Starting Nine: Nolan Arenado steals the show; Dodgers can't lose and more
- Nolan Arenado, Pablo Sandoval and the Dodgers headlined Wednesday’s MLB action.
After a pair of trades stole most of the buzz on Tuesday, Nolan Arenado, Pablo Sandoval and the Dodgers headlined Wednesday’s action. Here are nine items you need to know from the day in baseball.
What you might have missed
1. Between Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, and a host of other talented third basemen, no position is more loaded in baseball. But on Wednesday afternoon in Denver, Nolan Arenado showed why he’s the most talented of the bunch. The 26-year-old clubbed three home runs in a 5-for-5 day as the Rockies pummeled the Padres, 18-6. What’s more, Arenado’s three home runs came consecutively in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Given the Rockies play half their games each year in such a hitter-friendly environment, it’s surprising no other player has ever produced an identical game for Colorado. It’s also of note that Arenado—in the midst of a .306/.356/.584 season with 21 home runs and 80 RBIs—has already hit for the cycle this year. The guy can flat-out hit, and that’s pushing aside his four Gold Gloves.
2. Given the Rockies’ 56-41 record, their current four-game winning streak would shake up the standings in almost any other division except their own. The Dodgers can’t seem to invent a way to lose. L.A. won again, 9-1 over the White Sox, for its 11th win in a row and 31st win out of the past 35 games. In other terms, they’re 31-4 since June 7.
In that span they’ve had winning streaks span six, 10 and now 11 games. Presumably the Dodgers will stop winning at a 91 percent pace, but even so, their .695 overall winning percentage equates to 112 wins over a 162-game season. Much of the hype right now won’t matter if the Dodgers don’t make a serious run this postseason, but their play right now is worthy of dreaming about 112-win season.
3. When handing out first-half grades among National League clubs, we didn’t hold back when it came to the struggling Cubs. One six-game winning streak later, however, and the landscape of the National League Central is completely different. The Brewers allowed a run in the ninth and another in the 10th to lose in extra-innings to the Pirates. Couple that with Chicago’s 8-2 win against the Braves, and now the two division rivals are suddenly tied in the loss column.
The Cubs remain 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee, but the two teams are clearly trending different directions. It’s also of note that the Pirates and Cardinals are only four and 4 1/2 games back, respectively, in what’s quietly turning into baseball’s best division race. With Arizona and Colorado comfortably ahead in the Wild Card standings, it could be a four-team race for one playoff spot.
What to watch for
4. It’s been more than a month since the Yankees last won a series. A 6-1 lost to the Twins on Wednesday sunk the team to 0-8-2 in their last 10 series, and the team has lost 22 of its last 32 games. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to plot the Yankees’ future over the season’s final 2 1/2 months, especially since New York acquired Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in a seven-player swap with the White Sox on Tuesday.
The team is only a half-game ahead of the Twins, who won a home series against the Yankees for the first time since 2008, for the second AL Wild Card spot. Aaron Judge is only 3-for-23 since the All-Star break, stirring not only the haters of the Home Run Derby, but plenty of doubt about the Yankees in the second half. A six-week slump is enough to merit the latter. New York begins a four-game road series against the Mariners on Thursday.
5. It took only one game for Tuesday’s other big trade—a swap between the Diamondbacks and Tigers that sent J.D. Martinez to Arizona—to hit a snag. Martinez was plunked on his left hand while fouling off a 90-mile per hour fastball. He struck out later in the at-bat and left the game, only three innings into his Diamondbacks career. The power-hitting outfielder is day-to-day with a contusion after x-rays came back negative.
6. It appears a reunion is in order between Pablo Sandoval and the Giants. Multiple reports surfaced Wednesday evening that the two parties were in agreement on a deal that can’t be finalized until the veteran third baseman officially clears waivers. Given the messy split
between Sandoval and the Giants, where Sandoval claimed manager Bruce Bochy and outfielder Hunter Pence were the only two he’d miss from his former team, this move is a bit of a stunner.
Dusting off the old panda hats in San Francisco might seem like a fun idea, but the Red Sox cutting almost $50 million loose says everything you need to know. Boston didn’t believe Sandoval was major-league caliber, and he’ll have to prove himself again on the Giants’ Triple-A roster. Signing Sandoval could be a precursor to trading Eduardo Nuñez, who’s reportedly atop the Red Sox’ list, which would free up a lot of playing time at the hot corner.
What you need to watch
7. The tweet below says it all, but Giancarlo Stanton is on quite a roll this month. The Marlins still lost, 10-3, to the Phillies.
8. Bruce Bochy celebrated the return of Thrones from his throne.
9. Jose Ramirez displayed some remarkable arm strength and accuracy from foul territory.