Thursday, June 23, 2016

Lincecum looks to build on strong debut vs. A's

Tim Lincecum makes his second start in an Angels uniform Thursday and faces a familiar A's lineup at Angel Stadium in his home debut, opening a four-game weekend series.
Lincecum made his much-anticipated first start of the season Saturday against Oakland at the Coliseum, giving up one run over six innings and earning the win. The 32-year-old righty made three rehab starts with Triple-A Salt Lake prior to Saturday as he recovered from left hip surgery, which he underwent in September.
Lincecum said he thought his mechanics were "erratic" at times in his first start, but felt more comfortable as the game progressed. He struck out two and walked two, relying heavily on a fastball that registered between 88 and 90 mph and a changeup that often darted out of the zone.
"I just tried to gather myself in those later innings," he said. "I feel like I get better as the game goes on because I get a knack for my mechanics and the game speed."
The former Giants star made quite the impression -- and has a significant following -- north of Anaheim in the Bay Area, but he will make his first career start at Angel Stadium Thursday.
He'll oppose A's righty Kendall Graveman, who also faced the Angels his last time out, delivering his best start of the year in a 3-2 win Friday. He gave up one run on three hits over seven innings while striking four.
Graveman struggled early on this year, going 1-4 with a 5.87 ERA in six May starts. He's settled down some, posting a 4.11 ERA in June, and he hasn't always received a lot of help. The A's are average 3.16 runs of support for Graveman this season, which is fourth lowest in the American League among pitchers with 60 innings under their belt.
Things to know
• Graveman has pitched well against the Angels in his career, going 0-1 with a 1.88 ERA in four starts. The one loss did come at Angel Stadium, where he has a 2.45 ERA in two starts.
• No Oakland player has faced Lincecum more than Yonder Alonso, who is 3-for-25 (.120) with eight strikeouts against him.
• The Angels are being cautious with Albert Pujols, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury he initially suffered Sunday against the A's. Pujols is 5-for-10 with a homer in his career against Graveman.

Astros sweep Angels with 5th straight win

 Marwin Gonzalez hit a tiebreaking RBI triple off the center-field wall then scored on a fielder's choice to send the red-hot Astros to a 3-2 victory and a three-game sweep of the Angels on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros, who are over .500 for the first time since they beat the Yankees on Opening Day, have won five in a row and seven of their last eight games. They're 30-19 since May 1 and have won 12 of their last 14 games at Minute Maid Park.
"It's interesting to watch our team start to grow confidence again in similar fashion to how it should be," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I like the energy and the vibe and the smiles that are happening when we're playing pretty good baseball."
Astros starter Lance McCullers gave up one run and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. The Angels scored on an RBI single by Yunel Escobar in the third to take a 1-0 lead, but Jose Altuvetied it in the sixth with a solo homer -- his second in as many games -- off starter Matt Shoemaker, who was charged with all three runs in 7 1/3 innings of work.
Marwin delivers: Gonzalez has made the most of his recent playing time, delivering the go-ahead hit in the eighth inning to cap a good homestand. He went 7-for-22 (.318) in the homestand, starting all six games at first base following the demotion of Tyler White to Triple-A Fresno. In his last 20 games, he's 23-for-69 (.333) with a homer, four doubles and four steals.
Shane Robinson, filling in for designated hitter Mike Trout in center field, said he "probably" makes the play if not for Tal's Hill.
"I might have hit the wall a little bit harder than I did," he added. "It's just kind of a weird play altogether. If they're doing what they're saying they're doing, moving the fence in [and removing the hill], it might have been a homer. You can look at it that way, too." More >
Shoe in: Shoemaker held the Astros to only one run through the first seven innings and was brought back out for the eighth, even though he had thrown 95 pitches and was getting ready to face the Astros a fourth time through the order. The 29-year-old promptly gave up three straight hits. He has a 2.09 ERA over his last seven starts, striking out 62 batters and issuing only four walks in 51 2/3 innings. But he has somehow won only one of those starts.
"Wins are great," Shoemaker said, "but we need to win. Team wins. It gets frustrating, but the next five days, it's another game. Just go out there and try to give our team a chance to win."More >
Rasmus, Correa give extra: When Kole Calhoun singled in the ninth inning to score Robinson and cut the lead to 3-2, Astros left fielder Colby Rasmus came up with a huge play when he threw to Altuve to get Escobar -- the tying run -- straying too far off second base for the second out. The call was confirmed after a review. In the eighth, Carlos Correa-- with a sore left foot -- beat out a would-be double-play ball to score Gonzalez from third with what turned out to be the winning run.
"If we had closed it up three up, three down [in the ninth], nobody would have talked about Correa running the ball out," Hinch said. "Instead it becomes a pivotal play based on how we tacked on a run and they couldn't catch us."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Escobar "got caught in between. From where Rasmus was playing, he had to go to his left to get to that ball in left-center. I think at first he made a turn, thought he had a chance, and Rasmus cut the distance of it, and he just got caught in no-man's land." More >
Missed opportunities: The Angels went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position, one day after going 1-for-7, and once again missed several chances to pad their lead early. They had a runner in scoring position with none out on four separate occasions but only scored him one time. The Angels' offense was without Albert Pujols (left hamstring) for a second straight game. The unit has scored three runs or fewer four times in the last six games.
"McCullers got some strikeouts," Scioscia said. "He's a power pitcher, he got some strikeouts at some key times when we need to move the ball, and we couldn't do it. Once again, almost like last night, we had a lot of opportunities early in the game, just to give Shoe a little margin for error, and we couldn't do it."
"When I first got this job, one of the first things he said is he wants to play every day. I talked him into a couple of days off last season, and I'll talk him into a couple more later this season. He loves to play. It's baseball, sleep and his family." -- Hinch, on Altuve, who has played in 164 consecutive games since last June 22, the longest consecutive-game stretch in baseball
Escobar is the first Angels third baseman to notch at least 80 hits before the All-Star break since Chone Figgins in 2009. Escobar, who finished 2-for-5, has 84 hits with 17 games left in the first half.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons basically created a double play out of thin air to end the fifth inning. With runners on the corners, one out and the Angels up by a run, Simmons let a flair from George Springer bounce right in front of him, then stepped on second base and fired to first.
"Every time you do something weird, something crazy, it's risky," Simmons said. "But I felt confident with that particular ball to do it. That was perfectly hit. The only thing I should've done was give it to Johnny [Giavotella, the second baseman]. I think he would've turned it faster, because I wasn't as close [to the base] as I expected." More >
Both managers were unsuccessful on replay reviews. Scioscia challenged a call at first base in the first inning when Trout was called out, but the call was upheld. Hinch challenged a call at first in the fifth, arguing Springer had beat the relay to first on a double play, but he was also out. Losing their challenge seemingly hurt the Angels in the fourth, when Robinson appeared to beat a force play at second that would've loaded the bases with two outs.
Angels: The Angels return home Thursday to start a four-game series against the A's, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT. Tim Lincecum will make his first start at Angel Stadium, opposite fellow right-hander Kendall Graveman. Lincecum's debut came against the A's, in Oakland, on Saturday, an afternoon in which he pitched six innings of one-run ball.
Astros: The Astros will take Thursday off before traveling to Kansas City to face the Royals in a three-game series beginning at 7:15 p.m. CT Friday. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel faces the Royals for the first time since pitching in relief against them in Game 5 of the ALDS. He's won once in his last 12 starts, but he is coming off strong outing against the Reds.

Homers boost Crew in Guerra's strong start

Scooter Gennett and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered in support of right-handerJunior Guerra, who strung together seven strong innings to help the Brewers split a two-game Interleague set with the A's by way of a 4-2 victory at the Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon.
Guerra's two-run performance, which included eight strikeouts, gave the Brewers a happy ending to an otherwise disappointing 2-7 road trip. He walked one and allowed five hits, including Coco Crisp's solo home run in the fourth that gave the A's a short-lived 1-0 lead.
The Brewers responded with a three-run inning in the fifth, highlighted by Gennett's two-run homer following a pair of costly miscues by the A's defense, including one from starterDaniel Mengden, who was saddled with his third loss in as many tries after allowing three runs in six innings with a career-high nine strikeouts.
"We needed this one," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "This was a tough trip, but to finish it on this note in a well-played game, it's important."
The A's narrowed Milwaukee's lead to one run in the seventh, courtesy of Max Muncy's RBI single, but the Brewers got it right back in the eighth when Nieuwenhuis launched a two-out solo shot against right-hander Liam Hendriks. Oakland has dropped 13 of 18 in June.
"I think you obviously want to see a guy get his first win," A's second baseman Jed Lowriesaid of Mengden. "But I think that's why wins have become devalued in baseball. The guy's been pitching well, we just haven't been able to pull one through for him."
Fifth-inning fumbles: Gennett's two-run homer capped a three-run inning that featured two defensive lapses by the A's. Ramon Flores found his way to third base following a one-out double when Crisp's errant throw skipped beyond Lowrie's reach, with the infielder expecting a throw pointed at third instead. Yadiel Rivera then placed a sacrifice bunt in front of Mengden, but the pitcher fumbled it on the run toward Flores, who easily scored the tying run. Rivera was also safe at first on the play, setting up Gennett's go-ahead shot two batters later.
"Right as I fielded it, the ball was kind of jogging around in my glove a little bit, and I swung it up to try to grab it and flip to [catcher Josh] Phegley, but I just bobbled it and was going a little too quick," Mengden said.
Of Crisp's throw, A's manager Bob Melvin said, "We gotta somehow try to knock that ball down, go get it and keep the guy off third base. Whether it was just out of [Lowrie's] reach, I don't know, but talking to him it was just out of his reach, that he went as far as he could to get it."
Loud outs, but still outs: The A's didn't go quietly in the late innings. Three times in the final two frames, an Oakland batter representing the tying run hit a ball hard that found its way into a defender's glove. Lowrie's line drive in the eighth inning left his bat at 96 mph but was directed right to third baseman Aaron HillDanny Valencia followed with a 103-mph line drive to the gap in left-center, where Ryan Braun tracked it down. And Billy Butler made the game's final out on a flyout to deep left field, preserving save No. 2 for Tyler Thornburg. He pitched the ninth because closer Jeremy Jeffress is recovering from a right eye infection.
"Obviously, not a good road trip, but we were in almost every game," Thornburg said. "It could have been a lot different. This one definitely feels good." More >
Three starts, three losses: Mengden is still waiting for his first victory at the big league level, despite allowing three runs or fewer in each of his three starts for a 3.00 ERA. He's had run support of one, zero and one in that span, leaving him little wiggle room. The right-hander impressed again Wednesday, especially in his final inning when he rebounded from a three-run fifth to strike out the side ahead of his departure at 108 pitches. It marked the first time at any level this season Mengden allowed more than two earned runs.
"Overall, from my standpoint I thought I threw well, even though I'm 0-3 now," Mengden said. "It's just baseball. Some days you score, some days you won't, and some days you'll pitch good, some days you won't. I'm content with how I've been throwing. There's always room to work, though." More >
He was due: Nieuwenhuis was hitless in his first three at-bats Wednesday -- including a tough-luck lineout in the second inning that was scalded right at A's first baseman Yonder Alonso for a double play. Nieuwenhuis got revenge in the eighth, though, when he connected with a Hendricks changeup and sent it over the left-center field fence for a critical insurance run and a 4-2 Brewers lead. Nieuwenhuis was 3-for-20 on the road trip before that homer.
"Every game he's started, he gets better as the game goes on. For a lot of guys, the pitches later in the game, you worry about them. Junior's pitches later in the game, they're better. I think he gets comfortable with his split-finger and he gets better command as he goes along."-- Counsell, on letting Guerra finish the seventh inning against tough A's pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt. Guerra struck out Vogt with the tying runner at second base.
Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado entered the day with five hits in 49 at-bats all season. He had three hits in four trips to the plate Wednesday, including a pair of bloop singles, and let out a dramatic sigh after making eye contact with a reporter in the clubhouse after the game.
Brewers: The Brewers will try again against Nationals starter Max Scherzer on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT, when the right-hander starts opposite Zach Davies in the opener of a three-game series at Miller Park. In Scherzer's last start in Milwaukee last June, he took a perfect game into the seventh inning and struck out 16 in a complete-game shutout.
A's: The A's will make the short trek to Anaheim for a four-game series with the Angels beginning Thursday. Right-hander Kendall Graveman, who is 0-1 with a 1.88 ERA in four career starts against them, is slated to start the 7:05 p.m. PT opener at Angel Stadium.

Resurgent Greinke looking for payback vs. Rox

When the D-backs and Rockies open their four-game series at Coors Field on Thursday, it'll be a battle between recent history and more recent history.
Zack Greinke, in his first year with the D-backs, will be on the hill, making his third start of the season versus Colorado. In his two previous starts, he's been roughed up for nine earned runs and 17 hits in 11 innings. However, things have turned around for Greinke since those two April starts. Greinke is in the midst of a seven-game win streak and has shaved nearly two runs off his ERA over that span. In June, especially, Greinke has looked like the Cy Young runner-up he was a year ago, having allowed just three runs in 31 innings over four starts.
To Rockies manager Walt Weiss, facing Greinke is a challenge, but it's nothing new.
"We're used to it. Look at our division," Weiss said. "We play all year in our division and it's Kershaw, it's Bumgarner, it's Greinke, it's Cueto. We're used to facing those elite guys. And when Greinke's rolling, he's as good as anybody. We caught him a couple of times this year when he got off to a slow start, but he's locked in right now and we're going to have to scratch and claw for runs."
Three things to know about this game
• If there's any one batter who may be able to shake Greinke back down to his underperforming April status, it's rookie shortstop Trevor Story. In seven at-bats against Greinke this season, Story has rocketed three hits, all for extra bases and two for home runs. In general, Story has feasted on the D-backs, with five of his 18 home runs, 15 of his 46 RBI and nine of his 38 extra-base hits coming against the Snakes.
• Eddie Butler will re-emerge out of the Rockies' bullpen to start the opener after making his last appearance in relief on Saturday. Butler has a 5.97 ERA as a starter this season and a 7.56 ERA out of the 'pen.
• The Rockies are 13-11 in series openers this season. The D-backs are 11-13.

Castro's walk-off HR caps Yanks' rally vs. Rox

Starlin Castro hit a walk-off home run on the second pitch he saw fromJason Motte in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Yankees to a 9-8 victory over the Rockies on Wednesday afternoon to earn a split of the two-game Interleague series at Yankee Stadium.
"It feels great," Castro said. "Especially to win the game like that in the ninth, it feels awesome. This is the first time I hit a homer to win the game."
Trailing by four runs heading to the seventh, Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer and Didi Gregorius lined a run-scoring single as the Yankees sent 10 men to the plate, tying the game against Colorado relievers Jordan LylesBoone Logan and Miguel CastroAroldis Chapman picked up the victory after working a scoreless top half of the ninth.
"That shows that we never give up," Gregorius said. "The bullpen kept us there. We put up some runs and then tied the game. Castro hit a big walk-off homer. It's good that we kept fighting."
Nick Hundley's three-run homer highlighted the early barrage against starter CC Sabathia, who was unable to hold a lead provided by Chase Headley's second-inning grand slam.Charlie Blackmon also lined a two-run single off Sabathia, who permitted six runs (five earned) over 4 1/3 innings. Ryan Raburn added a two-run shot in the fifth off Anthony Swarzak.
Beltran's timely blast: Beltran's convincing All-Star case picked up some more steam with his 19th homer of the season, a long three-run blast off Lyles that landed in the right-field bleachers. That shot, with Rob Refsnyder and Brett Gardner aboard, brought the Yankees within one run and matched Beltran's home run total for all of the 2015 season. He has hit seven homers in his last 16 games. Gregorius cashed the tying run with a sharp single to left-center field off Castro.
"Four runs playing in this ballpark, we felt that if we could put something together, we could have a chance to get it close," Beltran said. "That's what we did. I thought we put at-bat after at-bat, good ones, and that was a key for us. We really gave ourselves an opportunity to close the gap and be able to win this one."
Hundley for the lead: With his team trailing by two and facing a pitcher in Sabathia who had allowed just five earned runs in his last seven starts and three innings, Hundley launched his three-run homer into the seats, scoring Trevor Story and Mark Reynolds and giving the Rockies a 5-4 lead in the fourth. The blast was Hundley's fourth of the season and the first of the day for a Rockies team that has been power happy with five home runs over the past two days.
"Getting down early, fighting our way back, scoring eight runs, you want to win that game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "You should win that game. But we were a little limited on the back end of the bullpen today."
Sabathia stumbles: Owning an 0.82 ERA over his previous seven starts, Sabathia slipped -- literally and figuratively -- on Wednesday. The Rockies peppered the big lefty for six runs (five earned) and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, handing him his first loss since May 31 at Toronto. Sabathia also received a visit from the trainer after he lost his footing on a pitch toNolan Arenado, but stayed in the game to face one more batter.
"He turned his right ankle a little bit in that third inning, backing up home on the hit that Blackmon had, and I don't know how much that affected him moving forward," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He got X-rays and they were negative. But he turned his right ankle and we're thinking, 'This is not what you need.' So hopefully he'll make his next start."More >
Bullpen bummer: After taking over for Jon Gray in the fifth inning after the Rox starter exited with arm fatigue, the Colorado bullpen struggled to hold onto the lead he left them. Rockies relievers combined to allow five runs in five innings, including four runs in a game-changing bottom of the seventh inning. Motte said of allowing the walk-off home run that he hadn't yet watched the tape to see what happened, but he suspects that the changeup following the fastball contributed to how quickly Castro was able to turn on the pitch.
When the Yankees scored a run against Logan in the seventh inning, it ended the Major League's longest active scoreless inning streak at 15 2/3 innings. Logan had accrued that streak over 22 appearances dating back to April 10.
Rockies: The Rockies head home Thursday for a four-game series against the divisional-rival Arizona Diamondbacks and have to contend with ace Zack Greinke in the opener at 6:40 p.m. MT. On the mound for the Rockies will be Eddie Butler, who is returning to the rotation after making his last appearance out of the bullpen.
Yankees: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Yankees return to action on Friday in the Bronx, opening a three-game series with the Twins at 7:05 ET. Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 2.91 ERA) would love to repeat his performance last time out, when he held the Twins to a run on seven hits over eight innings, picking up his first win since May 27.

Blue Jays' 3 homers help end D-backs' streak

 Russell Martin slammed a first-inning, three-run home run, while Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki added solo shots to power the Blue Jays past the D-backs, 5-2, and snap Arizona's five-game winning streak on Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Martin's home run came on a 3-2 fastball with two outs in the first against Arizona starterRobbie Ray and was one of just four hits Toronto mustered off the D-backs' left-hander. Encarnacion's blast was his league-leading 22nd RBI in June, while Tulowitzki's home run was his second in four games since coming off the disabled list, helping the Blue Jays snap a three-game losing streak.
"I'm just trying to get back to my successful ways," Tulowitzki said. "Be that hitter that I was -- which was a very confident guy -- someone that wasn't afraid to fail. Just let it go, and lately I've been getting better results."
J.A. Happ navigated his way through five innings to pick up the win, allowing two runs on six hits. Despite striking out eight Arizona batters, the veteran left-hander struggled with his command, walking four and throwing just 57 of his 99 pitches for strikes.
"It was a battle, for sure," Happ said. "I felt like I was executing some pitches and suppose I was just missing there, so it made for a lot of long counts. Four walks is too many, but the bullpen came in and did an awesome job. They picked me up, picked the team up. Good win today."
Coming off back-to-back quality starts, Ray held the Blue Jays at bay for most of the afternoon, but allowed multiple home runs for the first time since May 27, and the third time this season. The 24-year-old left-hander was pulled after 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs.
"I feel pretty positive," Ray said. "I've been able to keep us in [games] and being able to get out, down in the zone and elevate when I need to -- just take the positives from every start and go with it."
Paul Goldschmidt finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, while Michael Bourn added an RBI single for the D-backs, who saw their six-game road winning streak snapped and lost for just the third time in their past 11 games.
Starting early: Martin got the Blue Jays on the board right off the bat, working a 3-2 count before turning around a 95-mph four-seam fastball. According to Statcast™, Martin's sixth homer of the season traveled a projected 413 feet with a launch angle of 27 degrees.
Getting close: In the fourth, with Arizona trailing 3-1, Yasmany Tomas reached on a one-out double. After Nick Ahmed's groundout, Bourn singled home Tomas to pull the D-backs to within one, but they stranded nine runners in the game and struck out 12 times -- a day after fanning 14 times. More >
Edwing: Encarnacion provided the Blue Jays with some breathing room in the sixth inning, taking a 1-1 fastball over the left-field wall on Edwing T-shirt giveaway day at the ballpark. According to Statcast™, Encarnacion's 19th home run of the season traveled 407 feet, with an exit speed of 110 mph. More >
Making them pay: With two out in the third, the D-backs capitalized on an error by Blue Jays right fielder Darrell Ceciliani. After Jean Segura walked, Ceciliani couldn't corral Phil Gosselin's fly ball and let it roll behind him to the wall, allowing Segura to score and Gosselin to get to third.
Josh Donaldson was substituted out of the game in the top of the ninth inning, with Darwin Barney taking over at third base. Donaldson fouled a ball off his leg in the top of the fifth inning, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said the reigning American League MVP was lifted for precautionary reasons due to a sore neck.
"He had a bad neck all day," Gibbons said. "There was even the question of if he was going to play, but he didn't want any part of that. But I figured at that point [the ninth], it was better for his protection."
Gibbons won his review in the ninth on a ground ball to second base by Segura, who was initially called safe on the play. But replays showed that second baseman Devon Travis' throw beat the D-backs' shortstop to the bag, and the call was overturned.
D-backs: Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.54 ERA) gets the ball on Thursday as the D-backs open a four-game series in Colorado at 5:40 p.m. MST. The 32-year-old right-hander pitched eight innings of one-run baseball his last time out, a 4-1 win over the Phillies. Greinke has not lost a start since May 12.
Blue Jays: After an off-day on Thursday, the Blue Jays open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field. Toronto sends Aaron Sanchez (7-1, 3.35) to the hill, with first pitch set at 8:10 PM ET. Sanchez picked up a victory his last time out against the Orioles, throwing six innings of two-run ball while striking out six.