3 for today:
Marcus Stroman shuts down Angels
After an MVP performance for the World Baseball Classic champion Team USA, Stroman began the season with a couple of dominant outings. In his third start, however, he got crushed. Boston tagged him for six runs on 11 hits in just 4 2/3 innings. But he bounced back in a big way on Sunday, pulling off a performance that was eerily similar to his second start of the year.
On April 12, Stroman tossed a complete game. Today, he tossed a complete game. On April 12, Stroman gave up seven hits. Today, he gave up seven hits. On April 12, Stroman walked one batter. Today, he walked one batter. On April 12, Stroman struck out four. Today, he struck out five. And on April 12, Stroman threw 100 pitches (63 strikes). Today, he threw 99 pitches (68 strikes).
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Stroman is off to about as good a start as you could ask for. His two complete games this year are the same amount every other AL pitcher has this year combined. Anyway, back to today’s game.
His outing started a little shaky. In the first inning, Kole Calhoun lined a shot right back up the middle that Ryan Goins made a spectacular play on to turn it into an out. Then, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back singles. After stealing second, Trout probably should have scored on Pujols’ hit, but he got a poor read and only managed to get to third. This allowed Stroman to serve up a double-play ball off the bat of C.J. Cron to get out of the inning unscathed.
The following inning, he allowed another single, but, again, he ended the inning with a double play. His lone earned run came in the third when he walked Calhoun with two outs, and Trout and Pujols backed it up with singles.
He didn’t allow another hit until the ninth, giving up a double to Pujols and a run-scoring single from Andrelton Simmons. This narrowed the score to 6-2 with one out in the inning, and it appeared as if the Angels may mount another comeback. But Stroman got out of the game with–you guessed it!–a double play ball.
The Angels were actually winning this game 1-0 until the eighth inning, but their thin bullpen let the Blue Jays pull ahead with a couple of home runs. But the focus of this game was Stroman delivering a dominant performance the struggling Blue Jays desperately needed.
Phillies down Braves with three straight big flies
The starters in this game were equally dominant. Atlanta’s starter, Mike Foltynewicz, surrendered one run on four hits in seven innings while striking out nine, and Philadelphia’s starter, Zach Eflin, gave up one run on three hits and punched out three. These two performances left the game tied at one in the eighth.
To begin the inning, the Braves brought in the electric Arodys Vizcaino, who promptly gave up a leadoff double to Michael Saunders. Caesar Hernandez followed by sneaking a go-ahead two-run shot over the left field fence. The next pitch Vizcaino threw? Well, it would also be his last, as Aaron Altherr launched it to dead center.
Next, the Braves summoned Ian Krol from the bullpen to face Odubel Herrera. Krol was able to get to a full count before Herrera took him deep for the Phillies’ third consecutive home run, and Herrera even included one of his signature bat flips. Baseball can be pretty fun.
It was a 5-2 win for Philadelphia.
Daniel Murphy won’t leave his former team alone
Ever since he left the Mets and signed with the division-rival Nationals, Murphy has terrorized his former club (and the rest of baseball), and Sunday night was no different. Coming into the game, Murphy was batting .393/.429/.714 in 21 games against the Mets.
The crushing blow came in the first inning when he smashed a grand slam to spot Max Scherzer an early 4-0 lead. That home run was Daniel Murphy’s eighth against New York. Eighth. This is the second year of his career he hasn’t played for them. And get this: In 903 regular season games with the Mets, he never hit a grand slam. Now, he has one against them.
Those four runs were just about all Scherzer needed, as he settled in after a so-so start and completed eight strong innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out nine. Washington ended up winning 6-3 to complete the sweep of their first series of the season against the Mets.
3 for tomorrow:
Brewers vs. Reds (Garza vs. Garrett)
This matchup intrigues me for a couple reasons. One: Amir Garrett has been lights out this year; he has a 1.83 ERA this year and whiffed twelve Orioles in his most recent outing. Two: The Reds are not terrible for some reason. It has a lot to do with Bryan Price’s forward-thinking bullpen management, I think, which is maybe the third reason why I like this matchup.
Rockies vs. Nationals (Anderson vs. Turner)
The two best teams in the NL? The two best teams in the NL. Both clubs have 13 wins, and they’re both coming off sweeps of their respective division rival. We know the Nationals are for real, but are the Rockies? Time to find out.
Giants vs. Dodgers (Cain vs. Ryu)
A classic rivalry. These games are always fun, even if neither team is off to a particularly good start.