Aug 02, 2020
LEADING OFF: Reds-Tigers Debut MLB's 7-Inning Doubleheaders
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By The Associated Press
A look at what's happening in the majors on Sunday:
LET’S PLAY 7!
Shortened doubleheaders are about to make their Major League Baseball debut. At least that’s the plan. In this most unpredictable and unusual of seasons, perhaps we shouldn’t take anything for granted.
The Detroit Tigers are set to host the Cincinnati Reds in a pair of seven-inning games -- a day after the teams were rained out at Comerica Park, more showers are in the forecast.
This will be the first doubleheader since MLB approved condensing twinbills to seven innings each this season. Baseball could see an unusually high number of doubleheaders due to positive coronavirus tests causing postponements, plus rainouts.
“I think that’s a good rule change especially with the pitchers going down every day,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “With the shortage of pitchers, that is a good rule, especially with teams losing multiple guys.”
Brewers star outfielder Lorenzo Cain and Marlins rookie second baseman Isan Diaz have become the last big leaguers to opt out of playing this season because of concerns over the coronavirus.
They joined the likes of Giants catcher Buster Posey, Dodgers pitcher David Price and Washington infielder Ryan Zimmerman in choosing not to play this year.
With more and more games getting postponed because of the virus, it’s led many to wonder who else will follow them in sitting out.
Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez also is done this season without throwing a pitch. The Red Sox said Rodriguez, who went 19-6 last year, is sidelined by heart inflammation caused by COVID-19.
Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani hopes for better results when he makes his second start of the season, at home facing the Astros.
Ohtani didn’t record an out last weekend against Oakland, allowing five runs on three hits and three walks. It was the Japanese right-hander’s first appearance on the mound since Sept. 2, 2018, after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Angels expect to have Ohtani start their Sunday games this season. He went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts and 51 2/3 innings in 2018, when he also hit 22 home runs and was the AL Rookie of the Year.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is set to make his season debut when he faces the Diamondbacks at Arizona.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner was scratched shortly before he was scheduled to start July 23 on opening day because of back issues that have slowed him in recent years.
The 32-year-old Kershaw was 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA last season.
Three-time AL MVP Mike Trout is now a first-time dad. The Angels center fielder and his wife, Jessica, have announced the birth of their first child, a boy named Beckham Aaron Trout.
And notice the initials for the young one: BAT. Fitting, right?
Trout left the club Thursday and was put on the paternity list, which lets players to stay away from their teams for three days. Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon said he thinks Trout will return to the Angels shortly, but says the team won’t rush him.
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Ramón Laureano robs home run, drives in key runs in As sweep-preventing win
The Oakland A’s move to 13-2 when homering in a game. Their three home runs nudging them to a 8-4, sweep-preventing win over the Los Angeles Angels Wednesday.
Ramón Laureano finds a way to contribute
Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly’s eight-game suspension for throwing at Astros hitters was reduced to five games upon appeal. This could be good news for Ramón Laureano, who played Wednesday as the A’s were yet to hear word back about his appeal on a six-game suspension for charging the Astros’ dugout.
If his suspension is lessened, he may be out for the upcoming series against the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks. He has large shoes to fill, but the A’s can fill them.
But, Wednesday he reminded us of how much responsibility comes with being Ramón Laureano.
Laureano has a knack for the web gem defensive plays made at Angel Stadium. He gave us a different variety, casually robbing Brian Goodwin of a potential game-tying home run in the seventh inning.
The A’s outfielder has been playing farther back in center to improve his route running, and he made up a whole lot of ground robbing another two hits from the Angels. That included a bloop single and an extra-base hit at the wall.
His defensive abilities made up for an otherwise cold series at the plate in which he collected one hit with six strikeouts. Then Laureano punched a two-out single to tack on some key insurance runs in the eighth inning.
Chris Bassitt vs. Mike Trout
Bassitt struck out twice baseball superstar Mike Trout when the Los Angeles Angels came to Oakland at the season’s onset. And it took a little guts; the first Trout whiffed at Bassitt’s rainbow curveball. The second, flailing at a changeup.
“I don’t usually throw changeups and curveballs to Trout, but it worked out today,” Bassitt said after that July start. “Throwing it, you’re thinking this could go 600 feet, but when he swings and misses it’s pretty awesome.”
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- Athletics-Astros brawl: Ramón Laureano suspended six games, Astros’ Alex Cintrón gets 20 games
- Win streak halted as A’s waste Matt Chapman’s monster night
Bassitt was living down in the zone — a good sign for a starting pitcher against a brutal Angels lineup that will punish mistakes up (as they did Tuesday in rapid succession). But fastballs down in the zone are Trout’s chum.
Trout homered a 94 mph fastball down in the zone in the first inning, tying the game. He also punished a 94 mph sacrifice fly in the following at bat — not a home run, but it produced a run nonetheless.
Bassitt, at least, pushed back in the final at bat with a strikeout check swinging at another 94 mph offering on the paint.
Trying to protect the 1.08 ERA he’d curated over three starts, Bassitt engaged in a tiring push and pull with an Angels lineup that’s, scarily, finding its stride. Anthony Rendon — oddly slashing .184/.412/.449 with an eye-popping 146 wRC+ — hit a home run, too.
The A’s right-hander left with two outs in the fifth inning having allowed four earned runs, five hits with four strikeouts.
Matt Olson, Robbie Grossman and Stephen Piscotty go yard
Angels starter Griffin Canning doesn’t throw too hard, so the A’s found a few ways to take advantage of the low-90s fastballs and hanging breaking balls the right-hander was leaving up in the zone.
Matt Olson went first, launching his sixth home run of the season 111 mph off a hanging slider. It went 454 feet, which somehow fell short of the A’s home run distance record this season. Sean Murphy hit one 455 feet in Oakland.
Robbie Grossman hit a 3-1 fastball up into the seats for a two-run knock. And Stephen Piscotty’s home run off a hanging curveball 108 mph into left field.