Friday, April 20, 2012
Clearing the bases: Felix's awesome ND
By David Schoenfield
First base: King Felix hates his teammates. Or should, anyway. At least on this night. Felix Hernandez was brilliant against the Indians, striking out 12 batters in eight shutout innings, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by striking out Jason Kipnis and then Shin-Soo Choo with a Niagara Falls changeup. He left the mound pumping his fist with the most emotion I've ever seen from him. But his position mates scored just one run and Brandon League -- who had been lights-out -- coughed up the lead. Indians 2, Mariners 1. A key to the game: The patient Indians did force Hernandez to throw 126 pitches, even if they drew just one walk. Josh Tomlin made it through eight on just 96 pitches for Cleveland. (Dave Cameron has a good take here on Felix's changeup.)
Second base: Upton returns to Rays. B.J. Upton is expected to be activated from the DL and return to Tampa's starting lineup on Friday. The Rays could certainly use a right-handed bat in a lineup that has been featuring Jeff Keppinger in the cleanup spot against left-handers. Scoring runs hasn't actually been an issue for the 7-6 Rays: Only the Red Sox and Twins have allowed more runs in the AL.
Third base: Kid power. Remember when the Braves were 0-4 and everybody was already calling for manager Fredi Gonzalez's head? Since then they've won eight of nine, including a 10-2 thrashing of the Diamondbacks. Jason Heyward had two more hits to raise his average to .348 and Freddie Freeman slugged two home runs and drove in five runs. Meanwhile, Mike Minor pitched eight strong innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. Josh Collmenter allowed four runs in 5.1 innings, his third straight poor start, putting more pressure on the Diamondbacks to recall Trevor Bauer or one of their pitching prospects.
Home plate: Tweet of the day.
Speaking of King Felix, a factoid on his no-decision ...