Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shuck N thrive: No. 9 hitter lifts White Sox over Twins

J.B. Shuck's eighth-inning single, his third hit of the day, scored Avisail Garciawith the game-winning run in a 6-5 White Sox victory over the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday. The White Sox won a third straight series for the first time this season, and they improved to 8-1 against the last-place Twins.
"It's understanding I'm going to get some at-bats, so I can relax a little bit and get back to putting together good at-bats, and hopefully the results start coming," Shuck said. "We kept battling and the offense continued to fight, and we got a run where we needed to, another series win."
Fernando Abad took the loss. He retired the first two hitters in the eighth without issue, but then walked Garcia and Jason Coats, Chicago's seventh and eighth hitters in the lineup.David Robertson earned the save for the White Sox, converting his 11th straight and 15th in his last 16 attempts.
Carlos Rodon retired the first 11 Twins hitters he faced before Robbie Grossman andBrian Dozier launched back-to-back homers in the fourth inning. Rodon pitched a perfect fifth, but the Twins scored two in the sixth on three hits and chased Rodon from the game. The lefty finished with a no-decision, allowing the four runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one.
"He started getting stuff over the middle of the plate," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Rodon. "This team [Minnesota], they battle, they've always done that. They started squaring some stuff up on him, the quick two homers. After that, they started putting some good at-bats together on him."
The White Sox built up a 5-2 lead against Twins starter Tommy Milone by scoring one run in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth. Garcia and Matt Davidson each delivered run-scoring hits, marking the first hit and RBI for Davidson with the White Sox. Davidson was pinch-hit for by Coats in the sixth, leaving with what was eventually diagnosed as a fracture in his right foot.
Minnesota tied the game in the seventh on Max Kepler's double against reliever Zach Duke, and Eduardo Nunez's two-out single against Nate Jones. Abad, who hadn't pitched since June 22 because of back stiffness, just couldn't keep Chicago from re-taking the lead in the eighth.
"He got a couple guys 2-0 and was able to get a couple outs, but the pattern ended up biting him with the back-to-back walks there," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Shuck had a good day. He hasn't had a lot of at-bats against left-handed pitching, but was able to dump that one out into left field."
Mr. Everything: Tim Anderson singled in each of his first two trips to the plate, giving him 10 multihit games in his first 19 he's played at the Major League level. Anderson also made a sterling defensive play with one out in the second, throwing out Trevor Plouffe from about five or six feet into the outfield grass with a perfect one-hop throw to first. And for good measure, Anderson drew career walk No. 1 in the fourth in his 86th plate appearance overall.
"I didn't know what to expect, how to come in, what my role was," Anderson said. "Now I feel real comfortable and get off to a jump start, which is good." More >
Back-to-back jacks: After watching Rodon buzz through the first 11 hitters he faced, the Twins struck back with the back-to-back homers from Grossman and Dozier in the fourth, tying the game at 2. It was the sixth time the Twins have put together back-to-back home runs this season, with the previous time 12 days earlier against the Yankees at Target Field.
"We knew that his slider's his best pitch," Dozier said of Rodon. "He throws it really hard, and he doesn't throw it for strikes. It's always down. I think the first time through the lineup, we started seeing that, a different arm angle or whatever it was, and more guys got comfortable. He started laying off that and we started squaring more balls up. But it took us the first round through the lineup."
Dozier's blast extended his hitting streak to 12 games, a new career high, and pushed his franchise record for consecutive games with an extra-base hit to 11, a mark he set Wednesday with a double.
One still is the loneliest number: Todd Frazier's homer in the second tied him for the Major League lead with Mark Trumbo at 23. It also stood as the White Sox 14th straight solo homer, proving to be the second-longest such streak in franchise history, according to STATS LLC. The White Sox hit 15 straight solo homers from Sept. 2-25, 1965.
What a relief: Right-hander Neil Ramirez gave the Twins 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, which they needed after Milone allowed five runs in just 3 1/3 innings, including three runs on four hits in the fourth. Ramirez took over for Milone in the fourth with the bases loaded, one out and the Twins trailing, 5-2. He promptly got Jose Abreu to hit into an inning-ending double play to prevent the White Sox from building a bigger lead. The Twins then added two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to tie it at 5.
"There were some positives today," Molitor said. "Neil has pitched well. He came in and gave us 2 2/3 and a big double-play ball. Neil's done a nice job when we've called upon him, since he's been here."
"Nobody has really done anything different. It's just that baseball is a tough sport and we were on the losing end of it for a little bit and now we're trying to turn it around and get back on top of the division." -- Robertson
"He says he feels fine. I didn't know he went to school to be a doctor, so we're going to let the doctors handle that. He's very good at self-evaluation. He says he's close." -- Ventura, onMelky Cabrera, who missed the last two games of the Twins series with a sore right wrist
Shuck was ruled out at second on a stolen-base attempt that stood as the last out of the sixth. Ventura challenged the call at second, but after review, umpires ruled that the call stood. Shuck was out and the White Sox lost their challenge.
Twins: Ervin Santana (2-7, 4.64 ERA) will start the opener of a series against the Rangers on Friday at Target Field at 7:10 p.m. CT. Santana took a no-decision in his last start (last Friday), holding the Yankees to just one run in five innings. Santana has made 30 starts against the Rangers, his most against any opponent, and is 13-11 with a 5.67 ERA in those outings.
White Sox: Miguel Gonzalez (1-3, 5.17 ERA) opens a three-game series against the red-hot Astros Friday night in Houston at 7:10 p.m. CT. Gonzalez has gone 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA lifetime against the Astros, and 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in three career starts at Minute Maid Park.

Maeda steps up as Dodgers win set vs. Brewers

If ever there was a day for a Dodgers pitcher to deliver, this was that day. And Kenta Maeda delivered.
Hours after ace Clayton Kershaw hit the 15-day disabled list with a mild herniated disc, Maeda scattered three hits and surrendered a lone run in six innings of the Dodgers' decisive 8-1 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Thursday. It gave injury-battered Los Angeles two wins in three days for a second series victory over Milwaukee in as many weeks.
"Kenta had his breaking ball working, he threw good changeups," said manager Dave Roberts. "For him to give us six innings [was] huge for the 'pen."
Trayce ThompsonYasmani Grandal and Corey Seager homered off Brewers starter Zach Davies, who allowed six earned runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings for his first loss since April 29. The six earned runs matched Davies' total from his previous five June starts, in which he'd surrendered only two home runs.
"It just comes down to not executing pitches, falling behind a lot of guys," Davies said. "Even when I did get ahead of some guys, I gave it right back to them. … I think you get frustrated with your game today, but at the same time, you realize those things are going to happen. You're going to have good times, and you're going to have some struggles."
All-Star Seager:
 The Dodgers are pushing to get National League Rookie of the Year candidate Seager in the All-Star Game, and he again did his part with his 17th home run, a single, an intentional walk and a 13-game hitting streak. Seager is third in the NL All-Star voting at shortstop behind the Cubs' Addison Russell and the Rockies' Trevor Story.
"I think it's obvious, I have a biased perspective, I think he's clearly the best shortstop in the National League," Roberts said. "The All-Star Game is an important game as far as home-field advantage as far as either league. When you talk about the game going forward, Corey Seager is what the game is about now and going forward. The numbers speak for themselves. He deserves to be in that game."
Hill yeah: Third baseman Aaron Hill made Maeda pay for a momentary bout of wildness in the first inning. After a Scooter Gennett single with one out, Maeda hit Ryan Braun in the backside with a pitch and walked Chris Carter to load the bases for Hill, who lifted a first-pitch breaking ball into center field for a sacrifice fly and a 1-0 Brewers lead. It capped a second consecutive productive month for the veteran, who slashed .169/.208/.246 in April, but had a .318/.403/.471 slash line in May and June.
"Even the first-inning opportunity -- I think we made [Maeda] work that first inning, but he was good today," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He was really willing to go to his offspeed whenever, and he slowed you down enough that when he did fall behind in the count, you weren't able to sit on anything."
Puig returns: Yasiel Puig came limping off the field after running into the left-field fence Wednesday night, but he was back in the lineup Thursday and had a double, a single and a walk with an RBI.
Painful ending: Braun fouled a Casey Fien pitch off his back knee during a long at-bat in the eighth inning, and he limped around the batter's box in pain before flying out to left fielderHowie Kendrick, who charged to make a diving catch. Braun then exited the game as part of a ninth-inning double switch.
"I was going to take him out of the game, regardless," Counsell said. "It wasn't because of [the foul tip]. He was coming out of the game."
Thursday's outing snapped a long streak of effective starts for Davies. From May 4 through Wednesday -- covering Davies' last 10 starts -- he was 5-0 with a 2.46 ERA, tied for 10th best in the NL in that period behind some big names: Madison BumgarnerJose Fernandez, Kershaw, Johnny CuetoJulio TeheranJon LesterKyle HendricksNoah Syndergaard and Zack Greinke.
With an eight-man bullpen and Joc Pederson unavailable, the Dodgers had only three position players available on the bench. So Roberts had reliever Chris Hatcher in the dugout for emergency pinch-hitting duties that weren't needed. Hatcher, a former catcher who pitched two innings Wednesday night, hit a walk-off home run in a Double-A championship game.
Dodgers: Barring travel complications, newly acquired Bud Norris will replace the injured Kershaw as the Dodgers' starting pitcher for the homestand opener against the Rockies, with a 7:10 p.m. PT first pitch. Norris was acquired Thursday from the Braves in a five-player trade. He's 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in six June appearances after a rough April and May.
Brewers: Matt Garza makes his fourth start of the season for the Brewers at 7:15 p.m. CT on Friday, when they travel to St. Louis to kick off a six-game road trip. The Cardinals have won 25 of the past 38 games between the NL Central opponents, dating back to 2014.

Yanks use passed ball to walk off on Texas again

For the second time in as many days, the Yankees came up clutch in the ninth inning to beat the American League West-leading Rangers, defeating Texas, 2-1, on a passed ball Thursday afternoon to get back to .500 at 39-39. The Rangers have lost consecutive games for the first time since losing three straight to the Athletics from May 16-18.
Chase Headley scored on a mad dash from third base on a Robinson Chirinos passed ball with two outs in the ninth. Headley led off the inning with a walk before Didi Gregorius, the hero in Wednesday's walk-off win, bunted Headley into scoring position and a Starlin Castrogroundout put him on third base.
"When you get an opportunity like that with two outs in the ninth, you got to find a way to score," Headley said. "We'll take it any way we can get it -- that was a great win. These can be momentum wins. That's a really good team over there, and to come back and get a couple wins from them, that's big for us."
Michael Pineda was stellar, striking out a season-high 12 batters in six innings, over which he allowed just two hits and one run. It was the second consecutive outing that Pineda allowed only two hits, and he earned no-decisions in both of the games. The Yankees' three-pronged bullpen attack of Dellin BetancesAndrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman took over from there, allowing two hits and striking out four, effectively silencing the Rangers in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
"Their guy on the hill was exceptional," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "That slider was devastating and he had a 96-mph fastball. That's that guy. He can throw like an ace or give up some runs. Then you get to their big guys, they are as challenging as anybody."
"He was really good today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Pineda. "He gives up a home run to start the game and then he shut them down after that. And this is a good offense. This club scores a lot of runs. I thought he was really impressive. It might have been, and probably was, his best start of the year."
Texas' one run came in the first at-bat of the game, when Shin-Soo Choo led off with a home run against Pineda. After the first inning, the Rangers didn't record another hit until after Pineda left the game. Starting pitcher A.J. Griffin dominated the Yankees in the early going, allowing just two hits and one run in five innings. After 88 pitches and eight strikeouts, though, Griffin was replaced by Shawn Tolleson.
Choo goes deep: It's the 18th time in Choo's career that he has led off the first inning with a home run. But the Rangers managed just three singles the rest of the afternoon.
"Our guys continue to play hard, but obviously it was a tough day at the plate," Banister said.
Bases-loaded letdown: The Yankees' best chance to open up this game before the ninth inning came in the seventh. Brett Gardner came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and the game tied at 1. Rangers reliever Jake Diekman forced Gardner to ground out softly to second base to end the threat.
Didi doing damage: Less than a day after lacing the first walk-off home run of his career into the right-field bleachers, Gregorius stayed hot Thursday afternoon by hitting a fifth-inning solo homer to tie the game at 1, his eighth blast of the season. Since June 14, Gregorius is 22-for-59 (.373) with 12 runs scored and seven extra-base hits.
"My comfort level was there because I ended up [last] season on a really good note and just tried to take it over [into this season]," Gregorius said of his improvements at the plate. "Some things I learned last year and [I'm] trying to get better this year and trying to make some improvements. The confidence has always been there."
Nine whiffs in a row: Griffin and Pineda at one point combined to strike out nine straight batters. It started when Mark Teixeira struck out to end the bottom of the first. Both pitchers then struck out the side in the second and Pineda began the third by striking out Choo andIan Desmond.
"Terrific pitching on both sides today," third baseman Adrian Beltre said.
"I told him a double is a single, a triple is a double, and if you hit it out of the park, you're allowed to run all the way around,"
-- Girardi, on what he told Carlos Beltran when he allowed him to pinch-hit despite dealing with a hamstring injury
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches for the Rangers at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday against the Twins at Target Field. Perez has a six-game winning streak on the line.
Yankees: The Yankees will head to the West Coast for the opener of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres on Friday at 10:40 p.m. ET. Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound at Petco Park, trying to limit the long ball after allowing four home runs his last time out, a loss to Minnesota.

O's eye June HR history in opener vs. Mariners

The red-hot Orioles -- who have 55 homers this month and are one shy of setting a new Major League record for most in June -- will take their enviable lineup to Safeco Field for a four-game series against the Mariners that opens on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. PT.
Seattle will face a familiar foe in the opener in former Mariners prospect Chris Tillman. In 2008, Tillman, along with teammate Adam Jones and three other players, was sent to Baltimore in exchange for left-hander Erik Bedard. The right-hander (10-1, 3.52 ERA) is enjoying an excellent season for the first-place Orioles, who enter the series 5 1/2 games ahead in the American League East.
Tillman will square off against Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker. The 23-year-old has enjoyed much more success at home than on the road this season. In eight starts at Safeco Field this year, he has a 2.92 ERA.
Things To Know About This Game
• Walker missed his last scheduled start due to tendinitis in his right foot. The right-hander has a 3.45 ERA in 14 starts on the year and is 0-1 with a 5.52 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles.
• Baltimore is expected to bolster its bullpen by activating right-hander Vance Worley from the disabled list prior to the opener. Catcher Caleb Joseph could also rejoin the team.
• Seattle's offense has been led by former O's slugger Nelson Cruz, who hit his 20th homer on Tuesday. Cruz is among the league leaders in dingers, with Baltimore's Mark Trumbo (23) currently on top.

Bumgarner aims to be dual threat against A's

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner will be on the mound and in the batter's box in an American League ballpark as the A's look to sweep this year's Bay Bridge Series at the Coliseum.
Bumgarner, who has lobbied to hit in this year's Home Run Derby, has two homers this season. With him in the lineup, it will be the first time a team has forfeited its right to a designated hitter since 1976.
On the mound, Bumgarner's ERA (1.99) trails only Clayton Kershaw's league-leading mark of 1.79 and is one of several exceptional numbers he's posted through 17 starts. The lefty's fourth among all starters in strikeouts (122), has walked only 29 batters, and has thrown the sixth-most innings this season (108 1/3).
Bumgarner has lost his last two starts, however, including a 3-2 decision against the Phillies on Saturday. He gave up three runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings, marking the first time he's given up more than two earned runs in a start since April 15 against the Dodgers. Bumgarner held Philadelphia scoreless over the first six innings Saturday before losing control in the seventh.
Oakland counters with rookie Dillon Overton in his second career start. He won his debut Saturday against the Angels, working around back-to-back homers by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout in the first inning, allowing three runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings.
"Trout welcomed me to the big leagues pretty quickly," Overton joked Wednesday.
Overton, a University of Oklahoma product, said he's excited to take part in the Bay Area's baseball rivalry, saying the atmosphere is similar to the storied rivalry between Oklahoma and the University of Texas. That he's facing one of the league's best pitchers and a fellow lefty is an added bonus for Overton, who said that he's watched Bumgarner plenty of times over the past several years despite not sharing a similar pitching style.
"I don't usually try to mimic anything from any other pitchers," Overton said. "I just watch him and try to soak it in like a sponge a little bit, and just take it and put it into my game the way it fits."
Overton is already the fifth rookie to make a start this year for the A's. He was 8-4 with a 3.01 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) this season in Triple-A.
Three things to know about this game
• Bumgarner has struggled against the A's in his career, going 2-2 with a 5.06 ERA in four starts. Three of those came at the Coliseum, where he's 1-2 with a 6.41 ERA.
• No A's batter has faced Bumgarner more than Jed Lowrie, who is 4-for-15 (.267) overall.
• A's closer Ryan Madson will most likely be unavailable for a second straight day Thursday after throwing 43 pitches in a two-inning save Tuesday in a wild 13-11 win.

Diaz looking to return as Leake, Cards tangle with Royals

When Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz took a foul ball off his right eye on Monday against the Royals, an extended stint on the disabled list seemed a possibility. Three days later, the nature of the injury isn't as serious as it initially looked and Diaz could return to the lineup against the Royals on Thursday night in the I-70 Series finale.
Diaz saw the team eye doctor on Wednesday and the swelling has decreased significantly.
"I think it's just a matter of letting them get a look at him and seeing if there are any spots that aren't necessarily acting as usual," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "As long as the swelling is down to where he can see like he needs to, that would kind of be the go-ahead to let him get back out there."
Diaz's return to the lineup might come at the right time. He was 12-for-25 with two home runs on the Cardinals' last road trip and the home-run ball has a chance to play a prominent role on Thursday. Royals starter Chris Young is prone to giving up homers as he is slated to face the power-hitting Cardinals.
Young has given up at least one homer in 11 starts and is giving up an average of 3.52 home runs per nine innings. St. Louis ranked sixth in the Majors with 103 homers entering Wednesday. Young was 1-1 in two starts against the Cardinals last season, which included a start in Kansas City when he went six shutout innings and gave up six hits. Young's outing in St. Louis last year didn't yield similar results, as he gave up four runs on five hits in three innings.
Leake has also had his fair share of problems with homers. His home runs per fly ball rate stands at 16.5 percent, 13th among Major League starters entering Wednesday. The right-hander has never faced the Royals, but he will make his second consecutive Interleague start after giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings in his last outing against the Mariners. It was Leake's first loss in almost a month and his first appearance shorter than six innings since May 4.
Things to know about this game
• Young has given up six home runs against Cardinals hitters in his career. Brandon Moss has four of them.
• Young is 0-5 with a 9.70 ERA in five road starts this season.
• Leake had a streak of three straight starts without a walk snapped against the Mariners. He has a chance to start a new streak on Thursday with the Royals walking in 6 percent of plate appearances, last in the Major Leagues.

Marlins open July 4th weekend set in Atlanta

So much of the focus on the Fourth of July weekend series between the Marlins and Braves is directed at Sunday's historical game at Fort Bragg in North Carolina (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), which will be the first game in any professional sport played on an active military base. Before then, the clubs must first take care of business with three contests at Turner Field, with the first on tap for Thursday night.
The Marlins have had a rough go against the Braves this year, dropping six of eight. They turn to left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (4-2, 5.00 ERA) in the series opener. Atlanta is activating right-hander Mike Foltynewicz off the DL to make the start.
Chen actually was lined up to pitch at Detroit on Wednesday, but manager Don Mattingly used Monday's day off to reshuffle the rotation. With the Braves having a predominantly left-handed-hitting lineup, Chen is getting the nod at Turner Field. He's faced Atlanta twice this season, posting a 2.38 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings, but he hasn't factored into the decision.
Foltynewicz has been sidelined over the past month because of a bone spur in his throwing elbow. He surrendered one hit over five scoreless innings while making his first rehab appearance for Triple-A Gwinnett against Charlotte on Saturday.
Things to know about this game
• Justin Bour is 8-for-23 (.348) with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs against Atlanta this season.
• The Marlins possess two of the four players -- Chris Johnson and Martin Prado -- who have made at least 100 starts for the Braves at third base dating back to 1995 (Chipper Jones' rookie season). This quartet also includes Jones and Vinny Castilla.
• Atlanta right fielder Nick Markakis has batted .367 (11-for-30) against the Marlins this season.

Rays to welcome Tigers for four-game series

Jordan Zimmermann will make his second career start at Tropicana Field trying to rebound from his roughest outing of the season when he faces Jake Odorizzi and the Rays in Thursday's opener of a four-game series. Tampa Bay is coming off a series win over the Red Sox following an extended skid.
Zimmermann allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in his last outing at home against Cleveland. Odorizzi didn't fare much better in his last start in Baltimore, giving up five runs in five innings as the Rays blew an early lead.
The Tigers and Rays faced each other three times earlier this season at Comerica Park. Tampa Bay won the first game to extend what was then a season-long, four-game winning streak. But the Tigers won the last two and Tampa Bay outfielder Kevin Kiermaier broke his left hand in the process, and remains sidelined.
Three things to know about this game
• Rays shortstop Brad Miller hit his 10th home run on Tuesday, which is the most in club history for a shortstop before the All-Star break. Miller will next take aim at the Rays' shortstop single-season record of 15.
• Zimmermann will make his final start in June, which has statistically represented his best month over the course of his career. He has a 2.49 ERA and a 15-10 record. He has a 3.35 career ERA.
• Both the Tigers and Rays have hit over 100 home runs, but the Tigers have five players with at least 12 home runs; the Rays have only two.