5 Issues I Preferred (Or Didn’t Like) This Week, Could 3

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Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports activities

Welcome to a different version of 5 Issues I Preferred (Or Didn’t Like) This Week. As all the time, due to Zach Lowe for arising with the thought for the column, as a result of it’s a terrific excuse to observe a ton of baseball and write about performs that make me smile. This week had somewhat little bit of all the things: shut and enjoyable video games, lopsided and enjoyable video games, idiosyncratic batter conduct, and even an all-time main league document (nope, not an excellent one). Let’s get began. One fast be aware: 5 Issues is taking every week off subsequent week for workload administration. No phrase on whether or not I’ll be assigned to FanGraphs Triple-A to maintain my typing arm recent, however the column will return every week from Friday.

1. Excessive-Stakes Video games in April
Two division leaders confronted off in Seattle on Monday night time. The juggernaut Braves want no introduction; they’ve one of the best document in baseball and received 104 video games final yr. The Mariners have ridden a dominant rotation to the highest of the AL West regardless of a sputtering offense. The primary sport of the sequence pitted Bryce Miller in opposition to Max Fried, and whereas neither was projected as their crew’s ace coming into the season, they each regarded the half on this sport.

Miller began issues off along with his customary dominant fastball. He received Ronald Acuña Jr. trying and Ozzie Albies swinging within the first inning, and stored going from there. When Miller’s fastball is cooking, it’s laborious to think about making contact in opposition to him, by no means thoughts getting successful:

Fried received off to a gradual begin this yr after lacking half of final season with harm, however he’d simply thrown a three-hitter in opposition to the Marlins, and he picked up proper the place he left off. He baffled the Mariners with an array of fastballs, sliders, and pleasant gradual curves:

These two battled lengthy into the night time, exchanging scoreless innings and assured struts. One factor they didn’t trade was baserunners; via six innings, they mixed for 3 walks and no hits allowed. They traded strikeouts – 10 for Miller, seven for Fried – and made each 2-1 rely really feel like a rally.

The Braves lineup is simply too good to carry down without end. Acuña recorded the primary hit of the sport with a smashed groundball single within the seventh. Then he stole second. Then he stole third. Then Albies cracked a ground-rule double to deliver him dwelling. Miller recovered to flee the inning with no additional injury, however Fried and the relievers that adopted him might work with that. They made it via eight innings with none injury, establishing a dramatic conflict between Atlanta nearer A.J. Minter, attempting to guard that one-run lead, and the 2 goats of the Seattle offense thus far, Jorge Polanco and Mitch Garver. Polanco led off the underside of the ninth with a single via the six gap earlier than Garver clobbered a walk-off blast:

Extra video games like this in April, please. Extra video games prefer it in Could and June. I like whimsical baseball simply as a lot as the following individual – most likely extra, in actual fact. However when video games are this effectively performed and this tight, it’s like somewhat piece of the playoffs escaped October and landed in my lounge. My coronary heart couldn’t deal with each sport being like this, however getting one each infrequently is a delight.

2. Wyatt Langford in Area
Wyatt Langford’s debut has been uneven, to be form. He’s hitting .239/.311/.312, not precisely the offensive juggernaut Rangers followers anticipated after he tore up the minors final yr. He has top-of-the-scale energy; he hit six homers in spring coaching this yr, and 10 in fewer than 200 minor league plate appearances final season. To this point, that energy hasn’t proven up. He solely has a single dwelling run within the majors this yr. However oh boy, was that dwelling run enjoyable:

It feels bizarre for an influence hitting DH to have an inside-the-park dwelling run and no common ones, however Langford is an odd DH. The truth that he isn’t a plus nook outfielder is stunning, as a result of he can completely fly. Statcast clocks his common dash pace thus far this yr at 29.6 ft/sec, one of many quickest marks within the sport. That someway hasn’t translated to protection but, however on offense? The person can transfer.

For lots of gamers, this could be a triple. I clocked him at just below 15 seconds across the bases, and that might have been even sooner if he didn’t suppose he hit a homer at first:

Now, did the Reds protection assist out? Certain. Jake Fraley didn’t play the carom effectively in any respect; if he’d merely been much less aggressive chasing the ball into that nook, this could have been a double or triple at most. However that one mistake is all it took (and for the Sam Miller fans on the market, be aware Elly De La Cruz taking the cutoff throw from proper discipline). However even accounting for the defensive miscue, Langford’s pace is what made this play occur.

Langford doesn’t seem to be a monitor star to me, although I’m unsure how a lot of that’s as a result of I maintain seeing “DH” subsequent to his title. (He was taking part in left discipline on this sport, for what it’s value.) However watching him around the bases, you’ll be able to’t miss it:

I notably favored this close-up angle the Rangers posted:

Perhaps it’s the purple gloves. Perhaps it’s the stride size. There’s simply one thing concurrently soothing and stunning about seeing him around the bases. He’s a big man with flailing arms, however there’s a grace to it too; his torso and head barely bounce round whilst he accelerates to full pace. It’s a pleasure to observe, is my level. And Adolis García cherished it simply as a lot as I did:

3. Stroll Offs
It began with a mistake. Within the backside of the primary inning final Thursday, Yoshinobu Yamamoto missed simply low to Joey Meneses in a full rely. Umpire Brian Walsh didn’t see it that manner:

You may see Meneses on the fringe of the body trying again in shock. That was a ball! However the sport moved on. The subsequent three-ball pitch Yamamoto threw was a stroll to Joey Gallo. The subsequent one after that? One other one to Gallo with a unique outcome:

I do suppose that one was a strike, however Gallo clearly didn’t. And now the battle traces have been set: The Nationals have been strolling to first on each three-ball pitch they noticed. Jacob Younger received the memo:

After which on 3-2, he received the memo once more:

Jesse Winker regarded to me like he was able to trot off – however Yamamoto’s 3-2 curveball caught a lot of the plate that he as an alternative pivoted round and marched again to the dugout:

Yamamoto was commanding the perimeters of the plate masterfully, and getting some assist there in addition. However I cherished Washington’s technique. Simply trot all the way down to first base if it’s shut. Perhaps you’ll affect the umpire. Yamamoto threw eight pitches in three-ball counts within the sport. The Nats swung at one and ran down towards first on 5. That’s aspirational dwelling proper there. Perhaps Mike Rizzo ought to put up an indication that claims “nobody cares how briskly you run all the way down to first base on strike three.” Or perhaps he shouldn’t – I had quite a lot of enjoyable watching them do it.

4. Revenge
You may solely pull off this play when a catcher is hitting:

Don’t get me fallacious, José Ramírez is a superb defender. That was a heck of a play, a tough barehanded scoop and a powerful off-platform throw. Not many third basemen can mix these two so easily. But when just about anybody else on the Braves have been operating, that may have been a single. Travis d’Arnaud is a 35-year-old catcher, and he strikes like one, with 18th percentile dash pace and tenth percentile home-to-first splits.

A sequence of unlikely occasions must occur for that to be such an unfortunate out. Change Ramírez with a barely worse defender and it’s successful. Change d’Arnaud with a barely sooner runner and it’s successful. Take a mile per hour off of the contact, or transfer it only a bit extra away from Ramírez’s path, and it’s successful. A part of being an excellent defender is making quite a lot of these edge-case performs, however I’m certain d’Arnaud was sad about shedding successful that manner.

It’s OK, although, as a result of he received his revenge two nights later. With two out and nobody on within the high of the tenth, Ramírez singled off of A.J. Minter. He received an enormous bounce on the second pitch of the following at-bat and stole second standing up. Or a minimum of, he thought he did:

Blink and also you’ll miss it. Orlando Arcia’s swipe tag was manner late, and it didn’t even make contact. A reverse angle is much more complicated. I don’t know why Ramírez didn’t slide, however he appears fairly clearly secure on this one:

Certainly replay would repair this, proper? Fallacious:

What a remarkably good throw. With out that means to, d’Arnaud hit Ramírez’s again pocket batting gloves from 130 ft away. Ramírez was out the second Arcia caught the ball. The after-the-fact swipe was simply instinctual, as a result of Arcia has caught 1000’s of throws like that in his life however most likely by no means acquired one which exact. I’ve heard of letting the ball do the work on a tag, however this takes that to a brand new stage.

If Ramírez had been sooner, there could be no play. If he’d been slower, he most likely would have slid – actually, he ought to have anyway. If the throw had been three inches off in both course, the tag wouldn’t have been there. Ramírez stole one from d’Arnaud due to a sequence of just-so occasions. It’s solely truthful that d’Arnaud did the identical to him.

5. Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory
With their loss to the Astros on Sunday, the Rockies fell to 7-21 of their first 28 video games, which is unhealthy sufficient. Even worse, they trailed in some unspecified time in the future in every of these video games. That tied a “document” set by the 1910 St. Louis Browns for many consecutive video games trailing to start out a season. Any time you’re tying a document set by the Browns, one thing has gone fallacious.

Fortunately for them, the following sport, on Tuesday, provided a fast reprieve. They ambushed the Marlins with 5 runs within the high of the primary, and Ryan Feltner was completely dealing. He confronted the minimal variety of batters via six innings, with the 2 singles he allowed shortly erased by a double play and a caught stealing, respectively. He wanted solely 79 pitches to get via eight scoreless innings. Bud Black despatched him again out for the ninth to attempt for his first profession full sport, a shutout in addition.

Issues began to go fallacious immediately. Vidal Bruján snuck a single via the infield, Feltner hit Christian Bethancourt so as to add one other baserunner, after which Luis Arraez doubled Bruján dwelling to open the scoring ledger for Miami. Feltner’s first full sport must wait, as a result of the Rockies wanted this win. Nearer Justin Lawrence got here in to slam the door. However uh… he walked Bryan De La Cruz, after which Dane Myers (within the sport as a result of Jazz Chisholm Jr. received ejected for arguing balls and strikes) singled dwelling two runs, after which Josh Bell singled to load the bases, after which Lawrence hit Jesús Sánchez to make it 5-4, after which… effectively, you get the thought. By the point Jalen Beeks got here in to interchange Lawrence, the sport was tied and there was nonetheless just one out. However Beeks wriggled out of the jam with out conceding something additional. The Rockies nonetheless had an opportunity to bury this accursed streak – they hadn’t trailed at any level on this sport.

They scored a run within the high of the tenth when Ryan McMahon stroked a two-out double. However it wasn’t to be. De La Cruz doubled within the backside of the inning to even the rating. Then Myers – c’mon, the man who wasn’t even purported to be within the sport! – received it for Miami with a seeing-eye single. Or perhaps De La Cruz received it by remembering to the touch dwelling. Or perhaps catcher Elias Díaz misplaced it with a bobble:

Oh boy, that one’s gonna sting. The Rockies can’t get out of their very own manner. They’ve trailed within the two video games they’ve performed since this collapse, too, extending the document to an outrageous 31 straight video games trailing to start out the season. Embrace the tip of final yr, and it’s 37 straight video games trailing. I’m sorry for the Rockies followers enduring this, and for Patrick Dubuque for selecting to stay the Rockies fan life for a yr on this yr of all years. At this level, there’s not a lot you are able to do apart from stare, like rubbernecking however for sports activities.

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