Mark Townsend

  • Astros complete sweep of Royals, close in on AL's best record

    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.

    If for some reason you're still not convinced the Houston Astros are for real, perhaps their three-game sweep of the defending AL champion Kansas City Royals can sway your opinion. The Astros completed the sweep with a hard-fought 6-5 victory on Wednesday night.

    After falling behind 3-0 in the second inning, Houston rallied to score five in the middle innings to take the lead. Chris Carter's 100th career home run opened its scoring. After Marwin Gonzalez homered and likely All-Star Jose Altuve tied the game with an RBI single, Evan Gattis put the Astros ahead with a two-run single in the fifth.

    The resilient Royals didn't fade away, though, tying the game again in the seventh on Jarrod Dyson's two-run triple. Houston scored the winner in its half of the seventh on Carter's fielder's choice – not exactly the most thrilling winning run, but very fitting for the Astros.

    JUSTIN BOUR LAUNCHES THREE-RUN WALKOFF HOMER

    BLUE JAYS ERUPT ON CANADA DAY

  • Has Johnny Cueto made his final home start in a Cincinnati Reds uniform?

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Aside from October, July might just be baseball's most dramatic and unpredictable month. Of course, that's mainly because the non-waiver trade deadline always falls on its final day, and now that we've officially crossed the threshold from June, the craziness is bound to begin very soon.

    One pitcher whose future is almost certain to be impacted in the next 30 days is Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto. The 2014 All-Star and Cy Young Award runner-up is having another season that will put him in the conversation for both honors. In 15 starts this season, Cueto is 5-5 with a 2.84 ERA over 104 2/3 innings. Last season, he was 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA over a league-leading 243 2/3 innings.

    The only difference this season is he's doing it for a Reds team on the outside of the postseason picture looking in, and with a contract that's set to make him a free agent come season's end. Basically, he fits every criteria there is for a player who is certain to be traded, the only questions now are when and where.

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  • A's ace Sonny Gray battling severe case of bacterial gastroenteritis

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Oakland Athletics ace Sonny Gray was unable to make Tuesday's scheduled start against the Colorado Rockies with what was simply described as illness. On Wednesday, we learned Gray wasn't battling the flu or a common cold, but rather a severe case of bacterial gastroenteritis, which forced him to spend Monday and Tuesday night in the hospital. 

    The good news, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, is that Gray was improving on Wednesday. Following Oakland's 4-1 win against the Colorado Rockies, she was also among the first to report that Gray was discharged from the hospital. But there's still some question about when he might be able to return to the mound.  

    Chris Bassitt made the start for Gray on Tuesday, tossing five innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 loss to Colorado. Bassitt will remain with the A's through the weekend in case he's needed again to make Gray's scheduled start against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

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  • Joey Butler spoils Carlos Carrasco's no-hit bid with two outs in ninth

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Butler did it on Wednesday night. Not once, but twice.

    Of course, we're talking about Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Joey Butler, who in one game managed to spoil Carlos Carrasco's bid for a perfect game and no-hitter in two separate late-inning plate appearances. 

    Carrasco entered the seventh inning having retired all 18 batters he'd faced to that point. He made it 19 straight when he retired Kevin Kaiermeir leading off the inning, which led to an epic battle with Butler. After eight pitches, including four two-strike pitches, Butler ended up drawing a walk to end the perfect game.

    Carrasco's bid for his professional no-hitter would continue in the ninth inning. Despite a rough start to the inning — Asdrubal Cabrera walked and Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch — Carrasco moved to within one out of history. Only Joey Butler stood in his way again, and Butler spoiled it again, lining a two-strike single just out of the reach of a leaping Jason Kipnis at second base.  

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    Oh, the heartbreak.

    Oh, the pain.

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  • Victor Martinez has 'no respect' for Pirates after 'intentional' hit by pitch

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The interleague series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers got off to an intense start Tuesday night at Comerica Park.

    The spark happened in the fourth inning when Tigers starter Justin Verlander clipped Pittsburgh's Starling Marte on the forearm with a 1-2 pitch. During the next half-inning, Pirates' ace Gerrit Cole drilled Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez with a 95-mph fastball to the backside. That did not sit well with Martinez, who shot a glare toward Cole as he slowly made his way to first base. 

    Martinez wasn't alone in feeling the pitch was intentional. In the next half-inning, Justin Verlander returned the favor again by drilling Pedro Alvarez with his first pitch. At that point, both benches were warned, but the bad blood was already boiling and it doesn't appear to have settled down as the teams entered play on Wednesday. 

    In fact, Martinez was quoted as saying he's lost respect for the Pirates organization as a result of the perceived targeting, which sets the stage for some more potential hostilities. 

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  • Angels name Bill Stoneman interim general manager

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    With Jerry Dipoto officially out as general manager, the Los Angeles Angels have named Bill Stoneman, the architect of their 2002 World Series championship team, as the Angels' interim replacement, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports. 

    The news was revealed just moments before the Angels took on the New York Yankees Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.

    Source: Bill Stoneman will become the #Angels' interim GM, with Matt Klentak basically serving as his No. 2. No Bud Black.

    According to Gonzalez, the Angels could open a wider search for a permanent replacement this offseason, or could promote assistant general manager Matt Klentak. It was reported earlier Wednesday that both Klentak and Scott Servais, the team's other assistant GM, would remain with the club. 

    [David Price joins The StewPod to talk social media, baseball brotherhood and more.]

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  • MLB announces new Home Run Derby format with brackets, timed rounds

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    For the second straight season Major League Baseball has announced significant changes to its Home Run Derby format.

    According to a press release on Sunday afternoon, the league will be shifting to a bracketed, single-elimination tournament format, which means they'll lower the number of participants from ten to eight. Each round will now be timed as well, with each batter having a baseline of five minutes per round. 

    The eight-player contest will be conducted as a single-elimination tournament in which the loser of each bracket is immediately eliminated. Brackets in the first round will be seeded based on 2015 home run totals through July 7th, with ties broken by awarding the higher seed to the batter with more home runs hit since June 15th. If a tie remains, a coin flip will determine the higher seed. In each matchup, the higher seed will hit second.

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  • Marlins give rookie Justin Nicolino giant bat to help with bunting

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

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    If there's one big advantage to being a rookie in MLB, it's that life is never boring. Whether your teammates are sending you on a coffee run or just flat ignoring you after your first career home run, they're always looking for ways to crack you and keep you on your toes.

    Here's another pretty cool example of that.

    Miami Marlins pitcher Justin Nicolino is only two starts into his big league career, but he's definitely getting a strong welcome from his new teammates. After faltering on the hill in Friday night's 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, his teammates put the focus elsewhere by poking fun at his bunting during Saturday's batting practice.

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    Nicolino failed to get a bunt down on Friday night, so they equipped him with this absurdly large piece of lumber.

    What's particularly funny about the video above is that it actually takes Nicolino three attempts to get a successful bunt down with the bigger, badder bat.

    We'll blame that one on the grip? Perhaps?

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  • Cole Hamels says he's 'open-minded' about possible trade destinations

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    We've reached that time of the baseball season where trade rumors will begin to consume our minds, our souls, and above all else, our social media accounts. And in many cases those rumors will be more heavily discussed than the results on the field.

    Among the names we figure to hear most will be that of Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels. The 31-year-old left-hander is available as the Phillies move forward with their rebuilding project and will be highly sought after by multiple contenders, making it more a matter of when, not if he changes uniforms.

    In fact, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro has been engaging in trade talks regarding Hamels for several months, but has yet to take the plunge. That will change in the next five weeks, and based on comments from Hamels on Saturday, Amaro's hands may not be tied in terms of who he can negotiate with.

    According to Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia, Hamels says he'll be open-minded when approached about a potential deal and may not necessarily use his no-trade provision to block trades to teams not on his wish list .

    “But I’m open-minded on everybody and everything.”

    Even Toronto and Houston?

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  • Andrew McCutchen on latest HBP: 'Maybe I need to dropkick a pitcher'

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    To say Andrew McCutchen is growing tired of wearing fastballs in his rib cage and on his left elbow would be an understatement. During Saturday's 8-4 win against the Braves, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder was hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season and the 27th time over the past three seasons.

    Braves pitcher Julio Teheran struck McCutchen in the left elbow with a fastball on a 1–1 count in the first inning, which forced McCutchen from the game. He quickly underwent X-rays, which came back negative for a fracture. Mentally, though, the latest incident definitely took a toll and had McCutchen wondering what he could do to better protect himself moving forward.

    Via the Associated Press: 

    "Maybe I need to dropkick a pitcher,'' McCutchen said after Saturday's game. ''Maybe that will scare them into not throwing at me."

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    Needless to say, it'll be interesting to see how this story develops. 

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