Cleat Geeks

D’Backs 1st Quarter Grades; Offense, Defense, Pitching, & Managerial

Monday’s home game for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Milwaukee Brewers signified the quarter pole in the season for the team and the first chance for us to do our season grades. While the D’backs own the best record in the National League West, not everything has gone smoothly – especially of late – for the soft-hitting club from the desert. Here we’ll dissect all of the on-field play from the team – hitting, defense, pitching – as well as the coaching, by assigning letter grades to each facet and an overall grade for the team as a whole.

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Photo by; Venom Strikes

HITTING – D-

While outfielder A.J. Pollock won the Player of the Month award for the month of April, the D’backs offense as a whole is off to a franchise-worst start in 2018. The Diamondbacks rank 30th – MLB worst – in both hits per game and batting average, while also ranking bottom five in on-base and slugging percentages. The offense is on pace to finish with the worst batting average in their franchises 20-year history. While no team in franchise-history has finished below .246 in any season, through the first-quarter of the season the current club is just barely hitting above .220. There’s a lot of ground to make up these next 4+ months if they expect to get out of the cellar in that regard. Besides batting average, the D’backs also rank bottom three in team history in on-base% (2nd worst), Slugging% (3rd) and OPS (2nd). Without A.J. Pollock – plus David Peralta and Daniel Descalso – the D’backs offensive grade would’ve been firmly an F. This fact was heightened when Pollock fractured his thumb in Monday night’s loss to the Brewers and will possibly miss the next two months. Sigh.

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Photo by; AZ snake pit

DEFENSE – A+

Even though the Diamondbacks are second in baseball in Total Chances and first in Total Putouts this year, their 12 errors this season – best in MLB – has them on pace to finish with only 48 on the season, 27 less than their current franchise-low mark of 75 in 2013. For comparison’s sake, the Miami Marlins made the least amount of errors last season with 73. The 2013 Diamondback team currently holds the mark for the best fielding percentage in team history at .988. The D’backs .992 fielding percentage also leads all of MLB, just ahead of the Astros .991. Diamondbacks finished 26th in baseball with 108 errors and 24th with a .982 fielding percentage last year. The biggest reason for the increase in production from the defense lies up the middle. In 213 combined games last season, Brandon Drury (10 in 114 games at 2B; .977 fielding %), Chris Owings (11 errors in 54 games at SS; .943%) and Daniel Descalso (7 in 45 games at 2B; .963%) accounted for 26% of the teams errors. This year the D’backs have had a healthy Nick Ahmed at shortstop and they also made Ketel Marte their everyday second baseman. The two have combined for just three errors – all three by Ahmed – for a fielding percentage of .990 in 305 total chances. The 2018 D’backs scored a 100% on the fielding part of their quarterly test.

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Photo by; Call To The Pen

Pitching – A

The 2017 Diamondback pitching staff set team records for fewest runs, hits and lowest ERA (3.66) Not bad considering the dynamic duo of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling donned the purple pinstripes together for 3+ seasons. Through Monday’s game against the Brewers, the D’backs are on pace to finish either first or second in team history in ERA (1st; 3.16), Runs (1st), Hits (2nd) and WHIP (2nd). The 2018 staff’s ERA is currently second in all of baseball, only behind Houston’s minuscule 2.49. Even though the Diamondback starting pitchers have the 11th best ERA in baseball, the pitching staff as a whole are still in the top three of MLB in batting average against, quality starts, hits, WHIP, saves, and bullpen ERA. Hard to say anything else other than when the team loses there’s a good chance it’s not because of the pitching.

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Photo by; Call To The Pen

Managing (Torey Lovullo) – B

It’s hard to nitpick someone too bad when they’ve managed their club to one of the franchises fastest starts in team history, but it also doesn’t mean that manager is perfect either. While Paul Goldschmidt is enduring his worst 41 game start to a season in his career, Lovullo hasn’t sat him down for a full day off yet. Goldy started 40 of the first 41 games this year, but in his lone off day he still came in to pinch-hit then stayed in the game at first base. If anyone on the team could use a full off day or two – besides Alex Avila and his sub .130 batting average – it’s perennial all-star and MVP candidate, Goldschmidt. Another knock on Torey could be his unwavering faith in his players. Even though Alex Avila has one hit in May and his hitting well under the mendoza line, he has played in 30 of the teams first 41 games this season and has hit as high as 6th in the lineup this month.

Overall Team Grade – B+

While the team come out of the gate hot, they have soured in the month of May, by winning only 4 of 13 games this month through Monday’s game. With an extensive D.L. list pilling up, it feels like the team is hanging on by a thread trying to recapture any momentum they had gathered through the first month plus of the season. The return of Robbie Ray and Jake Lamb (activated off DL on Friday) should help, but the team is going to need more than just those two to right the ship.

South Side Sluggers; White Sox vs Pirates

The White Sox traveled to Pittsburgh for a 2-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In their previous 2 meetings in Chicago (May 8th and 9th), the Pirates swept the White Sox.

These were the results for the series in Pittsburgh:

Tuesday: White Sox 0 Pirates 7

Wednesday: White Sox 2 Pirates 3

Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives from this series for the White Sox.

Positives: It may be hard to find any positives for the White Sox on Tuesday but I was really impressed with the 7 hits that the Sox had. Jose Abreu went 2-4 at the plate, raising his batting average to .290 for the season. For his first game back from the DL, Yoan Moncada went 1-4. Chris Beck had a very impressive outing from the bullpen as he went 3.2 innings allowing no hits and striking out 3. On Wednesday, Hector Santiago was the starting pitcher (originally scheduled was Carson Fulmer) and was very brilliant. Santiago went 5 innings, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits. Jace Fry pitched one inning, allowing no hits, no runs while striking out 2. The offense improved from Tuesday, however, it wasn’t a huge improvement. The Sox were able to score two runs against the Pirates. Leury Garcia and Yolmer Sanchez each hit solo home runs for the two runs. With their home runs, Garcia and Sanchez have a total of two home runs each for the season.

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Photo by MLB.com

Negatives: On Tuesday, Reynaldo Lopez had a bad outing which is a rarity because he is a consistent pitcher. Lopez went 2 innings, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits. This was Lopez’s first start that he was unable to go at least 5 innings. Staying with Tuesday’s game, the White Sox’s offense was unable to score a run as they were shutout, 7-0. Although the offense was able to get seven hits, they left 17 runners on base. On Wednesday, Joakim Soria allowed one run to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead and eventually the win. It was very disappointing to see the Sox give up the run and not give enough run support for Hector Santiago. Santiago was brilliant for a pitcher that isn’t a starter. The offense only scored twice which is was not enough to give Santiago the win. The Sox ended the season series against the Pirates with a 0-4 record. The White Sox are now 10-29 for the year.

The White Sox return to Chicago for a 8-game home stand against the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. Keep having faith, White Sox fans! Let’s hope the South Siders can get it going during this home stand. Go White Sox!

 

 

 

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Schedule Breakdown Weeks 5-8

The Kansas City Chiefs week five opponent will be the Jackson Jaguars. It will be the Chiefs second home game of the season. They last played the Jaguars in 2016 where they won at home 19-14. The Jaguars had a breakout season in 2018. Last year the Jaguars had the second ranked defense in points allowed at 16.8. Jacksonville will be a good test for a young Chiefs offense.

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The Chiefs week six match-up will be on the road against the New England Patriots. Last season the Chiefs faced the Patriots in the NFL season opener where they won 42-27. The Chiefs have won the last two regular season match-ups with the Patriots. Kareem Hunt had a big impact in the game last season. He had 148 yards rushing and one touchdown after fumbling on the opening series. The Patriots have been one of the most dominant teams in the NFL the last few seasons but the Chiefs have been able to play well against them.

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The week seven game for the Chiefs will be at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs last faced the Bengals in 2015 when they lost 36-21. The Bengals have had success against the Chiefs in the last few match-ups. The last time the Chiefs beat the Bengals was 2007. The Cincinnati offense struggled last season finishing last in the NFL in average yards per game at 280.5. The Bengals have played well against the Chiefs recently but they should be a team that the Chiefs match-up well with.

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The week eight match-up for the Chiefs will be at home against the Denver Broncos. It will be their second game against the Broncos in the 2018 season. The Broncos are 5-2 against the Chiefs at Arrowhead since 2011. Denver’s new quarterback Case Keenum last faced the Chiefs in 2013 when he was a member of the Houston Texans. He threw for 271 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs won the game 17-16. Keenum will be an interesting match-up for the Chiefs because he has only faced the them once in his six year NFL career. The Chiefs have played well in the division in recent years but the Broncos are a tough opponent at Arrowhead.

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals struggled this week losing both of their series. They started the week on the road against the Baltimore Orioles. The Royals won the first game 15-7 but lost the last two games in the series. Their weekend series was on the road against the Cleveland Indians. The Royals started the weekend strong with a 10-9 victory but lost the final two games in the series. The Royals are 13-29 this season and 6-6 in the month of May.

The Royals are in fourth place in the American League Central. The Cleveland Indians lead the division with a record of 20-19, 7.5 games ahead of the Royals. The Chicago White Sox are at the bottom of the division with a record of 10-27, 1.5 games behind the Royals. The division has been tight so far this season but the Cleveland Indians are starting to separate from the other teams.

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Salvador Perez has been strong since returning from his injury late last month. He has a .278 batting average and five home runs in 20 games. Last week he hit three home runs against the Orioles and Indians. Perez missed the beginning of the season due to a tear in his knee. Salvador Perez is a big part of the offense and he has been strong to start the 2018 season.

The Royals have been one of the strongest defensive teams to start the season. They have a team fielding percentage of .987, which is the fourth best in the American League. All of the Royals regular starters have a fielding percentage over .974. Jon Jay and Salvador Perez both have a perfect fielding percentage. The Royals are not only consistent in the field but they also have range. They rank in the top half of the American League in Ultimate Zone Rating. The Royals have struggled to start the season but their defense has been strong.

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The Royals have a six game home stand next week. The first series will be against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Royals were 4-3 against the Rays last season. Whit Merrifield will be a player to watch in the series. Last season he had a .280 batting average and three home runs against the Rays. The Royals weekend series will be against the New York Yankees. Last season the Royals were 2-5 against the Yankees. Rookie Gleyber Torres is off to a hot start with the Yankees. The second baseman has a .319 batting average and three home runs in 20 games. The Royals will have two good tests against American League East opponents this week.

Orioles Bird Feed May 4-12

There are some signs of life, finally!

May 4 Lost to A’s 6-4

May 5 Lost to A’s 2-0

May 6 Lost to A’s 2-1

May 7 Off

May 8 Lost to Royals 15-7

May 9 Beat Royals 5-3

May 10 Beat Royals 11-6

May 11 Beat Rays 9-4

May 12 Beat Rays 6-3 Game 1

May 12 Lost to Rays 10-3 Game 2

There are some good signs. Manny is out of his mind at present including average .351; Home Runs 13; RBI 36; .676 Slugging and 52 Hits.

Schoop and Trumbo are back and hitting the ball well. Mancini is getting hits in bunches too.

Pitching continues to be a problem and Orioles are getting crushed in giving up first inning runs. This has to improve soon!

Again, some signs of hope so let’s see what the next week brings.

Go O’s

 

TK

White Sox Avoid Sweep Against Cubs

Okay, I know it’s been a while since I wrote about our Chicago White Sox (college had me busy) but let’s get it out the way, the White Sox are playing terrible… and that’s good!

With that being said, the White Sox have the worst record in baseball with a 10-27 record after losing 2 out of 3 against the crosstown rival, the Chicago Cubs.

Let’s get back on track with what we do best and examine the positive and negatives from the crosstown series between for the White Sox!

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Positives: Yes, somehow after losing 7 straight, there are some positives to see from the White Sox. The first one is obvious, the White Sox avoided the sweep against the Cubs on Sunday. The bats came to life with Matt Davidson leading the way with a 2-3 performance with 2 RBIs. Matt Davidson hit a solo home run in the 2nd inning, giving him a total of 11 for the year. Davidson later drove in another run in the 6th with a sacrifice fly, giving him a total of 24 for the year. Yolmer Sanchez, Nicky Delmonico, and Leury Garcia also contributed to Sunday’s win by driving in a combined 3 runs.

Staying with Davidson, he had quite the series. Davidson went 1-3 with one walk and 3 RBIs on Saturday. Davidson drove in his 3 RBIs with a 3 run home run in the 8th. On Friday, Davidson went 0-2 but had 2 walks. Going 0-2 isn’t great but drawing two walks is always impressive.

Other notable players during the series: Jose Abreu went 5-12 with 2 RBIs and 1 walk during the series. Tim Anderson went hitless, going 0-9 with 4 walks.

Lucas Giolito was able to hold off the Cubs to two hits in 5.2 innings of work, despite allowing 7 walks. The 7 walks bring Giolito’s total to 32 for the year. Giolito’s final stat line: 5.2 IP, 2 hits, 3 ER, 7 Walks and 3 strikeouts. (1 more out and Giolito would’ve had a quality start) Giolito’s ERA for the season is a 6.91.

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Jace Fry continues his scoreless streak as he pitched 1.1 innings during the series. Fry has pitched 5 innings without giving up a run. Fry was called up from Triple-A Charlotte on May 4 and has been great for the White Sox. Hopefully, Jace can keep this up throughout the whole season.

Negatives: Of course with the worst team in baseball, there’s a lot of negatives that can be seen. One of the negatives for the White Sox during the series (and throughout the season) is the pitching. James Shields and Carson Fulmer struggled in their starts. On Friday, Fulmer was unable to get out of the second inning as he only went 1.2 innings, allowing 5 earned runs, 3 hits, 4 walks with 3 strikeouts. His ERA is now 6.23 for the year. On Saturday, James Shields was able to go 6 innings but allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Shields’s start was better than Fulmer’s but it’s not saying much. Considering that Shields role as a member of the White Sox is to eat up a lot of innings, it’s great to see that he is doing that. Shields has pitched 48 innings this season, the most on the White Sox. (Reynaldo Lopez is 2nd with 44.1 IP)

The bats were silent on Friday and Saturday as well. On Friday, the White Sox were only able to score 2 runs. Daniel Palka and Jose Abreu were responsible for the two runs as Palka had an RBI double and Abreu with an RBI single. Saturday, the South Siders were only able to score 4 runs with efforts from Jose Abreu and Matt Davidson. Abreu had an RBI groundout while Davidson hit a 3-run home run. The Sox left a combine 36 runners during Friday’s and Saturday’s game. The offense has been struggling all year and it doesn’t help that Avisail Garcia and Yoan Moncada are on the DL. It’s not clear when Avisail Garcia will return but Yoan Moncada is set to return against the Pirates on Tuesday.

The White Sox travel to Pittsburgh for a two-game series against the Pirates. Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer are expected to pitch during the two-game series.

Just remember White Sox fans: Relax, watch the prospects grow and hope for the future. The future is bright for the South Side!

SABERmetrics Sunday: Jorge Finding His Place In The Sun?

It was just after the 2016 season when the Kansas City Royals acquired OF Jorge Soler in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. At the time it seemed like a real good deal for Chicago as they got All Star closer Wade Davis in the deal. While it worked out good for the Cubs as Wade Davis had another All Star season in 2017, the Soler return has looked mighty good for the Royals this season.

Jorge Soler was originally one of the prime building blocks for the rebuild in Chicago. He tore it up in the Cubs farm system and made the majors in 2014. Over the next two seasons, Soler struggled to find consistency at the plate and had a number of nagging injuries. The potential was always there, but not staying on the field and having a crowded roster to begin with hurt his development. Luckily they did win a World Series with him, but that was the end of his tenure in Chicago. He totaled 101 games in 2015 and just 86 in 2016.

Soler’s first year as a Royal in 2017 was very rough. Just 35 games while missing the rest of the season due to injury with one home run, a .245 OBP, .503 OPS and -0.9 fWAR.

This year we are seeing a revitalized Soler who is doing it all offensively. Getting on base, hitting for power and generating runs. Before diving into detailed analysis, here are the key stats for Jorge Soler in 2018 (through 5/11).

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.425 OBP / .525 SLG / .950 OPS / .405 BABIP / 23.6% K / 14.9% BB / 157 wRC+ / 5 HR / -1.8 Ultimate Base Running / 2.3 Ultimate Zone Rating / -3 DRS / 1.4 fWAR 

Looking first and foremost at his batting stats, the numbers are really good. His career-high BB rate previously was 11.7% in 2016 so if he keeps up the higher walk rate around 15% then that will continue to help his OBP. Soler will likely always be in the top-half of strikeouts, which is where he is at currently, so that is no surprise. The one thing to note is the .405 BABIP, that is not insanely high, but still unsustainably high. It will go down as the season goes, however that does not mean he will tank later on. He can keep up some real good numbers throughout the year while the BABIP goes down. If he continues to drive the ball and take more walks like he is now, we could see him make his first All Star team.

Just some notes on his defense. He was never a good defender, with career UZR and DRS numbers well in the negatives, but if he can be serviceable, the Royals will take it and he can DH if need be.

If Soler stays healthy and can maintain most of these numbers, then it can be safe to say he finally reached his potential. He was a top-prospect for a number of years coming up. This year he can play everyday and get more consistent at-bats. Chicago Cubs fans may miss the potential he had especially now, but him changing scenery was probably the best thing for him.

 

 

 

Salt City Wrap Up vs the RailRiders

The Chiefs played their first game at home in the month of May on Monday trying to right the ship after losing their last 5 games. To try to stop the skid, the Chiefs brought out their right hander Erick Fedde to match-up versus the RailRiders left hander Daniel Camarena. Fedde started the game well, but only ended up pitching 4.2 innings allowing 5 runs on 6 hits but on the positive note, he struck out 10 of the 14 outs that he earned.

The Chiefs started the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. Hunter Jones drew a walk to start the inning. After a strikeout of Rafael Bautista, Adrian Sanchez came to the plate. Sanchez then ripped an RBI double to right field scoring Hunter Jones. Sanchez was thrown out on the play trying to move to third on the thrown in from right field. This gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead, their first lead in 45 innings.

The Chiefs struck again in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Mark Reynolds started the inning by striking out, Matt Reynolds drew a walk as the second batter of the inning. Matt Hague then came to the plate and hit his second double of the year to left field, putting runners on second and third with one out. Jacob Wilson then stepped to the dish and hit his fourth double of the year to left scoring Matt Reynolds and Matt Hague, giving the Chiefs a 3-0 lead.

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Photo by; Milb

The Yankees farm club finally got to Fedde and the Chiefs in the top of the fifth inning. Tyler Wade hit his third double of the year to right field scoring Thairo Estrade and Ryan McBroom, cutting the Chiefs lead to 3-2. With the bases loaded, Mike Ford draws a walk, forcing in Bruce Caldwell, tying the game at 3-3. Again with the bases loaded, Kyle Higashioka singled to left field scoring Tyler Wade and Shane Robinson, giving the RailRiders a 5-3 lead.

In the top of the seventh inning, the veteran Adam Lind doubled to right field scoring Shance Robinson, adding to the RailRiders lead 6-3. The next batter, Mike Ford, singled to right field scoring Yankee prospect Clint Frazier and Adam Lind before being thrown out at second, pushing the RailRiders lead even larger to 8-3.

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Photo by; Milb

The Chiefs couldn’t do anything against the RailRiders bullpen on Monday, and the Chiefs eventually lost the game 8-3 after leading 3-0.

RailRiders 8 Chiefs 3
Winning Pitcher: Camarena (2-1 4.66 ERA)
Losing Pitcher: Fedde (1-1 4.55 ERA)

Game two of this three game series took place on a beautiful Tuesday night in Syracuse. The Chiefs threw out their right handed veteran Edwin Jackson to face the RailRiders lefty Nestor Cortes. The veteran Jackson pitched a gem for the Chiefs allowing 1 run on 6 hits while fanning 8 and only walking two. The Chiefs bullpen also held their own pitching three scoreless innings allowing no hits while striking out 2 and walking only one.

The Chiefs opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. After a strikeout of Matt Reynolds, Matt Hague got the Chiefs first hit of the night, on a single to right. Next up was Jacob Wilson and he hit his fifth double of the year, a lined shot to center, scoring Matt Hague, giving the Chiefs an early 1-0 lead.

The Chiefs struck again against the RailRiders in the bottom of the third inning. Hunter Jones led off the inning with his fourth double of the year to left. After a sacrifice bunt by Rafael Bautista, moving Jones to third, Adrian Sanchez was next to the dish. Sanchez hit a towering sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Jones, extending the Chiefs lead to 2-0.

The RailRiders finally broke through against Jackson in the top of the fourth inning. With Clint Frazier on 3rd base with two outs, Zach Zehner doubled to right field, scoring Frazier, cutting into the Chiefs lead which now stands at 2-1.

The Chiefs then struck again against the RailRiders reliever Brody Koerner in the bottom of the sixth inning. After two quick outs by the way of a groundout by Adrian Sanchez and a strikeout out by Mark Reynolds, Matt Reynolds broke the out streak by singling to left field. Matt Hague was next to the dish and hit a single of his own to put runners on first and second with two outs. Jacob Wilson was the next batter to the dish, and he hit a single of his own, on a grounder up the middle, loading the bases with Chiefs with two outs. Irving Falu was next to the plate and ripped a ground ball to center field scoring Matt Reynolds and Matt Hague, extending the Chiefs lead to 4-1.

The Chiefs bullpen, as afore mentioned, completely shut down the RailRiders for the rest of the game, breaking the Chiefs 6 game losing streak, and earning the Chiefs their 15th win of the season, putting them a half game out of first place, after play on Tuesday.

Chiefs 4 RailRiders 1
Winning Pitcher: Jackson (1-1 3.94 ERA)
Losing Pitcher: Cortes (0-2 4.97 ERA)
Save: Adams (4)

The Chiefs, and their right hander Cesar Vargas, look to take the series on Wednesday night against Chance Adams and the RailRiders. Vargas pitched 4.1 innings giving up 6 runs on 8 hits while only striking out 1 and walking 3. Vargas also gave up a home run in this game.

The RailRiders got to Vargas early on Wednesday night, and started the scoring in the top of the first inning. Veteran Adam Lind singled to right field, scoring the rehabbing Clint Frazier, giving the RailRiders a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning catcher Kyle Higashioka singled to center field, scoring Matt Ford, giving the RailRiders a 2-0 lead. Still in the first inning, Zach Zehner hit his fourth home run, a deep shot to left center field, scoring Lind and Higashioka, getting the Vargas for 5 runs in the first inning.

The Chiefs struck back in the bottom of the second inning. After the first out came from Matt Reynolds striking out, Jacob Wilson ripped his 6th double of the year to deep center field. After an Irving Falu fly out, Spencer Kieboom came to the plate and hit a line drive single to right scoring Wilson, cutting into the RailRiders lead, which is now 5-1.

After Vargas held the RailRiders scoreless in the top of the third inning, the Chiefs offense struck again. After a leadoff single by Rafael Bautista, there were two consecutive outs recorded by the way of two fly outs, courtesy of Adrian Sanchez and Jose Marmolejos. Mark Reynolds then came to the plate and drew a two out walk, to put runners on first and second. Matt Reynolds then stepped to the plate and hit a double to right field, scoring Bautista, cutting the lead to 5-2. Jacob Wilson then singled to third, scoring Mark Reynolds, cutting the lead again to 5-3. Irving Falu was next to the dish, and singled on a ground ball to center, scoring Matt Reynolds, drawing within one run with the score at 5-4. The damage was not done yet though when Spencer Kieboom stepped to the plate and, I sound like a broken record, hit a single to center scoring Wilson, tying the game at 5.

After the Chiefs tied the game in the bottom of the third inning, the RailRiders came to the dish in the top of the fourth inning. With Zach Zehner on base, Bruce Caldwell doubled to center field, scoring Zehner, giving the RailRiders the lead again at 6-5.

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Photo by; MiLB

Both teams were held scoreless until the RailRiders came to the plate again in the top of the sixth inning. With Clint Frazier batting, he hit a grounder to third, when the third basemen, Bengie Gonzalez attempted the force out, an error occurred, allowing Mazzilli to score, extending the RailRiders lead to 7-5.

The Chiefs answered back in the bottom of the sixth inning. Spencer Kieboom and Bengie Gonzalez started the inning by drawing back to back walks. Rafael Bautista then hit a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher, who committed a throwing error, allowing both Kieboom and Gonzalez to score, once again tying the game at 7.

In the top of the seventh inning, the RailRiders scored again. With Lind and Higashioka on base, Bruce Caldwell singled on a fly ball to center, allowing Lind to score, giving the RailRiders the lead for the final time in the game 8-7.

The Chiefs dropped another series, to the worst team in the International League North to begin their home stand. They look to bounce back on Thursday when they host the Pawtucket Red Sox for a 4 game series. The Chiefs after starting hot this season, are now sitting at .500 at 15-15 and in 3rd place in the International League North.

RailRiders 8 Chiefs 7
Winning Pitcher: Harvey (1-1 2.84 ERA)
Losing Pitcher: Collins (1-2 4.38 ERA)
Save: Carroll (2)

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Schedule Breakdown Weeks 1-4

The Kansas City Chiefs will start the season on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers. It will be the second year in a row the Chiefs start the season on the road. Last year the Chiefs swept the season series with the Chargers. Phillip Rivers has struggled against the Chiefs throughout his career. In 25 match-ups he has 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions and an average of 245 yards per game. The Chargers are expected to improve this season and it could be an interesting match-up week #1.

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The second game will be on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season the Chiefs faced the Steelers in week #6. The Steelers won the game 19-13 which ended the Chiefs five game winning streak to start the season. The Chiefs have struggled with the Steelers in recent seasons. The Steelers have won six of the last seven match-ups with the Chiefs. The Steelers have not lost a game to the Chiefs in Pittsburgh since 1986. The Steelers will be a tough match-up for the Chiefs in the early part of the season.

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The Chiefs home opener will be week #3 against the San Francisco 49ers. It is the latest home opener for the Chiefs since the 2007 season. The last time the Chiefs faced the 49ers was in 2014 when they lost 22-17. Jimmy Garoppolo will be the 49ers starter at quarterback this season. The Chiefs faced Garoppolo in 2014 when he replaced Tom Brady in the Chiefs 41-14 win over the Patriots. Garoppolo went 6/7 for one touchdown in that game. The 49ers should be one of the most improved teams this season and will be an interesting test for the Chiefs.

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The fourth game will be on the road against the Denver Broncos. Last year the Chiefs swept their season series against the Broncos. Patrick Mahomes made his starting debut in Denver last season. He went 22/35 for 284 yards and one interception. Mahomes led a 67-yard drive in the last minutes of the game to set up a game winning Harrison Butker field goal. The game was Mahomes first opportunity to get valuable playing time against first-string defenses. Denver is a tough place to play but Mahomes played well last season. Mahomes will need to improve on his performance last season in the week #4 match-up.

How Are The D-back’s Winning? The Answers Might Surprise You

The Arizona Diamondbacks sit atop the National League West standings, with a 24-13 record, thanks in large part to their pitching and defense, all the while their perennial MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt is hitting a meager .226.

The D’backs lead the N.L. in both team ERA (3.08) and fielding percentage (.991). The Diamondbacks trail only the Houston Astros in team ERA and are tied with Houston for the best fielding percentage in baseball (and took 2 out of 3 games from them in Arizona last week). For comparison sake, the 93-win Diamondback team from a year ago finished 3rd in MLB in overall pitching (3.66) and 24th in fielding percentage (.982). The 12 errors this season puts the team on pace for only 57 errors, almost cut in half from the 108 they made last season.

The biggest reason for the jump from 24th to 2nd in team fielding is that 4 of the teams worst fielders from a year ago have either moved positions, been traded or have been on the D.L. for most of the season.

Image result for Chris Owings 2018

Photo by; ABC News

  • Chris Owings – Being forced into action at SS last season, due to Nick Ahmed’s injury, Chris made 11 errors in 54 games at that position for a percentage of .943. This season, while playing mostly in the outfield, and 0 games at short, he has not committed an error in 28 total games.
  • Brandon Drury – 114 games at 2B and finished 2017 with the second worst fielding percentage on the team (.959). Was traded to the Yankees over the off-season.
  • Daniel Descalso – In 45 games at 2B in 2017, Daniel made 7 defensive errors, good for a .963 fielding percentage. On the season, he made a total of 11 errors. Ketel Marte – 0 errors on the season – has taken over the everyday job at 2B this season, limiting Descalso to only 5 games at his old position. Filling in Admirably for the injured Jake Lamb at 3B this year, Daniel has made 1 error in 18 games at the hot corner.
  • Jake Lamb – Lamb & Owings led the team in total errors last season, with 14. Lamb has only started 4 games this season due to injury and didn’t make an error before heading to the D.L.

Although the D’backs are off to their best 35-game start in franchise history, heading into Tuesday’s 2-game series against the rival Dodgers, the team is hitting a franchise low .228. Never in the teams first 19 years of existence have they ever been below .246 for a whole season, and that was their inaugural season in 1998. Even though most novice fans would like to put most of the hitting woes on mainly Goldschmidt’s shoulders, the fact of the matter is there are only two hitters on the roster hitting at least .260, David Peralta, and reigning Player of the Month & Player of the Week in A.J. Pollock.

Image result for A.J. Pollock 2018

Pollock, who’s 30-years-old and on the last year of his contract, is the only Diamondback hitting above 288, at .308 in 130 at-bats. He’s currently second in the N.L. in HRs (11), fourth in stolen bases (8), and is tied with the Angels Mike Trout for the most HRs + SB in all of baseball, with 19. A.J.’s also second in the N.L. with 31 RBI – only trailing the Cubs Javier Baez (32) – while Trout – 2X MVP & 3X runner-up – has only 24 runs batted in on the year. The Diamondbacks center fielder has also taken his game to an even higher level with runners in scoring position, as he’s hitting .333 with 16 RBI’s in 30 at-bats with RISP. In 2017, in 425 at-bats, Pollock hit .266, with only 14 HRs and 49 RBI, while swiping 20 bags. Last season, A.J. had a slugging percentage of .471 and an OPS of .801. So far in 2018 A.J. is leading the N.L. in slugging at .677, OPS at 1.038 and total bases with 88. While we’re barely 20% of the way through the long, 162-game season, Pollock has, deservedly, put his name at the very top of the early-season MVP talk in the National League.

While Paul Goldschmidt was in a 0 for 21 slump to start the month of May prior to Tuesday’s victory over the Dodgers, where Goldy went 1 for 4 on the evening. The biggest concern with him at the plate right now is that his strikeout’s are way up compared to previous years. Through the first 35 games this season, Paul has struck out 46 times, good for 1.31K’s/game. Since his second year in the league, in 2012, he has never finished with a worse K per game average of 0.95. Keep in mind that since 2012 Paul has never hit below .286, and since 2013 he has never hit below .297. Over the last 5 seasons, Goldy is a 5X All-Star while finishing top-3 in MVP voting in three of those seasons – two runner-ups and has received MVP votes in four of those five seasons – all the while accumulating three Silver Slugger awards over the past half-decade. Just like how every hitter goes in a slump, when it’s all said and done, the great hitters of our game tend to finish with similar numbers to what they have always had, as long as they are in their prime still, as Goldschmidt is. Just like in 2016 when he started the first 30+ games hitting .247, Goldy ended up turning it around and finished with a .297 average. Once he hits himself out of this slump, expect him to make pitchers pay the rest of the season.

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