Lorenzo Cain entered Tuesday’s game against the Yankees having not homered in nearly a month. He did his best to make up for it in one night.
Cain went deep three times against the Bombers, driving in five on the night. While the Royals eventually fell to the Yanks, all three of Cain’s dingers either tied the game or gave Kansas City the lead at the time. He put the Royals ahead with a solo shot in the third, gave them the lead again with a three-run blast in the fifth and tied the game with a solo shot in the eighth. Cain had a chance for a fourth longball but popped out against Aroldis Chapman to end the game.
Cain had a power breakout last season with 16 home runs, a number that matched his total from the previous three campaigns combined. With just two homers over his first 126 plate appearances, it was fair to start to wonder whether the outfielder might fall back to the level of power he produced pre-2015. Heading into Tuesday, the 30-year-old’s flyball percentage, hard-hit percentage and flyball distance was all down significantly from last season, so it’s not a surprise that the home runs hadn’t come yet.
Although he hadn’t gone deep yet, Cain had 12 hits in his first 35 at-bats in May going into Tuesday, so he’s had a nice 10-day run here after disappointing his fantasy owners in April. He’ll try to keep it going on Wednesday against Michael Pineda and the Yankees.
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Lance McCullers is ready to rejoin the Astros’ rotation this weekend. Just ask him.
After a bullpen session on Tuesday that he said went “great,” McCullers declared himself ready to roll. The Astros will wait until Wednesday to see how the young right-hander recovers before making an announcement. That’s important because McCullers had a setback with his shoulder before when his recovery period didn’t go smoothly. However, all signs point to the 22-year-old taking the ball on Saturday at Fenway Park.
"It's been a long time since I've pitched. October was a while ago," McCullers said. "I'm excited."
Shoulder injuries are never good, but McCullers was cleared of structural damage and getting a late start to the season might not be the worst thing for him in the long run. He was slated for an innings limit, anyway, but now might be able to pitch unadulterated from here on out if all goes well. McCullers threw 157 2/3 innings last season between the minors and majors.
McCullers is currently unowned in about a quarter of fantasy leagues on Yahoo, but that number figures to shrink in the coming days. Including the regular and postseason, the right-hander posted a 3.20 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 136/45 K/BB ratio over 132 frames for the Astros last year.
Boxberger Will Get Job Back
In case there was any doubt, Brad Boxberger will get his closer job back when he returns from the disabled list.
Alex Colome has pitched well enough in the ninth inning for the Rays that the question was worth raising. He’s converted all nine of his save chances while boasting a 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 16/3 K/BB ratio over 13 innings. However, manager Kevin Cash on Tuesday nipped any potential closer controversy in the bud.
"He's handled it tremendously well," Cash said of Colome. "When Box gets back … when Box closes games out, Alex is still going to play a huge role. We're so fortunate that he has kind of taken to this role."
Boxberger, who is working his way back from March core muscle surgery, threw his second live batting practice session on Monday at the Rays’ spring training complex. His next session will come in an extended spring training game on Thursday.
It’s unclear how many extended spring appearances the closer will need, but Boxberger isn’t far off from a rehab assignment. The hope is that he’ll be ready to rejoin the Rays’ bullpen in late May or perhaps early June. If he’s still available in your fantasy league – and based on his Yahoo ownership percentage, that’s a large number of leagues – stash him now before it’s too late.
National League Quick Hits: Ryan Zimmerman smacked a solo homer and a two-run shot in Tuesday's loss to the Tigers … Matt Carpenter slugged a pair of solo homers in Tuesday’s blowout win over the Angels … Melvin Upton went 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored Tuesday against the Cubs … Alexei Ramirez left Tuesday's game against the Cubs due to cramping in his left hamstring … Maikel Franco went 3-for-4 with a solo home run in Tuesday's win over the Braves … Jhonny Peralta (thumb) has been cleared to begin swinging a bat … Carlos Martinez’s (illness) next scheduled start has been pushed back from Thursday to Saturday … Reds manager Bryan Price said Tuesday that Raisel Iglesias (shoulder) is "completely pain-free" and should resume throwing soon … David Peralta is scheduled to visit a specialist Thursday for his bruised right wrist … Devin Mesoraco’s shoulder surgery Tuesday was more invasive than initially expected and he has officially been ruled out for the season … The Diamondbacks signed Michael Bourn to a minor league contract Tuesday … Mike Leake spun eight frames of one-run ball in a victory over the Angels …
American League Quick Hits: J.A. Happ fired 8 2/3 innings of shutout ball in Tuesday’s victory over the Giants … Steve Pearce ripped a pair of solo home runs in Tuesday’s loss to the Mariners … Manny Machado went 3-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored in Tuesday's win over the Twins … Travis Shaw went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer and five RBI as the Red Sox blew out the A’s on Tuesday … Kyle Gibson (shoulder) threw a successful 30-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon … Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and three RBI in Tuesday's loss to the Orioles … Trevor Bauer recorded seven strikeouts over seven shutout frames in Tuesday’s win over the Astros … Huston Street (oblique) played catch Tuesday for the first time since landing on the disabled list … The Angels acquired Brendan Ryan from the Nationals in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations … Mike Minor (shoulder) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday … Mark Teixeira sat out Tuesday with neck spasms …