Cardiff's Caulker set for QPR medical - Cardiff centre-back Steven Caulker is set to have a medical at Queens Park Rangers ahead of his proposed move to Loftus Road. How to solve a problem like Cook - Can England's Alastair Cook reverse his decline as a captain and batsman and revive his failing team? Duvall, Kontos help Giants beat Phillies (Yahoo Sports) - PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Two same-day call-ups helped the San Francisco Giants stay ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ortiz homers twice, Red Sox rout Blue Jays 14-1 (Yahoo Sports) - David Ortiz hit the 452nd and 453rd home runs of his career, moving past Boston great Carl Yastrzemski into 36th place on the all-time list, and the Red Sox won their fifth straight game Monday night, routing the Toronto Blue Jays 14-1. Ortiz matched Yastrzemski with a two-run blast to center off left-hander Brad Mills in the fourth, then broke the short-lived tie with another two-run shot off Mills in the fifth, his 21st and 22nd homers of the season. Ortiz's first homer ended his 0-for-18 skid against Toronto and an 0-for-11 slump overall. Mike Napoli followed Ortiz's second shot with his 12th homer, the fourth time this season Boston has gone back-to-back. Giants sign Dan Uggla to minor-league deal (Yahoo Sports) - PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants have signed former All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla to a minor league contract. Bills DT Dareus to enter substance abuse program (Yahoo Sports) - Marcell Dareus' attorney says the Buffalo Bills' defensive tackle has agreed to enter an NFL substance abuse program in a bid to have felony drug charges in Alabama dismissed. Rod Giddens wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that Dareus was allowed to enter the program during a hearing at Calhoun County Court in Alabama earlier in the day. Dareus attended the hearing while being excused from training camp in suburban Rochester, New York. Gerrard backs Hodgson for England - Steven Gerrard backs Roy Hodgson to lead England to success after announcing his retirement from international football. 'No standout choice' for England - Bryan Robson believes there is not a standout candidate to replace Steven Gerrard as captain, but backs Wayne Rooney. Hamilton must accept racing gods - Coulthard - Manziel scores as NFL's top-selling jersey (Yahoo Sports) - Second on Cleveland's depth chart, Johnny Manziel already tops one NFL list. The popular rookie quarterback, who will begin his first training camp this week as a backup, had the league's top-selling jersey since April 1. The league said Monday that Manziel's No. 2 outsold all others from April 1 to July 17 on NFLShop.com. Manziel is followed on the list by three quarterbacks: Seattle's Russell Wilson, San Francisco's Colin Kapernick and Denver's Peyton Manning.

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Dustin Ackley robs homer with leaping grab, joins 'catch of the year' discussion [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 22, 2014, 8:04 am]
You'll excuse Dustin Ackley if he's not as graceful as some of the outfielders who often get associated with great leaping catches. Ackley, the Seattle Mariners left fielder these days, was a second baseman until mid 2013. But his impressive leaping grab Monday night to steal a home run from Travis d'Arnaud of the New York Mets, proved that Ackley is a real outfielder now. This didn't have the elegance of Mike Trout stealing a homer and Ackley's landing could use some work, but there's no arguing with the results — he sized up the homer, jumped, caught the ball over the fence and brought it back with him. Ackley also had three hits and an RBI to contribute to Seattle's 5-2 win. ''I knew I felt something. I didn't know if I felt it hit off my glove or go in the web, but when I came down is when I knew I had it,'' Ackley said. ''I was like, 'Well something is in there.''' How does Ackley's catch rate against some of the best of the MLB season so far? We'll let you chime in on that in the comments, but we'll point you to Ben Revere's flying catch, David Lough's soaring grab and Yasiel Puig's incredible dive as three contenders. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

The Grand Slam: Adam Jones hits two homers, beats Angels all by himself [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 22, 2014, 7:19 am]
Matt Shoemaker almost had the Baltimore Orioles figured out. Almost. Shoemaker, the Los Angeles Angels rookie starting pitcher, struck out 10 Orioles in 5 2/3 innings Monday night and he only gave up three hits to Baltimore batters not named Adam Jones. Oh, but Adam Jones. Jones launched a pair of two-run homers off Shoemaker, one in the first and one in the sixth. The second one ended Shoemaker's night and was also the difference in the O's 4-2 victory. Said Jones about Shoemaker after the game: ''I didn't know anything about him, but that's what scouting reports are for,'' Jones said. ''We had an idea of what he throws, but nobody had seen him. So when you go up there, the best way to figure things out is trial and error. He gave up two home runs, but overall, his plan worked. He had a lot of strikeouts.'' The Orioles rebounded to get a win after losing two of three over the weekend against the Oakland Athletics. Bud Norris pitched 6 2/3 innings for Baltimore, striking out eight and improving his record to 8-6. CLIFF LEE'S RETURN DIDN'T GO SO WELLIf Cliff Lee's return to the Philadelphia Phillies rotation was an audition for a trade, Lee might need a second take. Making his first start since mid-May, Lee gave up a career-high 12 hits to the San Francisco Giants in a 7-4 loss. Lee pitched 5 2/3 innings, also giving up six earned runs. If healthy, Lee figures to be a good addition for teams looking for a veteran, frontline starter. The Yankees and Blue Jays have been mentioned as suitors. But an elbow injury kept Lee sidelined the past two months and until shopping teams see he's back to his normal self, we might not see a trade. BIG PAPI HITS TWO HOMERS, TOPS YAZ The Boston Red Sox threw down a 14-1 rout of the Toronto Blue Jays, and the most noteworthy parts of the beat down came from the bat of David Ortiz. Ortiz smashed two homers, Nos. 452 and 453 of his career. The first tied him with Carl Yastrzemski and the second moved him past Yaz on the all-time list.

Yankees pitcher Shane Greene commits three errors, including awful toss to first [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 22, 2014, 6:30 am]
The good news, we suppose, is that New York Yankees rookie pitcher Shane Greene didn't finish Monday night's game on the disabled list. Given the Yankees luck with starting pitchers this season, that's something.  So that's the silver lining, here's the reality: Greene had a really rough night fielding his position during the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. He made three errors, and none on plays that were especially hard. • Greene dropped a ball in the second inning while running to cover first. • He fielded a comebacker later that inning, a rather routine play. He did the right thing by running toward first base a bit, but his underhand toss would have needed Manute Bol at first base to catch it. It was comically (and maybe even historically) bad. • In the fourth inning, Greene fielded a dribbler and made an off-balance throw that also flew high above first baseman Kelly Johnson's head. To be fair, this was the toughest of the plays, but it wasn't impossible. The second error was the worst. Here's another look at it, so you can see exactly how awful Greene's throw to first was: The three gaffes by a Yankees pitcher hadn't happened since Tommy John (yes, the real guy) in 1988. He made three errors on one play, actually. Greene fielded another comebacker later and he appeared to have learned his lesson — or he decided to channel Smalls in "The Sandlot." He grabbed the ball cleanly and ran it almost all the way to first base before tossing it to Johnson for the out. Success! More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Andrelton Simmons' defensive wizardry bests Marlns' hit-and-run attempt (Video) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 22, 2014, 6:02 am]
At this point, it's not news that Andrelton Simmons did something impressive on a baseball field. The Atlanta Braves shortstop has already established himself as a Gold Glover and one of baseball's elite defenders. But just because we're used to seeing Simmons pulling off wonderful defensive plays doesn't mean we can't sit and appreciate his wizardry each time he puts it on display again. Look at what Simmons did Monday night against the Miami Marlins. It was the top of the fourth inning and the Marlins had leadoff man Christian Yelich at first base. He took off running on the pitch, a hit-and-run attempt that sent Simmons to cover second base. Jordany Valdespin hit the ball to the left of Simmons, which generally would make for a successful hit-and-run. But not with Simmons on patrol. He hit the brakes, dove the other direction and grabbed the ball. He then jumped to his feet for a split second and changed directions again to tag second base for the force out. He had very little time to do all this, of course, because Yelich was nearly to second when Simmons fielded the ball. To get the out, this play needed to happen in one weird but beautiful moment, and Simmons was just the man for the job. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Andrelton Simmons' defensive wizardry bests Marlins' hit-and-run (Video) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 22, 2014, 6:02 am]
At this point, it's not news that Andrelton Simmons did something impressive on a baseball field. The Atlanta Braves shortstop has already established himself as a Gold Glover and one of baseball's elite defenders. But just because we're used to seeing Simmons pulling off wonderful defensive plays doesn't mean we can't sit and appreciate his wizardry each time he puts it on display again. Look at what Simmons did Monday night against the Miami Marlins. It was the top of the fourth inning and the Marlins had leadoff man Christian Yelich at first base. He took off running on the pitch, a hit-and-run attempt that sent Simmons to cover second base. Jordany Valdespin hit the ball to the left of Simmons, which generally would make for a successful hit-and-run. But not with Simmons on patrol. He hit the brakes, dove the other direction and grabbed the ball. He then jumped to his feet for a split second and changed directions again to tag second base for the force out. He had very little time to do all this, of course, because Yelich was nearly to second when Simmons fielded the ball. To get the out, this play needed to happen in one weird but beautiful moment, and Simmons was just the man for the job. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Nats fan has the most amazing baseball beard you'll ever see (Photo) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 9:18 pm]
This is Eric Brooks. This is Eric Brooks rendering all other baseball beards mundane. Sorry, Brian Wilson. You're old news too, 2013 Boston Red Sox. Dare we say that even the Washington Nationals' Jayson Werth, who from the looks of things Brooks would clap for, isn't even on this level. Until someone else turns his beard into an MLB team logo, they're all in second place. Brooks, a Nats fan and artist, posted this photo of his beard Monday on Instagram. He describes himself on social media as an "avid beardsman" and seems to subscribe to the art of freestyle bearding. Brooks wrote that he's attending Wednesday's game and this was a practice attempt at a beard to wear to the game. Looks like he nailed it. Here are a few other beard styles that Brooks has posted on Instagram, none baseball related, but they help you understand the palette with which he was working. One last thing: If the people running social media for the Nats want to win the Internet, they'll find a way to get Brooks and Werth together Wednesday for a photo. BLS H/N: SB Nation More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Five Big Things: The return Cliff Lee, the unknotting of the NL and the week ahead in MLB [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 7:38 pm]
Five Big Things is Big League Stew's look at the week ahead in MLB action, examining storylines and matchups you should keep an eye on. 1. THE RETURN (AND DEPARTURE?) OF CLIFF LEECliff Lee, welcome to back to the Philadelphia Phillies' starting rotation. Now, don't get too comfortable.  Lee, the veteran ace of the Phillies, makes his first start since May 8 on Monday night, and many eyes around baseball will be on Lee as teams prepare for the July 31 trade deadline. A contender needing another arm could do a lot worse than Lee. Since 2008, when he won the AL Cy Young, Lee has an ERA of 2.90. He's coming off an injury, of course, a strained tendon in his elbow, so the buyers in MLB have every right to beware. This season he's 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA, but has the potential to be a frontline starter if he's healthy and those aren't easy to come by. The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly among the teams that have been scouting Lee. Acquiring him will bring with it considerable cost, however. He's due $25 million next season.  2. WHO'S GOING TO BREAK THESE TIES?If you look at the National League division standings heading into Monday's games, you'll notice something sort of fun — a tie in every division. The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are knotted atop the NL East, while the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals are co-leaders of the NL Central and the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are in a similar position in the NL West.  Tiebreaking in July isn't as important as it is in September, obviously, but of all those teams the Braves seem most likely to have the best week. They're at home all week, playing against the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres. The rival Nats, on the other hands, are on the road against the Rockies and Reds. 3. DODGERS-GIANTS OUGHT TO BE EXTRA FUNOf all the tied teams listed above, the Giants and the Dodgers are the only two that play each other this week. These NL West rivals meet Friday-Sunday

Giants sign Dan Uggla to minor-league deal, attempt to fix second-base woes [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 6:20 pm]
Dan Uggla wasn't unemployed too long. When the Atlanta Braves released the slumping second baseman Friday, there were a few likely destinations for the powerful but batting average-challenged Uggla. The San Francisco Giants, who have been relying on inexperienced and/or injured players at second all season, were one of Uggla's suitors. The two sides didn't waste any time. Uggla has agreed to a minor-league deal to join the Giants, a roster move first reported by Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports. Giants beat writer Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle adds the following details: I have confirmed that it’s a Triple-A deal. Uggla is flying to Albuquerque to join Fresno. He has an out clause that allows him to become a free agent if the Giants don’t promote him by Aug. 1. So, clearly, the Giants are hedging their bets as they seek a second baseman by the July 31 trade deadline. Look at this as akin to the Pat Burrell signing in 2002, a no-risk deal since the Braves are on the hook for practically all remaining in on Uggla’s five-year, $62 million contract, which ends next year. It costs the Giants relative pennies to see if a change of scenery can help. As Schulman references, the Braves are paying Uggla nearly $19 million simply to go away. He hit .162 with two home runs and 10 RBIs for the Braves in 2014 in 48 games, but lost his starting job to a rookie, so he's mostly been pinch-hitting. Last year, Uggla hit 22 homers but only hit .179. The Giants have called up rookie Joe Panik and journeyman Brandon Hicks to play second this season, while veteran Marco Scutaro dealt with back issues. Scutaro, 38, joined the Giants lineup for the first time this season, but he's since been dealing with neck issues.  In that context, grabbing Uggla makes sense, especially considering the Giants will only pay him a pro-rated contract. The Giants have had luck in types of deals in the past, so Uggla might excite a fan base that still remembers the postseason runs of 20

Dad holding toddler makes nifty foul-ball catch [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 5:13 pm]
A man standing in the lower deck and holding who appeared to be his young son made a nice catch at the Miami Marlins game Sunday afternoon of a foul ball hit by Adeiny Hechavarria. Some fans in the ball's path flinched, and others ducked, when the ball came zipping by, but Marlins Dad showed no fear reflex and caught the ball as he reached with his bare right hand while holding on tight to junior in his left arm. This guy is what every man should want to be in a father. Sturdy, steady and fearless (on the outside). Marlins Dad also got a nice high five from a worker at Marlins Park. The club also should think about offering him a Ball Dad gig, but only if he works in pairs and feels like he can repeat the trick. The kid had a big smile on his face, though probably won't remember the incident in 10 years, but he'll always have the video and the ball. More MLB coverage at Yahoo Sports:   - - - - - - - David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter! Follow @AnswerDave

Tigers fan wins tug-of-war with Indians fan for Torii Hunter home run [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 4:14 pm]
  Torii Hunter hit an otherwise unremarkable home run Sunday, one that extended a lead for the Detroit Tigers in a 5-1 victory against the Cleveland Indians. It was the struggle for the souvenir that was most notable about Hunter's two-run blast in the bottom of the fourth. A fan wearing a Tigers jersey successfully wrestled the ball away from a fan in an Indians jersey after the two men in the first row locked hands in an effort to catch the ball. The Indians fan had a size advantage and, you'd think, a leverage advantage, but he could only get one hand on the ball. The Tigers fan seemed to catch not only the ball, but the other fan's other hand. The Indians fan failed to unlock the Tiger's fan's hands — which also might have ripped the ball away and sent it flying to where no one could get it. Kind of like that dog with the bone who saw his reflection in a river and then lost both because he got greedy. Only now there's two dogs. And a ball instead. The moment also seemed an apt metaphor for the struggle for the brass ring in a post-industrial society among people from rust-belt cities. OK, no it didn't. But it was still fun for a brief moment. More MLB coverage at Yahoo Sports:   - - - - - - - David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter! Follow @AnswerDave

Anthony Rizzo goes over rail to make great catch — allowing lead run score [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 3:49 pm]
Curses! The Chicago Cubs have led the majors in bad luck, even more than bad play, since their most recent World Series victory in 1908. A most recent example happened Sunday when first baseman Anthony Rizzo went over a railing at Chase Field in order to make a great catch against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sounds great so far — just like the first two games of the 1984 NLCS! The bad part was that Rizzo went all of the way over the railing and landed in a camera well on a foul pop by Aaron Hill in the sixth inning. Rizzo was fine, physically, but his landing spot — out of bounds — invoked rule 7.04(c), which allowed David Peralta to score from third base after umpires waved him home, giving Arizona a one-run lead in the sixth. The D-backs won 3-2. D'oh! Rule 7.04(c) Comment: If a fielder, after having made a legal catch, should fall into a stand or among spectators or into the dugout or any other out-of-play area while in possession of the ball after making a legal catch, or fall while in the dugout after making a legal catch, the ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base, without liability to be put out, from his last legally touched base at the time the fielder fell into, or in, such out-of-play area. If Rizzo had not caught the ball, the run wouldn't have scored. If he had caught the ball and been able to hold onto the railing without landing out of bounds, the run wouldn't have scored. He did the right thing, the best he could, but it wasn't good enough for the Cubs. Again. Via the Associated Press: Rizzo said it was ''just instinct'' that he lunged for the ball. ''I didn't think I would go in (the camera well),'' he said. ''But it was a little farther then I thought.'' In a way, the rule is a compromise. If Rizzo lands out of bounds, it's sort of like when the ball goes into the stands on an errant throw. It would be unfair for a defender to be able to use the grandstand with impunity in order to make plays. The hitting team should get a

The Grand Slam: Hanley and Puig injuries worry Dodgers after beating Cards [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 2:27 pm]
Your browser does not support iframes.     The Los Angeles Dodgers salvaged a victory Sunday night after dropping two games at St. Louis to start the second half of the season. But as the case has been much of this season, L.A. also is keeping one eye on some of its injured star players. Adrian Gonzalez stroked a tiebreaking single against closer Trevor Rosenthal in the top of the ninth, pushing the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory at Busch Stadium after Clayton Kershaw could not keep a two-run lead. More worrisome though, the Dodgers lost Hanley Ramirez after he was hit on the left hand with a pitch. Yasiel Puig already was out of the lineup after getting hit on the left hand earlier in the series. X-rays for both players came back negative for a break, but a second set of pictures are due to be taken Monday at Pittsburgh. Ramirez was hit twice, also in the shoulder, and both benches were warned after Kershaw struck Matt Holliday with pitch. Ramirez getting hit helped the Dodgers rally in the ninth and put Gonzalez in position to get the go-ahead single. Kershaw also recorded his first career stolen base in the fourth inning. Running on the play, he took off for second with two outs and Dee Gordon at the plate. Carlos Martinez helped Kershaw out by throwing the ball in the dirt so that Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz could not catcher it. Your browser does not support iframes. It was Kershaw's first career attempt, as well. But he did not come around to score. WERTH'S WALKOFF LIFTS NATS: Your browser does not support iframes. A half-inning after his team lost a one-read lead, Washington Nationals slugger Jayson Werth got it back for good with a game-ending RBI double in a 5-4 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers. Rickie Weeks hit a tying RBI single against closer Rafael Soriano, who had blown only two saves in 24 chances coming in, but Werth replaced disappointment with joy by lining a double against Rob Wooten in the bottom of the ninth. Werth's hit came with two outs, on

Angels shoot invisible arrows at Fernando Rodney during comeback [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 1:52 pm]
Some of those invisible arrows that Seattle Mariners closer Fernando Rodney likes to shoot came back around and pierced him in the rear end Sunday afternoon. Rodney did his famous archery pantomime in the eighth inning after coming on for a save with five outs to go against the Los Angeles Angels. But he couldn't hold the lead in the bottom of the ninth after Mike Trout and Albert Pujols started a game-ending comeback. The kicker: Trout and Pujols shot invisible arrows back at Rodney. All he could do was take it. The lesson: Never shoot your arrows before it's time. Rodney was nursing a one-run lead in the ninth, but he walked Trout to lead off. Pujols followed with an RBI double to tie the score. Not usually one for flashy celebrations, Pujols and Trout traded arrows with Rodney caught in the middle on the mound. Mimicry is the harshest form of flattery. Via the Associated Press: ''That's his thing,'' Pujols said. ''I've known Rodney for 15 years, so we go way back. And every time I see him, I tell him I'm going to do that to him if I get a big hit against him.'' With Rodney pitching like an invisible wounded deer, the Angels loaded the bases for Grant Green, who finished him off with a game-ending single and a 5-4 Los Angeles victory. Let the arrows fly! Your browser does not support iframes. Rodney, named to the American League's All-Star roster earlier this month, had blown his third save in 30 opportunities. Green said later that Rodney's act "woke up our dugout" and was a mistake that got the wrong guys fired up. Rodney, whose turn as closer for the Angels in 2010-2011 wasn't a success — a fact that fans remembered — tried to defend himself from shooting his arrows "too" early. ''I did that for the fans, because when I came in, they booed me. It's part of the game,'' Rodney said after his third blown save in 30 chances this season. ''I tried to get the save with five outs. They got me today, but tomorrow's another day.'' Rodney had been performing his

Odrisamer Despaigne stopped four outs from San Diego Padres' first no hitter [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 4:40 am]
  Despite the best effort of right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, one holdout remains. The San Diego Padres still stand alone as the only active major league franchise without a no-hitter, thanks to Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets breaking up Despaigne's bid with four outs to go Sunday afternoon. Despaigne's start was the deepest a single Padres went without allowing a hit since Chris Young allowed a two-out home run to Gabe Kapler in the eighth inning Sept. 7, 2008. The Padres have played 7,264 games, plus 34 more in the postseason, since coming into existence in 1969. Coincidentally, the Mets had been the only other active franchise without a no-no until Johan Santana pitched one against the Cardinals in June 2012. The Mets, born in '62, needed 8,020 games to score a no-hitter. Despaigne, a 27-year-old Cuban defector who signed with the Padres in early May, was making his fifth career major league start. He was on his way to making history until Murphy lined a double into the gap on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the top of the eighth. The Padres also lost a one-run lead when Murphy came around to score on a single by David Wright — who was the final batter Despaigne faced — but San Diego came back to win the game 2-1. Despaigne allowed a run and two hits, lowering his ERA to 1.31. His pitch speeds varied from 65-93 mph, which certainly kept the Mets guessing. Manager Terry Collins said Despaigne's range of speed was a big reason his team couldn't get a sound read on him. At one point, New York slugger Bobby Abreu "playfully complained" to umpire Chris Guccione that Despaigne wasn't throwing his curveball with enough velocity. ''It was the highlight of the day,'' Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal said. ''He looked back at the umpire and said we were cheating, and the umpire started laughing.'' New York loaded the bases in the seventh on a hit batter and two walks with two outs, but Ruben Tejada grounded back to the mound and Despaigne escaped. Tim Lincecum of t

Odrisamer Despaigne stopped four outs from Padres' first no-hitter [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 4:40 am]
  Despite the best effort of right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, one holdout remains. The San Diego Padres still stand alone as the only active major league franchise without a no-hitter, thanks to Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets breaking up Despaigne's bid with four outs to go Sunday afternoon. Despaigne's start was the deepest a single Padres went without allowing a hit since Chris Young allowed a two-out home run to Gabe Kapler in the eighth inning Sept. 7, 2008. The Padres have played 7,264 games, plus 34 more in the postseason, since coming into existence in 1969. Coincidentally, the Mets had been the only other active franchise without a no-no until Johan Santana pitched one against the Cardinals in June 2012. The Mets, born in '62, needed 8,020 games to score a no-hitter. Despaigne, a 27-year-old Cuban defector who signed with the Padres in early May, was making his fifth career major league start. He was on his way to making history until Murphy lined a double into the gap on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the top of the eighth. The Padres also lost a one-run lead when Murphy came around to score on a single by David Wright — who was the final batter Despaigne faced — but San Diego came back to win the game 2-1. Despaigne allowed a run and two hits, lowering his ERA to 1.31. His pitch speeds varied from 65-93 mph, which certainly kept the Mets guessing. Manager Terry Collins said Despaigne's range of speed was a big reason his team couldn't get a sound read on him. At one point, New York slugger Bobby Abreu "playfully complained" to umpire Chris Guccione that Despaigne wasn't throwing his curveball with enough velocity. ''It was the highlight of the day,'' Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal said. ''He looked back at the umpire and said we were cheating, and the umpire started laughing.'' New York loaded the bases in the seventh on a hit batter and two walks with two outs, but Ruben Tejada grounded back to the mound and Despaigne escaped. Tim Lincecum of t

Triple-A Louisville Bats celebrate every win with team selfie [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 8:16 pm]
The Louisville Bats — the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds — entered play on Saturday with a 50-50 record through 100 games, which is pretty much the perfect record for a .500 ballclub. However, what's more interesting about the Bats team isn't the number of wins they have, it's how they go about celebrating them. According to WHAS in Louisville, the team started a unique new tradition while preparing for their official team picture last month. Before taking the team photo, a seemingly random team selfie was snapped. From there, the idea was suggested by outfielder Mike Costanzo to take a new team selife following each victory on the field, so that's exactly what they do. Well, most of the team anyway. According to Costanzo, a couple nameless players want no part of the action, but who needs those guys anyway? Here are a couple recent examples of the celebratory selfies: Have no fear, our post game #realselfie is here! Thanks @elCamino_KY for the #luchador!!! You guys are the best! pic.twitter.com/baYmE0DHTu— Kristopher Negron (@KNegs17) June 30, 2014 And the tradition of the #realselfie continues! @TheChainsmokers @LouisvilleBats pic.twitter.com/E8LEgeH0JU— Tucker Barnhart (@Tucker_Barnhart) July 3, 2014 Props and all, they obviously take this selfie business seriously in Louisville. In fact, based on the video it appears that most lockers in the clubhouse are loaded with different costumes and props in preparation for the postgame shot. That's dedication. It's also a fun way for the team to bond and break up some of the monotony that goes along with a long season. Minor league baseball teams usually set the standard for creative promotions in the sporting landscape. But that's all brainstormed in the front office, which at that level is basically centered around finding ways to attract fans to their stadium. In this instance, it's the players who may or may not be creating the next big fad. Time will tell, but at least the Louisville Bats are h

Adrian Beltre takes control during pigeon delay in Toronto [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 7:05 pm]
Your browser does not support iframes. While the Toronto Blue Jays were supposedly violating the unwritten rules of baseball in their 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday, a pair of rogue pigeons found their way on to the field at Rogers Centre despite the roof being closed and caused a temporary delay in the action. The delay happened in the eighth inning, long after Colby Lewis left the field, which is very good news for the pigeons. They basically marched right up to the pitcher's mound, and had they walked on the mound, it would have been a violation of one of baseball's most famous unwritten rules. Remember the Dallas Braden-Alex Rodriguez fiasco from a few years ago? There was no repeat of that, but the pigeons did seem to overstay their welcome rather quickly, at least in the eyes of Rangers players. Pitcher Roman Mendez appeared poised to bombard them with the rosin bag, and then third baseman Adrian Beltre took charge and shooed them away much the same way he chases off teammate Elvis Andrus when he tries to touch his head. The crowd didn't really appreciate Beltre ending the impromptu entertainment, but at least the game was able to continue as the pigeons reluctantly relocated into foul territory on the first base line. They would remain in that general vicinity for the most of the final inning, and thankfully neither of them met their maker like the unfortunate bird who once crossed Randy Johnson's fastball. See, Beltre was just taking the best interest of the pigeons to heart. You might even call him a hero to the pigeon community. But still don't touch his head! BLS H/N: Cut 4 More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Brandon McCarthy wins Yankee Stadium debut while wife gets stuck in New York traffic [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 4:50 pm]
Brandon McCarthy's home debut for the New York Yankees was exactly what the team was looking for when they acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 6. In six strong innings, McCarthy allowed one run on six hits while striking out nine as the Yankees cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.  Overall, that had to be a thrilling day and experience for the 31-year-old right-hander. Unfortunately, his wife, Amanda McCarthy, had a less than memorable experience. On her drive to the Stadium for the early Saturday afternoon game, she got caught up in New York City traffic and apparently missed out on some of the action. Here's her unfortunate tale as told through her always hilarious tweets and an Instragram photo. Never driving to the ballpark again... Lesson learned— Amanda McCarthy (@Mrs_McCarthy32) July 19, 2014 Hey, wasn't this Zack Greinke's idea for beating traffic in Los Angeles? How much would it cost to rent a helicopter to parachute me in every 5 days?— Amanda McCarthy (@Mrs_McCarthy32) July 19, 2014 This Instagram photo was simply captioned with "Baseball." Hi @mlb Amanda here, can you postpone the Yankees game today? I am stuck on the Deegan again. Thanks! Xoxo— Amanda McCarthy (@Mrs_McCarthy32) July 19, 2014 Unfortunately, MLB was not receptive to this idea. But it sounds like she did get some sound advice from experienced Yankees' fans. Telling me to take the subway is like telling me there is a new stadium.. I know guys, I know..— Amanda McCarthy (@Mrs_McCarthy32) July 19, 2014 We live and we learn. But here's some good news: She got to the ballpark just in time to see Derek Jeter come to the plate. Shut up... Derek's song is biggie? I knew he was cool.— Amanda McCarthy (@Mrs_McCarthy32) July 19, 2014 And all was not lost. Loving the pinstripes.. Loving the cloudy weather, such a perfect day to sit outside and watch a game— Amanda McCarthy (@Mrs_McCarthy32) July 19, 2014 As for how Brandon McCarthy reacted when he heard of his w

Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis is rewriting unwritten rules [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 7:53 am]
We've seen our share of unwritten rules disagreements this season, including one specific to bunting to beat the shift in a "lopsided game."  However, Texas Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis took things to a whole new level on Saturday, and there are but two possible explanations. Either Lewis' definition of the word lopsided is different from the rest of ours, or he's taking the lead on rewriting unwritten rules.  Here's what happened: With the Rangers trailing 2-0 in the fifth inning at Toronto, Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus laid a perfect bunt down the third base line to beat Texas' infield shift with two outs and nobody on base. Good, smart baseball if we're being honest and objective, but Lewis felt entirely different about it. Via MLB.com's Chris Toman: "I told [Rasmus] I didn't appreciate it," Lewis said. "You're up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don't think that's the way the game should be played." Um, what? "I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you're up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average," Lewis said. Well, sure. But maybe he was trying to a spark two-out rally in a competitive game? That seems plausible, yes? "[Rasmus] didn't steal within the first two pitches to put himself in scoring position," Lewis said. "That tells me he is solely looking out for himself, and looking out for batting average. And I didn't appreciate it." We're really reaching here. If Lewis' anger is driven by frustration, so be it, but it's nobody else's fault that he's currently sporting a 6.37 ERA this season. He has to own that at least. By the way, the next batter was Dan Johnson, who earlier in the game just missed a two-run homer to right field. He ended up settling for a double, which scored Rasmus from first base. The thought process isn't complicated here, and Rasmus, like the rest of those paying attention, was dumbf

The Grand Slam: Indians sweep day-night doubleheader in Detroit [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 6:26 am]
Your browser does not support iframes. The Cleveland Indians are enjoying a productive weekend in Detroit. After winning the series opener on Friday, the Indians turned right around and impressively swept a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. In the early game, Coby Kluber came up one out short of a complete game, allowing two runs in a 6-2 win. Kluber equaled a career high with 114 pitches and struck out ten for the fifth time this season. More importantly, he importantly saved the Indians' bullpen ahead of game two.  ''I located my fastball pretty well for the most part, pitched inside enough to keep them honest,'' Kluber said. ''I'm not trying to strike guys out. My game plan is to go out there and pound the strike zone. If it happens to get some swing-and-misses, great. If it happens to get some early outs, great.'' In the nightcap, Cleveland waited out starter Max Scherzer, who was dealing with neck cramps but still pitched effectively, and then took advantage of a struggling Joe Nathan, scoring three times in the ninth to win 5-2. Carlos Santana delivered the big hit, clearing the bases with a two-out double. With the wins, Cleveland pulls to within 4 1/2 games of Detroit for the AL Central lead. They're two games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild card position. FOUR-RUN FIRST CARRIES CARDINALS: Earlier this season Zack Greinke completed a 23-start stretch in which he allowed three runs or fewer in every start. On Saturday afternoon in St. Louis, it only took the Cardinals four batters to score four times. Greinke walked Matt Carpenter leading off and allowed back-to-back singles to Kolten Wong and Matt Holliday. Holliday's knock scored two run, and then Matt Adams capped the fast break with a towering two-run homer to right field. That would be all the Cardinals needed behind starter Joe Kelly. Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Kelly tossed seven innings of one-run ball as St. Louis held on for a big 4-2 victory. 





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