USA TODAY Sports Weekly
Grandal has big return; Astros rookie emerges
RHP Jose Urena’s miserable season took an upturn when he was reinstated from the injured list and pitched three scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 28.
“Some of the best stuff he’s thrown in a long time,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
Before going on the IL on July 18 because of a strained right groin, Urena had a 2-8 record and 6.19 ERA in 17 starts after being signed as a free agent in the offseason.
❚ OF Victor Reyes became the first major leaguer since 1961 to have a pinch-hit, go-ahead, inside-the-park home run when he connected against the Blue Jays on Aug. 27 in the eighth inning of a 2-1 victory.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals had mixed emotions about losing veteran CF Jarrod Dyson. They were sad to lose his veteran presence but happy he will be on a contending team after the Toronto Blue Jays claimed him off waivers.
“He was a fantastic teammate here, and every day he brought light into this clubhouse,” manager Mike Matheny said.
The Royals signed Dyson as a free agent in the offseason, and he hit .221 with eight stolen bases in 77 games, starting just 30 games. However, the gregarious 37-year-old was popular with his teammates.
Dyson made his major league debut with the Royals and played in Kansas City through the 2016 season. He was a member of the teams that played in the 2014 and 2015 World Series, winning it in ’15.
❚ C Salvador Perez became the 25th player in major league history to hit grand slams in back-to-back games when he did so Aug. 26-27 against the Mariners at Seattle. He tied a club record by homering in five straight games through Aug. 29.
The Twins won’t win a third straight AL Central title, but they are hoping the return of CF Byron Buxton can provide a spark for the final month.
Buxton was activated from the injured list Aug. 27 after missing 55 games because of a broken left pinkie. Earlier in the season, a strained right hip sidelined him for 39 games. He returned June 19, then broke the finger three games later when he was hit by a pitch.
When healthy, Buxton has been outstanding. He was hitting .333 with 10 home runs and five stolen bases in 30 games entering the week.
❚ RHP Kenta Maeda was scheduled for Tommy John elbow surgery Sept. 1 and likely will miss all of 2022.
AL WEST Houston Astros
Rookie CF Jake Meyers has been so impressive filling the void left by OF Chas McCormick’s hand injury, Meyers could get the majority of the playing time in September.
McCormick, whose strong showing earlier this year motivated the Astros to trade CF Myles Straw, could return on Sept. 3. But McCormick’s role might be as a fourth outfielder behind Meyers, LF Michael Brantley and RF Kyle Tucker.
Meyers, 25, batted .324 with three homers and 14 RBI in his first 67 at-bats after being called up on July 31. A 13th-round pick in 2017, he started the season as a nonroster invitee to spring training.
Tucker was back after being sidelined because of COVID-19. When Tucker tested positive on Aug. 13, he was batting .272 with 22 homers and 71 RBI.
❚ Two-time All-Star 3B Alex Bregman returned after missing 59 games because of a quad injury and said he’ll be more cautious running the bases.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels’ goal of reaching the playoffs – or even just finishing over .500 – continued to fade along with their rotation.
LHP Patrick Sandoval (back) was the latest starter to be sidelined and won’t return until spring training. RHP Dylan Bundy (shoulder) also could miss the remainder of the season, and RHP Alex Cobb (wrist) was running out of time to build up his arm.
Injuries also have sidelined rookie RHP Chris Rodriguez (lat) and RHP Griffin Canning (back, out until 2022).
The upheaval created opportunities for LHP Packy Naughton, RHP Kyle Tyler and RHP Cooper Criswell.
The Angels were eager to see LHP Reid Detmers, one of their top prospects, for an extended period. But he was sidelined after four starts, for an undisclosed reason, after going 1-3 with a 7.11 ERA.
❚ DH Shohei Ohtani became the first player in franchise history to reach 40 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the same season.
The good news for the Athletics rotation is that RHP Chris Bassitt is expected to return and RHP Frankie Montas is pitching up to expectations.
Bassitt, the team’s ace, is recovering from a line drive that fractured bones in his face on Aug. 17. While his return isn’t a given, he could pitch in relief in the season’s final week.
Montas snapped the New York Yankees’ 13-game winning streak Aug. 28 by allowing only two hits for his career-high 10th victory. He has a 2.27 ERA in his last 11 starts, covering 67 1⁄3 innings, to lower his overall mark from 4.79 to 3.66.
❚ CF Starling Marte became the first player to steal 20 bases in each league in the same season.
If the Mariners are to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2001, LHP Yusei Kikuchi and RHP Logan Gilbert need to find another gear.
Kikuchi had a 3.48 ERA in the first half and made the All-Star team for the first time, but in his first eight outings after the break he had a 6.46 ERA.
Gilbert, 24, was thrust into the rotation after a series of injuries and didn’t disappoint. When Gilbert beat the Los Angeles Angels on July 18 at Anaheim, California, he lowered his ERA to 3.50.
But in Gilbert’s last three starts, he has surrendered 19 runs and 25 hits and didn’t complete five innings in any of them. His ERA has ballooned to 5.44.
❚ 3B Kyle Seager became just the second left-handed hitter in franchise history to have multiple seasons with at least 30 home runs. Ken Griffey Jr. did it six times.
CF Leody Taveras, who was in the Rangers’ opening-day lineup, is getting another look down the stretch.
Taveras, a plus defender, was sent down in late April after going 4-for-46 (.087) with 23 strikeouts. He was recalled after displaying an impressive attitude and work ethic in Class AAA, according to Rangers coaches, while batting .245 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI.
While his lack of production played a significant role in his demotion, the emergence of CF Adolis Garcia, an AL Rookie of the Year candidate, and LF Willie Calhoun’s availability also contributed. The Rangers want Taveras to see better pitches and build his confidence.
❚ 3B Andy Ibanez had seven straight games with multiple hits, the longest streak in the majors this season.