Mark Townsend

  • Surging Giants take over first place in NL West

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 7 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.

    Let's be honest, it wasn't exactly fun or interesting picking the San Francisco Giants to make the postseason again this season. After winning three of the last five World Series, we'd rather turn our attention to up and coming teams and the trendy picks of the season. But if we're being smart, there's no reason to pick against those Giants until they give us good reason.

    The loss of Pablo Sandoval seemed like a good reason. The loss of Hunter Pence for six weeks to an injury seemed like a good reason too. But they weren't. The Giants have easily overcome both and a six-game deficit in the NL West to take first place away from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    The Giants are not a flashy group. At least not in the same vein as the Golden State Warriors. 

    Hello, Stephen Curry.

    But they're a talented squad with seemingly unmatched resilience. And this year they seem resolved to retain their crown.

    ROYALS SOAR AS CUBS STUMBLE

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  • Derek Norris hits walkoff grand slam after striking out four times

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 8 hrs ago

    San Diego Padres catcher Derek Norris was having a miserable night on Friday night, having struck out in each of his first four plate appearances.

    How bad was it? Norris was the only player in the league to achieve the undesired "golden sombrero" among the 15 MLB games played on Friday night. Needless to say, that would be an awkward and lonely feeling if that's all his night was remembered for. Fortunately for him, there was one more chance to rewrite the narrative.  

    In the ninth inning, Norris not only had an opportunity to erase our memories, he had an opportunity to do something unique as he walked to the plate with the game tied, two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

    He did all of the above, hitting a walkoff grand slam off Pittsburgh's Rob Scahill.

    Pretty cool?

    #Padres' Derek Norris is the 1st player since @teixeiramark25 on May 25, 2003 to strikeout 4 times and hit a grand slam in the same game.

    Yeah, we'd say that's pretty cool.

    Historic even?

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  • Stephen Strasburg leaves another start early as concerns grow

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 10 hrs ago

    It's no secret that Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg has not looked comfortable over the last month. With each abbreviated outing that goes by, the concern surrounding his health and perhaps even his focus have continued to grow and have left many wondering what it might take to get him on track.

    On Friday night in Cincinnati, the concern seemed poised to reach its peak when Strasburg was lifted from his start against the Reds after just 16 pitches. Strasburg had walked Brayan Pena to begin the inning and was then tended to by the Nationals athletic trainer before walking off the mound and heading to Washington's clubhouse.

    The Nationals were mum on Strasburg's status throughout the game, offering nothing more than standard information. Afterward, however, they did provide an update that was surprisingly encouraging. Strasburg was dealing with neck muscle tightness, which is much better news than soreness or a setback impacting his surgically repaired elbow. 

    Strasburg also recently experienced tightness in his back. 

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  • Josh Hamilton launches first two home runs of the season

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 13 hrs ago

    Look out, folks. Not only is Josh Hamilton back in the Texas Rangers lineup, it looks like he's getting locked in quicker than perhaps even the Rangers themselves could have hoped for. 

    After producing just one hit in 10 at bats and admittedly looking rusty in Cleveland, he's looked much more comfortable since returning to Arlington. In fact, after being greeted warmly by the crowd at Globe Life Park on Thursday, Hamilton ripped a first-pitch double that sent the crowd into a frenzy and put a stamp on his comeback.

    On Friday, he took two more big strides, launching his first two home runs of the season. 

    Hamilton's first big fly came in the second inning against Boston Red Sox starter Steven Wright. Wright attempted to catch Hamilton with a 3-2 curveball, which is a pitch Hamilton has struggled with since his return. However, Wright left this one up and out over the plate, allowing the Rangers outfielder to yank it over the right field fence for the game's first tally. 

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  • Rangers fan wears nacho cheese thanks to Prince Fielder foul ball

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 15 hrs ago

    When pondering the perfect ballpark experience, for many of us that vision includes enjoying a large plate of nachos and cheese, watching our favorite team win the game, and above all else catching a game used baseball.

    Of course, in reality, we know two out of those three coming true is about the best we can truly hope for, with the whole catching a baseball thing a distant fantasy. However, for one fan of the Texas Rangers on Thursday, the nachos and the baseball were literally in her lap just as she was taking her seat during the first inning of their game against the Boston Red Sox.

    It was a dream scenario, only it wasn't, because like we said, the nachos and baseball were literally in her lap.

    The timing was a just a little off, which left her unprepared to make a play on Prince Fielder's foul ball. Instead, the baseball bounced off her plate and the plate literally exploded, sending nachos and cheese flying everywhere, and the baseball rolling at her feet.

    It's not clear who ended up with the ball, but we can safely say that was a dream scenario turned nightmare.

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  • Fan unknowingly catches foul ball in jacket pouch

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 5 days ago

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    The San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies had a long day at the ballpark on Saturday. The division rivals met up for a day/night doubleheader that was scheduled to begin at 2:10 and 7:10 pm respectively in Denver, but ended up way behind schedule thanks to extensive weather delays before both games.

    It was a taxing day for the players, and in many ways it was both a taxing and confusing day for the fans as the game times were changed. In fact, at one point the gates were actually opening for the night game while the afternoon game was still ongoing.

    Mother Nature can be cruel sometimes, especially in the Rocky Mountain area. However, for one fan who braved the elements and stuck around for the second game, the wait was worth it.

    His moment of glory happened In the fourth inning when Colorado's Ben Paulsen pulled a foul ball into the scarce gathering along the right field line. Our fan was in the perfect spot to make a play on the ball, but couldn't make the clean catch because he was wearing winter gloves instead of a baseball glove.

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  • MLB Network looks at the remarkable story of Navy graduate Mitch Harris

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 5 days ago

    Your browser does not support iframes. When Memorial Day arrives on Monday, it will take on an extra-special meaning for St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Mitch Harris.

    When the Cardinals line up to face the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Harris will proudly wear the uniform of the first and only professional baseball team he's represented, while reflecting on his time in another cherished uniform representing the United States Naval Academy.

    After being drafted by St. Louis in 13th round of the 2008 draft, Harris had to put those baseball dreams on hold until 2013 as he fulfilled his five-year term after graduating from Navy. But all the while Harris knew he had a commitment to himself to continue working hard to keep the baseball door open. To stay sharp he'd play catch on the flight deck with one of the ship's cooks during his downtime.

    It wasn't the same as throwing a bullpen session in college or the minor leagues, but it allowed him to work on his mechanics and take off with some momentum and comfort when he returned to the Cardinals.

    He also made history that night, becoming the first Navy graduate to appear in MLB since Nemo Gaines in 1921.

  • Astros turn 5-4-3 triple play in win against Tigers

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 5 days ago

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    The Houston Astros entered play on Saturday with the third highest winning percentage in MLB. Third!

    Needless to say, they've been the biggest and/or most pleasant surprise in the entire league, and they've done it by doing everything well. That includes hitting a league-leading 62 home runs, a pitching staff that ranks top 10 in ERA (3.50) and of course, playing excellent defense.

    In Saturday's 3-2 win against the Detroit Tigers, it was the latter two that shined the most. Rookie Lance McCullers allowed just two runs on six hits over six sharp innings in his second career start, but it wouldn't have been possible without one nifty defensive play in the fifth inning that resulted in three quick outs.

    That's right, the Astros turned a triple play. The franchise's first since 2004.

    Detroit actually plated a temporary go-ahead run in the inning after James McCann led off with a double and then came around to score after Jose Iglesias' infield single and a throwing error that allowed Anthony Gose to reach. Obviously they were poised to do much more damage and potentially blow the game open when Ian Kinsler stepped in.

  • Norge Luis Ruiz, Cuba's top pitching prospect, is headed to America

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 6 days ago

    The influx of talent from Cuba has been increasing rapidly in recent months and that continues with a player who many scouts believe was the best pitching prospect remaining on the island. 

    Norge Luis Ruiz, a 21-year-old right-hander, is headed to America according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez with the intention of signing a big league contract.

    Sources tell me top Cuban RHP prospect Norge Luis Ruiz, 21, has left the island and will be seeking a Major League contract. #Cuba

    In a subscription-only post less than one month ago, Baseball America's Ben Badler rated Ruiz the top pitcher in Cuba and its eighth best prospect overall. The early belief is Ruiz's stuff could translate to a mid-rotation pitcher in MLB, though obviously at 21 there's still room for development and improvement. 

    [Woah, The Stew has a podcast now?! Yep, you should listen.]

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  • Dodgers pitching faces the minimum in shutout against Padres

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 6 days ago

    Your browser does not support iframes.

    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.

    How's this for a pitching performance? Los Angeles Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger allowed a leadoff single to San Diego's Yangervis Solarte in the first inning, and that was it for the evening.

    Bolsinger, who's been thrust into action following injuries to Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, recovered to induce a ground ball double play from Cory Spangenberg and strike out Matt Kemp to end the first inning. From there, he retired the next 21 batters in succession until being lifted following the eighth inning.

    Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth and continued the roll, setting down all three batters he faced to wrap up the 2-0 victory.

    As for the Padres, it's the eighth time their revamped offense has been shutout this season and the sixth time in their past 18 games.

    MATT HARVEY ROUGHED UP IN PITTSBURGH