Jesus Aguilar was a longshot to make the Brewers’ Opening Day roster this spring. With a strong showing in Arizona though, he managed to crack the crowded 25-man roster, at the expense of Keon Broxton. With Eric Thames and Ryan Braun expected to platoon at first base, he was really set to be used primarily as a pinch hitter, providing right-handed power off of the bench.
After all, Aguilar had done a nice job in his first real exposure to big league pitching in 2017, slashing .265/.331/.505 with 16 homers and 52 RBI in 311 plate appearances.
The Brewers are certainly glad that they kept him around.
When Thames went down with a torn UCL in his left thumb early in the season, Aguilar was left to pick up the slack at first base. That he has done. Entering play on Friday, the sweet-swinging 28-year-old was slashing .301/.364/.580 with 14 homers and 47 RBI.
On Friday, the Brewers ran into the buzzsaw that was Cardinals’ rookie right-hander Jack Flaherty. Through six innings, Flaherty had not surrendered a hit. He had only allowed three baserunners, a pair of walks and a hit batsmen.
It was still a close game though, as the Cardinals’ offense was only able to scratch out one run against Junior Guerra and company. With one out in the seventh inning, Aguilar broke up the no-hitter in impressive fashion, crushing a game-tying solo homer to left-center.
That would be the only run that Flaherty would allow on the day, matching his career-high with 13 strikeouts over seven impressive innings of one-run baseball.
In the eighth inning, tensions ran high between the two sides, as the Cardinals took exception to a hard slide by Eric Sogard into shortstop Yairo Munoz.Both benches emptied and bullpens cleared, but no punches were thrown.
Once things calmed back down, Aguilar went back to work. He strode to the plate in a 1-1 game in the bottom of the ninth and annihilated a Bud Norris offering into the seats in right-center for a walk-off home run, sending the Brewers’ home faithful into a tizzy.
According to Elias Sports, Aguilar became the first player in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to break up a no-hit bid of five-plus innings with a home run and hit a walk-off homer in the same game.
With his 2-for-4 effort on Friday, Aguilar is now hitting a robust .305/.366/.609 with 16 homers and 49 RBI in only 224 plate appearances.
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The Return of the Claw (Part Two)
The original plan had been for Kershaw to make a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City, but they’re playing in Omaha where heavy rain is in the forecast for Saturday. So instead, he’ll jump right into big league action into a premium matchup against the Mets and right-hander Jacob deGrom.
Kershaw has been limited to just one start since May 1. He first landed on the disabled list at the beginning of May due to tendinitis in his left biceps. He battled his way back to make one five-inning start on May 31, before landing right back on the disabled list the following day with a strained lower back.
Through eight starts this season, the 30-year-old southpaw posted a 2.76 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 53/11 K/BB ratio over 49 innings. While those numbers are certainly good, they’re not quite on the level that we’re used to seeing from the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner.
Given the fact that he has thrown a total of five innings over the last seven weeks, the Dodgers are going to monitor his pitch count during Saturday’s start. Because of that, fantasy owners may want to wait and see how he looks before inserting him right back into lineups. Pay close attention to his velocity, as he had displayed the slowest marks of his career during his last outing before heading back to the disabled list.
Bringing the Hammer Down
Major League Baseball announced it’s punishment for Blue Jays’ right-hander Roberto Osuna on Friday, and it was a hefty one. He was suspended for 75 games, without pay, for violating the league's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.
The suspension is retroactive to his arrest date of May 8, when he was charged and placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball. That means that he'll be ineligible to return until August 4. The 23-year-old hurler has agreed to accept his suspension and will not appeal the decision.
Also, as a condition of the Major League policy, Osuna will participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program supervised by the Joint Policy Board.
Osuna's next scheduled court date is on July 9 where he plans to plead not guilty. He has been working out on his own in Florida while he has been away from the team on administrative leave.
Blue Jays’ skipper John Gibbons understood MLB’s decision, telling reporters, "You take what MLB does, trust that and live with it… Let everything go through its course. You knew something was coming down. ... Hopefully that all gets worked out, both sides, and everybody gets the help they need and everything works out fine for all involved."
Ryan Tepera will continue to fill in as the Blue Jays' closer for the time being. He has converted each of his first five save chances since assuming the closer’s role on May 25. He’s worth owning and deploying in all mixed leagues for as long as he’s the primary guy in the ninth inning for the Jays.
Nelson Cruz had quite the day at the plate in a losing effort against the Red Sox on Friday.
The 37-year-old slugger blasted a three-run homer off of Red Sox’ knuckleballer in the first inning, opening the scoring in what would be an extremely high-scoring ballgame. That blast, which traveled an estimated 465 feet, was the longest home run hit by any Mariners’ player this season.
He added on an RBI single in the second inning to give the M’s the lead back at 6-5.Cruz then clobbered another three-run shot off of Wright, this time in the fourth inning, to increase the Mariners’ advantage to 10-5. That would be the extent of their scoring in the game though, and the Red Sox would battle all the way back to win 14-10.
According to Rotoworld’s own Matthew Pouliot, Cruz is the first player since J.P. Arencibia (July 29, 2014) to drive in seven runs in a game his team lost.
As for Cruz, he finished the impressive evening 4-for-5 with seven RBI. He’s now hitting .266/.351/.562 with 20 homers and 48 RBI. He has been especially locked in as of late, hitting .349 with 12 homers and 26 RBI over his last 23 contests.
Phillies outfielder accomplished something pretty impressive on Friday, homering for the fifth consecutive game in a rout over the Nationals.
Herrera tagged Nationals’ starter Tanner Roark for the two-run blast in the third inning. He finished the day 4-for-5 with four runs scored and two RBI. He’s hitting an impressive .308/.362/.507 with 13 homers and 43 RBI on the season.
No player in Phillies’ history has ever homered in six straight contests. He’ll attempt to be the first when he does battle against Erick Fedde and the Nationals on Saturday.
American League Quick Hits: Michelle McPhee of ABC News reports that Hanley Ramirez is "being eyed in connection with an ongoing federal and state investigation." The Red Sox deny any knowledge of this incident and maintain that he was released solely for baseball reasons… Jean Segura missed a second straight game on Friday due to an infection in his forearm. He’s expected to return to the Mariners’ lineup on Saturday… Francisco Liriano (hamstring) will rejoin the Tigers’ rotation on Saturday against the Indians… Carlos Carrasco (elbow) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session early next week… Ervin Santana (finger) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Friday. He could be cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week… Tim Beckham is expected to return from the disabled list and rejoin the Orioles on Monday… Tyler Skaggs (hamstring) is expected to throw a bullpen session on Saturday. If all goes well, he could be cleared to return on Monday… Xander Bogaerts was forced to leave Friday’s game with a sprained finger. He’s expected to sit out on Saturday and return to the lineup on Sunday… Sean Manaea struck out seven over seven innings of one-run ball in a victory over the White Sox… Franklin Barreto blasted a pair of three-run home runs, driving in a career-high six runs as the A’s took the first game of Friday’s doubleheader from the White Sox… J.D. Martinez went 4-for-5 and clubbed his 23rd home run, leading the Red Sox past the Mariners in a slugfest. He also drove in five runs and stole a base… Shane Bieber racked up nine strikeouts over seven shutout innings in an impressive victory over the Tigers… Yonder Alonso hit a grand slam to help pace the Tribe’s offense in that rout… Tim Hill recorded the first save of his career in a 1-0 win over the Astros… Shin-Soo Choo crushed his 14th home run as the Rangers demolished the Twins… Manny Machado belted a go-ahead two-run homer in the 15th inning to beat the Braves.
National League Quick Hits: Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that he’s not willing to meet the Marlins’ asking price on catcher J.T. Realmuto… Michael Wacha’s MRI on Thursday revealed a moderate strain of his left oblique. He’s still expected to miss at least a month, but it’s encouraging news… The Phillies signed Danny Espinosa to a minor league contract… Chris Taylor missed his second straight game due to tightness in his left hamstring… The Braves placed Mike Soroka on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation… Yoenis Cespedes (hip, quad) isn’t expected to begin baseball activities until early next week… Mike Foltynewicz (triceps) is on track to return to the Braves’ rotation on Monday… Addison Russell sat out Friday’s game due to renewed soreness in his middle finger… Arodys Vizcaino was unavailable on Friday due to shoulder soreness... Jose Peraza swiped three bases in a win over the Cubs… Cody Bellinger clobbered a grand slam, propelling the Dodgers past the Mets… Ivan Nova struck out eight over eight shutout innings in a tough-luck no-decision against the Diamondbacks… Patrick Corbin matched his career-high with 12 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings on the other side of the diamond in that one… Nolan Arenado left the yard for the fourth straight game, and the 17th time on the season, as the Rockies crushed the Marlins…Carlos Santana homered and plated four in a lopsided victory over the Nationals... Jon Gray punched out 12 batters over seven innings of one-run baseball in a dominant win over the Marlins.