A Quick Guide To: #SpringTraining

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Spring Questions For All 30 Teams:

Will the Cubs live up to the rampant World Series expectations? Are the D-backs for real? Can David Price make his contract worth it? Are the Royals a dynasty in the making? Do the Blue Jays, Astros and Mets have staying power?

Spring Training preview materials will be loaded with these questions and more, but the obvious truth is that Spring Training itself can’t answer those questions. So the goal in this particular preview, mere days away from pitchers and catchers report dates, is to pose an actual, spring-specific question each Major League club is facing on the cusp of camp.

I’m dedicating this column to the memory of my friend and teammate Tom Singer, who suddenly passed away earlier this week. Tom was one of the more inquisitive and creative minds in the business, and I know he was looking forward to showing up at Spring Training camps and asking unique questions of his own.

Here we go….

NL East

Mets: How carefully should the young starters be eased into the season?

For the Mets, it will be a delicate balance between overworking and underworking Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard after they all saw significant innings increases due to the postseason run. Syndergaard jumped 65 2/3 innings from his 2014 total in the Minors, while deGrom and Harvey jumped 37 2/3 apiece. Because of injury, Steven Matz (15 2/3) didn’t see quite as big an increase, though he, like Syndergaard, is entering his first full Major League season, an adjustment in and of itself. These guys need to be properly prepared for the every-five-day grind, but they should also probably see a less rigorous spring workload than the typical big league starter.

Nationals: Is Trea Turner ready for the big leagues?

The Grapefruit League will be a great test of the Nats’ new-look infield. Anthony Rendon is moving back to his natural position at third base — a fine move in isolation (he grades out better defensively there than at second base). But some scouts believe Daniel Murphy would be far better suited at third than at second base and that Rendon is the better defensive option at second. And then, of course, there’s the big question at short, where the Nats’ options come down to a utility guy (Danny Espinosa) who has spent far more of his career at second, a light-hitting free-agent signee (Stephen Drew) and the top prospect (Turner), who has only played 212 games in what has already been a whirlwind pro career (including 27 with the Nats down the stretch in 2015). Lots of questions in this infield.

Marlins: Can Barry Bonds help Marcell Ozuna’s swing?

New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Bonds pleaded with the front office to keep Ozuna despite the rampant trade rumblings and the disconnect between player and organization last season. Ozuna was one of eight players identified as above-average in each of the five-tool categories by Statcast™, so the potential is off the charts. But his decline in production last season — leading to a controversial stay in Triple-A — was as swift as it was stunning, and spring is an important time for Ozuna and Bonds to develop a positive working relationship.

Braves: Will Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn open any eyes with their spring at-bats?

It’s no secret the Braves would love to move one or both of these guys. So they are destined to receive a steady dose of Grapefruit League at-bats as the Braves try to garner enough interest for a salary dump swap. With Freddie Freeman working his way back from a wrist injury, perhaps Swisher will see some time at first base.

Phillies: Is Tyler Goeddel the next Odubel Herrera?

Last year, Herrera arrived as a Rule 5 Draft pickup and wound up leading the Phillies in WAR (and yes, that says as much about the Phils as it does Herrera). Now, Goeddel is the marquee Rule 5 Draft addition (the first overall pick). That he’ll make the big league club is a foregone conclusion, because the Phillies have nothing to lose by keeping him. The question is how much the athletic but unpolished Goeddel will separate himself from Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche in the battle for playing time in Pete Mackanin’s lineup.

AL East

Blue Jays: Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion agree to extensions?

In the lead-up to Opening Day, the new-look front office will have to weigh the attraction of satiating the fan base and ensuring stability in the long-term lineup against the obvious risks that come with power hitters in their mid-to-late-30s. These discussions will take place when all parties arrive in Dunedin, Fla., later this month.

Yankees: CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova?

The last rotation spot is the lone source of genuine positional intrigue in Yankees camp. (That said, Starlin Castro’s continued immersion at second base and first-ever trial at third base, where the Yanks might need him as a Chase Headley backup, is interesting). Sabathia is the former Cy Young Award winner coming off a homer-prone year that ended in alcohol rehab. Nova is the Tommy John alum the Yanks tried to trade. General manager Brian Cashman has said Sabathia’s $25 million salary wouldn’t preclude the Yanks from sticking CC in the bullpen if somebody else (Nova is the obvious candidate, though Bryan Mitchell is another) wins the job outright.

Orioles: What’s the outlook for the outfield?

They’re reportedly making progress with Yovani Gallardo to fill a big hole in the rotation, so let’s focus on the outfield here. Big-bodied Hyun-soo Kim, fresh off signing a two-year contract with the O’s, will arrive from South Korea and try to prove he has the range and athleticism to handle the everyday left-field assignment. Adam Jones was tasked with covering a ton of outfield ground last year, and his performance tailed off in the last two months of the season. At the moment, right field likely belongs to Nolan Reimold, though an O’s team familiar with in-spring splashes could still sign somebody to support or replace him.

Rays: Will James Loney, Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer be moved?

It’s a question that presumes a healthy camp, of course, but it would solve a logjam. Dealing Loney would allow Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to share first, Corey Dickerson to spend the bulk of his time at DH and Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. to provide dependable defense in the outfield, with Guyer as a bench option vs. lefties. Or the Rays could move Jennings or Guyer and open up more at-bats for Pearce and Morrison. Whatever the case, one presumes the Rays would be seeking relief help in any deal involving their position player depth.

Red Sox: Can Hanley Ramirez handle first base?

The Red Sox don’t have any position battles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have position issues. Hanley’s position switch last year — from shortstop to left field — wasn’t subjected to any truly challenging plays during the spring schedule, but obviously the ball is going to find him at first. Because they’re paying Ramirez a ton of money, the Red Sox have no choice but to hope this works — and the same goes for Pablo Sandoval at third. The Panda’s physical condition will, naturally, be a spring storyline all its own.

NL Central

Cardinals: What is Yadier Molina’s timetable?

Molina will spend camp’s early days not swinging the bat or catching bullpen sessions, but building strength back up in his left thumb after having a second surgery this winter. Because there’s no telling how long that process will take and how much it will affect his season preparation, it’s hard to know if Molina will be ready by Opening Day. To say getting him back in a timely matter is important for the Cards is, of course, an understatement.

Pirates: How well is Jung Ho Kang progressing?

Because of the division’s demands, the decisions to deal Neil Walker and non-tender Pedro Alvarez, and the lack of additions of bankable depth options, the Pirates can ill-afford any medical setbacks for Kang, who suffered a fractured tibial plateau and torn lateral meniscus on an ugly takeout slide by Chris Coghlan last September. The move to third base (with Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison replacing Walker at second) will limit Kang’s lateral movement when he returns. As of now, the Pirates are expecting him back in April, with Sean Rodriguez (last seen assaulting a water cooler) filling in and Minor League free agent Cole Figueroa competing for a bench job.

Cubs: Can Kyle Schwarber improve in left field?

As much as we love this Cubs lineup, there’s no denying there are defensive concerns in the outfield, where Jorge Soler had some surprising struggles in ’15, Jason Heyward is moving from right to center and, most importantly, Schwarber was a mess during the NLCS. Schwarber has been working on his first step and flexibility this winter, and that work will be put to the test in Arizona. But his efforts in left coincide with his work behind the plate, where he still hopes to remain an option long-term. Combine all of this with Schwarber’s bid for more at-bats against left-handed pitching, and the kid’s got a lot on his plate.

Brewers: How’s Ryan Braun feeling?

Not that the Brewers are making an earnest effort to contend in 2016, but Braun could stillpotentially play himself into a viable trade chip (provided the Brew Crew is willing to eat some cash, of course) if he’s healthy and producing the way he did for much of ’15. Braun had surgery for a herniated disc in the offseason, but he won’t have a clear idea of how well his back is responding until the regular swings that come in the Cactus League.

Reds: Will a market develop for Jay Bruce?

He only remains in Cincinnati as a function of the unusually deep and late-developing free-agent outfield market this winter, because the Reds, now in full-on rebuild mode, were motivated to move him. Most likely, Bruce will start the season with the Reds and try to piece together enough of a bounce-back campaign to become July trade bait. But all it takes is one spring injury elsewhere to suddenly make the idea of dealing for Bruce more palatable for a contending club. The Reds also have to hope Zack Cozart’s grisly knee injury last year hasn’t affected his defense at short, because he, too, could play himself into trade-chip status.

AL Central

Royals: Can Christian Colon steal playing time from Omar Infante?

In the third year of a four-year deal, Infante will make $7.75 million, and there was a time when that fact alone would settle him into a starting spot for this small-market club. But you might have noticed things are a little different in the realm of the Royals these days, and they’re calling this a legitimate position battle between Infante and Colon, who drove in the winning run in the World Series Game 5 clincher. (Top prospect Raul A. Mondesi will also get consideration but is far more likely to start the season in the Minors). Sure, the Royals are paying Infante a good amount of money, but, hey, they took Colon ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft! One way or another, they’ll look for better returns on both of these investments.

Twins: Will Miguel Sano stick in right?

Byung Ho Park’s transition to the bigs is also a major matter in Minnesota, but Sano’s defensive work — directly related to Park’s arrival — will be a more pressing spring concern. Torii Hunter will be in camp as a special assistant to work with the 6-foot-4 Sano in the outfield, and the Twins’ lineup alignment demands that this experiment be successful. Sano was tasked with dropping 20 pounds this winter. Citing a desire to maintain his power, he dropped just five. He’s agile for his size, but this is undoubtedly a big test for him.

Indians: Will Michael Brantley continue his rapid recovery?

He’s the key to the whole darn thing for an Indians team projected by FanGraphs to have the best record in the division despite a less-than-dynamic winter. Brantley didn’t have surgery on his lead shoulder until early November, which means you can count him out for Opening Day and likely all or most of April. But because his recovery has progressed so well so far, Brantley must avoid the temptation to do too much too soon, lest he suffer a setback that crushes a Tribe club already prone toward slow starts.

White Sox: What’s up at short?

Tyler Saladino played terrific defense at third base for the Sox down the stretch last season, but his 68 OPS+ detracted from his value. So it’s an open question whether he’s ready for prime time at a prime spot, and he could be pushed in camp by top prospect Tim Anderson. The other, still-lingering question here is whether the Sox will wind up too tempted by Ian Desmond’s reduced price tag to pass him up. With a protected top-10 Draft pick, the White Sox are better positioned to sign Desmond than many others in the market.

Tigers: Can Bruce Rondon work his way into the bullpen plans?

Well, obviously we’ll be playing close attention to the statuses of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But they’ve both had a healthy offseason, so, at this point, there’s little reason to doubt they’ll be in the Opening Day lineup and, hopefully, ready to produce. But Rondon’s dismissal from the club due to a lack of effort makes him an interesting figure in camp. The Tigers’ bullpen has a new closer in Francisco Rodriguez and better balance overall, but there’s always room for a motivated flamethrower. We’ll soon learn for sure if Rondon is committed to winning the respect of his teammates.

NL West

Dodgers: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be ready by Opening Day?

And if so, what does that mean for fellow lefty Alex Wood? The Dodgers have assembled rotation depth to allow Ryu to ease into action, rather than rush back from labrum surgery. So the most likely outcome is that he starts the season in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment. But the Dodgers could also be tempted to take advantage of Wood’s ability to be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Giants: How is Joe Panik’s back?

He’s 25 years old and coming off an All-Star season. But that season was cut short by back woes. Doctors have not discovered any structural damage, so Panik did not have surgery. But only time and performance will dictate whether this will be a persistent problem for a club all too familiar with back issues involving their second basemen (see: Sanchez, Freddy and Scutaro, Marco).

D-backs: Can Yasmany Tomas acquit himself in the outfield?

In their bold bid to take a major competitive step forward, there’s no denying the D-backs sacrificed defense by involving Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller swap. The question is how much. Tomas enters the year as an everyday corner outfielder (Arizona is still unsure whether he’ll remain in right or swap spots with left fielder David Peralta) after proving he can’t handle the hot corner. Tomas has indicated he’s more comfortable in right field, though the D-backs might prefer to have the better defender there and use this spring to get Tomas acclimated to left. And oh by the way, Tomas, who had a .707 OPS last season, needs to hit, too.

Padres: Can Andrew Cashner limit walks and neutralize lefties?

Yeah, yeah, the spring results don’t matter. But scouts are in the stands for a reason. Cashner is a guy with ace-quality potential when he’s right — and that’s a big deal for a Padres team either hoping to surprise some people in the NL West or use Cashner as a valuable trade piece midseason (or even sooner). Last year, Cashner’s effectiveness against left-handed hitters spiraled (.383 wOBA vs. a .294 mark a year earlier), and his overall walk rate jumped to 8.2 percent.

Rockies: What will Jose Reyes’ punishment be?

In invoking punishments under the sports’ domestic violence policy for the first time, Commissioner Rob Manfred has big decisions to make with Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But Reyes is the only member of that group who is facing a criminal procedure. He has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse charges, and his trial is slated to begin April 4 (Opening Day, of course). Manfred can make his decision independent of those proceedings, and there’s no telling how stiff the penalty will be. Reyes is the Rockies’ highest-paid player and a guy they hoped would rebuild his offensive value (and, ergo, his trade value) at Coors Field. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when or if he’ll be on the field in 2016.

AL West

Rangers: Can Jurickson Profar get back in baseball shape?

We’ll venture away from the obvious intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s timetable, because, by all accounts, he’s still on track for a May return. Profar provides intrigue of his own. This is a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the game, but hasn’t played a single inning in the field the last two years because of shoulder issues that eventually required surgery. Profar’s bat action as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League caught the attention of scouts, and several teams contacted the Rangers in an attempt to buy low on the middle infielder. The Rangers wisely held onto him, and they’ll ease him back into action in the field this spring. His odds of making the big league club are slim to none, barring injury to somebody else. But the Rangers are about to see if Profar can emerge as an important depth piece in their bid to win the AL West again.

Astros: Will Evan Gattis be ready for Opening Day?

It was revealed this week that Gattis required surgery for a sports hernia, sidelining him for four to six weeks. That’s going to hurt his ability to get his timing back before the end of Grapefruit League play, so the Astros will dole out more playing time to Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Preston Tucker. While the Astros, in letting Chris Carter walk, might generally be trying to get away from the all-or-nothing approach that was one of their calling cards in ’15, Gattis is still clearly a key cog in this offense. He was also hopeful of increasing his value to the team beyond his DH duties, losing weight and doing catching drills in the offseason.

Angels: What’s Albert Pujols’ timetable?

The Angels are getting crushed in many corners for not doing more to improve their production potential around Mike Trout, opting instead for a more contact-heavy approach. Maybe the Halos have it right, but there’s little denying that their lineup look demands healthy and productivity from Pujols, who is working his way back from November surgery on the plantar plate of his right foot. Pujols is already hitting off a tee but is not expected to resume full baseball activities until March, putting Opening Day in jeopardy. Pujols rushed back to action too quickly in 2013, to the point that it affected his performance, and the Angels don’t want that to happen again.

Mariners: Can James Paxton win a rotation spot?

Technically, it’s Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns and Paxton for two spots, though you’d have to imagine the 29 starts and the progress Walker made as ’15 evolved give him the inside edge on one of those. Karns was Dipoto’s first addition in a busy offseason, but Paxton is the guy who was long lauded as one of the M’s prominent prospects. Injury issues have limited Paxton to 30 career starts over parts of three Major League seasons, but the left-hander has dropped some pounds and will come to camp intent on proving he’s ready to turn his potential into production. Other guys potentially in the mix for that last spot are Mike Montgomery, Joe Wieland and Vidal Nuno. Paxton seemingly has the most upside of those options, but he’s got to earn it.

Athletics: What is the rotation beyond Sonny Gray?

Oakland has probably one of the most — if not the most — unsettled rotation situations in the big leagues. The A’s signed Rich Hill with the intent of inserting him into the rotation, though he hasn’t been a regular starter at this level since 2009. After Gray and Hill, it’s a wide-open competition involving Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and possibly even Jarrod Parker (who is attempting to come back from two elbow surgeries) and Sean Manaea (a promising trade acquisition who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but who manager Bob Melvin has called a “wild card” in the rotation battle). Should be fun to watch this evolve.

Source: A Spring Training question for all 30 MLB teams.

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training:

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Rejoice! Spring training is almost upon us, bringing to an end what has been a hectic offseason, one that saw a slew of starting pitchers change uniforms, whether via free agency or trade. Keeping up with what your favorite team’s rotation looks like, much less the competition’s, has been challenging at times.

Read: Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training

“I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4” – OR – “Pair up in threes” – #RIPYogi

It’s Deja-Vu all over again…

It is inevitable.  The older I get, the more heaven seems to load up on talent – it’s a helluva team up there.  Yogi, went from Northern Italy, to St.Louis, to New York, to one of the best catchers of all time.  For my money, it is him and Roy Campanella for the title, to quote Casey Stengel: “you can look it up.”  Need more proof – how many baseball players have a cartoon character named after them?

With that said, Yogi Berra passed at the age of 90, Tuesday evening. Yogi died 69 years to the day after he had made his major-league debut, on Sept. 22, 1946; against the Philadelphia Athletics, Yogi went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in a 4-3 Yankees win. Yogi won 10 World Series titles as a player.  That is an all-time record, and one more than the great Joe DiMaggio.Logo_alt#2

Berra’s record of 75 World Series games played may never be threatened, much less actually broken. Consider Derek Jeter, who played 20 years for maybe the best team of his era, wound up playing 38 World Series games, barely half of Berra’s total. The only active players who have appeared in more than 15 World Series games are Yadier Molina (21), Matt Holliday (16), Buster Posey (16) and Albert Pujols (16). Furthermore, if the 28-year-old Posey (the only one of them not yet 30 years old) plays in the next eight World Series (through 2022), and all of them extend to seven games, he would still be three games shy of Berra’s record.

Not everyone makes the Hall of Fame, fewer still become icons – Lawrence Peter Berra’s legacy transcends baseball.  He was one of the greatest players, for one of the greatest teams, in all of sports, and for the lucky ones who knew him, they say he was a better person.  Beyond his success on the field, was the quality of the man.  So, when you come to the fork in the road, take it, because if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.


In memoriam – more Baseball

Here is last night’s #DraftKings Perfect Lineup – 9-22-15…maybe I should have took the other side of the Mets v. Braves game for the #sleeper pick.

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Baseball’s first 20-game winner

Jake Arrieta became baseball’s first 20-game winner and he did it with style, tossing a three-hit, complete-game shutout and striking out 11 in the Cubs’ 4-0 victory over the Brewers. He became the first major-leaguer whose 20th victory of a season was a shutout with double-digit strikeouts since 1993, when Jack McDowell’s 20th win met those parameters.

Arrieta became the first Cubs pitcher to become the majors’ first 20-game winner in a season, with all the victories coming for the Cubs, since Larry Jackson did that back in 1964. (In 1984, Rick Sutcliffnulle was the first big-leaguer to reach 20 wins, and he won his 20th while pitching for the Cubs; but Sut had won his first four games that season while pitching for the Indians.)

Arrieta lowered his season ERA to 1.88, second-lowest in the majors to Zack Greinke’s 1.65. But Arrieta is putting some pressure on the Dodgers’ right-hander: in each of Arrieta’s last five starts, he has thrown at least eight innings and has allowed no more than one run. The last major-league pitcher who strung together five straight games like that was Roger Clemens in 1997; the last to do so this late in a season was Orel Hershiser in 1988, when he tossed five straight shutouts and then a 10-inning scoreless outing in his last six starts of the season, fashioning the major-league -record 59-inning scoreless streak that Greinke had challenged earlier this season.

It’s a Bird in Toronto

Greg Bird’s line-drive three-run homer in the 10th inning cut through the tension at Rogers Centre and lifted the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays. It was the 10th home run of the season for the Yankees rookie, who replaced the injured Mark Teixeira down the stretch. Bird became the first Yankees rookie to hit an extra-inning home run in a road victory since July 14, 1962, when Tom Tresh belted a two-run homer in the 10th inning off Angels rookie (and future Cy Young Award winner) Dean Chance in New York’s 9-8 win at nullDodger Stadium. (The Angels were the Dodgers tenants for four years in the early 1960s.) Tresh filled in for Tony Kubek that year when Kubek, the Yankees regular shortstop, spent most of the season in military service.

Bird has now hit eight home runs in September, tying Chris Davis for the highest total by any American League player this month. Bryce Harper leads the majors with 10, while Nolan Arenadoand Yoenis Cespedes have smashed nine.

Edwin Encarnacion homered in the bottom of the tenth, his 35th of the season, joining teammates Josh Donaldson (39) and Jose Bautista (36) at that level. Prior to this season, the last big-league team that featured three players with at least 35 home runs was the 2006 White Sox, with Jermaine Dye (44), Jim Thome (42) and Paul Konerko (35). The lone previous season in which a Toronto trio achieved that feat came in 1998; the three players were Jose Canseco(46), Carlos Delgado (38), and Shawn Green (35).

Crazy-ness in Detroit

Fans leaving Comerica Park on Tuesday night must have been thinking of that old adage: there’s a chance at the ballpark you’ll see something that you may not have seen before. Here’s the recap of the Tigers-White Sox game:

Detroit starter Daniel Norris, in his second game since returning from a recent injury, was removed from the game after he retired Chicago’s first 15 batters of the game. His was the first perfect-through-five start by a Tigers rookie since Armando Galarraga did it – no, not in his 8.2-perfect-innings effort against Cleveland in 2010 – but in 2008 against the Royals. The last major-leaguer to be taken out after at least five innings with a potential perfect game still intact was Houston’s Bob Knepper in the final game of the 1986 season, as the Astros readied their starters for that year’s postseason.single logo_small

After four relievers extended the potential no-hitter through one out in the ninth inning, Tyler Saladino ruined the bid with a triple. He became only the second major-leaguer in the last 20 years to spoil a potential no-hitter with a ninth-inning (or extra-inning) triple, the other being Baltimore’s Jerry Hairston, Jr., against the Rangers in 2002. The odd thing: Hairston’s blow leading off the ninth also ruined a potential combination no-hitter in a game in which Texas starter Aaron Myette was ejected after throwing two pitches, Todd Van Poppel pitched two innings, and then Joaquin Benoit threw no-hit ball until Hairston’s triple.

The Tigers won, 2-1, in the 10th inning, on a walkoff triple by Rajai Davis, the second walkoff triple in the majors this season (Pittsburgh’s Pedro Florimon had the other on August 18). The last Tigers player with a walkoff triple was Ramon Santiago in 2011, but prior to him you have to go back to Mickey Stanley in 1968.

Mike and Albert

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, in a gripping 4-3 victory in Houston. The home runs were the 40th of the season for Trout and the 36th for Pujols – it was the first time that baseball had seen back-to-back homers by a pair of players, each of whom had already belted 35 homers that season, since 2006 – when Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome of the White Sox did it.

Jimenez with the bat

Ubaldo Jimenez lifted his September record to 3-0 (he had previously beaten both the Blue Jays and the Yankees) and added a nice little cherry with an RBI single as the Orioles shut down the Nationals, 4-1, and, coupled with the Astros’ loss, shaved a game off Houston’s Wild Card lead. Jimenez’s single produced the first run of the game, and Baltimore never relinquished the lead. He became the second American League pitcher this season to be credited with both a victory and a game-winning RBI in the same game; back on July 21, Tampa Bay rookie Nathan Karns hit a home run for the game’s only run in his victory over the nullPhillies.

Jimenez became the 25th American League pitcher in 19 years of interleague play to achieve that daily double – but the amazing thing is that of the 25 pitchers who did it, seven of them have at least one Cy Young Award on their mantles: David Cone, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana,Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and R.A. Dickey. Even more remarkably, among the other guys who did it was Jon Lester. As we all know, Lester didn’t get his first major-league hit until this season, but in a game at San Francisco in 2010, he was credited with the game-winning RBI in his victory for the Red Sox with a sacrifice fly.

The RBI was the second of the season for Jimenez, who knocked in a run in a game at Philadelphia on June 17. Since the designated-hitter rule was enacted in 1973, severely limiting their opportunities to hit, only eight other American League pitchers have driven in a run in two different games in the same season. But three of those eight others also pitched for the Orioles -Mike Mussina in 1999, Kris Benson in 2006 and Zach Britton in 2011.

Rangers perform sacrifices

Mitch Moreland hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth inning, but other than that, it was mostly a rat-a-tat-tat attack of sacrifice bunts (three), sacrifice flies (four) and heads-nullup base-running that allowed the Rangers to beat the A’s, 8-6. Sacrifice flies have been recorded as a category separate from sacrifice bunts since 1954, and over those 62 seasons, there have been only two other major-league games in which a team had at least three sacrifice bunts and at least four sacrifice flies. The Astros used that combination to help beat the Braves, 7-5, in 2009, while the Braves found that four sac flies and three sac bunts weren’t enough to win in a 12-inning contest that was won by the Padres, 11-10, in 1991.

Goldschmidt’s has 30 HRs include 7 vs. Dodgers

A. J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back home runs off two different Dodgers pitchers in the seventh inning and the Diamondbacks went on to rout the Dodgers, 8-0. Pollock’s home run chased starter Alex Wood, and Goldy’s greeted reliever Chris nullHatcher. It was the 30th boundary belt of the season for Goldschmidt, who also has 21 steals. He became the fourth player in Arizona’s 18-year major-league history to be admitted into that 30/20 club, joining Chris Young(2007), Mark Reynolds (2009) and Justin Upton (2011). It was Goldschmidt’s seventh home run against the Dodgers this season, the most by any Dodgers opponent in a season since 2004, when Barry Bonds and Vinny Castilla each hit eight and Jeromy Burnitz seven. Still some distance away from the record of 13 home runs hit against the Dodgers, then in Brooklyn, by the Milwaukee Braves’ Joe Adcock in 1956.

Iwakuma brings it in K.C.

Hisashi Iwakuma blanked the Royals and struck out 10 batters over seven innings in the nullMariners’ 11-2 win at Kansas City. Iwakuma became the third different Mariners pitcher this season, joining Mike Montgomery and Vidal Nuno, to win a game in which he did not allow a run and had a double-digit strikeout total. Only two other major-league teams have had three different pitchers provide such victories this season-the Indians (Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber) and the Nationals (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez).

Cardinals win another low-scoring game

The Cardinals took a 3-1 decision from the Reds on Tuesday, marking the 31st time this season that they have won a game in which they scored no more than three runs. Only one other major-league team in the last 20 seasons has won as many games of that type (the Giants won 31 such games four years ago). And in the long history of the Cardinals’ franchise, the only other year in which they won as many as 30 games in which they scored three-or-fewer runs was 1968. In that season – the one in which Bob Gibson fashioned his other-worldly 1.12 ERA – St. Louis won 41 games in which they scored no more than three runs (with Gibson having started 14 of those games).

Mahtook(LSU) blasts Fenway

Rookie Mikie Mahtook belted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the icing on the Rays’ 5-2 victory at Fenway Park. Mahtook has now hit five home runs this season; his previous blasts came in games at Toronto, Seattle, Chicago (against the White Sox) and nullDetroit. Mahtook, Washington’s Denard Span and San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco are the only players this season who have hit at least five home runs, all on the road.

By the way, among the players from the past whose first five major-league homers came away from home are Hall-of-Famers Eddie Mathews, Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Frank Thomas, Willie Stargell (first six) and Hank Aaron (nine). But none of those Hall-of-Famers holds a candle to the all-time major-league record-holder for home runs, all on the road, from the start of a career. That would be Johnny Hodapp, an infielder who, while playing with the Indians, hit 22 home runs, all on the road, from 1927 to 1931. The streak ended when, after being traded to the White Sox in 1932, his first home run with his new team was hit at Comiskey Park.

Marte + Ramirez and 75 RBIs

Starling Marte knocked in two runs and Aramis Ramirez one, lifting the season total of nullRBIs for each player to 75, in the Pirates’ 6-3 win over the Rockies in Denver.  Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates with 95 RBIs, and though Ramirez has not produced all of his RBIs for the Pirates, Pittsburgh is one of the two National League teams that have at their disposal three players who have 75 RBIs this season. The other such team is Cincinnati, with Todd Frazier (88), Jay Bruce (83) and Joey Votto (75).

nullErvin = Johan

Ervin Santana came through again for the Twins on Tuesday night, holding the Indians to one run over seven innings and earning well-deserved credit for Minnesota’s 3-1 victory. Santana is now 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last five starts, with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Old minor-leaguer clocks home run, sends Mets to defeat

Hector Olivera clocked a three-run, go-ahead homer with two outs in the sixth inning and the Braves went on to defeat the Mets, 6-2. Olivera, a 30-year-old rookie, became the second 30-year-old rookie in the last 11 days to smash a home run against the Mets; on September 12, Olivera’s teammate Adonis Garcia connected. Prior to the last two weeks, only four rookies on the far side of 30 have homered against the Mets over their 54-year existence, the oldest being the Phillies’ Chris Coste, at 33, in 2006.

Thy Cup Runneth Over

No I didn’t. Honest… I ran out of gas! I–I had a flat tire! I didn’t have enough money for cab fare! My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!!!  The scene from Blues Brothers was eerily similar to the actual events outside of the United Center last night.  Word of Tornadoes, flooding, severe weather, the roof leaking – all of it, delaying Lord Stanley’s Cup.

But it was delivered and it has been delivered to the city of Chicago, on home ice, for the first time since 1934, (1938, they never brought it).  This marks the 3rd time in 6 years the Blackhawks have won the Cup, and who knows if they could have had a three-peat if not for the Game 7 loss last year in the Western Conference Finals – either way the city of Chicago is excited as are Blackhawk fans who had to suffer for decades under Bill Wirtz to witness greatness.  Watch this fan describe how awesome the ‘Hawks are:

Notes I cannot put anywhere else:

  • Crawford’s shutout clinches Cup for Chicago

    With his 2-0 win over the Lightning, Corey Crawford became the fifth goaltender in the last 39 years to record a Stanley Cup-clinching shutout victory. The other goaltenders to do that since 1976 are Pittsburgh Tom Barrasso in 1991 (8-0 at Minnesota), Colorado’s Patrick Roy in 1996 (1-0 at Florida in triple-overtime), New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur in 2003 (3-0 vs. Anaheim) and Boston’s Tim Thomas in 2011 (4-0 at Vancouver).

    nullKeith’s game-winner cements Conn SmytheDuncan Keith scored only one goal in this year’s Stanley Cup Final but it was the game-winning goal in Chicago’s 2-0 series-clinching victory. Keith, who was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the 2015 playoff MVP, is the eighth player in the NHL’s expansion era whose only goal in a Stanley Cup Final series was the game-winner in the deciding game. The other players to do that since 1968 were J.C. Tremblay (1968 Canadiens), Bobby Orr (1970 Bruins), Ken Linseman (1984 Oilers), Ron Francis (1992 Penguins), Darren McCarty (1997 Red Wings), Mike Rupp (2003 Devils) and Alec Martinez (2014 Kings).

    No player scores three goals in Final

    For the second consecutive year no player on either team scored more than two goals in the Stanley Cup Final. Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette, and Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn and Cedric Paquette were the co-leaders with two goals each in this year’s Final, after three Kings and two Rangers shared goal-scoring honors with two goals apiece in the 2014 Final. Before last year, the only best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final in which no player managed to score at least three goals was the 1968 series in which the Montreal Canadiensswept the first-year expansion St. Louis Blues team in four games. The joint leaders with two goals each in that series were Yvon Cournoyer, Henri Richard and Serge Savard of the Canadiens, and Red Berenson of the Blues.

  • I’m also not buying that Bishop played with a torn-right-groin – Sorry, there is no physical way you could do that – a torn groin?!  Just say you had cramps like NBA guys do.

 

One Tree Hill – will also accept: The Joshua Tree

This golf course – Chambers Bay – looks like a course designed on the moon and planted in Scotland – it only has ONE TREE!  I am so enamored with this course, that I can not wait to waste hours watching guys spoiling a good walk.  I’m also gonna play my hand at winning a $1,000,000 with Draft Kings.   That should make it more entertaining to see if I can pick 6 golfers and watch Team Cartwright beat the field.  The golfers may not know it – but they play for me – muwahahahahaha!  You should play too & see if you can do better than us – it’s easy – just sign up here!  Here are some high-end guys you might wanna consider:

Justin Rose
Dustin Johnson
Phil Mickelson 
Henrik Stenson

 


Ty on third by Bill Purdom

Souza walks five times

Rookie Steven Souza walked five times in five plate appearances in the Rays’ 6-1 home win over the Nationals. The last major-league player to draw five bases on balls in a nine-inning game was another Tampa Bay outfielder, Matt Joyce, on April 25, 2014 against the White Sox. The last rookie to work five walks in a game was the Mets’ Mike Baxter, at San Diego on August 4, 2012.

nullCain homers in return to Milwaukee

Lorenzo Cain was 2-for-5 with a two-run home run in the Royals’ 8-5 win at Milwaukee. Cain, who broke into the majors with the Brewers in 2010 and was part of the package Milwaukee sent to Kansas City to acquire Zack Greinke the following winter, was making his first appearance against his former team. He’s the second ex-Brewer this season to homer in his first game after leaving the team, joiningNori Aoki, who connected at Miller Park on May 25. In the previous 15 seasons (2000-2014), only one ex-Milwaukee player did that against his former team: Jim Edmonds in 2010.

null

Sanchez pitches another gem vs. NL

Anibal Sanchez threw a complete-game shutout in the Tigers’ 6-0 home win over the Reds. In his previous outing, Sanchez tossed 7.2 scoreless innings in a win over the Cubs. Since interleague play began in 1997, only two other pitchers have won two straight starts, both against the opposite league, while going more than seven innings and not allowing a run. Greg Maddux (1998) and Mark Mulder (2001) posted back-to-back shutouts in consecutive starts versus interleague opponents.

nullGoldy’s bat downs Halos

Paul Goldschmidt singled, doubled, and homered in the Diamondbacks’ 7-3 win over the Angels in Anaheim. It was Goldschmidt’s sixth game this season in which he recorded at least three hits and one home run. That’s the second-highest total in the majors behind Miguel Cabrera (7).

nullOdor raps three hits in return to majors

Rougned Odor, in his first game since returning from the minors, went 3-for-3 with two RBIs in the Rangers’ 4-1 home win over the Dodgers. In his first stint in Texas this season, Odor recorded just one multi-hit game (and no three-hit games) in 25 starts. The only player with at least 20 starts in 2015 who had more than one hit in a lower percentage of them than Odor (4%) was the Mariners’ Dustin Ackley (1 in 41, 2%).

null

Molina finally goes deep

Yadier Molina‘s first home run since June 27, 2014 gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead and St. Louis held on to beat Minnesota, 3-2. Molina’s 342-at bat regular-season homer drought was the longest of his career, nearly 30% longer than his previous longest streak of 267 at bats in 2009.

nullLoMo plays an unconventional position for a leadoff batter

Logan Morrison, leading off and playing first base, was 3-for-5 with a stolen base in the Mariners’ 5-1 win at San Francisco. Only one other starting first baseman in the past 16 seasons has put up three hits and a steal from the top lineup slot: Brock Holt for the Red Sox on June 1, 2014.

nullDietrich scores twice in first start of season

Derek Dietrich, making his first start of the season, homered and scored both Marlins runs in Miami’s 2-1 home win over the Yankees. The last player to score all of his team’s runs in a one-run win while starting his first game of the season in June or later was the Angels’ Shawn Wooten, in a 1-0 win over the Royals on July 11, 2002.

Hit the DiRT

We live in a country where “The Pursuit of Happiness” is written into the Declaration of Independence – the pursuit of, not a guarantee.  So the pursuit of one man, who at one point, was the epitome of masculinity, decided to change genders.  I do not  have a problem with it – I do have a problem with the righteous police ordering me how I’m supposed to feel about it.  The world is hard enough.  More than ever, tragedy, violence, mayhem and injustice seem to be the order of the day.  It gets to be impossible to enjoy with a clear conscience whatever little piece of tranquility you’ve carved out for yourself, without being told how to feel about something that is medically possible.  Just because it is possible does not make it natural and just because it is unnatural does not make it unethical – or maybe to some, it does…

What makes us happy anyway?  Maybe the conclusion is that most people are only really happy when something bad doesn’t happen to them – schadenfreude.  Like when the Broncos get blown out of the Superbowl.  Maybe the next time we feel shitty for not feeling shitty about someone feeling shitty is to remember that schadenfreude cancels itself out – because other people feel the same way about our problems.  It’s human nature, it’s our DNA and maybe we aren’t in the first class cabin – we can still take a little joy in knowing those in steerage have to wait for us to get into our lifeboat, before they are even allowed up on the deck of the Titanic.  So who cares how someone chooses to pee.  Let’s stop politicizing everything all the time (ESPN) – happiness is not settling for less, just not being miserable with what is – learn to love the simple things – maybe the point is, happiness does not always require a resolution.


Joey Votto Walked On Three Balls; Everything Is A Lie

Joey Votto Walked On Three Balls; Everything Is A Lie

Yup, that’s a three-ball walk in the 7th inning yesterday – Is there no justice?  Is everything a lie?

Holliday’s continues streak

Matt Holliday, walked and singled in four plate-appearances Monday night.  He has reached base (by hit, walk or HBP) in in all 45 games he’s played this year, the fifth-longest streak to start a season by any major-league player since 1900. The four longer season-starting streaks of that kind in the modern era were fashioned by Derek Jeter (53 games in 1999), Frank Thomas (52 in 1996), Mark McGwire (48 in 1996) and Alvin Davis (47 in 1984).

Brewers side-step Cardinals, 1-0

The Brewers’ victory over the Cardinals Monday night, is only the third time in the expansion era (1961 to present) that a team with the outright worst record in the major leagues had a 1-0 win over the club with the majors’ outright best record entering that game. The other two decisions of that kind were earned by Tampa Bay in September 2007 at Fenway Park (Scott Kazmir struck out 10 Red Sox batters in seven innings) and the Marlins in October 1999 at Atlanta (Cliff Floyd‘s solo homer accounted for the game’s only run.)

nullCashner strikes out 12 on 11 hits

Andrew Cashner struck out 12 batters but allowed 11 hits while pitching only 4 2/3 innings on Monday. No other pitcher in the modern era (1900 to date) allowed at least 10 hits and struck out 10 or more batters while throwing fewer than five innings in one game.

 

nulldeGrom-ming

Jacob deGrom has struck out at least eight batters without allowing a walk in each of his last three games, including Monday’s win over the Padres. The only other pitchers in the modern era (1900 to date) with eight or more strikeouts and no walks in three straight appearances are Cliff Lee (2013) and Ferguson Jenkins (1976, including a four-inning relief stint).

nullDodgers blow up in the 6th vs Rockies

Clayton Kershaw stroked a double and two singles in the Dodgers’ 11-4 victory over the Rockies, becoming the fourth pitcher this season to record a win and three hits in the same game. (The others were Josh Collmenter, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.) That equals the total number of such performances in the majors all of last season.

If you think the reigning Cy Young Award recipient is a certain winner when he gets at least 10 runs of support….well you’re almost correct. Those pitchers are now 140-1 all-time in that situation, with the lone defeat suffered by the Blue Jays’ Pat Hentgen in 1997 – thanks Pat. Hentgen allowed 11 runs in eight innings in a 13-12 loss to the Red Sox.

Springer + Gattis = Astros rally

The Astros had their major-league leading 16th comeback win of the season on Monday against the Orioles. George Springer‘s single on a 3-0 pitch tied the game at 2-2, and after Jose Altuve‘s sacrifice fly, Evan Gattis singled on an 0-2 pitch to drive in the final two runs. No other major-league team has had RBI hits on 3-0 and 0-2 pitches in the same inning this season.

Yung’ns lead Chicago to win

The Cubs beat the Marlins on Monday, 5-1, with all five runs being driven in by players age 25 or younger: Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler. The Cubs hadn’t had five different players age 25 or younger drive in runs in the same game since September 14, 1974 (Ron Dunn, Jerry Morales, Rob Sperring, Andre Thornton, Jim Tyrone).

Pujols and Trout slug it out

Albert Pujols and Mike Trout each homered for the Angels on Monday, for the 20th time since they became teammates in 2012 – but Pujols sez the Angels are still more than just Trout. The only other major-league teammates to homer in the same game 20 times over that span are Chris Davis and Adam Jones (also 20).

nullTeixeira slams King Felix

The Yankees scored all seven of their runs off Felix Hernandez in Monday night’s win, highlighted by Mark Teixeira‘s grand slam. It’s was only the fifth home game for Hernandez in which he found himself facing a deficit of seven or more runs.

Teixeira has now hit six home runs off Hernandez, the highest total for any player, now one more than Hernandez’s current teammate, Nelson Cruz.

nullWood helps himself

Alex Wood‘s two-run single gave the Braves an early 2-0 lead and Atlanta went on to defeat the Diamondbacks, 8-1. Braves pitchers have driven in eight runs this season, the most for any team’s pitching staff in 2015.

Game 7’s are DiRTy

NHL

Two Game 7s in the NHL Conference Finals

The Blackhawks forced a decisive seventh game in the Western Conference Final with their 5-2 win over the Ducks in Game 6 on Wednesday, after the Rangers did the same in the Eastern Conference Final with their Game 6 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. This will be the third time in NHL history that both Semi-Final or Conference Final series in one playoff year went seven games, It happened first in 1964, when Toronto beat Montreal and Detroit topped Chicago in seven-game Semi-Finals, and again in 2000 when New Jersey edged Philadelphia and Dallas got by Colorado in the Conference Finals.

nullKeith notches three assists in the second period

Duncan Keith assisted on all three of the Blackhawks’ second-period goals in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. Keith is the fourth player in Blackhawks history to register three assists in one period of a playoff game. The other Chicago players to do that are Pat Stapleton in 1973 (Game 1 of the Stanly Cup Final at Montreal, first period), Chris Chelios in 1992 (Game 2 of Conference Final vs. Edmonton, third period) and Patrick Kane in 2014 (Game 5 of Conference Final vs. Los Angeles, first period). Kane was the last player on any NHL team to accomplish that feat before Keith.


 

NBA

40 year Drought is over

Stephen Curry registered 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals in the Warriors’ series clinching win over the Rockets on Wednesday night. The only other players to produce at least 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals in a playoff series clinching win are Michael Jordan (1990 vs. Philadelphia),Hersey Hawkins (1991 vs. Milwaukee) and Scottie Pippen (1991 vs. the Lakers).

Both NBA Conference Finals end in five or less

The Warriors ended the Western Conference Final series in five games with a win over the Rockets on Wednesday night, a day after the Cavaliers completed a sweep of the Eastern Conference Finals with a victory over the Hawks. This marks only the second time in the last 29 years that both NBA Conference Finals series ended in five or fewer games. The only other time that happened over that span was in 2011.


 

MLB

nullThor and the Mets

Noah Syndergaard did not allow a run while pitching one out into the eighth inning and had a big day at the plate going 3-for-3 with a home run in the Mets’ 7-0 blanking of the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon. The only other rookies to hurl at least seven shutout innings while lashing out three or more hits including a home run are Colorado’s Jason Jennings, who pitched a shutout and had three hits and a homer against the Mets on August 23, 2001 and the Dodgers’ Larry Sherry, who did not allow a run over 8.2 innings and recorded three hits and a long ball against the Cardinals on August 15, 1959.

nullThe Yankee nightmare continues as A-Rod passes Gehrig…..and Thome

Alex Rodriguez hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the fourth inning in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Royals on Wednesday afternoon. Rodriguez’s blast, the 50th of his career against Kansas City, not only allowed him to break Lou Gehrig’s American League record for career RBIs, it also set the mark for most career home runs hit against the Royals, a record he shared with Jim Thome entering Wednesday’s action.

nullCruz goes the dynamite

Nelson Cruz broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning in Seattle’s 3-0 win over the Rays in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon. Cruz became only the second player in Mariners’ history to break a scoreless with a two-out home run in the ninth inning or later, joining Logan Morrison who went deep with two out and two-men on in the top of the ninth against the Angels in a 3-1 Seattle win on September 18, 2014.

Pirate pitching stifle another opponent

The Pirates defeated the Marlins by a score of 5-2 on Wednesday extending their winning streak to six games. Pittsburgh has allowed two or fewer runs in each of the six wins during its streak. The only other time the Pirates have won six consecutive games, while allowing two or fewer runs in each game, over the last 38 seasons was in 1992, when Pittsburgh had a nine-game streak of that kind.

nullKipnis loves batting first

Jason Kipnis went 3-for-5 in the Indians’ 12-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the eighth time that Kipnis has had three hits in a game in this month. Prior to Kipnis, the last Indians player to record at least eight three-hit games in a calendar month was Kenny Lofton, who had eight in August of 1995. It is also the highest total in a calendar month by a second baseman since San Francisco’s Jeff Kent had eight games with at least three hits in June 2002.

nullLaRoche in extra innings

Adam LaRoche singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning leading the White Sox to a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon. LaRoche’s 855 career RBIs ranks 20th among active major league players, but his 26 RBIs in extra-innings are tied with Carlos Beltran for the fifth most among current players behind Albert Pujols (35), Alex Rodriguez (33), Ryan Howard (29) and Matt Kemp(27).

nullAnother Arenado

Nolan Arenado drove in three runs in the Rockies’ 6-4 win over the Reds on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the sixth time that Arenado has had at least three RBIs in a game this season, tied with Paul Goldschmidt for the major-league lead in that category. Prior to this season, Arenado drove in at least three runs in a game only five times in the 244 major-league games he had played in during his career.

nullPanik at the Disco

Joe Panik hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning giving the Giants a 2-1 lead in a game they would go on to win 3-1 on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the first time Panik had multiple RBIs in a game this season. He entered Wednesday’s action with the most games played (44) among players that did not have a multiple-RBI game this season.

nullFinally Hicks

Aaron Hicks hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning in the Twins’ 6-4 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon. Hicks entered the contest on a streak of 71 consecutive plate appearances without driving in a run, which was the third longest current streak for any major-league position player entering Wednesday’s action, behind Mike Baxter (103) and Coco Crisp (72).

A’s struggle in close game again at home

The A’s dropped a 3-2 decision to the Tigers in Oakland on Wednesday afternoon. Oakland has now lost each of its last 12 home games that were decided by one run dating back to last season. It’s the longest such streak since 1894, when the Cubs had a 12-game streak of that kind and the National League Louisville club (spanning 1893-1894) had a 13-game streak.

nullScherzer loves the Nat’l League

Max Scherzer hurled seven shutout innings and struck out 13 in the Nationals’ 3-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. The only other visiting pitchers to not allow a run while registering at least 13 strikeouts at Wrigley Field are Cincinnati’s Ewell Blackwell (1948), the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax (1961), Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney (1963), Atlanta’s John Smoltz (1996), San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt(2004) and Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers (2014).

nullHeyward homers

Jason Heyward led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a game-tying home run and the Cardinals scored another run later in the inning to defeat the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. It was Heyward’s 89th career home run but only the third of which came in the ninth inning or later with his team trailing and either tied the game or put his team ahead. The only other times he did that were on April 20, 2010 and August 17, 2013.

I went to law school – I got a football scholarship!

RIP: Patrick Swayze sadly died of pancreatic cancer in 2009

Word is someone got drunk recently and thought it was a good idea to remake this movie.  Not a continuation that could have had a guest appearance by Keanu, ya know, helping with clues on how he stopped the “Ex” Presidents, blah blah – No a full-on reboot!  The remake we neither wanted nor needed, and wait until you see this trailer – should have called it something else besides “Point Break”!  Called it something else like, Jason Bourne’s Fast and Furious Twilight Adventure 10.  They took something that was simple and fun and made it moody.  I’m gonna stick up for younger me and boycott this movie purely based on principle.  How do you replace the magic of Swayze, the awkwardness of Keanu and the bat-shit-craziness of Busey?  What’s next a remake of Roadhouse?  Is someone out there intentionally trying to ruin titular movies of our youth, just for CGI cash-grabs?  This movie fails to have the gang wear the ex-presidents masks, and it is also not centered around surfing, like the original – it’s more nonsense about international markets and youth soccer – than some bruddahs searching for sum toasty-tubular waves looking out for 50yr-storms.  Even the catch-phrase: do you know how many laws you broke? Gravity? Are you serious?!  This is just cookie-cutter junk – Delroy Lindo being the stereo-typical police-chief – throw in some stunts and let the story fill itself out – just like The Last Action Hero (except that was making fun of itself).  Is Hollywood all out of ideas?  I’m so angry that I need to watch the original a few times, just to get the taste out of my mouth, because I might have thrown up a little.


NBA

James does it again

LeBron James finished the Cavaliers’ four-game sweep over the Hawks averaging 30.3 points, 11 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game. James is the first player in NBA history to average 30/10/9 in a playoff series of any length. Honorable mention to Oscar Robertson who averaged 33.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.6 assists for Cincinnati against Boston in a seven-game series in 1963.

Another Atlanta Choke-job

The Cavaliers swept the number one seed Hawks in the Conference Finals. Cleveland is only the third team under the current payoff format (since 1983-84) to sweep a playoff series against the top seed from its own conference. The Lakers swept the Spurs in 2001 and the Nets Swept the Pistons in 2003.

NHL

Brassard Hat-trick gives Rangers another Game 7

Derick Brassard scored three goals and added two assists as the Rangers avoided elimination with a 7-3 win over the Lightning. Brassard is only the third player in NHL history to record a hat trick and at least five points in a road game in which his team faced playoff elimination. Lanny McDonald (three goals, two assists) did it in 1977 for the Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh in the final game of a three-game series won by Toronto. McDonald scored or assisted on all five goals scored by the Leafs in a 5-2 win. Greg Paslawski did it for the Blues at Minnesota in 1986 (three goals, two assists).

Brassard is the fourth player in Rangers history to record a hat trick in a game in which the Blueshirts faced playoff elimination. Frank Boucher did it against Toronto in the 1932 Stanley Cup Final, Ron Duguay against Philadelphia in 1980 and Mark Messier in the “guarantee” game against New Jersey in 1994

MLB

nullKershaw, loves Chavez Ravine

Clayton Kershaw has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last 29 starts at home, the second-longest streak of that kind in major-league history. Doc White had a 32-start streak of that kind for the White Sox spanning the 1905 and 1906 seasons, when the team played at South Side Park. (Comiskey Park didn’t open until 1910.) The third-longest streak is by Adam Wainwright, who allowed no more than three runs in each of 28 straight home starts spanning 2009 and 2010 at Busch Stadium.

nullFielder en fuego

Prince Fielder had another three hits and three RBIs for the Rangers on Tuesday night (26pts-DK) giving him 14 hits and 15 runs batted in over his last five games. Over the last dozen seasons the only other major-league player with at least 14 hits and 14 runs batted in over a five-game span is Alfonso Soriano for the Yankees in August 2013 (15 hits, 18 RBI).

nullDonaldson a 48 on DraftKings

Josh Donaldson went 4-for-4 with two homers, four runs batted in and five runs scored. Donaldson is the second player in Blue Jays history to go 4-for-4 or better with at least four RBIs, four runs scored and two homers. Carlos Delgado did it against Tampa Bay on September 25, 2003 (4-for-4, 4 runs, 6 RBI, 4 HR).

One of Donaldson’s homers was in the first inning and the other was a three-run walkoff blast. Only two other Blue Jays hit a first-inning homer and a walkoff homer in the same game: Otto Velez on May 4, 1980 and Reed Johnson on June 15, 2003.

nullYankees drop a deuce in the first inning

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run home run in the first inning and the Yankees cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Royals. The Yankees have scored two-or-more first-inning runs 14 times this season, four more such first-innings than any other major-league team. The Bronx Bombers are 10-4 in those 14 games.

nullPirates’ are shivering timbers

Jeff Locke did not allow a run in 5.2 innings pitched continuing a recent trend of excellent starting pitching for the Bucs. Pittsburgh’s starting pitchers are 5-0 with a 1.06 earned-run average over the last five games. The last time the Pirates’ starting pitchers went 5-0 with an ERA that low over a five-game span was in August of 1977 (5-0, 0.69 ERA). The Pirates starters in those five games were John Candelaria (twice), Bruce Kison, Jerry Reuss and Jim Rooker.

nullSeager hits two late homers – scores 39 in Draftkings

Kyle Seager hit a grand slam in the eighth inning and a game-winning homer in the tenth inning in the Mariners’ win over the Rays. Seager is the sixth player in Mariners history to hit two homers in the eighth inning or later in the same game. Donnie Scott (1985), Jim Presley (1986), Jay Buhner (1992), Russ Davis (1999) and Michael Saunders (2012) also did it.

nullSchumaker likes pinch-hit doubles

Skip Schumaker‘s pinch-hit double in the ninth inning drove in the winning run in the Reds’ win over the Rockies. Shumaker has doubled in four of his last five pinch-hit appearances. The last Reds player to have four extra-base hits over five plate appearances as a pinch-hitter was Tony Perez in 1976. Perez had a double, home run, home run, fly out and double over five pinch-hit appearances.

nullHolliday extends streak early

Matt Holliday‘s RBI-single in the first inning extended his reach-base-safely streak to 42 games tying the modern franchise record to open a season which was set byAlbert Pujols in 2008. It was the 20th time this season that Holiday extended his streak in his first plate appearance of the game.

Tigers beat Oakland, 1-0

The Tigers beat the A’s, 1-0, in Oakland on Tuesday night. It was the first 1-0 win the Tigers have ever had in a game played in Oakland. Tuesday night’s game was the 257th between these two teams in Oakland, including the playoffs.

nullCastro finally has clutch hit, leads Astros

Jason Castro‘s two-out double in the seventh inning broke a 1-1 tie in the Astros’ 4-1 win over the Orioles. Castro entered the at-bat with a .138 batting average with two outs and runners on base this season (4-for-29).

nullIt’s May-tober

Madison Bumgarner improved his record to 9-1 in games played in May over the last two seasons. That’s two more May wins than any other pitcher over that span.

–Elias with the assist

May the DiRT Be With You…and also with you

mayweather pacquiao punchout!!

Super-Nintendo Punchout summarizes the fight –  from sports grid.

Ah the Romans – it was in full display – the Bread and the Circuses – except it seemed while we got the circus – they forgot our bread.  THE MOST SPECTACULAR FIGHT OF OUR TIME – YOU CANT MISS THIS ONE – TWELVE UNFORGETTABLE ROUNDS FOR ONLY $99.

That is the beautiful thing about pay-per-view sporting events – there are no sell outs, no waiting in line, no standing-room only, no one getting turned away at the gate by small giants and fire marshals for too much booze on your breath – none of that!  As long as you want it – you’ve got a better seat than any celebrity –‘Murica!

But the fight – ughh – it was just like I wrote back in December, #CalledIt.  Want to know what was a better fight than #MayPac?  Jamie Foxx staying in tune.  Clint Eastwood versus a chair.  Bob Barker versus Happy Gilmore.  Jay Z versus Beyonce’s Sister.  Kevin James versus skinny jeans, Deebo versus Craig – we get it!  The build up was Wrestlemania without the drama, The Royals have thrown more punches this year – it made you long for the days you dropped that kind of scratch on a Mike Tyson fight that was over in less than 90 seconds.  Mayweather handed out more hugs to Manny than his own kids.

If this was what people thought was the Fight of the Century – did they mean this actual century or the last 100 years – then Boxing is dead – maybe it survives as some bare-knuckled-quasi blood-sport on late night TV – but there will never be anything great about it ever again.  I preferred to watch a rerun of Hagler v Hearns – it’s what we expected Saturday – or relive the salad days of any of Muhammad Ali’s fights.  With Ali, we were lucky and privileged to live in the same century with him.  He was a true aristocrat of the spirit, I love the man.  He spoke to the best and bravest in us and his fights are priceless.  Floyd will never understand, and it seems he doesn’t care too – he’s just fine being the captain on the Titanic.


NBA Fevah!  Chris Paul was doing his best Steph Curry impression making an incredible shot, that I still don’t know how it went in, to beat the Spurs, 111-109.  This undercard was better than Saturday’s main event.  The Clippers needed all of the 8 for 14 beyond the arc points in the second half, before Paul’s lucky nail in the champ’s coffin.  Does this propel the Clippers to bigger things?  Is this the end of the Spurs as we knew them?  What I do know is; I could watch these two play the rest of the year and it would still live up to expectations.  The question though, is this:  will there be any other series as good as this one for the rest of the playoffs?


There he is, the favorite, American Pharoah.  The first horse to start in position 17 or farther and win the (141st) Kentucky Derby.  I had told you to leave him off because of that (and because they clearly don’t know how to spell Pharaoh) – what is the meaning of statistics if you cant remove the outliers.  Well the outliers win sometimes and sometimes they rough you up pretty good.  The break the horse made from the 18th position to be near the front of the pack and not get boxed in was remarkable.  He was given a clear shot – as was I, or so I thought for most of the race.  It was another lesson I got sloppy with from the harsh school of gambling, that dealt me another quick beating for leaving off the favorite – see I had Dortmund and Firing Line in an Exacta boxBlind spots are fatal – they’ll punish you every time.  So the questions will begin again about the potential of American Pharoah(sic) being the next triple-crown winner – and the answer is no, but I will not leave him off again, just to be safe.


The Houston Firs-tros have won 10 straight and own the American League’s best record at 18-7.  As the Astros celebrate their 50th year, you have to wonder when do they come back to Earth?  In the AL West they may never – the Angels have serious problems, the Rangers are terrible and The A’s and Mariners do not play consistently enough to challenge, so…It’s a long season and Houston is a young team that will have to prove it in the dog-days – but for now, how about dem Astros!

In other weird baseball news – the Rockies still can’t play in SoCal, and the Yankees swept the Red Sox for the first time since 2006.  David Ortiz failed to deliver a bases-loaded, down-by-three, in the bottom of the ninth – either further proving his PED use, or Adam Warren is that good – has not allowed a run in 10 appearances.

Matt Harvey is 5-0 for the 1st place Mets since Tommy John Surgery and it must be an “odd” year, because the Cardinals have the best record in baseball – World Series appearances in 2011 and 2013.


May the 4th be with you!

In honor of Saga and today being May 4th – #StarWarsDay – here is some entertainment:


It’s still fresh!