Mark Townsend

  • Addison Russell spins, starts 6-4-3 double play in blink of an eye

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 18 hrs ago

    The Chicago Cubs gave Starlin Castro every opportunity to get on track as their starting shortstop. That was, until two weeks ago, when they decided to turn the reins over to their shortstop of the future, Addison Russell.

    The decision to move both Russell to his more natural position has paid off quite well for Chicago on multiple levels. More comfort in the field has led to more confidence at the plate for the 21-year-old rookie. Over his last eight game, Russell is hitting .393/.414/.786 with a pair of home runs.

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    Russell is also clearly a better defender than Castro, and those defensive skills were on full display again in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to San Francisco.

    That was in real time, folks. The spin was seriously crazy, as was the quick release on the throw.

    Now that the Cubs have the athletically and defensively superior Russell playing his natural position, and now that Castro has proven capable at second, their infield defense is immediately upgraded.

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  • Washington Nationals, minor league teams honor Virginia shooting victims

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 18 hrs ago

    On Wednesday, television reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed while filming a live segment for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Va.

    Vicki Gardner, an executive director for a local Chamber of Commerce, was also injured in the horrific and senseless attack. She's reportedly in stable condition after having emergency surgery.

    The news of the shooting sent shock waves all throughout the country, but it obviously hit home the hardest in and around Virginia. The grief extended all the way to Washington D.C., where the home standing Washington Nationals held a moment of silence before their game against the San Diego Padres.

    Another Moment of Silence at @Nationals Park. All so very sad pic.twitter.com/WP3HbpJIUP

    Great gesture by the @Nationals honoring the two #WDBJ shooting victims. pic.twitter.com/Mnn1NYs6Db

    A beautiful and bright gesture.

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  • Twin Magic: Minnesota stays hot, rolls over Rays for sixth straight victory

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 19 hrs 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.

    Look out, American League. The Minnesota Twins are charging hard and looking to snap their four-year postseason drought.

    After being swept by the Yankees in New York last week, the Twins have rattled off six straight road victories against AL wild-card contenders. It started with a dominant four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend. It's continuing now at Tropicana Field, where they won for the second straight day, 5-3.

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    The Twins had to overcome one of the AL's most dominant pitchers, Chris Archer, in order to claim victory. Archer was coming off a one-hit, 11-strikeout shutout of the Houston Astros. Here, he struck out 12 over six-plus innings, but the Twins mixed in four runs on nine hits.

    SLUGGING METS WIN SIXTH STRAIGHT

    BLUE JAYS UPDATE: STILL RAKING

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  • Diamondbacks rallying around new mascot — a hamster named Slider

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 21 hrs ago

    Your browser does not support iframes. With all due respect to dogs everywhere on this National Dog Day, we must tip our cap to another furry, four-legged friend, the hamster.

    Last week in Cincinnati, the Arizona Diamondbacks adopted a praying mantis while at the Great American Ball Park and ended up sweeping the Reds to climb over the .500 mark. Now that they're back in Phoenix, they've brought in a more playful companion that can provide hours of entertainment, a hamster named Slider.

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    Hey, we all know rosters are set to expand in September anyway. The D-Backs are just getting a jump on the competition by adding their own form of reinforcements to the clubhouse.

    The Dbacks hamster on the roll https://t.co/0qJyJN1SFl

    Slider was in the Diamondbacks clubhouse on both Monday and Tuesday, rolling around in her green hamster ball as the Diamondbacks prepared for a big series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

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  • Justin Verlander loses bid for third career no-hitter by inches in ninth inning

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 22 hrs ago

    Just when we think Justin Verlander's magic might be fading, he amazes us again with another near historic outing.

    The 2011 American League Cy Young award winner and MVP literally came inches short of pitching his third career no-hitter in Wednesday's 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

    Verlander was looking to become just the fourth pitcher in MLB history to throw three or more no-hitters. It's an exclusive club populated by only Hall of Famers — Nolan Ryan (seven), Sandy Koufax (four) and Bob Feller (three). Given the legacy Verlander is currently constructing, there's no reason to think he wouldn't have been the fourth Hall of Famer in that group.

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    But it just wasn't meant to be on Wednesday. Chris Iannetta led off the ninth inning with a rocket down the left-field line that hit right on the line and kicked up some chalk. It was fair by just inches. That's all that separated Verlander from history.

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  • Astros win important series at Yankee Stadium, top 2014 win total

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Houston Astros comeback season has been filled with defining moments and notable victories. On Wednesday, they added another to each category by defeating the Yankees 6-2 in the Bronx.

    Not only did the victory give them a series win on the road — where they've struggled for stretches this season — against another postseason contender, it gave them 71 wins on the season, which topped their 70 wins all of last season.

    That's obviously significant for several reasons, but perhaps the most significant is that it's only Aug. 26 and they still have 34 games left to play. For another point of reference, they were 56-77 on this date last season, so their 71-57 mark now is a vast improvement. 

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    Gattis, by the way, would bookend Houston's scoring with another solo home run in the eighth. He has 22 on the season to go along with his unlikely nine triples and 16 doubles.

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  • Pirates stars featured in '(We Are) Family Matters' video

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    The 90s are making a comeback, folks, and MLB teams are right in the middle of it.

    One week after the San Francisco Giants starred in a Full House parody video to promote Full Clubhouse day on Sept. 30, the Pittsburgh Pirates have joined the fray with a video titled '(We are) Family Matters.' 

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    As history shows, TGIF is the universal acronym for "Thank God it's Friday," but those words mean different things to different generations.

    To older generations and perhaps even the new generation, it simply means the weekend is here and it's time to relax, celebrate or just enjoy being out from under the responsibilities and stresses of school or work. To those who grew up in the 90s, it might also mean sitting in front of the TV every Friday night and watching ABC's lineup of hit sitcoms that aired throughout the decade.

  • Ball boy makes outstanding diving stop to protect A's bullpen

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

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    After a relatively slow start to the season, we've recently seen a resurgence from ball boys and ball girls around Major League Baseball.

    It all started two weeks ago in San Diego when a Padres ball girl made one of the finest defensive plays we've seen all season, leaping in the air to pull down a rocket line drive. It continued last weekend in Los Angeles, where a Dodgers ball boy tumbled head over heels into the stands attempting to make a grab.

    Now, thanks to the ball boy down the left field line in Oakland, we have a trifecta of notable highlights.

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  • Australian Little Leaguer unleashes bat flip after long home run

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    The bat flip of the weekend comes to us all the way from Williamsport, PA via the Land Down Under.

    Australian Little Leaguer Jake Burns knew he got every bit of this pitch from Dominican Republic hurler Idelfonso Puello on Saturday, and he didn't mind punctuating his moment with the baseball equivalent of a mic drop.

    Gorgeous swing. Textbook follow through. Epic disposal of the aluminum. What more can you say about that?

    Well, aside from the obvious. That a young kid was excited about hitting a home run in the Little League World Series, and he reacted with the joy we all aimed to experience as kids. It's supposed to be a fun game, right? Of course it is, but there will always be those beating the drum that it sends a bad message and/or represents a society gone bad. 

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    Does it seem like people might be overthinking this a bit?

    Fortunately, some people are able to keep things in perspective.

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  • Mariners designate former closer Fernando Rodney for assignment

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    It's the end of the road for veteran reliever Fernando Rodney in Seattle.

    The 2014 MLB saves leader and two-time All-Star was designated for assignment following the Mariners 6-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.

    The move means Rodney is immediately off the Mariners major league and 40-man rosters. He now enters a 10-day window in which he'll be traded, released, claimed on waivers or sent to the minors. Rodney has the option of declining a minor-league assignment to become a free agent.

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    It once again goes to show just how quickly the career arc of a relief pitcher can go off track. For several seasons Rodney was among the most reliable relievers in MLB, which earned him a two-year, $14 million deal with Seattle last winter.

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