MLB Thursday scores, highlights, updates, news: Bad News Mets, AL Central jumble

The season continued to roll forward Thursday with a hefty-by-Thursday-standards 11-game slate. Let's dig in ... 

Final scores

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1 in 10 innings (box score)
Rays 8, Tigers 1 (box score)
Indians 6, Twins 2 (box score)
Astros 2, Angels 1 (box score)
Phillies 6, Mets 4 (box score)
Orioles 2, Reds 1 in 10 innings (box score)
Nationals 3, Braves 2 (box score)
Rangers 1, Royals 0 in 13 innings (box score)
Brewers 7, Cardinals 5 (box score)
Padres 4, Diamondbacks 1 (box score)
Athletics 9, Mariners 6 (box score)

The Mets had a bad night

First, the good news for Mets fans. After his Thursday night start, ace Noah Syndergaard in 2017 has 30 strikeouts against no walks. 

The bad news? Well, they lost to the hapless Phillies at home on Thursday night, and it was in part because of bad fielding behind Syndergaard. The Mets committed three errors, and Yoenis Cespedes, thanks in part to shallow positioning, let one get over his head. Jay Bruce made just his fourth career appearance at first base, and he very much looked like it. In addition to committing a costly error, there's also this from the AP recap

Bruce showed his inexperience at the spot even before the first pitch. While throwing grounders to his infielders before the top of the first, he twice stopped when he wasn't sure who got the next one.

It's no surprise, of course, that the Mets have a lousy defense. This, after all, is a team that up the middle often features Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, and a 36-year-old Curtis Granderson. Yes, they're a team that can get away with sometimes because of their strikeout-heavy rotation, but it didn't work for them on Thursday (to be fair, though, Michael Conforto looked good on a couple of plays). Right now, the Mets rank near the bottom of the league when it comes to turning balls in play into outs, and that doesn't figure to change.

The other bit of bad news has to do with Cespedes. The outfielder, who's slugging .632 on the young season, departed in the sixth after limping around the bases. Soon after the team announced that it was merely a cramped hamstring. However, once the game ended, things started to look a bit more troublesome ... 

"TC" would of course be manager Terry Collins, and he sounds like someone who's not talking about a cramp. Also, Cespedes is going to undergo an MRI, which likewise doesn't suggest "cramp."

There's also this: 


Consider this one to be developing. The Mets are now .500 and headed into a big weekend series against the Nationals. They'd obviously love to have their best hitter in the lineup for all three games. That's especially the case considering how banged up the Mets are elsewhere. 

The AL Central is a pleasing jumble

As you see above, the Indians won on Thursday, while the Twins, Tigers, and Royals lost. The White Sox, meantime, were idle. Those results yield the following AL Central standings ... 

American League Central
Cleveland87.533-757232-46-30-05-43-05-5W 3
Detroit87.533-6384-215-23-53-45-30-05-5L 3
Chicago WS77.500½494902-35-41-26-50-05-5L 1
Kansas City78.46714147-65-32-50-00-36-45-5L 1
Minnesota78.46716050104-53-30-07-80-03-7L 4

Yes, it's obviously early, and we'll get a separation in the days to come. Right now, though, that's a pleasing pile-up of mediocrity. You've got the .500 White Sox (with a zero run differential, tidily enough) bookended by a pair of 8-7 teams and a pair of 7-8 teams. Almost all of us expect the reigning AL champs in Cleveland to pull away, but right now let's just enjoy the wonderful muddled state of things. 

Different Sox, same story

Although Chris Sale was traded from the White Sox to the Red Sox during the offseason, the poor run support that plagued his career in Chicago has remained an issue. To wit:

That trend carried over into Sale's start Thursday against the Blue Jays, as the Red Sox provided him just a single run in support of his eight shutout innings. (He struck out 13 batters while allowing five base runners.) Once the Red Sox did score a run, in the ninth inning, manager John Farrell removed Sale for closer Craig Kimbrel, who promptly blew the save opportunity.

Sale entered the game with a 1-1 record despite his 1.25 ERA because the run support just hasn't been there. In fact, the Red Sox had averaged just 1.9 runs in his first three starts. Predictably, no other Boston starter has suffered to this extent -- Eduardo Rodriguez's 2.6 figure checks in at the second-lowest clip on staff. The Red Sox won anyway, but sheesh.

By the way, one other trend that has made the trip with Sale to Boston? His affinity for uniform altering:

Rays show off rotation depth

The Rays have the potential to be darkhorse contenders this season, and their rotation depth has much to do with that. Speaking of which, on Thursday against the Tigers the Rays tapped into said depth for the first time in 2017. Jake Odorizzi recently hit the DL with a hamstring injury, and to fill in the Rays called upon right-hander Erasmo Ramirez

Ramirez has worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen since the start of the 2016 season, so he wasn't completely stretched out. Even so, Ramirez made the most of his time against Detroit on Thursday ... 

Erasmo Ramirez RP / Tampa Bay (vs. DET)
IP: 5 H: 2 R: 1 ER: 1 SO: 5 BB: 0 HR: 1

As the moving pictures will show, Ramirez's stuff was also looking strong ... 

A starting five of Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Odorizzi, Blake Snell, and Matt Andriese make for an enviable rotation. But then, as mentioned, there's that depth. Ramirez proved his mettle on Thursday, but it goes beyond him. Jose De Leon, acquired from the Dodgers as part of the Logan Forsythe deal, has one of the highest ceilings of any pitcher in the organization, and at age 24 he's ready to help right now. Elsewhere, Brent Honeywell, Jacob Faria, and Chih-Wei Hu are all well-regarded prospects who should be ready to contribute at the highest level right away or at some point in 2017. 

Teams that make it through an entire season using just five or six starters are vanishingly rare. Using 10 or more starters in a season is a simple reality of baseball, and the Rays are perhaps best poised to handle that reality in 2017. 

Quick hits

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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