We’ve got eight games on the card for Thursday, as nearly half of the league gets a much needed day off. You’ve probably heard this part of the season referred to as the dog days of summer, even though summer just technically started nine days ago. A lot of teams have been playing catch up on the season with limited off days and some doubleheaders, so these are days for them to savor.
But, our focus is on the 16 teams that are playing today. There’s only one day game and it features my Guardians against the Twins in a key rubber match for the five-game series. Otherwise, we’ve got seven late games and a lot to discuss in those.
Padres/Diamondbacks: The Mike Clevinger trade hasn’t really worked out all that well for the Padres, but we saw shades of promise from him yesterday with six shutout innings and only one hit allowed against the Diamondbacks. San Diego won 4-0 heading into a huge series against the Dodgers and Nick Martinez threw the game’s final three innings, so the bullpen is in good shape heading into the series.
Braves/Phillies: The over never had a chance yesterday as the picks split, with this game staying well under the total. Kyle Wright located better and the Braves waiting until the seventh to widen the gap against Ranger Suarez, who had seven strikeouts and 11 whiffs in 47 swings. The Braves still swing and miss a lot, but their contact quality when they make it remains high.
The Phillies only managed four hits against Wright and the bullpen. They called up Darick Hall in hopes of replacing some of Bryce Harper’s lost offense. Hall was slashing .269/.346/.548 with 20 HR in 315 PA at Triple-A.
Marlins/Cardinals: Fun game here, at least for Sandy Alcantara fans and Marlins backers. Avisail Garcia hit a two-run homer in the ninth and manager Don Mattingly let Alcantara finish what he started. He only struck out three and only had nine whiffs in 56 swings, but finished off the 117-pitch complete game.
On the other side, Andre Pallante gave up 12 hard-hit balls, but only five hits and two runs over seven innings. The rare Ryan Helsley blown save bumped his ERA to 0.88, as he was used back-to-back days for just the third time this season.
Reds/Cubs: The winner was a chalky favorite, but a winner nonetheless. The handicap worked out perfectly, as Justin Steele gave up one run over five innings and Hunter Greene only lasted four innings with three runs allowed. The bullpen almost immediately gave up four insurance markers for the Cubs. This is an angle we’ll have to keep in mind with fading the Reds on the road against lefties.