Kris Medlen recorded the first shutout of his young career Thursday, limiting the Padres to just five hits over nine scintillating innings of work.
The Braves have now won the past 15 consecutive games in which Medlen has started, including all four this season. He’s been dominant to this point, not having allowed more than one earned run in any of his starts while compiling a 3-0 record, 1.05 ERA and 22/4 K/BB ratio over 25 2/3 innings.
With Tommy Hanson returning to the Braves rotation this week, manager Fredi Gonzalez has stated that he would use a six-man rotation until their next off-day on August 30 before deciding on which five starters would stick for the stretch run. With as well as Medlen is pitching when he toes the slab, it’s hard to justify removing him from the rotation. Then again, Mike Minor and Ben Sheets have pitched well, too, so Gonzalez will have a tough decision on his hands. Medlen certainly needs to be owned and active in all formats at this point.
Braun Busts Out
Ryan Braun busted out of his recent slump in a big way on Thursday, launching a pair of solo home runs off Cliff Lee to power the Brewers over the Phillies.
The defending NL MVP had been in a rare funk, hitting just .203/.253/.304 with one homer, eight RBI and a 21/4 K/BB ratio over his last 17 games. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke gave him a “mental health day” on Wednesday, sitting him against Guillermo Moscoso at Coors Field, and it appears to have done wonders.
Perhaps as a result of his two homers earlier in the game, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel elected to intentionally walk Braun with a man on and two out in the eighth inning and the Phillies clinging to a 4-3 lead. Aramis Ramirez followed with a walk, then Corey Hart blasted a game-changing grand slam, with Braun crossing the plate as the go-ahead and eventual winning run.
Jones Continues to Sizzle
Garrett Jones gave the Pirates a big lift on Thursday, smashing a pair of three-run homers off Joe Blanton, powering his team to a 10-6 victory and allowing them to salvage one game of their four-game series against the Dodgers.
The 31-year-old outfielder/first baseman is enjoying the finest offensive season of his career, hitting .283/.316/.542 with 19 homers and 64 RBI. He’s now just two longballs shy of matching his career-high of 21 set in 2009 and 2010.
Jones has been sizzling since the All-Star break, hitting .315 (34-for-108) with seven homers and 27 RBI over 32 contests. Sure, he struggles against left-handed pitching, but he’s still a useful and underrated bat in all fantasy formats.
National League Quick Hits: A.J. Burnett on Thursday became the first Pirate in 13 years to win 15 games in a season (Todd Ritchie, 1999)… Michael Cuddyer was activated from the disabled list Thursday and immediately returned to the Rockies lineup, going 1-for-4 with a two-run homer… Chipper Jones blasted a pair of home runs on his bobblehead night Thursday, the second of which was his 2,700th career hit… Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that despite Wednesday’s blown save, Jim Henderson will continue to receive save opportunities, and held true to his word as Henderson picked up his third save Thursday to preserve a victory over the Phillies… Matt Kemp was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the second inning on Thursday. He appeared to bump one of the umpires after he was tossed, and could face a possible suspension… Cliff Lee matched his season-high with 12 strikeouts in a no-decision against the Brewers Thursday… Matt Harvey was impressive Thursday, limiting the Reds to one run on four hits over 7 2/3 innings while striking out eight… Frank Francisco imploded in a non-save situation Thursday and is in danger of losing save chances… Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young hit back-to-back solo homers in the ninth off Jason Motte Thursday to down the Cardinals… The Cubs and Starlin Castro are working on a long-term contract extension… Pirates manager Clint Hurdle confirmed that despite a dislocated pinkie finger, Neil Walker will not be placed on the disabled list… Emilio Bonifacio went 2-for-5 with an RBI in his first rehab start and hopes to return to the Marlins lineup on Sunday.
American League Quick Hits: Francisco Liriano allowed two runs on three hits against the Blue Jays Thursday, earning his first victory as a member of the White Sox… Dan Straily picked up the first win of his young career Thursday, limiting the Royals to three hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings… David Price twirled seven scoreless innings against the Angels Thursday, improving to 16-4 with a 2.39 ERA and 159/50 K/BB ratio… Evan Longoria hit his first home run Thursday in nine games since returning from the DL on August 7… Grant Balfour picked up his ninth save of the season with a perfect ninth inning Thursday. Ryan Cook pitched effectively in the eighth inning of the game, leading to speculation that the swap could be permanent… With a three-run blast on Thursday, Alex Rios is now hitting .309 with 19 homers, 70 RBI and 17 stolen bases… Dan Haren continued his recent struggles Thursday, surrendering five runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Rays… Scott Downs made a successful simulated relief appearance Thursday and expects to be activated from the DL on Saturday… Jacoby Ellsbury served as the Red Sox DH on Thursday, as he’s dealing with “a leg situation”… Edwin Encarnacion was scratched from the Blue Jays lineup Thursday with soreness in his wrist and shoulder after diving into the wall on Wednesday… Wilson Betemit’s MRI revealed a small cartilage tear in his wrist, and he was placed on the 15-day DL… Brett Lawrie (oblique) could return to the Jays lineup as early as Tuesday… Jose Bautista took live batting practice and could begin a rehab assignment early next week… Robinson Cano (neck) was out of the lineup Thursday for a second straight game, but did appear as a pinch hitter… CC Sabathia felt good throwing off flat ground Thursday and plans to return on August 24 against the Indians.