The Thursday Takeaway
If there was one thing that Cleveland’s incredible winning streak was lacking, it was a bit of drama. I doubt that partisan fans would complain about that at all, but that was the one minor complaint that the neutral fan had about the streak. If you were one of those fans in the latter group, then Thursday night’s game between Cleveland and Kansas City finally gave you the drama you’d been waiting for.
For starters, the Royals took the lead in the second inning, and while Cleveland tied it in the fifth inning, there was always this feeling that the home team would do what they normally do and string together a couple of big innings to pull away. That didn’t happen. In fact, the Royals actually pulled ahead in the top of the sixth when Eric Hosmer hit a blooper that eluded Abraham Almonte in left field.
Cleveland held Kansas City at two runs, but the Royals went into the bottom of the ninth inning up by a run. The streak was in peril like never before. The home crowd had hope, since there was a runner in scoring position, but things got tense when Francisco Lindor was down to his last strike and Cleveland’s last out.
Then, as if he was possessed by the spirit of Rajai Davis from last October, Lindor hit a liner that got over the glove of Alex Gordon and bounced off the wall. The game was tied, and the crowd at Progressive Field was upside down.
After Cleveland’s bullpen shut down the Royals for another inning in the 10th, the home squad came up to bat and promptly took care of business. Jose Ramirez took advantage of some lax defense and hustled to second base on what should’ve been a single.
The streak lives on and continues to reach rarefied air with each passing day. There may be a bit of a debate as to where this stands compared to the 1916 New York Giants and their 26-game "unbeaten" streak, but this is amazing and something we should all take time to admire. And who knows, maybe they’ll have a chance to match that 26-game streak and end all doubt anyway. Now that would cause some drama.
Although a winning streak of historical proportions wasn’t on the line at Target Field on Thursday night, there was still plenty of drama to be had between the Twins and Blue Jays. Minnesota had a chance to win the game in the top of the ninth, but Justin Smoak decided that he wanted to play baseball for a little while longer, so with two outs he hit his 38th dinger of the season to push it to extras.
Byron Buxton and the Twins ended up benefiting the most from this game being extended, because that just allowed Minnesota’s dynamic young outfielder to be the hero of the night.
Minnesota’s win made sure that there would still be a tiny bit of breathing room between them and the rest of the AL Wild Card contenders, as the herd begins to thin out a bit as we get to the latter stages of this final month.
If you like offense, Thursday was a good day for you. Five teams scored double-digit runs in five different games, so if you were a fan of the White Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs, or Mariners, then you were loving life yesterday.
For starters, the White Sox beat the Tigers 17-7 and Avisail Garcia was the man of the hour for this contest. Garcia visited the plate five times and got a hit five times, and also had a whopping seven RBIs on the day. Three of those came on one swing of the bat in the sixth inning.
Garcia wasn’t the only right fielder who had a huge day at the plate. Aaron Judge appears to be back to normal after scuffling through that rough August. If you didn’t think he was “back” before, then maybe you’ll be convinced after seeing these two dingers.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, the Phillies romped to a 10-0 victory over the Marlins and the big story continues to be Rhys Hoskins and his absolute refusal to calm down. He’s played 34 big-league games so far and has 18 home runs.
Also, check out my man in the crowd who made the barehanded catch on Freddy Galvis’ homer in the second inning. Not quite “Defensive Play of the Day” material, but still impressive!
Kyle Seager started the scoring for the Mariners in Arlington with a deep shot to right-center field that made it over the home team’s bullpen and into the seats. It was definitely an impressive stroke of power from Corey’s Brother.
While Seager started the offensive onslaught, Nelson Cruz finished it with a dinger that bounced off the foul pole and into the run column for Seattle.
While there was plenty of offense for the Diamondbacks in their series finale against the Rockies, the big star of the day was Zack Godley, who had himself a divine performance on Thursday. Godley went eight innings and struck out seven, while holding the Rockies scoreless for those eight innings.
Defensive Play of the Day
What to Watch on Friday
For the second straight weekend, the Cubs will be heading into a weekend series against a divisional rival that will have major implications in their race. This time, they’ll be welcoming their arch-rivals into Wrigley Field as the Cardinals come rolling into town. The Cubs will be going into this series off the heels of a sweep, while the Cardinals have won eight out of their last 10, so both teams will be in rich form heading into this one.
St. Louis will enter this series three games back of the Cubs, and the pitching matchup for Friday’s game should be a pretty good one. The Cubs are sending John Lackey (5.38 DRA, 108 cFIP) to the mound, while the Cardinals will counter with Carlos Martinez (3.54 DRA, 89 cFIP). Naturally, the Cubs are hoping to avoid another sweep, because things would really get interesting in that division if there’s a repeat of last weekend’s events.