Month: August 2016

josh donaldson homers again for blue jays

BALTIMORE — After blasting three home runs in a game for the first time in his career during the Blue Jays’ win Sunday, Josh Donaldson nearly left the yard in his first two at-bats during Monday’s 5-1 win at Camden Yards. Orioles center fielder Nolan Reimold made a terrific running catch on his fly ball in the first inning, crashing into the wall to rob him of extra bases.

But neither Reimold nor right fielder Mark Trumbo had a play in the fourth inning when Donaldson launched his 34th home run of the season to right-center field to tie the game at 1. He belted an 0-1 fastball from Wade Miley for the Blue Jays’ first hit of the night after Miley set down the first 10 batters in order.

The reigning American League Most Valuable Player’s past five batted balls have all had an exit velocity of at least 101 mph, per Statcast?. Donaldson’s fourth-inning home run left the bat at 104 mph and traveled an estimated 405 feet to extend his hitting streak to eight games.

Before landing on the DL, Strasburg was 15-4 with a 3.59 ERA in 23 starts, with 179 strikeouts in 145 1/3 innings. Washington is trying to vill the void for two-fifths of its rotation, with both Strasburg and right-hander Joe Ross (inflammation in right shoulder) sidelined.

Ross, who has been out since July 2, threw 21 pitches to complete one inning in his first Minor League rehab start, on Sunday. He is scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday; the Nationals are hoping to ramp him up to about 80 pitches before Syracuse’s season ends on Sept. 5.

The Minnesota Twins placed center fielder Danny Santana on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left shoulder.

Santana was injured when he collided with left fielder Robbie Grossman in the first inning Sunday in Toronto. He left the game the following inning and was examined Monday in Minneapolis.

Santana, a switch-hitter, is batting .240 with two homers, 14 RBIs and 12 stolen bases for Minnesota, which has lost 10 straight games.

Logan Schafer was called up from Triple-A Rochester and is starting in center field Monday against Cleveland.

Cooperstown Cub? Kris Bryant’s career is off to a Hall of Fame start

LOS ANGELES — There’s something going on with Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant that is bigger than the National League MVP race. Few teammates — and certainly not Bryant himself — want to go there yet, but those observing him can: Bryant is a Hall of Fame player in the making.

This isn’t about a bold prediction or being able to say “I told you so” years later. This is about appreciating and understanding what we’re seeing develop in front of our eyes. And that’s knowing how extremely tough the daily struggle in baseball is and how long and how good — and healthy — you actually have to be to make the Hall of Fame.

But Daniels has also hired managers, Ron Washington and Banister, who excel as communicators and set expectations.

Neither has a bunch of rules, and they don’t mind players with personality as long as they play hard.

Still, baseball is a game built around the discipline required to play 162 games in 183 days.

“We don’t expect you to change anything, but we do expect you to embrace our organizational concepts of accountability of work and having a certain responsibility to yourself and teammates,” said former Ranger Michael Young, who was recently inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame and now serves as an assistant to Daniels.

“If they embrace those things, they have all the freedom in the world to be themselves, but there’s a certain conduct that’s expected. There’s an unwritten code of what a Ranger is supposed to look like, so either fall in line or get of town. It’s simple.”

Anyway, Gomez hit a three-run jack off Josh Tomlin in the second inning, and Cole Hamels made another Cy Young statement with just two hits allowed over eight scoreless in a 9-0 shutout of the Indians. Cleveland’s lead over Detroit is down to 4 1/2 games. The Cleveland rotation, so good most of the season, ranks 26th in the majors in August, with a 6.13 ERA.

Two pitches later, Gomez hit his first homer as a Ranger, a three-run blast that led Texas to a 9-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.

“I feel so blessed,” Gomez said after the game. “To come from not having a job to a team in first place and to start like this right away is a gift from God.”

And just like that, the Rangers’ latest reclamation project made an impact on the team with the American League’s best record.

This is a team that’s been known to take chances on players.

General manage Jon Daniels has done it with players with off-field concerns such as Josh Hamilton (twice), Milton Bradley and Matt Bush, and now Jeremy Jeffress, who was suspended twice in the minors for violating the league’s drug policy and was jailed at 5:13 a.m. Friday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Daniels has also done it with players that have more on-field concerns, such as Manny Ramirez (who never made it out of Triple-A), Ian Desmond coming off a down year in Washington and now Gomez.

Houston released Gomez because he didn’t produce on the field — a .210 average with five homers and 29 RBIs this season — and because the Astros grew weary of his over-the-top antics, whether it was swinging so hard his batting helmet fell off or making too many mental mistakes in the field for a former Gold Glove outfielder.

With Chris Tillman headed to DL, Orioles’ road to postseason got rockier

BALTIMORE — It’s official. Chris Tillman is headed to the DL.

For the season, he is hitting .377 with eight homers and 15 RBIs in 18 games.

“He’s playing himself into playing every day,” Girardi said. “That’s what he has done. It’s impressive. He was impressive [Monday] night. Not only what he did offensively, but throwing a baserunner out. You can’t say anymore about him.”

Well, you can, and we will. Sanchez is becoming the face of the Yankees, their most dynamic player, with a real chance to have staying power.

There have been Yankee rookies who have had quick starts before. Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer are two that come immediately to mind. The difference is that neither Maas nor Spencer were signed for $3 million as 16-year-olds. They were not super prospects.

“It’s been as impressive as I’ve seen,” Girardi said.

The reason why Sanchez’s start feels like the real deal is his defense. Bats go into slumps, whereas gloves generally don’t. Sanchez’s arm has been compared to Pudge Rodriguez’s by Mark Teixeira. He has been excellent at calling games, blocking balls and pretty much every aspect of catching.

The Redskins also have veteran Chris Thompson and rookies Keith Marshall and Rob Kelley. The latter two will get the bulk of the carries in Friday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Redskins want Jones to replace their workhorse of the past four years, Alfred Morris. One question surrounds Jones’ durability — he dealt with knee issues in college and missed the last four games with a hip injury last season.

“We’re hoping it’s just one of those things,” Gruden said of the shoulder injury. “He landed funny. He landed on his elbow and his shoulder popped out. We think the recovery time will be pretty quick. Sometimes as a running back you fall awkwardly and things like this happen, but we have high hopes he’ll last the season.”

Fully hatched from the cocoon now, the Dodgers’ offense continued to soar in the opener of a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants and their staff ace Madison Bumgarner. The Dodgers got eight hits from the heart of their order — Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez — and outpaced the Giants 9-5.

The Dodgers now lead the National League West by two games, their largest lead since they had a 2?-game advantage on April 24.

“It was a big team offensive effort today,” Gonzalez said. “Everybody swung the bat great today. We just had good at-bats up and down the lineup so it was a lot of fun for us.”

Easily the top slugging team in the NL since the All-Star break, the Dodgers are averaging 5.71 runs a game since the season’s midway point, and the traffic on the basepaths is only getting more frequent. Since getting shut out by the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 5, the Dodgers have averaged 7.06 runs over their past 16 games.

Yankees’ Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge have ‘Core’ values

“I think what is hard for them to prepare for here is what they face inside the clubhouse with the media,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Girardi was talking about how rookies adjust to being Yankees. At times, Sanchez had fallen short as he went through the minors, from not being in the best shape to not having the right attitude.

In 2011, the New York Daily News reported that Sanchez refused to enter a game as a replacement and declined to warm up a pitcher after losing playing time to John Ryan Murphy at Class A. Just two years ago, he was held out of two games at Double-A Trenton because he broke unspecified team rules.

“I don’t necessarily think when you are a highly touted prospect, the little hiccups that you have become public, as opposed to the other guys,” Girardi said. “We all got in trouble when we were 17 years old, 18, 19. We wish we could probably do it over.”

Sanchez’s first impression as a Yankee has been strong in the clubhouse. On the field, he has obviously looked as though he belongs, but it is also how he is taking instruction and adjusting to the tests of being the center of attention in pinstripes. Sanchez said he is in a better place at 23 than ever before.

“The main thing when I was younger I didn’t have the same experience I have today,” Sanchez said. “Today, I’m a more mature person and player.”

At 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, Judge is a giant. The Yankees have watched his development since he was in high school. Before his senior year, they saw him mature on the field in the Cape Cod League.

“He really played with a grace,” Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ vice president of amateur scouting, said of the 24-year-old. “He was flowing, which a lot of big guys don’t have.”

Sanchez and Judge have arrived in the majors in different ways. Sanchez has grown up in the Yankees’ system, while Judge has needed to polish his skills on the field.

“I think the Yankees go out and get guys who want to win,” Judge said.

The first item on the list is talent, but after that the Yankees try to find attitude. Sanchez and Judge, at least for now, seem to have the right ones, though they found them via different paths.

“You can’t control what their longevity and impact will be, but we do think we have some guys who have pretty solid makeup,” Oppenheimer said.

CLEVELAND — Once his long drive caromed into no-man’s-land, Tyler Naquin kept going. And going. And going.

Naquin sprinted around the bases, stumbled toward home plate and scored with a head-first dive.

Then he was mobbed by his Cleveland teammates — they all wanted to celebrate a game-winning inside-the-park home run in the ninth inning.

Even by walk-off standards, the Indians’ 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night was a stunner.

“That was a pretty cool moment,” Naquin said. “I almost fell down there for a second. I wanted to just keep running.”

It was the first walk-off inside-the-park homer since Angel Pagan did it for San Francisco against Colorado in 2013, according to baseballreference.com.

Naquin’s mad dash capped a two-run rally. Toronto took a 2-1 lead into the ninth in a matchup of American League division leaders.

Closer Roberto Osuna (2-2) retired the first batter, but Jose Ramirez tied it with a home run.

Naquin followed with a fly that hit the top of the right-field wall, above the leap of Michael Saunders. The ball bounced away at an angle, and center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. gave chase as Naquin rounded second.

Lourdes, 22, brother of Astros signee Yulieski, expected to hold showcase for all 30 teams

Lourdes, who played six seasons in Cuba, won’t be 23 until October. He will not be subject to the guidelines if he signs after he turns 23, and therefore stands to have more leverage if he signs after his birthday because teams would not have to use money from their international bonus pool to sign him.

On the field, Lourdes can play the infield and outfield. He was hitting .321 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs and a .924 OPS in 43 games for the Havana Industriales this season before defecting with his brother in February after the Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A good runner with a good glove, the younger Gurriel could project as a center fielder and can also play shortstop.

As for Yulieski, he hit .429 with a home run and nine RBIs in four games at Class A Advanced Lancaster and also played two games in the Gulf Coast League. He will join Houston’s Double-A team in Corpus Christi on Tuesday and could be in the big leagues sometime next week.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.

ST. LOUIS — What was, for eight innings, one of the lesser inspired performances by the Cardinals this season finished as perhaps their most defining victory to date. Down to their final out, they stunned the Reds with a five-run ninth on Monday night for a 5-4 win at Busch Stadium and pulled even with the Marlins for a National League Wild Card spot.

“I’ve seriously never seen anything like that before,” said Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, who watched the drama unfold from the trainer’s room. “It just shows what kind of guys we have in this clubhouse, never giving up.”
The Cardinals entered the ninth inning with five hits, no runs and hitless in 11 chances with a runner in scoring position. That changed when Matt Carpenter, up with the bases full, lined a two-run single to extend the game. An RBI single by Stephen Piscotty made it a one-run game, and a bases-loaded walk by Brandon Moss evened the score at 4.

When Ross Ohlendorf, who inherited a mess created by Reds closer Tony Cingrani, hit Yadier Molina two pitches later, the Cardinals celebrated their sixth walk-off victory of the season. And it was the first in almost 11 years in which they needed five ninth-inning runs to do it.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny talks about the team’s refusal to give up and the thrilling late comeback in the 5-4 win over the Reds
“That win right there is a small version of our season, what we have to do,” manager Mike Matheny said. “You just have to keep playing the game. You trust each other. It was one of those next-man-up [scenarios]. Play the game and good things can happen.”

It was just the fourth time this season that a team entered the ninth inning leading by four runs or more and lost. The five ninth-inning runs yielded by the Reds’ bullpen were as many as it had given up over its first 22 innings this month.

“It’s miserable,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “I’ll tell you it’s a miserable feeling, but we’ve just got to get this one out of our system.”

Brandon Marshall says Darrelle Revis ‘baited’ him into skirmish

“He kind of baited me to do it, and I did it. It kind of went too far, but there’s a thin line between football and being a man.”
Jets receiver Brandon Marshall on his scuffle with Darrelle Revis
From there, Revis dominated Marshall at the start of team drills and held him without a catch on four targets. Marshall was furious after one pass break-up and cursed at a game official. He felt Revis should’ve been flagged for pass interference. Marshall redeemed himself by beating Revis twice, including on a long touchdown reception. Marshall taunted Revis after the play by yelling at him from across the field.

“I just felt like the way he handled things in one-on-one is what you do to a rookie,” Marshall said. “I’m going on year 11, and I’ve been super successful in this league, so I took it personal. But I appreciated it because it took my practice to a whole other level. I learned from it.”

Marshall insisted it was an isolated incident and that he and Revis are close friends but fiercely competitive. Revis declined to speak with reporters. This was his first full practice since offseason wrist surgery. Coach Todd Bowles said he addressed it with the team, essentially telling the players that trash talking is accepted — but not punching.

“You’re going to get pissed off in camp as a player. It’s not charm school,” Bowles told reporters. “They play football. Both of them got to where they were for making plays and not backing down. Neither player is going to back down. You like that about the competitiveness. You just have to keep it clean. For the most part, they did.”

Bowles said he had no problem with Marshall’s taunting Revis with the reminder about his performance against Hopkins.

“No, you have to use any means necessary when you’re on the field,” he said. “They’re going to get under your skin on Sunday. The things [the public doesn’t] hear on Sunday are a billion times worse than that. They’ve both been out there long enough, and they both have tools to get under each others’ skin, especially when it gets chippy.”

Marshall has a history of erratic behavior, most of it early in his career, when he played for the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins. A few days ago, he punted a football over the bleachers after a poor performance by the offense. Afterward, he laughed it off, attributing it to his competitiveness.

Bowles said he isn’t worried about Marshall regressing to his old ways.

“I don’t think it was an outburst,” Bowles said of Marshall’s actions. “It was just two good players going at it, talking mess. Revis won some, and Brandon won some. It got chippy, but it’s camp. It’s supposed to be. … It’s football. We’re not here because of a beauty pageant. … We want them on the edge.”

Curiously, Marshall lamented his curse at the official more than his behavior toward Revis. He praised Revis for being the best cornerback in the league and insisted there will be no ramifications.

“Yes, I’m pissed off right now, and yes, he’s pissed off right now, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to move forward,” Marshall said. “It may take a couple of hours. It can’t go into the locker room. There’s not going to be no brawl or anything like that.”

The incident occurred a few days shy of the one-year anniversary of the infamous Geno Smith-IK Enemkpali locker-room altercation, in which Smith’s jaw was broken by his teammate’s punch.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants’ first-round pick has been overshadowed by the second-round pick so far in training camp. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s playmaking skills have allowed cornerback Eli Apple, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2016 NFL draft, to fly somewhat under the radar.

So I put the Giant spotlight on Apple during Thursday’s practice. Here is a rundown.

10:45 a.m.: The Giants are done stretching and break off into individual drills. The cornerbacks take direction from coach Tim Walton. Apple (6-foot-1) appears to be the tallest of the bunch even though Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is listed at 6-2. If DRC is taller, it’s by a hair. Maybe it’s just that Apple appears long.

11:05 a.m.: The cornerbacks are running a drill in which they’re supposed to attack and high-point the ball. Apple’s attempts are just OK. You can tell this isn’t his strength. He doesn’t attack the ball as would, say, Rodgers-Cromartie and the diminutive Donte Deayon.

11:10 a.m.: It’s 2-on-2, wide receivers versus cornerbacks. Apple runs step for step with Dwayne Harris on one play. He has good coverage on Kadron Boone on another. Both incomplete. Boone catches his ball but is ruled out of bounds by the on-site officials.

Apple is winning at the line of scrimmage. He plays physical.

“He’s a tough kid,” said wide receiver Tavarres King, who had a handful of catches during Thursday’s practice but none against Apple. “He’s got some stuff that you can’t coach. He’s got some dog in him. Real competitive. Hungry. … I think we got a gem.”

Those words might as well have been spoken by general manager Jerry Reese. The Giants front office loves players that have some dog in them. We have certainly heard that expression before around the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

11:25 a.m.: The Giants are running kickoff-return drills. Apple is on the first-team return unit, starting closest to the sideline.

11:30 a.m.: Team drills begin. It’s 7-on-7s, which are basically live drills without linemen. Apple sits out the first two plays, then steps in for Rodgers-Cromartie outside at left cornerback. This is the only spot Apple plays at practice. He’s being worked exclusively at left cornerback.

Cabrera powers Tigers past White Sox 11-5 for 7th straight

The Tigers have scored 39 runs in the last four games.

”It’s really starting to be fun around here,” Maybin said. ”We’re tough on any starting pitcher, and it is beginning to show.”

Avisail Garcia, who entered in the fifth inning, homered twice and Todd Frazier hit his 30th for Chicago.

”You hate coming into a game because of an injury, but I wanted to take the chance I got,” said Garcia, who began his career with the Tigers. ”It felt great to hit those two balls hard.”

James Shields (3-6) held the Tigers scoreless for the first four innings, then got hit hard in the fifth. He had allowed only five runs in his previous four starts combined, and manager Robin Ventura thought a six-day layoff might have been the problem.

”He’s been great, but you know that starters like to keep in that rhythm when they are going good,” Ventura said. ”The way our rotation worked out, he had that extended rest, and he just didn’t have it tonight.”

The White Sox broke a scoreless tie on Dioner Navarro’s RBI single in the fourth. Sanchez, though, retired Charlie Tilson with runners at the corners to end the inning.

Chicago put its first two batters on in the fifth, but Sanchez picked off Tyler Saladino and worked out of the jam. The Tigers took advantage in the bottom of the inning.

Romine, getting a rare start at third base in place of Nick Castellanos, led off with a triple and scored on Jose Iglesias’ sacrifice fly. Ian Kinsler singled and Maybin tripled into the left-field corner to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Cabrera’s double gave Detroit a two-run advantage, and Martinez followed with Detroit’s fourth extra-base hit of the inning, an RBI double.

Justin Upton singled, and after Shields finally got the second out, James McCann made it 6-1 with a two-run single.

Cabrera added a two-run homer in the sixth.

Garcia hit a two-run shot off Shane Greene in the seventh, but Kinsler had a two-run single to make it 10-3.

Frazier homered in the eighth to tie Baltimore slugger Mark Trumbo for the major league lead.

After Martinez connected in the Tigers eighth, Garcia hit one estimated at 465 feet off Mark Lowe.

”We’ve always known that Avi has the potential to hit balls like that, and it is great to see him start to do it,” Ventura said. ”He’s a big kid, and he’s finally putting it all together.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: Tilson, playing his first major league game, had to be helped off the field in the fifth after straining his left hamstring while chasing Cabrera’s double. His leg buckled under him, and Adam Eaton had to field the ball in right-center while Tilson was lying on the field. Ventura said after the game that Tilson was undergoing tests, with results expected Wednesday.

Tigers: Detroit got good news on all three of its injured players. LHP Daniel Norris (oblique) was activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Toledo, where he will prep as Detroit’s sixth starter. RF J.D. Martinez (elbow) will be activated for Wednesday’s game and Zimmermann (neck) will start on Thursday.

The Cleveland Indians will be without All-Star pitcher Danny Salazar for two to three weeks, a blow to the momentum of the AL Central leaders.

Salazar (11-4) was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation Tuesday, a day after the shortest outing of his career. An MRI showed no structural damage and Salazar won’t throw for five to seven days.

”We’re pretty confident that just about when his DL time is up, he’ll be ready to resume starting again,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Salazar lasted two innings and allowed six runs, including three homers, against Minnesota in a 12-5 defeat Monday.

The loss was his first since May 22. He told reporters his elbow had bothered him for several weeks. The right-hander has an 8.84 ERA over his past four starts, totaling only 18 1/3 innings.