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Richard Kagan

The Cubs Are Not Good posted by Richard Kagan

Yippee, The Chicago Cubs beat the Minnesota Twins 8-2 behind the solid right arm of Ryan Dempster (2-3), who may be on the trading block.  Dempster bolstered his status with an excellent outing, his second win in a row.  I have been a long-time cubs fans.  I was there for Don Cardwell's no-hitter in the second game of a DH.  I fell asleep and missed most of the game, as a child.  I was more alert for Kenny Holtzman's gem vs. the Atlanta Braves in 1969, when the Cubs looked so good.  I was sure they were going to win the pennant.  But....stuff happens, if you're a Cubs fan.

What still surprises me is that 32,000 fans come of the park every home game if the weather is decent.  The Cubs draw well over 2.5 million.  In a good season, it could be 2.8 million.  In this tiny ballpark in Wrigleyville...The fans still come out and root for the Cubbies.  Who are as lovable as ever, even if they are on pace to lose 100 games this season.  And, that is not a laughing matter.  How do you get paid, and get up in the morning and come to the park?

The Cubs were picked by most baseball experts to finish 4th or 5th in the division.  Unfortunately, they make the Pittsburgh Pirates look good.  Manager Dale Sveum looks like he is on an out of control train in that Denzel Washington thriller.  That train threatened to cause disruption all over the landscape.  It's a stretch to say this team could win 4 or 5 games in a row.  They don't have the players to do that.  And, coming from a fan, that is a sad thing to say.

Continue reading "The Cubs Are Not Good"


David

Will Chipper hang 'em up? posted by David

Chipper Jones is out for the year with a torn ACL, but let’s hope this isn’t it for the man who has played his entire major league career for manager Bobby Cox.  Chipper has made it known since last season that retirement could be around the corner, but like Baseball Tonight’s Eduardo Perez, I don’t see Chipper calling it quits now that his season has ended unexpectedly.  He wants to go out on his own terms, and these aren’t them.  At 38, his career is nearing the end, but I find it hard to believe that he will be able to say good-bye after watching from the bench as his team battles for the National League crown.

If he’s truly done, Chipper’s numbers speak for themselves: a .306 career batting average and .405 On-Base Percentage, 436 home runs, 147 stolen bases, 2,490 hits, two Silver Sluggers and an MVP award.  The six-time All-Star won a batting title at the age of 36, hitting a staggering .364 to edge Albert Pujols, who hit .357.  He is also tied for the most home runs in a season by a switch-hitter (45 in 1999; Lance Berkman accomplished the feat in 2006).  A little known fact about Chipper is that he and Paul Waner hold the Major League record for most consecutive games with an extra-base hit (14).  Chipper will join Waner in Cooperstown as soon as he is eligible.

How ‘bout that?

How about Jered Weaver?  The 27-year-old righty leads the majors with 182 strikeouts and is having his best season (11-7, 2.87 Earned Run Average) since his rookie year (2006), when he went 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA.  Since the All-Star break, Weaver has been even better, posting a 1.93 ERA, limiting opponents to a .204 batting average, and averaging seven innings per outing over six starts.  With the Rangers playing so well in the AL West, the Angels are unlikely to win the division for the fourth straight year and may even finish under .500 for the first time since 2003, but they have to be pleased with how their ace has pitched this season.

Continue reading "Will Chipper hang 'em up?"


Michael McGauley

"Tim Lincecum Captures Second Cy Young" posted by Michael McGauley


 Just sheer domination that didn't necessarily show up in the win column! Fifteen victories equals a Cy Young?  Let's look at ALL of the numbers to really appreciate how great Tim Lincecum has been through his first two-full seasons with the Giants (he did throw 146-plus innings in 24 starts in 2007). Back-to-back Cy Young Awards do not come around very often (see: N.L. stand-outs RJ and Maddux, each with four straight, and Sandy Koufax with three of four; Clemens, Palmer, McClain, and Pedro each went back-to-back in the A.L. ([Clemens did it twice; ten years apart]). The difference? Lincecum has done it twice in two full years by the age of 25! So how do you follow up a CY YOUNG AWARD WINNING SEASON??? You work even harder to improve (by perfecting a third pitch), and that's exactly what Lincecum did after winning his first CY in 2008 with an 18-and-5 record, and 265 strikeouts in 227 innings. Lincecum worked 225 and one-third innings this year, and went 15-and-7 with 261 strikeouts. No, that doesn't sound any better until we delve deeper. Check this out - in roughly the same number of innings pitched, Lincecum allowed fourteen fewer hits (182 down to 168); sixteen fewer walks (84 to 68); four fewer earned runs (66 to 62), and an opponent's batting average of .206, down from .221 in '08. He also doubled his complete games (up to four); doubled his shutouts (two); lowered his ERA (2.48 from 2.62), and his WHIP (1.05 from 1.17). That is thirty fewer base runners which is certainly reflected in his walks- and hits-to-innings-pitched. Among his many double-digit strikeout performances this season, I was fortunate enough to see Lincecum dust 15 Pirates in a complete game victory on a Monday night in late July. Just unbelievable, even if it Continue reading ""Tim Lincecum Captures Second Cy Young""


Michael McGauley

"Freddy Sanchez will be the Giants' Second Baseman in 2010" posted by Michael McGauley

As expected, Freddy Sanchez has re-signed with the Giants for two years and 12-million-dollars. That's certainly one mystery solved, and for a discounted rate too! Sanchez has something to prove to the organization, and the fans, after a disappointing end to last season. A three-time all-star, and 2006 N.L. batting champion, Sanchez was hobbled by knee and shoulder injuries that limited him to just 111 games between the Pirates and Giants. He did hit a respectable .293 with seven home runs and 41 RBI's. 

Now, that certainly doesn't sound very impressive, but consider the "up-side" of his potential. When Sanchez won the batting title in '06, check out some of these numbers: 157 games played, 200 hits, 53 doubles, 85 RBI's, and a .344 batting average (.378 on-base). In 2007, Sanchez played in 147 games and collected 602 at-bats! He had 77 runs scored, 183 hits, 42 doubles, eleven homers, and 81 RBI's. All of that to go with a .304 batting average; however, ZERO stolen bases. Freddy doesn't run much - how about 10 bags over his entire career. Well, you can't have it all.

No, he's certainly not a power guy like Jeff Kent at second, but Sanchez will make an ideal number two hitter. He should easily score 90-to-100 runs hitting in front of guys like Pablo Sandoval -- assuming of course that Sanchez collects at least 550 at-bats, and the team adds another slugger to the middle of their batting order.

After making the contract official today, Sanchez called it,"a frustrating end to last season," following the July 29th trade from Pittsburgh in exchange for pitching prospect Tim Alderson. Sanchez defined the end of last season as, "the toughest thing he's had to go through in his career." He's been a pretty durable player until last year's nagging knee and shoulder problems, both of which he's rehabilitating, and says, barring any setbacks, he should be ready for spring training. Sanchez says, "he usually doesn't begin regular baseball activities until December or January," so he hopes to be right on schedule with his rehabilitation and strengthening program.

Continue reading ""Freddy Sanchez will be the Giants' ..."


Michael McGauley

"Carney Lansford the Scape Goat for Giants' Offensive Struggles" posted by Michael McGauley

  

  Do we really blame Carney Lansford for a bunch of over-anxious, free-swinging hitters?  The stats certainly don't lie.  Only the Padres, Pirates, and Astros scored fewer runs than the Giants' 657 runs in 2009.  San Francisco's 122 home runs was second-to-last in the N.L., behind only the Mets, who stroked just 95 homers with a half-injured team in their brand-new, spacious Citi Field. Walks: 392 for the Giants was dead last in the league (the Rockies had 660 walks to lead the league). And that leads us to on-base percentage; where the Giants ranked last at .309!  That is just dismal, anemic, pitiful....any other good adjectives to throw in there?

  Bottom line, this has been a consistent problem for the Giants for several years now. They never really replaced Bonds and Kent - the last time they had a legitimate three-four combination in the batting order.  Yes, they've built up the pitching big time. Yes, Pablo Sandoval can rake. But that's not enough -- we need two or three more hitters like Pablo. Hey, you've got to give up something to get something, and the time is now to part with a starting pitcher, and acquire a bat. It's not the most desirable scenario, but consider the lack of available sticks in free agency. In addition, they will have to invest some money to keep the young guys happy (Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson are due for BIG raises, and I say, give them whatever they want!).

  Back to Lansford, I don't blame him. He won a batting title (1981 with Boston), and knows how to hit. That doesn't always translate into being able to teach others how to do the same however. Just to use a brief basketball analogy -- how good of a coach was Magic Johnson with the Lakers? Same idea, but on a smaller scale. Lansford is bright and knowledgeable, but without a couple of big thumpers, this line-up loaded with number two and number six hitters (besides Sandoval) is not going to get the job done. We all know this. The Giants know this. But for some reason, they felt like they had to make a statement with this firing. The rest of the staff was retained by the way, when it was officially announced that Bruce Bochy would be returning for two more years with a club option for a third year. Same goes for GM Brian Sabean.

Continue reading ""Carney Lansford the Scape Goat for ..."


David

Nobody’s perfect posted by David

Last week I saw Andy Pettitte throw six and two-thirds innings of perfect baseball at against the Orioles at Camden Yards.  With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Adam Jones hit a ground ball to third.  Alex Rodriguez was getting the night off, and his replacement at the hot corner, Jerry Hairston, booted it.  Having grown up an Orioles fan and somewhere along the way developing into a Yankee-hater, one might think I would have been rooting for the Birds to end Pettitte’s bid for perfection; however, this was not so.  As a fan of the game, I wanted to witness history.  Sure; I would have preferred seeing an Oriole pitcher throw a perfecto (though even a shutout by one of this year’s starters would have been historic), but I can’t expect miracles.




How ‘bout that?


How about Jonny Gomes?  Called up by the Reds on May 22nd after not making the team out of spring training, Gomes has crushed the ball to a tune of a .563 slugging percentage and 19 home runs in just 240 at-bats.  His former team, the Rays, could sure use his bat right about now; they’ve lost eight games in a row and have all but eliminated themselves from the Wild Card race.


How about Chris Carpenter?  The Cardinals’ righty has put together a strong case for the National League Cy Young Award: mainly a 16-3 record and a major league-leading 2.16 E.R.A.  Additionally, he’s allowed less than one baserunner per inning pitched (0.97 WHIP), he’s surrendered only seven home runs in 24 games started, and he’s thrown three complete games – which may not seem terribly impressive but he’s tied for third in the N.L.  If all goes well for him and Adam Wainwright (18-7), the duo could become the first pair of teammates to each win 20 games since 2002, when the feat was accomplished in both leagues: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did it for the Diamondbacks, and Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez did it for the Red Sox.

Continue reading "Nobody’s perfect"


David

Cliff Lee: Philly Fave posted by David

Cliff Lee was meant to pitch for the Phillies.  How else do you explain his ridiculous string of starts since joining the team last month?  In five games, Lee has a 5-0 record, a 0.75 WHIP, and a 0.68 E.R.A.  In 40 innings, he has struck out 39 batters and walked just six, surrendered a grand total of zero home runs, and looked like a true ace while averaging eight innings per start.  As if he weren’t contributing enough already, Lee is hitting .313, which, if it were over enough at-bats to qualify, would lead the team.  The southpaw has truly made the most of his time in the City of Brotherly Love.

How ‘bout that?

How about Carlos Pe ña?  Leading the American League in home runs but batting just .222, the Rays’ slugger actually has more homers (37) than singles (35).  If he finishes the season with that dubious achievement, he’d become the third such player to do so, following Barry Bonds (2001) and Mark McGwire (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000).

How about Jim Tracy?  Under his leadership since May 29, the Rockies have gone 54-28 – which translates to a winning percentage of .659 – and have nearly caught the first-place Dodgers, a team Tracy managed for five years during the first half of the decade.  Considering that each of the last three teams Tracy managed (the 2005 Dodgers, 2006 and 2007 Pirates) lost more than 90 games, the Colorado skipper has to be feeling good about his job security right now.

How about the Blue Jays?  After starting the season 27-14 and leading the favored Red Sox, Yankees and Rays in the American League East in mid-May, the Jays have tumbled to their current record of 58-67, an even 20 games back of the Yankees.  There’s no joy in Toronto; the mighty Blue Jays have fallen to their usual fourth place.

Continue reading "Cliff Lee: Philly Fave"


David

While I was out… posted by David

Since I last posted before my trip to Spain, there have been a number of noteworthy occurrences in Major League Baseball.


The American League won yet another All-Star Game – by a single run for the fourth year in a row.  Manny Ramirez returned from his 50-game suspension.  The Nationals fired manager Manny Acta.  Jonathan Sanchez threw the season’s first no-hitter.  The Braves gave up on underachieving hometown boy Jeff Francouer, and traded him to the Mets for Ryan Church, who hit the foul ball I caught at RFK in 2007.  The most exciting news, however, took place the day I returned from my voyage: Mark Buerhle of the White Sox threw a perfect game.  The following day, the A’s traded slugger Matt Holliday to the Cardinals, who now have protection for Albert Pujols.



How ‘bout that?


How about the Giants?  After beating the Pirates 1-0 in 10 innings on Wednesday night, San Francisco has shut out the opponent 14 times this season.  They have kept up the pace with Los Angeles and even picked up half a game over the last eight weeks, closing the gap between themselves and the Dodgers to seven games.  Thanks to a 34-15 record at home, the Giants are leading the National League Wild Card race.


How about Adam Dunn’s defense?  Dunn is having perhaps his best offensive season ever but has been awful both in the outfield and at first base, making 12 errors in the season’s first four months.  His fielding percentage stands at a horrendous .953 at first base, where he has made four errors in just 11 games (10 starts) and an atrocious .947 in the outfield, where he has committed eight errors in 83 games (82 starts).  Maybe it’s time for Dunn to realize he’s better off on an American League team where he can DH on a regular basis.

Continue reading "While I was out…"


Michael McGauley

"One More Thing About The Freddy Sanchez Trade" posted by Michael McGauley

  I knew I forgot something.  The Giants had to give up something to get something, and Wednesday they parted with minor-league pitching prospect Tim Alderson in order to acquire Freddy Sanchez.  Alderson was considered a top-five prospect in the San Francisco Farm System, and its number two pitching prospect behind Madison Bumgarner.  Will Alderson become another Cain or Lincecum, or will he become another Jason Grilli.  We'll just have to wait and see.  For the Pirates' sake, I hope the kid materializes into a solid starting pitcher down the road.

Continue reading ""One More Thing About The Freddy Sanchez Trade""

Michael McGauley

"Are The Giants Done Dealing Before the Deadline" posted by Michael McGauley

  Clearly Brian Sabean had something else up his sleeve when he traded for Pittsburgh Second Basemen Freddy Sanchez Wednesday. Following San Francisco's extra-inning 1-0 win and a series sweep of the Pirates, the Giants then proceeded to swipe Sanchez, who has was one of the last remaining faces of a rudderless franchise.  The 31-year-old Sanchez, the National League's Batting Champion in 2006, is currently hitting .296 with six home runs, 34 RBI's, 45 runs scored, and 28 doubles this season.  Unfortunately, Giant fans may not see the immediate return of the deal as Sanchez is nursing a mild knee sprain, and has not played for several days.  However, before the trade was completed, Giant team doctors checked out the knee twice and gave the "all clear."

  Sanchez follows a long line of talented Pirates who have been traded in the last couple of years including: Jason Bay, Nate McClouth, Adam LaRoche, and Jack Wilson.  If I were a Pirates' fan, I would not be very happy this morning after seeing my double play combination shipped out of town the same day (Wilson was moved to Seattle in a separate deal).  

  What does this trade mean for guys like Kevin Fransden and Manny Burriss?  Is Sanchez a long-term solution, or just a quick fix down the stretch?

  The Philadelphia Phillies come to town for a four-game weekend series beginning Thursday night.  The defending World Series Champions feature one of the most powerful line ups in baseball, and were also busy dealing Wednesday, acquiring last year's A.L. Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee from Cleveland.  So the Giants will likely have to contend with both Lee and Cole Hammels over the weekend.

Continue reading ""Are The Giants Done Dealing Before the Deadline""

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Prince Fielder leads Rangers to sweep over the Yankees (Big League Stew)

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. Looks like Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder is back. The 31-year-old came into the year with major questions after undergoing neck surgery last season, but he's been able to quiet the doubters thus far. He put those skills on display on the national level Sunday night against the New York Yankees. Fielder picked up three hits during the contest, leading Texas to the 5-2 win. Fielder hit a double and two singles, finishing 3 for 5, with two RBI. That stat line seems pretty familiar to Prince this season. Over 193 plate appearances, he's hitting an impressive .360/.415/.554.  Some of the batting average is due to luck, but Fielder deserves credit for returning to form. He's been able to cut his strikeout rate to a career-low 11.1 percent. While his walk rate is also at a career-low, he's shown the ability to take walks at a high pace in the past. Also, his low walk rate is hardly a concern if he continues producing like this. While Fielder is swinging a bit more, he's also making contact at a career-high 85.6 percent. It appears he's traded some patience for contact, and it's been working. The biggest positive is that his aggressive approach hasn't limited his power just yet. His home run rate of 14.5 percent is slightly low compared to his career-rate, so there's a chance it will rise moving forward. Then again, perhaps this new version of Prince isn't as dependent on the long ball.  For now, whatever he's doing is working. Though the Rangers are just 21-23, Fielder's revival has been an encouraging sign for the franchise. PIRATES' PITCHING PUTS METS IN PRECARIOUS POSITION The Pittsburgh Pirates managed to complete the sweep over the New York Mets on Sunday. Francisco Liriano led the way during the 9-1 victory. Actually, all three of the Pirates starters dominated during the series. Gerrit Cole struck out 10 while nearly tossing a complete game Friday, A.J. Burnett followed that up with a 10 strikeout performance Saturday and Liriano added an incredible 12 strikeouts during Sunday's game. It was the first time since 1969 that a trio of Pirates starters struck out double-digit batters in three straight games. Burnett, Cole and Liriano struck out 32 Mets over 21 1/3 innings during the sweep.  With the win, the Pirates are just one game under .500. They trail the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central by 3.0 games. MICHAEL WACHA REMAINS PERFECT St. Louis Cardinals starter Michael Wacha may never lose another game. The 23-year-old improved to 7-0 after Sunday's 6-1 win over the Kansas City Royals. Wacha has been operating with a slightly altered approach this year, but it seems to have worked out thus far. The right-handers strikeout rate has dropped quite a bit, but he's been able to balance that by picking up more grounders.  Wacha's .231 BABIP suggests regression could be coming, however, so there may come a time where he'll need to reach back and start picking up more strikeouts.  For now, though, all appears to be right. The Cardinals have been able to remain at the top despite losing Adam Wainwright for the season, and Wacha's emergence has been a big part of it.  Wacha tossed just 107 innings last season due to shoulder issues, so the club may want to limit his usage moving forward. Based on how he's going now, it's going to be incredibly tough to take him out of the rotation at any point. HOT IN CLEVELAND Don't look now, but the Cleveland Indians are starting to get hot. The franchise picked up its sixth-straight win with a 5-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Since their 7-14 start in April, the club has improved to 13-9 during May. Despite the recent winning streak, the team remains eight games out of first in the American League Central.  The rotation has been a big part of the recent surge. The Indians have four of the 12 best starting pitchers in the American League by FIP this season http://t.co/pq97rL0hD5 — August Fagerstrom (@AugustF_MLB) May 24, 2015 On top of that, catcher Yan Gomes just returned from a knee injury Sunday. He'll not only provide a strong upgrade on offense, but he's also considered a useful defensive asset.  While Cleveland still has a long way to go before they are considered contenders, they are finally starting to perform like many expected in the preseason. Want to see more from Sunday's slate of games? Check out  our scoreboard . [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Marlins-Pirates Preview (The Associated Press)

The Pittsburgh Pirates' pitching staff turned in an impressive weekend, and their next man in line has more at stake than continuing the club's recent form. Charlie Morton makes his season debut Monday night trying to prove he belongs in the rotation after a disquieting spring as the Pirates conclude an eight-game homestand with three against the Miami Marlins. Over the past two seasons, Morton was 6-6 with a 2.59 ERA in 21 starts at PNC Park and 7-10 with a 4.34 in 25 road starts. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Jason Kipnis' ninth-inning homer leads Indians past the Rangers (Big League Stew)

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. Two of baseball's most disappointing teams took the field together on Saturday night and actually produced the most entertaining game of the day. The Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers went back-and-forth from the beginning, each scoring at least one in the first seven half innings. The Rangers finally took the lead and control with a three-run fifth inning, but that eventually slipped away when Cleveland scored three of their own in the ninth to secure a 10-8 victory. There were several key hits in a game that saw 27 total, but none were bigger than Jason Kipnis' two-run go-ahead homer in the ninth off Neftali Feliz. That was the difference maker to which the Rangers had no answer. By the same token, the game might have been over if not for Brett Hayes hard take out slide at second, which prevented a game-ending double play one batter earlier. For Kipnis, the home run completed his fifth three-hit game in Cleveland's last seven. He's on a nine-game hitting streak overall. Lonnie Chisenhall also had three hits, while three other Indians had two. For the Rangers, seven different batters drove in one run. Shin-soo Choo, Thomas Field and Robinson Chirinos each homered. Somewhat surprisingly, Cody Allen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save. It was only the second 1-2-3 inning in the game and the first for Indians pitching. CUBS EXTEND WINNING STREAK TO SIX The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field have been especially accommodating for the Chicago Cubs this week. After sweeping a four-game series from the New York Mets, the Cubs are on the verge of completing a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates after winning 4-1 on Saturday. That makes it a perfect 6-0 home standso far, and a perfect 6-0 record since the new bleachers opening in left field. A big bounce for the Cubs considering they'd lost seven of their previous nine, including four of six to the Milwaukee Brewers. Saturday's game didn't have nearly as much drama as Friday's, which ended in the 12th inning when Gregory Polanco fell down chasing a fly ball. Jon Lester is a big reason for that, as he limited Pittsburgh to one run while scattering nine hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked one. Considering how depleted both bullpens were following Friday's marathon, that was a much needed start for Chicago. Even still, they were forced to call on usual starter Travis Wood for the ninth inning save attempt. It was Wood's first relief appearance since 2011 with Cincinnati, and he handled it flawlessly, retiring all three batters on fly balls. Offensively, Kris Bryant reached base four more times. It's the fifth time he's done that already this season, which is one behind teammate Anthony Rizzo and Miami's Dee Gordon for the MLB lead. [ Check out Big League Stew on Tumblr for even more baseball awesomeness. ] HUNTER PENCE RETURNS WITH A BANG The San Francisco Giants welcomed back outfielder Hunter Pence with open arms on Saturday. Pence was forced to miss the team's first 38 games while recovering from a fractured left forearm, but he looked like he hadn't missed a beat, finishing with two hits, a walk and three runs scored in the Giants 11-2 victory. Pence was in the middle of three multi-run innings for the Giants. He doubled and scored in their two-run third inning. He singled and scored in their two-run fourth. One frame later, he walked and scored again as San Francisco blew the game wide open. It wasn't all Pence's doing, of course. Brandon Crawford had three hits, including a grand slam, with six RBIs. Brandon Belt also had three hits including a homer. With that said though, Pence was definitely a catalyst, and as long as he's healthy will remain as such for an offense that desperately needs one. RED SOX KNOCK KING FELIX OFF HIS THRONE Temporarily, we should add. On the rare occasion when Felix Hernandez struggles, one can safely bet he'll bounce back in the next one. But the next one is the next one. The one on Saturday was not so good by Felix's standards, as he allowed four runs, seven hits and four walks over six innings of a 4-2 loss to Boston. Hernandez was bitten by the long ball early. Pablo Sandoval unloaded a solo shot in the second. In the third, David Ortiz ended a string of 64 at-bats without a home run with a solo shot of his own. That streak traced all the way back to April 24.  For Hernandez, it's the second straight outing he's allowed two home runs. That's after allowing just two in his first six starts combined. The four walks were also a season high. Hernandez falls to 6-1 on the season.  For Boston, Rick Porcello matched Hernandez early and finisher stronger, lasting 6 2/3 innings. He allowed just two runs on five hits and walked two. He's 4-2 and the Red Sox are back to one game under .500 at 18-19.   More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813 [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Joey Votto bumps umpire Chris Conroy following ejection, suspension likely (Big League Stew)

The Cincinnati Reds should anticipate being without first baseman Joey Votto for a game or two in the not too distant future. The former National League MVP was ejected from Wednesday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and is very likely to face further disciplinary action after making chest-to-chest contact with home-plate umpire Chris Conroy.  The heated exchange took place after Votto wentdown swinging against Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole, and after Votto spiked his helmet in clear frustration. What wasn't immediately clear, however, is whom that frustration was directed at. Earlier in the at-bat, Votto reacted unfavorably to Conroy's called first strike. Votto did one reverse turn in the batter's box and appeared to say something to Conroy, which wasn't forgetton moments later.  [ Check out Big League Stew on Tumblr for even more baseball awesomeness. ] According to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, there also appeared to be some heat between Votto and Cole. Sheldon notes that Votto appeared to say something toward Cole as he left the field. A camera shot in the Pirates' third-base dugout confirmed that Cole was angered about something, so there were obviously a lot of small fires burning here that fueled an epic eruption.  Chances are we won't know any other specifics until all parties meet the media following the game. What is undeniable, however, is that Votto made contact with Conroy.  He was originally headed back to his position, apparently unaware that Conroy had given him the thumb. When manager Bryan Price came out to defend him, that's when Votto realized what happened and lost it, charging toward Conroy.  Then the bump.  The contact wasn't violent, but it doesn't have to be to draw MLB's attention. Votto can probably expect something more than the one-game suspension David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox received for his ump-bump two weeks ago . The contact in that case seemed incidental. Here, Votto was clearly more aggressive, but we still wouldn't anticipate a suspension more than two or three games following appeals.  Worth noting, the ejection is Votto's fifth overall, but his first since 2010. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813 [read full article]

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Yasmani Grandal breaks scoreless tie with extra-inning walk-off homer (Big League Stew)

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. Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal didn't start Sunday's game, but he ended it. In the bottom of the 13th inning, Grandal came off the bench to pinch hit against Evan Marshall. [ There's still time to sign up for Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball! ] On the third pitch of the at-bat, Grandal crushed an 87 mph change-up out to left center for a walk-off home run. It was the first walk-off homer of Grandal's career. First career walk-off HR for Yasmani Grandal. #Dodgers beat the #DBacks , 1-0, in 13 innings. — Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) May 4, 2015 Grandal replaced A.J. Ellis in the 10th inning. He walked in his first plate appearance and hit the walk-off blast his second time up, securing the 1-0 victory and giving the Dodgers their fourth straight win. Both teams received great performances from their starters. Chase Anderson and Brett Anderson each tossed six scoreless innings a piece. Chase allowed just two hits, with seven strikeouts. Brett gave up five hits, with four strikeouts. In the end, the Dodgers bullpen was better. The club held Arizona to just four hits over seven scoreless innings. They struck out nine hitters.  Los Angeles will begin a series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. YANKEES SWEEP RED SOX AT FENWAY The New York Yankees have to be happy after their latest series. The club completed a sweep of the division rival Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Garnder did a lot of the damage. Ellsbury reached base five times against his former club during the contest. After singling in his first four at-bats, the Red Sox hit Ellsbury with a pitch his fifth time up. Both benches were warned following the incident. Gardner picked up two hits during the game, including a three-run homer in the sixth. Mark Teixeira also added a home run, his ninth, in the first inning. The two-run shot gave the Yankees an early lead which they would never relinquish.  The Red Sox did make things interesting in the ninth, however. Andrew Miller came on with a three-run lead, and wasn't his usual, dominant self. Miller walked two batters, and loaded the bases after a throwing error by Chase Headley. With David Ortiz representing the winning run, Miller managed to induce a fly out, securing the 8-5 victory. It was Miller's 10th save of the season. The Yankees are currently 16-9, and sit atop the American League East. HOUSTON WINS 10TH STRAIGHT GAME The Houston Astros refuse to lose. The club picked up its 10th straight victory Sunday, beating the Seattle Mariners 7-6.  Houston jumped out to an early lead after a three-run homer by Evan Gattis, but the team couldn't hold on as the game progressed. After scoring four runs in the seventh inning, the Mariners had knotted things up at six. With the game tied, Gattis was able to play the hero. He knocked his second home run of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, giving the team a lead. Luke Gregerson locked things down, and the Astros won 7-6. With the win, the Astros are off to their best start in team history. Confirmed: #Astros 18-7 record after first 25 games is the best start to a season in franchise history. #Represent — #VoteAstros (@astros) May 3, 2015 Houston will look to extend their streak to 11 games against the Texas Rangers on Monday. WONG'S WALK-OFF WINS IT  St. Louis Cardinals' second baseball Kolten Wong came up big Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wong ended a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 14th, sending an 86 mph changeup out to right for a walk-off shot. Wong was a constant thorn in the Pirates' side throughout the contest. He went 3 for 4, with one run scored and one RBI.  Wong didn't even enter the game until the eighth inning, when he replaced pitcher Randy Choate.  [ Check out Big League Stew on Tumblr for even more baseball awesomeness. ] While Wong's hit didn't get Michael Wacha the win, the 23-year-old posted another strong start. Wacha allowed five hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out two during the contest. Wacha was in line for the win, but Trevor Rosenthal couldn't hold a one-run lead in the ninth. With the win, St. Louis improved to 18-6 on the season. Want to see more from Sunday's slate of games? Check out  our scoreboard . More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik [read full article]

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