Archive for August, 2013

Nationals Squeak by Marlins

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

The Nationals scored two runs in the first, one on a ground out by Jayson Werth and the other on an RBI single by Ian Desmond, then hung on for a 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins.  Ross Ohlendorf started and was relieved by Tanner Roark after he gave up a lead off homerun to Christian Yelich in the sixth.  For the seventh, eighth and ninth the Nationals used their inconsistent triumvirate of Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano to close out the last three innings.

Nate Eovaldi had a rough beginning for the Marlins.  He gave up one out back to back singles to Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper that eventually led to the first two runs.  Eovaldi shutout the Nationals for the next five innings.  The Marlins bullpen restricted the National bats to two hits in the last three innings.

In the fourth inning the Nationals loaded the bases with one out, but Ross Ohlendorf struck out and Denard Span grounded out to end the threat.  The Nationals never got a runner to second after that until the ninth inning when Ian Desmond stole second after collecting his third hit of the day.  He was stranded on second.

Ross Ohlendorf retired the first nine Marlin hitters but got into trouble in the fourth as well.  He gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich.  After a double to Giancarlo Stanton down the third base line and a walk to Logan Morrison the Marlins appeared to be in business with the bases loaded and one out.  Ohlendorf struck out Ed Lucas and got Justin Ruggiano to ground out to Zimmerman to end the threat.

Game Notes: Ryan Zimmerman made a nice backhand stab of a Justin Ruggiano grounder in the second inning.  He made a hesitant throw over to first to get Ruggiano….Tanner Roark got behind in the count to Christian Yelich and he lined a 2-1 fastball into the left field bullpen area…Anthony Rendon made a nice stop for the last out of the game, ranging far to his left to throw out Adeiny Hechevarria.  He seemed to limp over to the procession of hand shaking.   

Noah’s Nightmare; Rodriguez Gem

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Coming into the game the Binghamton Mets Noah Syndergaard was 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA in ten starts.  Eduardo Rodriguez had struggled with consistency in his nine starts since being promoted to AA going 2-3, 5.52.  Eduardo had only given up one run in his last 11 innings covering his last two starts while Noah had been given more than one week off but had not allowed a run in his last three starts covering 15 innings.

The Bay Sox seemed to have gotten good looks at Syndergaard’s fastball that zipped across the plate at 96-99 miles per hour.  In his three innings of work the Bay Sox assaulted him for 11 runs on nine hits, two walks and three homeruns.  Eddie Rodriguez dominated the Mets lineup, going eight innings and limiting the Binghamton Mets to two hits, with no walks and five whiffs, facing just two batters over the minimum.  The Bay Sox went on to win the game 11-0.

The Bay Sox started the game with three line drive singles to score one run.  Noah got Caleb Joseph to smack what appeared to be a double play grounder, but second baseman Daniel Muno fielded the ball but then threw it past the shortstop to allow a second run to score and the other runners to advance one base.  Noah retired the next two hitters but Josh Horton doubled into the right field corner to score two and make the score 4-0.

In the second inning two singles put two runners on for Buck Britton, who launched a ball into right centerfield for a 3-run homer.  Before the crowd could settle down Caleb Joseph followed with a blast of his own, making it back to back for the Bay sox and giving them an 8-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third a couple walks brought up Trayvon Robinson, who sent Noah deep for a three run homer.  The manager allowed Noah to get the final out of the inning and then replaced him to pitch the bottom of the fourth.

Game Notes: This was Dariel Alvarez AA debut and he didn’t look good.  Dariel was signed by the O’s after defecting from Cuba.  He swung at and missed at many a curveball that broke out of the strike zone, striking out three times and grounding out in his fourth at bat.  Dariel had hit .436 average with two homeruns in ten games with Frederick…Jeff Walters came on in the eighth to work an 11-0 game.  Normally he is the closer on the team but Jeff was getting some work.  For the season Jeff had 35 saves.  He didn’t appear to have one unhittable pitch, but he had good velocity, hitting the low 90s with his fastball.  At 25 years of age he will have to make the roster soon if he expects to have an impact in this game.          

French Playoffs

Monday, August 26th, 2013

The Rouen Huskies continue to dominate baseball in France.  They have won the baseball title in France for the last eight seasons and seem to always represent France in the European Cup.  They defeated Montpellier Barracudas in two games 11-1 and 12-2 to reach the finals, winning the best of five series three games to one.

They will play Templiers Senart in the finals.  Templier defeated Paris UC in two games 12-2 and 4-2 to also win their best of five series three games to one.

The two teams will play for the final this Saturday.  You can follow the European action here: http://www.mister-baseball.com/ and sometimes here http://baseballdeworld.com/

The Norfolk Bump in the Road

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Chapter 33

The Norfolk Bump in the Road

July 20 – A United States navy carrier opened fire on three small boats racing toward it near the Strait of Hormuz, sinking one and killing at least nine. A Navy spokesman stated a security team issued a series of warnings before resorting to lethal force. It is unclear at this time the nationality of the operators of the boats racing towards the carrier but the Iran Revolutionary Guard have been known to employ similar boats for patrolling the waters. Iran has threatened on a number of occasions to close the Strait of Hormuz if the embargo is not lifted.

Jason and Kevin spent a month in Bowie. The numbers Jason created with his starts were good with scoring by the opposition still difficult to come by despite his drop in velocity back to the high 90s his first start after the Future’s game. Larvell took note of the drop. The scouts did too.

“What’s happening in Bowie, Kevin?” Larvell had not called Kevin since their arrival at Bowie. Things were going pretty good. Now there appeared to be cracks in the armor too many people were noticing. Larvell was concerned. “When he pitched in the Future’s game he was hitting triple digits with his fastballs. After, his fastball has dropped in velocity. Something’s got to be up. We’re not used to seeing Jason down in double digits. Is he hurt? Bored? Tired? Do we need to rest him? What’s going on?”

Kevin was hesitant about being too honest. No way was he going to disclose the voices going on inside the head of Jason. The only cause Kevin could find was his rocky relationship with Emily. Or at least Kevin thought it had hit a rocky stage. “He’s going through some emotional issues of the female variety. You remember how it was when you were in that first relationship and things didn’t go quite as you expected. He’s having some of those issues now and allowing it to clutter his mind. It’s a stage he has to get through. He’ll get through it. It will just take time.”

Time was not a luxury Larvell could afford to let slip away. “A stage? Get him out of that stage.” Larvell didn’t mean to raise his voice at Kevin, but September was getting close. He wanted Jason at his best if he was going to promote him to the major leagues. He didn’t want him being hit around and then discover his confidence shattered by the experience. He hesitated about the promotion to AAA but it was part of the schedule he had laid out for him. Jason was still having success so there was no reason to deviate from the plan yet.

While Kevin should have been excited about being promoted to Norfolk, which would be AAA, a level he had yet to attain in his eight year professional career, he was still disappointed. A couple years ago this would have brought smiles of joy to his face, good moods filled with laughter and celebration. There had been many a day he felt stuck in AA. A promotion to AAA would be a crack in the glass ceiling inhibiting his major league career, a signal he was one step closer to the major leagues. Instead, it brought him sadness as he saw the tears flow from Shu’s eyes as she watched him leave the house until at least the middle of September. It was back to seeing each other through the monitor of their lap tops. There would be no commuting from Norfolk.

Being near Shu and Jasmine while playing in Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie spoiled Kevin. It was nice to see them every day. Now this was going to be taken away from him. Jasmine was starting to spit out random words and Kevin was going to miss at least a month of that development. She was also starting to throw things other than her food giving Kevin some reason to believe she could become the first professional female baseball player. He hoped he didn’t miss her take her first baby steps.

The Orioles put Jason and Kevin up in a two bedroom apartment near the stadium for the two to stay until the end of July and the full month of August. They would have their beds made every day, clean towels hung up for them, room service if they did not feel like going out and face the autograph hounds, but it was still not home. There would be no gurgling, spitting Jasmine to make him smile after a bad game. No Shu to gaze at while he slept in his bed.

Norfolk would finish the season on the road, which covered the first six days of September, so there was no need to stay at the apartment after August ended. Since Norfolk was not making the playoffs the season would be over after the six day road trip. Kevin was certain he would be released after the season ended. His trek to find another team willing to rent him for another year would begin again. Or would it?

There was three million in the bank he didn’t have last year. There was time to look for something else. Kevin could go back to school to learn a trade. There had to be more to life than baseball.

He kept repeating the scene of his departure in his mind as he drove down interstate 95. As Shu held Jasmine he kissed Shu good bye and then made funny faces at Jasmine, getting her to smile in that gurgling kick up spittle sort of way. When he turned around to walk to the car he heard Jasmine start to cry. “Daddy will be back,” Shu whispered to her in an assuring voice. Kevin wondered if Jasmine could sense his extended departure. At that point he almost said the season was over. I don’t need the extra month and a half. Jason can do fine without me. But he trudged on. As he always has done. There was no quit in Kevin’s vocabulary. Carry it through to the end. He would fulfill his part of the obligation, no matter the sacrifice. A true soldier.

Shu’s mom waved from the porch. She was almost ready to go back to China. Jason had been standing by the passenger side door of the car. The scenario all developed in slow motion as he trudged toward the car until he was out of the driveway and the house was in the rear view mirror.

Jason would be pitching in the game tomorrow. They would be arriving early enough to be at tonight’s game, but Kevin didn’t expect to play. Perhaps he would pinch hit.

It was a quiet ride to Norfolk. Kevin’s thoughts were on Shu. Jason was thinking of Emily. Kevin attempted to get some conversation out of Jason to get his thoughts off of Shu, but he only got short, snippy responses back.

“When does Emily leave on her tour?”

“Next week.”

“Did you get a chance to say good-bye to her?”

“Kind of.”

“What do you mean ‘kind of’? You either said good-bye or you left without saying good-bye. There is no ‘kind of’ way of saying good-bye.”

“We said good-bye.”

It was best to let Jason stew in quiet. This trip to Norfolk separated him from Emily just as he was separated from Shu, but at least he had Shu to come back to after the season was over. Jason was struggling to figure out what he had to come back to with Emily. She would be gone on her tour when Jason returned.

Athletics Take Hardy Pounding from O’s

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

The Athletics pitching staff had not given up ten runs since April.  J.J. Hardy was a triple short of the cycle, scoring three and driving in one as the Orioles pounded the Athletics 10-3.  The Orioles thumped the Athletics pitching staff for three homeruns.

The game did not get off to a good start for Scott Feldman.  He walked the leadoff hitter Coco Crisp on four pitches to start the game.  Working from the stretch he came to a stop after starting his delivery on his first attempted pitch to Lowrie.  It is the only balk myworld can spot from a pitcher.  He was fortunate Jed Lowrie swung at a 2-0 count and grounded to first.  Josh Donaldson drew another walk but it appeared Feldman would get out of the inning after striking out Brandon MossAlberto Callaspo blooped a ball into right field sliding over a leaping Ryan Flaherty to drive in the first run.  It was the only run Feldman would allow in five innings of work, despite giving up two more walks, hitting a batter and giving up two hits.

Sonny Gray came into the game with a 1.44 ERA in five appearances.  The O’s found him to be no mystery.  They collected three singles off him in the first to score two runs, running at will on the Athletic outfielders.  They collected three more hits off Gray in the second inning scoring three runs, running at will to take the extra base on any ball hit to Coco Crisp, even tagging up from first on fly balls hit to him.  Another run given up in the fourth ended the day for Gray.

J.J. Hardy hit a solo shot to lead off the sixth to give the O’s a 7-1 lead.  The Athletics had the fans shifting uncomfortably in their seats when Josh Donaldson lined one into the first row of the left field bleachers off T.J. McFarland for a 2-run shot to make it 7-3.  Darren O’Day came on in relief and on his second pitch got Chris Young to ground into a double play to finish the inning.

The Orioles responded back with a booming shot from Nick Markakis to lead off the bottom of the eighth, the ball landing in the last row of the right field bleachers.  With two outs Nate McLouth slugged a 2-run homer to end the scoring and put the Orioles in double digits.

Game Notes: The National Anthem was played by an electric bat strung together to give a sound of the violin.  O’s fans were not fooled and shouted “O” at the appropriate point in the song…J.J. Hardy was given a generous double after a single bounced past Josh Reddick in right field…Chris Davis plunked a single into left field to drive in Brian Roberts in the second.  He also pulled a ball in the fourth that was deep enough for a homerun, but foul…The Orioles played Ryan Flaherty deep into mid-right field for a Josh Reddick at bat.  It paid off when Josh grounded one to Ryan him leading off the second inning.           

Myworld’s Top 2013 Cuban Prospects Review

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Last year myworld rated who we thought were the top ten Cuban prospects entering the 2013 season.  You can take a look at the list here: http://myworldofbaseball.com/wordpress/?p=1637.  Many of these players made their mark in the major leagues this year.

1. Jose Fernandez RHP (Marlins) - He was a surprise to make the roster at such an early age, but he is the top candidate for rookie of the year.

2. Yasiel Puig OF (Dodgers) - Once Puig got called up the Dodgers started winning.  He is probably the closest competitor to take the Rookie of the Year vote away from Fernandez in the National League.

3. Jorge Soler OF (Cubs) - An injury has prevented him from making an impact.  He will be in the top ten next year.

4. Adeiny Hechevarria SS (Marlins) - He has not provided much offense for the Marlins but he has given them good defense.  His offense should get better as he plays more.  Myworld has seen him swing the bat in spring training and we like what we see.

5. Leonys Martin OF (Rangers) - He has won the starting centerfield job for the Rangers this year, a position once handled by Josh Hamilton but was a hole entering the season.

6. Onelki Garcia LHP (Dodgers) - He was drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft because he could not establish foreign residency.  He’s been pitching mostly in relief, but is currently in AAA.  His composite ERA is 2.91, but a 4.26 ERA in AAA.

7. Henry Urrtuia OF (Orioles) - He hit for a nice average in the minors leading to a promotion to the majors.  He tends to plunk balls to the opposite field, but if he wants to make an impact in the major leagues he will need to learn to pull and hit for power as his 6′5″ frame would suggest he has.

8. Jose Iglesias SS (Tigers) - Traded from the Red Sox to the Tigers, myworld is still of the opinion he will not be a good hitting shortstop but he will provide a Gold Glove defense.  He surprised early with a hot bat, but it has cooled off with increased playing time.

9. Raudel Lauzo LHP (Marlins) - He pitched five games of relief in the minors shutting opponents out with a .130 opposition batting average.  An injury has prevented him from pitching since April.

10. Adonis Garcia OF (Yankees) - He’s a tweener.  Not enough range to cover centerfield and not enough power to play corner.  Myworld saw quite a bit of him in the Series del Caribe two years ago.  He’s been slowed by injuries this year, hitting .258 with a .374 slugging average in AAA.  He may struggle to make myworld’s top ten next year.     

Japan Wins Little League World Series

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Musashi Fuchu Little League from Tokyo, Japan made it back to back with a 6-4 win over Chula Vista, California.  Chula Vista started their ace Grant Holman, who had thrown a no hitter earlier in the tournament but he reached his pitch count of 80 plus after three innings.  Shunpei Takagi smacked two early homeruns off him to give Japan an early 3-2 lead, one in the first and the other in the third to break a 2-2 tie.  In the top of the fourth Chula Vista delivered a clutch 2-run single from Giancarlo Cortez to give them a 4-3 lead.  Japan rallied for three in the bottom of the fifth to recapture the lead 6-4, Ryusei Hirooka stroking the game winning hit for Japan.  Kyousuke Kobayashi shut Chula Vista out for the last two innings to get the win.  Japan pulled a game ending double play with two men on to end the game.  There were over 28,000 who attended the game.

Tijuana, Mexico 15 Westport, Connecticut 14

There was only one half inning these two teams did not score any runs.  Chad Knight drove in seven runs with two homeruns in a losing cause for Westport but Saul Favela and Miguel Artalejo combined to drive in seven for Mexico and hit one homerun each to cancel his production.  Westport also got homeruns from Mat Stone, Matt Brown and Harry Azadian while Mexico countered with homeruns by Ramon Mendoza and Brandon Montes.            

Little League World Series Update - California to Battle Japan

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Chula Vista, who won the Little League world series in 2009 with the Park View Little League now continue to roll with East Lake Little League representing the city, while Tokyo, Japan, whose city has won two Little League World Series since 2010 eeked out a victory against Tijuana, Mexico will face each other in the finals of the Little League World Series today.

Japan 3 Mexico 2

Mexico got a big 2-run homerun from Ramon Mendoza in the third inning to tie the game at 2-2.  It went to the top of the sixth where Japan got a solo shot from Takuma Gomi to take a 3-2 lead in the game.  Kazuki Ishida pitched the last inning to pick up the save.  Mexico failed to score in the fifth inning despite loading the bases with no out.  Over 24,000 fans piled into the stadium to watch the International championship.  Japan will now play Chula Vista, California for the championship.  Last year and in 2010 a team from Tokyo, Japan won the Little League World Series.  In 2009 a team from Chula Vista, California won the crown while in 2011 it was a team from Huntington Beach, California to take the crown.  A team from Tokyo or California has won the Little League World Series every year since 2009.  

Chula Vista, California 12 Westport, Connecticut 1

Over 27,000 fans watched Chula Vista score early and late in their domination of Westport.  Nick Mora put the game away in the second with a 3-run homer to increase the score to 6-1.  Nick Mora was also one out away from pitching a complete game, striking out 10.  Westport did not help their cause by committing five errors.  Chula Vista will now face Tokyo in the finals.

You can follow the action here: http://www.littleleague.org/worldseries/schedule.htm  

Meyer Shines in Victory Over Bay Sox

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

This was the first start for Alex Meyer since coming off the disabled list on June 1.  He worked five innings, allowing only one hit while striking out five in the Rock Cats 2-0 win over the Bay Sox.  Eddie Rosario scored both runs, courtesy of errors by the Bay Sox catcher Luis Martinez to allow Rosario to take the extra base.  Cole Johnson and Dakota Watts each went two innings each to complete the shutout.

It was a contrast in pitching styles for tonight’s game.  For the Bay Sox Jake Pettit is 6′1″, throws left handed and is lucky to surpass 86 on the radar gun.  For Alex Meyer he is 6′9″, throws right handed and is lucky to see a pitch fall below 86 miles per hour, consistently hitting 97-100 miles per hour with his fastball.  Jake threw pitches whose preference was to dive in the dirt while Alex threw predominantly straight fastballs that zipped across the plate.

Jake worked six innings, giving up just one run.  He gave up an opposite field single to Eddie Rosario in the fourth.  In yesterday’s game won by the Bay Sox on a walkoff walk Rosario went 5 for 5 with 2 doubles, a homerun and four RBIs.  Eddie broke to steal second with a good throw from Luis Martinez possibly nailing Rosario.  The ball drifted to the right field side of the base, glancing off the glove of Niuman Romero and bouncing into centerfield.  Rosario advanced to third where he scored on a double down the third base line by Miguel Sano.

In the eighth Rosario laid down a bunt in front of the plate.  Luis Martinez throw went to the inside part of the bag, eluding the first baseman and bouncing into the right field corner.  Rosario easily raced to third.  With no outs Nate Hanson grounded a ball to third.  Garabez Rosa fielded the ball cleanly, looked Rosario back to third before throwing to first.  Rosario broke for home after the throw to first, even with Miguel Sano on deck.  Fortunately for Rosario he beat the throw home and Sano struck out in his next at bat.

Myworld was impressed with a number of the Twins prospects playing for New Britain.  Alex Meyer throws heat, hitting 97-100 consistently.  He does not have much of a breaking ball, but the few times he showed it he got a swing and a miss or a called third strike.  The Nationals may regret trading him for Denard Span, though shoulder problems could plague him from reaching his potential.  Eddie Rosario is not a big guy but he is quick.  A stolen base led to the first run and a bunt resulted in the second.  He also played a solid defense at second base, turning two double plays in the first two innings.  Miguel Sano has an easy swing.  He is a big guy who cleanly fielded a hard shot hit at him at third, his only challenging play of the game.  He was 2 for 4 with a double, single and two strikeouts, with 30 of his first 47 hits in AA going for extra bases.  Danny Santana the Rock Cats shortstop has a gun for an arm but did not impress me with the bat tonight, going 0 for 4.     

Tanaka and Balentein Power On in Japan

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Wladimir Balentein, a one time prospect of the Seattle Mariners and outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds, had back to back two home run games for the Yakult Swallows.  He then followed that with another homerun for five homeruns in three games.  He now has 47 homeruns in 95 games (403 plate appearances).  Contrast this to Chris Davis, who has 46 homeruns in 126 games (514 plate appearances).  Balentein is hitting .337 with 100 RBIs and 71 walks.

Balentein played for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic this year, injuring his leg.  This forced him to miss the first 13 games of the season.  He has been in a zone from start to finish since his return.  His nine multi homerun games in a season broke the record of eight held by Charlie Manuel, the same Charlie Manuel recently fired by the Phillies.  He still has been bothered by leg injuries this year.  

Masahiro Tanaka ended the Rakuten Eagles five game losing streak, pitching seven scoreless innings and striking out eight.  With an 18-0 record and a 1.15 ERA he has been ending a number of losing streaks for the first place Eagles.  Tanaka is 22-0 in his last 28 starts, his last loss occurring more than one year ago (August 19, 2012).

Teenage sensation Shohei Otani got his seventh start and after giving up a run in the first inning settled down to give the Nippon Ham Fighters a 5-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes.  Otani went six plus innings, striking out nine.  He improved his record to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 4.12. 

You can follow the Japanese baseball at http://yakyubaka.com/ or http://bis.npb.or.jp/eng/2013/standings/