Thursday brings a light slate in Major League Baseball, but what’s great about MLB is a “light” slate is still 11 games and 20 teams in action (there’s a doubleheader). Lots of day baseball, too, so let’s get to it.

Thursday’s scores

Yankees get statement series win in Houston

As you see above, the Yankees nipped the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Thursday and in doing so took three of four from the defending champs. 

In this one, the Yankees trailed by a pair of runs going into the ninth and at that point had just a 6.9 percent chance of winning the game. The Yanks worked a walk and pair of hits off Will Harris, and then Brad Peacock was summoned to face gifted rookie Gleyber Torres. Torres responded with a bloop single that tied the game. (The 21-year-old is now batting a useful .317/.366/.395 on the season.) Aaron Judge followed with what probably should’ve been a 5-4-3 double play, but a Jose Altuve bobble meant that Torres was safe at second and that go-ahead run counted. The Astros threatened in the ninth, but Aroldis Chapman was able to fan Altuve to end it. And with that … 

Of course, this happened on Thursday only because New York blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh. 

While the Yankees lead the AL in runs scored this season, pitching was the story in this “ALCS revenge series” against Houston. Over the span of those four games, the Yankees allowed a total of just seven runs. The win moves Aaron Boone’s team to 21-10 on the season and puts them on pace for 110 wins. As well, they’ve whittled down Boston’s lead in the AL East to 1 1/2 games. As recently as April 20, the Yankees were 7.5 games back. As for the Astros, at this writing they have more losses than the second-place Angels. 

Price gets rocked again

Boston lefty David Price on Thursday night took the mound against the Rangers, and things didn’t go his way … 

Things really came undone in the fourth, when Price recorded two outs but also allowed two runs and loaded the bases. At that point, Price was lifted for reliever Hector Velazquez. So all those runners belonged to Price when Velazquez uncorked a wild pitch and then threw this 3-1 sinker to Nomar Mazara … 

Anyhow, “just” seven of those nine runs allowed by Price were earned, but that still means his 2018 ERA is now up to 5.11. Price started off strong in 2018, as he allowed no runs in first two starts while going seven innings in each. Over the next four starts, though, he pitched to a 6.52 ERA with 11 walks and four home runs in 19 1/3. Now you can Thursday’s outing to that grim trend. 

D-Backs miss chance at history

The Diamondbacks entered the eighth inning against the Dodgers on Thursday with a 2-1 lead, but then the Arizona bullpen suffered a rare implosion … 

At that point, the Dodgers had a 5-2 lead. In the home half of the ninth, a vintage-seeming Kenley Jansen closed it out … 

As you see, the D-Backs and Dodgers split the four-game set in Phoenix. That brings us to this … 

Yep, the D-Backs had won nine straight series to start the season coming into this one, but the split with L.A. means that they won’t be moving any further up this list. The consolation? They still haven’t lost a series this season, and they still have the NL’s best record. Not bad, as consolations go. 

Solarte goes off in wild Jays win

The first game of the Thursday doubleheader in Cleveland between the Blue Jays and Indians was a chaotic one. The Jays jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, but the Indians put seven runs on the board in the fourth. By the bottom of the eighth, the Jays had reclaimed the lead, but the Indians stormed back and sent it to extras. 

Now let’s go to the 11th. Tribe reliever Tyler Olson gets the first two outs, but yields a walk, a double, and another walk. That brings up Yangervis Solarte … 

That’s a sub-90 mph fastball left over the heart of the plate, and Solarte did not miss. Really, he didn’t miss all day as he went 5 for 6 with a walk, a double, the grand slam you saw above, and six RBI. On the season, Solarte’s now batting .270/.359/.532 while seeing time at three different positions. The Jays really suffered from a lack of infield depth last year, but the January trade for Solarte has addressed that need in a big way. 

As for the Indians, there were some positives in the loss. Francisco Lindor homered twice, Michael Brantley continued his hot start to the season (.937 OPS through 90 plate appearances), and Bradley Zimmer reminded us that he’s one of the best catch-and-throw center fielders in baseball … 

That said, the Indians with the defeat in Game 1 dropped to a disappointing 16-14 on the year. 

Braves humiliate Mets

Before the Mets even batted, the Braves had a 3-0 lead, thanks in part to a two-run homer by Kurt Suzuki. It would remain 3-0 heading into the fifth inning before the Braves started to break the game wide open. It started with rookie sensation Ronald Acuna obliterating this Jason Vargas offering: 

That is 451 beautiful feet. It wouldn’t stop there. A few batters later Nick Markakis crushed a two-run shot and that would be all for Vargas (4 2/3 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, en route to a 16.20 ERA on the season). 

Matt Harvey didn’t fare any better than Vargas, as he would cough up five runs in two innings with the big blow being a three-run shot from Ozzie Albies

Both Vargas and Harvey were booed heavily by the Mets fans in attendance for getting knocked around the yard with relative ease. It wasn’t just the pitching, though. 

During all this, the Mets didn’t even have a hit. They finally got their first knock off Julio Teheran with two outs in the seventh inning. 

Let’s not get too focused on the Mets, though, who are now 17-12 after an 11-1 start. The Braves are now sitting with a 1.5 game lead in the first place. They are 19-11 and currently on a five-game winning streak. They are 7-1 since Acuna came up. 

Speaking of, the Albies/Acuna duo atop the order is must-see TV. Their current lines: 

Albies: .280/.324/.614, 12 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 3 SB
Acuna: .382/.432/.706, 5 2B, 2 HR, 1 SB (in just 37 plate appearances)

They hit in front of stellar first baseman Freddie Freeman, too. 

This is a good and fun young team. 

Nationals back to .500

Through a rash of injuries and underperformance, the Nationals fell to five games under .500 back on Saturday (11-16). You know what comes with that territory from a team most expected to take the NL East. Questions about what is wrong. Breaking down all their problems. Wondering if they are “in trouble” and all the stuff like that. 

Since then, the Nationals have won five in a row, climbing back to 16-16. 

Thursday, the Nats did all their damage in the sixth inning, getting a two-run homer from Trea Turner and a solo shot from Ryan Zimmerman. It was all they needed behind strong work from Jeremy Hellickson (5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and good enough work from the bullpen, which allowed the bases to load — thanks in part to an error — in the eighth but only let one of those runners home.

 Next up for the Nationals is a three-game series at home against the Phillies

Soler stays hot

Very recently in this space, our own Mike Axisa wrote that Royals outfielder Jorge Soler may be having his long-awaited breakout season. He reinforced those notions on Thursday in the win over the Tigers, as he walked and hit a booming home run …

Yep, Soler yanked an outside changeup for Chad Bell and took it on a 441-foot ride. The 26-year-old is now batting .312/.435/.538 on the season, and that’s after a brutally slow start to 2018. Not much has gone right for the Royals of late, but Soler may indeed be leveling up. As for Bell, he was optioned back to Triple-A not long after getting pounded by Soler. 

Quick hits

  • Ichiro Suzuki is transitioning to the Mariners front office and he won’t play again this year. It certainly sounds like a retirement. Full story here.
  • The Mets got good news on Jacob deGrom’s MRI, but there are conflicting reports on when he’ll return. Full story here.
  • The Dodgers have more injury woes, as Hyun-Jin Ryu won’t be back for a while. Full story here.
  • The Blue Jays have activated star third baseman Josh Donaldson.
  • The Diamondbacks activated Steven Souza and put him right in the starting lineup. 
  • The Braves claimed infielder Phil Gosselin off waivers from the Reds
  • The Brewers have placed RHP Zach Davies on the 10-day disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation. 
  • The Indians have placed RHP Nick Goody on the 10-day DL with right elbow inflammation. 
  • The Blue Jays have placed OF Steve Pearce on the DL with an oblique strain. The club has also designated INF Gift Ngoepe for assignment. 

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