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stephen strasburg throws pen session monday

Aug
29

PHILADELPHIA — Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen session at Citizens Bank Park prior to Monday night’s game against the Phillies, one week after he was placed on the disabled list with soreness in his right elbow.

Every player is different. Hamilton requires his own special considerations, and to be fair, the Rangers aren’t the only team in baseball that had an interest in giving Gomez a shot once the Houston Astros dumped him. If there’s one thing Carlos Gomez isn’t short on, it’s energy, which a roster can lack around this time in the year. Yet it’s hard to see Gomez’s promise. Every single indicator is down on his skills.

On the simplest possible level, Gomez does fit. The Rangers lost Shin-Soo Choo to injury, and just a few years ago, Gomez was genuinely one of the best all-around players in the game. He’s still just 30, so it’s reasonable to believe he’s not washed up. The Rangers paid virtually no acquisition price, and there’s also no long-term commitment. They’re taking a shot on a player who seems to be liked by his teammates.

But it’s impossible to get around the numbers. In fact, those numbers almost couldn’t be any more negative.

To whatever extent you want to believe in the upside — the Rangers had to see something — it’s balanced out by the fact that the Astros, a division rival fighting for a playoff spot, gave up on Gomez. Whatever the Rangers see, the Astros didn’t. And given what they had paid in trading for Gomez, the Astros had something to lose. They were invested in getting Gomez right. They couldn’t, and the plot below is fairly damning. Let’s dig in.

First, let’s set the stage for Kansas City: Beat the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, and the Royals are three games behind Baltimore for the second wild-card spot and just four games behind Boston for the first one. Lose, and not only do those numbers move to four games and six games, respectively, but the Royals fall behind three other teams in the wild-card race. A team in seventh place in the standings instead of tied for fourth, with 42 games left in the season, has entered the perilous it’s not the distance, it’s the traffic phase of chasing. It’s clearly not a win-or-go-home situation, but it’s a very important game for the defending World Series champions. In such a situation, no chances to win the game should be squandered.

In the top of the second inning of a scoreless game, Salvador Perez got the visitors on the scoreboard with a lead-off solo home run, followed by a single by Alex Gordon and a walk to Alcides Escobar. That brought Raul Mondesi to the plate, who perhaps is best known for making his major league debut during the 2015 World Series. Yost predictably ordered Mondesi to bunt, and he did, successfully advancing Gordon and Escobar.

What we learned Thursday: Matt Moore nearly makes no-hit history

Aug
26

As we focus on the playoff races, note that you can always get FiveThirtyEight.com’s updated playoff odds report here.

1. I’d say Matt Moore comes up big. As Vin Scully said entering the bottom of the ninth, “Those are the numbers — not the heartbeats.” In his fifth start for the Giants, with his team having dropped the first two games of the series to its hated rival and having lost four in a row and eight of 10 and gone a wretched 25 of 36 since the All-Star break, Moore hadn’t allowed a hit. He was trying to become the first Giants pitcher to no-hit the Dodgers since Rube Marquard in 1915. Heck, they weren’t even the Dodgers then. They were the Brooklyn Robins.

2. Mad Max, home warrior. The Orioles had taken the first three games of the four-game home-and-home set, but the Nationals salvaged a little Beltway pride behind Max Scherzer’s gem. He fanned 10 with no walks while allowing just two hits in eight innings. It was his fifth game of the season with at least 10 K’s and no walks. Only Clayton Kershaw has more, with six. In fact, the only other pitchers with six such starts in a season are Curt Schilling in 2002 and Randy Johnson in 2004. When Scherzer is on, he’s as good as anybody. With a big stretch run and the major league lead in strikeouts, don’t forget about him in the Cy Young race.

Even so, raise your hand right now if you don’t think Bryant can be a 30-home run player for at least the next decade and a half. Anybody?

Even that might be selling him short. Bryant has already gone deep 33 times this year as a player who is just scratching the surface of his talent at age 24.

“He’s really developing,” teammate Ben Zobrist said. “It’s hard to pick up the growth when you’re with someone every day, but it’s palpable with him. It’s like right in front of your eyes. You can see him burgeoning into a superstar.”

The result has been shorter slumps and longer hot streaks — the sign of any great player, according to Zobrist. Bryant’s in the middle of a hot one now, as he is hitting .372 in August with a .439 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 18 RBIs. It has vaulted him to the top of the MVP race, and through this point in his career, Bryant holds his own against Hall of Famers — not just MVPs.

Daniels can take a chance on adding a player such as Gomez to a team in the middle of a playoff run because he has built the roster with leaders such as Adrian Beltre, Ian Desmond and Cole Hamels, who control the clubhouse.

“It seems like we can accept everybody with open arms, and we’ve proved it time and time again,” said first baseman Mitch Moreland, who is in his seventh season with Rangers.

“It starts with our front office and coaching staff and trickles down to the players and the whole environment we have set around here that allows everyone to thrive whatever your past may be.”

“You can’t run scared from talented players,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He’s an energy guy. He’s going to excite you. He pushes the envelope, which I don’t mind. We have some guys who do that already.”

Clay Buchholz’s resurgence making decisions tough for Red Sox

Aug
24

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Clay Buchholz does not know when his next appearance will come, let alone his next start. Despite the uncertain future, the 32-year-old pitched like his old self Tuesday night in leading the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. In doing so, he allowed the Red Sox to keep pace with the Toronto Blue Jays atop the American League East.

“One of the more strong throws we’re probably going to see. Some game-changing defensive plays in the eighth inning that play a huge impact,” Farrell said.

Betts said his arm strength has been coming along since his conversion from the infield to the outfield. “I think it has increased a lot. I can get a little more behind it and create more backspin to carry a little more. It still has a little way to go, but I definitely can see changes.”

Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth inning for his 23rd save of the season. Boston, winner in 10 of its last 12, sits a season-high 17 games above .

Maybe Chicago Cubs star Jake Arrieta isn’t ready to give up his Cy Young Award just yet. While teammate Kyle Hendricks has been everyone’s favorite flavor of the month — he leads the majors in ERA, after all — Arrieta has vaulted himself back into contention with an eight-inning, two-hit, no-run performance against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.

“I’m mixing everything from the get-go,” Arrieta said after the 5-3 win. “I’m not hiding anything for later in the game. … The speed differential is what allows me to keep those guys off balance.”

Arrieta found his groove after leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski was picked off third base by catcher Willson Contreras but that came only after the righty walked Jankowski on a full count. At that moment there had to be a lot of “here we go again” from anyone who has followed Arrieta this year, especially coming off a career-high seven walks last outing.

“I wasn’t worried,” manager Joe Maddon said. “[More like] ‘Where are we going with this?’ Then he righted himself.”

Two walks, two hits and seven shutout innings later after that first one and Arrieta had his league-leading 16th win. Victories may not mean what they used to but they aren’t meaningless either. And if Hendricks and others have him beat in ERA — Arrieta lowered his to 2.62 — then he has them on giving up hits. As in he doesn’t. He leads the majors with a miniscule .183 batting average against.

“That was really reminiscent of last year,” Maddon said. “The only thing that has been amiss is a little bit of command issue on occasion.”

Right now those command issues might be the only thing stopping Arrieta from winning consecutive Cy Young awards, but either way talk of postseason honors won’t overshadow the actual postseason itself. Maddon had a decision to make after eight innings while holding a 5-0 lead on Tuesday. Let Arrieta finish — and in turn help his Cy Young chances — or be more prudent and save some pitches for more important games down the line.

Tyler Naquin hits inside-the-park HR to give Indians walk-off win

Aug
19

Upton finally retrieved the ball but fell down as third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh waved Naquin home. Upton flung it toward the infield, and Naquin reached the plate way ahead of second baseman Devon Travis’ relay.

“I was just thinking after I hit it, I took a couple steps out of the box and just pictured it kicking off the wall,” Naquin said. “I thought, ‘I have a chance to score if it kicks far enough.’ And sure enough, it did.”

On Thursday night, the rookie lofted a sacrifice fly as a pinch hitter in the ninth to lift Cleveland over the White Sox.

“I’d actually like to win by five or 10 so we don’t have to do that,” Naquin said.

This was only the second time — and first since 1916 by Braggo Roth — the Indians ended a win with an inside-the-park home run, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Jeff Manship (2-1) pitched the ninth. Osuna blew his third save in 30 chances.

Trevor Bauer struck out a career-high 13 in eight innings.

Russell Martin hit a two-run homer in the first for Toronto.

The win increased Cleveland’s lead in the AL Central over Detroit to seven games. Toronto’s lead over Boston in the AL East was cut to a half-game.

The crowd of 30,665 featured several thousand Blue Jays fans who matched cheers and chants with Indians fans throughout the game.

“It was a heck of a game, both sides,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “Good pitching, good crowd excitement, good baseball.”

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons obviously felt differently about the shocking ending.

Franklin entered the game as a defensive replacement in the third inning but departed after playing two innings two days after being hit in the head by a teammate’s bat while on deck.

Franklin was not in the starting lineup against Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels, but he went into the game when center fielder Kevin Kiermaier left after the second inning. The team said Kiermaier was bothered by left hip tightness.

Kiermaier’s status will be evaluated Saturday.

Franklin flied out in the third inning.

“I thought everything was fine,” Franklin said. “For some reason, right after my at-bat, after I ran, I had cotton mouth. Felt like when I went out to left, I felt like I could just pass out there. It was kind of a really weird feeling.”

Franklin took over in left field for Mikie Mahtook, who shifted to center. However, Corey Dickerson replaced Franklin in the top of the fifth.

“He came out of the game feeling symptoms kind of like what he felt the other day,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Lightheaded, tired, kind of exhausted feeling.”

Cardinals Five Run Ninth Inning Beats Reds

Aug
09

The ninth-inning unraveling erased what was looking to be the first Major League win for Reds starter Cody Reed, who outdueled Wacha by turning in six shutout frames. Reed, 0-6 with a 7.30 ERA coming into the game, was tagged for five runs over five innings five days earlier against St. Louis.

The Reds gave him an early four-run lead and forced Wacha to throw 65 pitches over the first three innings.Zack Cozart’s two-out double opened the scoring in the second inning, and Joey Votto extended the lead to 3-0 with an RBI triple. Brandon Phillips then doubled and scored in the third as the Reds became the first team in an 11-game stretch to score four earned runs off Wacha.

CINCINNATI — MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was on hand Monday afternoon to watch the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series championship game for the senior division between the Arizona and Passaic, N.J., RBI teams.

The game, which Arizona won, 3-2, is part of what has been an extremely successful youth initiative for MLB.
“It’s the single most important thing that we’re doing,” Manfred said. “This is part of a larger initiative that we refer to as Play Ball, and it’s directed in ensuring that baseball gets passed on to the next generation so that we have fans like we have today 20 years from now. It’s about our future.”

Manfred addressed a wide array of topics during his visit to the P&G Cincinnati Urban Youth Academy, from Ichiro Suzuki’s 3,000th hit to the Olympics.

Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities World Series coverage

“The fact of the matter is the game has changed in terms of the way it’s played, and the question is: Are we going to manage it a little more closely to make sure that the product is as good as it can be on the field?” he said.

Manfred also addressed baseball and softball returning to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, an idea for which he was a strong advocate. Manfred and additional representatives of the Commissioner’s Office have scheduled meetings with Olympic officials following the completion of the Rio Games to talk about the logistics of baseball returning.

“There are large chunks of the world where baseball is the most popular game. … And I think the Olympics are doing the right thing by trying to include baseball and softball,” Manfred said. “The logistics remain an issue that we’re going to need to spend some time on, in terms of the availability of players.”

Eli Apple receiving plenty of first-team work at Giants training camp

Aug
06

The first play Apple is on the field, he allows a completion down the sideline from quarterback Eli Manning to Geremy Davis. The coverage isn’t bad. Davis makes an excellent leaping catch and gets both feet down with Apple on his hip.

Where Apple went wrong is that after redirecting the route at the line of scrimmage, he seemed to slow down and almost give up. This provided Davis the smallest of openings, enough to make the catch. Apple didn’t locate the football.

Geremy Davis with 2 great catches to start 7-on7s, including this one vs Eli Apple #Giants pic.twitter.com/pmlwbrbSPH

— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) August 4, 2016
To this point, the excessive clutching and grabbing that has become an easy criticism of Apple remains nonexistent. This appears to be a trend.

“It shows up every now and then, but he’s been better at it,” Walton said. “He’s been much better than he was in college with doing that, and I think he’ll continue to improve on it. And that’s what the reps are for. He’s definitely taking a step forward in that area.”

11:34 a.m.: The Giants are running a dime defense. Apple, Janoris Jenkins, Rodgers-Cromartie and first-team slot cornerback Trevin Wade are on the field together. Rodgers-Cromartie and Wade are in the slot. Apple is on the outside. This doesn’t change for the final three snaps of this drill, when the four cornerbacks are on the field along with two safeties.

The slot rotation the Giants insist is occurring isn’t visible during team drills. Jenkins and Apple take zero snaps at that position.

11:42 a.m.: Wide receiver Victor Cruz runs a deep route. Apple is step for step with him down the middle of the field. His physical skills are impressive.

Noon: Back to special teams. This time it’s the kickoff team. Apple is working with the top unit there as well.

12:08 p.m.: The live 11-on-11 portion of practice has begun. It’s a no-huddle drill. Apple takes the first three snaps with the first-team defense. Rodgers-Cromartie gets the next drive. Jenkins is a constant as the right cornerback and Wade is in the slot for both drives.

This is just another indicator that Apple is part of the Giants’ immediate plans.

“We’ll get him in there,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “There’s a lot of downs in this league now with three wide receivers, four wide receivers, so I don’t anticipate that being a problem.”

12:20 p.m.: Apple and Rodgers-Cromartie continue to alternate as the first-team left cornerback. Rodgers-Cromartie also takes some snaps in the slot. Apple is used as a blitzer on multiple occasions. Once he is flagged for offside during this period, which is used to practice short-yardage situations. So it’s mostly running plays. They’re not asked to cover much.

12:30 p.m.: Practice ends and, as has become customary with practices under new Giants coach Ben McAdoo, players do five to 10 minutes of light drills before heading inside. The cornerbacks work on their hands this day. Apple is taking throws from kicker Josh Brown. Strange combo, the first-round pick and the kicker.

Practice is a wrap. In the 110-minute workout, it’s not hard to see why Apple was such a high pick. He’s a talented cover cornerback. But you can also see there remains a lot for him to learn.

“Look, Eli has a long way to go,” Spagnuolo said. “I like what he’s doing to this point, but it’s going to be a process.”

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Demaryius Thomas looks back on the 2015 season, he sees some good, some bad, some question marks and he sees possibilities.

He also sees the fruits of the ultimate football prize, a championship ring for the Denver Broncos’ 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

“And it don’t get any better than that,” Thomas said. “We were successful as a team last year, as successful as a team can be because we won a championship. So, you always feel good to be a part of a championship. But me personally? I think I left a lot of plays out there and I know I can be better than that.”

Thomas finished with 105 catches and 1,304 yards, both seventh in the league. And yet throughout the offseason the narrative has been Thomas had a “bad” year.

He signed a $70 million contract before training camp began a year ago and many among the Broncos’ faithful expected more than 105 catches, 1,305 yards and a lot more than six touchdowns, which tied Thomas for 29th in the league.

And there were the drops, anywhere from 11 (Thomas’ number) to 17, depending on the particular set of statistics being used. Whatever number you choose, it was the highest total of Thomas’ career and the major item he has spent this offseason trying to repair.

“If I would have come up with those plays, it might have been a totally different year,” Thomas said. “I probably would have had over 120 catches, easily over 1,600, 1,700 yards. I look back on it now and leaving those plays out there, those would put you in a position to be top five, top three in the league. This year, I make those plays and people can see what I’m really about.”

Thomas says he traces the drops to a combination of factors. He missed the offseason program, like Von Miller did this year, because he had been designated a franchise player and his agent advised him to skip the offseason program until he signed a long-term deal.

Indians put All-Star Danny Salazar on DL

Aug
03

Salazar underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and Francona said the MRI was done in part to help the pitcher’s peace of mind.

”We all know that Danny is learning that you maybe not always are 100 percent, and trying to find a way to get through that during a game,” Francona said. ”But we also need to be cognizant that, ‘OK, if this is what can help Danny be really good, we need to help him.’ ”

Mike Clevinger will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to start Thursday against the Twins.

Outfielder Brandon Guyer, acquired from Tampa Bay on Monday, was added to the 25-man roster.

Trevor Story may not be able to help the Colorado Rockies make a push for the playoffs in the last two months of the season.

Story could miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his left thumb, putting the brakes on his record-setting rookie season and a damper on Colorado’s recent surge in the standings.

”It’s very disappointing, very frustrating,” Story said after the team placed him on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. ”The timing of it all is the worst.”

An MRI on Monday revealed Story suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament during Saturday’s win over the Mets. He said he hopes to have surgery ”in the next few days” and that the typical rehab time is eight weeks.

The Rockies recalled infielder Rafael Ynoa from Triple-A Albuquerque. Manager Walt Weiss said he plans to ”mix and match” Ynoa, rookie Cristhian Adames and veteran Daniel Descalso at short.

Colorado entered Tuesday within 4 1/2 games of the second wild card, with three teams between it and Miami.

”I feel bad for Trevor. He was doing some special things, some historical things,” Weiss said. ”We’ll be OK as a club. We’re playing well, we need to continue to do that, and I think we will.”

A few hours later, that was no longer the case. Rea injured his elbow a few innings into his first start with his new club, causing Marlins officials to complain they were given damaged. In a bizarre twist, the two clubs agreed to reverse part of the deal Monday. Rea went back to San Diego in exchange for Luis Castillo, who was in the original trade as well.

That leaves Cashner as the only major addition for Miami at the deadline. While a change of scenery might be all he needs to return to form, he hasn’t put up encouraging numbers lately.