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Baseball Daily Dose

Yankees Deny Cabrera Chance at History

by Mark Lindquist
Updated On: April 22, 2022, 5:29 pm ET

Play with baseball karma, you might get burned. Yankees manager Aaron Boone found that out the hard way on Thursday, intentionally walking Miguel Cabrera – still sitting at 2,999 hits – to load the bases with two outs in the eighth inning, denying the crowd one last chance at history on the day. Cabrera, of course, will get to 3,000 hits soon enough. But moves like Thursday’s are bitter for ticket-buying fans to swallow in the moment, for obvious reasons. Boone’s decision, on a pure baseball level, was an easily defensible one. Set up an out at every base. Boone is not being paid to maneuver the strings of history. He is being paid to win games. 

The baseball gods were having none of it, though, as Miggy’s walk was followed by a two-run double off the bat of Austin Meadows to put the Yankees down 3-0, which would stand as the final score. Boone’s decision: Defensible. Baseball karma: Unpleased.

Hitters with an EDGE

Francisco Lindor – 3-for-5, HR, 1 RBI, 2 R

There he goes again. Lindor lit up Anthony DeSclafani for a solo home run in the first inning. This was his third multi-hit performance in his last four games. The star shortstop is slashing .308/.419/.615 with four homers, 10 RBI, 12 runs scored and three steals across 51 at-bats. 

Sean Murphy – 3-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI

Another big game for Murphy, who popped a two-run home run in the fifth inning and an RBI double in the seventh inning of the A’s 6-4 win over the Orioles on Thursday. Eight of Murphy’s 11 hits (54 at-bats) have gone for extra bases this season. 

Xander Bogaerts – 3-for-4, 2B, RBI

The Red Sox were being shut out 3-0 into the ninth inning against the Blue Jays when Bogaerts doubled home a run against Jordan Romano to get a two-run rally going. Bogaerts already has four three-hit games this season and is slashing a hearty .354/.380/.521 across 48 at-bats. In case you were wondering, Bogaerts’ best batting average for a full season came in 2015, when he hit .320. File that one away for later in the summer if he stays hot.

Jesus Sanchez – 2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB

Sanchez boosted a solo home run off Aaron Brooks to lead off the first inning. He ended up scoring runs in the second, fourth and sixth innings. The outfielder has now posted multi-hit efforts in five of his last six games while working to an overall .356/.396/.667 triple-slash across 45 at-bats.

Ty France – 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, BB

France teed off on a Taylor Hearn offering for a two-run homer in the first inning. This was his fourth multi-hit game in his last five contests. France is up to three long balls in 49 at-bats. 

Nathaniel Lowe – 3-for-5, 2B, RBI, 1 R

Lowe picked up an RBI single in the top of the ninth inning to put the Rangers up 8-6 heading into the bottom of the frame. Having hit safely in all but one of his 12 games this season, Lowe is currently slashing .396/.431/.458 with three doubles and seven RBI.

 

Pitchers with an EDGE

Pablo Lopez – 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 9 K, 0 BB

Lopez finished out his seven brilliant innings exactly at the 100-pitch mark. He has now given up just one run in 17 1/3 innings (three starts) to open the new season, with two straight scoreless outings covering 12 1/3 frames.

Kevin Gausman – 8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 0 BB

Gausman did allow a fair amount of base traffic on the afternoon, but he worked out of trouble when he had to while pitching with immaculate control. He has improved in each of his starts this season while racking up a 22/0 K/BB ratio in 18 2/3 innings (three starts). Gausman’s survival in the bigs after starting out in Orioles Purgatory has been quite impressive.

Carlos Carrasco – 7 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 0 BB

Carrasco theoretically had enough in the tank to try for a complete game, finishing up having thrown just 91 pitches (61 strikes). This was his first time pitching past the sixth inning this season. He has yet to allow more than two runs in any of his three starts to date.

Michael Pineda – 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB

The Yankees’ offense has yet to spark this season and Pineda made sure that his old team stayed in a rut in Thursday’s 3-0 win. Pineda threw 60 pitches in his season-debut – he had spring visa issues – on Thursday. Look for him to be stretched out in the weeks ahead.

Joe Ryan – 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 1 BB

Ryan out-dueled Zack Greinke in a 1-0 victory. He is off to a sharp start to the 2022 campaign, pitching to a 1.69 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 16/5 K/BB ratio in 16 innings. The 25-year-old right-hander held his own against big-league competition in a five-game cameo last season and should be considered as a potential waiver-wire add for fantasy managers in AL-only and deeper mixed-league formats.

Zach Plesac – 6 2/3 innings, 7 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 K, 1 BB

No huge fireworks from Plesac, but always nice to see starters hauling their weight into the seventh inning. The 27-year-old right-hander has turned in these kinds of solid-but-unspectacular every one of his three outings this season.

 

EDGE Priority Pickup

Sean Murphy, C, Oakland A’s – Available in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues.

At a position of scarcity, Murphy’s hot bat – a .574 slugging percentage with three home runs and 11 RBI in just 14 games – warrants immediate attention on the wire. And while he probably hasn’t turned into Mike Piazza for real, he cracked a decent 17 home runs (with 59 RBI) in 119 games last season. Grabbing Murphy where available should be considered a priority and then some. If your league is slow on the pickup, you might get an absolute steal, here.

 

Closing Time

-- Gregory Soto recorded his third save of the season after shutting down the Yankees over the final 1 2/3 innings in Thursday’s 3-0 win. The reliever has not allowed a run in any of his four appearances since giving up one to the White Sox in his first 2022 trip to the mound.

-- Emilio Pagan closed out Minnesota’s 1-0 win over the Royals on Thursday. With no margin for error, he started out in hair-raising fashion, issuing a leadoff walk to Michael A. Taylor. Playing it conservatively, KC had Nicky Lopez bunt, but that decision was immediately made fateful when Lopez’s bunt was caught by Ryan Jeffers. Given a minute to catch his breath, Pagan retired the next two batters sans issue. He and Jhoan Duran both figure to continue to see save opportunities as the weather warms up.

-- We highlighted the fine work of Kevin Gausman earlier in the column, but he and the Blue Jays very nearly botched the baton handoff at contest’s end. Gausman was pulled for Jordan Romano after he gave up a leadoff single to Trevor Story to start the ninth. Romano then walked Rafael Devers before giving up an RBI double to Xander Bogaerts and an RBI groundout to Alex Verdugo. All of this action cut Toronto’s lead down from 3-0 to 3-2, but Romano recovered for two more groundouts to help the Blue Jays to the (unnerving) win. Toss Romano a mulligan on this one, as he had not allowed a run in any of his previous six appearances this season. He improved to a perfect 7-of-7 in save chances with the near-implosion on Thursday.

-- Emmanuel Clase retired the White Sox on 10 pitches in the ninth. It was an effective performance, if not a flashy one. That makes for two straight perfect ninths and two consecutive saves (on back-to-back days, at that). Outside of a two-run-allowed stinker against the Royals in his second appearance of the season, Clase has been money early this season. 

-- Chris Stratton closed out the Cubs with a perfect ninth in Thursday’s 4-3 win. The save was Stratton’s first of the season. He saved eight games in 68 appearances with the Pirates last season. Stratton and David Bedner are expected to largely split save opportunities this season. 

-- Mark Melancon was tasked with holding a 4-3 lead to open the ninth against the Nats and boy did he make it a highwire act. The veteran reliever recorded the first two outs without issue, but then began to fall apart, allowing two-out singles to Alcides Escobar and Victor Robles before hitting Cesar Hernandez with a pitch to load the bases. For Juan Soto. Terrifying, but Melancon escaped with the win after inducing a popout from the slugger. Phew. While Melancon has now given up multiple hits in a wobbly three-of-five appearances this season (and at least one hit in five-of-six appearances), he remains a low-grade option for saves in most fantasy formats. 

 

Friday’s Matchup of the Day

Corey Kluber (TB) vs. Michael Wacha (BOS)

What better way to spend a Friday than by watching two old vets spin it in a matchup between AL East contenders? Wacha is coming off five shutout innings against the Twins while Kluber was nicked for two runs over five innings against the White Sox last time out. Both the Rays (7-6) and Red Sox (6-7) have gotten off to somewhat shaky starts this season, making this weekend’s series down at the Trop a nice early litmus test in what figures to be a season-long game of division musical chairs between the Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. Sorry, Orioles. 

 

AL Quick Hits: Greg Holland cleared waivers after the Rangers DFA’ed him … Jon Gray is reportedly heading to the IL with a left MCL sprain … Whit Merrifield took an 0-for-4 as he continued his early-season struggles … Franmil Reyes went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer … Matt Chapman went 3-for-4 with a double … A.J. Pollock (hamstring) is set to return this weekend … Luis Robert was forced out with a groin injury vs. Cleveland … Jordan Montgomery took a loss to Detroit despite giving up just one run in six innings … Minnesota released former prospect of interest Lewis Thorpe; fare thee well Thorpedo … Robinson Chirinos has escaped COVID-19 protocol … Red Sox manager Alex Cora just tested positive for COVID-19 … J.D. Martinez sat against the Blue Jays due to a groin injury

NL Quick Hits: Daniel Vogelbach cracked his third homer of the season … Drew VerHagen was forced out with a hip injury vs. Marlins …Nolan Arenado went 3-for-4 … Nelson Cruz clocked his second homer of the season … Eduardo Escobar connected for his first homer … Brandon Crawford struck out three times against the Mets  … Steven Duggar is working through a probable left oblique strain … an MRI on Josh Bell’s injured left knee was negative for structural damage

Mark Lindquist

Mark Lindquist covers MLB, NHL and NASCAR for NBC Sports EDGE. Reach out to him at @markrlindquist on Twitter.