Astros’ A.J. Hinch impressed by Gerrit Cole’s cerebral approach to pitching

By Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle Updated 10:56 pm, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-7', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 7', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Karen Warren, Staff Image 1of/7 CaptionClose Image 1 of 7 Houston Astros RHP pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws live batting practice during spring training at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in West Palm Beach. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle ) less Houston Astros RHP pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws live batting practice during spring training at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in West Palm Beach. ( Karen Warren / Houston ... more Photo: Karen Warren, Staff Image 2 of 7 Houston Astros RHP pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws a bullpen session during spring training at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in West Palm Beach. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle ) less Houston Astros RHP pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws a bullpen session during spring training at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in West Palm Beach. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle ... more Photo: Karen Warren, Staff Image 3 of 7 Gerrit Cole becomes the new face in this year's Astros rotation following an offseason trade with the Pirates. The righthander has been taken aback by the chemistry he's found in the locker Continue Reading

Angels edge Dodgers, 3-2, with rare walk-off strikeout

By Bill Plunkett | [email protected] | Orange County RegisterPUBLISHED: June 28, 2017 at 10:36 pm | UPDATED: June 29, 2017 at 12:43 am Los Angeles Angels’ Ben Revere, center, celebrates along with Kole Calhoun, right, as he scores the game-winning run on a throwing error by Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal on an at-bat by Cameron Maybin, as relief pitcher Pedro Baez, left, walks off during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, in Anaheim, Calif. The Angels won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ORG XMIT: ANS118The Los Angeles Angels’ Alex Meyer throws to the plate in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger reacts after a foul ball during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu throws to the plate during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)Los Angeles Angels Manager Mike Scioscia walks Cameron Maybin back to the dugout after arguing with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Logan Forsythe is forced out at second as the Los Angeles Angels’ Danny Espinosa loses the ball in the second inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu throws tot he plate against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Wednesday, June Continue Reading

Dodgers’ foundation tested after bullpen blasted in Game 2

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kenley Jansen is 6-foot-5 and very wide. The Los Angeles closer is undeniably imposing in his home whites on the Dodger Stadium mound even before he throws his cutter, one of the most sadistic and dependable pitches in baseball. That cutter doesn't always cut, however. When Marwin Gonzalez's tying, ninth-inning homer cleared the fence and stunned Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, Jansen suddenly didn't look powerful enough to carry his team to a title on his broad shoulders. Neither did the Dodgers' vaunted bullpen, which no longer seems invincible after the Astros' 7-6, 11-inning victory in Game 2 of the World Series. The Los Angeles relievers' dominant facade was stomped and shattered, and the stigma from this spectacular meltdown will hover above any close game in the rest of this series. "The ball really carried the whole night," Jansen said after a game featuring eight homers, the most in World Series history. "You can't do anything about that. One missed pitch. You got me." Actually, the Dodgers' bullpen missed more pitches in Game 2 than it had missed in its nine postseason games before it. One of the most successful relief groups in recent baseball history was battered for 11 hits and six runs by the Astros, including an astonishing four homers in the final three innings. The home run derby that broke out in Chavez Ravine provided one of the most thrilling postseason games in modern times, but it only happened because of mistakes by Ross Stripling, Brandon Morrow, Jansen, Josh Fields and finally Brandon McCarthy, who gave up George Springer's winning homer in the 11th . A group that barely put a foot wrong all summer and into October suddenly couldn't keep one foot in front of the other. "We battled out there," said Jansen, who had never blown a postseason save and never given up a homer on an 0-2 pitch in his career until Gonzalez connected. "Every at-bat, nobody was giving up. We still Continue Reading

George Springer’s two-run HR in the 11th lifts Astros over Dodgers, 7-6, to take wild Game 2 of World Series

George Springer screamed with joy as he circled the bases after hitting a two-run homer in the 11th inning. Would it be enough? Was this the final plot twist on one of the wildest nights in postseason history? Yes, it was — barely — and the Houston Astros won a World Series game for the first time in their 56 seasons. Charlie Culberson hit a two-out homer in the bottom half off Chris Devenski, who then struck out Yasiel Puig in a tense, nine-pitch at-bat for the win. The Astros outlasted the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-6 in a Hollywood thriller Wednesday to tie the Series at one game apiece. "Wasn't that the best game ever!?" Alex Bregman proclaimed to no one in particular in the Astros clubhouse. On a night of dramatic swings and a World Series-record eight home runs, Marwin Gonzalez stunned the Dodger Stadium crowd with a solo shot off dominant Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth that made it 3-all. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa hit consecutive home runs against Josh Fields in the 10th to build a 5-3 Astros lead, with Correa flipping his bat to celebrate. But there was more. Much, much more. "This is an instant classic and to be part of it is pretty special," Astros starter Justin Verlander said. Puig homered off Ken Giles starting the bottom of the 10th and Enrique Hernandez knotted the score 5-5 with a two-out RBI single. Devenski entered and, with Hernandez at second, made a wild pickoff throw that appeared headed toward left-center field before it struck second base umpire Laz Diaz. An incredulous Hernandez put both hands on his helmet, unable to advance, and was stranded when Chris Taylor flied out. "We were pretty unlucky at the beginning of the game when Taylor dove in center field and (the ball) hit him in the face or head," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I felt like the baseball gods were returning the favor, by having an umpire standing in the way there." Continue Reading

Aaron Hicks pushes Yankees ahead on homer, David Ortiz loses it in 3-2 win over Red Sox

This was drama befitting a Yankees-Red Sox affair, David Ortiz losing his mind as Andrew Miller got a called strike two from home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa on a 3-1 count with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, a slider that prompted John Farrell to run out, hold Ortiz off and get ejected. Farrell motioned an ejection back at Kulpa before play resumed. Then Ortiz took another slider for a called strike three before walking toward the dugout. MCCARRON: FOR ONE WELCOMED NIGHT, YANKS GET TASTE OF OLD RIVALRY He continued chirping, was ejected and then ran out toward Kulpa apoplectically about the whole ordeal, needing to be restrained before Miller struck out Hanley Ramirez swinging for the final out of a 3-2 win Friday night in the Bronx. “One I can understand, one time. But not two,” Ortiz said. “Both of them pitches were bad, though. (Kulpa’s) looking at me like I screwed up. I didn’t screw up. Know what I’m saying? “Everything was a ball,” added Ortiz, who said Miller doesn’t need any help. “Even the one I swung at was a ball.” YANKEES INSIDER: ADD ELLSBURY TO LIST OF INJURED PLAYERS Ortiz fouled off a fastball out of the zone to begin the at-bat before taking five straight pitches. According to PITCHf/x, only the called strike two was in the strike zone. The called strike three was over the plate but a tad low. Farrell didn’t think Ortiz, who hit a two-run homer in the first, should’ve swung at the third strike. “No. He’d need a hockey stick for the 3-2 pitch,” he said. It didn’t appear that Farrell banished himself after being ejected. “He came back out, that’s the one thing that’s really interesting there,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m not sure he ever left the dugout.” Miller said he and Brian McCann were Continue Reading

CC Sabathia struggles, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino lead Boston Red Sox to 8-2 Opening Day win over Yankees

If the Yankees are hoping to prove their doom-and-gloom critics wrong this season, they’re off to a terrible start. The Bombers, featuring a lineup filled with retreads instead of All-Stars, dropped an 8-2 stinker to the rival Red Sox Monday, spoiling Opening Day festivities in front of a sellout crowd of 49,514, the largest for an opener in the Stadium’s five-year history. “We have 161 more to go,” Kevin Youkilis said. “As a Major League Baseball player, there are a lot of games you just throw out the window. You just have to keep working hard, try to get better every day. That’s what we’re going to do.” While the Yanks were without the injured Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, they did have ace CC Sabathia was on the mound, but — as has become a troubling trend — the big lefty didn’t have it on Opening Day. Sabbathia surrendered four runs (all in the second inning) on eight hits and four walks over five innings. In five openers with the Yankees, Sabathia is 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA, falling to 1-2 with a 5.80 ERA in 10 career Opening Day outings. “It’s always disappointing, not pitching well,” Sabathia said. “This is no different. Opening Day, Game 1 of the playoffs, July 1; it doesn’t matter. You always want to pitch well and try to give your team a chance to win, and I didn’t do that today.” Sabathia was victimized by the top of the Sox lineup, where Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino combined to drive in five runs. It was enough for Jon Lester to get the win with five innings of two-run ball. Things started well for Sabathia, who struck out two during a scoreless first, but they didn’t last long, however, as the big lefty ran into trouble — much of it self-inflicted — in the second inning. Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a one-out walk, then Jonny Gomes lined a single off Continue Reading

Rays’ Will Rhymes passes out on first base after being hit by pitch as Tampa Bay beats Boston Red Sox 2-1 Wednesday night

TAMPA BAY RAYS 2, BOSTON RED SOX 1Will Rhymes left the Rays' 2-1 win over Boston Wednesday night in the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch near his right elbow.George Hendrick.Jeremy Hellickson pitched six solid innings, Luke Scott had a tiebreaking sacrifice fly, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Boston 2-1, snapping the Red Sox's five-game winning streak.Jake McGee and Joel Peralta both threw a scoreless inning, Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 12th save.Clay Buchholz (4-2) gave up two runs and six hits over five-plus innings for Boston. Buchholz, who took a grounder off his leg during the sixth, had allowed four or more runs in all seven of his previous starts this season.Andrew Miller, then Matt Albers and then Franklin Morales, who ended up plunking Rhymes.Marc Topkin, of the Tampa Bay Times, tweeted that Rhymes is OK: Matt Joyce opened the sixth with an infield single that went off Buchholz's lower leg. He went to third on a single by Carlos Pena. Andrew Miller replaced Buchholz and gave up Scott's sacrifice fly that put Tampa Bay ahead 2-1.Elliot Johnson on a 3-2 pitch.Daniel Nava's fourth-inning RBI single got Boston even at 1-all.Bobby Valentine said left-hander Felix Doubront, who was hit on the ear by a ball during batting practice Tuesday, was cleared to make his start Thursday.left-hander Rich Hill left the field after being struck by a ball in batting practice before Wednesday night's game. The team said Hill is OK. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Tigers’ Victor Martinez homers, hurts himself, as Detroit takes Game 3 of ALCS, 5-2 from Rangers

TIGERS 5, RANGERS 2DETROIT - Victor Martinez had just slugged a home run that tied the score in the fourth inning of a tight Game 3 Tuesday night, but this wasn't your ordinary dugout celebration. Martinez, his joy .muted by pain, slammed his helmet to the floor after wincing repeatedly while rounding the bases. Teammates watched with worry plastered on their faces as Martinez went into the dugout tunnel. But for once in this AL Championship Series, the Tigers dodged their own team theme. Injuries have hurt them all series - Magglio Ordoñez is already out and Delmon Young's side was too achy for him to play Tuesday night, further weakening a thin lineup - but Martinez remained in the game, and the previously dormant Detroit hitters kept whaling away at Ranger pitching. The result was a 5-2 Tigers victory behind a superb outing from starter Doug Fister. The win in front of 41,905 at Comerica Park pulled Detroit to within one game of the Rangers, who lead the best-of-seven series, two games to one. "I'm thrilled the way we played," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We're tough. Our guys are playing with pain and some injuries. What he (Martinez) went through, he played the game unbelievable." Miguel Cabrera doubled in the tiebreaking run on an 0-2 pitch from Colby Lewis in the fifth inning and hit a mammoth homer on an 0-2 pitch by Koji Uehara to pad the lead in the seventh. Jhonny Peralta homered on the first pitch of the sixth, and Austin Jackson, struggling all postseason, was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Fister, who allowed two runs and seven hits in 71/3 innings, got a standing ovation when Leyland took him out of the game with one out in the eighth inning. He doffed his cap as he departed, .delighting the towel-waving crowd. "It gives me goose bumps to remember walking off on that," Fister said. Leyland called Martinez's injury an "intercostal muscle" and admitted he was "very concerned" when his DH  got back to the dugout. "We'll see," Continue Reading

Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey represent pitching futures for New York Yankees and Mets

Of all the pitching matchups in the Subway Series this weekend, the one between Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey Saturday was the most compelling, because it represented the future of baseball in New York. It can't get much better than two young pitchers, who have pitched like aces in 2010, going head-to-head in a Saturday matinee at Yankee Stadium. It is the first time that a Mets pitcher and a Yankees pitcher have both started with 9-1 records and only the second time in major league history that two pitchers with at least nine wins and a winning percentage of .900 or higher have faced off, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And through three innings they matched each other pitch-for-pitch, until Pelfrey blinked. Before he knew it Curtis Granderson was slamming a 2-2 pitch over the right-center field wall for a two-run homer to snap a 3-3 tie. That was more than enough for Hughes, who had given up two home runs to Jose Reyes that accounted for the Mets' three runs. Hughes improved to 10-1 after going seven innings and giving up three runs on five hits, while Pelfrey (9-2) went seven innings and gave up five runs on seven hits as the Bombers beat the Mets, 5-3. "Over everything is they gave me a lead and I gave it right back. They gave me another lead and I gave it right back," Pelfrey said. "The way that Phil Hughes pitched you have to take your hat off to him. I wasn't able to do that." If this is the future of pitching in New York, then it looks brilliant. Both Hughes and Pelfrey are built for the big stage, although Hughes has had more time there than Pelfrey, having gone through the World Series run in the bullpen last year. And if the Mets are going to get to the playoffs they will most assuredly have to ride the sturdy shoulders of the 6-8 righthander they call "Big Pelf." Not discounting what Hughes has accomplished this season, it is Pelfrey, 26, who has made the greatest strides. You were almost certain that if Hughes could stay healthy he Continue Reading

Roy Halladay pulls groin but bests Giants 4-2, as Phillies send NLCS back to Philadelphia down 3-2

SAN FRANCISCO - Roy Halladay sat at home in Florida last October, months after he was nearly traded to the Phillies but remained a Toronto Blue Jay instead, and yearned to experience the postseason. So Thursday night, when a stabbing pain shot through his groin in the second inning, Halladay did not consider leaving the game. His six-inning, 108-pitch effort to save the Phillies' season seemed flawed but good enough, until manager Charlie Manuel announced Halladay's injury after the game. By that time, the performance had already become legendary within the Phils' clubhouse, where players were busy exhaling. The Phillies' 4-2 win over San Francisco in Game 5 of the NLCS prevented the Giants from clinching a pennant on their home field, and sent the series back to Philadelphia, with San Francisco leading three games to two but facing Roy Oswalt and, if there is a Game 7, Cole Hamels. "I was like, 'This guy is pitching on one leg, really?' " said a grinning Shane Victorino. "To me it just shows me who he is, and what he's about." "It's sick," said Jayson Werth, whose ninth-inning homer helped seal the win. "Good stuff." What, Werth was asked, did Halladay's ability to win a potential elimination game after pulling his groin tell him about his teammate? "Nothing I didn't already know," the right fielder said. Even before the injury, it was a strange night for Halladay, who bested Tim Lincecum in their second matchup of the series (Lincecum won Game 1 in Philadelphia). The likely NL Cy Young Award winner began the most important game of his career by walking Andres Torres, who was batting .143 in the postseason to that point. Halladay had not walked the first batter of a game all season. Torres eventually scored, and the charging Giants ended that opening inning on an energetic note. After Pat Burrell struck out looking for the third out, he complained to home plate umpire Jeff Nelson, then noticed Halladay gazing at him while walking Continue Reading