Saturday MLB scores, highlights, updates, news: Yankees in a full-fledged slump

There were 16 (!) games worth of MLB action Saturday, including a healthy slate of day baseball. Let's dig in ... 

Final scores

Chicago White Sox  5,  Toronto Blue Jays  2 (box score)
Cleveland Indians  9,  Minnesota Twins  3 in Game 1 (box score)
Colorado Rockies  5,  San Francisco Giants  1 (box score)
Arizona Diamondbacks  5,  Philadelphia Phillies  1 (box score)
Baltimore Orioles  15,  St. Louis Cardinals  7 (box score)
Oakland Athletics  5,  New York Yankees  2 (box score)
Los Angeles Dodgers  10,  Cincinnati Reds  2 (box score)
Washington Nationals  7,  New York Mets  4 (box score)
Tampa Bay Rays 3,  Detroit Tigers  0 (box score)
San Diego Padres  7,  Milwaukee Brewers  5 (box score)
Atlanta Braves  8,  Miami Marlins  7 (box score)
Texas Rangers  10,  Seattle Mariners  4 (box score)
Indians 6, Twins 2 in Game 2 (box score)
Pittsburgh Pirates  4,  Chicago Cubs  3 (box score)
Los Angeles Angels  9,  Kansas City Royals  0 (box score)
Houston Astros  7,  Boston Red Sox  1 (box score)

Tanaka rocked again for Yankees

For really the first time this season, the Yankees are in an extended slump. They dropped their fifth consecutive game Saturday afternoon, and to make matters worse, nominal ace Masahiro Tanaka is showing no signs of improvement. He got blasted for five runs in four innings, including three homers.

Matt Joyce hit Tanaka's very first pitch of the afternoon over the wall, then Ryon Healy added two home runs of his own later in the game. Here is Healy's second dinger:

In the grand scheme of things, Tanaka's continued struggles are a bigger concern than a five-game losing streak. Those happen. Tanaka now has a 6.34 ERA on the season though, which ranks 80th among the 82 pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Only Bronson Arroyo (7.01 ERA) and Kevin Gausman (6.60 ERA) have been worse.

The home run ball has become an extreme issue for Tanaka. He allowed three more homers Saturday, so he's up to 21 for the season, tied with Ricky Nolasco for the most in baseball. Furthermore, Tanaka has allowed 17 home runs in his last nine starts and 46 2/3 innings, which works out to 3.3 HR/9. Yikes.

The Yankees insist Tanaka is healthy, and there's been no talk about a trip to the minors or a phantom disabled list stint or anything like that. And besides, with CC Sabathia on the disabled list, it would be tough to remove another starter from the rotation. So, for now, the Yankees will ride things out with Tanaka and hope he figures it out soon.

Rangers getting hot, getting healthy

The Rangers have been one of the streakiest teams in baseball this season, and right now they're in the middle of a hot streak. Saturday's win over the Mariners was their seventh win in the last eight games and their eighth win in the last 10 games. Mike Napoli led the charge with two home runs:

Saturday's win got Texas back over .500 (34-33), and this recent hot streak has them right in the thick of the AL wild card race. (Sorry, Rangers fans, but your team is not catching the Astros.) Texas is one game back of a wild card spot after being four games back a week ago. Four games back with six teams ahead of them.

Furthermore, the Rangers welcomed Tyson Ross back from the disabled list Friday -- he had been out since Opening Day 2016, when he was still with the Padres -- and he looked healthy and effective. Cole Hamels will soon begin a minor league rehab assignment as well. Help is on the way.

Good Thames are here again

Eric Thames  is red hot again. The Brewers masher got off to an incredible start, slumped for a few weeks, and now he's back to terrorizing pitchers. Thames hit his NL-leading 20th home run Saturday. Here's the video:

Thames has now gone deep in four straight games -- he had a five-game home run streak in April -- and included in those four games are a game-winning ninth-inning blast against the Cardinals, and a walk-off home run against the Padres. He's hitting home runs and he's hitting them in big situations.

Giants now on historically bad pace

Of all the weird and crazy things to happen in baseball this year, the Giants legitimately being one of the worst teams in baseball was one I did not see coming. They lost to the Rockies on Saturday -- it was their fifth straight loss and eighth in their last 10 games -- and are now 26-44 on the season. Only the Phillies, who are barely trying to be competitive, have been worse.

This is how bad things are going for San Francisco:

Yikes. I mean, chances are the Giants won't lose 102 games because they have Madison Bumgarner coming back for the second half, but still. A disaster season for the Giants, this has been.

Machado's defense never slumps

Despite Saturday's win, the Orioles have been in a free fall since early May, winning only 11 times in their last 35 games. One of the reasons: Manny Machado 's ongoing slump. He went 2 for 5 with a double and a home run Saturday to improve his season batting line to .215/.286/.427. That's not the Machado we're used to seeing.

This play, however, is the Machado we are used to seeing. He made a great backhand play and threw Jedd Gyorko out from deep in foul territory. Check it out:

Even when he's slumping at the plate, Machado has a huge impact on the game. His glove is unreal.

Up goes Frazier

White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier is a veteran in his walk year who's also playing for a rebuilding team. As such, Frazier seems a prime candidate to be dealt in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The only problem is that Frazier, through the end of May, was batting a listless and uncharacteristic .184/.300/.368. Look, you're not going to get high averages from Frazier, who's pretty much a power (plus a few walks) threat at the plate, but .184 is still well below his established standards. 

Well, the month of June has been kinder to Frazier. He entered Saturday's game in Toronto with a .255/.339/.490 line for June (59 plate appearances), which is much more in line with the Frazier we know and love. It's also much more in line with the version of Frazier that could drum up interest in tradin' season.

On that note, here's what Frazier on Saturday did to a pitch from the usually hard-to-square-up Marcus Stroman ... 

Woofity. Some digits on that blast ... 

That's Frazier's 11th homer of the season, and another June signifier that he may be playing up to his level just in time to fetch the Sox a meaningful return. Frazier's owed the balance of a $12 million salary for this season, so the Sox may need to kick in some cash if they wish to do better than straight salary relief in return. In any event, it's looking more likely that Frazier's beloved personality and right-handed pop may find a new home before we get to August. 

Jose Ramirez hasn't missed a beat

It's risky, when a team commits long-term to a player coming off a breakout season. When you do that, you're banking on sustainability of that performance, but it's possible, of course, that said breakout season will wind up as an outlier. That's the risk the Indians took this past offseason when they inked third baseman Jose Ramirez to a five-year, $26 million contract with options that could push the total value to twice that figure. 

For the AL champs last season, Ramirez was a defensive asset at the hot corner, added value on the bases, and boasts a .312/.363/.462 line at the plate with 11 homers and 46 doubles in 152 games. That made for excellent overall value but it was out of step with the rest of his big-league career (coming into last season, Ramirez has an OPS+ of 76 in 180 major-league games). 

Well, fortunately for the Indians, Ramirez hasn't let up in 2017. He came into Saturday's contest against the Twins with a career-best OPS+ of 118, and then he went out and did this ... 

And then this ... 

Now the 24-year-old Ramirez has 11 homers on the season, which matches his total from his breakout 2016 campaign. He's also now got a slash line of .304/.360/.533 on the year. More broadly, he's produced at a high level for almost 900 plate appearances going back to last season.

Every day, it's looking more and more like this is Ramirez's true level of ability, with perhaps an even higher ceiling. It may turn out that Ramirez winds up grossly underpaid over the life of his current contract. Funny how often that's the case with these long-term deals signed during the player's early service-time days. 

The NL's answer to Aaron Judge

Take it away, Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger ... 

And that brings us to this ... 

Indeed, Bellinger now has 19 taters, which for a few minutes tied him with Joey Votto and Eric Thames for the NL lead (as mentioned, soon thereafter Thames hit his 20th). Bellinger, as hinted at above, wasn't called up until April 25. So despite missing almost the first month of the season, he's closing in on 20 homers well before the All-Star break. There's also this ... 




HRs as % of plate appearances

Cody Bellinger




Aaron Judge




Age difference and thus long-term ceiling aside, Judge has been by a significant margin the better hitter in 2017. He's got much better plate discipline than Bellinger does, and he's out-hitting him by almost 90 points. That said, when it comes to hitting the ball out of the park, Bellinger's done it more regularly than Judge has (albeit without as much of the jaw-dropping aesthetics).

I'm not going to sit here and call a highly-touted Dodger rookie "underrated," but it seems like Bellinger's early power bestowals aren't quite getting the attention they deserve. 

Quick hits

  • The Athletics on Saturday traded 3B Trevor Plouffe to the Rays in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later.
  • Astros OF George Springer says, in very pointed terms, that he won't be participating in the Home Run Derby.
  • Tigers DH Victor Martinez has been released from the hospital after suffering from a rapid heartbeat on Thursday. He remains on the DL.
  • Per Roch Kubatko, Orioles MGR Buck Showalter says it may be overly optimistic to think 1B Chris Davis (oblique) can be back before the All-Star break.
  • Yankees C Gary Sanchez is out of Saturday's lineup with a groin injury.
  • The Giants have re-signed OF Justin Ruggiano and RHP Stephen Johnson to minor-league contracts.
  • The Yankees have released LHP Jon Niese.
  • The Cubs have signed LHP Ross Detwiler to a minor-league contract.
  • Giants C Buster Posey (ankle) is back in the lineup for Saturday's game.
  • The Rangers have placed SP Andrew Cashner on the 10-day DL with a left oblique strain. To take Cashner's place on the active roster, they've purchased RP Ernesto Frieri 's contract from Triple-A.
  • Oddsmakers like Louisville to win the 2017 College World Series
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