Big League Stew
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew3 hrs ago
This isn't how things were supposed to go for the Houston Astros.
After soaring back into relevance with 86 wins and a postseason berth last season, they were supposed to continue building momentum with a roster built around superstars like Carlos Correa, George Springer and Dallas Keuchel.
Instead, they've stumbled out of the gate looking like a team without an identity.
Granted, they haven't played as poorly as those rebuilding Astros teams that lost 324 games between 2011-2013, but the results have been miserable. With Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Oakland A's, Houston concluded April with a 7-17 record. That's tied for the worst mark in the American League along with another disappointing team, the Minnesota Twins. Houston actually has a worse run differential at -33, and the 123 runs they've allowed are the worst in the AL.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
Your browser does not support iframes. No one was expecting Vin Scully to mail in his final season in the Los Angeles Dodgers television booth. That's just not his style. But the fact of the matter is, he's actually stepped up his game this season to provide more information, more entertainment and, let's be honest, more energy, than just about any single broadcaster or broadcast team in MLB.
He's like a rookie going above and beyond to prove he belongs. In every broadcast, Scully has provided at least one memorable story or history lesson that had people talking the following day. That trend continued on Saturday as the Dodgers hosted the San Diego Padres.
On this occasion, Scully had a very special topic in mind: Beards!
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew7 hrs ago
As long as smooth is still a word, then Brandon Phillips will be the definition. The Cincinnati Reds second baseman has always carried himself with that special brand of confidence that makes everything he does look intentional, and definitely smooth.
It's a gift that Phillips has shared throughout his entire 15-year career, and he put it on display once again on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Starting off the sixth inning, Pittsburgh's John Jaso hit a soft ground ball seemingly into no man's land on the right side on the infield. It's that spot where the pitcher, first baseman and second baseman all have a shot at the ball depending on positioning, but there's so much confusion it rarely turns into an out.
Brandon Phillips doesn't deal with confusion though. He just takes charge. In this case he recorded an out with one of his trademark gems that looked so smooth.
How smooth you ask?
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew9 hrs ago
When casual baseball fans think of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the first and sometimes only name that comes to their mind is that of Andrew McCutchen. That's not necessarily a slight on his teammates, either. It's as much about the impact the 29-year-old outfielder has made during his eight-year career and the level of success he's attained.
McCutchen truly is a superstar. He embodies that term in every possible way, from his on field play, to the way he connects with fans, to the way he conducts himself off the field. In turn, that's made him the face of the Pirates organization, as well as an ambassador for Major League Baseball.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew18 hrs ago
Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we'll look at the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about.
Does April have to end?
That might be a question the New York Mets were asking on Saturday. Then again, with the way they're playing right now, it's more likely they were asking what time the batting cages will open on Sunday morning, the first day of May.
The Mets concluded April as the hottest team in baseball, winning their eighth straight game 6-5 against the San Francisco Giants. They end April with a 15-7 record, which is one win shy of a team record and good for the third best record in MLB.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew19 hrs ago
For the most part, when young prospects are called up to the big leagues, it comes after getting some experience in the high minor leagues. For some, that means a little seasoning in Triple-A. For other, more high profile prospects, that can mean a promotion directly from Double-A.
Rarely though will a prospect get called up directly from A Ball. Most teams just aren't confident those players have faced a high enough level of competition to be properly prepared for the big leagues. But that didn't impact the Arizona Diamondbacks decision on Saturday.
In a surprising move, they elected to call up 23-year-old left-hander Zac Curtis from the California League's Visalia Rawhide, which is their Class A Advanced affiliate.
Curtis, who's been in the Arizona system for three years, has not played above that level. Needless to say, he was quite surprised when learning the news on Friday night.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew23 hrs ago
The situation was no joking matter then. In fact, emotions and tensions in Baltimore were so high that members of the National Guard were brought in to help usher a peaceful conclusion.
It should go without saying that the subject remains no laughing matter one year later. The Baltimore community felt a real loss, and it's still struggling to understand how a 25-year-old man lost his life under such troubling circumstances.
Unfortunately, longtime Chicago sportscaster Bruce Wolf appeared to not fully understand how sensitive the subject remains, not only in Baltimore, but worldwide. That, or he had no regard for such feelings, because during Friday night's White Sox-Orioles game in Baltimore, he tweeted this.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 day ago
It's not often that a triple play isn't among the top three or even top five most interesting things to happen in a major-league game, but that may have been the case Friday night in Milwaukee.
As the record will show, the Brewers did in fact turn a beautiful 5-4-3 around-the-horn triple play during their 6-3 loss to the Miami Marlins. It happened in the fifth inning, when Miami's Marcell Ozuna hit a sharp ground ball to third baseman Aaron Hill. After Hill stepped on third, he fired to second baseman Yadiel Rivera, who then fired to first baseman Chris Carter.
It was done with such a crispness that we dare say the Brewers made it look easy. Perhaps that's one reason why people weren't buzzing like they were for this wild White Sox triple play from last weekend.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 day ago
As Ichiro Suzuki closes in on his 3,000th career hit in Major League Baseball, he's also collecting a few other milestones along the way. That includes a pretty big one that was reached during Friday's 6-3 win against the Milwaukee Brewers.
In the first inning, Ichiro reached base with career hit No. 2,944, which moved him into 33rd place on MLB's all-time list ahead of Frank Robinson. What happened immediately after was an even bigger deal, as Ichiro became just the 38th player in MLB history to reach 500 stolen bases.
Ichiro was off to the races against Milwaukee starter Zach Davies, stealing second base with relative ease. It was his second stolen base of the 2015 season, and his 699th overall when you factor in his nine seasons playing in Japan.
- Kyle Ringo at Big League Stew1 day ago
If George Steinbrenner was still alive, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi would probably be fielding a lot of questions about his job security these days. Not that Girardi’s job should be in jeopardy, but Steinbrenner, the late Yankees owner, was never shy about making a change in leadership in the dugout when his team was faltering and right now the Yankees simply aren’t very good.They are in last place in the American League East Division and searching for answers on the mound and at the plate.Sun, May 18:05 PM EDTNY Yankees at BostonPreview Game