Concerns about Lucas Duda's ability to hit left-handers led some to wonder if he would be forced into a platoon role this season.
Those concerns no longer appear valid.
Duda, who has started at first base in 40 of the team's 42 games this season, homered -- twice -- against lefties in Thursday's game, leading the way in the Mets' 5-0 win over the Cardinals. Duda hit a solo homer against starter Jaime Garcia in the sixth inning before belting a three-run shot off lefty specialist Randy Choate in the eighth.
Duda now has five homers on the year, with four coming against left-handers. After hitting .180/.264/.252 against lefties last year, Duda entered Thursday hitting .390/.457/.585 through 41 at-bats against southpaws in 2015. Those numbers only improved with Thursday's two-homer, three-RBI performance.
Duda's manager, Terry Collins, gave the slugger most of the credit for the turnaround, but Collins also attributed some of Duda's success to his work with Keith Hernandez this offseason.
“We had one day where we worked together,” said Hernandez. “I just imparted to him tendencies of left-handers that I learned over 17 years, which I won’t divulge -- just basically my experiences against left-handers. I just passed it on to him. But it was no alterations in his swing or anything drastic. It just was what I feel lefties like to do, how they like to work.
“I’m not taking credit for this. He’s doing this on his own. C’mon, this is ridiculous. I’m flattered that Terry said that, but Lucas is doing it on his own.”
Even with his struggles against lefties, Duda hit 30 home runs and collected 92 RBI as the Mets' primary first baseman last year. With his newfound ability to hit southpaws, Duda is batting .302/.397/.497 this season. It could be an even bigger year for the 29-year-old when all is said and done.
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Jays Stash Travis
The Blue Jays tried to get by without putting Devon Travis on the shelf, but the team couldn't wait any longer to make a move.
The Jays placed Travis on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with left shoulder inflammation, an affliction that had kept him out of the lineup since Saturday. Travis had been hit in the shoulder by a line drive and aggravated the injury during a swing in Saturday's game.
The Jays promoted Munenori Kawasaki to take Travis' roster spot, but Steve Tolleson will likely continue to get starts at the keystone in his absence. Tolleson is hitting .278/.350/.444 with two steals and eight runs scored in 15 games this year. He reached base all four times Thursday, collecting two singles and walking twice.
The DL stint could be a blessing and a curse for the 24-year-old. Travis burst onto the scene in the season's first month, batting .325/.393/.625 with six homers and 19 RBI in April, but he'd cooled off in recent weeks. Travis was hitting just .189/.246/.321 with one home run in May prior to the injury.
A break, both physical and mental, could be helpful for the rookie. The good news, though, is that there doesn't seem to be anything more than inflammation wrong with the shoulder. Travis should be ready to return as soon as his 15 days are up -- the move was retroactive to May 17, the first game he missed due to the injury -- and should hopefully come back hitting like the player he was in the first month.
In 2014, Julio Teheran was one of the best pitchers in baseball at suppressing hits. The right-hander allowed 7.656 hits per nine innings, ninth-best among starters.
That past success has been a distant memory for much of this season, but Teheran showed signs of life Thursday. Teheran limited the Brewers to two hits and one run over seven innings as the Braves rolled to a 10-1 victory.
The performance actually could have been even more impressive if not for Teheran being pinch-hit for in the bottom of the seventh inning. Teheran struck out eight while walking one, leaving after 83 pitches.
Teheran had encouraging starts two of his last three times out, lowering his ERA from 4.67 to 3.91 after Thursday's start. Teheran has two good tests on the horizon, at the Dodgers and at the Giants. After his shaky stretch in late April, the Braves' ace appears primed to return to his dominant form.
National League Quick Hits: Kyle Hendricks tossed a complete-game shutout Thursday, limiting the Padres to just five hits. Hendricks lowered his ERA more than a full run with the dominant outing, dropping it from 5.15 to 4.14 ... In a battle of two of the game's best, Madison Bumgarner bested Clayton Kershaw on Thursday. Bumgarner tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings to pick up the win, his fourth in his last five starts ... Ryan Howard hit his ninth home run of the season Thursday. Howard's current .828 OPS would be his highest in a season since 2011 ... The Cardinals activated Jaime Garcia from the disabled list and the left-hander made the start against the Mets on Thursday. Garcia limited the Mets to two runs over seven innings but took the loss ... Garcia lost because Jacob deGrom pitched a gem, yielding just one hit over eight scoreless innings. The right-hander struck out 11 in the win.
American League Quick Hits: Coco Crisp got "disheartening news" about his neck injury but didn't offer any further explanation Thursday. He'll meet with a doctor in Dallas on Friday, and the club should give some sort update on his outlook soon ... Carlos Santana returned to the Indians' lineup Thursday after missing the previous four games due to back spasms. Santana walked, drove in a run and scored once in the win ... Shane Victorino (calf) was a late scratch from the lineup Thursday. Red Sox manager John Farrell expressed optimism that the outfielder is day to day, but the oft-injured Victorino is never a safe bet to stay on the field ... Joakim Soria served up a solo home run to Preston Tucker in the ninth inning, sustaining his first blown save of the year. He had been 13-for-13 in save opportunities prior to the outing ... Soria's blown save spoiled a strong effort by David Price, who struck out 12 over 6 2/3 innings of work. Price has now fanned 54 over 59 2/3 innings this year ... Steve Pearce hit a grand slam in the Orioles' win over the Mariners on Thursday. Pearce is still hitting a paltry .198/.275/.341 overall ... Drew Smyly's rehabilitation from a torn left labrum is expected to take eight weeks, the left-hander said Thursday. On a good note, Smyly said the tear is not significant and both he and the doctors are confident he can pitch through it after rehab.