Sunday, June 26, 2016

Best to the nines! Tribe is hottest of all

The Indians' run over the Tigers continued Sunday, as a 9-3 Cleveland win capped a third sweep of Detroit this season while the Tribe won its ninth straight overall.
The win moved the Indians to 9-0 against the Tigers in 2016, outscoring Detroit 60-20, but Cleveland manager Terry Francona doesn't want to use the word "dominance."
"I'm not too worried about using that word any time," Francona said after another win. "I do know I've sat in this chair a lot of nights, been kind of grumpy, and trying to figure out on that bus how we're going to pull it together. So it's nice to come here and play well, but I would never use a word like that."
Justin Verlander was banged around for one of the worst starts of his career, allowing eight earned runs over 4 2/3 innings, including four Indians home runs in the fifth inning. It was the first time in Tigers history a pitcher allowed four homers in one inning, according to STATS, LLC.
"I started out all right, and in that one inning, I fell apart," Verlander said. "It sucks, because I've worked my tail off the last couple months to get back to where I want to be, and to have one start kind of blow up in your face sucks."
Lonnie Chisenhall finished a double shy of the cycle with a 4-for-4 day, and starter Josh Tomlin continued his strong season for the Tribe, allowing three runs over eight innings and moving to 9-1 on the season.
After he got a big lead to work with in the fifth, Tomlin said he was just trying to get outs and get back to the dugout as quickly as possible.
"Go out there and throw strikes, and try to make them have to string together a bunch of hits to come back and beat us," Tomlin said. "I don't want to go back out there and give the lead back up, or let them get a rally going and next thing you know they kind of feel comfortable about themselves, and maybe one swing of the bat can change the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bombs away: Juan Uribe and Tyler Naquin hit back-to-back solo-shots to lead off the inning vs. Verlander. Mike Napoli and Chisenhall each hit two-out, two-run homers in the frame. The Indians have scored 60 runs and collected 41 extra-base hits during their nine-game winning streak.
Francona thought Verlander's arm motion during warmups and in the first four innings was good, and could have spelled trouble for the Indians, but they were able to get to him for a big fifth.
"He was free and easy, and then he left some balls up that inning, which was kind of uncharacteristic, and we took advantage of it," Francona said.
Tigers finally grab lead: Outfielder Mike Aviles hit a solo home run to open the scoring in the bottom of the third. It was the Tigers' first lead in the nine games against the Indians this year. But that lead only lasted a half-inning, and it would be the Tigers' only lead of the day.
"They own us so far," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "but there's still a lot of time to go."
Tomlin escapes trouble: Victor Martinez tied the game at 2 with a solo home run in the fourth inning, and the Tigers put two more runners on base, threatening to take the lead. Tomlin got Aviles to fly out to center field with two outs.
"I was just trying to stay within myself and not try to do too much," Tomlin said. "I know Mikey, I've played with Mikey before, so I know I kind of know he's aggressive, so I was trying to make him aggressive outside of the zone. He put a good swing on it, luckily it just kind of got up in the zone a little bit to where he just flied out to center field."
Martinez belts a pair: One bright spot for the Tigers was Martinez, who hit two home runs. His fourth-inning solo shot was followed by a sixth-inning leadoff homer to left field. It was Martinez's ninth multi-homer game of his career and his second this season.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sunday was the second time in Verlander's career he allowed four home runs in a start, the other coming on Sept. 18, 2007, against the Indians in Cleveland.
QUOTABLE
"If I did, it'd be between me and the team."-- Ausmus, when asked if he needed to say something to his team after the sweep.
WHAT'S NEXT
Indians: The Indians head south for the second leg of a 10-game road trip, a three-game series in Atlanta. Trevor Bauer looks to build off a shutout of the Rays in his last outing. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday.
Tigers:The Tigers get Monday off before welcoming the Marlins for a two-game set, beginning Tuesday. Mike Pelfrey will take the mound coming off a strong relief appearance last Friday, in which he allowed three hits over 4 1/3 shutout innings. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. ET.

Jose K's 13 as Miami wins series vs. Cubs

 Jose Fernandez struck out 13 over seven innings, Martin Prado hit a three-run double and the Marlins were credited with the tie-breaking run after a review to post a 6-1victory on Sunday at Marlins Park over the Cubs, who lost for the sixth time in their last seven games.
"I don't think we're panicking or anything like that," Chicago starter Jason Hammel said. "It's a 162-game season. Sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes you don't. We ran into a hot Miami club that's playing good baseball and is a totally different team from last year."
With the game tied at 1 in the Marlins' sixth, Giancarlo Stanton doubled to lead off against Hammel and moved up on Justin Bour's flyout. Derek Dietrich was hit by a pitch, although that had to be confirmed through a review. Adeiny Hechavarria then hit a potential double-play ball to third baseman Kris Bryant, but he paused on his throw until Ben Zobrist got to second for the force there. Zobrist then threw to first, and first-base umpire Vic Carapazza originally called Hechavarria out.
The Marlins challenged the call at first, and after a review, it was overturned and the run counted. The Cubs also asked for a review on the play at second, saying Dietrich obstructed play, but that call stood. Fernandez credited Hechavarria for hustling down the line on the play.
"If you think about it, little things are what a makes a difference in this game," Fernandez said. "[Hechavarria] goes out there and he runs hard. That's the only thing that we as a team want to do all the time. We can't control scoring five or six runs every game. We can't control the starting pitcher going six or seven innings, but we can control the little things."
This was Fernandez's 15th career start with at least 10 strikeouts. The right-hander fanned every Cubs starter at least once, and he improved to 9-1 with a 1.63 ERA (13 earned runs over 72 innings) in his last 11 starts. Fernandez has struck out 106 batters in that stretch.
"Really good today," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Used his changeup some, but I thought he had a really good fastball. It seemed like he was able to beat a lot of guys with that, which always sets up his other pitches."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
RISPy business: Despite going 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, the Marlins were able to scrape across six runs. Dietrich got Miami on the board in the second by doubling home Bour from first but was left stranded. It wasn't until the seventh inning that Miami recorded its first hit with runners in scoring position. Miguel Rojas singled and Prado reached on Bryant's high throw to second before Christian Yelich slapped a single to put the Marlins ahead, 3-1. In the eighth, Prado drilled a bases-clearing double off the wall in left-center to crack the game open.
"You keep battling, you keep getting people out there," Mattingly said. "Their guy got some big outs early and got out of some jams where we could've tacked on a run here or there. But we stayed after him and kept putting pressure. We finally broke through."
Streak busters: The Cubs threatened in the third when they loaded the bases with one out, but Fernandez limited them to one run on Bryant's sacrifice fly. That ended Fernandez's string of 25 2/3 innings without allowing a run at Marlins Park, a career high. It also was Bryant's 51st RBI of the season.
"He's a competitor," Bryant said of Fernandez. "He seems like a really good guy, and he's funny out there. It seems like he's having fun.He's one of the top three I've seen."
King of K: The strikeout came in handy for Fernandez in a big spot. After the Cubs tied the game in the third, Fernandez then fanned Anthony Rizzo on an 0-2 curveball to escape the jam. The 23-year-old finished one shy of his career-high in strikeouts, and his 89 K's at home this season pace all Major League pitchers.
"I'm learning," Fernandez said. "I'm learning a lot how to pitch. I think that I'm becoming a pitcher, not just a young guy that has a lot of talent that can strike people out."
Start me up: Hammel escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and stranded Fernandez after his leadoff double in the fifth. But the right-hander took the loss and is now 0-3 in his last four starts. Hammel has given up 10 earned runs over 24 1/3 innings, and the Cubs have scored nine runs in the four games.
QUOTABLE
"You win championships by winning games 1-0, 3-2. That was my rallying cry in instructional leagues. We will. We'll do all that stuff. We'll come back from this little bump and get everybody well. In the meantime, while we're not well, we have to take care of business and be a little more efficient in the bullpen, and we can't make the same mistakes on defense." --Cubs manager Joe Maddon
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With the win, the Marlins are now six games over .500 for the first time since June 2012.
"Quite honestly, I feel like we should be more than six games over .500 right now," Mattingly said. "We've had a lot of games where we've had leads we weren't able to, not necessarily hold, but hold from letting teams back into games."
REPLAY REVIEW
Before the overturned call at first base in the Marlins' sixth, Dietrich thought he was hit by a pitch and headed to first. Home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck did not signal that, and the Marlins challenged. After a review, it was determined Dietrich was hit.
WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: Jake Arrieta will make his first start in Cincinnati since he threw his second career no-hitter there on April 21. He's 4-2 with a 2.81 ERA in six career starts against the Reds. First pitch will be 6:10 p.m. CT.
Marlins: After an off-day for Miami, Adam Conley takes the hill on the road against the Tigers on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. He tossed eight scoreless innings against the Braves in his last start. The young left-hander has never faced Detroit.

Duffey stifles Yanks as Twins swat 6 HRs

Tyler Duffey carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, supported by consecutive home runs off the bats of Brian DozierTrevor Plouffe and Max Kepler, leading the Twins to a 7-1 victory over the Yankees on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
"First time through, I was just trying to get the ball over the plate," said Duffey, who allowed only two hits through eight innings. "Just getting into the fourth, sixth, seventh innings, and then as I came along, I started throwing more breaking balls, started feeling better than I had. It's a lot of positives for me today, and obviously we won the game, which is the ultimate positive."
Duffey retired the first 17 batters he faced before Aaron Hicks' two-out double in the sixth, then limited the Yankees to one run over eight innings, striking out eight without a walk to help the Twins snap a three-game skid and avert a potential series sweep.
"That ball Hicks hit, it was just a changeup that I left over the middle," Duffey said. "It was a pitch that I had located earlier in the game, swung through. It was one of those things where I knew what was going on the whole time. I knew I had to get the next guy out, so I just rolled with it and had to keep pitching."
The Twins trio slugged its shots in the sixth inning off Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi; Dozier clubbed a two-run blast before Plouffe and Kepler followed with solo shots. Danny Santana also hit a third-inning home run off Eovaldi, who surrendered five runs and six hits over six innings.
Minnesota's power display continued against Yankees relievers, with Eduardo Nunezhomering off Luis Cessa in the seventh, and Juan Centeno belted the Twins' sixth of the game in the ninth inning off Kirby Yates.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Duffey dominates: The 25-year-old was masterful from early on with sharp bite on his breaking ball and only seemed to get better as the game wore on through 5 2/3 innings of perfection before yielding the double to Hicks. Duffey showed no signs of his recent streak of extended struggles, throwing a season-high eight innings, allowing a season-low two hits and finishing his day by striking out the side in the eighth.
"My fastball location was really good today," Duffey said. "That was the big difference, if anything. Just getting ahead 0-1, 0-2 just on fastballs and I didn't even throw the off-speed until I needed it. You've just got to get ahead and stay ahead." More >
Nate, not so nasty: Eovaldi became the first Yankees pitcher since Chase Wright in 2007 to surrender at least three consecutive homers, working into trouble after losing Joe Mauer to a two-out walk in the sixth. Eovaldi has surrendered 17 home runs already this year, establishing a career high. He also has permitted at least four earned runs in each of his last five starts, swelling his ERA from 3.71 to 5.19.
"I think it was just that two-out walk I had to Mauer," Eovaldi said. "I've got to be able to turn the page and continue to attack. … I just have to do a better job of executing in that situation and turning the page and continue to attack." More >
Thrice as nice: It didn't matter what Eovaldi threw at the Twins in the sixth -- he just couldn't find a way to keep them in the park. Dozier got the fireworks started with a two-run homer to left on a splitter, followed by Plouffe taking a hanging slider out to left and Kepler turning on a curveball and sending it into the right-field bleachers. It was Minnesota's first time achieving the feat since Aug. 3, 2014, when they hit three in a row against the White Sox. More >
"This park is definitely home run-friendly," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "Santana, Kepler, Teixeira probably [aren't home runs] in Minnesota. It is what it is. Every park's got its own little quirks, and this one is home run-friendly, especially to right field."
Long-awaited Tex message: Teixeira's eighth-inning home run marked his fourth of the season and his first since April 13 at Toronto, a span of 147 at-bats which represented the longest homerless drought of his career. Teixeira also made a sharp diving stop at first base to rob Kepler of a fourth-inning hit, offering some hope that the Yankees may be regaining his presence on both sides of the ball following last year's All-Star campaign.
"That was important for me, to show I can still do it," Teixeira said. "Obviously it's been a tough season for me. I feel like I'm taking good swings, and I got a good result on the last at-bat there." More >
QUOTABLE
"As I walked past him, I said to him, 'Why couldn't you just swing through that one like the first one?'" -- Duffey to Hicks, his former teammate, following a double that broke up the perfect-game bid
"I think we got to the fifth inning and I pulled the old 'For the Love of the Game.' I looked up, and I was like, 'Has anybody been on base?' I was like, 'I don't think anybody's gotten on base!' I might have jinxed it myself." -- Dozier
"I knew [what's going on]. I've got a scoreboard in front of me."-- Centeno, the Twins catcher
WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: Following a scheduled off-day on Monday, the Twins will open a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox in a battle between the two bottom teams in the American League Central. Kyle Gibson (0-5, 6.05 ERA) will get the start Tuesday (7:10 p.m. CT) against lefty Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.04), who was one of the Majors' best pitchers through May before struggling through two of his June starts.
Yankees: The Yankees will open a four-game series with the AL's best club, the Rangers, on Monday (7:05 p.m. ET) at Yankee Stadium. Right-hander Ivan Nova (5-5, 5.18) permitted a season-high six runs (five earned) his last time out against the Rockies, something he'll try to correct when he faces right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez (3-6, 5.04 at Triple-A Round Rock).

Kershaw battles Bucs aiming for dozen wins

Clayton Kershaw has not taken a loss since April 26 and he'll try to keep that streak alive as the Dodgers continue their series with the Pirates on Sunday night.
Kershaw leads the Majors in ERA (1.57), WHIP (0.67), strikeouts (141) and opponents' batting average (.174). The three-time Cy Young Award winner has issued just seven walks this season, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 20.14 in 115 innings pitched.
He will face a Pirates team that's batting .267 but has gone 6-17 in June. Since Pittsburgh has lost ace Gerrit Cole to right triceps tightness and Juan Nicasio has been relegated to the bullpen, right-hander Chad Kuhl will be recalled from Triple-A to make his Major League debut opposite Kershaw.
Kuhl joins a pitching staff that has an ERA of 4.59. In 14 Triple-A starts in 2016, Kuhl has gone 6-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
Though Kuhl faces tough competition, he will try not to get overwhelmed by the circumstances.
"It's just going to be a lot of fun to be out there," Kuhl said. "I'm just going to treat it like any other start. Just another deck of fans and a really good guy opposing me."
Things to know about this game
• Left knee surgery delayed Jung Ho Kang's season debut until May 6, but the third baseman still leads the Pirates with 11 home runs.
• The Pirates have won 12 of their last 15 games vs. the Dodgers, winning five of six games vs. Los Angeles last season.
• Kershaw has gone 2-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 10 career starts vs. the Pirates, limiting hitters to a .205 average.

Garcia, Paxton face off in series finale

The Mariners and Cardinals will close their three-game Interleague series Sunday at Safeco Field, the first series in Seattle between the two teams since 2002.
Left-hander James Paxton is scheduled to take the mound for the Mariners, and righty Jaime Garcia will start for the Cardinals.
This will be Paxton's sixth start since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma when the Mariners put Felix Hernandez (right calf strain) on the disabled list. In his first start, Paxton only lasted 3 2/3 innings and gave up eight runs (three earned) on 10 hits. But he has gone six or more innings in his past four starts and logged a 2.77 ERA over that stretch.
Garcia will face the Mariners for the second time in his career. The first was in 2010, when he allowed two runs over seven innings for the loss in his first ever Interleague start. This season, Garcia has a 3.82 ERA, but he has given up 10 of his 35 earned runs in first innings. That's a 6.43 ERA in first innings and a 3.29 ERA after that.
Things to know about this game
• Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams will be a starting option. Since a last-minute switch Friday, Adams has been out of the starting lineup for two games with lower back tightness. He was available off the bench Saturday.
• St. Louis will look to a new closer. Before Saturday's game, the Cardinals announced Trevor Rosenthal would step out of that role. He blew his third save of the season Friday. Seung Hwan Oh, Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton are likely candidates for the position.
• Mariners right fielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz will have another chance to show off his Interleague power hitting. Since the 2009 season, Cruz has hit the second most home runs in Interleague play (36), trailing only Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion (38).

Corbin-Bettis matchup wraps series

The division rival D-backs and Rockies will face off on Sunday with two starters who have seen plenty of the other team -- Patrick Corbin and Chad Bettis.
Bettis has been hit hard against Arizona, posting a 6.47 ERA in 32 innings against the team, far above his career 5.29 ERA. In three starts this season, he has allowed 12 runs over 17 2/3 innings, although the Rockies were 2-1 in his starts.
Corbin has also had his share of struggles against the Rockies. Although his career ERA is 3.92, he has a 4.39 ERA in 11 starts against them. In his first start of the season, he allowed four runs on eight hits over seven innings against Colorado.
Things you should know
• Corbin has been able to stymie the Rockies' best hitter, Nolan Arenado. He is only 3-for-22 in his career against Corbin, although Arenado has only struck out once. DJ LeMahieu, however, has 10 hits in 25 at-bats against him.
• Paul Goldschmidt has reached base safely in a club record 47 straight games against the Rockies. That is the second-longest streak against the Rockies and the longest active streak, according to STATS LLC.
• The Rockies' 5-11 record in one-run games is the worst in the Majors. They lost three straight one-run games from Wednesday through Friday.

Cueto looking to find success against Phillies

Johnny Cueto has pitched at an All-Star rate throughout the season and has only seemed to improve as the season wears on. He's 6-0 with a 1.05 ERA in his last seven starts. He'll be on the mound Sunday as the San Francisco Giants look to finish the series on a winning note against the Philadelphia Phillies at AT&T Park.
In nine career meetings against the Phillies, Cueto is just 1-4 with a 5.04 ERA, though.
Phillies starter Aaron Nola will try to overcome the struggles he's dealt with in his last three starts. Nola has posted a 15.83 ERA in those games and hasn't lasted past the fourth inning in any of them.
Things to know about this game
• Maikel Franco broke up Madison Bumgarner's no-hitter in the top of the fifth Saturday with a double. He's tallied an extra-base hit in each game of the series.
• Tommy Joseph was back in the lineup as the Phillies' starting first baseman Saturday. Joseph hadn't started since Wednesday due to a minor illness.
• Giants manager Bruce Bochy gave closer Santiago Casilla a rest Saturday, meaning he should be ready if needed Sunday. Casilla has gone 17-for-21 in save chances, with his most recent coming Friday.

Gray, Santiago to square off in finale

The A's will send Sonny Gray to the mound on Sunday as they go for a four-game sweep against the Angels at Angel Stadium. Left-hander Hector Santiago will start for the Halos.
Gray is 0-1 with a 3.28 ERA in four starts since returning from the disabled list on May 21 (strained right trapezius). A's manager Bob Melvin said he's seen improvement from Gray in each outing since coming back from injury.
"Every start that he's had since he's come back, less really one inning, has been really good," Melvin said. "His stuff has been there, the movement on his fastball, the breaking stuff, everything is really crisp and he's throwing the ball well. Everybody goes through a period of struggles at some point in time in their career, but since he's been back he's been much more like the old Sonny Gray that we're used to seeing."
Santiago is 4-4 with a 4.99 ERA in 15 starts this season. The Angels have alternated wins and losses in Santiago's four previous starts this month. He took a no-decision against the Astros his last time out, despite pitching 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a game the Angels went on to lose.
"It's been hot and cold from him," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's thrown some games where you just go, 'Wow' and everything is working for him. The velocity is there and the command. But then there's some games where he really just doesn't have the stuff you saw the start before."
Things to know about this game
• Gray is 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA in four career appearances at Angel Stadium.
• Santiago is 3-3 with a 3.34 ERA lifetime against the Angels in 12 appearances (10 starts).
• A's third baseman Danny Valencia is 7-for-17 (.412) lifetime against Santiago with two doubles, two RBIs and two walks.

Texas native Buchholz leads Sox vs. Rangers

Clay Buchholz's second start since returning to the Red Sox's rotation will be in his native state of Texas, as the righty will try to hold up in the heat in which he grew up pitching in Sunday's rubber match against the Rangers in Arlington.
This won't be an easy task for Buchholz, as the Rangers boast one of the best offenses in the American League and have a solid starting pitcher on the mound in righty Martin Perez.
Buchholz gave up a homer and a double to the White Sox in the first two pitches of his last start, but the righty settled down and generally pitched well in a 3-1 loss.
"We'll need him," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I think, mentally, he's in a great place. I think he feels like there has been some momentum going in his favor. This is a tough lineup he'll have to face. They can stack left-handers, particularly in this ballpark, where mistakes aren't forgiven. I think we're looking forward to Clay continuing to build on the outings of late."
Perez is 6-2 with a 3.24 ERA over his last 10 starts. At a time the Rangers' pitching staff has been depleted by injuries, Perez and the other healthy pitchers will do what they can to keep the team's commanding lead in the AL West.
"We've got people that can do the job, too," said Perez. "We're just trying to focus on what we have to do and help the team. We can't control that situation right now. That's part of the game. I'm ready to do my job and I think everybody in this room is ready too."
Things to know about this game
• Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who will retire at the end of the season, has always enjoyed hitting in Texas. His 19 homers at Globe Life Park are the second most he's hit in any non-American League East park, trailing only Comerica Park in Detroit. It was also the site of his first career homer, on Sept. 14, 1997.
• Perez will be looking to match his career-best winning streak of six games, which he set in 2013.
• Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has fared well against Buchholz in his career, going 5-for-14 with a double. But Shin-Soo Choo has struggled, mustering two hits in 15 at-bats.

Fister, Astros eye continued success against Royals

Astros right-hander Doug Fister will square off against Royals righty Ian Kennedy on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
Since the start of May, Fister has posted an ERA of 2.34 with nine quality starts in 10 outings. He's given up two or fewer walks in eight of the 10 starts, including in each of his last four games. The Astros have outscored the Royals, 26-9, in the first two games of this set.
And while Fister has thrived, so have the Astros. Houston has won all 10 of those starts by a combined 29 runs. Six of those wins came against teams with a record of .500 or better entering Saturday, while three of them were against teams that currently sit in first place.
On the other side, it hasn't quite been the same story for Kennedy. While the Royals won in five of Kennedy's six outings in May, they have gone 1-3 with him on the mound in June, when his ERA is 7.25.
Still, Kennedy is certainly capable of providing big time performances. He's gone at least six innings without yielding an earned run three times this season, and he's been especially good at home, where his ERA is 2.30. Additionally, in one earlier meeting with the Astros on April 14, Kennedy was magnificent, giving up two hits and one run through seven innings.
Things to know about this game
• Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez is the team's only projected starter with a batting average above .250 against Kennedy over the last five seasons. Gomez is hitting .364 in 11 at-bats vs. Kennedy in that stretch.
• Filling in for Mike Moustakas, who is out for the season with a torn right ACL, Royals third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert entered Saturday with a .300 batting average in June.
• Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has reached safely in 28 straight games. He went 1-for-3 against Kennedy in their most recent matchup, with the lone hit being a solo home run.