Big League Stew
- Big League Stew46 mins ago
After enduring two decades of futility, the Pittsburgh Pirates are making a habit of making the playoffs.
Pittsburgh beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 at Turner Field on Tuesday night, and with the Milwaukee Brewers falling 3-1 to the Cincinnati Reds, the Pirates clinched a postseason spot for the second straight season. For 20 years before that, the Bucs didn't finish with a winning won-lost record, much less qualify for the World Series tournament.
The NL Central title remains a possibility, too, with the front-running St. Louis Cardinals falling 4-3 to the Chicago Cubs, bringing the Bucs within 1 1/2 games of first place.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole, who struck out eight and retired 17 batters in a row at one point, hadn't peeked at the out-of-town scoreboard to check on the Cards' progress. He didn't know the Bucs had qualified for the playoffs until he walked into the team's clubhouse at Turner Field and saw all of the lockers covered in plastic, to keep them dry from celebratory beer and champagne splash.Wed, Sep 244:10 PM PDTPittsburgh at AtlantaPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
Derek Jeter swears he's done. He won't put on a New York Yankees jersey next season, but you can bet fans will still be wearing his No. 2 in 2015 and beyond.
In a week where honors are being thrown at Jeter left and right — he received the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award on Tuesday — here's a bit of trivia that proves his legacy will live on in MLB parks league-wide.
Jersey-maker Majestic says, via an ESPN report, that Jeter's No. 2 is the top-selling MLB jersey of all time. Jeter's jersey has topped the sales charts this season for obvious reasons, but now we know that a pinstriped Yankees jersey with No. 2 on the back is basically the polyester version of "Thriller." From ESPN:Wed, Sep 2410:05 AM PDTBaltimore at NY YankeesPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew6 hrs ago
The last two seasons, the biggest question surrounding the Los Angeles Angels hasn't been Albert Pujols' foot or whether Mike Trout will win an MVP. It's been the starting pitching.
Last year the pundits said, "Yes, Mike Trout is great and they signed Josh Hamilton, but they need pitching." An 78-84 record backed up that. So the Angels' main offseason move was getting two starters in trade for Mark Trumbo. The pitching got better this season — told you so, people said — and the Angels became the best team in MLB.
They've had the AL West locked up for a week now, sitting pretty with a 96-61 record and a 39-24 second half that's helped them zoom past the Oakland Athletics in the standings. But now, as the Angels are a week away from the postseason, the question is the same as it was in April 2013: "Do they have enough pitching?"
- David Brown at Big League Stew9 hrs ago
The three best parts of Oyo Sports re-creating Derek Jeter's top 10 career highlights: One, hearing Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto on the New York Yankees broadcast in 1995 call Jeter's first career home run.
"Oh, he got around on that one. Holy cow, that's gone!"
Rizzuto's call call isn't part of the visual. The best thing we see easily is the Jeffrey Maier home-run assist from the '97 playoffs against the Orioles, especially the pointing to the stands by O's outfielder Tony Tarasco.
Now, the moment isn't perfect, because it doesn't include angry manager Davey Johnson and pitcher Armando Benitez — what we he doing out there??? It's not a criticism, though; these guys are essentially Lego characters, it's a short video and it's funny enough without them.
Here's the original, with non-Oyo Benitez:
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The third most-amusing moment was Jeter's flip against the Oakland Athletics: This was awesome:
- Big League Stew11 hrs ago
Monday was huge for Baltimore Orioles season-ticket holders who put in for playoff games scheduled at Camden Yards this October. It was ticket delivery day. Division Series, Championship Series, World Series — they all were to come in perforated strips, which are like art in and of themselves, but of course are much more valuable as a commodity to a Major League Baseball fan.
Considering the Orioles hadn't won a division since 1997, and haven't won the World Series since 1983, fan Karl Breslaw has been waiting a long time for this day. Breslaw was aware and excited for ticket delivery day, but not entirely ready for it.
About 2 p.m., a delivery driver stopped by Breslaw's house in Catonsville, Md. and left a package on his porch. Engaged with his computer on the living-room couch because the league was making more tickets available online, Breslaw was reasonably distracted when he started to hear noises coming from outside. It sounded like his pets, including a 7-month-old, 80-pound Burmese Mountain dog named Fezzik, were up to something.
- David Brown at Big League Stew11 hrs ago
The Oakland Athletics are back? Possibly? The team that sported the best record in the majors for most of the summer fell into disarray early in August, and appeared to be playing its way out of the postseason as recently as Sunday. However, a stirring walk-off victory against the Phillies, and a semi-authoritative one against the Los Angeles Angels seem to have righted the ship.
The specific indicators are: The walk-off monster home run by Josh Donaldson against Philly on Sunday, and the magical sleight-of-hand play at third base he made against the Angels on Monday night. A's right-hander Jeff Samardzija has suggested that Donaldson doesn't even realize how good of a player he can be all-around:
Samardzija jokes that Donaldson must have been getting bored, giving self high degree of difficulty on play vs. Ianetta.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew20 hrs ago
It seemed like 2013 for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night — Francisco Liriano pitching like an ace, Andrew McCutchen hitting a go-ahead homer, the playoffs within reach.
The Pirates edged the Atlanta Braves 1-0, lowering their playoff-clinching magic number to two and putting the playoffs within reach by the end of action Tuesday. The Pirates, who made the postseason last year for the first time since Barry Bonds was around, are tied with the San Francisco Giants for the top wild-card spot in the NL.
It looks, at this point, like it's just a matter of which team will host the one-game playoff, as both teams have a 99% chance of making the postseason after wins Monday. The Pirates are 2 1/2 games back in the NL Central and could technically still catch the Cardinals the division lead, though the wild-card seems more likely.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew21 hrs ago
The first time Brandon Belt rounded third base and chugged toward home plate, he knew the game was in extra innings and one run could very well give the San Francisco Giants a win in the first game of their crucial series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The baseball was flying in from center field, thrust by the imposing arm of Yasiel Puig. Puig has made a habit of pulling off insane throws and this would be another one. It was a perfect strike to the plate. Ball caught, tag down, Belt was out.
The second time Belt rounded third base and chugged toward home plate, two more innings had passed and one run had an even better chance of giving the Giants a win and eventually sending a sleepy crowd home.
The baseball was flying in from left field this time, thrust by Carl Crawford, who is very obviously not Puig, not by a long shot. It was a clunker of a throw to plate, with a better chance of hitting someone in the dugout than nailing a runner at the plate. There was no ball, no tag, Belt was easily safe.
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- Mike Oz at Big League Stew22 hrs ago
Perhaps at this point in the season, Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve is just trying to cross things off his bucket list. He has the best batting average in baseball, is the only player to top 200 hits so far this year and he's tallied the most hits by a second baseman since 1936.
Seems like he's on to the fun stuff. Over the weekend, he got a single on a pitch almost over his head. He upped the ante Monday night, literally jumping to swing at a pitch over his head. And, guess what, he fouled it off.
With that, we christen him Air Altuve. (Has a nice ring to it, right?)Wed, Sep 245:05 PM PDTHouston at TexasPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew23 hrs ago
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We told you recently about Guilder Rodriguez, the Texas Rangers farmhand who was promoted to the big leagues earlier this month after 13 seasons and 1,095 games in the minors. He reportedly cried the day he got the news, and Monday night a few additional tears were shed.
Rodriguez, 31, got his first MLB hit against the Houston Astros in the third inning. It was a great moment made greater by the universal respect of everyone looking on — Rodriguez's Rangers teammates appreciated it, fans understood the signifigance and gave him a wonderful ovation, but most special was Rodriguez's father, who was in the stands watching.
While Guilder stood on first base proudly, his dad got a bit watery in the eye area. Hard to blame him.