Mark Townsend

  • Four reasons why the Astros were terrible in April

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    After soaring back into relevance with 86 wins and a postseason berth last season, they were supposed to continue building momentum with a roster built around superstars like Carlos Correa, George Springer and Dallas Keuchel.

    [Elsewhere: A-Rod gives home run bat to young Red Sox fan who lost his father]

    Instead, they've stumbled out of the gate looking like a team without an identity.

    Granted, they haven't played as poorly as those rebuilding Astros teams that lost 324 games between 2011-2013, but the results have been miserable. With Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Oakland A's, Houston concluded April with a 7-17 record. That's tied for the worst mark in the American League along with another disappointing team, the Minnesota Twins. Houston actually has a worse run differential at -33, and the 123 runs they've allowed are the worst in the AL.

    Amazing how much difference the strikeout can make, isn't it? 

  • Vin Scully researched beards and his lecture was brilliant

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    He's like a rookie going above and beyond to prove he belongs. In every broadcast, Scully has provided at least one memorable story or history lesson that had people talking the following day. That trend continued on Saturday as the Dodgers hosted the San Diego Padres.

    [Elsewhere: Zac Curtis wears the face of shock after call up from A ball]

    On this occasion, Scully had a very special topic in mind: Beards!

    Scully gleefully announced during the second inning that he'd been doing his research on the history of beards. His inspiration? We imagine it was the Justin Turner Chia Pet giveaway at Dodger Stadium. Though it could have been Derek Norris' outrageous beard, or Andrew Cashner's. After all, he spent some serious airtime on Cashner's beard last season.

    We learned a lot, too.

    Here's another gem.

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  • Brandon Phillips goes behind-the-back, celebrates by dabbing

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    It's a gift that Phillips has shared throughout his entire 15-year career, and he put it on display once again on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    [Related: The Pirates lineup is deeper and more productive than you think]

    Starting off the sixth inning, Pittsburgh's John Jaso hit a soft ground ball seemingly into no man's land on the right side on the infield. It's that spot where the pitcher, first baseman and second baseman all have a shot at the ball depending on positioning, but there's so much confusion it rarely turns into an out.

    Brandon Phillips doesn't deal with confusion though. He just takes charge. In this case he recorded an out with one of his trademark gems that looked so smooth. 

    How smooth you ask?

    How about a barehanded grab, and in one motion a behind-the-back toss right on the money to first base. All while his momentum was bringing him forward, we might add. But it made no difference. Phillips had the play locked down, and then he celebrated as only Brandon Phillips can. 

  • The Pirates lineup is deeper and more productive than you think

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    McCutchen truly is a superstar. He embodies that term in every possible way, from his on field play, to the way he connects with fans, to the way he conducts himself off the field. In turn, that's made him the face of the Pirates organization, as well as an ambassador for Major League Baseball.

    [Elsewhere: The Brewers turned the most overlooked triple play in MLB history]

    We could go on all day about McCutchen's baseball accolades; his MVP award in 2013, his five straight All-Star selections, not to mention his numerous kind acts on and off the field. But truth be told, he's not a one-man show. The Pirates have put enough talent around him to earn three straight wild-card berths, and now they have an entire lineup that's producing at a notable rate. 

    [The Walk Off: Mets top Giants again, push winning streak to eight]

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  • The Walk Off: Mets top Giants again, push winning streak to eight

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Does April have to end? 

    That might be a question the New York Mets were asking on Saturday. Then again, with the way they're playing right now, it's more likely they were asking what time the batting cages will open on Sunday morning, the first day of May. 

    [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ]

    The Mets concluded April as the hottest team in baseball, winning their eighth straight game 6-5 against the San Francisco Giants. They end April with a 15-7 record, which is one win shy of a team record and good for the third best record in MLB. 

    There's no World Series hangover with this team. And there's actually room for improvement once they can get Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom in the flow again. DeGrom pitched Saturday, allowing three unearned runs over six innings. His offense had his back again, smacking two more homers to run their opening month total to 33, which tied a franchise record for April.  

  • Zac Curtis wears the face of shock after call up from A ball

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Rarely though will a prospect get called up directly from A Ball. Most teams just aren't confident those players have faced a high enough level of competition to be properly prepared for the big leagues. But that didn't impact the Arizona Diamondbacks decision on Saturday.

    [Elsewhere: A-Rod gives home run bat to young Red Sox fan who lost his father]

    In a surprising move, they elected to call up 23-year-old left-hander Zac Curtis from the California League's Visalia Rawhide, which is their Class A Advanced affiliate.

    Curtis, who's been in the Arizona system for three years, has not played above that level. Needless to say, he was quite surprised when learning the news on Friday night. 

    Nothing like telling a man his dreams have come true. Congrats 2 @Zac_Curtis16 on the @MLB call up! 19.2 K's/9! pic.twitter.com/IesBzbit5S

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  • A Chicago sportscaster tweeted an unnecessary Freddie Gray 'joke'

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    It was exactly one year ago on Friday that the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles played a regular season game in an empty Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The reason for this unique circumstance was strictly about safety concerns stemming from riots in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, who died following a spinal cord injury that was suffered while in police custody.

    The situation was no joking matter then. In fact, emotions and tensions in Baltimore were so high that members of the National Guard were brought in to help usher a peaceful conclusion.

    [Elsewhere: David Ortiz delivers on promise to sick child with home run]

    It should go without saying that the subject remains no laughing matter one year later. The Baltimore community felt a real loss, and it's still struggling to understand how a 25-year-old man lost his life under such troubling circumstances. 

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  • The Brewers turned the most overlooked triple play in MLB history

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    As the record will show, the Brewers did in fact turn a beautiful 5-4-3 around-the-horn triple play during their 6-3 loss to the Miami Marlins. It happened in the fifth inning, when Miami's Marcell Ozuna hit a sharp ground ball to third baseman Aaron Hill. After Hill stepped on third, he fired to second baseman Yadiel Rivera, who then fired to first baseman Chris Carter.

    [Related: Would Dee Gordon have caught Jonathan Lucroy's no-hitter spoiler?]

    It was done with such a crispness that we dare say the Brewers made it look easy. Perhaps that's one reason why people weren't buzzing like they were for this wild White Sox triple play from last weekend.

    .@Brewers go around the horn for ALL OF THE OUTS. https://t.co/b9ucdMjEPt pic.twitter.com/DRKMdTukcN

  • Ichiro joins elite company with 500th career stolen base

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    In the first inning, Ichiro reached base with career hit No. 2,944, which moved him into 33rd place on MLB's all-time list ahead of Frank Robinson. What happened immediately after was an even bigger deal, as Ichiro became just the 38th player in MLB history to reach 500 stolen bases. 

    [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now]  

    Ichiro was off to the races against Milwaukee starter Zach Davies, stealing second base with relative ease. It was his second stolen base of the 2015 season, and his 699th overall when you factor in his nine seasons playing in Japan. 

    Those are impressive numbers to be sure, but Friday's milestone steal had even greater meaning when coupled with his career hit total. Together, they put him in a category that is exclusive to baseball Hall of Famers. 

    Ichiro is 8th player in ML history to reach 500 career SBs and 2,900+ hits, joining Cobb, Wagner, Molitor, Collins, Henderson, Brock & Bonds

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

  • David Ortiz delivers on promise to sick child with home run

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    According to current MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar, his former Red Sox teammate, David Ortiz, promised a sick child named Maverick that he would hit a home run during that game. Ortiz then proceeded to deliver in the eighth inning, smashing a two-run opposite-field home run against Dellin Betances that proved to be the game-winner in Boston's 4-2 victory.

    [Related: A-Rod gives home run bat to young Red Sox fan who lost his father]

    The story is pretty amazing, and it was chronicled in full on Millar's Twitter account. 

    First, we meet young Maverick and learn a little of his story. 

    This is me and @davidortiz little buddy Maverick who battles for his life daily and is a big Red Sox fan! pic.twitter.com/0BplwaDF3f

    Then Millar posts video of Ortiz sending a message and making his promise to hit one out of Fenway Park in Maverick's honor.