MLB’s re-Opening Day: Recaps and analysis
Friday marks what is effectively the second Opening Day of the 2016 Major League Baseball season as every team returns to action after the four-day All-Star break. We’ll be providing quick summaries and interpretations of every game as the night progresses, so be sure to check back here for updates as baseball begins its second half and the official push toward the postseason.
Matchup of the Day
Cubs 6, Rangers 0
The Cubs finished the first half in an awful slump, losing 15 of their last 21 games and nine of their last 11, the latter of which just may have been Stephen Colbert’s fault, so they desperately needed to reestablish themselves to start the second half. They did that in spades in Friday’s only afternoon game, shutting out the team with the third-best record in baseball behind six strong innings from Kyle Hendricks and near-flawless work from the bullpen in a possible World Series preview.
The Rangers, who lost nine of their last 12 to end the first half without a late-night host to blame it on, managed just five singles and a pair of walks in the game and didn’t get a runner past second base after the first inning. The Cubs, meanwhile, put up a five-spot against Rangers starter Martin Perez in the bottom of the sixth thanks in part to a two-run throwing error by first baseman Prince Fielder, who, with the Rangers in a National League park, was making just his eighth start in the field this season. As nice of a win as this was for the Cubs, however, it was just one game. The Rangers will run out Yu Darvish, who will come off the disabled list to start Saturday afternoon’s game, and Cole Hamels in the final two games of this series, which is far from over.
Nationals 5, Pirates 1
In an encouraging development for the Pirates, Francisco Liriano turned in his first quality start since June 11, matching Stephen Strasburg by allowing just one run through six innings. However, Liriano couldn’t retire either of the first two men he faced in the seventh and the Nationals put up a four-spot against reliever Neftali Feliz thanks in part to a pair of Pirates errors and a wild pitch. Michael Taylor, who drew the start against the lefty Liriano, capped that inning with a two-run homer off the righty Feliz. Strasburg, who didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth, allowed just three singles and a pair of walks in eight strong innings to improve to 13–0 on the season with Shawn Kelley striking out the side in the ninth. The only sour note for Washington in this game was that Daniel Murphy, who was going to start a first base again with rookie Trea Turner at second, was a late scratch due to a sore left hamstring.
Tigers 4, Royals 2
Ian Kinsler’s home run on Ian Kennedy’s second pitch was the only run of this game until the sixth inning, when the Royals scored two against Justin Verlander on a Salvador Perez double with the help of a Kinsler throwing error. Verlander held them there, however, and the Tigers got those two runs back plus one against Luke Hocheavar in the bottom of the seventh, starting with Tyler Collins’s game-tying homer in his first game back since his April demotion for flipping off the hometown fans. Verlander struck out 10 in seven strong innings of work and Justin Wilson and Francisco Rodriguez nailed down the win to put a little more distance between Detroit and Kansas City in the AL Central and wild-card standings.
Orioles 4, Rays 3
The Orioles and Rays built a pair of picket fences in this game at Tropicana Field, neither team scoring more than one run in any single inning in a game that saw seven runs scored. The Rays took an early 31 lead on Yovani Gallardo, but Chris Archer couldn’t hold it, allowing a run in the fifth, a run in the sixth to knot things at three and a leadoff home run to Jonathan Schoop in the eighth to give the Orioles their first lead of the game. The Rays nearly got that run back in the bottom of the ninth when Brad Miller hit a one-out double off Baltimore closer Zach Britton and moved to third on a wild pitch to Evan Longoria, but the Orioles intentionally walked Longoria and Britton struck out Logan Morrison and Steven Souza Jr. to nail down the win.
Red Sox 5, Yankees 3
Boston took a 3–0 lead on the Yankees and Michael Pineda on home runs by Ryan Hanigan and Travis Shaw before Steven Wright allowed his first baserunner on an infield hit by Alex Rodriguez with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. The Sox added two more runs on a Xander Bogaerts homer in the sixth that drove Pineda from the game. New York got on the board with a three-run sixth against Wright, but Brad Ziegler pitched a perfect seventh, Robbie Ross Jr. worked around a single in the eighth and Koji Uehara nailed down the win in the ninth as the Red Sox kept pace with the Orioles and dropped the Yankees below .500.
Mets 5, Phillies 3
Despite having the All-Star game to rest his sore right quadriceps, Yoenis Cespedes was not in the Mets’ lineup Friday night. Instead, Juan Lagares got the start in center and opened the scoring with a home run off Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson to leadoff the top of the third. Neil Walker added a three-run shot off Hellickson in the sixth, which gave New York enough padding to survive the Phillies three-run rally against Bartolo Colon in the bottom of that inning, which started with James Loney throwing error and a Petetr Bourjos triple.
Lagares added an insurance run against Andrew Bailey in the seventh via a Rickey Rally (walking, stealing second, and advancing to home on a pair of outs). Scoreless relief from Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Jeurys Famlia sealed the deal, allowing the Mets to keep pace with the Nationals and put the pressure on the Marlins in the NL East. As for Cespedes, it has now been seven days since he last appeared in a game, making a retroactive 15-day DL trip all the more likely.
Reds 5, Brewers 4
Anthony DeSclafani bested Matt Garza in this see-saw game which was notable for three things. The first was that Brandon Phillips came out of the game after straining his calf in the process of striking out in the sixth. The second was Billy Hamilton’s baserunning. In the fourth inning, Hamilton, who had reached on an infield single, scored from second base while the Reds attempted to turn a 5-4-3 double play.
Adam Duvall beat the relay throw at first base and Hamilton scored easily ahead of Chris Carter’s throw home. In the seventh, Hamilton reached on a bunt single, going to second on Jonathan Lucroy’s throwing error on that play, then stole third and scored on Jay Bruce’s subsequent double. The third thing was Tony Cingrani’s inability to nail down the save in the ninth. Nursing a two-run lead, Cingrani, whom I named the closer of my Anti-All-Stars team before the break, faced seven batters. Four of them reached base, via two singles and a pair of walks, and one laid down a sacrifice bunt. Only the last made an out without intending to, prompting Bryan Price to call on journeyman Ross Ohlendorf, who got Ryan Braun to pop out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Rockies 11, Braves 2
Lucas Harrell looked like a nice reclamation project for the Braves when he allowed just two runs in 13 2/3 innings in his first major league starts since 2014 before the break. That changed Friday night when the Rockies jumped all over the 31-year-old former Astros righty who spent last season pitching in the Korea Baseball Organization. He allowed just one run the first time through the Rockies order, but when the order turned over to start the third, Colorado put up a four-spot against Harrell, who helped significantly by making a throwing error on an infield single by Trevor Story that allowed two runs to score and put Story on third, from where he’d score on the subsequent pitch.
The Rockies got two more in the fourth keyed by a DJ LeMahieu triple and Harrell’s second wild pitch of a sloppy game that saw the teams combine for two errors and six wild pitches. Things went from bad to worse for Atlanta in the ninth when Ryan Raburn hit a grand slam off Dario Alvarez after Arodys Vizcaino left after just one batter (who reached on an error, natch) due to an apparent right oblique strain that is expected to place him on the DL.
Indians 5, Twins 2
Cleveland, which rather remarkably went just 2–4 against the Twins prior to the All-Star break, followed its 14-game winning streak by going 3–6 to finish the first half. This 5–2 win thus got a couple of monkeys off their back to start the second half. It was no gimme, however. The Twins took an early 1–0 lead and latter tied the game at 2–2 in the bottom of the fourth. Cleveland didn’t take the lead for good until the top of the sixth, when singles by Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli and Jose Ramirez drove in a run and drove Twins starter Ervin Santana from the game, and reliever Trevor May brought home a second run with a wild pitch. Carlos Carrasco, meanwhile, pitched into the seventh. Napoli added a solo homer in the top of the eighth, and Jeff Manship, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen shut the door for the win, maintaining Cleveland’s six-game lead over Detroit in the Central.
Game of the Day
Marlins 7, Cardinals 6
The Cardinals hit four home runs in this game, taking a 4–1 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Stephen Piscotty, leading off the inning, and Tommy Pham, with two men on base, took Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen deep. After the Marlins battled back against Jaime Garcia and Trevor Rosenthal to take a 5–4 lead, Pham led off the seventh with another round-tripper to tie the game and Randall Grichuk hit another to give the Cardinals a 6–5 lead, both of those coming against reliever David Phelps. The Marlins would not be deterred, however. Miami tied the game in the top of the eighth when Ichiro Suzuki delivered a one-out, pinch-hit single (hit number 2,991 of his major league career), went to second on a wild pickoff throw from Kevin Siegrist, who was fresh off the disabled list, and scored on a Martin Prado single off Jonathan Broxton.
The Marlins then took the lead in the top of the ninth after Marcell Ozuna hit a ball so hard to centerfield off Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh that it knuckled on Grichuk and fell for a double. Ozuna later scored the go-ahead run on a two-out, two-strike single past the dive of St. Louis third baseman Jhonny Peralta by Miguel Rojas, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh only to pop out with the bases loaded to end that inning. The Cardinals made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth when Pham led off with a single against Marlins closer A.J. Ramos and moved into scoring position on a two-out single by Almedys Diaz, but Ramos struck out the side around those two hits to clinch the win and keep the Marlins tied with the Mets in the NL East and wild-card races.
Also of note in this game, home plate umpire Chad Fairchild was hit squarely in the right arm by a foul-tip in the bottom of the first and had to be removed from the game. Jim Joyce took over behind home plate as the remainder of the game was played with a three-man umpiring crew.
Angels 7, White Sox 0
This game was close until the Angels put up a five-spot against a quartet of White Sox pitchers in the bottom of the seventh. A double and an error drove starter Miguel Gonzalez from the game before he could record the first out of the inning. Brought in to face lefty Ji-Man Choi, lefty Zach Duke instead wound up facing right-handed pinch-hitter Jefry Marte and gave up an RBI double. Matt Albers followed and gave up a single to all three men he faced with Tim Anderson’s second error of the inning allowing the fourth run of the inning to score. Dan Jennings then came on and got all three outs, but not before the fifth run scored on a 6-4-3 double play.
Meanwhile, Angels’ starter Hector Santiago worked seven scoreless innings, striking out seven against no walks. He is now 4–0 with a 1.88 ERA in his last six starts, five of which have seen him allow one run or less in a quality starts. With the Angels mired in last place and Santiago a free agent after next season, they should give serious consideration to selling high on the 28-year-old lefty in the next two weeks.
Astros 7, Mariners 3
George Springer led off this game with a home run off Seattle lefty James Paxton, but Houston didn’t break it open until they scored five more off Paxton in the top of the fifth. That inning saw Paxton uncork three wild pitches, the last of which took such a crazy bounce away from catcher Chris Iannetta that Carlos Correa was able to score from second base.
Curiously, the Mariners scored their first run of the game in the bottom of that inning on a wild pitch. In addition to the loss, which dropped them four games behind the Astros in the wild-card race, the Mariners lost shortstop Ketel Marte to a sprained ankle suffered on his third-inning triple off Houston starter Doug Fister. However, Marte’s injury is not believed to be serious. He is considered day-to-day.
A’s 8, Blue Jays 7
Marcus Stroman finished his disappointing first half with two strong outings against Cleveland and Kanasas City in which he allowed three runs in 14 2/3 innings, promising better things to come in the second half. That promise was broken Friday night as he gave up two runs in the bottom of the first, a Josh Reddick solo homer in the third, another run in the fourth and three more runs in the fifth on home runs by Kris Davis and Stephen Vogt. That Vogt home run bounced Stroman after just 4 2/3 innings with seven runs, six earned, having scored on his watch. Even worse, the Blue Jays offense had given him a 7–3 lead via a four-run top of the fourth that bounced A’s rookie Daniel Mengden, who had the worst start of his young career. That 7–7 tie held until the bottom of the seventh when Reddick walked, moved to second on a single by Davis and came around to score on a single to center by Vogt with a little help from instant replay, which overruled the call on the field that Reddick had been thrown out at the plate by Toronto centerfielder Kevin Pillar. Pillar’s throw home was a perfect strike, but because catcher Russell Martin was forced to stay out of the baseline by the collision rule, he had to reach back to make the tag and was a fraction of a second too late to prevent the winning run.
Padres 4, Giants 1
Madison Bumgarner didn’t pitch in the All-Star game at Petco Park because his last start came on Sunday, but he started there Friday night. Bumgarner struck out nine in six innings against just one walk, but seethed on the mound as the Padres put up a picket fence against him, scoring single runs in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, the last two runs coming on home runs by Adam Rosales and All-Star Wil Myers. Padres starter Andrew Cashner, meanwhile, rebounded from his disaster outing in his last start before the break to pitch six innings of one-run ball, also striking out nine while walking no one. The only baserunner Cashner allowed in his final four innings of work came when he hit Ramiro Peña in the back with a pitch. Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer each faced the minimum in a scoreless inning of work to secure the win, with the help of this entertaining catch by Yangervis Solarte.
Dodgers 13, Diamondbacks 7
Overlooked in the frustration over the performances of Shelby Miller and Zack Greinke and the season-erasing injury to A.J. Pollock has been just how disappointing Patrick Corbin has been for Arizona this season. Corbin allowed seven runs in a single game for the third time this season Friday night, inflating his ERA to 5.25 on the season to go with his 4–8 record. Things fell apart for Corbin in the top of the fourth inning, when he gave up five runs right after his team had taken a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third. It might have been more had Yasiel Puig not gotten thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double to end the inning. The Diamondbacks would score four more runs later in the game, but they never again lead it.
Meanwhile, the story of the game for L.A. was that Chris Taylor, making his first start at second base for the Dodgers, tripled, doubled and homered in consecutive at-bats, the last being a game-breaking grand slam off reliever Silvio Bracho that put the Dodgers up 12–4 in the sixth. Needing just a single for the cycle, Taylor, who had six RBIs on the night, attempted to bunt his way on against Josh Collmenter in the eighth, but was unsuccessful.