The Thursday Takeaway
The showdown in San Francisco on Thursday was one of utmost importance for the Mets. Sitting at .500 with their playoff hopes dangling by a loose thread on Mister Met’s cap, the Amazins would send Jacob deGrom to the mound. He was tasked with trying to keep pace with Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner entered the game with the second-best ERA in baseball, deGrom the fifth. By all accounts, it should have been one of the year’s best pitching duels.
Baseball is a funny game sometimes.
Seventeen runs would score before the night was out. Thirty hits were surrendered. deGrom had the worst outing of his career, and Bumgarner gave up a grand slam to Justin Ruggiano. He promptly responded with a dinger of his own.
It was the Mets who came out on the losing side of things on Thursday night, the Mets who fell below .500 as they watched their playoff hopes slip further and further away into nothingness.
DeGrom's outing adds intrigue to these pre-game tweets.
I smell a lineup change coming.
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) August 19, 2016
There were no scratches before the game, but given the evidence provided by Rubin’s tweets, one has to question whether or not deGrom was fully healthy. The Mets have run their starters out with health issues before. Or, that conversation could be because of this.
Matz being skipped with shoulder issue. #Mets
— Kristie Ackert (@Ackert_NYDN) August 19, 2016
There’s still a fair bit of baseball left to play this year. Yet the Mets might have played their last meaningful game.
Quick Hits from Thursday
In retrospect, it shouldn’t be surprising that a position player pitched in a series that involved the Astros, the Orioles and Camden Yards.
Both teams are high-powered clubs, and Camden Yards is about the size of a typical college dorm room, but with bleacher seating. There will be runs.
Joe Musgrove, a recent call-up, got the start for Houston. Musgrove had pitched well in his first few forays into big league pitching. The Orioles would not allow that to continue. The youngster surrendered eight runs, and the bullpen would cede four more. WIth Kevin Gausman and his fellow Baltimore arms holding Houston to four runs, it made sense that a position player would be called upon.
That man was Tyler White.
He allowed one hit, a moonshot off the bat of a man nicknamed Crush. Other than that, it went fairly well.
The MLB At Bat app is a generally invaluable resource. However, it has a propensity to notify its users that a player is “a triple away from the cycle.”
Being “a triple away from the cycle” is like being “a few heartbeats away from the Presidency” when you're, say, the Secretary of Defense. There’s a slight chance you could wind up as President, but you’re more likely to be coordinating small incursions into nondescript third world countries. Similarly, unless you’re someone like Billy Hamilton, hitting that triple in the last few innings of the game is going to be pretty hard.
Kris Bryant agreed. When he was a triple away from the cycle, he opted for four bases instead of three.
Bryant finished 5-5 with two homers to help the Cubs to a 9-6 win over Milwaukee. A pretty nice day overall.
Let’s say that we can travel back in time to October of 2015. Let’s then say that you were given the information that the Red Sox would trade for Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith over the winter, and then acquire Brad Ziegler mid-season. Then you were told that the Tigers would have a more reliable bullpen in August than Boston.
You’d first be terrified that a time traveler had appeared out of thin air in front of you. And then you’d laugh.
Yet that’s exactly where we are, dear reader. The Tigers have turned Shane Greene into a relief ace, are getting useful innings out of Justin Wilson, and Francisco Rodriguez is doing his thing. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are doing this.
Tazawa has been a mess for some time now, and the signs of a slide to mediocrity are beginning to show with Ziegler. Why John Farrell continues to go to Tazawa is a mystery. How Ziegler managed to walk a Romine brother (Andrew here, not Austin) with the bases loaded is just as nebulous.
What a time to be alive. The Tigers would take that 4-3 score to the bank for a win.
Defensive Play of the Day
Chase Utley is approximately ten thousand years old. He looks like he’s 25 again on this play, and it’s awfully fitting that it came in Philadelphia.
What to Watch on Friday
For those of you looking to get in on baseball as soon as possible, the Red Sox and Tigers play at 7:10 EST. It’ll be the comeback kid himself, Rick Porcello, going for Boston against rookie sensation Michael Fulmer. Because this season is on a strict regimen of crazy pills, both have outside shots at the Cy Young Award. Yeah.
At 8:40 PM, we get to watch Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo (along with Jorge Soler, Willson Contreras and Javy Baez) hit at Coors Field. This should be a pay-per-view event. The shockingly dominant Kyle Hendricks goes for the Cubs, and the shockingly decent Tyler Anderson is on the hill for the Rockies.
For your late-night viewing, mosey on over to San Francisco. The always-enjoyable Johnny Cueto will try to mow through the Mets to save his floundering club. Steven Matz was supposed to start for New York, but a shoulder issue has forced Seth Lugo to take the ball instead. Terry Collins will try to out-manage Bruce Bochy and save his job. Intrigue!