On Tuesday evening, Ramirez not only made it back in a mere four weeks, he returned with a flat-out tour de force, launching a grand slam in his first AB en route to two homers and a career-high seven RBI — by the fourth inning.
Prior to the injury, he had hit .320 with 15 homers, 45 RBI and six stolen bases in 46 games since the start of July. And now, after everything — the early season struggles, the season-“ending” surgery — he’s up to 22 home runs, 82 RBI, 24 stolen bases. And in the last chapter of this strange and turbulent season, Ramirez is piling on counting stats with swings he was not supposed to be taking.
Baez Not Ready
Per Cubs beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer, Javier Baez took grounders to test his thumb, but it “did not go well.” Baez says he is still not able to catch the ball, so any hopes of him returning to the starting lineup on Tuesday went away, and at this point it’s unclear if he’ll return to starting duty at all before the end of the season.
Initially, it looked like Sonny Gray would make one more start this weekend, but on Tuesday word came down that his start against the Brewers would be his last of the season. Gray finished that game with modest numbers — three earned runs in five innings with six strikeouts — but still put some punctuation on a quietly outstanding bounce-back season. After finishing 2018 with a 4.90 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, the 29-year-old closes out 2019 with a 2.87 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 205 strikeouts — a career-high — in 175 1/3 innings.
Also in the NL Central, Jack Flaherty threw seven shutout innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts in a 19-inning loss to Arizona. The 23-year-old had 19 swinging strikes in his fifth double-digit strikeout performance of the season, giving him a 0.97 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 118/22 K/BB ratio in 92 1/3 innings since the All-Star break. He closes out the regular season with a 2.85 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 225/54 K/BB ratio across 189 1/3 innings (in 32 starts).
On a night that Alex Bregman hit his 40th homer, Gerrit Cole was absolutely dominant yet again, picking up 14 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings in a win over the Mariners. This was Cole’s eighth consecutive double-digit strikeout performance, and 20th of the season (he also has 14 or more strikeouts in four of those eight double-digit games). Cole carries a 2.52 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 316/46 K/BB ratio across 207 1/3 innings, breaking the Astros strikeout record with one start still remaining against the Angels on Sunday.
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AL Quick Hits: Carlos Correa was scratched from the starting lineup due to tightness in his lower back, but is aiming to return on Wednesday. … Jason Kipnis underwent surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his right hand, which comes with a 5-7 week timetable (slightly shorter if you're Jose Ramirez). … Jake Odorizzi left after six innings (two hits, one earned run, seven Ks) due to what’s being called a hamstring cramp. … Max Kepler (shoulder) is reportedly planning a return “no later than the beginning of a possible postseason series.” … Mike Clevinger struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings against the White Sox. … Tommy La Stella (leg) is hoping to return as a DH this weekend. … Mookie Betts hit his 29th home run, but left early due to renewed discomfort in his left foot. … Marwin Gonzalez was scratched due to right oblique tightness. … Edwin Encarnacion (oblique) is expected to return on Friday, and Gary Sanchez (groin) is aiming to return this weekend. Meanwhile, Gleyber Torres (hamstring) was back in the lineup. … Gio Urshela left the game after getting hit by a pitch, but X-rays on his left hand came back negative. … Yandy Diaz (foot) took grounders on Tuesday. … Hunter Pence (back) confirmed that he is done for the rest of the regular season. … Nomar Mazara was scratched from the Rangers lineup due to a right thumb injury. … Miguel Cabrera (knee) is planning to see a specialist after the season. … Andrew Benintendi (thumb) returned to the starting lineup. … Mitch Garver has a hip impingement and is not expected to miss significant time. … Aaron Hicks (elbow) is throwing from 120 feet and reportedly “isn’t closing the door on being able to return at some point during the playoffs.” … Frankie Montas (suspension) will start for the A’s on Wednesday against the Angels. … Blake Treinen (back) will not pitch in the playoffs.
NL Quick Hits: Ronald Acuna left early with right hip tightness — a precautionary move according to the Braves TV broadcast. Acuna reportedly wanted to stay in the game for another at-bat before departing. … Preseason sleeper (and season-long disappointment) Garrett Hampson homered twice, giving him four in his last four games and five so far in September. … Michael Conforto launched his 32nd and 33rd home runs. … Jon Berti went 3-for-5 with four stolen bases. … Cal Quantrill is being shut down for the rest of the season. … Mike Soroka, the potential starter for the Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS, will be limited to 65-70 pitches in his final regular-season start on Wednesday. … Ender Inciarte (hamstring) could potentially be activated this weekend, while Freddie Freeman (elbow) should be ready to return on Friday. … Max Muncy (quad) emphatically returned to the lineup on Tuesday, hitting a fourth-inning grand slam. … J.T. Realmuto (knee) was out of the lineup for both games of the Phillies’ doubleheader on Tuesday, and may not play much (if at all) the rest of the way with Philadelphia eliminated from playoff contention. … Matt Adams (shoulder) made his first start in nearly two weeks. … Daniel Hudson picked saves in both games of the Nationals’ doubleheader. … Nick Senzel underwent surgery to repair the torn labrum in his right shoulder. … Kurt Suzuki (elbow) is reportedly at 70-75 percent, and the Nationals are hoping he’ll be ready to start in the Wild Card game — a game likely to have Max Scherzer on the mound (Scherzer gave up four runs in six innings with 10 strikeouts on Tuesday). … Cole Hamels (shoulder) was set to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. … Kris Bryant has a “moderate” right ankle sprain, and has not yet been ruled out from potentially returning. … Dominic Smith (foot) was set to take live BP for a second consecutive day on Tuesday.