Big League Stew
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew3 hrs ago
It's official: Jose Altuve is a wizard with the bat.
Sure, his ridiculous hit total this season already suggested as much. He currently leads all of baseball with 216. That's 28 more than Michael Brantley of the Indians, his next closest competitor. He also recently became the fastest player in five seasons to reach 200 hits, and earlier this week he broke Craig Biggio's Astros single-season hit record of 211.
But it's one thing to believe he's a wizard. It's quite a another to see it.
On Friday, we saw his magic on display.
With a runner on first and nobody out, interim manager Tom Lawless put on the hit-and-run with Altuve, who quite frankly is the perfect man for the job. That is, unless the opposing pitcher, in this case Taijuan Walker of the Seattle Mariners, throws a pitch that is literally head-level with Altuve.
Keep in mind, Altuve is only 5-foot-5, so a head-level pitch for him is a different height than most hitters. Still, it doesn't matter how tall the batter is, that pitch is almost impossible to get on top of. Unless you're a wizard, which we're here to prove Altuve is.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
This weekend's Tigers-Royals series definitely has a postseason feel to it. And really, what's a postseason series without something bizarre or controversial happening?
We definitely saw one of the strangest, most confusing plays of the season in Saturday's game. With the game tied at one in the sixth inning and Kansas City threatening with runners on second and third and one out, Omar Infante hit a soft liner that second baseman Ian Kinsler snatched with relative ease for the second out.
It was a routine play, and that should have been the end of it. However, Kinsler got a little greedy and attempted to double off Eric Hosmer at second base.
There was never a real play to be made, and Kinsler's odd decision appeared disastrous as the throw sailed past a seemingly unprepared shortstop Eugenio Suarez. After Hosmer tagged up at second base, he moved to third safely. Meanwhile, Salvador Perez, who was running at third, took off for home and appeared to score the go-ahead run.
One problem. Unlike Hosmer, he never retagged the base.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew7 hrs ago
Putting a dreadful performance or series of disappointing games out of mind is often times the most difficult part of being a professional athlete. With that in mind, though, perhaps Hector Santiago of the Los Angeles Angels has created a new method for washing off the stink and starting over with a clean slate mentally.
After lasting only two innings in his previous outing against Houston — in which he allowed three runs and walked five — Santiago followed up with an even worse outing in Friday's 12-3 loss to Texas. In one inning plus, Santiago was torched for seven runs (six earned) on seven hits.
Needless to say, the frustration was building, and on Friday he first elected to vent it on a helpless Gatorade jug in the dugout. That's actually a tried and true method, but not an advised one. It's just as likely to cause injury as it is to fuel a turnaround, and that's especially true when those actions result in hitting coach Don Baylor getting soaked.
Oops.LiveTexas1 - 8LA AngelsFollow Game
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew10 hrs ago
It appears everything Derek Jeter does over the final 10 days of his career will be newsworthy. Yes, even his innocent foul balls that seemingly only serve the purpose of keeping one of his final plate appearances alive.
As we saw in the seventh inning on Friday night, his foul balls can actually be dramatic and highly entertaining events. Although we're sure the parents of the young girl involved would also add the word stressful to the description.
On a 2-2 pitch from Blue Jays reliever Todd Redmond, Jeter hit a soft chopper foul up the third base line to prolong his at-bat. Toronto third baseman Danny Valencia picked the ball up and soft-tossed it into the stands to a lucky fan. As the camera later panned to the crowd, we saw the recipient, a father of two young girls, holding up the ball and one of his daughters while his wife snapped a happy photo.
Happiness soon turned to terror though. After the photo was taken, he handed the ball off to his other daughter, and with all of her might she leaned back and fired it back on to the field.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew19 hrs ago
The biggest series in nearly 30 years at Kauffman Stadium got off to a very disappointing start for the home-standing Royals. Before the 37.945 fans had a chance to settle in, Detroit struck for three first-inning runs, including an RBI double from Miguel Cabrera that was horribly misjudged by left fielder Alex Gordon. With a locked-in Justin Verlander on the hill, they never looked back, cruising to a big 10-1 victory.
''We just went out there and did what we're capable of doing,'' Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said. ''But there are no statements. Our intent is just to play the game.''
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew21 hrs ago
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Russell Martin once played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He now plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yet with one mighty swing on Friday night, he managed to improve the postseason outlooks for both.
With Pittsburgh trailing by two runs in the eighth, Martin muscled up and delivered an opposite field three-run homer off another former Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, which sent the raucous PNC Park crowd into a frenzy, and gave Pittsburgh its first lead of the game.
Neither Broxton or the collapsing Brewers would recover. Pittsburgh tacked on an insurance run in the inning and then wrapped up a 4-2 victory.
In doing so, Pittsburgh extended its lead over Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot to 4 1/2 games with only nine left to play. That essentially puts the Brewers in a position where they have to win the final two games in Pittsburgh to give themselves a realistic shot in the final week. A split doesn't work, and a sweep would be the death knell.Sun, Sep 2111:20 AM PDTLA Dodgers at Chi CubsPreview Game
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew23 hrs ago
If players are given the Gold Glove Award as recognition for their superior defensive skills, perhaps fans should be rewarded with golden buckets of popcorn when they make the highlight reels. That seems to be the most commonly used prop — well, aside from an actual glove — used to make spectacular catches in the stands.
To be perfectly honest, it's also the most visually appealing, especially when the bucket happens to be full and its contents explode from within.
That would be the exact scene that played out on Friday night in Atlanta. As one Braves fan in the right-field bleachers attempted to enjoy his mid-game snack, Lucas Duda of the Mets took aim and launched a mammoth two-run homer right in his direction. It appeared like the fan was still enjoying his last bite as it unfolded, yet without thinking twice he lined himself up and moved his bucket into position to make a fantastic catch.
He even used two hands to steady the bucket.
Strong fundamentals on display at Turner Field! From that fans, that is. The big league club would go on to lose 5-0.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 day ago
As the end of Derek Jeter's fantastic career nears, the race to honor his legacy has accelerated. On Friday, the folks at New Era added its contribution to the farewell tour, and we must admit it's among the coolest items Jeter has received all season.
Prior to Friday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, New Era CEO Chris Koch presented Derek Jeter with a one-of-a-kind bronzed version of the New Era 59FIFTY Yankees cap.
Here's another look at it.
As you can see, the bronze version also includes the Jeter sidepatch that the team is currently wearing.
That attention to detail is certainly appreciated. As is New Era's generous $22,222 donation to Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation.
That honor came on the heels of Major League Baseball releasing its official tribute ad to Jeter, which included notable appearances from Mo'ne Davis and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout.
Your browser does not support iframes.Sun, Sep 2110:05 AM PDTToronto at NY YankeesPreview Game
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 day ago
The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking for wins any way they can get'em as they near a second straight postseason berth and division championship. With that goal in mind, it must be nice to know they can turn to two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw every fifth day, because even on days when he's not his usual dominant or efficient self, he simply can't lose.
Kershaw was credited with his 20th victory in the Dodgers 14-5 win over the Cubs on Friday afternoon, despite only lasting the minimum five innings needed to qualify. That snapped a string of 17 consecutive outings with at least seven innings pitched.
After being spotted a six run lead in the first inning, Kershaw gave three runs right back, and needed 106 pitches to survive the afternoon. Kershaw allowed those three runs (all earned), seven hits and tied a season-high with three walks. It's a subtle reminder that the win stat is often more misleading than it is telling of a pitcher's true value or performance on a given day, and that our celebration of such milestones is outdated.
- David Brown at Big League Stew1 day ago
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Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko insisted he would "finish on the field" in his final major league season after he sustained a broken hand, and 17 days later he's back in the lineup.
Konerko is playing first base and batting sixth for the White Sox, who take on the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday night. Coincidentally, the Trop was the site of the only inside-the-park home run of his career, in 2000, so it makes for an extra-special stop on his farewell tour. Konerko has said he's retiring after parts of 18 seasons in the majors, mostly with Chicago.
Konerko's farewell appeared to be dealt an unfair blow Sept. 2 when he applied a tag to Danny Santana of the Minnesota Twins and sustained a broken bone in his glove hand. From the moment everyone realized the seriousness of the injury, Konerko was quick to say it wouldn't keep him from playing again, even with time growing short.