Tag:Jacoby Ellsbury
Posted on: September 27, 2011 1:50 am
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3 Up, 3 Down: Big Game James



By Matt Snyder


James Shields, Rays. One of the biggest surprises in all of baseball this season went out and got the job done when his team needed him most. Yes, the Rays got some big offensive and defensive (hello, Desmond Jennings) plays, but Shields nearly completed another game and gave his boys the chance to win it. They trailed 2-0 early, but then Shields put the brakes on the Yankees' offense the rest of the way while his teammates did their jobs as well. Shields' final line: 8 2/3 innings, six hits, two earned runs and the win. The Rays are now tied for the AL wild card with two games to go.

Melky Cabrera, Royals. Raise your hand if you thought he'd collect 200 hits this season. Now quit lying and put that hand down. In a 7-3 Kansas City win, the Melk Man picked up his 200th and 201st hits of the season. His previous career high was 149. This was a guy picked up off the scrap heap.

Vladimir Guerrero, Orioles. The O's won (we'll get to that below), but Guerrero's single to lead off the bottom of the sixth was special from an individual standpoint. It was his 2,587th career hit, which moved him past Julio Franco as the all-time leader in hits by a Dominican-born player (Biz of Baseball via Twitter). Congrats to Vlad.



Red Sox. Even forgetting the dramatic collapse this month, the Red Sox played a pretty brutal game Monday night. All-Star starting pitcher Josh Beckett was given a 2-1 lead early, but ended up allowing seven hits, four walks and six earned runs in six innings. Jacoby Ellsbury lost control of what would've been a tough -- but makeable -- catch in center, allowing Robert Andino a three-run, inside-the-park homer. The Boston offense left 12 runners on base. And for some reason, manager Terry Francona used the incredibly valuable Alfredo Aceves for an inning when trailing 6-2. With Erik Bedard going Tuesday night, it's entirely possible Francona needs Aceves for multiple innings, so it's a questionable move to be sure. They lost 6-3 and are now tied in the AL wild-card race. All in all, it was an awful night for the Red Sox.

Nick Punto, Cardinals. My high school and college coaches hammered the point home for years to me, and I'll never forget it -- and probably because it keeps happening in the majors: A baserunner should only slide into first base to avoid a collision. That's it. There is no other reason. And then I think about all the times I've heard people -- Cubs color commentator Bob Brenly immediately comes to mind -- make the very salient point that if it was faster to slide, Olympic sprinters would slide through the finish line. It just boggles my mind how many guys are paid to play this game and still make the mistake. Punto made it Monday night in the eighth inning and it may have cost his team the playoffs. He hit a grounder that Astros first baseman Carlos Lee booted. Lee recovered in time to feed the pitcher the baseball in a bang-bang play. Punto dove head-first and was out by about a split-second to end the eighth. Had he run through the bag, he would have been safe and the Cardinals -- who had a runner on third -- would have scored. They ended up losing 5-4 in extra innings and still trail by one game in the NL wild-card race. With two games to play.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians. Is this what the Indians dealt two premium pitching prospects for? Jimenez was shelled again Monday night, allowing nine hits and six runs in five innings in a 14-0 loss. He now has a 5.10 ERA since coming over in that July trade. Oh, and the Tigers acquired the less-heralded Doug Fister before the July 31st deadline. He's 7-0 with a 0.61 ERA in his last eight starts after stifling the Indians for eight innings Monday. 

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 8:48 pm
 

Sizing up AL Comeback Player candidates

By Matt Snyder

We have officially moved past the two-week warning of this baseball season. In 13 days, it will be the final day of regular season baseball in 2011 and we'll move forward to the playoffs. So let's size up some of the players who have a shot at Major League Baseball's Comeback Player of the Year awards. Here we'll examine the American League, while the National League will be covered later Thursday.

The Comeback Player of the Year Award has been sanctioned by the MLB since 2005. It is voted upon by the 30 MLB.com beat writers (one per team). The criteria for the award is incredibly subjective and open to interpretation. Voters are asked to name a player in each League "who has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season."

OK, so that's easy (please note sarcasm). Re-emerged from what? An injury? Sometimes. A horrible season -- like Adam Dunn's 2011 campaign? Maybe. It could really be anything, so it's tough to predict.

Here are the past winners, to help guide us:

Fun With Awards
2005: Jason Giambi, Ken Griffey Jr.
2006: Jim Thome, Nomar Garciaparra
2007: Carlos Pena, Dmitri Young
2008: Cliff Lee, Brad Lidge
2009: Aaron Hill, Chris Carpenter
2010: Francisco Liriano, Tim Hudson

So we can see it's either a return from injury or futility. Sometimes it's a player who had already returned from injury but hadn't found his past form until a year or more later.

With all this in mind, I believe there are three frontrunners for this year's award. Below those three, I'll list seven others who might have a shot at garnering some support in the voting. Just remember this is pretty difficult to predict due to the incredibly vague and subjective criteria. Also remember I'm not necessarily saying who I'd vote for. I don't have a vote. I'm trying to predict who will win and who is in the running.

The Frontrunners

Josh Beckett, Red Sox
2010 numbers: 6-6, 5.78 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 21 starts
2011 numbers: 12-5, 2.49 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 27 starts
Why a "comeback?" Beckett battled a back injury in 2010 and then later in the season badly struggled -- he would go on to say he was overcompensating for his back not being fully recovered. He also had the worst year of his career by many measures. Now he's having his best season by many measures and made the All-Star team for the third time.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
2010 numbers: .276/.326/.346, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 39 R, 6 SB, 97 games
2011 numbers: .268/.328/.449, 22 HR, 82 RBI, 80 R, 17 SB, 142 games
Why a "comeback?" Cabrera fractured his forearm last season and missed a big chunk of time. This season, he would have been in the mix to win MVP at the halfway point. He started the All-Star Game and helped lead the Indians to a surprising first-place standing for a significant part of the season. The fact that both the Indians and Cabrera have tailed off might hurt, though.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
2010 numbers: .192/.241/.244 in just 18 games
2011 numbers: .320/.379/.544, 27 HR, 94 RBI, 109 R, 42 2B, 5 3B, 36 SB
Why a "comeback?" Two sets of broken ribs not only ruined Ellsbury's 2010 season, they also raised questions about Ellsbury's toughness amongst many fans. So much for that. He couldn't have possibly done more this season, even adding the home run to his arsenal. If I had to guess, I'd say Ellsbury runs away with this award, but I'll reiterate it's very difficult to predict.

The Others

Erik Bedard, Red Sox. Between July 25, 2009 and April 4, 2011, Bedard made zero starts because of a serious arm injury. He's now made 22 starts and been a quality pitcher this season (3.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP).

Melky Cabrera, Royals. He was awful for the Braves last season and many mocked the Royals' acquisition of Melky last winter, but he's shown himself a productive offensive player, setting career highs in almost every major offensive category.

Bartolo Colon, Yankees. He hadn't been useful in long stretches since winning the Cy Young in 2005. Colon wasn't even in baseball in 2010. But he's been productive in several stretches for the Yankees this season.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles. He still hasn't completely shaken the injury bug, but Hardy's back to his 2007-08 power form, with 26 home runs (he had 17 in the past two seasons combined).

Joe Nathan, Twins. The long-time closer missed all of 2010 after having Tommy John surgery. He would have probably either won this award or been neck-and-neck with Ellsbury if he returned to form. Instead, Nathan struggled early and has only gathered 13 saves. That doesn't make his return any less impressive at age 36, though.

Jake Peavy, White Sox. The bulldog battled his way back from a rare medical procedure that re-attached his lat muscle to its insertion point in his shoulder area. He had several bright spots, including a shutout in his second outing back, but overall hasn't been good enough to win.

Carlos Santana, Indians. His rookie year was cut short by a bad knee injury on a play at home plate, but Santana has returned and swung a power bat this season.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:05 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rivera saves No. 600, Guerra bombs

RiveraBy Evan Brunell

Mariano Rivera, Yankees: Rivera became the second closer with 600 saves when he set the Mariners down (but giving up Ichiro Suzuki's 170th hit of the season) to close out a 3-2 victory. Trevor Hoffman is the lone other closer to reach the mark, finishing with 601, so Rivera is also close to setting history in a record that will not be broken for a very long time. It was also his 41st save of the year, two behind Jose Valverde of the Tigers to lead the league in yet another impeccable season for the ageless wonder.

Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Both Pedroia and Ellsbury rapped out a 4-for-5 night, with the Laser Show recording his first multi-homer game of the season with two blasts. Overall, he notched five RBI during a night where Pedroia joined the 20/20 club, scoring four times as well. Ellsbury added another four runs scored in the 18-6 trouncing, blasting his 27th homer of the season and driving in three. Ellsbury is now at .321/.380/.542 with the year, and Pedroia snaps a little slump with the night and is now slashing .300/.384/.471. Tim Wakefield grabbed his 200th win in the game.

Bruce Chen, Royals:  It's not often you see someone like Bruce Chen on 3 Up, but he blanked Minnesota over eight innings, whiffing eight and allowing just three baserunners. It was a dominating night for the journeyman who has settled into a nice career with the Royals over the last two years. His ERA is now at 4.04 and should receive some interest on the free-agent market with his second straight strong year. He returned to the Royals when no other team was willing to bite on Chen's resurgent year, but things will change now for the 34-year-old.



Javy Guerra, Dodgers: Javy Guerra spectacularly imploded night, handing the Diamondbacks a 5-4 victory in a positively awful top of the 10th. Here's how it went: Guerra gave up a leadoff single to Gerardo Parra, who earlier had drawn the ire of L.A. by getting into an argument with Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, staring at pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo after a brushback, then pimping a home run. He missed a pitchout, which allowed Aaren Hill to bunt. If he hadn't been bunting, the pitch would have gone to the backstop. Then he whiffed Justin Upton before intentionally walking Miguel Montero. All inning, he's been jittery, and he combusted by allowing a walk to Paul Goldschmidt on four straight balls. It's more of the same to Chris Young, with two significantly high fastballs followed by a ball low and outside, then another high fastball to walk in the winning run.

Cole Hamels, Phillies:
It wasn't a good night to be a Phillies ace, as Cole Hamels drew his eighth loss by lasting just five innings, allowing five runs (one unearned) en route to losing to baseball's worst team, the Astros. Hamels struck out six and walked one, so fared rather well there but couldn't buy an out in the field, giving up nine hits, a season-high. He's had such a good year overall, though, that the outing only set his ERA back to 2.71.

Justin Masterson, Indians:  Masterson got crushed in his continuing regression to the mean, coughing up six earned runs over five innings. He allowed eight hits and three walks, punching out just two as his ERA rose to 3.20 after ending July with a 2.56 mark and August at 2.83. He also gave up three homers in the losing effort. Masterson has taken a major step forward this year and make have evolved into an ace, but it will take until the end of 2012 to find out.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 12:46 pm
 

What if MVP was decided like Manager of the Year?



By Matt Snyder


As my esteemed colleague C. Trent Rosecrans pointed out Monday in a really creative and entertaining way, the Manager of the Year award is routinely roped off for certain managers. For example, heading into this season, the Phillies and Red Sox were heavily predicted to make the World Series. The Yankees are the Yankees, and the Giants and Rangers went to the World Series last season. So right there, Charlie Manuel, Terry Francona, Joe Girardi, Bruce Bochy and Ron Washington are virtually eliminated from the chance at winning the Manager of the Year award in their respective leagues.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, because managing is far different from playing. It's totally apples vs. oranges. But it's fun to imagine if the MVP awards were decided in the same fashion. Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez would have zero chance at winning. Former winners like Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton and Dustin Pedroia? Sorry. Heavily predicted 2011 winner Adrian Gonzalez? Cross him off. Sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Ryan Howard? Nope, you guys are supposed to hit for all that power.

Instead, the candidates would be guys having amazing seasons that we might not have expected. Like Kirk Gibson being the runaway NL winner over Manuel. For example, Jose Bautista would have easily won last season in the AL.

Here are four candidates for the MVP of each league, if voters reacted as they did in the Manager of the Year voting -- along with who I think would win and why.

American League

Alex Avila, Tigers
2010 numbers: .228/.316/.340, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 28 R, 12 2B
2011 numbers: .302/.392/.523, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 60 R, 31 2B
The best part about these numbers is they came from out of nowhere. Avila only hit .264 with an .814 OPS in his only season of Double-A. It's not awful, but those are hardly the type of numbers that scream future All-Star. And Avila's likely to get some real MVP votes this year (remember, each ballot gets 10 entries). Don't discount what kind of stamina he has to have to catch 120 games and still keep hitting like this, either. It's been an absolutely stellar campaign for Avila, and he's going to be a starting catcher in the playoffs.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
2010 numbers: Doesn't matter, it was a lost season due to injuries. He only played 10 games.
2011 numbers: .317/.376/.533, 26 HR, 91 RBI, 104 R, 36 SB, 41 2B, 4 3B
He's got a real shot at the real MVP, and it's all due to his power increase. The average, OBP, doubles, triples, runs and steals aren't surprising at all, if you go back to Ellsbury's numbers pre-2010, and he's only 28. So we knew he had a real shot to drastically improve -- but he's approaching 30 home runs and 100 RBI. No one would have predicted that.

Alex Gordon, Royals
2010 numbers: .215/.315/.355, 8 HR, 20 RBI, 34 R, 10 2B, 1 SB (only 74 games due to demotion to minors and injury)
2011 numbers: .299/.371/.500, 21 HR, 82 RBI, 95 R, 45 2B, 16 SB
This wouldn't have been surprising in 2007 ... or 2008 ... or 2009 ... or maybe even 2010. But after four relatively failed seasons in the face of lofty expectations, people kind of gave up on Gordon. He went from a No. 2 prospect in all of baseball to an afterthought. And just when people gave up on him completely, he broke through in a huge way. Those 45 doubles lead all of baseball and he's doing pretty much everything well.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles
2010 numbers: .268/.320/.394, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 44 R
2011 numbers: .264/.304/.483, 26 HR, 68 RBI, 65 R
This is a return to where Hardy was in 2007 and 2008, though his home run rate is the highest it has ever been. He worked his big season into a multi-year contract extension for the Orioles and has solidified the middle infield.

And the winner is ... Alex Avila. It's a really close call over Gordon. With Ellsbury, I believe we all knew the potential was in there and injuries killed him in 2010. The power increase is nice, but Avila and Gordon are more surprising. Hardy's done it before and he's not old. Plus, his numbers pale in comparison to these other three. Sure, Gordon has far exceeded expectations, but I think if you asked most people before the season who was more likely to impress this year between Gordon and Avila, Gordon would be the answer simply based upon minor-league pedigree. That kind of talent doesn't just abandon someone. Gordon starred -- albeit years ago -- but Avila had never hit enough to believe this kind of monster season was possible. I could easily be wrong on this decision, though, as this is total guesswork. To reiterate, it's really close.

National League

Lance Berkman, Cardinals
2010 numbers: .248/.368/.413, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 48 R
2011 numbers: .290/.405/.551, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 79 R
The newly slender "Fat Elvis" shed loads of pounds this past offseason as he was determined to revert back to vintage "Puma." He did. Many mocked the signing by the Cardinals, especially as Berkman had to return to right field. Well, he hasn't been good defensively, but he's swinging the bat like he did back in his prime and the protection he's provided to Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols has been instrumental in keeping the Cardinals in contention for much of the season.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers
2010 numbers: .249/.310/.450, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 82 R, 19 SB
2011 numbers: .318/.397/.566, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 97 R, 38 SB
If he doesn't win the real MVP award it won't be because he didn't do enough for his team. It will be because his team didn't do enough for him. Kemp has absolutely carried the Dodgers' offense this season in every facet. He has an outside shot at the triple crown and the 40/40 club, but he'd have to get scorching hot. Still, from a guy who didn't even hit .250 last season, this has been a rebirth. On the flip-side, we knew Kemp had this potential.

Pablo Sandoval, Giants
2010 numbers: .268/.323/.409, 13 HR, 63 RBI, 61 R
2011 numbers: .301/.345/.516, 19 HR, 60 RBI, 50 R
If the counting stats don't look overly impressive this year, that's because he's only played in 103 games. Last season it was 152. He was so disappointing in 2010 that he only started five playoff games -- just once in the World Series. It's been a huge bounce-back season for Sandoval, despite the fact that his team has regressed a bit.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
2010 numbers: .273/.356/.442, 17 HR, 69 RBI, 73 R, 27 2B, 18 SB
2011 numbers: .296/.378/.547, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 100 R, 38 3B, 21 SB
Here's another guy who will get real-life MVP consideration. While 2010 was a disappoining campaign, this is the Upton the D-Backs drafted first overall in 2005. Look at the number jumps across the board for Upton, and he's still only 24. And his team appears headed for the postseason. Like Kemp, however, we knew this was inside Upton.

And the winner is ... Lance Berkman. The other three players are young and have tons of potential, so their big turnarounds aren't entirely surprising, even if incredibly impressive. At least Upton, probably Kemp and maybe Sandoval were all predictable to have seasons like this. Kemp was definitely a bounce-back candidate, but not many would have envisioned him to be this huge in 2011. Berkman is 35 and many believed he was done as a productive major leaguer -- especially since the Cardinals were moving him back to the outfield. This one feels obvious, as opposed to the Avila/Gordon decision, which I'm still second-guessing ...

Wednesday: What if the Cy Young was decided with Manager of the Year criteria?

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Posted on: September 6, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 5:47 pm
 

Sizing up the AL MVP contenders

Verlander, Bautista

By Evan Brunell

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL MVP.

The AL MVP race is shaping up to be one of the more interesting races as of late, with compelling cases to be made for several candidates. Increasingly, the MVP race in the junior circuit looks to be one that could bear out a surprise candidate. Without a clear-cut candidate, players will lose votes due to team performance, being a pitcher or seeing teammates stealing votes. This last distinction is important, as the Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers will all boast multiple candidates.

In alphabetical order, here are the 10 candidates that figure to appear on the majority of ballots:

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: The presumptive top candidate, Bautista is getting dinged due to Toronto being way out of the postseason race. But since when does one player control the fate of a team that could be in the hunt if it didn't play in the AL East? Bautista leads baseball with 40 homers and is far and away the most productive hitter with a .306/.444/.632 line. Any votes he loses due to playing for Toronto could easily be negated with rivals splitting the vote with teammates, so Bautista remains the most likely victory.

Robinson Cano, Yankees
: Entering play Tuesday, both Cano and Dustin Pedroia had equal production on offense as wOBA suggests (basically OPS, but weighted on an OBP scale and tweaked to account for OPS' weaknesses). Cano checks in at .307/.350/.535, while Pedroia lands at .304/.391/.469 in one less game than Cano. The difference is on defense, where Pedroia has played worthy of a Gold Glove and Cano has slipped back to below average, but fielding isn't considered a major factor in MVP balloting. Both players are deserving, but aren't even considered the best MVP on the team.

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
: Voters will be dealing with a lot of AL East fatigue in MVP ballots, which could cause Cabrera to slip up the ballot further than anyone may have otherwise thought. The first baseman will crack 100 RBI before the year is out and should also slide over the 30-homer barrier, which will be enough to make him viable to the voters still adamant about relying on traditional counting metrics. This is a player to watch.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
: Ellsbury has been a wrecking machine all season and may be the most popular candidate on the Red Sox for voters, who will love the five tools Ellsbury brings to the table. Leading off much of the year, the center fielder has contributed a .311/.371/.520 line, swiping 36 bags and hammering 24 homers. If he can get hot down the stretch and toss in a 30/30 season for good measure, his candidacy will be overwhelming and could take home the honors. But will it be enough to cut through the noise of two other Boston contenders?

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
: Gonzalez leads baseball in batting average with a .339 mark and while his power has suffered with the move to Fenway, 23 homers and 67 extra-base hits is nothing to sneeze at. An August swoon dropped his RBI pace down and no longer leads the league in that respect, but he's still collected 103 on the season. Pair that with fantastic defense as always, and he's another strong candidate. Someone who was considered a lock to win the award before the year and even for the first few months of the season, Gonzalez may fall short thanks to Bautista's overpowering talents and Ellsbury doing it all on the same team.

Alex Gordon, Royals
: Gordon's not going to win the award, but with the MVP balloting going 10 deep, he figures to show up on enough to place on the ballot. He's been the Royals' best hitter by far, with a sneaky .303/.376/.502 line that would get far more play if he played on a better team or in a better media market. Gordon has also taken to left field, leading all outfielders with 20 assists. (Second best: Nick Markakis, 14.) While some of these assists are certainly players taking a risk early on in the season with an unknown entity manning left, it's still to Gordon's credit that he's become a strong fielder. If he keeps up these type of numbers in the coming years, he could have a MVP waiting for him down the line.

Curtis Granderson, Yankees
: Granderson is doing all he can to outslug Bautista with 38 homers and 109 RBI to his name, but where he drops off is in batting average, with his .271 line the lowest among any hitter on this list, and the only one under .300. That's going to hurt Granderson, as well as the presence of Cano as a candidate. And, while not listed here, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira could also steal votes. Mitigating things is Granderson's 24 stolen bases. If you throw fielding out of the equation, Granderson easily clears Ellsbury in terms of offensive value. But when you add in overall game... well, the balloting results should be interesting.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
: As mentioned above, Pedroia has the same offensive value as Cano, but wins it all on fielding. Yet, Pedroia pales in comparison -- at least as far as MVP chatter goes -- to Ellsbury and Gonzalez. Pedroia is the Red Sox at this point and is one of the most indispensable players in the game. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's MVP, and it's hard to look past the gaudy numbers Ellsbury and Gonzalez are putting up in favor of someone who just keeps motoring along. Perhaps in a weak class, he'd stand out.

Justin Verlander, Tigers
: The only pitcher on this list, Verlander has a chance to win it all because when he pitches, the Tigers win. When he doesn't the Tigers... well, they win too, but a lot less to the point where they'd be out of the postseason chase by now. Scott Miller describes his chase as well as anyone could: "Most dominant single individual player in baseball this season. In line to win the first pitching Triple Crown in the AL since Johan Santana in 2006, and he's 14-3 this season after a Detroit loss."

Michael Young, Rangers
: Young will get some love here for two reasons: First, he's not in the AL East. Second, the Rangers are currently poised to win the AL West, although the Angels may have something to say about that. (And even then, there's no clear MVP candidate in Los Angeles.) Plus, Young had that well-publicized spat with the Rangers over the winter, when he was booted to the DH spot, causing the infielder to ask for a trade. It didn't work out, but Young has been immeasurably valuable in his ability to play around the infield and has thrown up a .334/.376/.482 line, driving in 91 games, so he'll top 100. Getting votes as a MVP after the offseason he had would be an interesting story.

So all in all, who is the best candidate to win the MVP? We'll answer that later in the year, but drop in your responses in the comments.

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Posted on: August 14, 2011 12:54 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 12:48 pm
 

Francona ejected after reversed call

Josh Bard

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Just because a player slides into home doesn't mean a nasty collision can't take place -- and one did in the fourth inning of Saturday's game between the Red Sox and Mariners. However, the only person out of the game after Josh Bard blocked the plate from Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury was Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Francona was ejected because he argued home plate umpire Mark Ripperger decision to overturn his initial safe call and ruled Ellsbury out.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Ellsbury was on third when Dustin Pedroia flied out to right. Ellsbury tried to score on Ichiro Suzuki, who threw a one-hopper to Bard. The ball arrived at home well before Ellsbury, who slid into home, but got a knee into Bard's jaw.

It appeared that Bard lost control of the ball and Ripperger called Ellsbury safe. After the umpires conferred, Ellsbury was called out, ending the inning. That's when Francona argued more and was tossed. It was the 33rd time in his career he was ejected.

Watch the player here.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 12:18 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Ellsbury goes off for six RBI

Uribe

By Evan Brunell


Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Ellsbury slammed a three-run home run that helped propel the Red Sox to victory, but he wasn't done driving in runs despite his career high coming into the game was at three. He doubled that figure to six by adding a sac fly for the game's first run, then contributing to Boston's three-run outburst in he bottom of the eighth to clinch the game by driving a two-run RBI single. The leadoff hitter continues to be red hot with a .321/.377/.522 line and is receiving heavy AL MVP consideration. While he'll have to contend with teammates Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia along with Toronto's Jose Bautista, Ellsbury is certainly deserving of the honor, and BoSox fans serenaded him with "MVP!" chants on Saturday.

Prince Fielder, Brewers: Fielder crushed four RBI in a victory over the Astros. Losses by third-place Pittsburgh and fourth-place Cincinnati left them nine and 9 1/2 back, respectively, of Milwaukee. That leaves St. Louis as the only serious contender for the division title, but the Brewers are rolling now. Fielder went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and adding two walks to push his season line to .300/.416/.562, leaving him in fantastic shape with less than two months to go before the regular season ends and he becomes a free agent. He blasted his 25th home run of the year, tying him for fourth in the NL with Mike Stanton, three behind Lance Berkman for the league lead.

Brandon McCarthy, Athletics: "He was terrific," A's manager Bob Melvin told the Associated Press of McCarthy after the righty fired a five-hitter over eight innings to shut out the Rays in a 8-0 victory. "He's been as consistent a guy as we've had." The former top prospect was dealt from Chicago to Texas, but was never able to deliver on his promise amid injuries. While he still has a shoulder issue that's flared up from time to time, he's sandwiched 16 starts in the year and has a 3.31 ERA to show for it. In five starts since the All-Star Game, he's given up just 10 runs. After limiting Tampa to no walks and five hits, pushing his K/BB on the year to 74/16, it's time to take McCarthy seriously.



Neftali Feliz, Rangers: Feliz gave up three of four runs in a ninth-inning rally for Cleveland, with Texas' own last gasp in the bottom of the frame going for naught, scoring one run en route to a 7-5 loss. Feliz has been shaky all season, and the Rangers importing two top setup men spoke volumes about how secure the brass feels the late innings are down south. Feliz was able to register two outs, but didn't strike out anyone en route to giving up three hits and three earned runs, getting into trouble immediately in the inning and being gifted an out in the form of a sacrifice bunt that eventually led to the inning's first run. Feliz has a 3.64 ERA, but he's pitched worse than that, and the Rangers have to be looking forward to getting him into the rotation next season.

Adam Dunn, White Sox: At this point, it's bordering on abuse to keep slotting Adam Dunn in 3 Down. But what is one supposed to do, when Dunn consistently is one of the worst players to step on a field? At least those who can't hit a lick provide value on defense or baserunning. What exactly does Dunn provide value with? It was supposed to be hitting, but Dunn is having a season for the ages (in a not-good way) and whiffed three times against the Twins on Sunday in four hitless trips to the plate, sinking what already seems to be an unsinkable line to .163/.294/.302. Look, we get that Dunn needs to keep playing. He needs to hit for Chicago to do well, and there's a lot of years and money left on his deal, But does Ozzie Guillen really need to bat him cleanup?

Livan Hernandez, Nationals: Two home runs -- both solo shots in the bottom of the fourth -- were bad enough for Livan Hernandez, but he ended up letting seven other runs cross the plate, giving up nine all told. Sure, two runs were unearned, but that's still a lot of bad pitching in 3 2/3 innings, with the ageless pitcher giving up nine hits against zero strikeouts and walks. That's how you know you've got nothing, and Colorado hitters enjoyed teeing off Hernandez, whose ERA rose to 4.41. The 36-year-old has had several poor starts in his most recent outings, and one has to wonder if he's running out of gas.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:46 pm
 

Yankees narrowing gap against Red Sox

Colon

By Evan Brunell

The Red Sox and Yankees met up Friday for the first time in two months with first place on the line. The last time the two teams met on June 9, Dustin Pedroia's name was distant from the AL MVP discussion, Carl Crawford was a bust, five Yankees looked like complete zeroes with the bat and Rafael Soriano had already fallen out of favor in the Bronx.

Since then, Pedroia has heated up along with the Yankee bats, led by Nick Swisher. Phil Hughes, who was on the disabled list, has returned to the rotation while the Red Sox have battled injuries and attrition in their own rotation, acquiring Erik Bedard with minutes to spare before the trade deadline in an attempt to shore up the staff. While both these teams have undergone changes in the month since, one thing remains the same as it was July 9: the Red Sox is the team to beat in the American League. But the Yankees have improved since June 9 and have narrowed the gap.

On Friday, the Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 start thanks to a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI double in the third, followed by a towering David Ortiz bomb in the fourth. The Red Sox couldn't push another run across in the fifth when Adrian Gonzalez struck out with the bases loaded. Still, Boston was in control behind the arm of Jon Lester, until the sixth inning when all hell broke loose. Granderson delivered an RBI single, then Lester loaded the bases by walking Mark Teixeira. A crucial double play put two outs on the board, albeit with the tying run scoring. Just as it looked like Boston could get out of the inning with a tie game, Nick Swisher doubled Granderson in to provide the final run of the game, leading to a 3-2 victory for the Yankees and just their second victory against Boston this season, against eight losses to the BoSox.

The bullpen won the game for the Yanks, as Boone Logan would go on to contribute a full inning of relief after whiffing Gonzalez for the final out of the fifth. Cody Wade netted one more out, then Rafael Soriano entered the game for the third time since coming off the disabled list. Signed to an exorbitant contract to set up Mariano Rivera that was orchestrated by the ownership and not GM Brian Cashman, Soriano has been a total zero the entire season. But he delivered his third scoreless appearance post-DL, adding a strikeout for extra measure. David Robinson continued his emergence as a potential Rivera replacement with a 1-2-3 eighth, and Rivera, of course, set down Boston in the ninth.

Now the Yankees are in first place, while Boston falls to second for the first time since July 6. Order has been restored to New York's psyche. And yet, the Yankees shouldn't feel at all comfortable about its standing. For one, the Yankees continue to get surprising production out of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, the former of whom only lasted 4 2/3 innings Friday night, giving up seven baserunners and two runs. Phil Hughes seems a mystery wrapped in a riddle, while A.J. Burnett does what he can to make Yankees fans pine for John Lackey. Derek Jeter can't be counted on anymore and the days of a .300 batting average from Mark Teixeira is long past. Boston has its own host of problems, but still has far less risk than New York moving forward with a stronger club, at least on paper.

Of course, two months from now, things may have changed again. All that matters is who the stronger team is in October.

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