The Thursday Takeaway
The Rockies and Twins played a doubleheader on Thursday, and the two currently unlikely divisional leaders split the games, with the Rockies taking the matinee and the Twins taking the nightcap. The most interesting thing to happen in the two games was the performance of Jose Berrios in the second game of the twin bill. Berrios pitched a gem in his return to the bigs last week, and he picked up right where he left off with his performance on Thursday night.
Even though he started the game going four innings without giving up a hit, the Rockies had a decent scoring chance in the second inning thanks to a hit by pitch, a balk, and a wild pitch. That series of events allowed Ian Desmond to reach third base, but Berrios snuffed out the self-inflicted scoring threat by doing what he’d do a lot of on this particular night—striking out the opposition.
Berrios finished with 11 strikeouts on the evening, and he very nearly struck out the side in the fourth inning. Instead, he had to “settle” for getting Ian Desmond to feebly ground out on a 1-2 count. Berrios only gave up two hits during his 7 2/3 innings of work, as he managed to top what was a very solid debut for the 2017 season. He’s only 15 innings into his second stint in the majors, but his performances so far are miles away from the struggles that he went through over 14 starts last season.
As a result, the already surprising Twins could end up hanging around for a little bit longer if Berrios has truly fixed what was going on last year and gotten the hang of pitching at the major-league level.
If that’s indeed the case, then the Twins could continue to be fun this year, and it’s also further proof that prospect development is rarely ever completely linear.
After things got very chippy between the Braves and Blue Jays on Wednesday night, Toronto appeared to be interested in toning things down. Meanwhile, after the Braves got word that Freddie Freeman would be out for 10 weeks due to a broken wrist, Julio Teheran decided to enforce the unwritten rules by plunking Jose Bautista in the first inning with the fastest pitch that he’s thrown in two years.
Bautista proceeded to score Toronto’s first run of the game, and that was also the first of nine runs that Julio Teheran gave up. It was the worst performance of Teheran’s career (and the latest of what’s been a string of bad performances for Teheran at SunTrust Park), and it was also the capper on what was a terrible day for the Braves. To let you know just how bad things went for Teheran, American League pitcher Marcus Stroman not only hit a dinger but he also went opposite field with the dinger. Yikes.
While things went badly for Teheran in Cobb County, Jarrod Dyson had a good day in Seattle. In a winning effort for the Mariners, he stole two bases against the White Sox, though you’d expect that from Dyson at this point. What you wouldn’t expect is for the notoriously light-hitting Dyson to hit more than one homer in a season, but he reached that grand milestone on Thursday night. Please cherish this rare footage of a Dyson home run.
He also scored the walk-off winning run for Seattle, so Dyson was all over the place like Carmen Sandiego on Thursday night.
The Rangers may still be decently far away from the Astros in the standings, but they’re doing their level best to scratch and claw their way to the top. They’re now on a nine-game winning streak after dispatching of the Phillies with an 8-4 victory. Philadelphia went into the bottom of the fifth inning up 2-0 and were one out away from leaving that inning with that lead intact. Unfortunately for them, Texas’ bats woke up and things didn’t go well for Philly from that point forward.
It might be shaping up to be a lean year for the Royals, but there is good news—Mike Moustakas appears to be back to “normal” after missing the majority of the 2016 season. He’s already on 10 home runs through 36 games, and the Kansas City Star believes that it’s time to keep track of him to see if he can break the team’s single-season homer record of 36(!).
He also managed to pull a defensive highlight out of his bag of tricks, so it was an especially good evening for ol’ Moose and the Royals as a unit.
Defensive Play of the Day
With two outs in the top of the ninth and a one-run deficit intact, J.J. Hardy tried to extend the game at least one batter further for the Orioles against the Tigers. On the other hand, his shortstop counterpart Jose Iglesias was ready to go home and enjoy the rest of his evening, so he robbed Hardy of a line drive and ended the game in the blink of an eye.
What to Watch on Friday
We’ve reached another weekend series, and the Cubs are still floating around .500. However, something has changed in the NL Central—the Brewers are now in first place. Of course, that could change if the sleeping Cubbies wake up and go on a tear this weekend, but nothing they’ve done so far this season seems to indicate that a sweep could be on the way.
The pitching matchup at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon is full of intrigue and mystery—the Cubs have only just recently acquired Eddie Butler, and Paolo Espino will be making his major-league debut for the Brewers. Also, Eric Thames should be returning to Milwaukee’s lineup following a brief bout with illness.