Monday’s game between the Diamondbacks and Phillies began in a rain delay. The pitchers wish the delay would’ve turned into a postponement.
Jarrod Dyson, Ketel Marte and David Peralta led off the top of the first inning with back-to-back-to-back bombs off of Jerad Eickhoff, which, as it turned out, was a fitting way to kick off the proceedings. Eickhoff allowed five hits on the night and all five of them left the yard. It's just the 10th time in the history of baseball that that’s happened.
The Phillies did plenty of boppin’, as well, with five dingers of their own. Scott Kingery had two of the long balls in what was the first multi-homer game of his career.
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Morton Mows ‘em Down
Admittedly, Charlie Morton’s shoulder injury down the stretch last season had me worried enough that I wound up with zero shares of him in drafts this spring. It’s looking like I might regret exercising so much caution.
Morton was dynamite again Monday against the Athletics, permitting a mere two hits – both singles – over seven shutout innings in the Rays’ 6-2 victory. The right-hander walked two and hit a batter while fanning seven.
Morton is now a perfect 8-0 on the season and holds a 2.10 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 98/29 K/BB ratio over 81 1/3 innings of work. He’s in the midst of a 15 2/3-inning scoreless streak.
The Rays have been careful with Morton’s workload this season. He’s managed to go seven innings in three straight starts, but that’s only because he hasn’t thrown more than 94 pitches in any of those outings. Morton is on pace to easily set a new career high with 202 1/3 innings, but it’s less taxing than it might seem because he’s averaging just under 92 pitches per starts.
Morton’s velocity has been down a tad this season, but he’s been throwing more curveballs than ever and obviously hasn’t had any trouble getting swings and misses. He’s tied with teammate Blake Snell for sixth in the American League with his 98 punchouts.
It would be silly to expect Morton to hold up for a full season given his track record. Last year was the first time he’d ever made 30 starts in a season, and he’s now 35. He’s also probably not going to maintain a strand rate of over 80 percent. That said, even with a little regression baked in, he’s still looking like a top-30 starter the rest of the way.
Keuchel Carves up Minor Leaguers
If Dallas Keuchel’s first minor league start is any indication, it looks like he’s going to be ready for the majors soon.
In his first competitive outing in nearly eight months, the veteran left-hander befuddled the Charleston RiverDogs’ bats Monday night in a start for High-A Rome, limiting them to just one single and one walk across seven shutout innings. Keuchel struck out nine batters on the evening and needed a mere 77 pitches to cruise through his seven frames.
Keuchel had been throwing simulated games every five days during his extended free agency in order to keep his arm in shape, but that’s obviously not the same thing as pitching in a real game. The fact that he was so sharp, even if it was only against A-ball hitters, was very encouraging. The southpaw was reporting sitting in the 88-89 mph range with his fastball, which is just about normal for him.
Braves manager Brian Snitker noted prior to Keuchel’s outing on Monday that he expected the lefty to make at least two starts in the minors before joining the big club. Keuchel said after Monday’s start that he thought he needed “maybe one more” outing in the minors, although it would depend on how he feels in the next day or two. He expects to start again on Saturday, although he’s not sure which affiliate he’ll pitch for yet.
If Keuchel’s second minor league start on Saturday is indeed his last, that would appear to line him up to make his Braves debut on June 21 in Washington versus the Nationals at the beginning of Atlanta’s 10-game road trip.
Kevin Gausman’s rotation spot looks to be the most vulnerable, and he just happened to also pitch Monday. It didn’t go well, as the righty lasted just 2 1/3 innings against the Pirates and now has a 6.21 ERA on the season. Sean Newcomb tossed 4 2/3 frames of scoreless relief and it’s possible the Braves will give him a start over Gausman this weekend.
National League Quick Hits: Ozzie Albies went 2-for-4 with two homers on Monday in the Braves' victory over the Pirates on Monday … Starling Marte went 3-for-5 with two homers, three runs scored and four RBI in the Pirates' loss to the Braves on Monday. … Trea Turner went 3-for-6 with a double, triple and homer on Monday in the Nationals' 12-1 victory over the White Sox. … Nick Markakis went 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBI on Monday against the Pirates. … Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed one run on seven hits over six innings with six strikeouts, but didn't factor into the decision on Monday against the Angels. … Charlie Blackmon went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in a victory over the Cubs on Monday. … Anthony Rizzo went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer on Monday in a loss to the Rockies. … Adam Wainwright (hamstring) landed on the IL Monday. … Matt Adams strained his oblique on a check swing in Monday's game versus the White Sox … Michael Wacha shut out the Marlins for six innings to pick up a win Monday in his return to the rotation.
American League Quick Hits: Chris Sale struck out 10 hitters over seven innings while allowing just an unearned run, but didn't factor into the decision in the Red Sox’ loss to the Rangers on Monday. … Mike Minor allowed just two runs over eight innings and struck out six in the Rangers' comeback victory over the Red Sox on Monday. … Giancarlo Stanton (calf) will re-start his rehab assignment Tuesday with High-A Tampa … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Monday that Aaron Judge (oblique) could begin a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend. … Mike Trout hit a game-tying two-run homer in the seventh inning in the Angels' victory over the Dodgers on Monday. … Ji-Man Choi went 2-for-4 and hit a two-run homer Monday in the win over the A's. … Danny Santana went 4-for-5 with two doubles, and RBI and a run scored in the Rangers' win over the Red Sox on Monday in extra innings. … Matt Harvey has been pulled off his rehab assignment after suffering a setback with his ailing back.