They say slow and steady wins the race. Well having Josh Donaldson doesn’t hurt either.
The Braves jumped out to an early 4-0 lead Saturday, forcing the Blue Jays to play catch up. They were up to the challenge.
No matter. Donaldson opened the tenth with a towering shot, sending the 34,743 in attendance home with a 6-5 Blue Jays victory.
Think the clutch gene doesn’t exist? Think again. Donaldson now has four walk-off homers in the last two seasons.
If you want to touch Donaldson, make sure to wear oven mitts because he is RED HOT. Donaldson owns a .524 average with 3 HR and 7 RBI over his last five games. Opposing pitchers should probably just roll the ball to home plate until he cools off.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays’ other two sluggers, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, are a combined 15-for-87 this season (.172 average). They don’t all need to be swinging a hot bat, but two out of three would be nice.
Editor's Note: Play one-day fantasy baseball for cash! FanDuel is hosting a $75,000 league for Sunday’s MLB games. It's just $2 to join and first place wins $7,000. Starts today at 1:07pm ET. Enter now!
Fight Night in K.C.
Hard slides have always had a place in baseball. That doesn’t mean everyone likes them.
When it comes to the hard slide, let’s just say Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar isn’t a fan. Friday night, A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie leveled Escobar at second base, causing him to leave the game. Lawrie said he texted Escobar to apologize. Escobar did not accept his apology. In fact, he claims Lawrie never texted him.
Escobar wasn’t the only bitter one. Yordano Ventura took matters into his own hands Saturday, drilling Lawrie with a 99 mph fastball. The benches cleared for the second time in as many nights. Ventura’s reward was an early shower.
Give Lawrie credit for keeping the peace. Instead of escalating things, he took his base and kept quiet.
Lawrie’s teammates weren’t as forgiving. After the game, Josh Reddick called Ventura’s pitch “bush league.” Remember, these teams squared off in the AL Wild Card last year. The A’s blew a four-run lead, letting Kansas City advance to the ALDS and eventually all the way to the World Series.
A similar incident with a hard slide occurred Friday when Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval slid into Jonathan Schoop to break up a double play. The next time Sandoval batted, Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez plunked him in the back.
It seems the league has adopted a zero tolerance policy on bean balls. Usually, umpires warn both sides before ejecting anyone. No warnings were issued this weekend as Ventura and Jimenez were both tossed immediately.
Amidst the chaos, A’s starter Jesse Hahn was quietly brilliant on Saturday, limiting the Royals to just three hits in 5 1/3 shutout innings. Hahn left in the sixth because of a blister but he thinks he’ll be able to make his next start.
A Wild Day at Wrigley
Bryant reached base five times in his second career game, going 2-for-3 with three walks and a pair of singles. We haven’t seen Bryant’s power stroke yet but don’t worry, Cubs fans. It’s coming.
That’s not to say there weren’t enough homers to go around. Miguel Montero blasted a pair to give him his fifth career multi-home run game.
Justin Upton lost his ten-game hitting streak in the opener but he started a new one Saturday by going 2-for-5 with an RBI single. That single sparked a four-run ninth inning for the Padres.
Matt Kemp got into the act with a two-run homer of his own. It was his first home run as a member of the Padres. He hit 182 during his nine-year stay in Los Angeles.
Padres starter Tyson Ross got plenty of swings and misses on Saturday. He finished the day with nine punch-outs and is now fourth in the National League in that category (21). Of course, he also leads the league in walks (12).
DeGrom Puts on a Show
Jacob deGrom was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2014. Since he can’t win it this year, he might as well go for the Cy Young. So far, he’s got my vote.
DeGrom made the Marlins look like fish out of water Saturday, allowing just six hits over seven shutout frames. He struck out eight without walking anyone. DeGrom’s scoreless streak is up to 18 1/3 innings, easily a career-high.
Lucas Duda only produced one hit on Saturday, but he made sure it went for extra bases. The 29-year-old slugger is on pace for 95 doubles, 28 more than Earl Webb’s major league record. Let’s hope Duda keeps hitting the wall instead of going over it.
The Marlins had a closed-door meeting before the game but it must not have worked. Saturday was their third loss in a row and their sixth in eight games.
Don’t blame Dee Gordon though. The little guy went 5-for-5 with 3 RBI. Gordon leads the team with six stolen bases this season, but he’s also been caught four times.
Saturday came and went without a Giancarlo Stanton home run. That’s significant because he entered Saturday with homers in five straight games against the Mets.
American League Quick Hits: Jonathan Schoop went on the DL Saturday and it sounds like he could be out for a while. He’s dealing with a torn PCL in his left knee. He was sneaky good last year with 16 HR in 455 at-bats … So far no suspension for Ubaldo Jimenez. Maybe the league feels his ejection was punishment enough … You never know which Clay Buchholz you’re going to get. He was brilliant Opening Day and a nightmare the next time out against the Yankees. Saturday against Baltimore he was a little of both. He did a nice job working out of jams but still gave up 11 hits … By beating the Rays 9-0 Saturday, the Yankees clinched their first series victory of the year. Better late than never … Indians starter Danny Salazar was DEALING on Saturday. He tied a career-high with ten strikeouts. Salazar’s average fastball last season was 94.6 mph according to FanGraphs, so you know he can bring the heat … Jason Kipnis busted out of an 0-for-16 slump by whacking an RBI single off Phil Hughes … Jose Abreu went deep for his second career grand slam. The home run really put a damper on Anibal Sanchez’s day. He left after giving up nine runs in 3 1/3 innings … George Springer got rid of the goose egg by slamming his first home run of the year. He still doesn’t have a multi-hit game this season … Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer (blister) appears to be healthy. He’ll throw live batting practice on Monday. That means Roberto Hernandez’s days in the rotation could be numbered. … The Angels were shut out on the road Saturday for the first time since July 13, 2013. That was 126 games ago … Josh Hamilton is getting divorced from his wife of 11 years. He filed the paperwork in late February, which is right around the time his drug relapse went public.
National League Quick Hits: ESPN’s Buster Olney pointed out on Twitter that Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter has more doubles (seven) than strikeouts (six) this season ... Billy Hamilton left Saturday’s game with a groin injury. He’s day-to-day … Pete Rose is returning to baseball. Well, sort of. Fox Sports hired him to be an analyst. Charlie Hustle could be baseball’s answer to Charles Barkley … Yasiel Puig returned to the lineup Saturday after missing three games with a hamstring injury. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI double … By the time you read this, Denard Span might already be activated from the disabled list. It took him a month and a half to recover from core surgery … Bryce Harper seems to have found his stroke. His fifth-inning bomb off Aaron Harang traveled 452 feet. That’s the longest home run of his career … Ian Desmond is really having a tough time in the field. Saturday he committed his eighth error of the season. At least he went 3-for-5 at the plate … Starling Marte filled up the stat sheet with a homer, five RBI and a steal in a win over the Brewers. That’s a nice little Saturday … Jeff Locke didn’t look too bad himself. The Pirates lefty went eight strong, allowing just four hits and one run. People seem to forget this guy was an All-Star two years ago … Don’t adjust your television. Ryan Braun did indeed hit leadoff on Saturday. The last time Braun did that was in 2007 when he was still in Triple-A … I’m not saying you should fire up Brandon Crawford in fantasy, but he did hit a home run on Saturday. That snapped a 1-for-29 slump.