- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
Our first position player pitching alert of the season came to us during the Boston Red Sox 6-4, 14-inning victory over the Chicago White Sox at a chilly U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday night. White Sox manager Robin Ventura called upon infielder Leury Garcia, who ultimately took the loss after serving up a two-run double to Jackie Bradley Jr.
Of course, typically position players on the mound are saved for blow outs and the more extreme 18-inning marathons. However, in this case Ventura had little choice aside from using a starting pitcher, which apparently wasn't an option. The biggest problem? Ventura used five different pitchers to record six outs in the eighth and ninth innings, and his aggressive strategy didn‘t work as the Red Sox still managed to rally from a 3-1 deficit to force extras. Sacrifice flies from A.J. Pierzynski and Grady Sizemore did the damage.Thu, Apr 175:10 PM PDTBoston at Chi White SoxPreview Game
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
Former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady took the next step towards a career in professional baseball when he made his first appearance for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters on Wednesday night.
McGrady was named Sugar Land’s starting pitcher for their exhibition game against Alvin Community College. He lasted one inning, allowing one run on three hits, but despite the traffic needed only 15 pitches (nine strikes, six balls) to get back to the dugout.
It was a pretty efficient outing by all accounts, but it sounds as through Alvin was aggressive at the plate and swinging at everything McGrady pumped in the zone.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew7 hrs ago
The Houston Astros hit the fast forward button to the future on Wednesday, calling up outfielder and top prospect George Springer to make his major league debut. The 24-year-old entered with high expectations and with a palpable buzz in the air, but didn’t look intimidated in his first appearance. In fact, he came out swinging, grounding out in his first plate appearance only because of a tremendous defensive effort by Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar.
As they often say in baseball, your luck will even out eventually. It didn't take long for Springer, because in his second plate appearance he was swinging again, and this time collected his first big league hit on a dribbler about 25 feet up the third base line.
George Springer's first major league hit went about 10 feet. He's gonna have a whole lot more, and they're gonna go a whole lot farther.
It's a line drive in the boxscore, but with all of today's video technology it will be difficult to hide the truth from his grandkids someday.Thu, Apr 175:10 PM PDTKansas City at HoustonPreview Game
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew10 hrs ago
Little League coaches emphasize it at a young age and it holds true regardless of what level of baseball a player reaches: Every defender on the diamond has a place to be on every play, even if the ball is on the other side of the field. There might be a throw to back up, a base to cover, and even a rundown to participate in. The three main rules to follow are stay alert, never assume anything, and be ready to move into action.
We got a good example of how that can even carry over into the big leagues on Wednesday afternoon, and the alertness of New York Mets right-hander Dillon Gee paid big dividends as he was able to squash a potential two-out rally in the sixth inning by following those rules, helping to preserve a 5-2 victory.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew12 hrs ago
Wednesday night's battle against the Kansas City Royals may prove to be the most anticipated game of the season for the Houston Astros. That's because top prospect George Springer finally got the call he's been waiting for since the Astros selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft, and is set to make his major league debut at Minute Maid Park.
It almost feels like a landmark moment for a franchise that has been in full blown rebuilding mode for the better part of three seasons. Springer represents a new wave of talent that general manager Jeff Luhnow hopes will be the catalysts for their turn around and ascension up the AL West standings.
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The quest is finally over for Justin Verlander. After winning an MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year award. After being selected to six All-Star games and appearing in 268 games overall. After accomplishing pretty much everything there is to accomplish in baseball, the Detroit Tigers ace finally added his first big league hit to his résumé.
The big moment came in the third inning on Saturday night when he ripped a single up the middle off San Diego's Ian Kennedy. It was almost literally off Kennedy, too, as it shot between his legs and skipped cleanly into center field.
It was a proud moment for Verlander, who snapped an 0-for-26 streak.
And his teammates couldn't be happier for him. Especially Max Scherzer down there on the far right.
''It felt great. It's been a long time and I can finally get all these guys off my back ...,'' Verlander said.Thu, Apr 1710:08 AM PDTCleveland at DetroitPreview Game
David Ortiz was the talk of the sports world last week when he snapped the now infamous selfie with President Barack Obama during the Boston Red Sox visit to the White House. The photo caused quite a stir, because, well, it's a selfie with the President. But there was also an initial report that the whole thing was a paid promotional stunt encouraged by Samsung, who Ortiz currently has an endorsement deal with.
Both Ortiz and Samsung quickly denied that being the case and the story pretty much faded away in recent days. That was, until "Saturday Night Live" revived the whole ordeal with a spoof skit of David Ortiz during their "Weekend Update" segment.
Actor Kenan Thompson played the role of Ortiz and did a tremendous job capturing Ortiz's personality. He's boisterous. He's a little all over the place and a lot over the top. But he's one-hundred percent entertaining, exactly like Ortiz.
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Last weekend Giancarlo Stanton hit a 484-foot home run to the Budweiser bar at Marlins Park that we thought might go unchallenged as the longest home run all season.
Seven days later, Stanton's mark still stands, but barely. Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton crushed a 477-foot home run at Turner Field on Thursday night. A home run so impressive, Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia could only throw his glove in despair immediately afterward. And on Saturday night in Philadelphia, some kid hit a home run estimated at 469 feet by ESPN's Hit Tracker, which landed somewhere in the crowd gathered at Tony Luke's restaurant located on Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park.
Oh, right, that kid was Giancarlo Stanton.
Outfielder Jeff Francoeur signed a minor deal with the San Diego Padres in March after failing to make the Cleveland Indians roster this spring. Upon signing, the 30-year-old was quickly assigned to the Padres Triple-A affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas, and waiting for him there was a mischievous group of baseball players looking for a target to hit with their next elaborate prank.
Spoiler: Francoeur was the target, and they got the nine-year major league veteran hook, line and sinker.
The entire Chihuahuas roster banded together to get in on the prank, which they were able to keep going for over a month. And it wasn't easy, because the prank involved making Francoeur believe that pitcher Jorge Reyes was deaf. Naturally that took a well coordinated effort that involved everybody from the coaches, trainers, waitresses, to even Reyes' wife. Reyes even had to sacrifice a little bit, giving up listening to music in the clubhouse and basically staying silent (maybe the joke was on him, too).
But the beauty of it is Francoeur bought in the whole time.Thu, Apr 173:40 PM PDTColorado at San DiegoPreview Game
Naturally, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi is going to catch some flak this season when he elects to sit shortstop Derek Jeter. With 2014 already announced as Jeter's final season, some fans, particularly on the road, will be making special plans to see hm play one final time at the nearest ballpark. And when those fans arrive to find out Jeter isn't in the lineup, they're going to voice their displeasure.
One such game happened during the Yankees opening series in Houston, which was met with discontent locally. On Saturday, Girardi elected to rest Jeter again, this time at Yankee Stadium in a day game after a night game against the Boston Red Sox. It makes perfect sense given Jeter's struggles to stay healthy last season after breaking his ankle during the 2012 postseason. Girardi doesn't really owe anyone an explanation, either, and there are many fans who don't require one, but he elected to give a straight forward one on Saturday.