The Tuesday Takeaway
All through his journey from legitimate prospect to post-hype prospect to present-day Adrian Beltre injury replacement, Joey Gallo has been defined by two things: his prodigious power and his many, many, many strikeouts. Both were on display last night.
Gallo opened up scoring for the Rangers in the second inning with a monster two-run shot, the sort of upper-deck dinger that demands dropped jaws and bulging eyes.
To be clear, here’s approximately where that landed:
While it wasn’t quite the longest home run of the new season—at 442 feet, it was bested by nine feet with an Opening Day blast from teammate Carlos Gomez—it was by far the highest, with an apex of 149 feet. But any warm feelings from the dinger couldn’t have lingered too long, as Gallo embraced his other defining feature in his next at-bat. He followed this homer with a three-pitch strikeout, fouling one off before staring at a curveball and swinging wildly at a changeup.
He gave a repeat performance later, in the situation he’d perhaps least have liked to—with the game on the line, two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Losing by two runs at the start of the inning, the Rangers had begun to mount a comeback with back-to-back doubles that cut their deficit in half. But with Texas down by one with a runner on second and no outs, Cleveland closer Cody Allen started dealing. He struck out one, two in a row, and then it was Gallo’s turn. It didn’t go well.
The day after opening their season with a come-from-behind win, Cleveland got another one over Texas.
Gallo only just barely avoided the indignity of entering this year with a track record of striking out in more than half of his plate appearances in his young major-league career, with a strikeout rate of 49.7 percent in a full season’s worth of games. Nearly a quarter of the pitches he’s seen have ended in a swing and a miss, with a swinging strike percentage of more than 22 percent. And with four strikeouts in his first two games this year, it looks like he might not be doing much to improve that.
Stephen Piscotty scored the Cardinals’ only run in a rivalry game featuring the marquee pitching matchup of Jake Arrieta vs. Adam Wainwright. But Piscotty had a miserably painful time scoring that run.
First—Piscotty gets on base, courtesy of getting hit by a pitch on the right elbow.
Next—Piscotty advances to second on a wild pitch, is hit on the left elbow by the throw from catcher Willson Contreras.
Finally—Piscotty scores, is hit on the face on the throw from Javier Baez in a play at the plate.
At last—Piscotty leaves the game, will be re-evaluated in the morning. The Cardinals do not score again, and they lose.
Justin Verlander kicked off his year with a performance that carried on his sharp rebound from 2016, rather than the quickly fading star we saw in 2015 and 2014. In 6 1/3 innings of work, he notched 10 strikeouts. (With eight of them swinging, at that.) Buoyed by a five-run inning early in the game for the Tigers, he helped carry Detroit to a 6-3 victory over the White Sox.
After being shut out by the Astros on Monday, the Mariners had another tough outing on Tuesday. Starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed just four hits in six innings of work—but two of those four hits were home runs, and that was all that it took to give Seattle their second loss. Houston’s Lance McCullers started out dealing, with five strikeouts through the first three innings, and the Mariners only scored once to pave the way for a 2-1 loss.
A tough first inning for Kenta Maeda was enough to seal a loss for the Dodgers. It took him 37 pitches to get through the first seven batters of the Padres’ lineup, and he gave up two runs in the process. While he settled down almost immediately from there with an eight-pitch second inning, he gave up as many hits (three) and walks (one) in the first as he did in his next four combined.
Clayton Richard, meanwhile, shut down the Dodgers’ offense completely in one of his best games in years. For just the third time in his career—and the first since 2012—he pitched eight innings of shutout ball, and in what’s not likely to be a common occurrence for him or any San Diego starter this year, he actually got some run support to go with it. The Padres beat the Dodgers, 4-0.
Defensive Play of the Day
In the bottom of the seventh with the Cardinals trailing the Cubs by one, Matt Adams thought he had a home run. Per Statcast, in most situations—more than 90 percent of them—he should have had a home run. But Albert Almora, Jr. had other thoughts.
With that catch, Almora took not only a home run from Adams but also the recognition for the night’s best defensive play from Ronald Torreyes. The shortstop seemingly had the honor locked up by running in to barehand a slow chopper during the Yankees’ 5-0 victory over the Rays, but now he’s only our runner-up:
What to Watch on Wednesday
Almost four months to the day since he was traded to Boston, Chris Sale will make his first start for the Red Sox. He’s coming off yet another season of being among baseball’s very best by just about any metric you’d like to choose—in the top five as measured by DRA (3.00), cFIP (78), WARP (6.1), strikeouts (233), and innings pitched (226). Now, he’ll have the advantage of pitching alongside an offense that’s almost as powerful as he is. He takes the mound against Jameson Taillon and the Pirates at 7:10 Eastern.
For the first time since 2013, Bartolo Colon is wearing a uniform other than that of the Mets. Fittingly, his inaugural start as a Brave will be against the Mets. Colon faces off against Jacob deGrom and the rest of his old teammates at 7:10 p.m. Eastern.