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The Thursday Takeaway

It’s probably not too much of a shock to see that the Red Sox are as successful as they have been this season. One look at the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for this season is proof that it’s not too shocking to see the Red Sox are where they’re currently at in the standings. If it’s not surprising to see Boston doing well, then it’s just as much of a shock to see that the Mariners are currently going toe-to-toe with the Astros in the AL West.

Seattle went into its showdown with the Red Sox 20 games over .500, but if they were going to start this intriguing four-game series off on a strong note, then they would need a solid performance out of Felix Hernandez in order to contain Boston’s offense and keep Seattle in the game. The Red Sox went into action with a team TAv of .270 (tied for the best in the AL with the Yankees), so it was imperative for Felix to reach back and deliver a vintage performance and he came close to reaching that vintage level.

When it comes to this season, the Mariners would absolutely take the start that Felix gave them in the opener against the Red Sox. Holding arguably the AL’s best offense to just two runs on eight hits with just one walk and six strikeouts is exactly what you want to see over seven innings and you probably couldn’t have asked for more from Felix in this one.

Unfortunately for the Mariners, David Price delivered a performance that was even better. Both starters in this game went seven innings but Price’s body of work over his seven innings (5 H, 7 K, 0 BB, 1 ER) was of higher quality and he completely kept Seattle’s offense at bay while he was on the mound.

The pristine pitcher’s duel from both Price and Felix was enough to make sure that this intriguing matchup ended up coming right down to the wire. If you’re a Seattle fan then that may have been fine with you since the Mariners have been solid in the late stages of games this season, which is one of the many reasons why they’re currently near the top of the standings in the AL. With that being said, it was always going to be a tough ask to score runs on Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel while trailing and Boston’s relievers proved to be up to the task of retaining the lead.

The Mariners did manage to get the tying run in scoring position with the winning run in the form of Ryon Healy at the plate, but Kimbrel got Healy to chop a high fastball to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop in order to turn the double play that ended the game.

This is definitely a series to keep an eye on as the weekend progresses and for now, the Red Sox have the upper hand in what figures to be one of the more interesting four-game series that you’ll see at this stage of the season.

Quick Hits

For about four innings, it sure seemed like Domingo German was about to have another hard-luck start here in 2018. He was on his way to throwing six innings with ten strikeouts but three runs allowed to the Rays and until the fifth inning, the Yankees were held to zero runs.

Aaron Hicks and Gleyber Torres both decided to change that in the bottom of the fifth inning and they did so in emphatic fashion. Hicks hit a solo shot to put the Yankees on the board and then Torres delivered a three-run dinger to put the Yankees in the lead for good.

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Back in late March, the Braves decided to take a flier on Anibal Sanchez after deciding that things wouldn’t work out with Scott Kazmir. You had to figure that Atlanta would be more than satisfied with Sanchez carrying a 1.93 ERA after seven starts this season (his DRA was 3.07 going into his seventh start). Needless to say, the Braves had to be happy with Sanchez delivering seven innings of shutout ball against the Padres as they eventually collected a 4-2 win in order to stay in first in the NL East.

This game also had a weird moment where Tyler Flowers was awarded first base via HBP when even he claimed that the pitch didn’t hit him. The umpires reviewed it and determined that Flowers himself was wrong and that he did indeed get hit by the pitch. That’s a new one — and it was important since Flowers ended up coming around to score in that inning.

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In further NL East vs. NL West action, the Phillies had their way with the Rockies and the two biggest performers on the day for Philadelphia were Vince Velasquez and Rhys Hoskins. Velasquez bounced back from a calamitous start against the Brewers in his last time out by carrying a no-no into the seventh inning against Colorado. They dinged him for a run in that final frame but it was still impressive to see him limit Colorado to just one hit during his time on the mound.

Meanwhile, Rhys Hoskins delivered three hits and three RBIs on the day and he got things started with a majestic shot in the first inning.

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On Wednesday night, it took the Astros just two innings to score 10 runs. On Thursday, both Houston and Oakland combined for 10 runs for the entire game and for the 45th time this season, the Astros were the team who scored the most runs in the game. It was also similar to Wednesday night’s game in that the Astros were never really threatened in this one. We did get to see Tony Kemp show off his speed after Matt Chapman made a rare throwing miscue.

We also got to see Justin Verlander rattle off yet another solid start as he only gave up three runs on two dingers over seven innings of work. The Astros are kinda good at baseball right now, aren’t they?

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The Mets lost again but they can take solace in the fact that relatively speaking, their offense is currently red-hot. That’s because the Mets hit three homers on the night, which have become increasingly rare for the team in blue-and-orange. Brandon Nimmo got things going for them in the very first inning as the Mets got used to mashing in the hitter’s paradise that is Chase Field.

Unfortunately for New York, the Diamondbacks are far more adept at hitting in their home ballpark and they proved it by hitting four homers of their own. David Peralta provided half of those dingers by himself.

Defensive Play of the Day

The Marlins and Giants ended up going 16 innings and one of the reasons why the game went so long is because plays like this from Brandon Crawford helped keep batters off of the basepaths for the majority of those sixteen innings. In fact, this play came in the 15th inning and was crucial in helping make sure that Miami stayed at just three runs at this point in the game.

What to Watch on Friday

The Phillies looked pretty good against the Rockies, but they will have a stern test on Friday when they travel to Milwaukee to face the Brewers, who are currently in possession of the best record in the NL. Additionally, the Brewers are flying high after they finally managed to get one over on the Cubs in a series, so that level of confidence may play a factor in the start of this series. It also may help that they’ll be seeing Jake Arrieta (4.71 DRA, 97 cFIP) again and things went pretty well for Milwaukee when they saw him less than a week ago.

Speaking of the Cubs, they’ll be travelling to St. Louis to renew their eternal rivalry with the Cardinals. The pitching matchup for that one should be pretty good as well — Jon Lester (3.30 DRA, 97 cFIP) will be taking the mound for the Cubs, while the Cardinals will be countering with (3.79 DRA, 99 cFIP). Between this game and the aforementioned Brewers game, the NL Central is worth keeping an eye on tonight.

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