Mark Townsend

  • A group of 24 Nebraska baseball players got stuck in an elevator

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    On Tuesday, one day before challenging the hottest baseball team on planet Earth, the University of Illinois Fighting Illini in the first round of the Big Ten conference tournament, members of the Nebraska baseball team — 24 of them to be exact — unwisely tested the capacity of a hotel elevator in Minneapolis.

    That decision resulted in the ultimate test of their collective sanity as the elevator became stuck mid-ride, trapping all 24 players in the cramped quarters for what had to feel like an eternity.

    Ever wonder what it's like to be stuck with a baseball team on an elevator? pic.twitter.com/xPM5Wmgp2W

    Yeah, if that was on the bucket list, the sanity test may have been failed before it was started.

    Based on the timeline of the tweets, the ordeal only lasted right around 15 minutes. Senior catcher Tanner Lubach served as the embedded reporter, sending a series of video tweets which updated the social media of their condition.

    Skers stuck on an elevator pic.twitter.com/BlQd6qcOby

    Status: Unfazed and perhaps a little too excited to be dangling helplessly from a cable.

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  • Joe Mauer's first homer of 2015 leads Twins to sweep in Pittsburgh

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

    Joe Mauer's long-running power drought is over, and he could not have possibly picked a better time to snap it. With the Twins and Pirates tied in the 13th inning at PNC Park, Mauer smacked Antonio Bastardo's 0-1 pitch into the right field bleachers for a go-ahead solo home run that held up as the difference in Minnesota's 4-3 victory.

    The home run was Mauer's first of the season. In fact, it was his first since Aug. 17 of last year, which covers a span of 76 games and 322 plate appearances. But you'd hardly know that based on the swing or the result. Looking comfortable against a left-handed pitcher, Mauer turned on the pitch like we've seen so many times in the past and gave it a ride.

    Vintage Mauer, you might say, and as a result the Twins are now a comfortable six games over .500.

    ASTROS KEEP ROLLING IN AL WEST

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  • Bartolo Colon legs out infield dribbler thanks to rare Yadier Molina error

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    For all the talk about a universal designated hitter, perhaps the greatest argument against its seemingly inevitable implementation into MLB revolves around the existence of New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon.

    As we've noted in the past, Colon's plate appearances aren't just the throw away moments you may come to expect with pitchers, they are events that unite baseball fans from all points of the world, regardless of where their loyalties lie.

    There's always an element of drama in Colon's at-bats, from whether he'll actually make contact, to whether his helmet will stay on or fall off, to the ultimate hope, that he'll put a ball in play and have to run the bases. On Wednesday, we actually got the latter when Colon hit the weakest of all possible dribblers in front on home plate, and somehow managed to leg it out. 

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    When all was said and done, it was a short night for Colon, but one with a little bit of everything, which is why we want him to stick around forever. 

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  • Bryce Harper ejected for second time in eight days

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Since launching three home runs against the New York Mets on May 6, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been baseball's hottest hitter. Over a 12-game stretch that began that afternoon leading up until Wednesday's game against the New York Yankees, Harper hit .535/.630/1.349 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs over 54 plate appearances.

    Unfortunately, his sizzling stretch at the dish isn't the only thing that's taken center stage. During his time in the spotlight, which goes back to his days in high school in Las Vegas, Harper's also earned a reputation at times for being a hot head, which has now in some way contributed to two ejections during that same stretch.

    The first came on May 13, when Harper's temper clearly got the best of him following a strikeout in Arizona. Following the ejection, Harper launched into a heated tirade against home-plate umpire Rob Drake

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  • Josh Hamilton launches first rehab home run into a pool

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

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    Over the past two weeks, Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has been slowly working himself into baseball shape with a sharp eye toward his return to MLB during his extended minor-league rehab assignment. On Wednesday, he took a fairly significant step forward by launching his first home run of 2015 for Double-A Frisco.

    Here's another look at the home run from the press box. It actually landed in a pool beyond the outfield wall at Frisco's home ballpark.  

    Two-run homer for Josh Hamilton. Landed in the pool pic.twitter.com/EcSSd0TZJd

    Hamilton's splash landing will cap a four-game stint with Frisco that saw him go 9-for-16 with nine runs scored and four driven in. Overall, Hamilton is hitting .371 during his 10-game rehab stint, which the Rangers say will return to Triple-A Round Rock this weekend.  

    Rangers announce Josh Hamilton will play at Round Rock THursday through Saturday and then be re-evaluated....

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  • Rockies batters struck out four times in one inning in two straight games

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

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    If we could sum up the Colorado Rockies recent struggles in one sequence, it would have been the eighth inning on Friday when Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen returned from the disabled list to strike out four of them in a single inning.

    On 14 pitches no less.

    But here's something cool about the Rockies. They're very accommodating. So assuming you missed the season-defining sequence on Friday, they went ahead and replayed it for you on Saturday by striking out four times in the eighth inning again, this time against Sergio Santos.

    Swell guys, aren't they?

    Of course, it should be noted that on Saturday they actually took advantage of the extra out and plated three runs thanks to a separate Dodgers error and a Nolan Arenado two-run homer. But we will overlook that success to identify the true meaning of that inning.

    On rare occasions, the batter actually reaches base safely. On even fewer occasions, the unique opportunity for four strikeouts arises. In this series, it just so happened to present itself twice, and on both occasions it actually happened.

    Which do you think is more likely?

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  • Marlins fire manager Mike Redmond minutes after nearly being no-hit

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Just moments after the Miami Marlins were nearly no-hit by Atlanta Braves right-hander Shelby Miller, the team announced that manager Mike Redmond and bench coach Rob Leary had been relieved of their duties effective immediately.

    The #Marlins have dismissed Mike Redmond and bench coach Rob Leary

    Yeah, we'd say it was a wild afternoon in Miami.

    The firing was not a direct result of Sunday's dismal offensive performance, but the entire series against the division rival Atlanta Braves could probably be viewed as the final straw.  After appearing to show signs of life early in May, the Marlins have now lost six of seven games , including a three-game sweep by the Braves. Overall, they're 16-22 on the season. 

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  • Justin Bour breaks up Shelby Miller's no-hit bid with two outs in ninth

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

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    Atlanta Braves right-hander Shelby Miller entered play on Sunday with baseball's second lowest ERA (1.60) among qualified starters. That number is going to drop even further after he flirted with history, carrying a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins.

    Miller was one out from completing the pitching performance of his life when pinch-hitter Justin Bour ripped the first pitch he saw up the middle for a clean single. Had Miller been able to retire Bour, it would have been the first no-hitter of his professional career and the first in MLB this season. He ended up settling for a two-hit shutout after Dee Gordon immediately followed with an infield single. The Braves won the game 6-0. 

    Prior to the ninth, Miller allowed just one baserunner, a walk to Marcell Ozuna leading off the second inning. He needed only 94 pitches, which around the baseball world is recognized as a Greg Maddux special. The Hall of Fame pitcher threw a remarkable 14 career shutouts on less than 100 pitches.  

    We saw a grander glimpse of that extraordinary upside on Sunday. 

    History wasn't meant to be made Sunday afternoon in Miami.

  • College teams play rock-paper-scissors during rain delay, inspire MLB teams

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    When attending a college baseball game, it's always best to hope for a rain delay.

    That's no slight on the players, of course. In fact, it's quite the opposite, because it seems like college players are always up for some rain delay shenanigans. 

    In past instances, we've seen teams literally jousting on field. In others, we've seen them reenact historic wars. And now, apparently, we've progressed to a different kind of on-field battle: rock, paper, scissors.

    At least that was the scene that played out as the rain fell during Friday's scheduled game between the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and UL-Monroe, which was eventually postponed. The two sides gathered at home plate in a scene that were you not aware of the circumstances, would have led you to believe a brawl was brewing.

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    Quite the contrary.

    To the video tape we go.

    It proved to be a decisive victory for UL-Lafayette, which set off a celebration akin to that of winning a regional final.

    We are in a lightning delay again.

  • Pitcher Jacob deGrom records two hits in Mets 10-run inning

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

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    One thing good teams do is avoid extended losing streaks. Granted, five losses in a row — which amounts to one trip through the rotation — is still pretty high, but the previously red hot New York Mets were determined on Saturday night to not let it reach six games.

    Very determined. And the poor Milwaukee Brewers bore the brunt of that determination to the tune of a 14-1 defeat.

    As with most lopsided scores, this game was decided pretty early. In the fourth inning, New York's scuffling offense made sure of that by exploding for 10 runs on nine hits, all while sending 15 batters to the plate. Nine of the runs were charged to Milwaukee starter Matt Garza, who overall allowed 10 runs (all earned) on 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.

    During that rally, three Mets reached base twice, including two who had multiple hits. One of those two? None other than pitcher Jacob deGrom, who earlier drove in New York's first run with another single. 

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