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:

SchwarberPanikRamirez

 

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

Jive Turkeys & Much Ado About Stuffing

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1.

Jive Turkey

Holy Moley! It’s Thanksgiving again, just like that, and the air is crisp with young footballs. There will be NFL games on TV almost every day from now until Christmas — and, after that, March of next year, which is a long way off.

The Gods of Sport are always Hungry in the winter. They feed twice a day, and they don’t take no for an answer.

I was brooding on this last night, when the phone rang and jerked me back to reality. It was an old friend, calling with a frog in his throat. I could barely hear his voice.

“Speak up!” I said sharply. “I thought I told you never to call me on your cell phone. You sound like some kind of Eskimo whore.”

“Sorry,” he whispered. “I’ll call you back on a land line.” Then I thought I heard him laugh, just before the phone went dead again.

“Are you drunk?” I asked when he called back.

“No,” he replied. “I am high on life. Good things are happening, I want to run in a marathon.”

“Calm down!” I warned him. “Don’t embarrass yourself in public. People will lose all respect for you.”

“Public?” he said nervously. “What do you mean, public? We are talking on a secure land line. I would never talk like that in a public place. So you think I am stupid?”

“Of course not,” I told him. “You are nowhere near stupid. You are smart as a whip. Nothing stupid will ever come between us – at least not in public.”

“What are you trying to tell me?” he snapped. “Are you already jealous of me?”

“No,” I said. “Why would I be jealous?  You’ll be suffering, chasing some imaginary feeling that only leads to sore feet and heart attacks.  Just ask Jim Fixx, he was a jogger and died, while jogging – no sir, I’ll be watching football, drinking barley-pops, and enjoying the loosening of my waistband.”  He continued to babble on about who knows what, told him good-luck and hung up, ain’t nobody got time for that…not this time of year!

As for those insufferable people you might have to share a table with who have waited all year to give you their hot-takes – here’s how to respond to those jabberwocky’s

Source: How to discuss sports with non-fans this Thanksgiving.

2.

5 reasons Bears fans should be thankful for Jay.

There might not be a quarterback in the NFL who has been criticized as strongly and as consistently over the course of his career as Chicago’s Jay Cutler.

A lot of this has been deserved, mind you, and he hasn’t done himself any favors at times – OK, at many times — with his press-conference demeanor. The much-maligned QB is playing quite well for Chicago, and the Bears’ struggles are far from his fault.

Source: Five reasons Bears fans should be thankful for Jay Cutler. No, seriously.

3.

2016 H.O.F. Semi-Finalists

The Pro Football Hall of Fame narrowed the field of potential members of the Class of 2016 to 25 semifinalists on Tuesday, including players like Brett Favre, Terrell Owens and Kurt Warner.

Favre and Owens are two of five players to be named semifinalists for the first time, along with Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca and Sam Mills, although only Favre, Owens and Faneca are in their first year of eligibility. Terrell Davis and Kevin Greene are each semifinalists for the 10th time, the most for any of the 25 remaining nominees.

The list of 25 semifinalists was cut from a group of 108 nominees named in September and will be cut down to 15 in early January. The final Class of 2016 will be determined on Jan. 31 and can include no more than five modern-era members who receive an 80 percent positive vote from the selection committee.

Source: Brett Favre, Kurt Warner headline 2016 Hall of Fame semifinalists – SBNation.com

4.

Anarchy in the U.K.

Baseball was not invented by some American in upstate New York. Rather, it evolved from a number of different bat-and-ball games like cricket, rounders, bat and trap, and stool ball. These games, first played in England, meshed together over time in important ways to form what we now know of as baseball.  It’s a fascinating history, featured in a great documentary which searches for baseball’s primordial common ancestor.

Which is to say that, while this seems odd given baseball’s almost total lack of popularity in the U.K., it’s not entirely inappropriate. It’s really just an overdue homecoming:

Source: MLB in negotiations to play a game in London | HardballTalk

5.

Trade Winds

The Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners are discussing a trade that would send outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the Mariners in exchange for pitching, as first reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

Since hiring new GM Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners have been the most active team in baseball, swinging trades and signing several free agents. Thus far, the Mariners have acquired closer Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Leonys Martin, infielder Luis Sardinas, and pitcher Nate Karns in trades. Additionally, the team re-signed outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and signed catcher Chris Iannetta.

Source: MLB Trade Rumors: Mariners, Marlins Talking Ozuna Trade

6.

LOLakers

As a basketball fan, one of life’s simplest pleasures is waking up each day and knowing there is a good chance that Lakers head coach Byron Scott is going to do or say something that is hilariously dumb. Last night, he did not disappoint.

The Lakers got smoked by the Warriors, losing the game 111-77. Getting blown out by the historically great Warriors is no great shame, but it’s hard to understand why Scott once again kept his rookie point guard, D’Angelo Russell, nailed to the bench for the entire fourth quarter. After the game, Scott explained his decision:

Source: Byron Scott Is Still Being Stupid About D’Angelo Russell

7.

If not Football, then what?!

At this time tomorrow, Americans across the country will be preparing to gorge themselves on turkey and football. Thanksgiving is a great holiday for getting together with family and friends. It’s also a great holiday for getting so stuffed that you can’t move — and if that happens, why not plop down in a movie theater to catch up on everything you’ve missed this month? Looking for a brilliant, heavy-hitting Oscar contender? Check out Spotlight, the riveting drama about the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the sexual abuse committed by clergy in Boston’s archdiocese. Looking for an inspirational sports drama that doesn’t pull any punches? Check out Creed, the clever sequel/spin-off of the beloved Rocky franchise. Looking for something the whole family can enjoy? Check out The Good Dinosaur, Pixar’s latest, about a world where people and dinosaurs live side-by-side.Looking for something else? Fortunately, there should be no shortage of options. Click here to check out a full November film guide, by Scott Meslow.

Source: The best movies to watch this Thanksgiving weekend

What You Need To Know for #TNF and Other Stuff

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1. A Dolphin’s Tale?

Maybe the only thing to worry about – besides your lineup – is if Tom Brady takes a cheap shot.  The NFL Media and the Tennessee coaching staff went nuts on the low hit on Mariota, and it’s not inconceivable that Man Campbell hasn’t already ordered the “Code Red”!  Any team that Ndamukong $uh is on – you must keep a weathered eye…


2. When the Mountaineers Come Calling

7:30p EST FS1 – WV @ TCU
Trevone Boykin begins his push for the Heisman tonight.  Sure they haven’t played anyone yet and yeah, they get three opponents next month that are all in the top 14 currently – but the kid is fun to watch.  So in front of a primetime audience on the “FS1” at 7:30p EST check out the #2 guy in total offense and #5 in passing offense – because the only way this guy has a shot is to be undefeated.


3. #23 and Climbing

5:00p EST ESPN – UNC @ Pitt
Also tonight is the other college football game on that other network that sounds like mental telepathy from a sorority girl when she wears her Uggs to tight.  5p ESt on ESPN, UNC visits Heinz Field to take on a surprisingly good Panthers team from Pitt.  Nice job so far from new coach Pat Narduzzi who’s teams’ only loss is to Iowa.  Lots of coach speak will determine the outcome, such as: Special Teams will be important and who wins the turnover battle so should come out ahead as long as they score more points than the other guy.


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4. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down…0-2

Johnny Cueto tossed a complete-game two-hitter for the Royals as they defeated the Mets, 7-1, in Game Two of the World Series. Two weeks ago, Cueto pitched Kansas City into the ALCS by defeating the Astros in Game Five of the ALDS, allowing only two hits in eight innings. The only other pitchers who have had more than one postseason outing in their careers of eight or more innings in which they allowed no more than two hits are Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens.


 

5. Few Games In – C’Mon Man!

Are The Rockets Doomed – Is Ricky Rubio already an All-Star PG – Is New Orleans turr-able – Is Jahlil Okafor the next one – and finally, is this the Knicks’ time?!  All these overreactions and more…

Source: Biggest overreactions to first batch of NBA games


6. Vlade-dadi We Like To Parde

It has been…an interesting time for the Kings. No one knows what the hell is going on (including those inside of the organization!). For a quick recap:

Last Season: The Kings rushed out to lead the Pacific Division, home of the NBA champion Warriors, before the floor fell out from underneath the team. Star center DeMarcus Cousins was diagnosed with viral meningitis and was sidelined for more than a month. The Kings faltered without him, and their record fell to 11-13. And then the Kings’ Chernobyl of a season began to crumble when owner Vivek Ranadive fired head coach Mike Malone, who was not only a favorite of the players, but had Sacramento ready to play. Mike Malone was fired after only 24 games, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski, the move created a sense of contempt among Kings players, especially Cousins who loved Malone and his system. The Kings then later fired interim head coach Tyrone Corbin, and hired George Karl to coach the team after the All Star Break.

Source: House of Cards: The Kings, Jokers and Chaos in Sacramento


7. The Kobe Bryant Experience

Kobe Bryant, who is older than hell, crankier than hell, and shackled to a misshapen Lakers team, looked better than he has in years tonight as his Lakers fell to the Timberwolves at home 112-111. This game was stuffed full of cool shit: the two teams’ tribute to the recently passed Flip Saunders; Nick Young hitting a half-court leaner to end the first quarter; the debuts of Karl-Anthony Towns, Julius Randle (his 14 minutes last season don’t count), and D’Angelo Russell; Kevin Garnett yapping at people; and Ricky Rubio dropping 28 points and 14 assists. But most of all, there was Kobe.

Source: Old Man Kobe And The Young Lakers Are Fun As Hell 

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Madonna Steals the Souls of the Young and other Musings…

Dodging Bullets:

Houston we have a problem

We talked about it earlier this year, about Houston’s meteroic start and wondered if it could last.  It hasn’t, but it doesn’t mean that Houston is done.  It just means they are still on schedule and for that, it means more of how the young-uns respond to the pressure of a pennant race – it will be a fun 3 weeks.  Last Night, Mitch Moreland was the hero in Arlington, hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Rangers defeated the Astros, 6-5. With the win, in its 144th game of the season, Texas moves into sole possession of first place in the AL West for the first time in 2015.

Over the last 30 years, there have been three other instances of a team standing alone in first place for the first time in a season in its 144th game or later. The 2006 Twins and 2012 Athletics both did this in their last game of the season, while the 2007 Phillies found themselves alone atop the NL East for the first time after their 160th game. These teams could not carry over that momentum into the playoffs, with each losing in the Divisional round (The Twins and Phillies were swept in three games, while the A’s lost in five games).

Strasburg lights up 14 and Harper jacks 2

It’s fun when you have Strasburg and Harper in your #DraftKings lineup to the tune of 85pts for the both of them – we did.  As for Bryce Harper, he went 3-for-3 with two homers and four RBIs in the Nationals’ 4-0 victory over the Phillies. Harper is now batting .413 with 26 home runs and 63 RBIs in games in which Washington won this season (70 games). In Nats’ losses in 2015, Harper is sporting a .261 average with 13 homers and 27 runs batted in (67 games). Over the Nats’ last six wins (since September 4), Harper is hitting .600 (12-for-20) with six homers and nine RBIs.

Harper, who turns 23 years old on October 16, has 10 games with two or more homers in his major-league career. Only three other players have had as many games of this type at 22 years old or younger: Eddie Mathews (13 games), Bob Horner (10), and Mel Ott (10).

Oakland A’s scored more than the Raiders

Did anyone see this stack happen last night? The Athletics collected 16 runs and 15 hits (including three hits each by Billy Butler and Mark Canha) over the first four innings of their 17-6 triumph over the White Sox. The last time a team had at least 16 runs and 15 hits over the first four innings of a game was on April 20, 2013, when the Indians had 18 runs and 18 hits at Minute Maid Park against the Astros. Jason Giambi(five RBIs) and Mark Reynolds (four RBIs) drove in half of those runs.

There was only one other game in A’s history in which they totaled at least 16 runs and 15 hits over the first four innings. That was on June 18, 2000 against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, when they had 17 runs and 15 hits in the first four frames of a 21-3 victory. Jason Giambi also played in that game, collecting two hits and two runs batted in over those four innings; his brother Jeremy went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in that same four-inning span.

Two position players, Leury Garcia and Alexei Ramirez, came into pitch for the White Sox on Tuesday. That marked just the second time in Sox history in which multiple position players pitched in one game. The first came in the second game of a doubleheader on September 28, 1902 against the St. Louis Browns (and the last game of the season for the White Sox). Frank Isbell, who played 133 games at first base in 1902, was the starting pitcher in the game and pitched one inning. Sam Mertes, who played 120 games in the outfield that season, replaced Isbell; he pitched the remainder of the game, allowing just two runs and earning the win.

nullDee Gordon en fuego

Dee Gordon, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored in the Marlins’ 9-3 victory at Citi Field on Tuesday, is 33-for-77 (.429) in 18 games against the Mets this season. Gordon’s 33 hits are the most for one player against a particular team this season as well as the most against the Mets in a single season. The previous high versus New York was Curt Flood’s 32 hits in 1963.

The last time a player had at least 33 hits against one team in a season was in 2011, when Jacoby Ellsbury (34 hits against Blue Jays) and Adrian Gonzalez (34 hits versus Orioles) accomplished this.

King Felix who?

David Murphy and Mike Trout each connected for home runs off Felix Hernandez in the Angels’ victory against the Mariners on Tuesday. It’s the fourth time that both Murphy and Trout have hit a homer against Hernandez; only Mark Teixeira (six) and Nelson Cruz (five) have hit more homers in their careers against King Felix.

Here’s last nights #DraftKings #Fantasybaseball perfect lineup:

91515_perfectlineup


I was sitting down at the ol’digital typewriter and I was transported back to college for a time because a Madonna tune came on the playlist, and it got me thinking about that girl that was obsessed with her.  Calling Madonna the penultimate female embodiment and how much she respected her and felt that all women should look up to her and liberate themselves from their sexual slavery, yada-yada – I really wasn’t paying that close attention but if she was intent on practicing her sexual liberation, then I was more than willing to help her out – it’s the least I could do…

So my point is, I wonder if she still thinks of Madonna as the Goddess of Feminism?  It seems kinda of odd picturing that girl, now in her 40’s strutting around with a pointy bra, rockin’ out to express yourself – or with an old pair of lace gloves crawling on the floor not wanting you to push her love over the borderline – it could happen…But it got me thinking about some other bat-sh!t-crazy things people still might do – like eat Cheez Whiz and go to Dinner Theater.  Did someone really think that while they were watching RENT or WEST-SIDE STORY, that the only thing that was missing from the production was some pork chops?  Cheez Whiz is what you’d see a doctor for, not eat.  Speaking of crazy…

It is only Wednesday and there is no football for another day – so if you’re feeling a little squirelly and really have nothing better to do then let’s make a drinking game out of the 2nd GOP debate, with a little side-action on who mentions “Kim Davis” first – and if someone compares her to Rosa Parks, it’s a shot – if anyone mentions Indiana is the size of ISIS, it’s a shot –  Matt Taibbi,  has come up with some other fun rules – So let’s pretend we are the Lizard King and we’ll all tap into our inner-Kennedy, for #Murica!

  • Drink THE FIRST TIME and the FIRST TIME only:
  • 1. A candidate invokes the memory of Saint Reagan.
  • 2. A candidate mentions Hillary’s emails.
  • Drink EVERY TIME:
  • 3. Hugh Hewitt hurls a douchey gotcha question at Trump.
  • 4. Trump – or any of the other candidates – insults or threatens one of the moderators. Beer chaser if it’s Tapper or Bash, and the candidate rips liberal-ass CNN in the process.
  • 5. Trump brags about his wealth or his poll numbers, or mocks the low poll numbers of an opponent.
  • 6. A candidate pledges to stand with Israel.
  • 7. Carly Fiorina makes a joke about her own face.
  • 8. A candidate claims a positive relationship with a minority. We’re keeping this rule in every debate. (So far we’re one-for-one: Kasich said he had a gay friend in the first debate.)
  • 9. Anyone mentions the “War on Christians.”
  • 10. A candidate says he’ll stand up to Putin.
  • 11. Trump derides someone for being a “lightweight” or having “low energy” or “low enthusiasm.”
  • 12. Anyone mentions Tom Brady or Deflategate.
  • 13. Anyone calls Black Lives Matter a “hate group,” argues that BLM or Barack Obama have endangered the lives of police, or pulls a “What about black-on-black crime?” line.
  • 14. A candidate mentions the founders. Double shot if it’s Rand Paul.
  • 15. Carson invokes the Bible as an authority for something that has nothing to do with the Bible, like tax policy.
  • 16. A candidate says, “I’m the only person on this stage who…” Double shot if it’s Carson saying something like, “I’m the only candidate who’s had his hands inside a human thorax.”
  • 17.  Anyone mentions Hitler, Nazis or Neville Chamberlain. Includes related imagery, e.g. “ovens.”
  • 18. Anyone mentions the Governator or makes a Terminator-themed joke, e.g. “To illegal immigrants, I say, Hasta La Vista.
  • Drink EVERY TIME you hear:
  • 19. “Anchor babies.”
  • 20. “Thug.”
  • 21. “Leading from behind.”
  • 22. “All lives matter.”
  • 23. “Apologize for America.”
  • Take a shot of JAGERMEISTER if:
  • 24. Any candidate is seen wearing a Blue Lives Matter bracelet.
  • 25. A candidate offers an insincere paean to departed Rick Perry. Double shot if someone references his “smart glasses.”

Friday Dregs

Iguodala comes through for Kerr and the Warriors

Andre Iguodala didn’t start a game during the 2014-15 regular season and he hadn’t started a game during this year’s playoffs until Steve Kerr sent him to the floor to begin Game 4 of the Finals. Iguodala proceeded to score 22 points and grab eight rebounds, both tied for the Warriors’ team high, as Golden State topped the Cavaliers, 103-82, to deadlock the series.

Over the last 45 years, the only other players who started an NBA Finals game without starting a game during either the preceding regular season or earlier in that year’s playoffs were Terry Teagle (1991 Lakers), Marcus Camby (1999 Knicks) and Manu Ginobili (2013 Spurs). Ginobili (24 points in Game 5) and Iguodala (on Thursday night) are the only players among them who either scored 20 or more points or pulled down as many as eight rebounds in their first start during that year’s Finals.

Convincing road victory for Golden State

The Warriors’ 21-point margin of victory in Game 4 was the largest for any road team in an NBA Finals game in which they entered the game trailing in the series. The previous high was 16 points by Miami in its 109-93 Game 4 victory at San Antonio in 2013.

Cleveland off the mark from downtown

The Cavaliers made only four of their 27 three-point field-goal attempts in Game 4 (14.8 percent). There have been 474 instances in NBA playoff history in which a team launched at least 25 shots from three-point range; only four other teams that took 25 or more three-point shots made as low a percentage of them as did the Cavaliers, with the last such team doing it 18 years ago, when the Bulls made four of 27 three-point shots (14.8%) in an 87-80 loss at Miami in Game 4 of the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals. The only other team to hit such a low three-point percentage (minimum: 25 shots) in a Finals game was the Bulls, who made only three of 26 three-point shots (11.5%) in losing Game 5 of the 1996 Finals at Seattle, 89-78.

Not many turnovers in Game 4

The Warriors (seven) and Cavaliers (nine) combined to commit only 16 turnovers in Game 4. That is the second-lowest total of turnovers in a NBA Finals game in any of the last 15 years. The only Finals game with fewer turnovers during that time (2001-2015) was the opener of the 2013 Finals, when the Spurs (four) and Heat (nine) combined to turn the ball over only 13 times.

Kazmir limits the Rangers to one hit, again

Scott Kazmir threw eight innings for the Athletics as they topped the Rangers, 7-0, and the only hit he allowed was a fifth-inning single by Elvis Andrus. It was the 11th major-league game this season in which a pitcher had a scoreless outing of seven or more innings without allowing more than one hit. Kazmir is the only pitcher who has had two such games and both were against the Rangers in Oakland. He pitched seven scoreless innings versus Texas on April 8, allowing one hit (a bunt single by Leonys Martin leading off the game).

nullCuddyer’s first walkoff RBI since 2006

Michael Cuddyer‘s second go-ahead RBI of the night came on a game-ending single in the bottom of the ninth inning and gave the Mets a 5-4 triumph over the Giants. Cuddyer, who hadn’t produced a game-ending RBI since he hit a walkoff homer for the Twins on April 19, 2006, played 1140 major-league games in the interim. Cuddyer entered Thursday’s game with the longest current streak of consecutive games without a walkoff RBI among active major-league players, a distinction that now belongs to San Diego’s Clint Barmes, who has played 1090 games since the only walkoff RBI of his career (a game-ending homer for the Rockies off Trevor Hoffman in the 2005 season opener).

Trout and Pujols both homer for the Angels

Mike Trout homered in the sixth inning and Albert Pujols hit a four-bagger in the ninth to help the Angels beat the Rays at Tropicana Field. It was the fifth game this season in which both Trout and Pujols homered, tying them with Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and Logan Morrison for the most such games for any major-league teammates this year.

nullMarcum tosses a gem

Shaun Marcum pitched seven innings and limited the Mariners to two hits in the Indians’ 6-0 shutout on Thursday afternoon. Marcum joined Trevor Bauer (April 9) and Corey Kluber (May 13) as Cleveland starters who have won games this season in which they had a scoreless outing of at least six innings without allowing more than two hits. The only other major-league teams that have had starts of that kind by three different pitchers this season are the Athletics (Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmirand Drew Pomeranz) and Giants (Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Chris Heston).

nullGonzalez allows a run

The Rangers’ Chi Chi Gonzalez saw his career ERA balloon to 0.42 by allowing one run in seven innings versus the Athletics as he suffered his first loss in his third major-league game. Fernando Valenzuela posted a 0.33 ERA through his first three starts in the majors (in 1981), but since then, the only other pitcher who accumulated at least 20 innings through his first three major-league starts while pitching to an ERA as low as Gonzalez’s is Pat Combs, who had a 0.41 ERA to that point of his career for the 1989 Phillies.

Weekend Sediment

Before we get to the weekend recap – there is a tragic news story coming out of Florida – It seems an owner of a major-league-fantasy sports team decided to hold his wedding during the baseball season and subsequently neglected his team for a honeymoon destination without wifi.  His reckless decisions have placed his teams chances for a title in serious jeopardy that they may never recover from.  If this sounds like something you might do, then stop and think of your players.  Of course you can avoid any of these scenarios by playing Daily Fantasy with us and never have to worry about taking a vacation and ruining your teams chances, because each day is a new chance to earn some fresh lettuce.  We have developed a baseball solution based on avoiding zeroes and increasing your chances to cash 75% of the lineups you enter.  So, look for our information by 2p each day based on the amount of games being played in our BASEBALL page.  Now on with the recap!


Lightning strikes

From Elias: Ben Bishop became the first goaltender in NHL history to send his team into the Stanley Cup Final with a road shutout in a Game Seven, as he lifted the Lightning into the Final by blanking the Rangers, 2-0. For Bishop, it was his second Game Seven shutout of the 2015 playoffs; he had blanked the Red Wings, 2-0, in the seventh game of Tampa Bay’s first-round series. Bishop is the third goaltender in NHL history to earn a pair of Game Seven shutouts in one playoff year. The others were Colorado’s Patrick Roy in 2002 (vs. Los Angeles and San Jose) and Boston’s Tim Thomas in 2011 (vs. Tampa Bay and Vancouver). (For Bishop, unlike Roy and Thomas, the shutouts came in the first two Game Sevens of his NHL career.)

Bishop, who recorded an assist in his Game Seven win versus Detroit, did the same in Friday’s victory against the Rangers. The only other NHL goaltenders with even one career assist in a Game Seven shutout are Pittsburgh’s Frank Pietrangelo in 1991 (vs. New Jersey) and Colorado’s Patrick Roy in 2002 (vs. Los Angeles).

Bishop shut out the Rangers not only in Game Seven, but also in Game Five. No other goaltender had ever pitched a road shutout in a winner-take-all road game after also having earned a shutout in his previous game on the same ice.

The Lightning’s victory, on the heels of a 7-3 loss in Game Six on Tuesday, marked the first time in NHL history that a team had won a series by means of a Game Seven road shutout after having allowed at least five goals in the previous game.

Toews puts Chicago on path to victory

From Elias: The Blackhawks, on a pair of goals by Jonathan Toews, outscored the Ducks, 2-0, in the first period of Game 7 in the Western Conference Final at Anaheim. Toews is the third player in NHL history to score two first-period goals for the road team in the seventh game of a playoff series. The other players to do that were the Maple Leafs’ Dave Keon at Montreal in a 1964 Semi-Final series, and the Kings’ Ted Irvine at Oakland in a first-round series in 1969. The last NHL player to score two first-period goals for the home side in Game 7 was the Bruins’ Milan Lucic in a second-round matchup versus the Flyers in 2010.

Kane helps on three goals

From Elias: Patrick Kane assisted on three of the Blackhawks five goals in their win over the Ducks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. In the NHL’s expansion era (1968 to date) the only other players to record three assists in the seventh game of a Semi-Final or Conference Final series are Boston’s Jean Ratelle at Montreal in 1979 and Toronto’s Doug Gilmour versus Los Angeles in 1993, though each of them did so in a game their team lost.

Blackhawks offense comes alive in last two games of Conference Final

From Elias: The Blackhawks won 5-3 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, after posting a 5-2 victory in Game 6. It’s the seventh time in NHL history that a team won Game 6 and Game 7 of a playoff series while scoring at least five goals in each game, but it’s only the second time it has happened after the first round. The only previous instance of an NHL team winning a series in that fashion after the opening round was when Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings posted 5-4 wins over the Maple Leafs in Games 6 and 7 of the 1993 Campbell Conference Final.


Think of the Central time zone and the 4 teams that are .600 or better as the dog days begin – St. Louis Cardinals (33-17), Minnesota Twins (30-19), Houston Fir-stros (31-20) and the Kansas City Royals (29-19).  Maybe the Royals and the Cardinals are so much as a surprise as the Twins and Astros are – but no one saw this…

FRIDAY

Norris caps one-of-a-kind night with walk-off grand-slam

From Elias: Derek Norris, who had struck out in each of his four previous trips to the plate, hit a two-out, grand-slam walkoff homer in the ninth inning to propel the Padres to a 6-2 victory over the Pirates. It was the first game-ending grand-slam homer in the majors this season and the sixth such blow in Padres history, the last coming off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez five years ago. But fans at Petco Park on Friday night saw something never previously done in the history of major-league baseball: Norris became the first player to hit a walkoff grand-slam home run in a game in which he has previously struck out as many as four times.

Dodgers bring drought on the road with them

From Elias: When the Dodgers play in Los Angeles, they have to deal with water restrictions necessitated by the California drought. But now on the road, the Dodgers have experienced a scoring drought, one that reached a remarkable total of 37 consecutive road innings without a run as they fell, 3-0, to John Lackey and the Cardinals on Friday night. That total represents the second-longest streak of consecutive scoreless innings in road games since the Dodgers joined the National League in 1890. The one longer streak was fashioned during the Roosevelt administrationthat’s Teddy Rooseveltin August of 1908. In the midst of a 22-game road trip through six National League cities, the Dodgers went 41 straight innings without scoring in Pittsburgh and Chicago.

The 2015 Dodgers had lost three straight shutouts at San Francisco, May 19 to May 21, in their last road games before Friday’s contest in St. Louis. They have been shut out in four straight road games for the first time in franchise history.

Buehrle’s 204th win is unlike any of the others

From Elias: The Twins ended Mark Buehrle‘s streak of 35 consecutive innings without allowing Minnesota an earned run early and with emphasis, scoring four runs, all earned, in the first inning. But then Buehrle slipped back into form, the Blue Jays pecked away and the veteran left-hander wound up going the distance to earn a 6-4 victory. Only two major-league pitchers over the last 30 years have earned a complete-game win, going nine or more innings, after having allowed four or more runs in the first inningand even they were long ago. In 1995, Seattle’s Tim Belcher downed Cleveland, 11-5, after allowing four in the first, and in 1986, Fernando Valenzuela went the route after yielding four in the first to help the Dodgers top the Phillies, 11-4.

Buehrle’s streak, crafted over five games dating back to 2011, was the longest by any big-league pitcher against an opposing team since Zack Greinke held Seattle without an earned run over 38 innings from 2008 to 2010. It was the longest such streak crafted by a starting pitcher against the Twins since Sudden Sam McDowell sailed through 48 innings without allowing the Twins an earned run over 1968 and 1969.

Hamilton hits two in second home game of season

From Elias: Josh Hamilton homered on each of his first two trips to the plate off Boston’s Steven Wright and the Rangers took it from there, repelling the Red Sox, 7-4. Each of Hamilton’s home runs gave the Rangers a lead (1-0 and then 3-2), and they came in his second home game after re-joining the Rangers while the team was on the road earlier this week. The home runs were the 84th and 85th that Hamilton has hit in a Rangers uniform in what is now known as Globe Life Park in Arlington. He hit only one home run there in 62 at-bats over 16 games while with the Angels over the past two seasons.

Bettis and Tulo have their way in Philly

From Elias: Chad Bettis threw seven and one-third hitless inningsthe second-longest no-hit effort in the 3,548-game history of the Rockies, second only toUbaldo Jimenez‘s complete-game no-hitter at Atlanta five years agoonly to see his bid spoiled when Cody Asche‘s soft grounder to the shortstop position rolled through to the outfield because Troy Tulowitzki was overshifted onto the right side of the infield. Bettis, against whom opponents had fashioned a collective .320 batting average in his 40 previous major-league games, allowed another hit later in the inning and earned credit for Colorado’s 4-1 victory at Philadelphia.

Tulowitzki did his best work with the stick in his hands, going 4-for-4, and reaching Cole Hamels for a pair of home runs. It was the second game in his career in which Tulowitzki produced at least four hits, including multiple homers, while batting 1.000; he went 5-for-5 with two circuit clouts in a game at Cincinnati two years back. Hamels is the fourth pitcher against whom Tolo has homered twice in a game; he had previously homered twice in the same game off Sean O’SullivanBronson Arroyo and John Ely.

Bettis, by the way, did keep a couple of other no-hit streaks intact: He went 0-for-2 at the plate, and is now 0-for-23 in his big-league career. Rockies pitchers as a whole are now hitless in their last 34 at-bats.

Another short start for Strasburg

From Elias: Stephen Strasburg left the mound due to an apparent stiff neck in the second inning of the Nationals’ game at Cincinnati, and the Reds later came from behind to take a 5-2 decision. Strasburg has had major problems with length in recent weeks: including his one-inning effort on Friday night, he has now thrown a total of 16 innings over his last five starts combined. That matches the fewest innings that any big-leaguer accumulated over a five-start span (with no relief appearances sprinkled in) all of last season; the Angels’ Cory Rasmus was the lone pitcher last season who amassed just 16 innings over five straight starts.

SATURDAY

Dodgers finally score on the road

From Elias: Howie Kendrick‘s sixth-inning single scored Justin Turner and ended the Dodgers’ road scoreless streak at 42 innings. That surpassed by one inning the franchise record streak of 41, set in August 1908. No major-league team had failed to score in 42 consecutive innings in road games in 30 years, since the Braves posted a 46-inning streak in May 1985.

Grandal shows power with runners on

From Elias: Yasmani Grandal‘s three-run home run gave the Dodgers the lead for good in their 5-1 win at St. Louis. Grandal’s last two home runs were also of the three-run variety, both on May 7 at Milwaukee. The last Dodgers player to drive in at least three runs on three straight homers within one season was Adrian Beltre in 2003.

Keuchel White-washes Sox

From Elias: Dallas Keuchel struck out 11 without walking a batter in a complete-game 3-0 home win for the Astros over the White Sox. No Houston pitcher had struck out more than 10 batters without issuing a walk in a complete-game shutout since Randy Johnson fanned 16 Pirates at the Astrodome on August 28, 1998.

Stanton feels at home in Queens

From Elias: Giancarlo Stanton hit two home runs in the Marlins’ 9-5 win over the Mets in New York. It was Stanton’s third career-multi-homer game at Citi Field. That’s the third-highest total by any player behind current Mets slugger Lucas Duda(6), and former New York first baseman Ike Davis (4).

Paulsen homers off Garcia again

From Elias: For the second straight day, Ben Paulsen homered off Luis Garcia as the Rockies won at Philadelphia. Only two other rookies in the last 20 years have hit home runs in two consecutive games off the same pitcher: the Phillies’ Pat Burrell against the Mets’ Armando Benitez in June 2000, and the Braves’ Brooks Conrad off the Brewers’ Carlos Villanueva in May 2010.

Goldschmidt homers off Lohse in two straight innings

From Elias: Paul Goldschmidt hit two home runs, a solo shot off Kyle Lohse in the third inning and a two-run blast off Lohse in the fourth, in the Diamondbacks’ 7-3 win it Milwaukee. It was the third time that Goldschmidt has homered in consecutive innings, having done so against the Reds in 2013 and versus the Dodgers in 2014. But the last Arizona player to go deep in consecutive innings off the same pitcher was Aaron Hill against Madison Bumgarner at Chase Field on April 7, 2012.

SUNDAY

Hamilton gives the Rangers a dramatic win

Josh Hamilton‘s pinch-hit, two-run double off Koji Uehara with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Rangers’ a 4-3 triumph over the Red Sox. It was the eighth game of Hamilton’s major-league career in which he produced a walkoff RBI, and in four of those games (all for the Rangers) his game-ender turned a deficit into a victory, three of which came in two-out situations. Sunday’s walkoff by Hamilton was the first for a Rangers pinch-hitter with the team trailing and down to its final out since June 2, 1995, when Rusty Greer‘s pinch-hit, two-run homer off Rick Aguilera with two outs in the bottom of the ninth gave Texas a 6-5 win over the Twins.

Colorado bullpen bails out injured Lyles for Philly sweep

Jordan Lyles lasted only 1.1 innings before his reoccurring toe injury forced him out of the game, but none of the four Colorado relievers who followed him to the mound was charged with a run in the Rockies’ 4-1 triumph in Philadelphia. Chris Rusin, who relieved Lyles in the second inning, tossed 4.2 innings and was credited with the victory. It was the 38th game in franchise history in which the Rockies’ starting pitcher recorded fewer than five outs, but it was the first of those games in which Colorado’s bullpen was not charged with a run.

Ten-hit shutout for Danks

John Danks answered Saturday’s shutout by Dallas Keuchel with one of his own on Sunday, as he scattered ten hits while the White Sox downed the Astros, 6-0. Danks became the first major-league pitcher since Minnesota’s Carlos Silva (11 hits) blanked the Angels on August 3, 2004 to toss a shutout in a game in which he allowed ten or more hits. The only other White Sox pitcher who did that in the post-WWII era is Stan Bahnsen, with a 12-hit shutout of the Athletics on June 21, 1973.

Frazier leads Reds in sweep of Nationals

Todd Frazier went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs as the Reds completed their three-game series sweep of the Nationals. It capped a four-game span for Frazier during which time he went 10-for-15 with four doubles and three home runs. In baseball’s modern era (1900 to date), the only other Reds players who produced ten or more hits over a four-game period, including seven for extra bases and a batting average as high as Frazier’s (.667) are George Crowe in 1957, George Foster in 1980, Kevin Mitchell in 1993 (two overlapping four-game spans) and Barry Larkin in 1995.

Maldonado had enough

After playing the entire game behind the plate, Martin Maldonado put an end to his long day of squatting with a game-ending home run that gave the Brewers a 7-6 victory over the Diamondbacks in 17 innings. Maldonado is the first player in major-league history who ended a game of at least 17 innings with a home run after playing a complete game in the field as a catcher.

A late comeback for the Braves

The Braves erased a two-run deficit with a four-run ninth inning that was capped by Jace Peterson‘s bases-loaded triple in their 7-5 victory at San Francisco. The Braves had lost the previous 70 games in which they trailed in the eighth inning or later (since a come-from-behind win against the Mets on June 30, 2014). That was the longest current losing streak of its kind for any major-league team entering play on Sunday (a distinction that now belongs to the Marlins, who have lost the last 40 games in which they were in that predicament) and it was the longest losing streak of that nature for the Braves since the Boston version of the franchise lost 108 consecutive games in which it trailed in the eighth inning or later from 1904 to 1905.

Kipnis reached base more often than not during May

Jason Kipnis went 2-for-5 with a walk in the Indians’ 12-inning win at Seattle and he posted an on-base percentage of .511 during May, with 51 hits, 16 walks and five hit-by-pitches. Kipnis is the first Indians player to reach base safely at least 70 times in one calendar month (via hits, walks and HBP) since Earl Averill did it 74 times in July 1934 (38 hits, 35 walks, one hit-by-pitch).

Angels win four against the mighty Tigers

Johnny Giavotella‘s infield single in the bottom of the eighth inning plated two runs to snap a 2-2 tie in the Angels’ 4-2 win that completed their four-game series sweep of the Tigers. It was the fourth time in franchise history that the Angels swept a four-game series from a team that entered the series with a winning percentage as high as Detroit’s (.583 at the time of Thursday’s series opener). The Angels’ previous sweeps of that kind came against the Indians in both 1965 and 1967 and versus the Athletics last August.

Flores takes his place among young power-hitting shortstops

Wilmer Flores, at age 23, slammed his eighth home run of the season to help Bartolo Colon and the Mets defeat the Marlins in New York. Flores’s eight homers match the major-leagues’ fourth-highest single-season total by the end of May for a shortstop under the age of 24. The only higher totals belong to Alex Rodriguez, who did it twice (ten in 1996 at age 20; 20 in 1998 at age 22), and Cal Ripken (11 in 1984 at age 23). Four other under-24 players had exactly eight homers form the shortstop position by the end of May: Arky Vaughan (1935 Pirates), Rico Petrocelli (1966 Red Sox), A-

Rod (1999 Mariners) and Jean Segura (2013 Brewers).

Rookie home-run streaks

Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza (at Baltimore) and Miami’s Justin Bour (at New York) each homered for a third consecutive game on Sunday, tying them with the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson (April 29-May 2) for the longest home-run streaks by major-league rookies this season. Souza became the third Tampa Bay rookie to homer in three consecutive games, joining Evan Longoria (two such streaks in 2008) and Kevin Kiermaier (last season). Bour joined a surprisingly long list of Marlins rookies with three-game home-run streaks, including Kurt Abbott (1994), who is the only one of them who homered in four straight games. The other Marlins rookies with three-game home-run streaks are Charles Johnson (1995), Derrek Lee (1998), Hanley Ramirez (2006), Josh Willingham (twice in 2006) and Giancarlo Stanton (twice in 2010).

Martinez extends his streak of scoreless innings

Carlos Martinez allowed only one hit during seven shutout innings as he and the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers, 3-1. Martinez extended his scoreless streak to 20.1 consecutive innings, which is the longest for any major-league starting pitcher this season. The only other Cardinals starter who fashioned a streak of consecutive shutout innings as long as Martinez’s in any of the last four seasons is Adam Wainwright, who had two such streaks last year (25 innings and 21 innings).