The Wednesday Takeaway
The fun thing about baseball is how quirky the sport can be. Individual players can have quirks, and even teams can have quirks and idiosyncrasies. For instance, you can never explain why a team that does so well against most of the league has trouble against a team that isn’t particularly good or why one team has trouble with a particular opponent no matter how good or bad they are. Remember last season when Houston was 4-15 against Texas? They finished 84-78 and yet they could not beat Texas if their lives depended on it.
This season, the Dodgers are the far and away the best team in baseball. They are on such a hot streak that they’ve lost only three games since July 4. And the team to beat them in all three of those games? The Braves. They lost back-to-back games against Atlanta on July 20 and 21, falling 6-3 and 12-3, respectively. The game on the 20th snapped an 11-game winning streak. Then the Dodgers rattled off a nine-game winning streak, and were looking for their third streak of at least 10 wins this season, only to see it snapped (again) by the Braves. If it hadn’t been snapped, it would have been the first time a team had accomplished that feat since the Milwaukee Braves in 1954.
Cody Bellinger opened up the scoring by belting his 30th home run of the season.
Bellinger joined Mike PIazza as the only other Dodgers rookie to hit at least 30 home runs. Piazza hit 35 in 1993. Piazza’s record may be falling as early as this month if Bellinger keeps up his hot hitting.
In the bottom of the fifth, Atlanta capitalized on a botched play by Corey Seager, who couldn’t turn a double play. Ender Inciarte, who wound up on second, soon scored on a single by Freddie Freeman. The game was tied in the eighth when Braves catcher Tyler Flowers, who was hitting in this pitcher’s spot in the lineup, hit his ninth home run of the season off Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez.
Baez made the mistake of walking Johan Camargo, the eighth hitter in the lineup, and Flowers made him pay for it. But don’t feel too bad for the Dodgers, they’ll try for a new streak on Thursday afternoon as they try to exact a bit of revenge against the Braves.
Another team that was seemingly cruising along until this week is the Royals, who strolled into Baltimore on a high having won 10 of their last 11 games, only to get swept in a three-game set. Again, isn’t baseball beautifully quirky and weird? The Orioles’ starters have not been good this year, which is why they acquired Jeremy Hellickson.
Coming into the series with Kansas City, their starters had an American League-worst 5.83 ERA. Meanwhile, the Royals have been scoring at a torrid pace the past two weeks, averaging a league-best 6.4 runs over their last 14 games. So naturally the Orioles’ starters held Royals’ hitters to three runs all series. And they were shut down completely by the newly-acquired Hellickson, who was making his debut for the Orioles on Wednesday night. He pitched seven innings of five-hit ball with one walk and three strikeouts.
Speaking of cruising along, Astros starter Dallas Keuchel hadn’t lost a decision since last season. That is until Wednesday night. The Rays handed the 2015 Cy Young winner his first loss of 2017. Not only that, but Keuchel’s opponent, Austin Pruitt, who was making only his third start of 2017 and pitching in front of his friends and family in Houston, held the vaunted Astros lineup to five hits in 6 1/3 innings of work.
Logan Morrison hit his 28th home run of the season to put the Rays up 2-0 in the first.
That would be all that the Rays would need, but Brad Miller hit an RBI single in the third to make it 3-0. Houston is still the AL’s top team, but they’re showing some vulnerability lately. They lost two out of three to the Tigers over the weekend and are trying to avoid losing three of four from the Rays.
The Yankees were also on a bit of a run, winning eight of their last 10 before dropping two of three to the Tigers. Wednesday afternoon’s game was not only delayed to start because of rain, it was delayed for so long between the seventh and eighth innings thanks to storms in the New York area that the game didn’t resume until 8:00 pm.
Dellin Betances pitched the eighth inning for the Yankees and he got three strikeouts on nine pitches.
Joey Gallo hit the ball hard and far, again, in the Rangers’ 5-1 win over the Mariners. For reference: This is where he hit the ball Tuesday night (two times).
And this is where he hit the ball Wednesday night.
Do you see a pattern? Also, is there a magnet back there that pulls Gallo’s baseballs to center field or something? He now has 28 home runs on the year.
Then in the sixth inning, a bug flew into his eye. It wasn’t a Matt Holliday type of situation in that it didn’t get stuck and it wasn’t a big bug, thank goodness, but the trainer had to come out and help him.
His teammates were there to lend him some support too. But all’s well that ends well. Gallo was fine. The bug? Not so much.
The Mets and the Rockies played a pretty wild game on Wednesday night. The Rockies jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a five-run third inning against Mets starter Chris Flexen, who wasn’t flexin’ (I’ll stop). The Mets answered back by scoring 10 unanswered runs to win the game. They scored two runs in the fourth and fifth innings, and scored six runs in the sixth to win the game.
Curtis Granderson crushed a three-run home run to break a 5-5 tie in the sixth inning. It was his 14th of the year.
Jacob deGrom pinch-hit in the seventh inning for reliever Fernando Salas, but struck out swinging.
Mike Trout joined a select group on Wednesday when he clubbed his 20th home run of the season in the Angels’ 7-0 win over the Phillies. Trout became only the fourth American League player to hit at least 20 home runs six times before his age-26 season, joining the recently retired Alex Rodriguez, Tony Conigliaro, and Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.
Trout, who missed 39 games when he tore a ligament in his thumb, is now only eight hits shy of 1,000 for his career.
Defensive Play of the Day
The game was at hand and if this ball had gone over the fence, it would have given the Nationals a run, but Giancarlo Stanton said, “Nope!” robbing Brian Goodwin of a home run to end the game and preserve the shutout win over the Nats, 7-0.
What to Watch on Thursday
Zack Greinke (2.84 ERA) and Jose Quintana (4.16 ERA) will be facing each other on Thursday afternoon when the Cubs and Diamondbacks continue their series in Chicago. Greinke is looking for win no. 14 on the year. Quintana is looking for his third as a member of the Cubs. (2:10 ET)
Sonny Gray (3.43 ERA) makes his Yankees debut on Thursday night, wearing road grays in Cleveland. He will be facing off against Corey Kluber (2.90 ERA). And because Cleveland’s final game against Boston was rained out on Wednesday night, Trevor Bauer, who was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday in Fenway, will now be pitching on Friday night against the Yankees. (7:10 ET)
Blake Snell (4.87 ERA) of the Rays is still looking for his first win of 2017—I will keep mentioning Snell in this column until he gets his first win—and the Astros are trying salvage a split in their four-game series with Tampa. Something’s gotta give! So what will it be? Collin McHugh (4.22) will be making the start for Houston and trying to prevent Snell from, once again, getting that elusive first win of the season. (8:10 ET)
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