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How'd he do this? Dozier double sticks in wall

It's always disappointing when we come up short of our goals, but it's somehow even more disappointing when we miss them by narrow margins. 

Leading off for the Twins in the bottom of the first inning during Wednesday's game against the Tigers, Brian Dozier sent a pitch from Michael Fulmer to deep center field that he thought was a home run. Instead, it got stuck in the top of the Target Field wall for a ground-rule double:

Gordon saves extra bases with diving grab

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

ST. LOUIS --- There's a reason Alex Gordon has five Gold Gloves.

And Gordon showed off his defensive skills again in Wednesday's 5-2 win in 10 innings against the Cardinals in the seventh inning. With one out, Francisco Pena, who already had doubled into the left-field corner to plate a run in the second, smashed a Kevin McCarthy sinker again toward the same corner.

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ST. LOUIS --- There's a reason Alex Gordon has five Gold Gloves.

And Gordon showed off his defensive skills again in Wednesday's 5-2 win in 10 innings against the Cardinals in the seventh inning. With one out, Francisco Pena, who already had doubled into the left-field corner to plate a run in the second, smashed a Kevin McCarthy sinker again toward the same corner.

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But Gordon raced to his right and with a full-length dive made a stunning catch of a drive that, according to Statcast™, had a 108 mph exit velocity and a 74 percent hit probability. Statcast™ also determined it was a three-star catch with a 60 percent catch probability.

If Gordon had missed the catch, Pena likely would have had a triple as center fielder Jon Jay was shaded slightly toward right-center and wouldn't have been able to back up Gordon very quickly.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Alex Gordon

Crew scores 7 in 4th as Shaw hits 3-run jack

Shaw's 3-run jack highlights 7-run 4th; Milwaukee sweeps series
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Thanks to one big inning on Wednesday, the Brewers are off to the best 50-game start in franchise history.

Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Tyler Saladino each drove in runs in Milwaukee's seven-run fourth and combined for eight RBIs in a 9-2 win over the D-backs at Miller Park, clinching a three-game series sweep. At 31-19, and with wins in 10 of their past 13 games, the Brewers have the best winning percentage (.620) after 50 games in 50 seasons as a franchise.

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MILWAUKEE -- Thanks to one big inning on Wednesday, the Brewers are off to the best 50-game start in franchise history.

Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Tyler Saladino each drove in runs in Milwaukee's seven-run fourth and combined for eight RBIs in a 9-2 win over the D-backs at Miller Park, clinching a three-game series sweep. At 31-19, and with wins in 10 of their past 13 games, the Brewers have the best winning percentage (.620) after 50 games in 50 seasons as a franchise.

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The 1981 and 2014 clubs shared the previous mark after starting 29-21.

The D-backs are going in a different direction, with seven straight losses and 13 losses in their past 14 games. The Brewers took the season series between the teams, 5-1, while outscoring the D-backs by 19 runs (29-10) and holding them to two or fewer runs on five or fewer hits in each game.

The decisive fourth inning started small against D-backs right-hander Zack Godley, with slumping backup catcher Jett Bandy dumping a leadoff single into left field and pitcher Brent Suter coaxing an error by hustling out of the batter's box on a sacrifice bunt. It turned into something big, with Aguilar hitting a go-ahead two-run single, Shaw following with a three-run home run and Saladino adding insurance against reliever Fernando Salas.

Video: ARI@MIL: Shaw drills a 3-run homer to right field

The outburst transformed a 2-1 deficit into an 8-2 lead, and tied a seven-run sixth against the Marlins on April 19 for Milwaukee's biggest inning all season. The Brewers scored those runs Wednesday on five hits, two walks, a sacrifice bunt and two D-backs errors.

Suter started for Milwaukee and fell into a 2-1 deficit when slumping D-backs star Paul Goldschmidt and catcher John Ryan Murphy hit solo home runs in the second inning. Suter was otherwise solid and earned the win after allowing those two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Suter was one out shy of his first quality start this season, but Taylor Williams, Boone Logan and Brandon Woodruff followed with 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief, lowering the Brewers' Major League-best bullpen ERA to 2.48.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar, Tyler Saladino, Travis Shaw, Brent Suter

J.D. proof that one never knows the future

Astros GM Luhnow reflects on releasing Martinez in 2014
MLB.com @MikeLupica

For all the numbers we have now in baseball, for all who now worship at the Church of Analytics, there is still no number or set of numbers that can measure with any certainty what a player can become. So it was with J.D. Martinez, who right now, this minute, is one of the best hitters in the game, but was released by the Astros in Spring Training.

Things like this had happened before, and not just in baseball, all the way to when Johnny Unitas, who became one of the most famous and accomplished quarterbacks of them all with the old Baltimore Colts, was released by the Steelers before he ever got anywhere near Baltimore.

For all the numbers we have now in baseball, for all who now worship at the Church of Analytics, there is still no number or set of numbers that can measure with any certainty what a player can become. So it was with J.D. Martinez, who right now, this minute, is one of the best hitters in the game, but was released by the Astros in Spring Training.

Things like this had happened before, and not just in baseball, all the way to when Johnny Unitas, who became one of the most famous and accomplished quarterbacks of them all with the old Baltimore Colts, was released by the Steelers before he ever got anywhere near Baltimore.

"The longer you're in our world," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told me the other day, "the more you realize that the future is far more unpredictable than any of us ever dream."

There is no smarter baseball man working than Luhnow. More than anyone else, he was the architect of the Astros team that won Houston its first World Series last fall. Even in what looks as if the Yankees against the Red Sox will dominate the landscape in baseball across the baseball summer, the Astros still have the best starting rotation, what looks as if it has a chance to be a historically great rotation and as much young talent as the Yankees or anybody else.

And in the spring of 2014, there was an organizational decision that Martinez, who had once come straight to Houston from Double-A ball the way Jose Altuve had, would be better off playing baseball somewhere else.

"[J.D.] came to me in Spring Training that year and said, 'I've made some changes to my swing,'" Luhnow said. "'I want to prove to you that they're good changes."

Bo Porter, the manager of the Astros at the time, gave Martinez 18 Spring Training at-bats. Martinez had been in the organization for five years by then, having been signed out of Fort Lauderdale's Nova Southeastern University, where he'd been teammates with catcher Alex Avila, now with the Diamondbacks. By 2014, he'd had nearly 1,000 plate appearances for Houston, and hit just 24 home runs, with a .687 OPS. Martinez was on his way to Triple-A that spring, with no guarantee that he'd even be a starter there.

"I have never been the kind of general manager who tells a manager, 'You gotta give this guy some playing time,'" Luhnow said. "I hope they ask. But I don't mandate, and never have."

Luhnow didn't mandate that Martinez play. Porter didn't play him. Luhnow sent out an e-mail to the other 29 teams and said that Martinez was available for little or no compensation.

"Crickets," Luhnow said.

The Astros designated Martinez for assignment a few days later. The Tigers called. Al Avila, Alex's father, was then the assistant GM with Detroit, and obviously remembered Martinez from Nova Southeastern. But nobody claimed Martinez. The rest of baseball just waited for Houston to release Martinez.

"I knew Al liked him," Luhnow said. "I knew of the connection between J.D. and Alex. I figured [Martinez] would end up in Detroit. And he did."

Luhnow paused and said, "Listen, there's always one that gets away. Every time I see J.D. now, I give him a hug and tell him how proud I am of him. It's sports, is all it is. In a lot of ways, it's part of the beauty of sports. Believe me, I never thought in 2012 when Dallas Keuchel was 3-8 that in three years he'd be winning the Cy Young Award."

Video: J.D. Martinez named AL Player of the Week

By last year, Martinez was hitting 45 home runs in 119 games with the Tigers and Diamondbacks, one of the most amazing home run seasons, considering he only played 75 percent of his teams' games, in history. This year, he has meant more to the Red Sox so far, way more, than Giancarlo Stanton has meant to the New York Yankees. Martinez has brought the kind of danger to the middle of the Red Sox's batting order that David Ortiz once brought. Of all the star players who changed teams between last season and next, no one has been more important than Martinez, who came into Wednesday's games with a .343 batting average and an 1.073 OPS, 15 home runs and 41 RBIs and 61 hits in 46 games. When they're not talking about Mookie Betts in Boston, they're talking about him.

By the way, after the Astros released Martinez in 2014 and the Tigers signed him, the two teams ended up playing a Spring Training game.

"J.D. crushed three home runs that day," Luhnow said. "The rest is history. He's been hitting them ever since." Luhnow paused once more and said, "Just not for us."

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com. He also writes for the New York Daily News.

Houston Astros, J.D. Martinez

O'Neill starts in LF with Ozuna a late scratch

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna was a late scratch from the starting lineup prior to Wednesday's I-70 Series finale against the Royals. No reason was immediately provided. Tyler O'Neill started in left field in his place.

Ozuna broke out a bit from his season-long slump this week, posting consecutive multihit games, including a three-hit effort in Tuesday night's 5-1 loss at Busch Stadium. O'Neill made his fifth straight start in the outfield on Wednesday.

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ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna was a late scratch from the starting lineup prior to Wednesday's I-70 Series finale against the Royals. No reason was immediately provided. Tyler O'Neill started in left field in his place.

Ozuna broke out a bit from his season-long slump this week, posting consecutive multihit games, including a three-hit effort in Tuesday night's 5-1 loss at Busch Stadium. O'Neill made his fifth straight start in the outfield on Wednesday.

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O'Neill entered the finale 8-for-16 with three home runs and six RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Friday.

Shortstop update
Yairo Munoz made his second straight start at shortstop on Wednesday for the Cardinals, the hole manager Mike Matheny is constantly trying to fill in light of Paul DeJong's left hand injury. Munoz had a career day with four hits on Tuesday against the Royals.

Video: KC@STL: Munoz notches 4 singles for first 4-hit game

"Like Tyler O'Neill, you get in there and you get four hits, no matter how you get them, there's a good chance you'll get an opportunity, especially when we have an opening like that," Matheny said. "We're still trying to evaluate every day."

Matheny praised Greg Garcia and Jedd Gyorko as well for filling in during DeJong's absence. Going forward, these three players will be mixing and matching into games.

"Jedd has done a pretty nice job. There's things he needs to work on, but he's a good option when they need bats," Matheny said. "Greg Garcia we saw make a couple really nice plays. We know that he can fit in there. Still trying to get a good solid look at Munoz and see what he can do."

One of the biggest difficulties for the Cardinals finding a temporary shortstop has been scheduling, Gyorko said.

"This all happened really fast. We've had a bunch of day games, so we've only been able to get a couple days' worth of grounders," Gyorko said. "Until Pauly gets back, it's going to be a work in progress."

Fowler sits again
Matheny is still trying to work out what to do with Dexter Fowler, who was 0-for-4 on Tuesday night. The slumping Fowler was out of the lineup on Wednesday for the third time in five games.

Harrison Bader started in his place.

Fowler is hitting .155 through more than a quarter of the second year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract.

Still, the Cardinals believe Fowler will bounce back.

"[Fowler]'s a fighter, man. He's going to go out there and try to do his job. Everybody goes through those stretches and the hardest part is getting out," first baseman Jose Martinez said. "We've got his back and we know he's trying every day to help the team win. He has five homers and 20 RBIs, so he's trying to help us win."

Sean Collins is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals, Paul DeJong, Dexter Fowler, Greg Garcia, Jedd Gyorko, Yairo Munoz, Tyler O'Neill, Marcell Ozuna

Our reporters did a Cy Young vote. The results ...

MLB.com @RichardJustice

When Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were teammates with the Tigers for five seasons (2010-14), they will tell you they drove one another, competed with one another, and perhaps most important, learned from one another.

Four seasons since they were together, they remain the gold standard for performing at the highest level. As they approach an age -- Verlander is 35, Scherzer 33 -- when performance sometimes begins to decline, these two are as good, if not better, than ever.

When Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were teammates with the Tigers for five seasons (2010-14), they will tell you they drove one another, competed with one another, and perhaps most important, learned from one another.

Four seasons since they were together, they remain the gold standard for performing at the highest level. As they approach an age -- Verlander is 35, Scherzer 33 -- when performance sometimes begins to decline, these two are as good, if not better, than ever.

Not surprisingly then, when we polled 32 MLB.com reporters to see where things stand in the 2018 Cy Young Award races, we were reminded of why every start by these two has become an event:

Here are the results:

National League

1. Scherzer, Nationals
Scherzer has posted the best numbers of his career and leads the NL in WHIP (0.853), K/9 (14.3) and Fielding Independent Pitching (1.81). In 10 starts, he has pitched fewer than six innings once, and the Nationals are 8-2 in those 10 starts. If Scherzer wins a fourth Cy Young Award, he would join a club in which only Roger Clemens (7), Randy Johnson (5), Greg Maddux (4) and Steve Carlton (4) are members.

2. Aaron Nola, Phillies
The 24-year-old right-hander has emerged as a true ace in his fourth season, and his name is dotted across the leaderboards with a 2.37 ERA (fifth in NL), 64 2/3 innings (third) and 1.02 WHIP (tied for eighth). Nola has added a changeup that has helped reduce walks and home runs. His strikeouts are down as well, which has helped him go at least seven innings in five of his past eight starts. Nola's 1.8 fWAR trails only Scherzer (2.8) and Jacob deGrom (2.3).

3. deGrom, Mets
Remember when deGrom got hit hard back in April? Wait, what? You don't remember the Nationals clobbering him for three earned runs in 7 1/3 innings? deGrom had allowed the Marlins four runs in his previous start. Those are the only two starts in which he has allowed more than one -- count 'em one -- earned run in his nine starts. Since that game against the Nationals, deGrom has given up one earned run in 26 1/3 innings. He leads the NL with a 2.35 xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) and is second to Scherzer with 12.1 K/9.

Also receiving votes: Patrick Corbin, D-backs; Carlos Martinez, Cardinals; Josh Hader, Brewers.

American League

1. Verlander, Astros
Verlander's 14th season might end up being his best. At least, that's the start he's off to with numbers that look like they were taken from a video game: 1.05 ERA, 0.714 WHIP, 374 ERA+, 2.18 FIP and 11.0 K/9. Verlander's 2.8 fWAR is tied with Scherzer for tops in the Majors. His preparation, work ethic and raging competitive fire have impacted those around him and set the bar for baseball's best rotation. Verlander originally was reluctant to accept a trade to the Astros last August, but the marriage has been a perfect one.

2. Gerrit Cole, Astros
Cole and Verlander are so similar in style that the offseason trade that sent Cole from the Pirates to the Astros has given them the chance to learn from and push one another. Cole's 2.7 fWAR is a tick behind Verlander and Scherzer. Only Verlander has a lower ERA in the AL than Cole's 1.86, and Cole leads the AL with 13.4 K/9 and is second with a 2.12 FIP.

3. Luis Severino, Yankees
Severino achieved the elite status the Yankees had long expected in the second half of last season when he had a 1.99 ERA in his final eight starts. He mixes two power pitches (fastball and slider) with a terrific changeup that keeps hitters off balance. Severino has a 0.97 WHIP and has allowed two home runs in 65 innings. He has seven straight starts of at least six innings and a microscopic 1.91 ERA during that span.

Also receiving votes: Chris Sale, Red Sox; Rick Porcello, Red Sox; Sean Manaea, A's.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, Max Scherzer, Luis Severino, Justin Verlander

Goldy awakens from slump, slugs 6th homer

Special to MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Paul Goldschmidt brought the D-backs even at 1-1 in the series finale, opening the second inning with his sixth homer, but the Brewers were victorious, 9-2, Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.

Goldschmidt hit .297 in 91 at-bats in April with four homers and 11 RBIs, but he was hitting just .096 in May, with seven hits in 73 at-bats and one homer and two RBIs. The D-backs were 20-8 in March and April, but 5-15 in May and have lost 12 of their past 13.

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MILWAUKEE -- Paul Goldschmidt brought the D-backs even at 1-1 in the series finale, opening the second inning with his sixth homer, but the Brewers were victorious, 9-2, Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.

Goldschmidt hit .297 in 91 at-bats in April with four homers and 11 RBIs, but he was hitting just .096 in May, with seven hits in 73 at-bats and one homer and two RBIs. The D-backs were 20-8 in March and April, but 5-15 in May and have lost 12 of their past 13.

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Goldschmidt entered with seven homers in 22 career games at Miller Park, hitting .424 with 20 RBIs.

One out after Goldschmidt launched the 2-2 pitch from Brent Suter over the wall in left, John Ryan Murphy homered to put the D-backs up 2-1.

Video: ARI@MIL: Murphy drills a solo homer to center field

Jim Hoehn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt

Nats' No. 4 prospect Fedde up to start vs. SD

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals promoted right-hander Erick Fedde to the Majors to start Wednesday's game against the Padres and designated right-hander Carlos Torres for assignment to clear room on the roster.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

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WASHINGTON -- The Nationals promoted right-hander Erick Fedde to the Majors to start Wednesday's game against the Padres and designated right-hander Carlos Torres for assignment to clear room on the roster.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

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Fedde, the club's top pitching prospect -- and the No. 4 overall prospect in the organization as rated by MLB Pipeline -- joins the team to make his first Major League start of the season. He owns a 4.35 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Syracuse with 42 strikeouts and 13 walks in 41 1/3 innings.

This will be his fourth career Major League start after he scuffled through a brief stint in the Majors a year ago. Fedde made three starts in 2017, posting a 9.39 ERA, but his velocity dipped and his command was off before the team eventually shut him down in September.

He returned to Spring Training this year healthy and has pitched much more effectively.

"His stuff is electric," manager Dave Martinez said. "He's got a two-seamer, a four-seam, good changeup and good curveball."

Martinez said the Nats are hopeful Torres will clear waivers and accept an assignment to Triple-A to remain in the organization. He appeared in 10 games for the Nats and gave up seven runs in 9 2/3 innings.

"It was tough," Martinez said of the decision with Torres. "These are the days when being a manager stinks."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Erick Fedde

There are 5 ways to throw a ceremonial 1st pitch

Ceremonial first pitches are one of the best traditions in sports. Anyone, regardless of baseball experience, can give their best effort at throwing a strike and signaling the beginning of the game. As a result, we have seen a nearly limitless variety of first tosses.

6 ways for the Angels to make the playoffs

MLB.com @williamfleitch

Boy howdy, the Angels are fun, right? They're the definitive late-night MLB.TV team, the one you turn on just to watch, even if you have no rooting interest. How can you not enjoy the Halos? They have Mike Trout, the best player of his generation, a guy who somehow has already put together a Hall of Fame career even though he's only 26 years old. They have Shohei Ohtani, the most revolutionary talent the game has seen in nearly 100 years, a guy who is somehow the guy you don't dare look away from both on the mound and at the plate. They have Andrelton Simmons, maybe the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith who has improved his hitting to the point that he's one of the best 10 players in the sport. And they have Albert Pujols, one of baseball's greatest players of the past 50 years on the downside of his career, compiling milestones and keeping the unceasing respect of everyone who's ever played with or against him.

How do you not have a blast with that team? That team is a nightly advertisement for baseball. That's a team you never forget. Shoot, even the weather's always perfect out there.

Boy howdy, the Angels are fun, right? They're the definitive late-night MLB.TV team, the one you turn on just to watch, even if you have no rooting interest. How can you not enjoy the Halos? They have Mike Trout, the best player of his generation, a guy who somehow has already put together a Hall of Fame career even though he's only 26 years old. They have Shohei Ohtani, the most revolutionary talent the game has seen in nearly 100 years, a guy who is somehow the guy you don't dare look away from both on the mound and at the plate. They have Andrelton Simmons, maybe the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith who has improved his hitting to the point that he's one of the best 10 players in the sport. And they have Albert Pujols, one of baseball's greatest players of the past 50 years on the downside of his career, compiling milestones and keeping the unceasing respect of everyone who's ever played with or against him.

How do you not have a blast with that team? That team is a nightly advertisement for baseball. That's a team you never forget. Shoot, even the weather's always perfect out there.

Except for one little tiny detail. When you look at the current American League standings, you see the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Indians and the Astros all set for the playoffs, the four teams you expect to see. But that fifth team, that one supposedly earmarked for the thrilling, giddily watchable Angels ... it's not the Angels. It's the Mariners, the same Mariners who just lost Robinson Cano for 80 games, who are missing Dee Gordon and Nelson Cruz, who might have lost Mitch Haniger for a while after a pitch hit his left wrist Wednesday night ... the Mariners are in the Halos' rightful spot. And it's not just them: The A's, of all teams, are only one game behind them. The glorious, spectacular, can't-miss Angels are one game out of fourth place.

The Angels have generated so much excitement that we've barely noticed they're not, as of this second, an actual playoff team. This should be a little concerning because, all told, everything has sort of gone right for the Halos so far. They've had no major injuries. The Ohtani experiment has been a smashing success. Their six-man rotation  is somehow still intact. Justin Upton is smashing homers. Trout is somehow better than he has ever been. It has been a dream.

And yet ... they're still not a playoff team. Considering how much the Angels have invested in this season, that has to be alarming, because their luck can only get worse from here. Almost a third of the way through the season, let's take a look at why the Halos are still outside the playoffs, and what they might do to get back there. Because remember: Mike Trout is still looking for his first postseason win ... and he has only two years left in Anaheim after this one.

1. The offense is as boom and bust as ever.
Trout is amazing. Simmons has made huge steps forward. Upton is entirely all you could hope for. But, as has been the case pretty much every year of Trout's career, he has little to no help elsewhere. Ian Kinsler hasn't been near the boost the Angels were hoping for; he's 36 and is starting to look cooked. Zack Cozart is down near 100 points in OBP from his 2017 All-Star season. Kole Calhoun has completely fallen off a cliff; he's hitting .160 with one homer in 152 at-bats. Albert Pujols is ... well, Pujols has put together a Hall of Fame career. And for all the Ohtani love, his inherent limitations, the fact that he can only play three times a week, leaves the lineup gasping for runs anytime he's not in it. Every year you've looked at the Halos and thought, "man, Trout needs more help." This year is no different.

How to fix: Calhoun can't possibly be this bad all year, but if Kinsler and Cozart -- the two guys supposed to bring the outside help -- can't get it going, there might not be much left in the Minors to trade for a bat. Unless they want to push Ohtani into the lineup more often. Also ... maybe Jefry Marte should be in the lineup a bit more?

2. The rotation is ... fine.
Honestly, the biggest worry you had about the Angels this year was whether their rickety rotation could stay intact, but so far so good. Garrett Richards is healthy and effective, Tyler Skaggs has been excellent and even 21-year-old Jaime Barria has been solid when they've needed that sixth starter. And Ohtani has been Ohtani, albeit only once a week. But this is probably the absolute peak of this rotation, right? Ohtani gems every Sunday and everybody else just trying to stay healthy and slightly above average. That's enough if you've got a powerhouse offense, but the Halos don't have that either. The worry here is that you've gotten the most out of your rotation that you could possibly expect and you're still behind the Mariners (and way behind the Astros). Because the odds are the second two-thirds of this season are going to be a lot harder on the rotation than the first third was.

Video: TB@LAA: Skaggs strikes out Cron in the 1st

How to fix: It seems strange to say that a team with six starters probably needs to get one more, with a higher upside ... but it probably does. Of course, every team in baseball wants that, and have a lot more to trade than the Angels do.

3. The bullpen is YIKES.
The Angels didn't do much with their bullpen this offseason, mainly because they were so busy everywhere else. But the seams have certain shown so far, with the team blowing leads in every direction and losing closers seemingly every week. Keynan Middleton seemed to finally lock down the job until Tommy John surgery knocked him out for the year. Jim Johnson looks old; Cam Bedrosian looks like he's never going to become the guy we all thought; everybody else looks hurt. The Halos' bullpen has taken all the injury hits the rotation has avoided. There's hope in flamethrowing Justin Anderson, as well Noe Ramirez and Blake Parker, but this thing is springing leaks everywhere.

How to fix: Increasing Anderson's role seems prudent, and Mike Scioscia may have to do it even if he doesn't want to. But the Angels need quantity relievers at this point. They need to buy in bulk.

4. The Mariners are currently hot.
A week ago, after Cano's suspension, you were panicked about the Mariners. Now they've won four in a row and, hey, are only two games behind the Astros all of a sudden. Seattle doesn't look sustainable, all told, and not just because of all the injuries and suspensions. The club's run differential looks like one of a .500 team, and its rotation is James Paxton and a bunch of spit and gristle. It is worth noting that if the Mariners had lost four in a row rather than winning four in a row, this column might not exist.

How to fix: Just wait.

5. Ohtani can't play every day.
This is the thing about the usage of Ohtani, right?  The Angels might use him perfectly but they still have to give him multiple days off a week. That's smart and prudent and ideal and ... still not quite enough for the Halos. What is perfect for Ohtani, frankly, is not necessarily what's perfect for the Angels. You've got one of the most otherwordly talents in baseball sitting on your bench three days a week. When every game counts, and your team doesn't have much margin for error anyway ... it adds up. Even if it is the right thing to do.

Video: TB@LAA: Ohtani strikes out 9 to collect his 4th win

How to fix: When do the Angels get antsy and start to push Ohtani a bit? If they're still out of the playoffs in August? September? When does discipline give way to desperation?

6. Trout occasionally makes outs.
It's hard to believe it, but he does. How to fix: Trout needs to stop making outs.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels

Davies to give Brewers' rotation a boost

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Four days after the Brewers reinstated Opening Day starter Chase Anderson from the 10-day disabled list, it's Zach Davies' turn.

Davies will return from a right shoulder injury for his first start since April 29 when the Brewers open a four-game series against the Mets on Thursday at Miller Park. It was a longer absence than expected; Davies originally hoped to be back after the minimum 10 days, but persisting irritation in his rotator cuff required more patience.

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MILWAUKEE -- Four days after the Brewers reinstated Opening Day starter Chase Anderson from the 10-day disabled list, it's Zach Davies' turn.

Davies will return from a right shoulder injury for his first start since April 29 when the Brewers open a four-game series against the Mets on Thursday at Miller Park. It was a longer absence than expected; Davies originally hoped to be back after the minimum 10 days, but persisting irritation in his rotator cuff required more patience.

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"It's nice, No. 1, for everyone to start getting healthy," said Davies. "But also for us to be playing so well in the absence [of injured players]. It's nice that you can come back and there's not as much pressure. It's not, 'OK, now that we're healthy, we have to really start going.' You can just step in and continue."

The Brewers were 14-6 since Davies' last start entering Wednesday's series finale against the D-backs.

Davies developed discomfort in his shoulder during the final inning of his last start against the Cubs. It was described as a precautionary move at the time, but he had to cut short a bullpen session one week later and opted for a more cautious approach to avoid the sort of setback he endured in a similar scenario during his time in Baltimore's Minor League system.

Video: MIL@CHC: Davies retires Chatwood, leaves bases loaded

In a Minor League rehabilitation start on Saturday for Class A Wisconsin, Davies threw 56 pitches and struck out nine batters in 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He experienced no issues with his shoulder.

"I'm glad the way we did it," Davies said. "You don't want to push it, and then not only push my DL time longer, but hurt the team by taking a roster spot or taking a start and maybe coming out early. It was good the team had some continuity [during his time off].

"Everything feels great now. Strength is there, range is there. Probably the first go-around will be a little bit shorter, since I only threw 56 pitches. If they need me longer, I'm ready to go."

Last call
• Center fielder Lorenzo Cain was out of Wednesday's lineup after a physical game on Tuesday night included a minor collision with the outfield wall on Jake Lamb's first-inning double. But it was just a routine day off, the club said.

Ryan Braun (back) is eligible to come off the 10-day DL on Thursday, but it was not clear to Braun or club officials Wednesday morning whether he would be ready.

• Minor League infielder Jake Gatewood, Milwaukee's No. 18 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, tallied four hits at Double-A Biloxi on Tuesday night, and he was hitting .324 (24-for-74) with 10 runs, eight doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs in his first 20 games in May. Compare that to a .167 (14-for-84) average in 23 games in April.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook

Milwaukee Brewers, Zach Davies

Pineda throws off mound for first time post-TJ

Reliever on track for late-season return; Sano, May could be back within week
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Michael Pineda took a big step in his recovery from Tommy John surgery last July, as he threw off a mound for the first time on Wednesday at Target Field.

Pineda had been throwing long toss in recent weeks leading up to his first bullpen session of roughly 15 pitches. He'll continue to throw two bullpen sessions a week before he progresses to live batting practice and a rehab assignment. He's aiming for a return late in the season.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Michael Pineda took a big step in his recovery from Tommy John surgery last July, as he threw off a mound for the first time on Wednesday at Target Field.

Pineda had been throwing long toss in recent weeks leading up to his first bullpen session of roughly 15 pitches. He'll continue to throw two bullpen sessions a week before he progresses to live batting practice and a rehab assignment. He's aiming for a return late in the season.

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"It went pretty good," Pineda said. "I was feeling good and I threw strikes. So that was pretty good. I'm excited. It's one thing at a time. Now, I'll continue the process. The plan is to stay here and continue my rehab."

Pineda, 29, signed to a two-year, $10 million deal this offseason, with the Twins betting on his upside in 2019 and hoping to get contributions from him down the stretch this year. Minnesota still hasn't decided if he'll return as a starter or a reliever this year, but he's expected to get stretched out to start just in case.

Pineda had a 4.39 ERA with 92 strikeouts and 21 walks in 96 1/3 innings with the Yankees in 2017 before suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament. He has a career 4.05 ERA with 687 strikeouts and 157 walks in 680 innings with the Mariners and Yankees.

Injury updates
• Third baseman Miguel Sano, on the 10-day disabled list since May 1 with a left hamstring strain, went 3-for-4 with a homer in his fourth rehab game with Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday night while playing seven innings at third base. He's slated to play first base on Wednesday and is on track to rejoin the Twins on Friday in Seattle.

"He did good," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "His leg was great. He did well at the plate. He didn't get a lot of opportunities defensively."

• Right-hander Trevor May, coming off Tommy John surgery in March 2017, made his third rehab start and his second with Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks over four innings. He was hurt by a homer from former Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe, but the Twins were encouraged by his velocity. He's eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list on Monday.

"Didn't get through five innings just because of long innings," Molitor said. "But his pitch count was fairly close to where we wanted to get it. Pitched rather effectively. Velocity was sustained a little bit better than his previous outing. Trevor Plouffe got him for a homer. But I think that we're all pleased. It was a good step for him as far as extending himself, velocity returning, usage of all his pitches and he threw strikes for the most part."

• First baseman Joe Mauer, who is on the DL with a cervical neck strain and concussion-like symptoms, has gotten through light workouts at Target Field without any issues. He spent Saturday and Sunday away from the ballpark, but has been working out at Target Field since Monday.

"He did a little light workout on the bike and some other things in the weight room," Molitor said. "Minimal but increasing, and he's handling everything he's done so far."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Michael Pineda

Hicks to move to catcher upon Miggy's return

Gardenhire: Despite hot bat, best fit for Tigers slugger is at backup behind plate
MLB.com @beckjason

MINNEAPOLIS -- John Hicks has gone from backup catcher to middle-of-the-order run producer for the Tigers while filling in for injured Miguel Cabrera at first base. So manager Ron Gardenhire has been anticipating the question of what will happen with Hicks once Cabrera returns.

"I was waiting for that question," Gardenhire said.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- John Hicks has gone from backup catcher to middle-of-the-order run producer for the Tigers while filling in for injured Miguel Cabrera at first base. So manager Ron Gardenhire has been anticipating the question of what will happen with Hicks once Cabrera returns.

"I was waiting for that question," Gardenhire said.

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That doesn't mean he had an ideal answer for it.

"I don't like to start thinking about it," Gardenhire said, "because there's no easy solution or answer. We're not going to put him in center field. It's going to go back to the way it was. He's going to be our backup catcher. We'll try to get him as many at-bats as we can when Miggy comes back.

"He's not going to be the first baseman; we all know that. Hicks is playing well. He's been great. But we know who our first baseman is here, so then I'm going to have to try to find at-bats for Hicksy somewhere along the road."

Video: DET@SEA: Hicks plates 2 on a double in the 1st

While the Tigers' offense has sputtered for most of the current road trip, Hicks' hitting has helped avoid what could have been a dire situation at first base when Cabrera suffered a biceps spasm, then a strained right hamstring earlier this month. Given regular at-bats for the first time in his big league career, Hicks entered Wednesday's series finale against the Twins batting .316 (24-for-76) with six doubles, three home runs, 13 RBIs and an .875 OPS in May.

Though the Tigers worked Hicks out as a corner outfielder briefly at Triple-A Toledo last season, that's no longer a consideration. With Cabrera expected to resume his everyday role at first base once he's healthy, and Victor Martinez entrenched at designated hitter, that leaves Gardenhire likely trying to find Hicks at-bats at his usual spot behind the plate, mixing in starts with James McCann.

"He's been a savior at first base for us, but ultimately he's going to go back to being the backup catcher," Gardenhire said. "We'll try to get him as many at-bats as we possibly can."

The good news for Gardenhire -- well, sort of -- is that it's not a decision he has to make right away. Though Cabrera swung away and looked good in early batting practice Tuesday, hitting home runs into the left- and right-field seats at Target Field, he has yet to test his hamstring running bases or fielding grounders at first base. The Tigers aren't going to bring him back from the 10-day DL until he shows he can do that comfortably without risking a re-injury that could cost him more time.

Quick hits
Matthew Boyd, who left his start Tuesday night in the fifth inning with a left oblique strain, said he felt better Wednesday morning and was able to do his usual day-after-start routine. He's expected to make his next turn in the rotation early next week against the Angels at Comerica Park.

Video: DET@MIN: Boyd taken out in 5th with injury

• Don't expect Gardenhire to try out the Rays' experiment of using a right-handed reliever in the first inning against the righty-hitting top of the Angels' order next week.

"I'm not trying to go there and get in-depth with something like that," Gardenhire said. "I don't know enough about it to say why they're doing it. There has to be a rhyme or reason."

• In case you were wondering from Gardenhire's postgame news conference Monday, he really does use "Stronger" from Kelly Clarkson as his ringtone. And no, it's not just for calls from general manager Al Avila.

"There are good words in that song," Gardenhire said, "and that's the truth."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera, John Hicks