May. But Chicago wasted no time getting to him, as Todd Frazier kicked off the scoring with a three-run homer in the first inning. Melky Cabrera added onto their tally with an RBI single. After two innings, the Mariners were already in a four-run hole.
By the time Felix left the game, the Mariners were down 5-2, and it was clear that this was no grand return. He may have made it into the seventh inning, but it was clearly a struggle for him.
However, Hernandez’s exit coincided with Seattle’s grand comeback. Mike Zunino’s two-run homer in the seventh inning brought Seattle within one run, and then Adam Lind somehow managed to push an opposite-field liner over the left field fence for a game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning.
Just like that, the game was tied and eventually headed to extra innings. If you’ve been following the Mariners closely this season, then you had an idea of how this game was going to end. The decisive blow was probably going to come via home run.
Leonys Martin already had one homer to his name on the day after hitting a two-run homer way back in the second inning, and nine innings later, he hit the homer that gave Seattle their 48th victory of 2016—and their sixth by walkoff homer.
Being only one game over .500 at this point in the season isn’t much to shout about, but having a flair for the dramatic is one way to enliven a mediocre season.
The #Mariners have tied a single-season club record for walk-off home runs with 6 (also: 1986).
— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) July 20, 2016
The Blue Jays picked up a comfortable 10-4 victory over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon. Marcus Stroman went eight innings and only gave up one earned run, despite giving up eight hits on the day.
It was a great bounce-back effort for Stroman following a rocky performance in his previous outing, and his friends with the bats gave him more than enough run support. This included a devastatingly mammoth donger from Edwin Encarnacion. It’s a good thing that Chase Field has a roof, since that’s the only thing that kept this ball from entering orbit.
Drew Pomeranz made his Red Sox debut on Wednesday evening. It’s safe to say that he probably wants a mulligan; he was unable to make it through the fourth inning while giving up eight hits, two homers, and five earned runs against the Giants.
The good news is that the Red Sox also brought their bats to the ballpark, so the Boston actually had a three-run lead—which they eventually turned into an 11-7 victory—by the time Pomeranz made his inglorious exit from the contest. Plus, it helped that Hanley Ramirez decided to put his power stroke on full display last night by smacking three home runs to various spots of Fenway Park.
Chris Archer’s 2016 has been nowhere near as successful as his 2015 season was, but he did show flashes of the excellence that he exhibited last season in his effort against the Rockies on Wednesday.
Archer finished the day with 11 strikeouts and only two walks and zero homers allowed over six innings of work. Any time you can get a performance like that is nice, but it’s even better when it comes at Coors Field. Tampa has to be encouraged by what they saw, and the Rays will also gladly take the 11-3 victory as well.
Remember when the Cubs were seemingly struggling? It was always going to be difficult for the Cubs to keep up the incredible pace that they were on to start the season, and sure enough, Chicago started to show signs of being simply a great team in 2016 instead of being a great team in the annals of baseball history. However, the Cubs have come out of the All-Star break firing on all cylinders. They took a series against the Rangers, and now they’ve won a series against the Mets after getting swept over four games by New York earlier this month.
Chicago jumped out to a 6-0 lead after five innings, and they were mostly powered by two bombs from Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo got the best of Bartolo Colon on two separate occasions, and both times it seemed as if Rizzo was trying his level best to give the surrounding neighborhood of Wrigleyville a souvenir baseball to walk around town with.
Defensive Play of the Day
Jason Heyward went into Wednesday hitting .236/.326/.326 with a TAv of .245. But one thing that absolutely shouldn’t be questioned is his defense—specifically, his cannon. James Loney put it to the test by trying to score from second base on a looping groundball to center field. He was promptly tagged out at home after Heyward unleashed a perfect throw from the outfield.
What to Watch on Thursday
Compared to yesterday’s bonanza of matinee/afternoon games, Thursday will have a bit of a famine in daylight hours. There will only be two games played under the splendor of sunshine, though one has enough intrigue for you to ignore work to. The 19-year-old lefty Julio Uriasis being recalled for spot start duty in Washington, as he makes his ninth career start against daunting competition.
His opponent, meanwhile, is 13-0. You’d think that you could pencil in another “W” for the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg in this situation, but Washington’s had an extremely tough time beating the Dodgers this season, so nothing is guaranteed. Either way, you should try to take a peek or a full gander at a pitching matchup that features a prodigious teenager and one of the most talented pitchers in the game.