MLB Saturday scores, highlights, updates, news: Brewers sticking around playoff race

Saturday brings us a full slate of 15 MLB games. Here is our recap of the day in baseball.

Saturday’s scores

  • Chicago Cubs
    Washington Nationals
    4 (box score)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers
    New York Mets
     4 (box score)

  • Milwaukee Brewers
    Tampa Bay Rays
     0 (box score)

  • Baltimore Orioles
    Detroit Tigers
    2 (box score)

  • San Diego Padres
    Pittsburgh Pirates
     2 (box score

  • Boston Red Sox
    Chicago White Sox
    1 (box score

  • Atlanta Braves
    Miami Marlins
    2 (box score

  • New York Yankees
    Cleveland Indians
     1 (box score

  • St. Louis Cardinals
    Cincinnati Reds
     1 (box score

  • Texas Rangers
    Minnesota Twins
     1 (box score

  • Toronto Blue Jays
    Houston Astros
     3 in 10 innings (box score

  • Colorado Rockies
    Philadelphia Phillies
    5 (box score

  • San Francisco Giants
     5, Diamondbacks 4 in 10 innings (box score

  • Oakland Athletics
    Los Angeles Angels
     0 (box score)

  • Seattle Mariners
    Kansas City Royals

The Brewers keep hanging around

Last Sunday, the Brewers dropped a close one to the Cubs in Wrigley. As a result they dropped two of three to the reigning champs and fell to 2 1/2 games behind them in the NL Central. It felt like a turning point. The Brewers had hung in there longer than anyone expected — 69 days in first place — but it was time to fade. The Cubs, who project as the much better team, were ready to start playing up to their level and put some distance between themselves and the Brewers.

Except that hasn’t happened. 

With their 3-0 win over the Rays on Saturday, the Brewers remain just a half-game behind the Cubs in the Central. They’ve won three in a row, they just notched their first back-to-back shutouts in more than four years, and they haven’t allowed a run since the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Cardinals.

On Saturday, starter
Zach Davies
did the heavy lifting … 

Brandon Woodruff
had a successful big-league debut on Friday,
Chase Anderson
‘s set to begin a minor-league rehab assignment early next week — that rotation’s coming together.

As well, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Brewers could be among the most active team during the August waiver period. They’ve also added some key bullpen pieces recently. In other words, the Brewers probably aren’t going away. 

The immediate goal is to keep winning, of course, but more modestly to remain within spitting distance of the Cubs until Sept. 8, when the Brewers begin a stretch that will see them play the Cubs seven times in 16 games. That span of games could decide the division. 

Yankee defense helps out Chapman

Aroldis Chapman
this season has struck out exactly one-third of the batters he’s faced. For normal pitchers, that would be an exceptional figure, but it’s well shy of what Peak Chapman has provided us in the past. As such, Chapman needs a bit more help from his defense these days than has typically been the case.

Well, as Chapman worked to protect a one-run lead on the road against the reigning AL champs, said defense stepped up in a big way … 

Nifty indeed. Not pictured is a nice block by catcher
Austin Romine
that kept the potential tying run from getting into scoring position.

Also, in keeping with the general theme of things,
Carlos Santana
made things interesting before striking out looking to end it … 

That Chapman save means that the Yankees stay three games back of the surging Red Sox in the AL East and increase their lead over the rained-out Royals to 1 1/2 games for the top AL wild card spot. 

Chris Taylor
has been huge for the Dodgers

The Dodgers and Mets teamed up for nine home runs on Saturday, and here’s one of them … 

That’s Chris Taylor pretty well crushing one to center. That’s his 15th homer of the season in 363 plate appearances, and those 15 homers accompany a 2017 batting line of .314/.380/.549. To say that’s out of step with Taylor’s previous level of performance is an understatement. Coming into 2017, Taylor had a career line in the majors of .234/.289/.309 with one — yes, one — home run in 318 plate appearances. 

When you see a home run spike in 2017, you’re of course duty-bound to mention the possibility that a hitter is focused on increasing his launch angle. Taylor, however, has seen his groundball rate slightly increase and his flyball rate modestly decrease this season. He’s increased his hard-hit rate over prior levels, and his exit velocity is higher than league average. In perhaps related matters, Taylor’s swinging less often at pitches out of the zone.

Still, Taylor seems likely to regress at some point. Coming into Saturday, he had a batting average on balls in play of .419, and a hefty 18.7 percent of his flyballs had left the park. Neither of those is likely sustainable. 

Regardless of what the future holds, Taylor’s been a highly valuable contributor to the best team in baseball. In addition to those offensive bestowals noted above, Taylor’s also seen time at five different positions, and he’s stolen 13 bags in 16 attempts. Add it up, and he’s compiled a WAR of roughly 4.0 despite not being a lineup regular for part of the season. We often talk about the Dodgers’ remarkable roster depth, and Taylor is perhaps the most shining example of that depth in 2017. 

And speaking of the Dodgers … 

Yes, they’ve won 43 out of 50, which hasn’t been matched in more than 100 years. They’re now on pace for 115 wins this season.

Mets tag Hill for three homers in first inning

Quite the start to Saturday’s game for the Mets.
Michael Conforto
Wilmer Flores
, and
Curtis Granderson
— a.k.a. their Nos. 1, 4, and 5 hitters — all hit solo home runs against Dodgers lefty
Rich Hill
in the first inning. Three of the first five batters went deep!

Here is Conforto’s leadoff home run:

Coming into Saturday’s start Hill had allowed only eight home runs total in 78 innings this season. That includes only three homers by left-handed hitters. Two lefties, Conforto and Granderson, took him out of the park Saturday. Go figure.

Contreras stays insanely hot

Is anyone in baseball as hot as
Willson Contreras
right now? Contreras cranked yet another home run Saturday, this one a two-run homer against Nationals reliever
Matt Grace

Here’s the video:

Contreras hit two home runs in Thursday’s game, and, since the All-Star break, he is hitting .329/.405/.686 with seven home runs in 18 games. His hot streak goes back even further than that. Contreras is hitting .322/.394/.657 with 13 home runs in 40 games dating back to June 16.

He’s going to wind up getting MVP votes, you know.

Quick hits

  • Athletics OF
    Matt Joyce
    allegedly called a fan a gay slur during a heated exchange Friday night. The team issued a statement Saturday saying they are “very disappointed” that Joyce used “unacceptable” language. MLB has suspended Joyce for two games
  • The Pirates made a pair of trade waivers deals. They acquired UTIL
    Sean Rodriguez
    from the Braves for minor-league infielder 
    Connor Joe
    , and were awarded RHP
    George Kontos
    from the Giants on a straight claim.
  • Brewers 3B
    Travis Shaw
    is day-to-day after being struck in the neck by a throw from Rays C
    Jesus Sucre
  • Royals C
    Salvador Perez
    has an intercostal strain, not an oblique strain, reports The team will re-evaluate him within the next 48 hours before deciding whether to place him on the DL. Perez could be sidelined up to four weeks.
  • 3B
    Pablo Sandoval
    is back in the big leagues. The Giants called up Sandoval on Saturday after placing 1B
    Brandon Belt
    on the seven-day concussion DL. Belt was hit in the helmet by a pitch Friday night.
  • The Mariners placed RHP
    Felix Hernandez
    on the 10-day DL with biceps tendinitis. The team says he first felt something Friday night. LHP
    Marco Gonzales
    was called up in a corresponding roster move.
  • The Yankees are not too pleased with C
    Gary Sanchez
    ‘s defense behind the plate this year. He allowed his MLB-leading 12th passed ball Friday night. Manager Joe Girardi called Sanchez out after the game.
  • The Rockies activated RHP
    Chad Bettis
    off the 60-day DL and optioned him to Triple-A, the team announced. Bettis has not pitched this season as he received treatment for testicular cancer. He is expected to join the rotation soon.
  • The Phillies have placed OF
    Aaron Altherr
    on the 10-day DL with a strained right hamstring.
  • Newly acquired
    Tim Beckham
    hit the 10,000th home run in Orioles regular season history. Here’s a look