Thursday offers MLB fans an abbreviated 10-game schedule, with more than half of the day variety. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are getting settled in London for this weekend’s inaugural London Series, with the Red Sox’s
As far as game action goes, two contending teams came back in impressive fashion and one of them saw a boost from a big-name newcomer. A first-place team was whipped for the second straight day by a likely non-contender (or are they?), the Rays and Twins played a marathon, Joey Gallo powered up again and — OH! — we learn who the All-Star Game starters will be.
All that and more in our daily roundup.
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Baseball schedule/scores for Thursday, June 27
Phillies shock Mets as N.Y. implosion continues
This was pretty wild. The Phillies entered the week having lost seven in a row. They had led the NL East most of the season but fell to 6 1/2 games back of the Braves. They won the first three games of the series this week against the Mets and were poised to sweep with a 1-0 victory. Instead, Todd Frazier came through with a three-run bomb.
It looked like the Mets would avoid the sweep in shocking fashion. Then again, it’s these Mets. Enter closer Edwin Diaz. He had only worked twice since June 15, but one of those outings came on Wednesday and he was excellent. Thursday, he was … not.
The Mets fall to 37-45 and it’s hard telling how much more needs to go wrong until Mickey Callaway gets fired. Not that this mess is necessarily his fault — all the Mets’ issues stem from ownership — but there’s sure to be more scapegoating than simply firing the pitching coach,.
As for the Phillies, they’ve trimmed the Braves’ NL East lead back down to a workable 4 1/2 games. They’ll get the Marlins three times this weekend and attempt to avenge the sweep they suffered at Miami’s hands last weekend, then they get the Braves head-to-head for three games. They have a chance to salvage things after what looked like a season-altering losing skid.
Cubs storm back; Kimbrel records save
Through 3 1/2 innings on Thursday, the Cubs trailed the Braves, 6-1, and were facing the possibility of a losing home stand after a brutal West coast trip. In the next two innings, though, the Cubs would score seven runs on six hits, including three extra-base hits. Jason Heyward tripled to tie it and then Victor Caratini followed with a go-ahead home run that would actually stand up as the game-winner, despite very favorable hitting conditions.
The big news here, though, was Craig Kimbrel’s Cubs’ debut. He came out to “Sweet Child O’ Mine:”
He was throwing 97-98 with his fourseam fastball and was very sharp for two hitters (strikeout, weak groundout) before hitting some trouble. Ronald Acuna doubled on an outstanding at-bat and then Kimbrel lost his release point and walked Dansby Swanson on four not-close pitches. He then induced a game-ending groundout from Freddie Freeman, for which the play-by-play reading does no justice. Look at how close this was with the Anthony Rizzo dive:
The Cubs finish their 10-game home stand with three splits (an even 5-5 overall). They still maintained their lead in the NL Central, however, due to the rest of the division not taking advantage of the mediocrity.
Brewers avoid terrible sweep
As noted on the teams trailing the Cubs in the Central, the Brewers have been having a very rough go of late. They had lost nine of their last 12 games heading into Thursday’s finale against the lowly Mariners. Yes, I said lowly. The Mariners started the season 13-2 and have still managed to find themselves in last place for quite a while. They traded away Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce. And yet, they took the first two games in Milwaukee.
The Brewers’ offense was quiet in this one again, save for one inning, but that’s all they’d need. Orlando Arcia’s three-run shot would be the difference:
Pirates rout Astros again
The Pirates had a negative-74 run differential before Wednesday’s game against the Astros and they’ve put a big dent in that figure in the past two games. In Houston! In two consecutive games, the Pirates outscored the first-place Astros 24-2. The Pirates have now won six of their last seven games and they actually have a real chance to do some damage in the NL Central with head-to-heads. Check out their next 23 games:
- 3 at Brewers
- 4 vs. Cubs
- 3 vs. Brewers
- 3 at Cubs
- 3 at Cardinals
- 3 vs. Phillies
- 4 vs. Cardinals
Now, yes, that’s a brutal stretch against teams with above-.500 records. It could completely bury the Pirates. From their perspective, they have to view this as an opportunity. Only the three games against the Phillies of the 23 don’t come against the three teams above the Pirates in the Central. As alluded to in the intro, the Pirates feel like a non-contender, but they are only five games behind the Cubs, four behind the Brewers and two back of the Cardinals. Opportunity is knocking, Bucs.
On the Astros’ end, they are likely fine, but they’ve lost nine of their last 11 and the division lead has shrunk from laugher territory to 4 1/2 games over the Rangers, who won on Thursday.
Gallo announces presence with authority; Rangers keep winning
As noted, the Rangers have the Astros’ lead down to 4 1/2 games in the AL West. That is thanks to a five-game winning streak for the Rangers. It’s nice to have Joey Gallo back from the injured list, too, isn’t it? Gallo, in his third game back, clubbed a pair of colossal homers.
Welcome back, Big Guy.