Archive for the 'MLB' Category

Astros Blame it on Rio for Walkoff Loss

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Mychal Givens and the Orioles had just given up three runs in the top of the ninth to lose a 5-4 lead. Roberto Osuna hit Chance Sisco to put the tying run on. Chris Davis came to the plate representing the go ahead run. In years past you could hope for a walk off homerun. With four K’s in four at bats you just hoped he did not hit into a double play to end the game. He hit a ball to shallow left and Jace Peterson was able to tag up and give him a sacrifice fly. It was kind of surprising Josh Reddick threw the ball home since that run did not really matter and Sisco could have advanced to second. Rio Ruiz, an unlikely hero came to the plate and with the count 2-2 he hit a no doubter that landed on Eutah Street for a 8-7 Orioles victory, their first walk off win of the year and the first for Ruiz in his career.

Asher Wojciechowski retired the Astros in order in the top of the first so it appeared to be a better start than their 23-2 loss of yesterday. The Orioles even got a run in the bottom of the first on two singles and a RBI double from Jace Peterson to give them a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the second the homer gods again frowned down on the Orioles. Carlos Correa smashed a 3-run homerun deep into the Astros end of the bullpen for a 3-1 lead. Visions of the nightmare of yesterday began dancing into the heads of the Oriole fans. The O’s bounced back in the bottom frame on an RBI single from Trey Mancini to cut the lead to 3-2.

Asher settled down after the second inning. The Astros got baserunners in every inning he pitched, but Asher was able to prevent any Astro from crossing the plate until the seventh, his last inning when a single by Josh Reddick and double by George Springer put Astros on second and third. A ground out scored a run, brought in the bullpen, but the Orioles still had a one run lead.

They were able to take the lead in the fifth off Justin Verlander. He struck out 11 hitters in his five innings of work, but in the fifth he gave up two runs to allow the Orioles to go ahead. Pedro Severino got the inning started with a ground ball double just inside the third base bag. Jace Peterson roped a pitch over the head of center fielder George Springer for a triple to tie the game. Hanser Alberto hit a foul ball into left field but it was caught by Michael Brantley. His throw was not strong enough to get Peterson racing home with the go ahead run.

The Orioles scored an insurance run in the sixth after Chris Devinski had whiffed the first two hitters he faced. Jonathan Villar singled, stole second and scored on a Trey Mancini single. Mancini had also contributed an RBI single in the second. Santander doubled down the right field line to put runners on third and second but Devinski whiffed Pedro Severino to end the inning.

The Orioles had a chance to put the game away in the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out. Santander hit a fly ball to shallow center, not deep enough to score Rio Ruiz from third. Severino then hit one over the left field fence, but it was just a couple feet foul from being a grand slam homerun. On the next pitch he grounded out to third.

The top of the ninth was another nightmare for Mychal Givens, who came into the game with five blown saves. He got out of a jam in the eighth by striking out Josh Reddick with the tying run at second. He could not get anyone out in the ninth. Springer singled to left, Peterson falling short of making a shoe string catch. Altuve laid down a bunt single down the third base line. Michael Brantley hit a ball down the right field line. Santander chased it. Brantley headed to third and as Santander picked the ball up to throw it the ball slipped out of his hand and fell behind him. By the time Santander picked the ball up Brantley had scored. Givens hit Alex Bregman on a 1-2 pitch and he was replaced by Richard Bleier.

Bleier got out of the inning with a whiff and double play. That gave the Orioles the opportunity for the walk off in the ninth.

Game notes: Santander got a bloop single off Verlander in the first. Verlander struck out Santander on six pitches in his next two at bats. Santander looked overmatched in the two at bats and saw a total of nine pitches in his three at bats against Verlander…Verlander was hitting 95-96 with his fastball. The 11 K’s shows he still has his swing and miss stuff. It also gave him double digit strikeouts for five consecutive games, the first time he has established that in his career…The Orioles can not keep Chris Davis with the at bats he has been having this year. There are just too many swings and misses in his game and not enough balls deposited over the fence. Four whiffs today upped his strikeout total to 118 in 87 games. There are at least 60 other first baseman that are better than him (other teams starters and backups and Mancini and Mountcastle). Keeping him on the roster is an effort in futility, just because they are paying him $25 million per year. Even the fans have turned against him, booing him after each whiff…Trey Mancini made a nice sliding catch with runners on first and second and two out in the fifth, saving at least one run from scoring…For Rio Ruiz it was his first walk off homerun in his career and his second consecutive day with a homerun after his recent callup…The win by the Orioles erased the Astros eight game winning streak…Rio Ruiz was named player of the game but Jace Peterson deserves some accolades with his two doubles and a triple, all contributing to runs.

O’s Earn Split with Blue Jays

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Playing in front of 4,000 plus Brits, who accounted for almost 25 percent of the crowd, the Orioles were able to beat the Blue Jays 6-5 to split their four game series. The Orioles used a career high 9 walks and took advantage of a Bo Bichette error to snatch the victory away from the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays had an excellent opportunity to score crooked numbers in the first inning off the opener Jimmy Yacobonis. A Bo Bichette leadoff double and two walks loaded the bases with no outs. Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit a hard bouncer to Chris Davis, who went home with his throw and was able to retire Bichette. Justin Smoak hit a fairly deep fly ball to left field. Cavan Biggio tagged to go home and Lourdes Gurriel tagged to advance to third. Anthony Santander sent his throw to third and Jace Peterson was able to put the tag on him to get the out at third - before Biggio had crossed the plate. Myworld did not notice to see if Biggio was trotting home certain he would score on the fly ball. Either way there was a baserunning blunder by the Blue Jays - 1) for Gurriel trying to needlessly advance to third and 2) if Biggio was not sprinting home.

Sean Reid-Foley had trouble finding the plate for the Blue Jays. Mid-way through the second inning he had thrown 24 balls and just 18 strikes. In the first inning he walked Jonathan Villar but he was erased when Trey Mancini grounded into a double play. Sean walked Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez to put two runners on. Jace Peterson lifted what appeared to be a routine popup, but Bichette could not find it and it fell for a hit. Santander scored but Peterson was thrown out at second. Myworld could not see if Peterson was running at full speed when he first hit the pop up.

The Blue Jays were able to tie the game in the top of the second off Tom Eshelman. Randal Grichuk started the inning with a double down the left field line. Teoscar Hernandez drove him in with a single to left center. Brandon Drury lifted what again appeared to be a routine popup but Chris Davis took an awkward path to the ball and it fell just outside the infield grass for a single. The O’s had the shift on so that would have normally been an easy catch for the second baseman. Fortunately for the Orioles it did not hurt them as Tom Eshelman retired the next three hitters.

Bo Bichette had a rough day at short. A misplay on his part allowed the O’s to retake the lead. Chance Sisco singled and Chris Davis walked. With runners on third and second and two out Jonathan Villar hit an easy grounder to Bichette, but the ball hit off the side of his glove. Sisco scored. Two more scored when Trey Mancini rammed one down the third base line for a double.

Eshelman pitched out of a first and second threat with no out in the fourth. In the fifth a walk and ground rule double by Vlad Guerrero put runners on second and third with one out. The Orioles conceded the run and took the out on a grounder to second and it was 4-2 Orioles.

Even with the departure of Sean Reid-Foley, the Jays pitchers had trouble throwing strikes. Yennsi Diaz made his major league debut and was throwing gas, hitting 97 with his fastball, but it was rarely crossing the plate. After a leadoff single by Trey Mancini, Diaz walked four hitters, allowing two to trot home because of his walks. After his fourth walk he was gone.

Brandon Hyde may have left Eshelman in too long. In the top of the seventh Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio went back to back, Eshelman throwing only three pitches before giving up the two dingers. In came Dillon Tate and he struggled. Grichuk put the Blue Jays within one with an RBI double and with runners on second and third with one out the lead was in jeopardy. Tate was able to whiff Teooscar Hernandez and got Drury to ground out to third to end the threat.

Shawn Armstrong came on to close in the ninth. He gave up two singles to put runners on first and third with two outs. Teoscar Hernandez came to the plate again in a clutch situation. Shawn was able to strike out Teoscar for the final out, his third whiff of the inning. After getting two hits in his first two at bats Teoscar struck out in his next three at bats.

Game Notes: There were 4,000 Brits at the game. They were part of a scout troop that spent two weeks in West Virginia white water rafting, hiking and climbing mountains. They ended their trip with a visit to Camden Yards. The Brits ended up cheering for Orioles left fielder Anthony Santander. Anthony seemed to enjoy his new fan club….Bo Bichette may not be able to survive at shortstop. His throws were all over the place. He committed two errors, one on a throw that bounced to first, and he misjudged or lost a popup…Despite what appears to be Vlad Guerrero’s girth, he gets down the first base line very quickly. He beat out a grounder to first that appeared to be a routine play, though the pitcher may have been a little late covering…The first four players in the Jays lineup have impressive genes. Three of the four have Hall of Fame fathers. Bo Bichette (the only dad who is not in a Hall of Fame but Dante did have a couple 40 homerun seasons), Cavan Biggio (son of Hall of Famer Craig), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (son of Lourdes, Hall of Famer from Cuba) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr (son of Hall of Famer Vlad Sr). That is an impressive group of names. If they can come close to producing their dad’s numbers they will be very productive players for the Jays…Dwight Smith, whose dad also played in the major leagues also played for the Blue Jays before he was traded to the Orioles. He did not play in the game today…For Tom Eshelman it was his first major league victory…The back to back homers by Bichette and Biggio was the ninth consecutive game in which the Orioles have given up two or more homeruns. That ties the record the Astros broke in 2016 during their down years. Next in town is the homer happy Yankees. That record could be easily broken…The Orioles have also given up 218 homeruns. With 51 more games to play the Orioles appear to be on pace to break the Reds record of giving up 258 homers, the most in a major league season. All they have to do is give up one homerun per game.

UK Comes to Camden - New Fan Base for Santander

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Back in July the major leagues sent the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox to London to play two games. They were both sellouts. Now in August about 4,000 Britons came to Camden Yards to watch the Toronto Blue Jays play the Baltimore Orioles.

They were part of a scouting group that spent two weeks in West Virginia white water rafting, hiking trails and climbing mountains. The first journey of their trip started in New York, but they were only there half a day. They finished it with trips to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. When I asked one Brit if he was concerned about Trumps warnings about the dangers of Baltimore he said he wasn’t aware of what Trump said, but then he said most Brits don’t really listen to what Trump has to say.

The fans for whatever reason drew a liking to Anthony Santander, the leftfielder for the Orioles. He had been throwing baseballs to the fans in between innings. The UK crowd had taken most of the seats along left field. When they began chanting “twenty five”, which is the uniform number of Santander, I informed one of the chanters that his name was “San-Tan-Dare”. They changed the chant to “San-tan-dare”. He got a couple of big ovations when he caught fly balls out in left field. Santander must have been surprised that fans from Great Britain knew how to pronounce his name.

The Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel did not get the same kind of love. Myworld did not notice whether or not he was throwing baseballs into the stands in between innings. After the Santander love fest he did throw a ball into the left field stands but the Brits still ignored him. Perhaps they were showing respect for the player from Baltimore.

The 4,000 or so fans had to leave by 3 PM because they had flights to catch back to the UK. Only a few witnessed the first base hit from Santander. But he did get a big ovation the second and third time when he came to the plate. When he went back out into the field Santander played with the fans affections. They seemed to be enthralled by his attention.

Perhaps the next time the major leagues want to return to the UK to play a third game in London they should choose the Orioles, to give Anthony Santander another chance to play in front of his newly found fan base.

Top Catching Prospects

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Myworld attempts to identify the top ten catching prospects in the minor leagues. This is my opinion based on numbers since we have not seen all of these players play. For the next couple weeks we’ll try to go around the diamond.

1. Adley Rutschman (Orioles) - The first pick in the 2019 draft. The last time the Orioles drafted a catcher in the first round (2007 fifth overall pick) his name was Matt Wieters. Matt has had a good career in the major leagues but when he was in college his bat was going to make him special. That bat never really showed up. Like Matt, Adley is a switch hitter and comes with the same two way press clippings, a powerful bat who can play the defensive game. He makes good contact, walking more than he struck out in college and has the potential to hit for power. He also has a strong arm that can control the running game. At 6′2″ he is solidly built but still agile enough behind the plate. In his professional debut he has walked (5) more than he has struck out (4), but his batting average is less than desired (.176). It is a small sample size of only 34 at bats and it comes after a heavy college season. Adley should get enough experience that he should play in the full season league next year.

2. Joey Bart (Giants) - A similar story for Bart who will eventually be called upon to replace Buster Posey, who has had a good career with the Giants. Like Wieters, Posey was a fifth overall pick (2008) but his offensive game has been better. At 32 years of age his catching shelf life is about to expire and Bart is poised to replace him. Joey was a first round pick in 2018 and was the second overall pick, coming out of the same college as Wieters (Georgia Tech). His first season in rookie ball he shined with 13 homeruns and a .364 average. Those are the kind of numbers we expected from Adley. Joey is also a two way player with a powerful arm to control the running game and a good bat to hit in the middle of the lineup. At 6′3″ he is also a big catcher but very agile behind the plate. For the 2019 season the Giants started him in the California League where his bat continues to shine (.270, 12 homeruns) with a .815 OPS. His speed and ability to make contact is not as strong as Adley but he should make an impact with the Giants by 2021.

3. Will Smith (Dodgers) - Will was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2016. At the start of the season he wasn’t even considered the best catcher in the Dodgers system. After the way he has handled major league pitching this year (.326, 6 homeruns, 1.199 OPS) he may not be eligible as a rookie next year since he is now the Dodgers starting catcher in the middle of a playoff race. Based on his career minor league numbers (.236 average) the batting average should not stay at that level, but his power is real. He also has a strong arm and is showing good maturity with a veteran Dodger pitching staff in a playoff race. Keibert Ruiz will find it tough to wrest the catching job from Smith, but the Dodgers appear to be set at catching for the long term. This year Will did hit .269 with 20 homeruns in just 60 games at AAA, where the baseballs may have been a little juiced. For a power hitter he makes good contact.

4. Miguel Amaya (Cubs) - With Wilson Contreras behind the plate the Cubs are not in an immediate need to find a catcher. They found Miguel in Panama, where they signed him for $1.25 million in 2015. His defensive game at this point is above his offensive game, but his power began to show last year with 12 homeruns in his first exposure to the full season leagues. A promotion to the Carolina League for 2019 has seen some offensive struggles (.232) but he has shown some patience at the plate (.347 OBA) and continues to display his power (8 homeruns). His defensive game has improved to such a point that he may be one of the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues. Despite his offensive struggles Miguel should see AA next year and Wilson should start looking in the rear view mirror at his next replacement.

5. Francisco Alvarez (Mets) - The Mets have had a number of promising catchers that have performed less than their expectation once they reached the major leagues. Francisco comes from the catching haven of Venezuela and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million. He did not play last year. At 17 years of age he still has some work to do on his defensive game. He has been pretty impressive with the bat in his first year hitting .462 with two homeruns in just 26 at bats. The Mets promoted him to Kingsport where he continues to rake with a .355 average with two more homeruns. His OPS sits at an impressive 1.073. At 5′11″ and 220 pounds Francisco is a bulky catcher. To stay agile behind the plate he will have to watch his weight. A promotion to the full season league next year is expected.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Keibert was signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for $140,000. Will Smith has been a step ahead of him on the catching ladder. Keibert was signed for his defense, but his bat has been pretty impressive as well, with a .309 career average entering the 2019 season. The power may not be as great as Smith but he has a better ability to make contact and hit for a higher average. Both players have a strong defensive game. This year Keibert struggled a bit in AA, where he played last year (.254) but a promotion to AAA has seen him increase that average (.324). The Dodgers could leave Ruiz in AAA next year as insurance to an injury to Smith but at some point they will have to make a decision who their starting catcher is.

7. Ronaldo Hernandez (Rays) - Ronaldo was signed out of Colombia in 2014 for a bargain price of $225,000. No catcher on this list has a stronger arm than Hernandez. The other parts of his game still need some work. The Rays converted him to catcher after signing him so his experience is still limited behind the plate. Last year Ronaldo played his first year in a full season league and clubbed 21 homeruns. His career average entering the 2019 season is .306. Playing in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he is hitting .274 with 7 homeruns. His .413 slugging is about 70 points under his career minor league average. The Rays will show patience with him but he could be the Rays first home grown catcher in more than a decade.

8. Shea Langeliers (Braves) - Shea was a first round pick of the Braves in 2019, the ninth player selected in the draft. His defensive tools are supreme with an arm equal to Hernandez. He was considered the best defensive catcher in college baseball. His bat could be a question mark, but he did break an NCAA tournament record with 11 RBIs in one game. The Braves debuted him in Low A where he has struggled with the bat (.211). When you consider the Orioles have started Adley in the rookie leagues the immediate promotion of Shea to full season was an aggressive move. They may start him in Low A to begin the 2020 season but he could be up with the Braves very quickly.

9. Sam Huff (Rangers) - Sam was a seventh round pick in 2016 out of high school. Catchers drafted out of high school usually do not have the same success as catchers drafted out of college. At 6′4″ Sam is large for a catcher but his athleticism and strong arm keep him behind the plate. His large frame gives him exceptional power. Last year he hit 18 homeruns at Low A. The downside was a troubling 23/140 walk to whiff ratio. This could hurt him average wise as he sees more advanced pitching. The Rangers repeated him at Low A this year and after hitting .333 with 15 homeruns in just 30 games they quickly promoted him to High A. The homerun numbers have slowed (10 in 70 games) but the average still remains high (.278). He still continues to struggle to make contact (23/116 walk/whiff ratio in 101 games) so that will have to be monitored. His defense is strong enough that if he hits below .250 with 20 plus homeruns he should make it as a starter.

10. William Contreras (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson. His offensive game is probably just above his defensive game at this point. He has a strong arm behind the plate, good athleticism and with more experience should be an upper level defender like his older brother. His offensive game has the same potential for power as his brother. Last year he hit 11 homeruns at Low A but failed to hit a homerun in his 83 at bats in the Florida State League. That is where he started his 2019 season and though his offensive numbers were not great (.263, 3 homeruns) he was still promoted to AA. William makes good contact and his power should improve as he matures. Expect him to be with the Braves sometime late next year as a September callup.

Bay Sox on a Roll

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

The two hottest teams in the Eastern League are the Bowie Bay Sox and the Erie Seawolves. Both are playing .700 ball in the second half, with the Seawolves holding a one game lead. They Bay Sox are the AA team of the Orioles while the Sea Wolves are the AA team of the Tigers, two major league teams fighting for the worst record in baseball.

Myworld was in Bowie to watch the Bay Sox play the Portland Sea Dogs. Michael Bauman was pitching for the Bay Sox. He has been one of the top minor league pitchers for the Bay Sox entering the game with a 2-1 record and a 1.86 ERA in eight appearances, six starts. At 6′4″ with a fastball consistently clocked in the high 90s he is a prospect to watch.

If you arrived late for the game you may have missed Bauman. The first two hitters ripped singles against him and after that he had trouble finding the plate. He walked two and gave up another single and when he attempted to throw a curve it broke in against the left handed hitter, it hit him to drive in the third run. Bauman was gone after that. He did show an impressive fastball that was consistently in the high 90s but myworld did not see too much but his fastball. His breaking pitch did not seem to have a lot of bite and the few times he threw the pitch it did not break across the plate. Marcus Wilson had the big hit with a two run single in the inning.

The Bay Sox battled back after falling behind 3-0. Konner Wade had shut the Bay Sox down for the first four innings but T.J. Nichting broke the shutout in the fifth with an RBI single. Wade left the game after the sixth still holding a 3-1 lead.

Adam Lau came on to pitch the seventh for the Sea Dogs. He walked Jesmeul Valentin to lead off the inning. With one out Preston Palmeiro hit a one out hit and run single to right. The ball was booted by Marcus Wilson allowing Valentin to score and Palmeiro to advance to second. Palmeiro scored on a infield single up the middle by Ryan Ripken to tie the game. Yes. Palmeiro and Ripken are sons of Rafael and Cal, but they do not have their major league tools. Palmiero is a first baseman who lacks power and only stands 5′11″. Ripken is tall (6′6″) but at 26 he has not shown power to play the corners.

The Bay Sox ripped Matthew Gorst in the eighth to take a three run lead. Ryan McKenna started the inning with a bunt single. Palmiero walked with the bases loaded and T.J. Nichting singled to drive in two. Nichting was caught between first and second and Wilson held the ball watching Palmeiro at third. When he threw to first Nichting broke for second. Palmeiro was caught leaning too far off third and Joey Curletta gunned him down at third instead of throwing to second.

The Bay Sox brought out their closer Christian Alvarado to pitch the ninth. Like McKenna the lead off hitter Jarren Duran bunted down the third base line. Alvarado threw it past the first baseman and Duran stopped at second. C.J. Chatham singled to drive in Duran. Two strikeouts and a walk to Luke Tendler put two runners on. Just as a father was explaining to his daughter about wanting to pitch carefully to Marcus Wilson because a homerun would give the Sea Dogs the lead, Wilson hit the next pitch over the left field fence. Too bad Alvarado was not listening. Wilson drove in five of the seven Sea Dog runs.

The Bay Sox did not score in the home half.

Game Notes: The Bay Sox pitchers struck out 17 Sea Dogs. The bullpen was responsible for 16 of those K’s. Steven Klimek showed a wicked curve ball and his fastball hit the mid 90s. He threw two shutout innings, striking out four. He will be a pitcher to watch…It was Navy night at Bay Sox stadium and daddy/daughter date night with 7,900 in attendance…Bobby Dalbec swung and missed at a breaking pitch in the dirt from Klimek. Dalbec struck out three times from the DH spot. Sea Dog catcher Austin Rei struck out all four times he came to the plate…Carlos Perez had trouble holding on to the ball during stolen bases. The Sea Dogs stole four bases against him, two when he could not throw the ball because the ball slipped out of his hand when he came up throwing…Jarren Duran shows some good speed. He was a seventh round pick of the Red Sox in 2018…A 20-7 June record by the Bay Sox was the best in franchise history.

Donaldson Does the Doo

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

The Washington Nationals made a nice comeback on Wednesday, scoring three runs in the last two innings to tie the game at 4-4. They went with Sean Doolittle to start the tenth and after getting Freddie Freeman to ground to short to go 0 for 5 he could not do the same with Donaldson. Josh gave the ball a ride over the centerfield fence, despite a leaping effort from Victor Robles to give the Braves a 5-4 win. It was the first hit of the day for Donaldson. The Nationals had two runners on in the bottom frame with Anthony Rendon up. He hit a hard liner to left that had promise but Adam Duvall was able to chase it down to end the game.

The Braves Mike Soroka was tough on the Nationals. He allowed a solo homerun to Juan Soto in the second that tied the game. They had runners on first and third with one out in the fourth but Kurt Suzuki lined out to Freeman who stepped on first for a double play. In the sixth Trea Turner hit one into the gap for a double. Instead of holding Kendrick at third to have second and third with no out Kendrick was sent home and thrown out easily. That hit was just the third off Soroka. He went seven innings allowing just three hits.

Anibal Sanchez was not as consistent as Soroka. He also gave up a solo homerun in the second, to Adam Duvall, his third in two games against the Nationals. Duvall was batting .529. Sanchez loaded the bases with one out in the inning when Dave Martinez chose to walk the weak hitting Yohan Camargo intentionally. Myworld did not like the strategy, but pitcher Soroka grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to prevent Ronald Acuna from coming up.

In the third Acuna led off with a double and Ozzie Albies made it back to back. Acuna grounded his past a diving Rendon down the third base line. Albies grounded his past a diving Parra down the first base line. Sanchez was able to get out of the inning with no further damage.

The Braves nicked him again in the fourth on back to back two out singles from two of the weakest hitters in the lineup, Camargo and Soroka. Ronald Acuna drove a single into right center to score Camargo. Adam Eatton cut the ball off before it could get to the wall otherwise Soroka would have scored.

The Braves drove Sanchez from the mound in the sixth inning when back to back doubles from Ender Inciarte and Tyler Flowers almost landed in the same spot down the right field line. Tanner Rainey was able to end the rally, but Parra made a heads up throw to third on a ground ball to retire Flowers to make it easier on Rainey. Normally first baseman are content with getting the out at first.

The bullpen held the Braves allowing the Nationals to whittle at the lead. In the eighth Matt Adams clobbered a two out pinch hit homerun into the right field bleachers off Anthony Swarzak. The Braves brought in Luke Jackson to start the ninth but he gave up back to back singles to Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon. The Rendon hit was picked up in the hole by Camargo but he could not get a grip on the ball when making the throw. That brought in Sean Newcomb to close the game. He walked Juan Soto on four pitches to load the bases. He threw two balls to Kurt Suzuki and instead of waiting for a strike Kurt swung at the next pitch and lined a single to left field to score Eaton.

The Nationals had the bases loaded with no outs and down by just one, 4-3. Gerrado Parra came to the plate. He fouled two off trying to lift the ball into the outfield for a SF. The next pitch he hit the ball hard, but on the ground. The Braves were able to turn a 6-4-3 double play. Brian Dozier then struck out on a 3-2 pitch to send the game into extra innings.

Josh Tomlin came on to pitch in the bottom of the tenth to get the save. Adrian Sanchez hit a one out single when both Freeman and Tomlin went for the ball and no one covered first. A walk to Turner put runners on first and second with one out. Tomlin got Eaton to pop out and Rendon hit the hard liner to left to end the game.

Game Notes: The way Adam Duvall is hitting the Braves are not missing Nick Markakis. With the return of Inciarte from injury it gives him a place to play in centerfield, Acuna plays in right field and Austin Riley and Duvall share playing time, though the way Duvall is hitting he is getting most of that playing time…Tanner Rainey was hitting the radar at 100 and 101, lowering his ERA below 4. With the new acquisitions of Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias his bullpen time could be reduced…The Braves had two runners thrown out trying to advance to third on ground balls to the infield. Flowers was an unconventional 3-5 ground out. Adam Duvall got thrown out at third on a grounder to short…Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson almost combined to go 0 for 10…Anthony Rendon appears to be running better. He went from first to third on a Suzuki single showing good speed in his legs as he motored to third…Howie Kendrick showed no speed in his attempt to score from first on the Turner double. It appeared he hit a wall of goo as he rounded third and could not race through it…The Nationals finished 2-4 at home in back to back series with the Dodgers and Braves, the two teams they will have to beat if they make the playoffs and want to advance to the World Series. Conversely the Braves went 4-2 on the road against the Phillies and Nationals…Ronald Acuna stole his 25th base in the fourth inning. That made him the third player in major league history to have 25 steals and 25 homeruns aged 21 or younger. The other two are Mike Trout and Andrew Jones.

Rendon Slam Triggers Nats Win Over Braves

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

With the score tied 2-2 in the sixth inning Anthony Rendon came up with the bases loaded and two outs. Chad Sobotka fell behind in the count 2-0 and grooved a fastball that caught too much of the plate. Rendon blasted it deep into the left field bleachers for a 6-2 lead. That is all the Nationals needed in their 6-3 win.

Dallas Keuchel got the start for Atlanta. The Nationals got to him early. In the first inning Adam Eaton was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored when Juan Soto lined a single into centerfield. A Howie Kendrick single and a Brian Dozier walk loaded the bases but Victor Robles grounded to short to end the threat.

The Nationals scored again in the second, gifted again by Keuchel with a leadoff walk to Yan Gomes, the first of his four walks in the game. Patrick bunted him to second and Trea Turner drove him in lining a pitch down the left field line for a double.

Patrick Corbin was sharp for the Nationals. He shut down the Braves bats not allowing a hit in the first three innings. In the fourth a single by Freddie Freeman started the rally, his first of three hits in the game. A wild pitch advanced Freeman to second. With two outs Anthony Rendon made a tremendous diving catch on an Adam Duvall hit down the line. He got up, threw to first but the ball sailed over the head of the first baseman Howie Kendrick allowing Freeman to score from third. A Johan Camargo singled advanced Duvall to third but Corbin was able to whiff Austin Riley to end the inning.

Freeman also started a Brave rally in the sixth with his single up the middle. Dozier made a diving stop on a hit by Donaldson but the ball rolled towards first base. Dozier chased it, quickly flipped to first but Kendrick could not dig the ball out, Freeman advancing to third on the throw. Adam Duvall hit a ball deep to left field, Juan Soto leaped and caught it at the edge of the top of the fence to possibly rob Duvall of a three run homerun. Freeman tagged and scored on the fly ball to tie the game at two.

In the bottom frame the Nats struck back and it was again the kindness of Keuchel that hurt him. He walked Yan Gomes for the third time in the game. Adrian Sanchez pinch hit for Corbin and lined a single through the third base hole. Chad Sobotka came on to relieve Keuchel, striking out Turner for the second out. Adam Eaton walked to load the bases and that brought up Rendon to provide his heroics.

The Nationals bullpen came through in the seventh and eighth. Wander Suerro retired the Braves in order in the seventh. Fernando Rodney gave up a one out single to Freeman but retired the next two hitters. That brought on an appearance from Sean Doolittle, who was not seen in the Dodger’s series. He gave up a one out homerun to pinch hitter Charlie Culberson that carried over the left field bullpen, but otherwise struck out all three other Braves hitters he faced.

Game Notes: Soccer stars Mallory Pugh and Rose Lavelle threw out the first pitches. They got a little crossed up when throwing out their pitches, Mallory throwing a pitch to the National who was to catch the first pitch from Rose, leaving Rose to throw her pitch to the National stationed to catch the pitch from Mallory (or vice versa - I forgot who threw the ball first)…In the month of July Stephen Strasburg has driven in more runs (6) than earned runs he has given up (4)…Brian Dozier should have been charged with two errors in the game. He bobbled a ball in the first inning and in the sixth his errant throw allowed Freeman to advance to third…Dallas Keuchel was at 99 pitches after the fifth inning. With his fastball only at 87-89 he needs command of his pitches to be effective. That command does not seem to be there yet…In the seventh Jeremy Walker walked the first three hitters he faced. He was bailed out on a caught stealing by Dozier, the first batter he walked. In total he threw 14 balls and 7 strikes…The grand slam for Rendon was his third of his career and it got him to 500 RBIs for his career…The Braves were missing Nick Markakis (broken wrist) and Dansby Swanson (heel injury) from their lineup…Max Scherzer is back on the DL with his upper back strain.

Dodgers Batter Ross and Nationals

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

The Dodgers had their way with the Nationals pitching staff yesterday, especially since it was the first time Dave Martinez decided to use the opener. One pitcher who looked good was lefthander Matt Grace, who was the opener and retired all six hitters he faced, three of them on strikeouts. After Grace the only lefthander the Nationals had in the pen was Tony Sipp and the Dodgers lefthanded bats assaulted Nationals pitching for a 9-3 win. One right handed bat that did most of the damage was Will Smith, who finished the day 3 for 3 with six RBIs. But he had the lefthanded bats getting on in front of him, who combined to score seven of the nine runs the Dodgers scored.

They say if you want to beat a good starting pitcher you get to him early. The Nationals were able to get to Clayton Kershaw early. Trea Turner started things off with a single and Adam Eaton punched one down the right field line for a triple. For some reason Cody Bellinger was playing near centerfield for the lefthand hitting Eaton. Eaton scored on a fly ball from Juan Soto. The Nationals had a 2-0 lead. All seemed good. Until the Nationals replaced Grace with Joe Ross.

Joe Ross came into the game with a ERA around 9. He did not improve on that. Will Smith jumped on his third pitch of the game to deposit a ball into the right field bleachers to put the Dodgers on the scoreboard. Ross then gave up a hard single to Joc Pederson but was able to retire the next three hitters to protect the Nationals lead.

In the fourth Ross completely lost it. After striking out A.J. Pollock the left handed bats poised to attack. Cody Bellinger walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Max Muncy lined a single over shortstop to drive in Bellinger. Corey Seager hit a double into the right center field gap. Eaton had trouble picking the ball up and Seager advanced to third, being credited with a double. Will Smith blasted another pitch that traveled to the warning track, but Robles was able to shag the ball down as his back hit the wall. The Dodgers were now up 4-2.

The Dodgers were able to add another run in the sixth when Muncy and Corey Seager hit back to back singles. Will Smith smacked one into the right center field gap, Robles attempted a diving catch and failed. The Nationals were fortunate that only one run scored. With runners on second and third Pederson was walked intentionally and Clayton Kershaw grounded out to end the inning with only one run logged against Ross.

The game really got out of hand in the seventh when the Dodgers exploded for four runs off Joe Ross and Javy Guerra. Guerra walked the first two hitters he faced to load the bases, setting the stage for Will Smith to clear the bases by driving one against the wall in left field to score all three runs, stopping at second with his second double of the game. He finished the day with six RBIs.

Clayton Kershaw did not have too much trouble with the Nats bats after giving up hits to the first two batters. He retired the next nine hitters. In the sixth he got into a little trouble, missing his pitches for eight straight balls to put two runners on. Brian Dozier flied out to right to end the inning. Kershaw was done for the day after that.

Yan Gomes did line a curve ball from Joe Kelly for a homerun in the seventh. That was all the damage the Nationals bats could do against the Dodger pen. Two double play ground outs in the last two innings flushed out any potential for a rally.

Game notes: Lots of Dodger blue mixed with the National red. A sellout crowd of 39,616 was at the game…Joe Ross has a nice fastball at 95. He did strike out 7 in his 4.2 innings of work. But there were just too many pitches the Dodger bats were able to barrel, especially the lefthanded bats. In the sixth inning both Ross and Kershaw had thrown 70 pitches, but Kershaw had gone two more innings than Ross…It appeared that starting Grace gave Dave Martinez no lefthander in the pen to counter the lefthanded bats. At no time did Tony Sipp warm up in the pen. The left handed bats were able to pepper the Nationals right handed arms for 9 runs…With two strikes on Juan Soto the Dodgers moved Jacob Turner from third base to the second base side of the bag. They seemed to think Juan Soto has a tendency to pull the ball with a two strike count…The last hit for Will Smith was a walk off homerun. Sent back down to the minors his first hit coming back was a homerun. He now has four homeruns in 29 at bats. Myworld thinks he will stick around awhile with Austin Barnes struggling to hit…Max Scherzer is again being bothered by his back and may miss another start. Austin Voth is not available because of shoulder issues…Because of a short bench the Nationals chose to bat Matt Grace in the second inning with two outs and no one on base. They brought in Joe Ross to pitch in the third.

Murphy, Desmond Go Deep in Rockies Win Over Nationals

Friday, July 26th, 2019

Both Ian Desmond and Daniel Murphy hit solo shots in the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game and the Rockies went on to beat the Nationals 8-7 to prevent a sweep of the four game series. Wade Davis struck out the side in the ninth, but did issue a walk to pick up his 15th save. Fernando Rodney is running low on arrows as he dropped to 0-4, blowing his second save by giving up the two runs in the ninth.

Max Scherzer got the start for the Nationals. Normally a quick worker, Nate was a little more methodical in this game. He did have a bad inning in the fourth when he gave up an RBI single to Ryan McMahon and a two run shot to Garrett Hampson that easily found the centerfield bleachers that gave the Rockies an early 3-0 lead. Scherzer only went five innings, striking out eight.

Jeff Hoffman looked solid in the first four innings with his 96 mile per hour fastball tough to hit after hitters saw his mid 70s curveball. He gave up just two hits, but walked three and hit one batter, an explanation for his 6.60 ERA coming into the ball game. In the fifth the Nationals finally got to him with a Trea Turner single and a walk to Adam Eaton putting two runners on for Anthony Rendon. Rendon did not disappoint, hitting a high shot into the left field bull pen, just over the glove of a leaping Raimel Tapia to tie the game at 3-3.

As with many teams, the bullpen has been a big disappointment for the Nationals. Matt Grace came on in relief of Scherzer to face four lefties in the sixth. He could only retire two of them. Daniel Murphy hit a single and Ryan McMahon blasted a pitch deep into the right field bleachers to give the Rockies the lead again, 5-3.

The Rockies also went to their pen, calling on Bryan Shaw. After retiring the first hitter he walked Brian Dozier and Victor Robles. Brian took advantage of a disinterested Shaw and stole third, taking off while Shaw was still in his stretch. Robles took off for second on the pitch and the throw from the catcher Wolters was late. Pinch hitter Gerrado Parra took advantage of the gaffe, lining a double into right center to score both and tie the game. Trea Turner blooped a single over the head of the shortstop scoring Parra and giving the Nationals a 6-5 lead.

Tanner Rainey and Tony Sipp combined to put up a zero in the seventh but Rainey put two runners on. Sipp was able to snag a hard ground ball up the middle to end the inning. Matt Adams deposited a pitch into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the seventh to give the Nationals a 7-5 lead. It looked pretty good for the Nationals to complete the sweep.

Sipp stayed in to pitch to the lefties coming up. Daniel Murphy clobbered a 3-2 pitch deep into the right field bleachers to lead off the inning. With Sean Doolittle not available Fernando Rodney came on in the ninth to protect a one run lead. Ian Desmond did not make the lead last long with a leadoff homerun just over the flower beds in the centerfield bleachers. Rodney had trouble finding the plate, walking Blackmon, striking out Trevor Story but having the pitch sail to the back stop for a wild pitch to advance Blackmon to second. A single into left field put runners on first and third with one out. Daniel Murphy hit a slow grounder to the left of Rendon. His natural throw was to second, Turner pivoted with a throw to first but Murphy just beat the throw, Blackmon scoring the go ahead run.

Juan Soto was able to walk in the ninth and steal second but the Nationals could not bring him in.

Game Notes: Jeff Hoffman baffles hitters with a slow curve at 76 and then mixes in his mid to plus 90s fastball. Finding more control of his curve and issuing less walks would lower that ERA. He walked four in five innings and now has issued 17 walks in 38 innings. He also has given up 8 homeruns…The victory was only the Rockies third in their last 20 games. That has probably put them in the seller’s category…With Max Scherzer coming back from the IL with a bursa sac issue and the bullpen taxed from a double header the previous day, it may not have been ideal to pitch Scherzer if you felt he was only going to give you five innings and your closer Sean Doolittle was not available…Austin Voth does not look like he will be available as a fifth starter. He has been shut down with shoulder tendinitis…Northern Virginia resident and World Cup soccer star Ali Krieger threw out the first pitch for Thursday’s game.

Trea Cycles Nationals to Win Over Rockies

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

The bucket list for myworld got whittled down. For the first time we have watched a major league player hit for the cycle. Trea Turner hit for the cycle last night in the Nationals 11-1 win over the Rockies. It was the second cycle for Trea. The last time he hit for the cycle was in 2017 and it was against the same Rockies, but in Colorado.

Stephen Strasburg got the start for the Nationals and his curveball was unhittable. He struck out six in the first three innings. His pitch count was high with a lot of three and two ball counts, which limited his innings to six. During that time he only gave up three hits and walked two and left the game without giving up a run.

Trea Turner got things started for the Nationals with his line drive leadoff homerun into the centerfield bleachers. Adam Eaton followed with a double into right center. With two outs and Eaton on third Matt Adams ripped a line drive single into right center to make it 2-0. Rockies starter Peter Lambert settled down after the first.

Turner got his single in the second inning, hitting a ball off Lambert’s leg and beating the throw to first. That had followed a Stephen Strasburg single, but with runners on first and second and two out Adam Eaton struck out.

The Nationals next opportunity for a run came in the fifth after a Trea Turner leadoff triple bounced off the glove of a diving Blackmon. Eaton followed with a walk to put runners on first and third with no outs. Lambert was able to strike out Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and Matt Adams to keep the game at 2-0.

In the sixth the Nationals drove Lambert from the game. Brian Dozier led off the inning with a double down the third base line. Yan Gomes hit a ball over the drawn in shortstop to score Dozier from third. It also drove Lambert from the game. Andrew Stevens pinch hit for Strasberg and hit a slow line drive between short and third. He used his speed to beat the throw to first. This brought up Trea Turner and the fans were hoping for a double. He hit a “double” but it was followed by “play” for a double play to end the inning and bringing groans from the crowd.

Turner got another opportunity to bat when the Nationals erupted for 8 runs in the seventh inning. This time he hit his double. Two throwing errors by the Rockies on plays to the plate allowed the Nationals to take extra bases, one of them by ex-Nat Ian Desmond that hit the foot of a sliding Robles and went into the camera well. After eight batters had hit Turner came up to hit his double into right center. The cycle was complete.

The Rockies finally scored their only run in the ninth inning on a Ryan McMahon double.

Game Notes: Both Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond got cheers from the crowd when they went up to the plate in the second inning back to back. They both tipped their cap. Murphy and Desmond left as free agents. Desmond had left a year earlier for the Rockies and moved to the outfield to accommodate Murphy at first base…Ian Desmond is next to last in defensive rating for centerfielders. Last night he was playing in left field while David Dahl played center…With Seung-Hwan Oh undergoing season ending elbow surgery and out for the year, the team released him when they picked up Yonder Alonso. Yonder plays first base so this could complicate the lineup with Daniel Murphy, also a lefthanded hitter playing first base. Last year Murphy saw most of his time at second base, but his defensive ratings there were poor.