Curtis Granderson accomplished something Thursday night that I’m pretty sure has never happened before: the three-HR game. Or maybe it has. Someone should start a list. Every single one of his long-balls was needed, as the Yankees barely managed a 7-6 win against the Twins. That should really count as a loss. Grandy also hit two singles on the night, finishing 5-for-5 with three runs, four RBIs and the mythical three HRs. He entered Thursday hitting .208. He enters Friday with a .283 average.
Granderson would be tied for the league lead in HRs, but Matt Kemp smacked his seventh bomb on Thursday as well. According to Rotoworld,
“Kemp is on pace to finish the season with 87 homers and 224 RBI to go along with his .451 average. Of course, since the Dodgers will have finished the season 125-37, he won’t be the NL MVP, because the team still would have won the NL West without him.”
I’m going to go out on a limb and say if the Dodgers win 125 games and Kemp hits 87 HRs, he’d be named the MVP. Let’s hope it actually happens so we can see who’s right.
Other notable Thursday performances included Jeff Samardzija’s ugly game (3.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, I’m still buying), Jason Hammel’s overpowering stuff (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K), Houston’s three triples and two five-run innings (with no HRs), Mike Napoli’s fourth straight game with a dinger (2-for-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB), Yu Darvish’s effective wildness (6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, Win), Desmond Jennings’ Swiss Army knife (3-for-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB), Mike Minor’s major performance (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, Win), Freddie Freeman’s double dipper (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI), Felix Hernandez’s can’t-do-better-than-that (8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, ND), Vance Worley’s yeah-but-they’re-the-Pads (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 K, Win) and Albert Pujols’s triple-double (3-for-5, 1 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 2B).
Time to play Weekend Warrior. Let’s look at the five best series first, then speed through the rest.
Rangers at Tigers
M.Harrison vs. R.Porcello (Fri.), N.Feliz vs. J.Verlander (Sat.), C.Lewis vs. D.Smyly (Sun.)
Possible ALCS preview? The Rangers have rattled off seven straight wins to move to a league-best 11-2 on the year, including one on Thursday in the opening game of this series. Napoli has homered in four straight — can he make it five? Six or more? Both Josh Hamilton and Michael Young are hitting .400 or better after the team rung up 19 hits on Thursday. Colby Lewis has a mind-blowing 22/1 K/BB ratio after three starts. Joe Nathan is walking a thin line in the ninth inning, and it’ll be interesting to see if he makes it through the weekend.
Justin Verlander has pitched at least eight innings in each of his three starts, but the Rangers’ killer lineup may make it difficult to pitch that far into Saturday’s game. Drew Smyly has given up a single run this year in his two starts. Doug Fister didn’t make it through his most recent bullpen session, so Adam Wilk should see a few more starts for the Tigers after giving up 10 hits in four innings on Thursday. Miguel Cabrera will look to pick things up with the bat this weekend as he has a .265 average.
Yankees at Red Sox
I.Nova vs. C.Buchholz (Fri.), F.Garcia vs. F.Doubront (Sat.), C.Sabathia vs. D.Bard (Sun.)
CC’s the only must-start out of the bunch above. If you go with another, it’ll have to be Nova, who is 2-0 this year with 15 Ks in 13 innings. With Boston not exactly lighting it up, a Nova start may pay off big time. Eduardo Nunez is a consideration for deeper leagues, as he could play second (as he did on Thursday), shortstop or third base with the regulars at those positions slotting in at DH for a game. Brett Gardner has been placed on the DL, leaving normal DHs Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez to play some left field.
Sunday starter Daniel Bard is coming off a game where he struck out seven guys and walked seven guys yet still managed to somehow pitch 6.2 innings. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him a little gassed, making him hands off in fantasy leagues. Carl Crawford homered in an extended spring training game, and he should be ready to go in about two to three weeks. If you’re a believer, now’s the time to buy extremely low.
Orioles at Angels
B.Matusz vs. J.Williams (Fri.), J.Arrieta vs. J.Weaver (Sat.), W.Chen vs. D.Haren (Sun.)
If I told you one of these teams was in first and one was in last in their respective divisions, you’d assume the Angels were leading the AL West. But it’s the Orioles that have a one-game lead on the Rays and Yankees, while the Angels flounder in the basement. Baltimore has been carried offensively by Adam Jones, who hit his fifth HR of the year on Thursday, and Nolan Reimold, who homered in four straight games starting last Friday. Hopefully he’ll conquer his neck spasms and play in this series.
Albert Pujols got the bat going on Thursday with a multi-hit effort, and he’ll try and build off that performance against an Orioles pitching staff whose numbers suggest may be due for some regression. Despite the Angels’ bad start, Jered Weaver is 2-0 with a 23/2 K/BB ratio in 20.2 innings. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in two home starts this season. Dan Haren has pitched progressively better as the season has moved along. Erick Aybar just signed a four-year extension; now it’s time to earn it.
Giants at Mets
B.Zito vs. J.Niese (Fri.), R.Vogelsong vs. M.Pelfrey (Sat.), T.Lincecum vs. D.Gee (Sun.)
All eyes are on the pitchers, especially in the Friday and Sunday matchups. Barry Zito followed up a stellar debut in Colorado with another quality start against the Pirates. Can he keep it going? More importantly, will Tim Lincecum be able to right the ship? He’s allowed five earned runs or more in each of his three starts. Back in 2009, he allowed five runs in a start just three times all season. There’s nothing wrong with his 16/4 K/BB ratio. Bruce Bochy has prepared an extra-special Eff Brandon Belt moment this weekend, I’m sure.
David Wright is 17-for-34 this year, and his .500 average leads the league. After an extremely slow start to the year, Ike Davis has homered in three of his last four games. He and Lucas Duda have combined to strike out 28 times in 91 at-bats. Throw in Jason Bay’s 13 Ks, and that’s three of New York’s eight offensive players striking out over 30 percent of the time. Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Mike Pelfrey have been the Mets’ three best starters early in the year, so San Francisco may have trouble finding consistent scoring.
Braves at Diamondbacks
B.Beachy vs. T.Cahill (Fri.), T.Hanson vs. J.Saunders (Sat.), R.Delgado vs. I.Kennedy (Sun.)
The Braves kicked off the series with a fantastic start by Mike Minor, and more pitching gems could be on the way for both teams. Brandon Beachy has a 0.75 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his two starts, and he’s due for an uptick in Ks against an undermanned Arizona lineup. Tommy Hanson has a 27/2 K/BB ratio in 18.1 innings in three career starts against the Diamondbacks. Randall Delgado is fortunate to be 2-0 with a 1.65 WHIP. All eight Atlanta batters aside from the pitcher had a hit on Thursday, with six guys recording multiple hits. Only Jason Heyward is over .300 (.348 with two homers and five steals). Chipper Jones should be back in the lineup Friday.
Justin Upton will press to get back in the lineup this weekend after missing three straight games this week. We’ll see if he can manage it, and the Arizona offense unquestionably needs him. With Chris Young on the DL, Miguel Montero is the team’s leading hitter with a .282 average. Trevor Cahill has given up just six hits in 13.1 innings but also eight walks this year. Joe Saunders is somehow leading the rotation in ERA. Good ol’ small sample size. Ian Kennedy has posted a 17/3 K/BB ratio over three starts, though he’s been hittable in two of them.
Reds at Cubs
H.Bailey vs. C.Volstad (Fri.), M.Leake vs. P.Maholm (Sat.), J.Cueto vs. R.Dempster (Sun.)
Dempster has 23 Ks, which ties him for the NL lead with … Aaron Harang? The Reds enjoyed the first homers of the year by Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs on Thursday.
Marlins at Nationals
C.Zambrano vs. R.Detwiler (Fri.), A.Sanchez vs. S.Strasburg (Sat.), J.Johnson vs. G.Gonzalez (Sun.)
Emilio Bonifacio is hitting .340 with nine SBs, and all 17 of his hits have been singles. The three Washington starters have ERAs of 0.90 (Detwiler), 1.42 (Strasburg) and 2.04 (Gonzalez).
Cardinals at Pirates
L.Lynn vs. C.Morton (Fri.), J.Westbrook vs. K.Correia (Sat.), K.Lohse vs. E.Bedard (Sun.)
All three Cardinals starters in this series are 2-0, giving up a total of five earned runs in six starts. Matt Carpenter a great short-term play with Lance Berkman out. The Pirates have scored just 26 runs in 12 games.
Twins at Rays
L.Hendriks vs. M.Moore (Fri.), C.Pavano vs. J.Shields (Sat.), F.Liriano vs. J.Niemann (Sun.)
Josh Willingham has a hit in all 13 games the Twins have played this season, as well as five HRs. Matt Moore has an ugly 9/9 K/BB ratio through two starts this year (at BOS, at DET). Buy low before he pitches today.
Dodgers at Astros
T.Lilly vs. J.Happ (Fri.), C.Kershaw vs. K.Weiland (Sat.), C.Billingsley vs. W.Rodriguez (Sun.)
Matt Kemp Watch: .451 (23-for-51), 15 R, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB. C’mon, Kemp, where’s the speed? Jose Altuve is 9-for-24 with five runs in the two-hole for the Astros after Thursday’s 2-for-5.
Rockies at Brewers
J.Chacin vs. S.Marcum (Fri.), D.Pomeranz vs. M.Estrada (Sat.), J.Guthrie vs. Y.Gallardo (Sun.)
Excellent fantasy 2B Michael Cuddyer should be all-systems-go this weekend after bruising his toe on Wednesday. Chris Narveson will miss his Saturday start, and possibly the remainder of the year.
Blue Jays at Royals
K.Drabek at L.Hochevar (Fri.), D.Hutchison vs. L.Mendoza (Sat.), R.Romero vs. D.Duffy (Sun.)
Saturday starter Drew Hutchison is a buzzworthy prospect worth keeping an eye on. Mike Moustakas is hitting just .233 while striking out 10 times and not walking at all.
Indians at Athletics
U.Jimenez vs. G.Godfrey (Fri.), J.Gomez vs. B.McCarthy (Sat.), J.Masterson vs. T.Ross (Sun.)
Asdrubal Cabrera is out all weekend on bereavement leave, so plan accordingly. Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .222 with four HRs, two SBs, five walks and 17 Ks. Sell high-ish?
Phillies at Padres
C.Hamels vs. E.Volquez (Fri.), R.Halladay vs. C.Luebke (Sat.), J.Blanton vs. A.Bass (Sun.)
The Phillies shut out the Padres on Thursday, and two more shutouts on Friday and Saturday would surprise no one. Chase Headley hit four HRs in 381 at-bats last year; he has four in 48 bats already in 2012.
White Sox at Mariners
C.Sale vs. H.Noesi (Fri.), P.Humber vs. B.Beaven (Sat.), J.Danks vs. K.Millwood (Sun.)
A.J. Pierzynski is personifying the term “sell high,” hitting .400 with four HRs in his 35 at-bats. After converting his first five save chances, Brandon League blew a King Felix win on Thursday.
Saturday: Philip Humber (6%)
Sunday: Joe Blanton (3%)
Monday: Bartolo Colon (31%)
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse and Razzball. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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