NEW YORK -- When Matt Harvey climbs atop the Citi Field mound for tonight's 7 ET showdown against the Red Sox, he will be operating on 11 days' rest -- 11 days of playing catch, throwing bullpen sessions, weightlifting, watching television and otherwise acting like his usual self: a caged animal. Not since his Grapefruit League debut has he gone longer between outings, thanks to a skipped start on what would have been his turn last Sunday in Denver.
The rest may prove important -- Statcast™ tells us so. While Harvey's results have been pristine over the past month-plus, including a 1.27 ERA since the All-Star break of his first year back from Tommy John surgery, his velocity has taken a slight dip. That flies in direct contrast to fellow young pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, who -- like most of baseball's top 20 starters, as ranked by Wins Above Replacement -- have enjoyed a gradual midsummer velocity increase.
For nearly a month, the Astros and Scott Kazmir have been a perfect marriage.
The southpaw, traded back to his hometown team in late July, has pitched well with Houston, and the Astros have held sole possession of first place in the American League West for all of August. They'll be challenged today by the Twins, who are trying to creep back into the postseason picture.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
3D! Mets, Nats, Rangers dazzle on defense
Statcast™ shows the substance of Thursday's best plays
By Andrew Simon
There wasn't quite a full slate of games across the Majors on Thursday, but there still was no shortage of highlight-reel plays.
The day's crop included a couple of spectacular catches by rangy outfielders, some quick reflexes in the infield, an unorthodox home run and one of the most eye-popping 1-3-1 putouts you will ever see. Statcast™ was there to dissect each play with state-of-the-art tracking technology, and the findings are shown in the list below.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Find out which MLB ballpark you are with our quiz
By Michael Clair |
Young children often say ridiculous things like, "There is a monster under the bed," "I have an imaginary friend without eyes who visits me at night," and "It's okay to wear flip-flops in public."
They also tend to have bizarre career aspirations. For every doctor and actor, there is the child that wants to be a fire truck or the summer breeze. And while we laugh at them and assume they'll grow out of it, you know there are a few people out there still harboring that dream.
PHILADELPHIA -- Sprinting toward first base, Carlos Torres figured there was little chance Daniel Murphy would feed him the baseball. After splaying out to snare a comebacker that ricocheted off Torres' foot, Murphy was lying on the ground, struggling to remove it from the webbing of his glove. Torres continued on his route. Then in one heaving motion, Murphy shoveled the ball to Torres as the pitcher's foot hit the bag.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Every now and then, it's not a bad idea to recall the immortal words of former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich: "Never underestimate the heart of a champion."
Rudy T. was referring to his back-to-back kings of the NBA in 1994 and '95, but his sentiments also apply to the three-time World Series champion Giants. Fans in San Francisco and its environs know never to underestimate these guys, even as their faith repeatedly is tested in odd-numbered years such as 2015.
Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Miguel Sano nearly hits baseball through the dome
By Matt Monagan |
The power of Miguel Sano has been well-documented since his call-up this season. Just two weeks ago, he attempted to hit one into the clouds -- bringing forth torrents of rain from the Minnesota sky. And during Thursday's Twins-Rays game, the 22-year-old unleashed another momentous blast (just listen to the crack of the bat in the above video). It looked as if it may have torn a hole through the dome/atmosphere, but luckily for Rays fans, the ball knocked off the B-ring catwalk for an RBI-double.
PHILADELPHIA -- Commissioner Rob Manfred said discussions regarding extended safety netting at Major League ballparks are ongoing and that he hopes to make a recommendation to owners during quarterly meetings in Dallas in November.
Manfred made his remarks before Thursday night's game at Citizens Bank Park, a 9-5 Mets win over the Phillies in 13 innings, as he completed his goal of visiting all 30 clubs after succeeding Bud Selig in January.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Mexico, Texas grab last 2 regional final spots
By Andrew Simon
The final spots in the International and United States Championship games were up for grabs on Thursday at the Little League World Series.
Mexico was the first to punch its ticket, rolling past Venezuela to set up a clash with Japan on Saturday. That set the stage for a dramatic finale, in which a walkoff homer in extra innings lifted Texas past California and onto a U.S. championship matchup against Pennsylvania.
ARLINGTON -- Rangers left fielder Will Venable made his first start in five games with a right-hander on the mound for the Blue Jays and made a terrific defensive play in the second inning of a 4-1 win on Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
The Blue Jays had Ben Revere on first with two outs when Cliff Pennington sliced a drive to left field. The ball was not hit deep, but Venable was playing shallow and had to race straight back to catch up. At the last moment, he made a diving catch going away from home plate. If he doesn't catch the ball, Revere would have scored easily.
In doing so, the third baseman robbed Jedd Gyorko of a hit, preserved a two-run lead and helped the Nationals to a 4-2 win over the Padres, ensuring Washington wouldn't lose ground in an already uphill chase for the National League East crown.
PHOENIX -- The Cardinals completed a season sweep of the D-backs on Thursday with a 5-3 victory punctuated by home runs from backup catcher Tony Cruz and fill-in outfielder Brandon Moss before reliever Seth Maness highlighted the night by pulling off a great escape.
After sweeping a three-game home series against the D-backs in May, the Cardinals interrupted Arizona's attempt to keep climbing up the National League West standings by winning four straight at Chase Field. In doing so, the Cardinals, who have won five in a row on this road trip, maintained their 4 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. This was their first four-game sweep at Chase Field.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
2015 Postseason Schedule
Wild Card Games to begin playoffs on Oct. 6-7; World Series to start on Oct. 27
By Mark Newman
The 2015 postseason schedule will begin on Oct. 6, with the 111th Fall Classic to open on Oct. 27 in an American League ballpark, thanks to the AL's 6-3 victory in last month's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile. The full postseason schedule can be found at MLB.com/postseason.
Following the scheduled regular-season finales on Sunday, Oct. 4, potentially necessary regular-season tiebreaker games would be telecast exclusively by ESPN the next day. Then the postseason will begin that Tuesday, with the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on ESPN. The National League equivalent is scheduled for Oct. 7, televised exclusively by TBS.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Stats of the Day: Greinke on an historic pace
With his seven scoreless innings Thursday, Dodgers star lowers ERA to 1.61
By Roger Schlueter
Special to MLB.com |
Here are five interesting items from around the big leagues Thursday …
• Zack Greinke threw seven scoreless innings, the Dodgers plated a run on a double play, and Los Angeles emerged from Great American Ball Park with a 1-0 victory over the Reds. In his 26th appearance of the year, Greinke lowered his ERA to 1.61. Since 1968, the five-lowest season-ending ERAs were Bob Gibson's 1.12 in 1968, Dwight Gooden's 1.53 in '85, Greg Maddux's 1.56 in '94, Luis Tiant's 1.60 in '68 and Maddux's 1.63 in '95. While Greinke leads the National League in ERA, he ranks fifth in wins (two behind the co-leaders) and is eighth in strikeouts. Of the nine pitchers in the live-ball era to finish with an ERA below 1.70, only Gooden (in '85) captured the pitching Triple Crown in his league.
MIAMI -- Pirates ace Gerrit Cole made an overdue return to the win column Thursday night at Marlins Park, throwing 7 1/3 innings and picking up his 15th victory as the Bucs beat the Marlins, 2-1.
It was Cole's first win, and his longest start, since July 26. He had been 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA in August, albeit with a pair of quality starts, before holding the Marlins to one run on five hits, while striking out four.
One by one, the injured guys have returned to the Mets. And new talent has arrived, too, adding pop to a lineup that needed some. Changes here, changes there. Little by little, the Mets have been transformed.
Check them out now. The Mets are 18-6 in August, and they're seemingly sprinting toward their first playoff appearance in nine years. They're leading the Majors in runs this month (6.46 per game), and they have the rotation they hoped to have (fourth in the bigs with a 3.38 ERA and fourth with 694 strikeouts).
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
White Sox wear '76 throwbacks featuring collar
By Chris Landers |
Last week, we brought word of a earth-shattering uniform development -- the White Sox were planning on dusting off their 1976 unis, otherwise known as "The ones with collared shirts and shorts." And so we waited, holding breaths, desperate to know if the rumor was true.
WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Denard Span is headed to the 15-day disabled list with left hip inflammation, manager Matt Williams announced after Thursday's 4-2 win over the Padres. Span could miss the rest of the season.
The injury is related to the back and abdominal issues he has had all season. According to Williams, Span's body didn't react well after playing the previous two games.
PHOENIX -- After a series of balls hit to the warning track during his first four weeks with his new team, Brandon Moss, much to his relief, finally showed the Cardinals his ability to drop one over.
Moss, homerless in his first 58 appearances with St. Louis after blasting 15 with the Indians before a July 30 trade, delivered a tiebreaking homer that would eventually stand as a game-winner in Thursday night's 5-3 win over Arizona.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joey Butler hit a game-tying single and scored on a passed ball to help the Rays snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
The Twins (65-62) entered the game tied with the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot and finished 6-4 on the road trip. By winning, the Rays (63-64) avoided a sweep while moving to within two games of the Twins in the Wild Card standings.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner concluded his graceful waltz through August with his fanciest footwork of the month.
Bumgarner displayed his characteristic dominance Thursday with 12 strikeouts in six innings during the Giants' 9-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. But San Francisco's ace most impressively maintained control of himself on foot, not on the mound.
By Mark Sheldon and Ken Gurnick
MLB.com |@kengurnick |
CINCINNATI -- Zack Greinke fired a four-hitter for seven scoreless innings to outduel Anthony DeSclafani as the Dodgers edged the Reds on Thursday afternoon, 1-0, for their first series sweep at Great American Ball Park since 2008.
The Reds have lost 12 of 13, while the Dodgers had lost the first five games of the trip in Oakland and Houston before the three-game sweep. The win left the first-place Dodgers 2 1/2 games ahead of the Giants, who beat the Cubs, 9-1.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cubs added another arm to the bullpen mix Thursday, acquiring right-hander Fernando Rodney from the Mariners for a player to be named or cash considerations. Rodney is expected to join the Cubs on Friday in Los Angeles.
"I was there for that year when he had the best in history," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the right-hander's 2012 season with the Rays, when he compiled an 0.60 ERA in 76 games with 48 saves. "He has the kind of stuff to get out both righties and lefties. I know he had trouble or struggled a bit this year, but I'm eager to see him in person and find out what's going on."
PHOENIX -- In three years with the Cardinals, Seth Maness has distinguished himself as the bullpen fireman, the one summoned to extinguish the messes. But never had he pulled off an escape as seemingly impossible as the one he did to preserve the team's 5-3 win over the D-backs on Thursday night.
Maness played magician in the eighth inning, doing so without even needing to lean on the double-play ball that has helped him out of so many jams before. Entering into a bases-loaded, no-out predicament created by Steve Cishek, Maness notched a pair of strikeouts before inducing a ground ball to end the threat.
CHICAGO -- Given the difficulty of hitting a baseball, it helps to be something of an optimist.
Nelson Cruz, who was traded three times before his 27th birthday, learned long ago about the beauty of the glass half full. So here he is at 35, continuing to raise his level with the Mariners, despite them being his third team in three years.
PHILADELPHIA -- In protecting an NL East lead that has stretched to 6 1/2 games, their largest cushion in eight years, the new-look Mets are setting offensive records on a near-nightly basis. But it's one of the longest-tenured Mets, Daniel Murphy, who is playing a significant role in the transformation.
Murphy hit a go-ahead two-run double Thursday and made a circus play on defense, leading the Mets to a 9-5, 13-inning win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets swept the four-game series in Philadelphia, set a franchise record with 73 runs in a seven-game span and have won seven in a row overall, grabbing their third winning streak of at least seven games this season.