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It was another exciting week in Major League Baseball. There was some good: three near no-hitters. There was some bad: the Dodgers. And there was definitely some ugly: the performances of umpires in several games across the league. And it all helps set up another great week of baseball.
Quality Control – This last week was not a good one to be a Major League umpire. On Wednesday, in the Athletics-Indians game, Angel Hernandez missed a home run call and then refused to overturn it on a replay that clearly showed the ball going over the fence. Then, just the next night, Fieldin Culbreth showed his lack of understanding of the rulebook and allowed the Astros to make an illegal pitching change. That earned him a two game suspension. The instances were both were egregious for their own reasons. Because of them, umpires have been getting called out over the last week and you can be sure people will be watching them extra closely because of it this week.
L.A. Hot Seat Carousel – Last week, it was Angels Manager Mike Scioscia whose job security that was in question. Now, it’s the other L.A. manager, the Dodgers’ Don Mattingly, who could be in danger. The Dodgers have been extremely underwhelming all season, especially for the team with the highest payroll in baseball, but it became even worse this month. They were 0-for-May until finally defeating Miami on Saturday. That ended an 8-game losing streak. Still, L.A. currently resides in the NL West basement. It may be unfair to put all the blame on Mattingly with the injuries the club has been dealing with, but another bad week could bring his tenure in SoCal closer to an end.
Stars Returning – There is a bit of good news for the Dodgers now, though, as Zack Greinke is scheduled to return to the mound on Wednesday. He’s been out since early April after breaking his collarbone when Carlos Quentin charged at him. Originally scheduled to miss up to two months, he’ll be back in about one. With the Dodgers’ inability to score many runs, they’ll need to keep their opponents from scoring many to win. Greinke should help.
A couple of offensive stars should be returning this week, as well. Braves outfielder Jason Heyward will be back early this week following an appendectomy. He was off to a terrible start before the surgery, hitting just .121 with two home runs in 58 at bats. Maybe some time off will turn out to be just what he needs to get his season on track.
Over in the American League, the surprising Yankees are starting to get healthy. All-star outfielder Curtis Granderson will join the team, possibly on Tuesday. He’s yet to play this season after breaking his forearm in February and, when he does return, it will likely be in a corner outfield spot. Granderson, who is the Major League leader in home runs over the last two seasons, will give the Yankees a needed power boost in the middle of their lineup. New York has managed to stake their claim to the AL East lead while dealing with a laundry list of injuries and, now that their stars are coming back, that could spell trouble for their division rivals.
Thursday Pitchers’ Duels – Thursday will feature some great pitching matchups, including what very well may be the premier one of the season so far between two of the AL’s best teams. The Tigers’ Justin Verlander is slated to square off against the Rangers’ Yu Darvish in Arlington. Both rank in the league’s top four in strikeouts, with Darvish setting the pace at an astouding 80. Verlander is 4th with a 1.93 ERA, while Darvish is not far behind at 2.73. And both are aces for first place teams. It could turn into a classic. In secondary matchups, Clay Buchholz and Alex Cobb will square off when Boston takes on Tampa Bay and, in a stars-of-the-futures game, the Reds’ Tony Cingrani and the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez will meet in Miami.
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