Big League Stew
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 hr ago
The Houston Astros hit the fast forward button to the future on Wednesday, calling up outfielder and top prospect George Springer to make his major league debut. The 24-year-old entered with high expectations and with a palpable buzz in the air, but didn’t look intimidated in his first appearance. In fact, he came out swinging, grounding out in his first plate appearance only because of a tremendous defensive effort by Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar.
As they often say in baseball, your luck will even out eventually. It didn't take long for Springer, because in his second plate appearance he was swinging again, and this time collected his first big league hit on a dribbler about 25 feet up the third base line.
George Springer's first major league hit went about 10 feet. He's gonna have a whole lot more, and they're gonna go a whole lot farther.
It's a line drive in the boxscore, but with all of today's video technology it will be difficult to hide the truth from his grandkids someday.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew4 hrs ago
Little League coaches emphasize it at a young age and it holds true regardless of what level of baseball a player reaches: Every defender on the diamond has a place to be on every play, even if the ball is on the other side of the field. There might be a throw to back up, a base to cover, and even a rundown to participate in. The three main rules to follow are stay alert, never assume anything, and be ready to move into action.
We got a good example of how that can even carry over into the big leagues on Wednesday afternoon, and the alertness of New York Mets right-hander Dillon Gee paid big dividends as he was able to squash a potential two-out rally in the sixth inning by following those rules, helping to preserve a 5-2 victory.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew6 hrs ago
Wednesday night's battle against the Kansas City Royals may prove to be the most anticipated game of the season for the Houston Astros. That's because top prospect George Springer finally got the call he's been waiting for since the Astros selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft, and is set to make his major league debut at Minute Maid Park.
It almost feels like a landmark moment for a franchise that has been in full blown rebuilding mode for the better part of three seasons. Springer represents a new wave of talent that general manager Jeff Luhnow hopes will be the catalysts for their turn around and ascension up the AL West standings.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew7 hrs ago
It took only three starts for New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to look like an ace and etch his name into the MLB record books.
Tanaka turned in his first truly dominant performance Wednesday since coming to America and signing a $155 million deal with the Yankees. He struck out 10, allowed only two hits (both bunts) and kept the Chicago Cubs off the scoreboard in the Yankees' 3-0 win. In doing so, he became the most dominating new pitcher to arrive in MLB since Stephen Strasburg in 2010.
The fact that Tanaka's gem came against the Chicago Cubs, another of his suitors when he was sold to the U.S. by the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan, only added to the Cubs' misery Wednesday. Tanaka chose The Big Apple over The Windy City, and he'll be the toast of the town in NYC soon enough if he continues to build on this early success.
- David Brown at Big League Stew9 hrs ago
Remove a playoff nightmare from the equation and Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto is the unquestioned daddy of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cueto pitched a three-hitter Wednesday afternoon, striking out a career-high 12 and walking none against the Bucs in a 4-0 victory for the Reds. Two of his three career shutouts have come against Pittsburgh. His ERA fell to 2.22 in 22 career starts against the Pirates, not counting the wild card debacle at PNC Park in October, when he literally dropped the ball on the mound not long before the Bucs ended the Reds season.
Remember Pirates fans chanting his name until he got the dropsy?
None of that nonsense this time on his home ground at Great American Ball Park. With Cueto's hair extensions flowing in the breeze and glistening in the sunshine, he dazzled the Pirates with his half-Luis Tiant delivery. Finish him, Johnny! He did, getting Andrew McCutchen to fly out (hard) to right in his 107th pitch.Thu, Apr 174:05 PM PDTMilwaukee at PittsburghPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew10 hrs ago
If any Minor League Baseball team is going to do a "Salute to Seinfeld Night," it oughta be the Brooklyn Cyclones, a short-season Single-A team. They're an affiliate of the Mets, Jerry Seinfeld's team of choice, and they're not terribly far away from Manhattan, where Seinfeld was mostly set.
It's not like they're a team from Florida.
Even with their territorial rights to "Seinfeld" — which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this summer — the Cyclones are going all out to create a night that might even make a Soup Nazi smile.
At the top of the "cool things" list is a Keith Hernandez "Magic Loogie" bobblehead that the first 2,500 fans will take home. Hernandez, of course, cameo'd on "Seinfeld" and was accused of spitting on Kramer and Newman.
From there, the Cyclones have a thorough list of special happenings scheduled for the game, including puffy shirts and Festivus poles. From their website:
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew12 hrs ago
George Springer got the call. The 24-year-old outfielder is joining the Houston Astros on Wednesday, the first of their prized prospects to get a big-league call-up. From an on-the-field perspective, Springer probably should have joined the team out of spring training, but the Astros kept him down to limit his big-league service time and buy themselves another year of club control.
The Astros are calling Wednesday #SpringerDay, so obviously the expectations are huge with their new outfielder.
In The Stew's new "Learn the Name" feature, we introduce you to Springer and project what kind of player he might be.
- David Brown at Big League Stew12 hrs ago
She could never be Royal. He couldn't possibly be any more Royal. Finally, pop icons from different generations, connected by a picture of a man wearing a Kansas City Royals jersey almost 40 years ago, have met in person.
International recording artist extraordinaire Lorde met the inspiration for her song "Royals," Hall of Famer George Brett, on Tuesday night before her show at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, TMZ reports. Her people had reached out to his people for a meeting, but a potential connection missed in Kansas City when Lorde performed there recently. Brett instead sent her an autographed jersey as an offering of respect.
(Thank goodness the concert didn't take place at the Bellagio, or there might have been a conflict of a NSFW and "double-tapered" nature.)
Here's another shot, in which Lorde looks happier:
Brett's golf tan, it's overwhelming in person.
- David Brown at Big League Stew17 hrs ago
They sometimes call San Francisco's Hector Sanchez "Hacktor" because he likes to swing. That can be a good thing, or bad, if you're Brandon League of the Dodgers. Sanchez came through with two outs in the 12th, lining an RBI single off the glove of diving second baseman Justin Turner for a 3-2 Giants victory. The hit prevented what surely would have become a five-hour game. Instead, a tidy 4:54.
The Giants had tied the score in the bottom of the ninth, with one out this time, against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Brandon Belt lined an RBI double to left that brought Angel Pagan home from first base.
The Dodgers activated former Giants beard Brian Wilson before the game, but manager Don Mattingly did not use him in relief because that would have been too much fun at AT&T Park.
- David Brown at Big League Stew18 hrs ago
Before handing the Boston Red Sox their ninth loss in 14 games thanks to an error, the Chicago White Sox gave them something to be appreciated for a much longer time. They paid respect to the city of Boston and the Boston Marathon bombings survivors by wearing T-shirts showing their solidarity. Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of the domestic terrorist attack near the finish line along Boylston Street.
The gray shirts had the Red Sox logo's — the iconic "B" — and the word "STRONG" encircled, along with a smaller White Sox logo and the word "together" under it.
It was particularly moving when the home Sox lined up in front of their dugout for the national anthem.
Here's White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, who later homered off pal Jake Peavy, wearing the shirt:
The White Sox also showed this video on the U.S. Cellular Field scoreboard: