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The Tuesday Takeaway

We’re no longer at the point in the season where you can brush off something surprising happening by saying “well, it’s early.” While it’s definitely not late, we’re more than one-third of the way through the season, so when, say… a team that currently has the longest playoff drought in baseball beats a division rival and the defending World Series champions to open up a two-game lead in the division, it’s worth noting!

That’s what the Mariners did Tuesday, hitting three dingers against Dallas Keuchel in a 7-1 win, Seattle’s fifth straight to open up a three-game series at Houston.

This one was over before Astros fans even made it back to their seats from the Torchy’s Tacos stand, thanks to Kyle Seager.

 

The Mariners opened up a 6-1 lead after just two innings and never looked back, with Mike Zunino and Jean Segura also going yard to back Legit Ace James Paxton, who scattered nine hits, struck out six, and allowed just one run in 7 ⅔ innings.

The Mariners probably aren’t winning the AL West. While the season is no longer young, the odds are still with Houston and their major-league best +116 run differential taking control of the division before long (entering the day the Astros still had an 85 percent chance of winning the division, compared to Seattle’s 10 percent). But the Mariners don’t appear to be going away… at least not yet.

Quick Hits From Tuesday

Max Scherzer has been great for a long time now. He’s been perfect before. Tuesday, he was immaculate. The nine-pitch, three-strikeout sixth inning was part of another gem by the Nats ace as he struck out 13 in eight-plus innings, departing at just 99 pitches. The two runs he allowed came via a Brad Miller double in the eighth. He also struck out the side in that inning.

Madison Bumgarner made his long-awaited season debut Tuesday and looked mostly OK, giving up two runs while striking out just a pair in six innings as the Giants lost 3-2 to the Diamondbacks.

 

While far from peak, dominant Bumgarner — particularly in the strikeout department — it was a fine, efficient return with no warning signs in terms of his velocity. He induced 10 swinging strikes on the night, per Brooks Baseball, with seven of those coming on his cutter. A return to both health and good form by Bumgarner would be a good thing, especially for a Giants team that needs it badly.

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J.D. Martinez used to play for the Detroit Tigers. These are the things you learn here at What You Need To Know.

 

That was Martinez’s league-leading 20th homer in Boston’s 6-0 win, and his OPS is up to 1.036. Remember a year ago when all power had been mysteriously zapped from Red Sox hitters? They’re tied with Cleveland for second in the American League with 88 home runs this season, and Martinez is a BIG reason why.

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It feels like about 17 years ago that Andrew Heaney was going No. 9 overall in the MLB Draft and ascending to become one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Tuesday, two trades later, he put together maybe the best start of his career on what is somehow just his 27th birthday.

 

Heaney allowed just a Hunter Dozier single and one walk in the complete game shutout, striking out four.

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I’m old enough to remember when the Milwaukee Brewers were in the AL Central, so their back-to-back series against the White Sox and now the Indians is a throwback of sorts. You’re almost certainly old enough to remember when midges attacked Joba Chamberlain during an ALDS game.

 

No pitchers were harmed it seems, but Brewers bats were harmed by Corey Kluber, who continued his assault on the league with seven solid innings, lowering his ERA to 1.96 in the process.

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The Yankees got some unfortunate news Tuesday.

Montgomery’s injury leaves an immediate and not easily replaced hole in the Yankees rotation, leaving many to wonder if they’ll now be in the trade market for a starting pitcher before the deadline. Tuesday, though, they received some relief from their woes after being shut down through six innings by Marco Estrada.

 

Defensive Play of the Day

Javier Baez is probably the most hyperbolized player in baseball. Yes, that is also hyperbole. The point is, everyone has an opinion about Baez. He’s the most flashy, exciting, electric, annoying. Whatever. Tuesday, he was the most nearly catastrophically injured because a baseball team has a brick wall surrounding the field of play for some dumb reason.

 

What to Watch For Wednesday

The Mariners beating the Astros with James Paxton on the mound is one thing. Let’s see how they do with Wade LeBlanc against Lance McCullers Jr. Jose Quintana vs. Aaron Nola is a nifty little pitching matchup in Chicago. Jonny Venters is starting for Tampa against Washington as the Rays continue to be weird. And, of course, it’s Shohei Day as the Angels take on Ian Kennedy and the Royals.

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