3 for today:
Bryce Harper slugs two homers
Last year, Harper failed to follow up his MVP 2015 with a similar performance. He was good; he just wasn’t great, and he certainly wasn’t as good as the he was the year before. But two weeks into the 2017 season, he appears to be back on track.
His first home run of the game was a 417-foot shot to dead center. The two-run homer came with two outs in the third inning and gave Washington a 3-1 lead. That lead remained the same until the eighth inning when the Phillies rallied for a pair of runs to pull even.
The Phillies then took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, the Nationals put a couple of runners aboard for Harper with two outs in the inning. And Harper fouled off Joaquin Benoit’s first two pitches, but he battled back from the 0-2 count to make it 3-2. And on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Benoit piped a 97-mph fastball right down the middle of the plate, and Harper made no mistake about it. He crushed his second home run of the day even farther than the first one.
Bryce Harper’s officially back, and the rest of the league should be very scared.
Mariners rally back from ninth-inning deficit
The Mariners began the season with postseason aspirations. They proceeded to end the first week of the season with a 1-6 record, and their sixth loss was the result of blowing a six-run lead in the ninth inning.
Suffice to say, their second week went much better than their first, and just like last week, it ended with a big comeback. The only difference is that they were the ones coming back.
The Rangers jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the third inning. The Mariners began chipping away at that deficit almost immediately, however, as rookie sensation Mitch Haniger launched a three-run blast off Cole Hamels to bring Seattle within a pair. They continued clawing back in the sixth when Danny Valencia doubled home a run, and the comeback was finally complete when Guillermo Heredia tied the game with a seventh-inning solo shot.
Seattle’s starter, Hishashi Iwakuma, was pulled after just three innings, having allowed six runs. But the Mariners’ bullpen tossed five scoreless innings after he left the game to get Seattle to the ninth inning with the score tied. However, that scoreless streak ended as soon as ace reliever Edwin Diaz allowed a leadoff home run to Nomar Mazara.
Diaz limited the damage to one run, which prompted the Rangers to bring in struggling closer Sam Dyson, who already had a couple of blown saves to go with his 24.75 ERA. Well, he got himself into trouble as soon as he entered the game, allowing an infield hit to the speedy Jarod Dyson to lead off the inning. Dyson then stole second, and Leonys Martin followed with a bunt single that Dyson fielded even though third baseman Joey Gallo was the only player on the field who had a chance at making a play on it.
That brought Mike Freeman to the plate with runners on the corners and nobody out. Dyson quickly fell behind 2-0 and opted to intentionally walk Freeman to load the bases for Haniger. And Dyson still couldn’t find the strikezone, walking in the tying run on five pitches to bring Robinson Cano to the plate.
Cano grounded out to second, and Rougned Odor threw home to get the forceout. But then Nelson Cruz came up to bat, and he was able to claim the walk-off hit, grounding a ball that was just out of Elvis Andrus’ reach. Andrus was able to knock it down, but that wasn’t enough, and the Mariners won their fifth game of the season and fourth of the week.
Rockies stay hot
The Rockies were one of the trendy picks to be a surprise postseason team and to this point, they are looking the part. After Sunday’s win, they’re now 9-5 and sit in first place in the NL West. And on Sunday, they demonstrated just why they were expected to be improved; their pitching is better than it’s ever been.
The 22-year-old Antonio Senzatela started for Colorado today and after giving up three runs in the first inning, he gave up exactly zero for the next six innings, finishing seven innings while striking out three and walking three. After Senzatela left the game, Mike Dunn and Adam Ottavino combined to pitch a scoreless eighth and bridge the gap to closer Greg Holland.
The Rockies were able to get Holland on a one-year deal with an option since this is his first season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015. That deal could end up being the biggest bargain of the offseason, as Holland has now notched seven saves, hasn’t allowed a run, and has recorded nine strikeouts in seven innings. And on Sunday, he had no problem setting down the Giants in order to give the Rockies their third win of the four game series against San Francisco.
3 for tomorrow:
Red Sox vs. Rays (Wright vs. Snell)
Steven Wright got shelled in his last start, giving up eight runs in just 1 1/3 innings. He’ll look to bounce back while the young gun Blake Snell will look to continue his solid start to the season.
Cardinals vs. Pirates (Lynn vs. Nova)
The Cardinals and Pirates almost always play tightly-contested games, and Monday should be no different. The Pirates are coming off an impressive sweep of the Cubs, and the Cardinals will try to rebound from a 3-9 start to the season.
Astros vs. Angels (Morton vs. Chavez)
The Angels had a fantastic first week that saw them come back from three separate ninth-inning deficits and win. But they followed that up in just about the worst way possible, losing five straight. Now, they head to Houston to face the AL West-favorite Astros. This series will be a telling one for the Halos. They could drop even further down the standings or they could show that they are serious contenders in a tough division.