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5 Things: Aces Return And Home Run Derby Changes

By Andrew Kahn

All-Star voting is closed, and we’ll know soon enough exactly how many Royals are starting. Nationals fans don’t have to wait any longer for a new Racing President: Calvin Coolidge made his debut running around the ballpark on Friday.

Near no-no

Losing a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth is devastating enough, but with two outs and two strikes? That’s what happened to Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, who allowed a single to Tampa Bay’s Joey Butler on an 0-2 pitch on Wednesday. Was Carrasco tired? Through eight innings he’d allowed just one baserunner and faced the minimum. But he started the ninth with a walk and a hit batter before eventually allowing the run-scoring hit. Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis jumped as high as he could—and it was pretty high—to try and catch the soft liner.

According to Elias, this was the third no-hitter broken up with a two-out, two-strike hit in the ninth since 2002. Every major league team except the Padres has had a no-hitter in the time since the Indians’ last one in 1981, but Carrasco was not the only Cleveland starter to make a run at one this week. His was the third straight start in which a pitcher had a perfect game through at least five innings, the first time that had happened in the expansion era (1961) according to Elias.

Meet the Matz

Steven Matz is the latest highly-touted young pitcher to debut for the New York Mets, and he did not disappoint in his first game on Sunday. Not only did he perform well on the mound, where he gave up two runs (on solo homers), five hits, three walks, and six strikeouts in 7.2 innings, but he went 3 for 3 with a double and four RBI to lead a struggling Mets offense to a 7-2 win.

According to various outlets, this was the first time in recorded history (which dates back to 1914) that a pitcher had at least three hits and three RBI in his debut and the first time a pitcher drove in four runs in his first career game. He was the first player in Mets history to have four RBI in his debut, and that includes position players. “What the heck is he pitching for?” Matz’s grandfather said in a post-game interview. “They should just use him as a hitter. He's got more hits than anybody else on the team.” Matz also took out the second baseman on a slide to break up a double play. With the Mets using a six-man rotation, Matz will pitch again on Sunday. It’s tantalizing to think about the possibility for the Mets rotation next season: Syndergaard (who will be 23 at the start of next season), Matz (24), Zack Wheeler (25), deGrom (27), and Matt Harvey (27).

Good-hitting Fielders

Prince Fielder hit a home run last Friday, the 300th of his career. A milestone in its own right, but it also made him and his father, Cecil, just the second father-son combo to each hit 300-plus homers in the big leagues (Cecil hit 319). It’s not that difficult a trivia question to come up with the other duo: Bobby and Barry Bonds, who combined for 1,094 homers. The pair with the second-highest total? Also not surprising: the Griffeys, who, thanks to Junior’s 630 homers, hit a combined 782.

Derby changes

Speaking of home runs, this month’s Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati will have some new rules:

There are two main changes: First off, each batter gets five minutes at the plate instead of 10 “outs” (a home run in the final minute stops the clock until an “out” is recorded, and bonus time is awarded for long home runs). Second, it is a bracket-style head-to-head tournament among the eight competitors. This should add some excitement to the event, as it ensures the competition is meaningful from start to finish. The sluggers who participate will be seeded based on their season home runs totals, though we know baseball’s current home run leader, Giancarlo Stanton, will not be participating due to injury, and the same will likely be true for Miguel Cabrera.

Three teams get a shot in the arm

While Stanton recently went on the disabled list, three star pitchers returned from long DL stints on Thursday. In Miami, the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez made his first start after Tommy John surgery, opposing San Francisco’s Matt Cain, also making his season debut after sitting out due to forearm strain. As expected, neither ace was at his best: Fernandez gave up seven hits and three runs over six innings; Cain allowed five over five innings, walking four. Fernandez got the win, helping himself with a home run off Cain in a four-run fifth that helped Miami win 5-4. Fernandez hit 100 miles-per-hour in his return. Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore, also returning from Tommy John surgery, gave up four runs in 4.2 innings.

Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about baseball and other sports at Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn

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