"The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry." -Dave Dombrowski
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The attribution on that quote might not be entirely right, but the Tigers general manager has to feel as though the world is against him after his best laid scheme -- the acquisition of David Price to form a murderer's row of starters at the front of the Tigers' rotation -- continued to go terribly awry Monday.
A day after Anibal Sanchez was placed on the disabled list with a strained right pectoral muscle, Justin Verlander left Monday's start after one inning with right shoulder soreness. The right-hander was taken for four hits and five runs before exiting, and after the game he said he wasn't sure what to think of the ailment.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous," Verlander said. "I've never been through this before."
Verlander will have an MRI taken of the shoulder on Tuesday, after which more should be known.
More troubling than Monday's abbreviated outing is Verlander's comment after the game that the injury "has been lingering for a while." He declined to elaborate, but that it's not a new injury doesn't bode well for the idea that this may just be a minor ailment.
It wouldn't shock many to learn the former AL MVP has been pitching through an injury given his uncommon 4.76 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 118/55 K/BB ratio over 158 2/3 innings this year, but the timing is somewhat strange. Despite his poor numbers, Verlander had actually been pitching better in recent weeks, posting four straight quality starts following the All-Star break before Monday's meltdown.
However long this injury keeps Verlander out is too long for the Tigers, who suddenly find themselves without two-fifths of their starting rotation. The team recalled Robbie Ray to take Sanchez' roster spot, and minor leaguer Buck Farmer will be promoted to start Wednesday.
It's fair to assume a Buck Farmer start in August wasn't part of Dombrowski's best laid scheme.
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Orioles Win, Potentially Lose Machado
The Orioles won big on Monday, but they're hoping it didn't come at an even bigger price.
Manny Machado left Monday's 11-3 rout of the Yankees with what the team is calling a right knee sprain. Machado underwent surgery on his left knee over the offseason, forcing him to miss a month at the start of the season.
Machado will have an MRI on Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury, but he seemed optimistic about it after the game.
“I have no idea," Machado said of his outlook. "I mean it doesn’t feel too bad, but we’ll see. You can’t really say something now because we don’t know what’s going on in there. So whatever comes out of my mouth about it might be a lie or might not. So we’ll just wait for the results. Hopefully it is on the good side other than the bad.”
It certainly appeared bad. Machado went to the ground in pain after a swing in the third inning, and the third baseman could barely put any pressure on the leg as he was helped off the field. On a positive note, an X-ray of the knee came back negative, a good sign, and Machado was walking around in the clubhouse without the aid of crutches.
Even if he doesn't require a trip to the disabled list, it's fair to assume we won't see the 22-year-old for a few days as he nurses the sprain. The more likely scenario would be a DL stint, though, to ensure he's healthy for the stretch run and into the postseason. Machado's injury likely means more playing time for Ryan Flaherty, and with J.J. Hardy also ailing, the O's may need a move for more infield reinforcements in the coming days.
Royals Add A Hammer
The league's worst home run-hitting team added some juice to its lineup Monday.
The Royals, a team with a league-worst 71 home runs this season, acquired Josh Willingham from the Twins on Monday for minor-league reliever Jason Adam. Willingham was deemed expendable by the Twins after posting .210/.345/.402 line over 68 games in a free agent year.
In Willingham, the Royals hope they're getting a player closer to his 2012 form. That year, Willingham hit 35 home runs and had 110 RBI in his first season with the Twins.
Willingham will most likely split time with Raul Ibanez -- another all-or-nothing hitter past his prime -- at designated hitter while Billy Butler mans first base. When Eric Hosmer returns from the disabled list, playing time will likely be based on merit.
It's not hard to see how a change of scenery and the opportunity to play for a first-place club could spark the 35-year-old. Despite his many shortcomings, Willingham does still possess pop, after all -- even with the poor slash line, he's got 12 home runs in 278 at-bats this season. When healthy and cranking them out he's a mixed league asset, but until he runs away with everyday at-bats in KC he's nothing more than an AL-only option.
National League Quick Hits: After expressing optimism that Andrew McCutchen might avoid a DL stay, the Pirates placed their All-Star outfielder on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a fractured rib. He hasn't appeared in a game in the past week, making the move retroactive to August 4 and creating the possibility that he only misses another week with the injury ... In their first official game without McCutchen, all the Pirates outfielders did as a collective unit was go 6-for-12 with two home runs, seven RBI, seven runs scored and two stolen bases in Monday's win ... A left hamstring cramp could prove to be something more troublesome for Everth Cabrera. The shortstop will undergo an MRI on the hamstring, the same hamstring that gave Cabrera trouble last month ... Giancarlo Stanton continued his devastating assault on National League pitchers Monday, taking Shelby Miller deep twice for his 30th and 31st home runs of the year. He's now tied for the major league lead, and the 24-year-old has hit eight home runs in his last 12 games ... Jon Niese held the Phillies to two runs over seven innings to earn the win Monday, the same day it was reported he and Curtis Granderson cleared revocable waivers. Niese can now be dealt to any team, and the left-hander has an affordable $26.5 million left over the next three years of his deal. He may be a name to watch in the coming weeks, but he won't be cheap.
American League Quick Hits: Joe Mauer was activated from the disabled list and returned to the lineup on Monday. The first baseman went 2-for-4 with the game-winning RBI in the top of the ninth inning in his return ... While the Tigers face issues with their starting pitching, former Tigers starter Drew Smyly earned his first win as a member of the Rays on Monday. The southpaw struck out nine over 7 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits ... Adam Lind (foot) is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. The Blue Jays will gladly welcome back Lind and the .320/.389/.489 line he owned before he went down with the fractured foot ... Alex Rios, who aggravated a right ankle injury on Sunday, could return to the Rangers lineup as early as Tuesday. An MRI on the ankle showed no significant damage, so it should be sooner than later for the outfielder ... The Royals, behind two Alcides Escobar RBI singles, beat the A's 3-2 to move into sole possession of first place in the American League Central. The team that's last in the majors in homers, one that has turned to Bruce Chen to make seven starts this season, leads the Tigers by a 1/2 game because you can't predict ball.