It's too early to call the Arizona Diamondbacks-Colorado Rockies showdown a big series. But it's a big series! First place on the line, more than 35,000 at Coors Field on a Tuesday night and, best of all, two heavyweights trading punches in the eighth inning.
First, Paul Goldschmidt gave the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead as he greeted Adam Ottavino with a first-pitch, opposite-field home run. But in the bottom of the frame, Nolan Arenado responded with this two-run triple off the right-field scoreboard:
Nolan knows clutch. pic.twitter.com/mxrzxczq32— MLB (@MLB) June 21, 2017
Note the intensity of Arenado's reaction. Note the fans chanting "M-V-P! M-V-P!" Note that Arenado was visibly ticked off after striking out in his previous at-bat against Zack Greinke on a 3-2 curveball. Yeah, this has the feel of a big series.
Greinke probably deserved better. The rally in the eighth started when Charlie Blackmon hit a soft two-bouncer into left field for a one-out single. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo may be second-guessing himself for leaving Greinke in to face Arenado for a fourth time with two runners on and not bringing in Archie Bradley, but Greinke was at just 98 pitches and it was one of those games when it felt like his game to win or lose. The sabermetricians might say that's why you go with the numbers and bring in Bradley instead of going with your emotions.
I loved the two MVP candidates both coming up clutch in those big moments. Goldschmidt leads the National League in both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs WAR, with Arenado third in Baseball-Reference and tied for sixth in FanGraphs. Arenado, however, maybe has the signature moment of the 2017 season so far with his walk-off home run to complete the cycle on Sunday and now adds another late-inning, come-from-behind hit to his ledger. My editor, Dan, a huge Rockies fan, also assures me that Arenado has yet to launch into one of his patented hot streaks. Looks like he's starting one now, with 12 hits -- eight for extra bases -- in his past five games.
It's way too early to get into a heated MVP debate, but as those two clubs battle the Los Angeles Dodgers for NL West supremacy, Goldschmidt and Arenado are going to be in that debate all season, along with Bryce Harper and maybe even Blackmon, who has actually outhit Arenado so far.
I don't think it's possible for Tony Wolters to have made this throw more perfectly: pic.twitter.com/6P4STuQyMO— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) June 21, 2017
That was a big play in the sixth as the Diamondbacks had runners at first and third with no outs, down 2-0 at the time. They ended up with one run, but ran themselves out of a potential crooked number. Good stuff. I'll be tuning in again on Wednesday. How about you?
The day in awesome home runs from young stars
So, Aaron Judge homered again, No. 24 for him. Cody Bellinger homered again, his 22nd, to become the first rookie ever with 10 home runs in a 10-game span and the first player to do that since Troy Tulowitzki in 2010. But we turn to Corey Seager, Bellinger's teammate, who had a monster game against the Mets, going 4-for-5 with three home runs, a double and six RBIs. He also just missed a grand slam in the sixth inning, flying out one step shy of the warning track in left field.
Corey Seager is the first Dodgers shortstop with 6 RBI in a game since the team moved to LA in 1958. https://t.co/Y70BBXguXd— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 21, 2017
I also found this tweet amusing:
If 90% of you were GMs, Corey Seager would be on the Phillies and Cody Bellinger would be on the Twins.— Trevor Vernola (@tvern16) June 21, 2017
That's a reference to the trade rumors a couple of years ago, when many -- not the Dodgers' front office -- wanted to trade Seager for Cole Hamels. I guess the other reference would be Bellinger-for-Ervin Santana rumors, although I don't remember that one. Anyway, it's good to be young and a Dodger.
Everyone the Orioles face in June has looked like Willie Mays
Good game in Baltimore as the Orioles beat the Indians 6-5 as Manny Machado went 4-for-4 with two home runs (both off Josh Tomlin), a game that will hopefully get him going on an extended hot streak. Miguel Castro earned his first major league win after coming on with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh and striking out Yan Gomes and getting Bradley Zimmer to ground out. Brad Brach then worked around a walk and a hit to get the save.
This, however, is one of my favorite factoids of the season: The Orioles have now allowed five or more runs in 17 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the past 100 years, behind only the 20 in a row by the 1924 Phillies. This is why we love baseball: I just mentioned the 1924 Phillies. Chris Tillman continues to be basically unusable and you wonder how long the Orioles will go with him. He allowed five runs in four innings with nine hits, three walks and no strikeouts as his season ERA climbed to 8.39. Opposing batters are now hitting .360 against him.
I saw the Willie Mays note earlier in the day on Twitter from Dan Hirsch. Batters are now hitting .308/.382/.556 off Orioles pitchers in June. Mays' career line: .302/.384/.557. A-Mays-ing. (Sorry.)
This is the look when Kennys Vargas of the Twins blasts a 483-foot home run, the third longest of the season via Statcast:
And this is the look when Miguel Sano crushed an inside fastball onto the grass in center field:
Twins win 9-7.
Freeman is probably out at least another month with his fractured wrist, but when he returns the Braves are dropping hints that with Matt Adams tearing it up at first base, they could try Freeman at third base, a position he played in high school, but only five times as a pro, way back in the Gulf Coast League in 2007.
"We're discussing that internally, because the fact is, Freddie will be back," manager Brian Snitker told MLB.com's Mark Bowman. "There are some options there, because it would be nice to have both of those guys in the lineup somehow."
My take: This sounds like a classic smokescreen by the Braves to try to drive up Adams' trade value. Oh, no, we don't really want to trade him. We're going to play both him and Freeman. The last time a team tried to move a first baseman to third base was when the Angels did it with Mark Trumbo and that experiment lasted about five games. Freeman is a good defensive first baseman, plus-15 defensive runs saved in his career, but he's not Paul Goldschmidt over there. I doubt he would have the range or athleticism to handle third.
Plus, Adams isn't really all that good, a career .273/.318/.468 hitter, nothing special for a first baseman. He's a nice bench player, but in these days of pitching-heavy rosters, it's hard to keep a first base-only bench player. So, more than likely, the Braves cash in on Adams' hot streak and trade him to an American League team. The Astros could use an upgrade over Carlos Beltran at DH, the Royals don't really have a DH, and the Yankees may look for a first baseman. Freeman is a foundation player ... as a first baseman. You don't want to mess with that.
Quick thoughts ...
So much to mention tonight. Anthony Rizzo was not suspended for his takeout slide of Austin Hedges, even though he pretty clearly violated the rule (although the slide certainly wasn't malicious). Instead, he led off the game with a home run and in his seven games in the leadoff spot has gone HR, 1B, 2B, 1B, BB, HR, HR. ... Andrew McCutchen's past 23 games: .400, 8 HRs, 23 RBIs. That means he suddenly has trade value again, if the Pirates want to trade him (although they're only four games out). ... After losing 6-1 to the Rangers, the Blue Jays are now 0-8 and have been outscored 62-20 in games that they can get to .500. ... The Yankees are 0-7 since my reverse jinx as the Red Sox take over first place in the AL East. ... Has Chris Sale surpassed Clayton Kershaw as the best pitcher in the game? ... Finally, best of luck to Katie Strang, my editor on these night blogs, in her new gig. It's a team effort here with people like Katie and all the help from the Stats & Information group.