Monday, April 18, 2016

Santiago K's 10 as Angels blank White Sox

The Angels knocked out White Sox starter Carlos Rodon after one-third of an inning, and Hector Santiago held the South Siders' struggling offense under control the rest of the way in a 7-0 victory Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field. It was the third straight loss for the White Sox, who opened a seven-game homestand, and ended a three-game losing streak for the Angels.
Rodon quickly had a streak of 10 straight quality starts come to a close when the Angels erupted for five runs on six hits. It was the shortest injury-free start for a White Sox hurler since Aug. 28, 2003, when Neal Cotts lasted one-third of an inning at Yankee Stadium.
After Rodon struck out Craig Gentry for his only out, the Angels put seven straight men on base via two walks and five hits. Robin Ventura pulled Rodon at 41 pitches, 22 for strikes, as his ERA rose from 1.38 to 4.73.
Santiago, a one-time White Sox starter and closer, matched a career high with 10 strikeouts. He gave up two hits and pitched out of minor jams in the first and the sixth, with two men on base in each frame.
The awakening: The Angels tied for their highest-scoring game of the season before even recording their second out. Eight of their first nine hitters reached base against Rodon, six on singles and two on walks, to give them an early five-run lead. The six hits was two more than what the Angels got in a 12-inning game in Minnesota on Sunday. It was their first time scoring five runs in the first inning since Aug. 3, 2014.
Putnam, Petricka eat innings: The White Sox were left in an early hole with Rodon unable to get out of the first. But Jake Petricka allowed one run over 2 2/3 innings and Zach Putnam threw three perfect innings to pick up the slack.. The White Sox don't have a long reliever on their staff, and with no off-day until May 2, the team will need strong work out of the starters during the rest of this homestand.
Blowing smoke: Backed by an early lead, Santiago mowed through the White Sox batting order, allowing only five baserunners. The 28-year-old left-hander averaged 91.5 mph on his fastball in 2014 and 90.9 mph in '15. On Monday, 10 of his fastballs were clocked at 95 mph and above.
Flashing the leather: Todd Frazier's hitting struggles continue through 13 games, although he did draw a sixth-inning walk. But Frazier put up web gems in the fourth, fifth and sixth, taking away hits from Mike TroutGeovany Soto and Yunel Escobar, respectively.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker takes the mound, looking to build on a solid start against the A's, in the second of a four-game series at 5:10 p.m. PT on Tuesday. Coming off giving up six runs and recording only nine outs, Shoemaker bounced back brilliantly Wednesday, twirling six innings of one-hit ball in Oakland.
White Sox: Mat Latos has not only been better than expected during his first two starts for the South Siders, but downright close to unhittable. Latos stands as just the sixth pitcher since 1913 to win each of his first two starts for the White Sox with an ERA under 1.00. He'll oppose Shoemaker on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT.

Lackey, Cubs blank Cards in rivalry opener

When these two clubs last met in October, John Lackey took the mound on three days' rest, trying to will the National League Division Series back to St. Louis for a decisive fifth game. It took 189 days for Lackey to make that return to Busch Stadium, and this time he showed up in blue.
He may have traded sides in the rivalry, but Lackey's dominance under the Arch continued. The right-hander stymied his former team to lift the Cubs to a 5-0 victory on Monday in the first of their 19 regular-season meetings against the Cardinals.
"It was a little weird at the beginning, warming up in the other bullpen, that sort of thing," Lackey said. "I had a great time when I played here. No hard feelings on that situation. They went a different direction and I ended up in a great place."
Lackey, who signed a two-year deal with the Cubs over the winter, struck out 11 and scattered four hits over seven shutout innings. It was a plenty familiar sight for the Cardinals, who watched Lackey notch quality starts in each of his 17 home outings last season. The Cardinals' best chance to nick Lackey was thwarted by an unsuccessful squeeze attempt when the game was scoreless in the fifth.
"Guys were having trouble picking him up," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Lackey. "He had a good fastball. You could tell he was amped up, and the ball was coming out of his hand very well today. He was locating it, and he got us to expand the zone and got a lot of chases."
Mike Leake, who essentially plugged Lackey's vacancy in the rotation, stayed toe-to-toe with him until blinking in the sixth. A leadoff homer by Dexter Fowler put the Cubs ahead. A three-run seventh compounded by three hits and an Aledmys Diaz error then gave Chicago a comfortable four-run lead. Leake remains winless in his first three starts with the Cardinals, though he did finish seven innings for the first time this season. 
Stunted squeeze: The Cardinals missed a chance to strike first on a foiled squeeze attempt with Leake at the plate in the fifth. Leake missed on his bunt attempt as Kolten Wong raced down the third-base line. Wong was able to scurry back to third when Cubs catcher Miguel Montero held onto the ball too long in the rundown. But subsequent strikeouts of Leake andMatt Carpenter left Wong stranded there.
"It was a tough pitch to try and get down," Leake said. "I probably could have put some bat on it if I get a little lower with my legs. I guess I'll try to practice some tomorrow."
Fielding foibles: The Cardinals' defense continues to be an issue, with Diaz's costly seventh-inning error bringing the team's season total to 14. Thirteen of those have been committed by infielders, including four by Diaz in his first 29 chances. The rookie shortstop not only couldn't field Jorge Soler's hard-hit ground ball cleanly enough to try for a double play with two on and none out, but he airmailed a throw over the head of first basemanBrandon Moss once he recovered.
"I don't feel good making four errors, but I think you have to keep working at this level," Diaz said. "Every game is another opportunity to make good plays for the team."
Musical chairs: The Cardinals played games with the Cubs before the game actually started. Chicago players were greeted by classical music during batting practice, then silence. Assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske got a speaker, hooked up someone's smartphone, and boom, they had their own music. Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon: "We love the psychological entertainment warfare." Jason Heyward, who was booed every at-bat and every play, didn't even notice the lack of music. He did hear the fans boos.
"They don't boo too often," Heyward said. "It must be somebody important or somebody doing something worth booing. It's good to know I'm not going through it alone. My teammates are there, my manager is there, friends and family are there. It's all good."
Lackey wasn't impressed.
"I've seen booing," he said. "That ain't booing."
In his first regular-season start against the Cardinals, Lackey notched a few milestones. He needed six innings to reach 2,500 in his career, which he surpassed, and also picked up his 20th career double-digit strikeout game. For the first time in his career, the right-hander has won the first three starts of the season. And, he's also the 16th player to beat all 30 Major League teams.
In the Chicago eighth, Montero was called out at first base after Moss' tag. The Cubs challenged whether Moss actually tagged Montero, and after a review, the original call stood.
Cubs: Jason Hammel, who has given up one earned run over 12 innings in his first two outings of the season, will start Tuesday in the second game of this three-game series. The right-hander was 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in three starts last season against St. Louis. First pitch will be 7:15 p.m. CT from Busch Stadium.
Cardinals: Tuesday's start will be Jaime Garcia's first since his one-hit shutout over the Brewers last Thursday. Garcia, who took a no-hit bid into the sixth in that outing, hasn't faced the Cubs in a regular-season game since 2012.

Stanton, Marlins break out as Jose contains Nats

 Jose Fernandez struggled with his command, issuing four walks (one intentional), throwing two wild pitches and hitting a batter, but he also struck out nine to help lead the Marlins to a 6-1 victory Monday night against the Nationals, which snapped Miami's four-game losing streak and marked its first home win of the season.
"As the game went on, my body started catching up with my arm and it was a lot better," Fernandez said of his early-inning struggles.
Giancarlo Stanton hammered his third homer of the season and plated a pair, while Marcell Ozuna had a two-run single off Nationals starter Tanner Roark as Miami built a 4-0 lead after two innings.
The Nationals could not capitalize on an off-night for Fernandez, who threw 64 of his 103 pitches for strikes, but held the Nationals hitless through the first four innings. Michael Taylordelivered the Nats' first hit in the fifth, a one-out double, and he came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Bryce Harper, who had his streak of games with a home run end at four.
That was the only offense of the day for the Nationals, although they had no shortage of runners on base, stranding 10 overall.
"I think the positive is we had chances," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We put pressure on [Fernandez], and tonight he made some pitches. Hopefully next time we can do that again, he'll make some mistakes and we can capitalize."
Changing speeds: Fernandez threw a curveball for a strike on Taylor and then came back with a 95-mph fastball to strike him out with the bases loaded in the second inning. Fernandez got into trouble by hitting Jayson Werth with a pitch and intentionally walkingDanny Espinosa to get to the pitcher, Roark, whom he also walked to load the bases. Fernandez worked into the fifth inning before his no-hit bid was broken up by consecutive one-out hits by Taylor and Anthony Rendon.
"They're a tough lineup," Fernandez said. "There aren't any easy outs over there. More >
Missed opportunities: The Nationals had their chances against Fernandez early in the ballgame, but could not capitalize. They wasted a leadoff walk in the first, left the bases loaded in the second and scored only once in the fifth after getting runners on first and third with only one out. More >
Clutch hitting: Ozuna delivered a clutch two-out, two-strike single, scoring both Christian Yelich and Stanton in a three-run first inning to stake Fernandez to the early lead. Ozuna hit a 2-2 fastball up in the zone, lacing it into left field. Yelich, who stroked an RBI single that scored Dee Gordon with the game's first run, came home ahead of Stanton, who walked.
"That was a huge hit," manager Don Mattingly said of Ozuna's single. "That got us going and we were able to get the win."
Battling without his best: Fernandez was not the only pitcher who battled on the mound early. Roark had to do much of the same, starting in the first inning when the Marlins ambushed him for three runs to start the game. Roark settled in and was able to last six innings despite allowing seven hits and five runs (four earned) while issuing a pair of walks and strikeouts.
"I mean, one bad pitch to Ozuna. That's about it," Roark said. "Everything else felt good. And then obviously the 2-0 fastball, I tried to go in on Stanton. I just didn't get it there. And when you make mistakes to guys like that, they hit the ball far."
Roark showed an ability to last deep into a game where he might not have his best stuff -- a trait shared by other starting pitchers that has encouraged the Nats during the early portion of this season.
The first of three reviews that all went in favor of the Marlins came in the second inning. Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy lined a ball down the left-field line that was ruled foul, but appeared close to catching some of the foul line. The Nationals challenged, but the ruling after review was that the call stands.
In the bottom of the inning, Fernandez tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance Adeiny Hechavarria to second base. Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos fielded the bunt and attempted to throw Hechavarria out at second, and initially it was ruled that he did. But Ramos' throw pulled Espinosa off the bag at second, and the call was overturned and ruled a throwing error. Hechavarria would eventually come around to score.
The Marlins gained another challenge as a result and used it in the seventh. Stanton drove in a run with an RBI single to right, but the throw from Harper to the plate was cut off and thrown to nearly catch Stanton at first. He initially was ruled out, however the call was overturned upon further review.
Nationals: Right-hander Stephen Strasburg makes his third start of the season on Tuesday night at 7:10 ET against the Marlins. In his 12 starts since returning from the disabled list in 2015, Strasburg owns a 1.91 ERA and 103 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .186 batting average.
Marlins: Lefty Adam Conley takes the mound for the Marlins on Tuesday in the second game of a four-game set with the Nationals at Marlins Park. Conley will be making his third start this season. He has yet to figure in a decision, but he worked six scoreless innings against the Mets in his last outing.

Rox win behind Lyles' start, Story's ending

A tightly pitched game between the Rockies and Reds was determined by two ongoing trends. Cincinnati's bullpen can't escape its rut and Trevor Story's power can't be contained for long. It was Story's eighth-inning home run that gave Colorado a boost toward a 5-1 victory on Monday -- its fifth win over the last six games.
Reds reliever Ross Ohlendorf, who was coming off a loss at St. Louis on Sunday when he allowed an eighth-inning run that also snapped a tie game, was cruising with five in a row retired and three strikeouts after taking over in the seventh inning. There were two outs on two K's in the eighth when Story ripped a first-pitch fastball to center field for a no-doubt homer, his eighth of the young season. He set a Major League record for fewest games (13) with eight career home runs.
Ohlendorf followed Story by allowing a single up the middle and a walk before he was replaced. Jumbo Diaz's first batter, Ben Paulsen, crushed his first homer of the season -- a three-run shot to center field that blew the game open. It was Diaz's third homer allowed in eight appearances.
Rockies starter Jordan Lyles gave up one unearned run and four hits over seven innings while throwing 76 pitches to earn the victory. Lyles, who hadn't yet completed five innings entering, had one intentional walk and struck out four. The Reds, who have dropped six of their last seven games, have the second-highest bullpen ERA in the National League behind only Colorado.
It had been soooo long: Remember when Story seemed to homer every day? Folks got spoiled before he went 27 at-bats without going deep. With the Reds playing and pitching him to pull all game, it was a matter of time before the ball ended up in the home-run wheelhouse of Story, who is not necessarily a pull hitter.
Golden D: There's a reason Rockies left fielder Gerardo Parra and third baseman Nolan Arenado have five Rawlings Gold Glove Awards between them (three for Arenado), and the Reds' Jay Bruce found out in the fifth. Bruce thought he had a triple when his leadoff drive bounced off the left-center wall, but Parra took dead aim with his throw, and Arenado made a spinning back-tag. Reds manager Bryan Price challenged, but replay showed Bruce's leg was above the bag when Arenado's glove made contact.
Not-so-golden E: The Reds made it a 1-1 game when the defense betrayed Colorado in the sixth. Following a Zack Cozart hit that scorched off Story's glove, Jordan Pacheco followed with a double to the left-field wall. Parra's cutoff throw was short and one-hopped to Story but got away, letting Cozart score. An error was charged to Parra on the play.
Straily's strikes: Moved from the bullpen into the rotation for his first start of 2016, Dan Straily gave the Reds five nice innings and allowed one run, two hits and two walks over five innings with four strikeouts for a no-decision. Hovering mostly in the 88-91 mph range and topping at 92 mph, Straily threw 52 of his 76 pitches for strikes and first-pitch strikes to 13 of his 18 batters.
Rockies: Lefty Jorge De La Rosa (1-1, 8.80 ERA), who shed some of his early struggles by striking out seven Giants in 6 2/3 innings while winning on Thursday at home, will start against the Reds at 5:10 p.m. MT on Tuesday. De La Rosa is 3-3 with a 7.42 ERA in 11 appearances against the Reds.
Reds: Following a rough week, Alfredo Simon will be looking for good results when he makes the start vs. the Rockies at 7:10 p.m. ET Tuesday. Last week, Simon had both the shortest start of his career -- two-thirds of an inning vs. the Cubs on Wednesday -- and a one-inning relief appearance at St. Louis on Friday. The combined totals were nine runs (eight earned) three walks, two strikeouts and two home runs allowed.

Thor, Wright power Mets to win in Philly

Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard continues to look superhuman as he cruised in a 5-2 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night. Syndergaard's fastball hit 100-101 mph 18 times as he allowed five hits, one run and two walks and struck out eight in seven innings to improve to 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA.
"Everything was clicking," Syndergaard said. "Mechanically, I felt great out there. It just gives you the most amount of confidence in the world."
Back-to-back homers from Lucas Duda and Neil Walker in the eighth and David Wright's solo shot in the ninth -- his second dinger of the game -- gave the Mets some late breathing room. New York is looking for a little payback after dropping two of three to the Phillies earlier this month at Citi Field.
"We are a team that's built on power, and when we hit homers, we win games," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Tonight, we hit homers."
Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff battled Syndergaard through seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks and striking out nine. He is 1-4 in five career starts against the Mets, but he has posted a 2.81 ERA against New York as the Phillies have scored just four runs for him when he has been in those games.
Thor again dominant: What's incredible to consider is that Syndergaard's third start of the season may actually have been his least dominant. It's all relative: The Mets' rising star struck out eight Phillies over seven innings to reclaim the Major League lead with 29 in three outings. He held the Phillies to five hits, one of them an RBI single from Odubel Herrera. Outside of that, Syndergaard was once again all but unhittable.
"I'm going to go out there and give them my best stuff, my best fastball," Syndergaard said, "and see if they can hit it."
Back-to-back: Two innings after putting the Mets ahead for good with an RBI double off Eickhoff, Duda whacked a solo homer off David Hernandez off the second deck in right field.Statcast™ projected it to land 421 feet away after zooming off Duda's bat at 111.6 mph for his second-hardest-hit ball of the season. Not to be outdone, Walker followed with his team-leading fourth homer to left to give the Mets a 4-1 lead.
Pete ball: Phillies manager Pete Mackanin knew his team would struggle to score runs this season, so he stressed the need to manufacture as many runs as possible. The Phillies followed this approach when they scored their only run against Syndergaard in the third.Freddy Galvis doubled, stole third and scored on a soft single to left field from Herrera to tie the game, 1-1.
"We tried to take advantage of that," Mackanin said of Syndergaard's slow delivery to the plate. "You try to steal off of him. He's slow to the plate. But we didn't really have enough baserunners to make that a big issue."
Road sweet road: No visiting player has hit more home runs in Citizens Bank Park history than Wright, whose 21st career long ball here came in the first inning off Eickhoff. It was vintage Wright: a drive to right-center on a 2-2 fastball that caught too much plate, giving him both his first home run and first RBI of the season. Eight innings later, Wright added a second opposite-field solo shot -- his 22nd career homer in Philadelphia -- off Elvis Araujo.
"I think that's one of my strengths is going the other way," Wright said. "So when I am seeing the ball well, when I am on time, I can take that pitch that's middle and middle-away and hit it the other way. I am [able] to hit the ball to center field, to right-center."
"When you used to play videogames as a kid, if you build the player that you want to build, put all the abilities up to like max 10, he's that guy." -- Wright, on Syndergaard
No visiting player has even come close to Wright's 22 career homers at Citizens Bank Park. Next on the list is Carlos Beltran, who has hit 14 homers at the ballpark, which opened in 2004.
Mets: On Tuesday, Logan Verrett will make what should be his final start in place of Jacob deGrom, who has been in Florida caring for his newborn son. Verrett blanked the Marlins over six innings in his first spot start last week but threw only 85 pitches. Expect him to be good for another dozen or so on top of that in a 7:05 p.m. ET rematch against the Phillies.
Phillies: Vince Velasquez has been nothing short of brilliant in his first two starts this season. He makes his third Tuesday night at 7:05 ET against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Velasquez struck out 16 and walked zero in a shutout Thursday against the Padres. He pitched six scoreless innings, striking out nine, against the Mets at Citi Field on April 9.

Late rally helps Blue Jays earn split with Sox

 J.A. Happ allowed just one run in seven-plus innings and the Blue Jays rallied with four runs in the eighth before holding on for a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox on Patriots' Day at Fenway Park.
After going down, 1-0, in the second inning, the Blue Jays outlasted Sox starter Clay Buchholz, who forced them into four double plays while hanging zeros through the first 6 2/3 innings.
Toronto batted around in the eighth inning to score all of its runs, capped by a Russell Martin two-out, two-run single off Craig KimbrelKoji Uehara preceded Kimbrel and struggled to locate his pitches, walking a pair following a leadoff infield single from Kevin Pillar that turned into two bases because of a Josh Rutledge throwing error. The wheels came off for the Boston bullpen from there.
"It's a big situation right there against a tough pitcher," Martin said of the at-bat against Kimbrel. "I was fortunate to kind of get ahead in the count, and then he's got an electric fastball, so really I just trying to put the barrel on the ball. Took some good swings. He kept pounding the strike zone. I think the biggest pitch of the at-bat was probably that he threw a fastball in, [which] was probably a ball and I was able to foul that pitch off. After I fouled that one off, I'm like, 'OK, if I can handle that one, I feel pretty good right now.'"
The Red Sox tried to rally in the ninth, scoring a pair of runs off Blue Jays reliever Drew Storen and bringing pinch-hitter David Ortiz to the plate with the tying run on base. But Ortiz struck out looking to end the game.
Breakthrough: Although they outhit the Red Sox through most of the game, the Blue Jays were scoreless until they tied it in the eighth inning. Facing erstwhile closer Uehara, Pillar singled and took second on third baseman Rutledge's throwing error. After a walk to Justin Smoak, both runners moved up on on a passed ball by Christian Vazquez before Pillar scored on Michael Saunders' groundout. Toronto added three more in the inning to open things up.
Leap of faith: In the face of the Red Sox's defense completing four double plays on the day, it was Jackie Bradley Jr. who came up with the defensive gem of the game. Boston's center fielder got a nice jump on a flare hit to left-center by Troy Tulowitzki, and with left fielderChris Young and shortstop Xander Bogaerts converging, Bradley laid out to snag the sinking ball just before it hit the outfield grass for the second out of the seventh.
"I thought I got a good jump on it and I was able to make the call at the last second to try and make an attempt," Bradley said. More >
Happ holds down the fort: Happ had a stellar showing as he waited for his offense to kick in. He went seven innings (plus one batter in the eighth), allowing one run on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts to pick up the win.
"I feel good about it," Happ said of his outing. "I feel like I wasn't super sharp as far as getting first-pitch strikes, but got some big double-play balls for some great defense. And a huge eighth inning for us. The bullpen did a great job shutting it out. A big win for us today to split the series after going down in the first two."
Forgot about Clay: After a rocky couple of starts to open the season, Buchholz put his best foot forward on Patriots' Day. He induced a career-high four double plays on the day, the most by a Red Sox pitcher since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008. Of the eight Blue Jays players who reached base against him, only one advanced to second by way of a passed ball. It was Buchholz's longest outing since July 4 of last year, when he earned a complete-game victory over Houston.
"I felt really good with just about everything. My curveball came a little bit later, but the fastball, changeup, cutter mix really worked well," Buchholz said. "That's the best I've felt."
"We've got roles established. The seventh, eighth and ninth have been efficient, they've been successful. This is, I think, a little bit of a blip with Koji today." -- Farrell, on his bullpen
Blue Jays: Toronto opens a three-game set at Baltimore on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Marcus Stroman (2-0, 4.22 ERA) gets the start. In three career games (two starts), he is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA against the Orioles.