The last Thursday before the All-Star break brings us an abbreviated schedule, but we’ve still go 10 games and there are some pretty cool matchups along the way. Let’s get to it. 

Thursday’s scores

Sox win 10th in a row, Betts comes up big

The Red Sox on Thursday held off the Blue Jays for their 10th win in a row. The headline highlight from this one? It belongs to Mookie Betts, who came out on top of a 13-pitch battle with J.A. Happ. Along the way, Betts managed to layoff a slider and foul off a 95.6-mph fastball. Then, on that 13th pitch, he did this … 

Mercy. That’s the fourth grand slam of Betts’ career, and that one left the bat at 108.3 mph. Dig these nuggets from MLB.com’s Ian Browne … 

It was the first time a player has hit a grand slam in an at-bat of 13 pitches or more since Gary Scott did so for the Cubs on the 13th pitch against Philadelphia’s Kyle Abbott on April 20, 1992.

It is also the longest at-bat that ended in a home run by any Red Sox player since at least 1988.

That was also Betts’ 23rd homer of the season. As for his stellar work thus far in 2018, he’s truly walking with the Red Sox gods … 

Otherwise, David Price logged a quality start, and Craig Kimbrel notched his 29th save of the season. 

As for the Sox as a whole, the 2018 season has of course gone swimmingly thus far … 

Right now, the Sox are playing at a 113-win pace. You can dismiss such a figure earlier in the year, but it’s getting late out there, you know.

Stripling pitches Dodgers to sole possession of first place

Joc Pederson had a pair of hits and an RBI (he’s quietly having a strong season), and Kenley Jansen protected a one-run lead in the ninth. The real story, though, was All-Star right-hander Ross Stripling, who once again came up big for L.A. … 

Stripling now boasts an ERA of 2.08 for the season, and he’s struck out 108 batters against 14 walks in 95 1/3 innings. The Dodgers rotation has of course been waylaid by injuries this season, and perish the thought of where they’ve be without Stripling. He started off the season in the bullpen, where he posted an ERA of 0.59 in 11 appearances. And since circumstances forced him back into a starting role, he’s allowed just 22 runs in 14 starts. 

Best of all for the Dodgers, they’re now in sole possession of first place in the NL West for the first time this season. That’s pretty notable for a team that as recently as May 8 was nine games out and in fourth place. 

Pujols has milestone night

During the course of the Angels’ Thursday night romp over the Mariners, Halos DH Albert Pujols tallied three hits and a pair of home runs. Those three hits gives him 3,055 for his career, and that ties him with Rickey Henderson for 25th place on the all-time list. As for his second homer, it was also a notable one …  

Yep, that’s No. 630 for Pujols, and that ties him with Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list. Next on the list is Willie Mays with 660. Pujols figures to catch him at some point during the 2019 season, barring the unexpected. 

Severino-Kluber duel doesn’t live up to hype

Yankees ace Luis Severino going up against two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in an ALDS rematch? Sounds compelling for sure.

And indeed, it turned out to be a solid baseball game, but the two aces in question allowed a total of 10 earned runs in a combined 12 1/3 innings of work. Run up against two of the best offenses in the AL, and things can happen — even to the usually dominant likes of Severino and Kluber. On that topic … 

As for those offenses, they combined for four homers. Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez hit his 28th, which ties him with J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox for the major-league lead. More to the point, the Indians have now lost five of their last six.

Break up the A’s

Even when it looks like the Athletics can be stopped, they can’t.

Nick Martini had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and two RBI to pace Oakland in their Thursday win over the Astros. The A’s bullpen also allowed only one run in 5 1/3 innings, which set the A’s up for an eighth-inning comeback after falling behind 4-0 early in the game.

Speaking of the Oakland relief corps, check out Ryan Buchter’s glovework from this one … 

The win means that the A’s have taken three of four from the reigning champs on the road. And now for the longer view of the A’s recent dominance … 

Yep, things are going pretty well for Oakland of late, especially considering they’ve got, oh, pretty much an entire rotation on the disabled list, though Trevor Cahill returned to the mound in the win. Thursday’s triumph means they’re on pace for 91 wins, and they’re five games behind the Mariners for the second wild-card spot and eight games behind the division-leading Astros.

As for the SportsLine Projection Model, it pegs the A’s for 87 wins and gives them a 12.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. While that number sounds low, it’s been trending in the right direction for some time. Really, the A’s are the only team with a shot to break up the current Red Sox-Astros-Indians-Yankees-Mariners playoff alignment that’s firmly in place right now. 

Scherzer mortal again, but Nats win

By the standards of most, Max Scherzer had a good night against the Mets on Thursday, as he allowed three runs in seven innings. This, though, is a three-time Cy Young winner, and his standards are necessarily higher.

So it’s worth noting that Scherzer has now allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last three starts. Through the end of June, he’d allowed three or more runs in just one of the 17 starts in 2018. Throw in the fact that Scherzer’s struck out a total of just eight batters over his last two starts, and perhaps the forthcoming All-Star break is well timed. 

Of course, even mortal Scherzer is capable of mound wizardry … 

On the positive side for D.C., Anthony Rendon in this one notched the fourth multi-homer game of his career. The Nats are now back to a game above the .500 mark. 

Cubs creep closer with Milwaukee loss

The Cubs are idle on Thursday, but the Brewers fell to the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The bright spot for Milwaukee is that All-Star Final Vote winner and Home Run Derby top seed Jesus Aguilar hit his NL-leading 24th bomb of the season.

On the downside, the Brewers have now lost three of their last four, and those three losses have come against the Pirates (obviously) and the Marlins (twice). The Brewers have four left against the Pirates heading into the break, and that will make 21 games in a span of the last 20 days. They now lead the Cubs by just one game in the NL Central, and it’ll be to their credit if they’re still in first place going into the second half. 

Looking long-term, the SportsLine Projection Model gives the Cubs a hefty 64 percent chance to repeat as division champs. The Brewers, though, still have better than a 90 percent chance to make the postseason. 

Freeland sparkles again for Rox

Lefty Kyle Freeland, 25, had himself a strong, if somewhat abbreviated day against the Diamondbacks on Thursday … 

That’s fully in keeping with what Freeland’s been doing lately, by the way … 

For the season, he’s now pitched to a 3.11 ERA in 115 2/3 innings this season. As for those excellent numbers at Coors, Freeland is of course a Denver native. The former No. 8 overall pick has frontline stuff, and he’s obviously accustomed to succeeding at a mile above sea level. This season, Freeland’s looking like the Rockies’ ace for a long time to come.

Phillies continue hot July

The Phils held off the Orioles on Thursday night, and the win means they move to 8-3 for the month of June. In this one, catcher (and ninth-place hitter) Jorge Alfaro was a triple shy of the cycle, and Cesar Hernandez also added three hits.

The win in tandem with the Braves‘ off night means the Phillies are now in first place by a half-game in the NL East. While the SportsLine Projection Model still like the Braves to prevail in the division, the Phillies have nudged their playoff odds close to 50 percent. The Phils will close out the first half with three games against the Marlins, so they have a chance to fatten up heading into the break. 

Quick hits

  • Angels RHP Garrett Richards will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his throwing elbow. Read more here.
  • Mariners LHP James Paxton was forced to leave his Thursday night start after just 17 pitches because of back stiffness.
  • The Phillies have shown interest in Orioles lefty reliever Zach Britton, reports NBC Philadelphia
  • Twins first baseman/designated hitter Logan Morrison was placed on the DL with a hip injury. Infielder Ehire Adrianza has been activated from the DL as a corresponding move. 
  • Red Sox third baseman Rafeal Devers was placed on the DL with left shoulder inflammation. Infielder Tzu-Wei Lin has been activated as a corresponding move. 
  • Starting pitcher Shelby Miller has been placed on the DL by the Diamondbacks with inflammation in his right elbow.

Live team updates


Source link