The Inning: August 17, 2017

The Inning

Thursday, August 17, 2017

 

Three Up…

 

  1. Pomeranz beats Eovaldi, takes series in Seattle. Really, there was little Nathan Eovaldi could do.

 

Drew Pomeranz wasn’t mistake-free…but he was close.

 

Pomeranz scattered eight hits over 6.2 innings, as Baltimore beat Seattle, 2-0. The win gives Baltimore a series victory in Seattle, which sends a message to the rest of the league:

 

For those of you who don’t believe, heed the word.

 

Each game was hotly contested; Baltimore won 4-3 on Monday, and Seattle took Tuesday’s game, 3-1. Yesterday was no different.

 

“It felt like October,” said Eovaldi after the game. “It had that intensity. Every play mattered.”

 

Seattle had their first chance in the second, when Geraldo Rodriguez and Aaron Hicks singled with one out. But Rob Brantly grounded into a double-play, ending the threat.

 

The Orioles would quickly turn their first chance into the only one that mattered.

 

Rafael Luna opened the third with a single to left center. That brought up Travis Jankowski, the man who somehow gets obscured in a sea full of obscurity. People may have heard of Baltimore’s young guns, but this is a team that typically flies under-the-radar. Guys like Anthony Hale and Tyler Townsend, for all their feats this year and in the past, are overlooked in favor of stars in bigger markets.

 

Jankowski feels that more than most. And while he’s having a down year (105 OPS+), he is, very much, the force the O’s revolve around.

 

“He sets the tone,” said Townsend after the game. “All of the guys look at him as the leader. I think he does a pretty good job of it.”

 

With this at-bat, Jankowski led the Orioles to victory. He took Eovaldi’s first offering out to right-center. The two-run shot was only the tenth given up by Eovaldi this season. It gave Baltimore a 2-0 lead…one they would never relinquish.

 

That was because of Pomeranz.

 

He worked around two walks in the third, getting Mark Trumbo looking at strike three to end the threat. In the fifth, he gave up a leadoff double to Freddy Galvis, then a one-out single to Nick Williams. He then induced Arinori Arai to ground into a double play, one Pomeranz started himself.

 

In the sixth, he gave up consecutive singles to Mark Baker and Rodriguez. But he got Hicks to watch strike three, then got Brently to ground back to him.

 

“Yeah, he got into some stuff,” said catcher Tommy Joseph. He worked out of all of that. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone so indifferent to people on base. He definitely doesn’t mind.”

 

Pomeranz gave way to Arodys Vizcaino after surrending a single with two outs in the seventh. Vizcaino got Arai to line drive to first, then worked around a leadoff single to Trumbo in the eighth.

 

Pasqualino Carosi, not Stacy’s daughter (let’s see who gets that reference) worked a clean sheet for his 23rd save.

 

Eovaldi was shaky at times, giving up eight hits and walking three, while striking out five. Zachary Herr worked three scoreless innings.

 

Michael Antonio and Rob Segedin had two hits each for Seattle; each also had a walk. Rodriguez led Seattle with three hits.

 

The series win is significant for the O’s. They are just 32-31 on the road, and had struggled since July 1st. Picking up two wins in Seattle will silence the naysayers who claim this time has an expiration date (I have been one of them, though they’ve made me a believer). They are not a playoff certainty, by any stretch. As of now, there’s only one road to October if you’re in the AL East. And Toronto has all the momentum in the world.

 

But if you’re in a Baltimore uniform, you have to feel confident heading to Anaheim to face a team without their two leading MVP candidates (of course, they have the other, Nomar Mazara, and Kaleb Cowart continues to rip the seams off the ball). The Orioles went into a hostile environment against a likely playoff team, and beat them. And they beat the Cy Young favorite in the rubber match. It had…maybe not a Game 7 atmosphere, but it had a deep series feel.

 

This meant more to Baltimore than Seattle at this stage, though if the two teams were to match up in the postseason, Baltimore wouldn’t have the animosity about coming to the Pacific Northwest. That’s a big deal for Seattle, who sits at 42-24 at Safeco. However, it may mean the end of their bid to win the AL West…and perhaps start putting some wild card dominance at risk. Their next twelve games are all on the road…at Tampa, at Atlanta, at the Yanks, and in Baltimore.

 

That’s a tough stretch, indeed.

 

  1. Phillies batter Mantuella, sweep Padres. Nobody saw this coming. Not even Philadelphia.

 

With San Diego ace, and Cy Young contender, Michael Mantuella taking the mound on Wednesday, the Phillies decided to hold off on throwing Brandon Beachy until Thursday night in San Francisco. The reasoning was simple: he has struggled since coming back from suspension, and with Cam Maybin getting a rest day, why not let him wait another day, then throw him and Sean Gilmartin against the downtrodden Giants?

 

As a result, the team tried to steal innings with John O’Day, who has struggled since arriving in Philadelphia.

 

As it turns out, the Phils didn’t need either Beachy or Maybin. They had Thomas Field.

 

The first baseman has performed quite well since arriving as part of that Maybin deal with Cleveland. He’s hit .297-15-50 since arriving, solidifying a point of contention in the infield for Philadelphia. First base has been a rough patch since the team traded…you know…Gary Copeland. Matt Adams began the year as the starter…but he was so bad, he was banished to AAA, never to return. Chase Utley has been nicked up a few times this season, and while Neftali Soto has performed well, he is barely a short-term solution.

 

Field has, needless to say, been a godsend for the Phillies and their fans.

 

Field was also the difference on Wednesday, taking Manutella deep twice in the first three innings. The two homers led to give RBI, and propelled the Phils to a 9-3 win, and a series sweep, over the Padres.

 

With the Mets and Braves winning (the latter winning twice), the Phils didn’t gain any ground. And with the Cubs winning, the Phils remained just a half-game ahead for the second Wild Card.

 

However, they didn’t bury themselves, like last year.

 

Mantuella had his worst start of the year, lasting just 2.2 innings, giving up seven runs, five earned, on eight hits. He struck out five.

 

“Just didn’t have it tonight,” he said after the game. “They’re good.”

 

One has to wonder if the strain of Prince Fielder being put into the field is getting to the defense. The Padres had three errors on Wednesday night. Second baseman Pedro Okuda was charged with one of them, trying to range for a ball that a first baseman would ordinarily have.

 

As for O’Day, he continues to struggle: he allowed 10 hits, and three walks, in 6.2 innings. But he worked out of trouble repeatedly, only getting dinged by Fielder’s 35th homer of the year, a two-run shot in the sixth.

 

By then, it was 9-1.

 

“He’s young,” said manager Bob Geren. “And he’s still getting himself used to us. He pitched well tonight, had some fantastic sequences later in the game. I like what he’s doing.”

 

Geren didn’t say whether or not O’Day will stay in the rotation when Phil Hughes comes off the DL after this weekend. One would speculate, with the need for another lefty in the bullpen, O’Day may get more seasoning there, as the Phils make another run at their first playoff spot since 2013. Beating the Padres in three straight at PetCo was a big step.

 

For the Padres, there may not be much to glean from this…other than that they’re now 3.5 back of the Dodgers in the NL West, and do have to wonder about whether or not having Fielder on the field so often disrupts what helps them win the most.

 

  1. Dos Tres: McKinley, Moore each hit three bombs, but Braves sweep. Rarely do you see one player hit three homers across a doubleheader. But the Braves and Rockies each fielded one on Wednesday night.

 

For Colorado, Jed McKinley went yard in the ninth inning of the first game, a two-run shot off Anthony Zych. The game was already well in hand, as the Braves won, 18-2. But it was a sign of things to come for McKinley.

 

Jeffrey Moore, meanwhile, has wondered openly where his power went. Coming into the game, he had just nine on the season. This came one year after hitting 26 for the Astros.

 

In this one, he hit a solo shot off of Daniel Hudson, giving the Braves a 9-0 lead. Hudson was…well, bad. He gave up the nine runs, all earned, on ten hits, in 2.2 innings. The Moore shot chased him. He didn’t walk a hitter…but he didn’t strike any out, either.

 

The pair continued to bop in the second game. McKinley wasted no time, tagging Martires Cadet for a two-run shot in the first. That tied the score at 2-2, as Pablo Sandoval homered off Orlando Garcia in the top half.

 

With the Braves up 4-2 in the third, Moore hit one off Garcia, a solo shot. McKinley answered with another bomb off Martires, a three-run blast.

 

With three consecutive homers across two games, the Braves decided to give free passes to McKinley for the rest of the game.

 

In the fifth, Moore tagged Garcia once more, this time with a three-run shot. That made it 8-5, Atlanta.

 

The Braves would eventually win, 13-6. Moore finished 3-4 with 3 runs scored and 4 RBI. McKinley was 2-2 with 5 RBI, a pair of runs, and a pair of walks.

 

On the day, the Braves hit nine homers. Moore is the only one who hit more than one. Armando Cabanas hit his 34th.

 

The losses were crucial to the Braves, who fell nine games back of the Dodgers, and eight games back of the Phillies for the final wild card spot. The Braves are 1.5 up on the Mets, and 4.5 up on the Phillies.

 

Hero of the Day: 1B Thomas Field, Philadelphia. When you hit two homers against The Prodigy, Michael Mantuella, he of nine homers yielded coming into his start against Philly, you’re doing something very, very right.

 

Longest Current Winning Streak: Philadelphia – 5

 

Three Down…

 

  1. The news on John Hellweg is as bad as feared. The Reds’ starter is out for eight months after a torn rotator cuff was diagnosed. I’ve touched upon this for a couple of days, what the Reds may do. There’s still no answer just yet, but chances are, it’ll be Jack Duffey.

 

I’ve written enough on this, but felt the need to follow up on the news.

 

  1. Cardinals blow big one against Boston. For as good a story as the Cardinals’ resurgence has been, this may be the crippling blow in their attempts to get back into contention in the NL.

 

The Cardinals hung a six-spot on the beleaguered Boston Red Sox Wednesday night. The big blow was a three-run shot by Evan Longoria, who finally flashed the bat (4-5, 4 RBI, his 10th homer of the year). They had added two more by the bottom of the fourth.

 

That’s when Boston got going.

 

It started with Dwight Smith Jr.’s grand slam, which came off Lucio Cruzado. After three solid innings, Cruzado imploded. He’d last just 4.2 innings, giving up eight hits and seven runs.

 

Yes, spoiler alert.

 

The Cardinals made it 9-4 in the fifth, on a Matt Wieters groundout. But the Sox came right back in the fifth. After Dom Brown struck out looking, Andres Esparza and James Darnell singled. Tae-Hyeok Nam flew out, moving Esparza to third.

 

That brought up Luis Caraballo, who singled home Esparza. Darnell was able to score on a throwing error from RF Albert Almora. That chased Cruzado, in favor of Mark Lowe. He was greeting by a single by Manny Machado, which scored Carabalo. That made it 9-7, Cardinals.

 

The Sox would come all the way back in the sixth, on a two-run homer by Brown, and a run-scoring single by Caraballo (scoring, once again, Esparza). The Sox had a 10-9 lead.

 

Justin Upton brought home Longoria on a single and throwing error in the top of the seventh, tying the game. It was a temporary, and fleeting, feeling.

 

Kyle Blanks opened up the seventh with a triple. Josh Edgin came in relief of Dillon Howard, and got Matt Joyce to ground out. Brown was walked intentionally, bringing in Matt Garza. He immediately gave up a run-scoring single to Esparza. Darnell flew out, but pinch-hitter Frank Burt doubled, scoring Brown and Esparza. The Sox went up by a field goal, 13-10.

 

And that’s how it stayed.

 

Esparza, the team’s catcher, was 3-5 with three runs scored. Smith was 3-5 with the slam. Brown now sits at .278-12-59 after his 1-3, 2 RBI night, and Caraballo had a great night, going 3-5 with a pair of runs and RBI.

 

We’ll spare the pitchers their details. No need to bring shame to so many people.

 

 

  1. The is no third today. I want to do a feature on the race for the inverted #1, and the spirited discussion going on with the league’s bottom-dwellers. But that’s for another time.

 

Goat of the Day: Any pitcher in that Boston/St. Louis game. Any of them.

 

Longest Current Losing Streak: San Diego – 5