Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mariners Win 5th Straight On Marco Gonzales' Complete Game; Nats Bury Phils, 17-7, As Juan Soto Drives In 5

Players of the Day for Friday, June 29, 2018

American League

Gonzales: Complete game
Seattle's been on the move this week, winning five straight after Marco Gonzales pitched his first major league complete game, stopping the Royals on six hits in a 4-1 Mariners' win.

Gonzales threw 96 pitches, of which 71 went for strikes. The 26-year-old lefty fanned seven without issuing any walks, improving to 8-5 on the year. Having pitched just 2 2/3 innings in 2015 and missing all of 2016, St. Louis traded Gonzales to Seattle after just one start in 2017. He finished out the year with the Mariners, going 1-1 in 10 games (seven starts) with a 5.40 ERA.

This season has seen a complete turn-around, with the ERA down to 3.77 and 87 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings with just 20 walks.

The victory was Seattle's fifth straight and sixth in their last seven. They're 18-9 in the month of June and now trail the first-place Astros by 2 1/2 games as Houston's 11-game road win streak was snapped by Tampa Bay in a 3-2 loss Friday. The Mariners have the fourth-best record in the American League (52-31). Their mark is better than any NL team.

Seattle hosts the Royals in game two of their three-game series, Saturday at 7:10 pm Pacific.

National League

Soto: 4-for-5, 2HR, 5RBI
Expected to run away with the NL East, the Washington Nationals have struggled through the first half, trailing both Atlanta and Philadelphia in the division, but they took out a lot of their frustration against the Phillies Friday night, hammering out a 17-7 win in which they belted seven home runs.

Two of those seven homers were belted by 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto, who has been in the majors for just 35 games but has already made a big impact.

After Trey Turner socked a two-run shot in the first, Soto repeated the effort with his seventh homer of the season, knocking in Anthony Rendon, and the rout was underway. In the ninth, with the game already well in hand for the Nats, Soto launched a three-run shot sandwiched between solo shots by Brian Goodwin and Mark Reynolds.

Soto also singled twice, going 4-for-5, scoring three times. In just 116 at-bats, Soto has nine doubles, eight homers and has driven in 21 runs to go with a .336 batting average. He's already getting respect from pitchers, having drawn 23 walks.

On Thursday, the Nationals dropped a 4-3 decision in the opener of their four-game series in Philly. Game three is scheduled for Saturday at 6:05 pm EDT. The Nationals are close, just four games out of first, with Philadelphia trailing the Braves by three.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Lance McCullers Jr. Stops Rays As Houston Wins 11th Straight Road Game; D.J. LeMahieu's Homer Leads Rockies Past Giants, 9-8

Players of the Day for Thursday, June 28, 2018

American League

Road warriors?
McCullers: 7 scoreless

Try road masters. The Houston Astros tied a franchise record with their 11th straight win away from home, ending Tampa Bay's five-game win streak in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Park.

Houston's 1-0 win was delivered by way of the arm of Lance McCullers Jr., who kept the Rays in check on four hits over seven scoreless innings, fanning seven.

McCullers improved to 9-3, backed by Jake Marisnick's fifth-inning solo home run. Chris Devenski allowed a pair of hits in the eighth, but was bailed out when Matt Duffy lined into a double play, squelching the Rays' scoring bid. Hector Rondon worked the ninth for his fifth save.

McCullers notched his third straight win, lowering his ERA to 3.55. He's already thrown 101 1/3 innings this season, striking out 106.

Houston will be looking to set a new franchise mark when they face the Rays in game two of the series, Friday at 7:10 pm EDT.

LeMahieu: 3-5, HR, 5RBI
National League

With Arizona currently the leader in the NL West, the division still seems to be up for grabs as the Dodgers, Giants and Rockies all have solid squads and a chance to go on a run at any time.

Colorado took a step in the right direction in a wild one at San Francisco in which the lead changed hands four times, the final change coming in the top of the ninth, when D.J. LaMahieu uncorked a two-run blast to left center, giving the Rockies a 9-8 victory.

LeMahieu's homer was his eighth of the season, though it was far from his only highlight. In the fourth he singled in a run to put the Rockies up 5-2 and he singled in two more in the seventh, cracking a 5-5 tie.

The eight-year pro was 3-for-5 with five RBI, helping Colorado snap a four-game losing streak. In 2016 LeMahieu led the National League in hitting with a .348 average. He's batting just .280 this season, and is a .300 lifetime hitter.

With the win, the Rockies avoided the sweep and head to LA for a three-game series with the Dodgers, starting Friday at 7:10 pm PDT.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Phillies' Zach Eflin Blanks Yanks in 3-0 Win; Alex Bregman Walks Off Jays As Houston Wins

Players of the Day for Wednesday, June 27, 2018

American League

Alex Bregman socked a two-run, walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Houston Astros recovered from a 5-0 deficit to defeat the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, 7-6.
Bregman: Walk-off 2R HR

After a disastrous first inning by starter Dallas Keuchel, in which the Houston ace allowed five runs, the Astros went on the offensive immediately, scoring three in the bottom of the frame. Keuchel lasted 5 1/3, allowing another run in the sixth, but Houston kept chipping away, though they still trailed, 6-5 entering the ninth.

Matt Kemp singled to open the ninth, but George Springer pooped out for the first out. Bregman, who had stroked a pair of doubles prior to his final at-bat, smacked an 0-2 pitch from Ryan Tepera deep into the left field stands for the win.

Bregman is batting .277 with 14 homers and 49 RBI.

The Astros took two of three from the Blue Jays and head to Tampa Bay Thursday for a four-game series with the Rays. Game one is scheduled for a 7:10 pm EDT first pitch.

National League
Eflin: 7IP, 4H, 0ER, W

Monday and Tuesday, the Yankees took two straight in Philadelphia, but Wednesday belonged to the Phillies, who avoided being swept on a brilliant pitching performance by Zach Eflin a three-run homer by Rhys Hoskins and a two-inning save from Seranthony Dominguez in the 3-0 whitewash.

Eflin (6-2) pitched his best game of the season, allowing four hits over seven innings, getting first strikes on 22 of the 26 batters he faced, striking out six and walking a pair. Only one Yankee - Miguel Andujar, in the second inning - reached second base as Eflin stymied the Bombers before Dominguez came in to slam the door shut with two perfect innings in relief, striking out three in the process.

Hoskins' homer - his 12th - came in the second off Yankee starter Luis Cessa (0-1), who lasted just three innings.

Eflin, who threw 67 of 92 pitches for strikes, completed his 10th start of the year, one less than in both all of 2016 and 2017, but the results are encouraging for Phillies' fans. In 2016, he was 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA. 2017 was a step back, as the 6'6", 24-year-old hurler went 1-5 with a 6.16 ERA. This season, the 6-2 record comes with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a 4-1 K-BB ratio.

The Phillies picked up a game on the Braves, as Atlanta lost, 6-5, to the Reds. They are three games back in second place. Philly hosts the Nationals for four games starting Thursday at 7:05 pm EDT. The Yankees get a day off before opening a three-game set with Boston at Yankee Stadium.

Charlie Morton Fans 13 In Houston Win; Matt Carpenter 5-for-5 As Cards Top Tribe

Players of the Day for Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Morton 7 IP, O ER, 13 K
American League

While Luis Severino was blanking the Phillies en route to becoming the AL's first 12-game winner, Houston's Charlie Morton wasn't exactly fooling around with Toronto's hitters, fanning 13 over seven strong innings in the Astros' 7-0 triumph.

Morton threw 67 of 98 pitches for strikes, walked two and allowed four hits, improving to 10-1 on the year. He's struck out 122 in 95 2/3 innings, ranking him seventh among AL hurlers. Boston's Chris Sale leads the league with 153 Ks.

The Astros evened the series after dropping a 6-3 decision on Monday and remain in first place in the AL West, 3 1/2 better than the scrappy Seattle Mariners.

The series wraps up in Houston at 2:10 pm EDT Wednesday.

National League

St. Louis has won four straight, the last two against the AL Central-leading Cleveland, including Tuesday's 11-2 rip of the Indians and their ace starter, Cory Kluber.

Carpenter: 5-5, 2HR, 5R
Kluber was clubbed repeatedly by the Cards, allowing six earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings of work, but St. Louis batters were not nearly through, banging out 13 hits, five of them by leadoff hitter, Matt Carpenter, who started the St. Louis scoring with a home run in the first and finished it with another dinger off Reliever Gorge Kontos, both solo shots.

In between, Carpenter singled twice and doubled, finishing with three RBI and five runs while boosting his batting average to .259.

The Cardinals are four games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central and 1 1/2 behind the second place Cubs. While the Indians may have dropped two straight, they are still 7 1/2 up on Minnesota and 8 ahead of Detroit.

A sweep is what the Cardinals will be seeking when the teams take the field Wednesday at 8:15 pm EDT in St. Louis.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tampa Bay Routs Nats on Blake Snell's 1-Hit Effort; Ozzie Albies Leads ATL over Reds in 11

Players of the Day for Monday, June 25, 2018

American League
Snell, 7IP, 1H, 0ER, 10K

Following a rough start to the season, the Tampa Bay Rays may be one of the better teams in the second half.

Winners of four straight, including a weekend sweep of the Yankees and Monday's 11-0 whipping of Washington, the Rays are just under .500 at 38-40.

In the rout of the Nationals, a couple of notable developments included a second-inning grand slam by Kevin Kiermayer, who remains mired in a slump (.147) after coming off the disabled list last week. Catcher Wilson Ramos had additional motivation for a pair of homers against the team that traded him over the off-season, but the show was stolen by starter, Blake Snell, who twirled a one-hitter over seven innings for his 10th win against four losses, the performance all but assuring him a spot on the AL all star team.

Snell, who walked the first two batters he faced - Trey Turner and Bryce Harper - settled in to retire the next 18 straight, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The bid was ended on Anthony Rendon's double to left. Snell walked two more batters in the inning, but a double play helped him out of the jam and kept Washington off the scoreboard. He fanned 10, including five straight at one point, striking out the side in the fourth.

A third year starter for Tampa Bay, Snell has lifetime marks of 21-19 with a 3.14 ERA, but this season he's blossomed, dropping the ERA to 2.31 in 17 starts, with 113 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP. He's tied for third in the league with Toronto's J.A. Happ at 10 wins, is fourth in ERA and is tied with Cleveland's Cory Kluber for 7th overall in strikeouts.

The Rays host the Nationals in game two of the series, Tuesday, at 12:10 pm EDT.

National League
Albies: 3-6, 2 2B, HR

Opening their three-game home series with the Reds in winning style, Ozzie Albies launched a game-winning homer in the bottom of the 11th off Cincinnati reliever, Dylan Floro, for a 5-4 win.

The smash was not the only contribution Albies made in the game. He started the Braves' scoring in the first with an RBI double, bringing home Ender Inciarte. He scored later in the frame, putting the Braves up by a 2-0 score.

A fifth-inning double helped the Braves load the bases and score another run, though the bullpen would eventually allow the Reds to tie the game and send it to extra innings. The two teams went through a total of 11 relievers before Albies ended the affair with his shot to right, his 17th.

The leading vote-gatherer for second basemen in NL all star balloting, Albies is batting .269 with 46 RBI on the year. A second-year player, Albies batted .286 in 57 games with the Braves n 2017.

Game two of the series is slated for a 7:35 pm EDT start Tuesday night in Atlanta.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Yoan Moncada Powers White Sox Past A's; Enrique Hernandez Homers Twice For Dodgers

Players of the Day for Sunday, June 24, 2018

American League

While the Chicago White Sox probably aren't going to challenge in the AL Central - they're currently 26-51 and 17 1/2 games behind the Indians in the division - with more than half the season remaining, they still have plenty of time to make adjustments and improvements and groom their young players for the future.
Moncada: 2B, HR, 6RBI

One such player is second baseman Yoan Moncada, a 23-year-old, second year player from Cuba who showed off some of his potential in Chicago's 10-3 rout of the Athletics Sunday at home.

Trailing 2-0 in the fifth inning, the Sox loaded the bases for Moncada and the youngster responded by lacing a double, clearing the bases and putting the White Sox ahead, 3-2. It was a lead the Sox would not relinquish, scoring two more in the frame before adding five more in the sixth.

After Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez socked solo homers in the White Sox sixth, Moncada put the game away with a three-run homer, tallying a personal-best six RBI for the game.

Moncada is batting only .228, but he has 10 homers and 32 RBI in 69 games. Chicago's win was just their second in the last 11 games, but they managed a split with the A's, each taking two games in the four-game series.

The White Sox have a day off Monday, prior to host a three-game series against Minnesota starting Tuesday.

National League

Hernandez: 2HR, 3R, 2RBI
In a wild one, the Dodgers smacked seven home runs in their 8-7, 11-inning win over the Mets at New York's Citi Field, the bleacher barrage begun by leadoff hitter Enrique Hernandez, who took a 2-0 pitch from Mets' starter Jerry Blevins into the left field stands.

All of the Dodger homers were solo shots, including two by Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner's game-winner with two outs in the 11th. Hernandez added a second blast in the sixth, tying the game at 4-4, and he also scored the only Dodger run of the game that wasn't via the long ball, scooting home on Matt Kemp's double play ground out in the eighth.

Dodger pitching couldn't protect a 7-4, eighth inning lead, eventually winning it in extra frames.

Hernandez finished 3-for-6 with three runs and two RBI. He's currently batting .232, with 12 homers and 25 RBI.

The Dodgers, who swept the series in New York and handed the Mets their sixth straight loss, kept pace with Arizona, maintaining second place in the NL West, where they trail the Diamondbacks by 2 1/2 games.

Heading back home to LA, the Dodgers open a four-game series with the Cubs on Monday.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Reds, DeSclafani Slam Cubs; Mike Leake Hurls M's Past Red Sox; Yankees' Sudden Slump

Apologies for the nearly month-and-a-half break, but personal matters (allergies, work, etc.) were overwhelming. Baseball on Deck will now return to its usual posting schedule.

Players of the Day for Saturday, June 23, 2018

American League

Leake: 8 scoreless
Seattle snapped a five-game losing streak with a 7-2 win at Boston Saturday, as Mariners' starter, Mike Leake, hurled eight innings of shutout ball before leaving after throwing 98 pitches. Reliever Edwin Diaz allowed two runs on three hits in the ninth, as the Sox spoiled the shutout.

Leake allowed just three hits and walked two, holding the Red Sox in check and in second place in the AL East, as the Yankees lost their second straight at Tampa Bay.

At 8-4, the 30-year-old, ten-year veteran is looking for his first winning season since 2015. That season he was 9-5 with the Reds and 2-5 with San Francisco for a combined 11-10 mark. Leake has been re-emergent this year with the Mariners, who continue to chase the Astros in the AL West. Seattle kept pace with the Astros after Houston defeated Kansas City, 4-3, in 12 innings. The Mariners trail the division-leading Astros by 3 1/2 games.

The Red Sox host the Mariners in the rubber game of their three-game series in Boston, Sunday, 1:05 pm EDT.

National League

DeSclafani: Grand Slam
Anthony DeSclafani socked a third-inning grand slam off Chicago reliever Brian Duensing as the Reds coasted to an 11-2 victory over the Cubs.

What made DeSclafani's slam the smash hit of the day was the fact that he was Cincinnati's starting pitcher, cruising through 6 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs, with three Ks. While DeSclafani did walk four, he managed to pitch out of trouble well enough to leave with a six-run lead in the seventh. Joey Votto tacked on the final three runs with his eighth home run, in the bottom of the eighth.

DeSclafani, who came off the 60-day disabled list on June 5 and had missed all of the regular season until that point, improved to 3-1, winning his third straight and sending the suddenly-hot Reds to their sixth straight.

DeSclafani's epic shot was the first grand slam hit by a Reds pitcher since Bob Purkey hit one against the Cubs on August 1, 1959.

The Reds are still bringing up the rear in the NL Central, but they've taken two straight from the Cubs, keeping Chicago two games behind division-leading Milwaukee, who lost, 3-2, to the Cardinals, thanks to a pair of Yadier Molina home runs.

The series finale is Sunday at 1:10 pm EDT in Cincinnati.

Yankees Suffering Through Slump

On Thursday, June 21, after the Yankees scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning in their 4-3 win over Seattle, completing the three-game sweep, New York fell into a deep slump, going 4-for-25 the rest of that game. That began a string of bad innings and plate appearances for the team that leads the AL in many offensive categories.

In game one at Tampa Bay on Friday, the slide deepened as six Tampa hurlers combined for a five-hit, one-run performance in a 2-1 Tampa Bay victory. The Rays held them to five hits in 31 at-bats, but that was just a prelude to Saturday’s 4-0 whitewash in which the Yankees managed four hits in 29 at-bats off four Tampa Bay throwers.

The Yanks have scored one run in the last 25 innings with a combined batting average of .153 (13-for-85), including their 4-for-29 Saturday sleepwalk. The two straight losses to Tampa Bay matches their longest losing streak of the season, a stat which is hard enough to believe, but they also haven’t homered in the past two games, a very un-Yankee-like trait.

Of course, there’s a simple explanation for the sudden lack of hitting by the Yanks. It’s called youth. The oldest starter for the Baby Bombers is outfielder Brett Gardner, who is 34. Austin Romine, who spells 25-year-old catcher Gary Sanchez, is 29. Every one of the regular starters, besides 33-year-old Neil Walker, who was 0-for-3 in Saturday’s shutdown, is no older than 28 (Didi Gregorious, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks).

Two of their starters, second baseman, Gleyber Torres, and third baseman, Miguel Andujar, are 21 and 23-year-old rookies, respectively. The pair was on fire until recently and, like all rookies, they were due to cool off.

Yankee fans have reason to be a little worried. Young teams usually don’t fare well in the second half of the season, but, considering how weak the rest of the AL East is - after Boston - the Yankees look like a lock to at least be a wild card. But, therein lies the problem. The Yankee post-season could be over in just one game due to the current playoff scheme that has the two wild card teams face off in a win-or-go-home showdown.

Making matters a little more of a concern is the schedule leading up to the all star break. The Yankees only have six more home games prior to July 15. Once they’re done in Tampa Sunday, they head to Philadelphia for a three-game series, then head home for three each with Boston and Atlanta, two of the best teams in the majors. Then, three in Toronto, four in Baltimore and four more in Cleveland to finish up the first half.