The Thursday Takeaway
We’re more than half way finished with the season, as teams are starting to creep up on the 100-game mark, and normally it’s pretty safe to say that the old cliche of “you are who you are” starts to ring true. We’re also at the point when you can watch a game and get an idea of why a team is currently in the position that they’re in.
The Cardinals and Mets played a very close and hard-fought game on Thursday afternoon, and it was tied at 2-2 heading into the ninth inning. This was after Lance Lynn and Seth Lugo had nearly identical boxscore lines on the day.
This was also after the Mets scored their two runs with a pair of home runs to center field.
Not to be outdone, the Cardinals' two runs were also scored with two big hits—both coming from Tommy Pham.
It was very clear that there was little to nothing separating these two teams on the day, and it was probably going to come down to who made the first major mistake of the game. As it turned out, the Cardinals were the first team to blink and it ended up costing them dearly.
Trevor Rosenthal came in for the ninth inning and walked Michael Conforto on six pitches. It’s always a bad idea to walk the leadoff hitter, but it seemed like the Cardinals were going to get away with it after Rosenthal retired the next two Mets in order. It only took two more pitches for everything to come crashing down, though. The first of those two pitches was put into left field by T.J. Rivera for a single, and the second of those pitches was a grounder to Matt Carpenter down the first base line. There was a slight problem with that for St. Louis, though.
Yep. Nobody for St. Louis was at first base. Jose Reyes pulled off the rare achievement of being rewarded for sliding into first base, and the Mets picked up the victory.
For the Cardinals, they’ve now lost three games via walk-offs our of the seven games on their current road trip, and while the division is still within reach since nobody in the NL Central is really pulling away, this game was basically a microcosm of their season. You don’t normally see the Cardinals make mistakes like this to lose games, and yet it’s been all too common for them in 2017. It explains why St. Louis is in the position they’re in, and at this point in the season, they are who they are.
It’s been a lovely season for Justin Smoak. He’s coming off his first career All-Star bid and he’s putting up career-high numbers in his slash line (.298/.372/.588) and TAv (.313 going into Thursday’s action). He gave his home run numbers a boost as he smacked two dingers out of Fenway Park on Thursday. Toronto won the game 8-6, and Smoak’s power played a major factor in the victory.
In Cincinnati, the Diamondbacks cruised to a big 12-2 win over the Reds. Patrick Corbin started on short notice due to Taijuan Walker having to go on paternity leave, and he arguably did better against Cincinnati yesterday than he did when he faced the Reds earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Reds are probably glad that Jake Lamb is leaving town after this game. Lamb hit two homers—one in the first inning and one in the ninth. Both of them were of the three-run variety as well. The Reds aren’t going to miss the Diamondbacks at all, but they’re also trying to make sure that Lamb doesn’t come back for a long time.
The Dodgers are on an incredible roll right now. They went into Thursday night’s action on a 31-4 run over their last 35 games and were also riding a 11-game winning streak. Meanwhile, they were welcoming a Braves team that was 1-8 in their last nine trips to Chavez Ravine and had just gotten swept by the Cubs at Cobb County.
So of course, the Braves ended up leading this game from wire-to-wire and ended up winning 6-3. Kurt Suzuki’s eighth dinger of the year put the Braves up 5-1 and they cruised to victory. Baseball is a weird game.
Defensive Play of the Day
Smoak wasn’t the only Blue Jay giving Boston fits on Thursday afternoon. Jose Bautista’s nickname is Joey Bats, so you wouldn’t expect him to be flashing the leather out there in right field. However, he proved that he can still chase down a ball with this run-stealing catch.
What to Watch on Friday
I mentioned earlier that nobody was pulling away in the NL Central. One team that’s surged back into relevancy is the Pirates. They’ve won five straight games and 11 of their last 13, which has placed them three games back of the Brewers and back in the race. Meanwhile, the Rockies have recovered from their pre-All-Star game slump and are sitting comfortably with Arizona in the current Wild Card spots. It also helps that Nolan Arenado is surging at the moment. Both Pittsburgh and Colorado are playing some really good baseball right now, which means that you should definitely keep an eye on them as they start off their weekend series tonight.