Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts entered the season with enormous expectations, but has gotten off to a slow start to begin the year. That may have changed Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

With men on first and second, Betts delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning. Betts stepped to the plate against rookie Miguel Castro, and, on the second pitch he saw, hit a ground ball into center for the game-winning hit. 

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Betts was a consistent force throughout the contest, reaching base four times. After walking in the first, Betts doubled in the fifth and added a single in the eighth. With the performance, Betts raised his average to .218.

Both teams suffered injuries during the contest. Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval had to exit the game early due to a neck injury. He's expected back in the lineup Tuesday. 

Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes managed to play the entire game, but was placed on the 15-day disabled list once the contest was completed. Reyes has been dealing with a rib injury for most of the season, but aggravated the issue Monday.

This is the third straight season in which Reyes has made a trip to the DL in April. He was hitting .250/.266/.300 over 66 plate appearances.

MURPHY BACKS GEE'S DOMINANT PERFORMANCE

Dillon Gee was masterful for the New York Mets on Monday against the Miami Marlins. Gee allowed one run on six hits over 7 2/3 innings. He stuck out three and did not issue any walks during the performance. Gee only needed 70 pitches in order to get the job done.

Gee was matched throughout the start by Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart. Cosart gave up just two hits over eight strong innings, putting him in line for the win.

That changed in the ninth inning. With Steve Cishek on for the save, the Mets began their rally. 

Juan Lagares doubled to kick things off. That was followed up by a walk to Lucas Duda. With men on first and second, and one out, Daniel Murphy stepped to the plate. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Murphy clobbered an 89 mph sinker out to right for a three-run shot. 

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Jeurys Familia came on for the save in the bottom of the ninth, and tossed a perfect inning. Familia is a perfect nine-for-nine in save opportunities this season. With the win, the Mets improved to 15-5.

HOUSTON CAN'T STOP WINNING

Don't look now, but the Houston Astros are the leaders in the American League West. Houston continued their April dominance, winning their fourth straight game Monday against the San Diego Padres.

With the win, the Astros will post their first winning record in April since 2006.

A win tonight guarantees the Astros their first winning record in April since 2006.

— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) April 28, 2015

Jose Altuve has continued to be a force at the top of the lineup, but the team was also helped by both Colby Rasmus and Jed Lowrie on Monday. The trio combined for six of the team's 10 hits, and five of the club's nine RBI during the contest.

The club may be without Lowrie for some time, however. Lowrie scored on a base hit in the ninth inning, but slid into home awkwardly. He's slated to have an MRI on Tuesday.

Lowrie flying to Houston for MRI tomorrow

— Brian McTaggart ⚾️ (@brianmctaggart) April 28, 2015

The 31-year-old Lowrie is hitting .300/.432/.567, with four home runs, over 74 plate appearances.

TAIJUAN WALKER SETTLES IN AGAINST TEXAS

The Seattle Mariners expected big things from Taijuan Walker this season. After the 22-year-old posted big numbers in spring training, it was assumed he was ready for a breakout.

That wasn't the case during his first three starts. Walker was rocked during his first two appearances, giving up 14 earned runs in just 7 1/3 innings. While his third outing was better, Walker lasted 5 1/3 innings due to control issues.

In his fourth outing, against the Texas Rangers, Walker flashed the potential he showed in March. Walker allowed one unearned run over seven strong innings. He struck out five and walked one during the outing, earning his first win of the year. With the performance, Walker lowered his ERA to 6.86. 

Want to see more from Sunday's slate of games? Check out our scoreboard.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 28, 2015, 7:10 am

A fan had to be hospitalized Monday night after being hit with an errant bat at Wrigley Field. The sequence took place in the seventh inning with Chicago Cubs rookie infielder Addison Russell at the plate. 

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On the first pitch of his at-bat, Russell swung and missed at a 95 mph fastball from Rob Scahill. The bat slipped out of Russell's hands on the swing, and went flying into the stands. The fan who was hit was sitting a couple rows behind the Cubs' on-deck circle. 

Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney left his seat in order to assist the fan. Kenney grabbed towels from the team's dugout and brought them to the injured spectator. Chairman Tom Ricketts also attempted to help the fan before medical workers arrived. The fan suffered "wounds," according to the Chicago Tribune. 

The Cubs released a statement on the fan's condition following the game.

An update on the fan injured during tonight's game. Thank you to everyone who has shared your concern. pic.twitter.com/MCXlOFJJiW

— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 28, 2015

Russell felt bad about the incident, and expressed concern for the fan, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"When the bat was in mid-flight, my mind was screaming ‘watch out, watch out,’ " said Russell, who hopes to give the victim an autographed bat. "I saw the kid’s glasses fly, and it wasn’t pretty. I feel very bad."

Fan injuries are always worrisome, especially when the word "kid" is involved. Our thoughts go out to the fan injured during Monday's game. We'll keep you updated on his status once more news is released. 

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 28, 2015, 5:49 am

Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval gets a lot of grief about his body size. Those concerns were even evident this offseason after an unflattering picture of Sandoval emerged during camp

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(Getty Images)

Though his weight has been a constant source of ridicule, Sandoval has always performed on the field. He hasn't just been successful at the plate, either. Sandoval is considered one of the better defenders at third base.

He showed why that's the case during Monday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. In the top of the fourth inning, with two men on base, Jays infielder Dalton Pompey attempted to bunt both runners over.

Sandoval read the play, and charged in to make a tremendous diving catch. The catch not only robbed Pompey of a hit, but kept both runners from advancing. The Red Sox would get out of the inning without giving up any additional runs.

Sandoval's strong play carried over to the plate. In the bottom half of the inning, he crushed a solo home run to right field. 

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That was the last at-bat he would receive during the contest. Sandoval was pulled in the sixth inning due to a neck injury. The injury likely happened during his diving catch. 

The injury isn't considered serious, and Sandoval could return to the lineup Tuesday.

Farrell said Sandoval had whiplash-like movement. Team hopeful he'll play Tuesday.

— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) April 28, 2015

Though he left early, Sandoval still turned in one heck of a game. He finished 2 for 2, with one run scored and three RBI. On top of that, he made a tremendous defensive play.

Sandoval may have proved that the phrase "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" is accurate, but he also proved that he can still move over at third base.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 28, 2015, 4:37 am

The Kansas City Royals have developed a bit of a reputation this season. The club has brawled with both the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland Athletics this season, and nearly came to blows with the Los Angeles Angels. 

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Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer is well-aware of the Royals' feisty ways, and came to Monday's game prepared.

It looks like Indians Trevor Bauer came expecting to fight the Royals today. pic.twitter.com/Ig0BnA1BEz

— Ryan Walton (@RyanWaltonMLB) April 27, 2015

Thankfully, Bauer didn't have to use those boxing gloves during the contest. 

For this playful jab, the judges have awarded round one to Bauer. Bauer is slated to start Tuesday's game, giving the Royals a shot at revenge during round two.

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Bauer may have won round one, but the Royals will surely be looking for the early knockout during Tuesday's contest. 

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 28, 2015, 3:02 am

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The Baltimore Orioles have postponed Monday's game against the Chicago White Sox due ongoing protests and riots in Baltimore. The decision was made after the team consulted with the Baltimore City Police Department. 

The protests have been going on since Saturday, after many gathered to express their anger over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who died after suffering spinal cord injuries that allegedly occurred while he was in police custody. 

[Slideshow: Protests turn violent in Baltimore]

The protests, which have taken place near Camden Yards, began peacefully, but have turned violent and destructive. The Orioles game was briefly disrupted Saturday when fans were asked to remain in the stadium due to an ongoing public safety issue. 

This announcement on the Camden Yards scoreboard just now. #Orioles #RedSox #FreddieGray protest pic.twitter.com/iEFGCZDvD3

— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 26, 2015

Fans were allowed to leave the ballpark shortly after the message was displayed, and the team was able to play Sunday. The situation worsened Monday, leading to the postponement. 

Both the White Sox and the Orioles had been monitoring the situation all day, and stressed that safety was their main concern.

Rick Hahn said they were monitoring situation all day. Safety is the priority. Number of possibilities ahead.

— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) April 27, 2015

Coincidentally, commissioner Rob Manfred is currently in Baltimore, and was expected to attend the game. Manfred's presence at the ballpark was scheduled in advance, and not due to the protests. Manfred addressed the media, but was unsure how to handle the rest of the series between the two clubs, according to Steve Melewski of MASN.

"The decision was reached after consultation with local officials," Manfred said. "We feel like we made the decision that would provide us the greatest possible security in terms of protecting the fans, the players, the umpires, everybody involved in the game.

"All I want to say about that is we are looking at every possible alternative in terms of completing the schedule in a timely way and making sure the games are played in a security situation that is safe for the fans. We are going to look at every alternative at this point.

Shortly after the decision was made, players could be seen in the parking lot, preparing to leave the stadium. White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said the team would be escorted to their hotel with a police escort.

Adam Eaton on whether players are walking to hotel across street: "we are going to run I think," with police escorts.

— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) April 27, 2015

At times like this, baseball is hardly the priority. Please stay safe, Baltimore. 

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 27, 2015, 11:06 pm
(Getty Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals' worst fears were confirmed Monday after it was announced ace Adam Wainwright would miss the rest of the season due to a torn Achilles in his left foot. The 34-year-old injured himself attempting to run out a pop-up during Saturday's game.

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The news does not come as a huge surprise. Many believed Wainwright tore his Achilles even before Monday's MRI. General manager John Mozeliak all but confirmed that prior to Sunday's game.

Mozeliak on @KMOX: I would imagine that with this injury Waino will not pitch again this season, but we want to wait for the reports Monday

— KMOX St. Louis News (@kmoxnews) April 26, 2015

Wainwright will have surgery this week, and is expected to miss between 9-12 months

The injury puts the Cardinals in a bit of a bind. Though Wainwright came into the year with some questions, he looked like himself through four starts. He didn't appear to be impacted by offseason elbow surgery, posting a 1.44 ERA over 25 innings before the injury.

(Getty Images)

With Wainwright out, there's some uncertainty in the team's rotation. Michael Wacha has pitched well thus far, but he missed time due to an arm issue last season. While he appears to be healthy now, it's unclear whether those issues will re-emerge, or if his innings will be limited down the stretch. The latter is also a concern with Carlos Martinez, who has also performed well to start the season.

Those two, combined with veterans Lance Lynn and John Lackey, will make up four-fifths of the club's rotation the rest of the season. St. Louis has some depth in their system in Marco Gonzales and Jaime Garcia, but both players are currently injured. Neither has the same upside as Wainwright, but both can be adequate No. 5 starters once they return.

Replacing Wainwright's production will be impossible. Few players have been as durable or consistent as him over such a long period of time. Yes, his 2011 was wiped out due to Tommy John surgery, but we're talking about a pitcher who has thrown over 225 innings in four of his last five healthy seasons. You don't find those types of players in Triple-A.

The Cardinals could explore a trade, but there's no need to overreact at the moment. Wacha and Martinez were big question marks coming into the year, but both look great thus far. If they can continue to perform well, the team will still have an above-average rotation.

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The question will be whether those players can sustain their success over the course of the season. If Wacha and Martinez lose steam in June, or if the Cardinals are planning to limit their innings, a trade could eventually make sense. 

For now, the team can promote someone from the minors until Gonzales or Garcia is healthy. While the Cardinals aren't going to fully replace Wainwright's production, the team has enough depth to survive this type of injury.

Losing Wainwright is a big blow, but there's no need to overreact just yet. 

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 27, 2015, 10:03 pm

The award for best hair in baseball had been without an owner for too long. The offseason saw both Andrew McCutchen and Jenrry Mejia cut off their signature locks, leaving a huge void in the world of baseball hair.

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Thankfully, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez is here to save us all. Gomez may currently be on the disabled list, but he's definitely put in some work while on the shelf. 

Cancel the award show, we have our winner!

Gomez's new hairdo reminds us of something, but we can't quite put our finger on it. Luckily for us, Gomez jogged our memory. 

Carlos Gomez is a Roman gladiator now. He also owns the best hair in baseball. That's not a bad combination.

Congratulations, Carlos Gomez. We are very much entertained

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 27, 2015, 9:34 pm
Mitch Harris, St. Louis Cardinals (AP Photo)

Mitch Harris would have preferred to make his big league debut under different circumstances, but given where he's been before it was no surprise to see him navigate through a potentially difficult situation.

When St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright went down with an injury during his start Saturday, manager Mike Matheny tabbed Harris to take the mound in Wainwright's place. Harris' insertion into the game carried slightly more significance than any old pitching change.

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Harris became the first graduate of the United States Naval Academy to appear in a major league game since 1921. Nemo Gaines, a relief pitcher for the Washington Senators, had previously been the only Navy grad to reach the major leagues.

The 29-year-old rookie right-hander acquitted himself well in his first outing, striking out the first batter he faced and pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings as he worked away around two base hits and two walks in a 5-3 win over the Brewers. At last, Harris realized his lifelong dream and he did it with his fiancée and two former shipmates in attendance at Milwaukee's Miller Park.

From MLB.com:

"When the phone call came in, obviously it hit me that this is finally happening," said Harris, a former lieutenant in the Navy. "But once I hit the field, it's just like every other day. It's the same game, the same things happening. I think once the warm-ups were finished I really felt, 'OK, now I'm ready.'"

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A 13th round pick by the Cardinals in 2008, Harris had to wait until 2013 to join the organization as he served his five year term in the Navy. As he travelled the world fulfilling his military duties, baseball never strayed too far from his mind. To stay sharp he even played catch on the flight deck during downtime with one of the ship's cooks.

Now Harris is playing catch on baseball's biggest stage throwing 95 mph fastballs. We'll give a strong salute to that.

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Israel Fehr is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at israelfehr@yahoo.ca or follow him on Twitter. Follow @israelfehr

Author: Israel Fehr
Posted: April 27, 2015, 3:45 pm

Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez moved a step closer to tying Willie Mays on the all-time home run list Sunday. Rodriguez belted home run No. 659 during the team's 6-4 victory over the New York Mets.

Rodriguez wasted no time getting the Yankees on the board. In the bottom of the first, Rodriguez clobbered a 74 mph curveball from Jon Niese out to right for the solo shot. 

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He would strike again in the second inning, plating another run on an RBI double. Rodriguez finished 2 for 4, with one run scored and two RBI during the contest.

Overall, it was a sloppy game for the Mets. The team made four errors, one of which led to a run. The Mets were able to capitalize against starter Nathan Eovaldi early, but were stymied by the Yankees bullpen. 

The Mets did not pick up a hit once Eovaldi came out of the game. The Yankees used five relievers during the contest. Outside of a Chasen Shreve walk, those relievers did not allow any base runners. 

Dellin Betances notched his fourth hold of the year, striking out the side in the eighth. He gave way to Andrew Miller in the ninth. Miller struck out one, picking up his seventh save of the season during the win.

MAUER SHOWS OFF HIS POWER

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer doubled his extra-base hit total Sunday against the Seattle Mariners. 

Mauer came into the game with just two extra-base hits, but that changed quickly. Mauer smashed an RBI double in the third inning, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. Seattle would battle back, setting the table for Mauer in the top of the 11th.

With men on first and second, Mauer knocked a 75 mph curveball from Tyler Olson out to left for a two-run triple. Mauer also added a single during the contest, finishing 3 for 5 with three RBI.

He's hitting .299/.392/.373 over 79 plate appearances this season.

 

ORIOLES PICK UP 20 HITS IN BLOWOUT WIN

The Baltimore Orioles demolished the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, picking up 20 hits during the 18-7 blowout. It was a historic performance for the franchise, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN.

The Orioles set a club record with 18 runs against the Red Sox, the previous high 17 on Sept. 27, 1960. They hadn't totaled 18 runs in any game since beating the Indians 18-9 on April 19, 2006.

The 20 hits today were the most for the Orioles against the Red Sox since April 26, 2005.

The middle of the team's lineup came through in a big way for Baltimore. Adam Jones, Delmon Young, Chris Davis, Steve Pearce and Jimmy Paredes combined for 12 hits and 16 of the team's RBI.

Young was particularly impressive, going 3 for 6 with five RBI during the contest. He's hitting .368 on the season.

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Baltimore struck early, chasing Wade Miley from the game in the third inning. Miley allowed seven runs, six earned, on five hits over 2 1/3 innings. 

Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez attempted to get Boston back into the game late, but it wasn't enough. The two combined to go 3 for 7, with four runs scored. Sandoval and Ramirez combined for all seven of the team's RBI. 

With the win, the Orioles improved to 9-10. They'll take on the Chicago White Sox on Monday.

 ADDISON RUSSELL LEADS THE CUBS OVER CINCINNATI

Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russell hasn't gotten off to as strong a start as rookie teammate Kris Bryant, but he came up with a big hit Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds.

With the bases loaded in the fourth inning, Russell knocked a bases-clearing double to center field. All three base runners would score, giving the Cubs the 5-0 lead. 

The team would give up two runs later in the contest, but held on for the win. Russell finished 1 for 4, with two strikeouts and three RBI.

Through 22 plate appearances, Russell is hitting .136.

Want to see more from Sunday's slate of games? Check out our scoreboard.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 27, 2015, 4:32 am

Being an outfielder on the road can be dangerous. When you're in the field, you're close to opposing fans, and they can often be unforgiving. 

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon has certainly heard his fair share of jeers from opposing fans, but he's not willing to back down.

The 31-year-old proved as much Sunday, going into the stands in order to make a fantastic defensive play against the Chicago White Sox. 

In the bottom of the sixth inning, infielder Micah Johnson lifted a ball out near the seats in left field. Gordon raced over to the foul line, and decided to dive into the stands in order to make the play. 

He came up with the catch, even knocking down a White Sox fan in the process. Incredibly, Gordon was not hurt during the play. He remained in the game, picking up a single in his next at-bat.

Though the play was impressive, it wound up being all for naught. The White Sox would go on to score five runs during the inning, eventually winning 5-3. 

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The loss couldn't be put on Gordon. On top of the great play, he finished 2 for 4 at the plate, with a home run and a single. Gordon scored one run and knocked in two during the contest.

Opposing fans might want to think twice the next time they attempt to heckle Gordon. As he showed Sunday, he's willing to take them out in order to make a play.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 27, 2015, 2:54 am

Fans love to hate New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez. The 39-year-old has gotten off to a strong start this season, and that has only added fuel to the fire. 

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With Rodriguez just one home run away from tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list, one fan believes it's time to take action.

Some lunatic took out a full page ad in the Daily News to ask Rob Manfred to put an asterisk next to ARod's 660th HR pic.twitter.com/nohY942lKH

— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) April 26, 2015

That's right, one fan is so upset with A-Rod that he took out a full page ad in the New York Daily News asking commissioner Rob Manfred to put an asterisk next to Rodriguez's home run total.

(Getty Images)

His request will likely fall on deaf ears. There's no precedent for putting asterisks next to player's numbers, and it doesn't seem like Manfred is going to start that trend now.

On top of that, putting an asterisk next to Rodriguez's home run total would open up a huge can of worms. Would Manfred then have to add an asterisk to Barry Bonds' total? Who else deserves asterisks? Where would it stop? 

Are there people out there who honestly believe this would be a good use of the commissioner's time? Surely, he has more important things on his plate.

Our anonymous Giants fans may also be looking at this situation through biased glasses. He or she seems to forget that there were some rumors about Mays having amphetamines in his locker when he was a member of the New York Mets. 

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That doesn't seem to matter to most fans. So much of the focus today is on steroids and PEDs, and that makes Rodriguez public enemy No. 1. 

By now, Rodriguez is used to the negativity. He recently told reporters his career has been "one long boo for 15 years." 

That's only going to get worse as Rodriguez continues to reach his milestones. Fans will be upset, but the commissioner will do nothing. The haters will continue to hate, and Rodriguez seems to feed on that.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 27, 2015, 1:36 am

Hide the Little Leaguers, we're about to witness the worst slide we'll see in baseball all season.

The unfortunate subject of today's unfortunate posting is Colorado Rockies outfielder Drew Stubbs.

Coming in to play on Saturday night, Stubbs' season was actually going quite miserably so far. In his first 17 at-bats, he was hitless with 11 strikeouts and little else to show for his season in terms of positive contributions to the ballclub. Little did he know things were about to get worse during Saturday's 5-4, 11-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants.

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Despite his offensive struggles, Rockies manager Walt Weiss still called Stubbs' number as part of a seventh-inning double switch. With the game on the line in the ninth inning, Weiss once again stuck with Stubbs, who delivered a game-tying fielder's choice.

That's actually a very good thing, but what followed immediately after was not. Representing the winning run, Stubbs took off for second base and had the bag stolen easily against Santiago Casilla and Andrew Susac, only he didn't, because he somehow managed to botch the slide and roll over the bag.

First and foremost, thankfully Stubbs wasn't injured on the awkward play.

Second, he's a professional and we certainly respect him for that. 

Third, well, there is no third.

How does that seriously happen? He can't blame the playing surface. He can't claim Brandon Crawford for blocking the bag, because he was reaching for the throw. He just flat botched a basic, routine slide in the ninth inning of a tie game.

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We'll let the Twitterverse take it from here.

Drew Stubbs looked like a man who hasn't been on the base paths all season while approaching second base there ... Oh wait.

— Matt Gross (@MattGross87) April 26, 2015

A man named Drew Stubbs just stubbed his toe in the dirt to roll over second and get called out. #ThankYouBaseballGods

— SF Lunatic Fringe (@sflunaticfringe) April 26, 2015

Drew Stubbs is literally making me sad to watch right now. I love the guy too much for this.

— Blake Street Blogger (@BlakeStBlogger) April 26, 2015

Drew Stubbs out on the worst slide in recorded history.

— Jordan Freemyer (@jfreemyer) April 26, 2015

Tim Drew Stubbs Tebow

— Colin Daniels (@southstands303) April 26, 2015

There are moments you want to forget. There are moments you can't forget. This will be both for Drew Stubbs, and unfortunately we had to do our part to make sure it's never forgotten.

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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

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 26, 2015, 7:13 pm

Yasiel Puig is headed to the disabled for the first time in his young career after experiencing a setback with his ailing left hamstring. The Los Angeles Dodgers announced the move prior to their finale against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Sunday afternoon. 

Puig, 24, has been dealing with a left hamstring strain for the better part of two weeks. The original injury kept him out of four games last week. He returned for the Dodgers series with San Francisco earlier this week, but aggravated the injury again during Friday's win in San Diego.   

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Puig was also struck on the knee by a pitch on Friday. That injury isn't serious and played no role in worsening his hamstring issue.    

Puig was actually well enough to hit in the batting cage on Sunday morning, but the Dodgers decided the DL is the way to go if they hope to get him right for the long haul. 

Dodgers think Puig could play in 4-5 days. But Mattingly said, "At this point, get the thing right, make sure we have him for the long run."

— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) April 26, 2015

In the meantime, this will thin out the logjam in the Dodgers outfield. Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and rookie Joc Pederson are in for regular playing time over the next two weeks.

In other Dodgers injury news, reliever Joel Peralta was also placed on the disabled list with right shoulder soreness. Peralta first started dealing with a shoulder issue in spring training and has yet to feel comfortable during the season. He was still effective, pitching 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball in seven appearances, but like Puig the Dodgers want to get him right. There's no early indication how long he'll be sidelined.

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The Dodgers also have an MRI scheduled for starter Brandon McCarthy, who left Saturday's outing with tightness in his right elbow. McCarthy had pitched through discomfort for the past two weeks, and there's obvious concern he might be faced with ligament damage.

The Dodgers will know more on Monday, but it goes without saying this has not been their best weekend health wise. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 26, 2015, 6:47 pm

This is interesting. It turns out Atlanta Braves defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons — that's his title, not his position — isn't the only shortstop capable of making breathtaking plays. His counterpart with the Philadelphia Phillies, Freddy Galvis, can flash some leather as well, and he can throw from awkward angles.

That was proven on Saturday, when Galvis showed his skills off against Simmons' Braves.

It happened in the sixth inning with Nick Markakis at the plate. Markakis hit a rocket with some slice to the shortstop side of second base that seemingly had plenty of steam to get through for a hit. Galvis, who was shaded up the middle, made a quick move to his left and cut the ball off with a diving stop.

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That was step one. Galvis also had to collect himself and make a strong throw if he hoped to get Markakis. Rather than stand up, he did a full twist from his stomach to his knees to launch a crossbody throw, and it worked. Beautifully we might add.

(Getty Images)
The throw had plenty of mustard, and with a fine scoop from Ryan Howard, the out was recorded.

Here's what another man who's made some incredible plays on the infield, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, had to say about it.

Sandberg on Galvis' spectacular play in the 6th: “That was one of the better plays I’ve ever seen. How he got the throw off I have no idea.”

— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) April 26, 2015

We echo that.

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The only downside was that Galvis dinged up his shoulder a bit. However, he was able to recover enough to return to his position in the next inning, but was eventually removed in a non-injury related double switch.

As for the game, the Braves rallied for three runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to win 5-2. Both of Philadelphia's runs scored on Ryan Howard's second home run of the season.

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 26, 2015, 6:02 pm

It didn't looked good the moment Adam Wainwright hobbled out of the batter's box on Saturday in Miller Park with an apparent ankle or Achilles injury, and the news is no less encouraging on Sunday morning. 

The Cardinals officially placed their long time ace on the disabled list Sunday morning. After labeling it only an ankle injury on Saturday, the team is now acknowledging the possibility of an Achilles injury, which likely has some hearts skipping a few beats in the clubhouse and back in St. Louis. 

The team announced Wainwright will undergo an MRI on Monday in St. Louis. 

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According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the early expectation is Wainwright suffered a torn Achilles, which would end his season immediately and put the Cardinals in an uphill battle to win another division championship or appear in a fourth straight NLCS. 

Sources: Expectation is that #STLCards’ Wainwright is done for season with Achilles injury. Has not yet undergone MRI.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 26, 2015

Wainwright's comments after the game added to that expectation. 

 “I thought I got hit by something. If you look at the replay, I get out of the box and I looked back to think the catcher’s mask must of hit me or the bat must’ve hit me, something must’ve hit me.”

(Getty Images)

Often times you'll hear an athlete describe a similar feeling when the tendon detaches, so this is obviously trending in a troubling direction.

Here's what general manager John Mozeliak added prior to Sunday's game in Mllwaukee. 

Mozeliak on @KMOX: I would imagine that with this injury Waino will not pitch again this season, but we want to wait for the reports Monday

— KMOX St. Louis News (@kmoxnews) April 26, 2015

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Of course, the Cardinals have survived life without Wainwright before. He missed their 2011 run to the World Series championship after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but the Cardinals knew they were without Wainwright before the season and had ample time to prepare and fill out their rotation with veterans like Jake Westbrook, Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson, who joined Chris Carpenter. Jaime Garcia also emerged as a helpful piece.  

Right now, Wainwright is the man, though they have received encouraging Aprils so far from Michael Wacha, who's coming off an a few injuries; Carlos Martinez, who's adjusting to the rotation; and veteran Lance Lynn. All three have sub-2.00 ERAs, and without Wainwright it would be essential for all three to stay on point.  

At 34, there's also concern about Wainwright's long-term outlook. The good news, if any can be derived based on what's known, is that his arm is healthy. He definitely needs his legs, too, but the arm being healthy will make it easier for him to come back at top form. 

That's all speculation that can be saved for 6-8 months from now. Right now, the focus is on Monday's MRI, what it will reveal, and what it will immediately mean for the Cardinals and the entire National League. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 26, 2015, 4:32 pm

Until Saturday, we didn't think there was anything Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre hated just as much or more than another human being touching his head. However, it would appear there's at least one other violation that falls into that category: Breaking his bat.

During Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels, Beltre actually broke three bats during his encounters with Garrett Richards, who was making just his second major league start since last season's gruesome knee injury.

The two veterans faced off three times, with Richards winning each battle decisively. Two came on routine ground outs, the third on a weak pop-up, and each came with a shattered piece of lumber. 

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That's not only a tough night at the park, that's an expensive night for Beltre, who was forced to go deep in the reserve tank for Saturday's game. But the cool part is Beltre was actually able to have some fun with his misfortune. Sometime on Saturday, he jokingly shipped a $300 invoice to Richards looking to have his bats replaced.  

(AP)Here's more from the Orange County Register's Pedro Moura: 

It was a real invoice, like Beltre went to an office-supply store and bought a pack of them or something. “Cash only, no checks,” he wrote above his signature.

Richards and teammate Mike Trout laughed about it, and Richards sent back a signed batting-practice bat, inscribing on it he hoped that covered his debt.

Beltre said it was the first time he had ever broken three bats in a game.

That's some awesome stuff from Beltre. It would be quite easy for a guy who finished Friday's game with a .175/.246/.333 battling line to go back to the hotel and drive himself crazy replaying every at-bat and every swing. Beltre, on the other hand, wanted to flip that around and drive Richards crazy for daring to make him crazy.

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Even better, Richards was in on the joke and had some fun with it as well.

It's a reminder that baseball can still be played passionately and intensly without having to take everything personally. It's still OK to joke with the opposition. It's still OK to poke fun at yourself. It's still OK to act like a kid sometimes and be silly. 

It's a fun job, after all, but it's capable of driving you nuts if you let it. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 26, 2015, 7:08 am

Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

Saturday night was bittersweet for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The good news: Their bats were alive at one of baseball's most pitcher-friendly ballparks, Petco Park. In total, the Dodgers muscled up for four home runs in their 11-8 victory, including Adrian Gonzalez's NL-leading seventh. Gonzalez's three-run shot broke a 3-3 tie in the second inning, and the Dodgers never looked back from there.

Andre Ethier got the scoring started with a two-run shot in the first. That was his second homer of the season. Howie Kendrick and Juan Uribe added insurance two-run homers in the fifth, which proved to be important in the outcome. 

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The bad news: Their own starter, Brandon McCarthy, allowed three home runs of his own. His final pitch of the evening was driven for a three-run shot by Justin Upton. McCarthy was spotted shaking his right arm immediately following the pitch. Before facing another batter, he motioned for the trainer and was removed.

McCarthy was later diagnosed with tightness in his right elbow, which is a scary series of words in today's game. The Dodgers will obviously know more once an MRI is taken, but McCarthy seems headed for a DL stint at worst.

If there's a small silver lining, it's that Hyun-Jin Ryu was cleared to throw a bullpen session in the next couple days. That's a big step in his return from a shoulder issues, but the Dodgers pitching depth still figures to take a significant hit in the short term.

MATT HARVEY GETS METS BACK ON TRACK

After the New York Mets franchise record tying 11-game winning streak was snapped by the Yankees on Friday night, ace Matt Harvey wasn't about to let his team start a losing streak on Saturday. Harvey, who grew up a Yankees fan, made his first career start at Yankee Stadium, and he made it look like his home, tossing 8 2/3 innings of two-run ball.

Manager Terry Collins actually gave Harvey two chances to go the distance, With two outs in the ninth, Harvey allowed a single to Mark Teixeira, who homered earlier, and then walked Brian McCann on four pitches. Carlos Torres came on to retire Chris Young to wrap up the Mets 8-2 victory.

(Getty Images)
Harvey allowed just five hits while walking only his second and third batters of the season. He struck out seven, raising his season total to 31, while improving to 4-0. He was looking to become the first Mets pitcher to throw a complete game against the Yankees since Dave Mlicki in 1997.

On the other side, CC Sabathia falls to 0-4 after allowing seven earned runs — and three home runs — over five innings. Lucas Duda tagged him for a solo shot in the first. Rookie Kevin Plawecki, who's filling in for an injured Travis d'Arnaud, hit a two-run homer in the fourth — the first of his young career. Eric Campbell added a two-run shot in the sixth.

BLUE JAYS LOSE, BUT MAKE HISTORY

The Toronto Blue Jays lost 4-2 to the division rival Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, but actually made some interesting history in their defeat.

By starting catcher Russell Martin and outfielders Michael Saunders and Dalton Pompey, the Blue Jays became the first team in major league history to have three Canadian-born position players in the starting lineup. The Montreal Expos twice in 1993 and the Minnesota Twins during the 2011 season each started two position players from Canada to go along with the starting pitcher, but never had three position players been done.

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The history was made possible by the return of Saunders, who missed the two-plus weeks following a spring knee injury. Together, the three players were 1 for 9. The one hit was a Russell Martin solo home run.

The Rays received four hits from Evan Longoria in the victory.

GIANCARLO BASHES ANOTHER HOMER, MARLINS WIN ANOTHER SERIES

After going homerless with a .200 batting average in his first nine games, Giancarlo Stanton has bounced back in a big way over his last nine game, hitting five homers with a .314 average. That included another big day on Saturday, as Stanton homered for the fourth time in his career against Stephen Strasburg and led the Marlins to an 8-0 victory.

The homer was one of three hits for Stanton. He started the scoring with an RBI double in the first, and later singled and scored in the win. Adeiny Hechavarria added a three-run homer to wrap the scoring. Justin Bour had a pair of run-scoring singles.

All of this came in support of Tom Koehler, who was brilliant, holding Washington to six hits over 7 1/3 innings.

The Marlins have now won four straight after manager Mike Redmond was squarely placed on the hot seat. The Nationals have lost four straight. Both teams are now 7-11 and a long way behind the Mets.

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 26, 2015, 5:22 am

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St. Louis Cardinals fans everywhere are holding their breath Saturday night after ace Adam Wainwright was helped off the field at Miller Park with a lower leg injury.

Wainwright suffered the injury while batting in the fifth inning. As Wainwright skied a popup on the infield, his left ankle twisted in the box. He then planted his left leg to run, but came up immediately hobbled.

Upon first look, it was difficult to tell which leg Wainwright was favoring or what the injury might be. Obviously, there's always concern about the knee or the Achilles tendon on such plays. The replay points directly to the ankle, and as of right now that's how the Cardinals are labeling it. 

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Wainwright suffered a left ankle injury and will be re-evaluated upon the team's return to St. Louis #STLCards

— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) April 26, 2015

Obviously, we'll have updates as they become available. The Cardinals won't be flying home until early Sunday evening after their series in Milwaukee wraps, so the earliest we'll probably hear something is Monday. That is, unless the Cardinals know something they're not willing to say tonight, but there's no reason to believe that's the case. 

Regardless of the extent of the injury, which obviously we all hope isn't severe, those in favor of a universal DH have some added ammunition.   

Of course, when there's injury, there's also opportunity. In this instance, Wainwright was relieved by 29-year-old rookie right-hander Mitch Harris, who was making his major-league debut. 

Harris isn't just any rookie though. With his appearance on Saturday, he became the first graduate from the United States Navy Academy to appear in a major-league game since 1921 when Nemo Gaines, also a pitcher, debuted and appeared in four games for the Washington Senators. 

It's a remarkable story, and considering the difficult circumstances Harris' debut went well. Especially the first batter. 

Harris strikes Lind out with his first three ML pitches.

— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) April 26, 2015

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Overall, Harris allowed two hits and walked two in an inning and one-third. The Cardinals went on to win 5-3. The victory was credit to Matt Belisle, which was up to the official scorer's discretion since Wainwright didn't qualify for the victory. 

Obviously, this wasn't the way Harris envisioned making his debut. Watching the ace and one of the team's leaders walk away in that condition sends a jolt through everybody. Harris had a job to do though, and he obviously showed the poise necessary to pitch in the big leagues, But that shouldn't be too surprising considering he had the courage to serve five years in the U.S. Navy. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 26, 2015, 1:43 am

On Saturday, protestors started gathering in the streets of Baltimore to express their anger over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who suffered a spinal injury that allegedly occurred while he was being arrested by Baltimore police.

According to reports early in the day, the protests were mostly peaceful. However, as the day has gone along, the protests have become most destructive, with numerous reports of protestors throwing objects at police dressed in riot gear, and breaking out windows in police cars and buildings around Camden and Howard Street, which is right outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles.

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According to a few writers on scene, the protests turned chaotic as first pitch neared, which forced the Orioles to temporarily close off Gate H on Eutaw Street. Thousands of fans were caught up in the protests as well as they attempted to enter the ballpark. Some were even threatened, according to the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo Encina

There was some brief talk on social media about whether or not the game should go on as scheduled on Saturday. It would appear the Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball never seriously entertained that thought as the game began on time. 

Here's a look at the chaotic scene, courtesy of Encina and others. 

#FreddieGray protesters now face-to-face with police at Oriole Park at Camden Yards pic.twitter.com/4QRDi7rany

— Colin Campbell (@cmcampbell6) April 25, 2015

#FreddieGray protestors forced closure of Gate H at Camden Yards. #Baltimore #Orioles #RedSox pic.twitter.com/RHN1GY4IUC

— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 25, 2015

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Video of #FreddieGray protestors going by Camden Yards, shutting down Gate H. #Orioles pic.twitter.com/GoOHccEVeX

— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 25, 2015

Few more photos of #FreddieGray protestors going by Camden Yards, temporarily closing Gate H to fans. #Orioles. pic.twitter.com/ytgQ5cDdyd

— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 25, 2015

With police sirens wailing, choppers overhead and thousands still unable to get into ballpark yet, game about to get underway here.

— Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) April 25, 2015

Camden Yards less than half full @ 1st pitch tonight. Fans had hard time getting in w/ #FreddieGray protests outside pic.twitter.com/D0Ud1H7e4w

— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 25, 2015

it would appear the scene outside the park hadn't improved much by first pitch. Perhaps some fans just went home, too, rather than dealing with the gathering.

Of course, we figured things could get interesting again toward the end of the game. This announcement was actually made in the stadium in the ninth inning, advising fans to remain in the ballpark until further notice.

This announcement on the Camden Yards scoreboard just now. #Orioles #RedSox #FreddieGray protest pic.twitter.com/iEFGCZDvD3

— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 26, 2015

The Orioles went on to 5-4 in 10 innings on David Lough's walk-off home run. Less than minutes later, fans were given the all clear with instructions on how to leave the ballpark and direction for leaving the area. 

Fortunately, it appears everyone was able to leave safely, but it'll be interesting to see how things are looking on Sunday before the series finale.  

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 26, 2015, 12:22 am

Folks, we need to make something perfectly clear here. There's a reason major league players are what they are, major leaguers. And there's a reason the rest of us are left to talk and write about their accomplishments. 

They're the best in the world at what they do, and although we may think we have an advantage or two in some athletic capacity — in some cases, it's possible we do — it's best to just leave well enough alone. Don't poke the angry bears, as they say. And certainly don't question their abilities or challenge them to anything competitive, because you're going to get their best and probably feel bad about it later.

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Just ask David Vassegh, co-host of Dodger Talk on AM 570. For awhile now, Vassegh has been using his airwaves to call out Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for being slow. Of course, he did so knowing that information was getting back to Gonzalez on a regular basis, but he probably didn't suspect what Gonzalez's response would be once he'd finally heard enough.

That moment finally came this week.

Gonzalez's response? An open challenge to a footrace, which took place before Friday's game at Petco Park in San Diego.

The result of the race was a no contest. As in Vassegh, had no chance to keep up. With that said though, Gonzalez did have one notable advantage. Per conditions of the race, Vassegh had to wear cleats. He ended up borrowing a pair from Dodgers infielder Justin Turner, but they were of little help as Gonzalez left him in his dust.

Tired of @THEREAL_DV saying how slow he is on air, Adrian Gonzalez challenged him to a race pic.twitter.com/SWWKqepMuo

— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) April 24, 2015

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Seriously, you can start anytime, Mr. Vassegh. 

Of course, the race itself was all in good fun. Gonzalez didn't truly take the comments personally, and would probably be the first to admit he's not exactly fleet of foot, at least by baseball standards. But it made for an entertaining stunt and a fun moment that will give the Dodgers clubhouse something to talk about for a few weeks. 

Also, we're guessing it will give David Vassegh something else to talk about on the air. Unless, of course, he's ready to challenge A.J. Ellis. Or better yet, a Dodgers colleague. 

There is now a movement among the #Dodgers to get a race between @alannarizzo and @THEREAL_DV

— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) April 25, 2015

Make it happen!

BLS H/N: Bleacher Report 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 10:50 pm
(Getty Images)

When Ricky Romero was named to the All-Star game in 2011 it appeared it was just the start of a long and prosperous career with the Toronto Blue Jays. Then he suddenly lost the ability to pitch effectively at the major league level and now his career in Toronto is over.

The Blue Jays released Romero on Saturday, less than four years after he received that All-Star nod. He was in the final year of a five-year, $30.1 million extension he signed back in 2010 and general manager Alex Anthopoulos decided that since he wasn't likely to contribute this season it was best to let him go.

From the Associated Press:

"We made the determination we just didn't think by the end of the year he was going to be able to factor for us up here," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "We felt it was best just to give him the opportunity to get a head start somewhere else. It was the right thing for him."

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Romero's mound meltdown really started in 2012, when he he issued a league-high 105 walks in 181 innings and his ERA jumped from 2.92 in his All-Star year to 5.77. He last pitched for Toronto in 2013, giving up nine runs and walking eight in 7 1/3 innings and began 2014 in Triple-A, pitching there briefly before suffering a knee injury and undergoing season-ending surgery.

While Romero is still rehabbing, Sportsnet's Barry Davis indicates that the 30-year-old left-hander will seek an opportunity to prove himself elsewhere when he returns to full health:

AA says Romero was grateful for his time with #bluejays. He still plans to pitch again and hopes to catch on with another organization.

— Barry Davis (@SNBarryDavis) April 25, 2015

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There are certainly some parallels in Romero's story to the precipitous decline of fellow lefty Dontrelle Willis. Like Willis, Romero got off to a great start in the big leagues. After finding success though, a combination of injuries and control issues made it impossible to regain those heights. At his peak the strong-willed Romero had a reputation as a bulldog on the mound. He knows that getting back to the majors won't be easy, but he isn't ready to give up yet  it's just not in his nature.

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Author: Israel Fehr
Posted: April 25, 2015, 9:30 pm

The phrase "never say never" has never been more appropriate.

A little more than two years after leaving the Texas Rangers in free agency, troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton is reportedly headed back to Texas via a stunning trade, which follows his much publicized relapse and falling out with the Los Angeles Angels.  It will reunite Hamilton with a team with which he shared many ups and downs.

The deal has been agreed to, according to multiple reports and could become official in a matter of hours or days. According to Evan P. Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers will take on less than $7 million of the $93 million remaining on Hamilton's contract. 

If finalized, it's expected Hamilton will join the Rangers once he completes his rehab from February shoulder surgery. Assuming he does take the field again at Globe Life Park, in many ways his career will have come full circle. Perhaps it wouldn't represent the smoothest or most well-rounded circle. It has bumps, it has divits, and maybe even some empty spaces. But it's a circle nonetheless. 

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And it's with that journey in mind that we now look back at the highs and lows, the good times and bad times, the love and support, and ultimately the falling out that make up this most unique relationship between Hamilton, the Rangers and their fans. 

Player of the month in April and May of 2008
After being traded over from the Cincinnati Reds following his rookie season, Hamilton's time with the Rangers couldn't have started any better. In April, he hit .333 with six home runs and 32 RBIs. He stayed hot in May, hitting .322 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs, which laid the foundation for the first of five All-Star selections, all of which came with Texas, and a true breakout season. By the end, Hamilton was a 304/.371/.530 hitter with 32 home runs and a league-leading 130 RBIs, which pretty much made him the man in Arlington, Texas.

(USA TODAY Sports)

Wins American League MVP in 2010
After an injury-riddled 2009 season, Hamilton returned to an elite level of production in 2010 with a 359/.411/.633 battling. His absurd 1.044 OPS far and away led the league, and he was the driving force behind Ron Washington's first World Series team.

Hamilton's season was highlighted by a game in Boston in which he helped Texas rally from an early 8-2 deficit to win by collecting four hits, including a home run, scoring four runs and making three superb catches in the outfield. Later injuries would rob him of the all-around athleticism he displayed that night, but for a time Hamilton could do a bit of everything very well. 

The death of Shannon Stone
A moment of kindness turned tragic on July 8, 2011, when Rangers fan Shannon Stone fell to his death at Globe Life Park after Hamilton attempted to toss a souvenir to the 39-year-old father. The accident understandably shook Hamilton on several levels and tested his resilience, but at that point he still had the support of the fans, who helped him heal and helped him move forward. 

10th-Inning Home Run in Game 6 of 2011 World Series
Had the Texas Rangers held on to win the 2011 World Series, Hamilton's profile in Texas may have reached legendary status. As it is, Hamilton’s dramatic go-ahead home run in the 10th inning of Game 6 was one of the franchise's biggest moments, and was especially impressive considered he was playing through a painful groin injury that to that point had limited his effectiveness.

That one swing nearly changed the course of franchise history, and along with it may have changed Hamilton's outlook with Rangers fans. If only they'd held on.

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Hamilton booed in final Rangers' home game
By the end of the 2012 season,  Hamilton's relationship with Rangers fans had gone south despite the fact he'd remained productive. There were many contributing factors, including Hamilton's impending free agency, and the season culminated with Hamilton being booed relentlessly. The hard feelings reached a crescendo in their final home game, which led to this reaction from Hamilton. 

On that day, Hamilton paraphrased Matthew 10:14: "If they don't receive you in a town, shake the dust off your feet and move to the next."

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 24, 2015

A few weeks later, he signed with the Angels. 

(USA TODAY Sports)

Hamilton says Rangers don't have real fans
The tension boiled over to the following season when Hamilton returned to Texas wearing an Angels uniform. Rangers fans were not happy when Hamilton made it clear he didn't feel like Dallas-Ft. Worth was a true baseball area, and stated he'd stand by those comments until proven different. The fallout involved Hamilton's family being heckled, which resulted in security being forced to diffuse the situation, and his reception didn't improve in any of his following trips.

That sendoff and the fallout beg the question now about how Hamilton might be received if and when he returns to Texas, and whether or not it's the best place for him to resume his career.

From a business and professional standpoint, leaving the Angels should definitely benefit him. They wanted nothing to do with him following his relapse and he simply wasn't going to fit in there again. There's also obviously comfort between Hamilton and Rangers officials and players, which means he should get the necessary support from within. But will he be truly accepted by the fans? That's the question.

If not, how will Hamilton handle that added adversity? If he is accepted, will it last, and will Hamilton be able to mend fences completely?  

There are several interesting angles in play, and we'll be monitoring all of them as this scenario plays out. 

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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

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 8:34 pm

If the Gold Glove at third base in the National League is Nolan Arenado's to lose, all the other candidates might as well change positions or find a new goal for the year. Arenado has done nothing but add highlight reel plays to his already impressive resume, and the work he's currently doing could easily cement him as the man to beat for years to come.

For example, take Friday night's defensive exhibition in Colorado's 6-4 win against the San Francisco Giants. At two key points in the game, Arenado stepped up to make exceptional defensive plays. The first saved Colorado at least one run, while getting them two outs. The second killed a rally before it could even get started, which helped Colorado hold on.

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Arenado's big defensive night started in the fourth inning. With runners at first and second, no outs and the game still tied, Casey McGehee hit a sharp one-hopper down the third-base line that seemed ticketed for the left-field corner. Arenado dived to his right, full extension, to flag the ball down, which alone was very impressive.

He quickly got to his feet and without hesitation ran three steps to third for the first out. That, also, was quite impressive.

Amazingly, he still had time to throw across the diamond to double up McGehee. In one fluid motion, he tagged third with his foot, and then fired across with a jump throw to nab McGehee by less than a step.

Simply amazing athleticism coupled with razor sharp awareness.

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But that was only one of his gems. In the seventh, Arenado was in on the grass for Gregor Blanco while the rest of Colorado's defense was shifted to the right side. Blanco hit a soft chopper where the shortstop usually is, but Arenado ranged to his left, and with a scoop, spin and throw, got Blanco at first. 

It's a play not many third baseman can make at all. Arenado made it look effortless, proving once again that he's the new measuring stick defensively at the hot corner.  

Along with Troy Tulowitzki and D.J. LeMahieu, who are also Gold Glove winners, it's no wonder people are calling Colorado's infield Coors Shield. The Leather Daddies has been coined in their honor as well, so Rockies fans are obviously having fun with their exceptional infield defense. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 7:04 pm
(Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics hoped a few days off would be enough for Ben Zobrist to recover from a knee injury he sustained last Sunday. Turns out he'll need a few weeks and surgery to get right.

Zobrist was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with what the team is calling torn cartilage in his left knee and is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks following surgery. He initially hurt his knee sliding into second base last Sunday and didn't start for four games before returning to the lineup Friday night. Unfortunately for the A's the pain persisted and the decision was made to send him to the operating room, though Zobrist is aiming to be back healthy in just over a month:

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#Athletics Ben Zobrist on meniscus surgery: "hoping I'll be back June 1 and will have four months to help this team the way I can."

— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 25, 2015

Best known for his ability to play all over the field, Zobrist has been used at second base and in both corner outfield positions in his first season with Oakland and is hitting .240/.304/.400 with a home run and eight RBIs through 14 games.

With third baseman Brett Lawrie also banged up for Oakland, infielder Max Muncy was called-up from Triple-A to replace Zobrist on the active roster. Muncy is set to make his major league debut at third base against the Astros on Saturday.

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Israel Fehr is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at israelfehr@yahoo.ca or follow him on Twitter. Follow @israelfehr

Author: Israel Fehr
Posted: April 25, 2015, 6:45 pm

Major League Baseball worked overtime this weekend to hand down discipline following the wild brawl involving the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox on Thursday. 

In a press release issued Saturday morning, the league announced six players have been suspended for their role in the brawl. Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura, who has been involved in multiple incidents already this season, got hit the hardest. He received a seven-game suspension for his role in escalating tensions after getting into a heated exchange with Chicago's Adam Eaton.

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Edinson Volquez of the Royals, along with White Sox pitchers Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija, each received five games. That essentially amounts to having one start pushed back. All three were right in the middle of the brawl. At one point, Samardzija clearly targeted Lorenzo Cain, which is when the brawl turned real ugly. It would be easy to argue Samardzija's role was the most volatile. 

It's reported that Sale attempted to get into the Royals clubhouse after his ejection, while the game was still on-going. Sale refused to confirm or deny those reports on Friday. 

In addition to those punishments, Lorenzo Cain and Kelvin Herrera of the Royals each received two games, which may actually be the most costly suspension for Kansas City considering their roles. Herrera is currently appealing a five-game suspension for throwing at Oakland's Brett Lawrie last weekend. 

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All of the suspended players also received an undisclosed fine from the league. White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers was also fined an undisclosed amount.

Adam Eaton, for what it's worth, did not receive any punishment. It appeared he may have jawed at Ventura first on Thursday after taking exception to a quick pitch, but the league didn't feel his role was significant enough.  

On a related note, the White Sox also announced that relief pitcher Matt Albers is headed to the disabled list with a finger injury suffered during the brawl. In that regard, the brawl is going to prove more costly for Chicago in terms of games lost to the incident. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 5:04 pm

Before the on field hostilities kicked in between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, it's reported the Orioles were already displeased by the ballpark's new artificial turf, which early in the season has played very soft and thick. That's led to several unusual hops and baseballs slowing down much quicker than on normal grass or typical turf surface. 

In fact, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles may have been one step out the door, at one point even considering boycotting or flat out forfeiting Tuesday's game after infielder Jimmy Paredes was shaken up after taking a bad hop ground ball to the face.

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Paredes was fine, but there were concerns about another bad hop, or worse yet, the turf potentially giving way leading to a season-changing knee or ankle injury.

Not an excuse for sweep, but #Orioles left #Toronto thinking new Rogers Centre turf is major problem. Too spongy, slow & lots of untrue hops

— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 24, 2015

In fact, there was consideration by #Orioles of not playing Tues night, especially after Paredes was hurt on bad hop. O's have contacted MLB

— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 24, 2015

Over the offseason, the Blue Jays installed their new AstroTurf 3D Xtreme field, which is supposed to be a placeholder until they're able to get natural grass. The club is hopeful that will happen by 2018.

In the 26 years since the stadium opened, this is the fifth different playing surface they've used. As we noted last week, the new turf had already drawn attention of Major League Baseball. At this point, there's no indication the Orioles' concerns have created a sense of urgency for the league, but if there was ever a time to reevaluate the surface, now might be it with the Blue Jays out of town until May 4. 

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By the way, had the Orioles gone through with the forfeit, it would have been the first on record since the Dodgers were forced to forfeit a game at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 10, 1995. The ruling came after Dodgers fans continued throwing giveaway baseball on the field after disputing a call. 

We're guessing the Orioles would never truly go through with their forfeit or boycott, but it's interesting to hear those words thrown around. It will also be interesting to see how other teams feel about the turf, assuming there are no changes forthcoming. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 4:07 pm

The Houston Astros and Oakland A's cornered the market on crazy on Friday night, so it would have been appropriate for Josh Reddick to dash home in the 10th inning with the game-winning run, which also would have doubled as a walk-off Little League home run. 

The thing is, this game was so crazy, a crazy A's victory wasn't good enough. It needed to go another inning, where the first-place Astros — crazy, isn't it? — could prove their resilience before holding off another wild A's rally. 

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Digest that.

Now we'll continue.

Prior to the play in question. Houston had just taken a 2-0 lead in the 10th inning. Reddick stepped up with Oakland down to its final out and the tying runs on base. He proceeded to lace a double to left-center field that sliced away from Colby Rasmus. Sam Fuld scored easily from second. For Stephen Vogt, the tying run, it was a lot closer as he motored around from first base. The relay throw came home and had Vogt beat, but it skipped away from catcher Hank Conger.

Reddick, eyeing a big finish, then charged home. Unfortunately for him, closer Luke Gregorson did his job backing up the plate. Reddick ended up being out by a good 10 feet, but man, the shot of the ball bouncing away and Reddick with his head down running hard was thrilling. 

(Getty Images)
Was it smart? Maybe not. They would have had a man on third with two outs and Eric Sogard at the plate. Who knows though, the percentages may been in his favor. Maybe there's a better chance the ball bounces away from Gregorson or his throw his his wild, than the chance of Sogart getting a hit. 

As it turns out, Sogard did not get the hit. In the 11th, Houston would break loose for three runs off Eric O'Flaherty. Three being the key, since Oakland once again scored two before leaving the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Chad Qualls earned the save, retiring Brett Lawrie to end it. 

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It's exhausting to consider everything that was jammed into those two innings. It's also amazing considering the superb starting pitching that led up to extra innings. Astros' starter Dallas Keuchel was every bit as good on Friday as any starter we've seen this season, holding the A's scoreless through nine innings on two hits and two walks. He actually had a chance for the victory, but Reddick spoiled that with his big hit.

On the other side, Scott Kazmir dialed up seven scoreless innings before giving way to Evan Scribner and Tyler Clippard in regulation.  

There was so much to like about this game. It was edge-of-your-seat wild, it was well played for the most part and definitely well pitched. It had a little bit of everything, and it ends with the Astros extending a division lead. It's April, sure, but it's still fantastic. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 7:21 am

The previously red hot Atlanta Braves were cooled off in New York to begin the week. Now it would appear they're frozen after dropping their weekend series opener 1-0 to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The fact the game ended 1-0 is painful enough for Atlanta. That they only mustered two hits against Aaron Harang, who was in their rotation last season, adds some salt to the wound. But the kicker has to be their defense, which committed four errors on the evening. The final one led directly to the game's only run, as Freddie Freeman was unable to handle Ben Revere's ninth-inning chopper.

Freeman and the entire infield were drawn in on the play to cut down the winning run at home. It might have worked, but the ball squirted away before Freeman could corral it, which allowed Freddy Galvis to sprint home. It goes down as a game-winning RBI for Revere, and a walk-off error for Freeman, who committed only five errors all last season.

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Galvis had three hits in the game, including his single leading off the ninth. He advanced to second on a sacrifice and third on a passed ball by A.J. Pierzynski, so that's even more sloppy defense from Atlanta. 

Unfortunately, it goes as a no-decision for Harang, who was lights out in his eight innings of work. He struck out six and lowered his ERA to 1.37. Overall, the Phillies will take any win they can get after dropping 9 of their previous 11.   

KING FELIX OVERWHELMS THE TWINS
Felix Hernandez against the Minnesota Twins offense is not a fair fight, but it's a challenge the Twins were forced to take on Friday night.

Hint: They didn't win. 

The King of Seattle's rotation lived up to his moniker with an efficiently dominant outing, as he shut out the Twins on just five hits. In fact, the Twins had zero baserunners until two outs in the fifth. Hernandez, perhaps humoring them or perhaps toying with them, allowing a pair of runners in the sixth, but escaped without allowing a run. He ended up needing just 102 pitches to complete his first shutout since Aug. 27 2012.

(Getty Images)
Amazingly, it really has been that long. On Friday, Hernandez struck out nine. On the other side, Phil Hughes matched him with nine strikeouts and went eight full inning for Minnesota. Unfortunately, he allowed solo home runs to Nelson Cruz and Logan Morrison, and those held up in Seattle's 2-0 win. 

SHANE GREENE CRASHES BACK TO EARTH
After three trips through the starting rotation, right-hander Shane Greene had been far and away Detroit's most effective starter. That wasn't exactly expected when they acquired him from the New York Yankees, but his one run allowed through 23 innings entering play on Friday was surely welcomed.

Of course, with that great start came some trepidation considering he'd only struck out 11 batters during that time. When the ball is in play frequently, the odds for clunker obviously increase, and that's the exact scenario that played out in Friday's 13-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

In four innings, Greene was tagged for eight runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out one, but mostly watched on helplessly as the Indians peppered the gaps with four doubles and racked up five timely singles. The pummeling took his sparkling ERA from 0.39 to 3.00, which is a huge jump, but still a very good ERA considering Friday's damage. 

Focusing on the Indians, Brandon Moss hit two home runs after Greene left the game and drove in seven runs. Danny Salazar struck out 11 to pick up the win. 

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ROCKIES ARE GOING STREAKING
After sweeping the Giants in San Francisco and then losing five in a row to Los Angeles and San Diego, the Rockies are back on a three-game winning streak after knocking off the Giants 6-4 in Denver.

The Rockies continued riding the sizzling hot bats of D.J. Lemahieu (three hits, two RBIs), Corey Dickerson (two hits, RBI) and Nolan Arenado (two hits). With Troy Tulowitzki getting a routine day off, Carlos Gonzalez stepped up as well with two hits, raising his average to .197.

They also received more stellar defense from Arenado, who started a key double play with a diving stop. Young starter Eddie Butler was inefficient but competent for his fourth straight outing this season, allowing four runs over six innings. However, if you know anything about Rockies pitching historically, inefficient but competent basically translates to stellar.

Here, it was good enough to win, which moved Colorado past San Diego into second place.

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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

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 5:54 am

If the New York Mets are to make history this season, it will have to wait, because the New York Yankees weren't having any part of it on Friday night.

In the first-ever Subway Series battle that featured both teams entering play in first place, the Yankees dismissed the Mets bid for a franchise record 12th straight win with a 6-1 victory.

The victory was the Yankees seventh in their last eight games, which includes a sweep in Tampa Bay and taking three of four in Detroit. That officially makes them the hottest team in the American League. It also snapped the Mets 11-game winning streak, which matched the franchise record set in 1990.

The Yankees rode the hot bat of Mark Teixeira, who launched a pair of two-run home runs off Mets' starter Jacob deGrom, and the right arm of Michael Pineda, who improved to 3-0 with 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball.  

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For all intents and purposes, Pineda had all the offense he needed when Teixeira connected for his first-inning home run. That gave New York a two-run advantage four batters into the game. The Yankees added four more in the third. Jacoby Ellsbury started the inning with a homer. Three batters later, Teixeira added his second big fly, this time scoring Alex Rodriguez. From there, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out and added one more on a Stephen Drew sacrifice fly. 

(AP)
Pineda, who allowed just one baserunner in the first four innings, continued mowing down a previously relentless and resilient Mets' offense. Obviously, Masahiro Tanaka's bounce back in his last two starts is the most encouraging sign from the Yankees rotation. If Pineda can build on this strong start and finally prove to be healthy, suddenly those rotation questions begin to clear up a bit. Still too many ifs right now, but more encouraging ifs at least.  

Chasen Shreve recorded the final four outs to lock up the win. Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Brian McCann all had two hits in a strong showing atop the lineup. 

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For the Mets, it was just one of those nights at the office that happens throughout the season. Coming in, Jacob deGrom had only allowed multiple home runs in one other major-league start. That was his second career start last season against the Los Angeles Angels. Overall, he's not a home run pitcher, having allowed just seven in 140 innings as a rookie. But he was victimized here by the short porch in right field and an offense that's clicking after a slow start to the season. 

Offensively, they just need to tip their cap to Pineda, who was locked in from pitch one, and look ahead to CC Sabathia on Saturday afternoon. They'll counter with Matt Harvey, so they have to feel good about avoiding a losing streak fresh off this significant winning streak. 

Round two, by the way, begins at 4;05 ET and it should be a fun one. 

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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

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 4:13 am

Addison Russell's first week with the Chicago Cubs hasn't been nearly as buzzy as that of fellow top prospect Kris Bryant. But don't worry, baseball fans, he's still showing us flashes of the brilliance we expect to witness for the next 15 years

That includes  this remarkable webgem from Friday night, which robbed Reds speedster Billy Hamilton of a sure hit.

With Hamilton batting in the fifth inning, Russell, who's a shortstop by trade and a second baseman by necessity in Chicago, was playing pretty much straight up. That seemed to put him out of position when Hamilton laced a ground ball toward the middle that was ticketed for center field.

Honestly, with Hamilton's crazy speed, the placement of the ball looked like a sure hit regardless of whether it actually squirted through the infield, but Russell had other ideas. 

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Yeah, @Addison_Russell. You’re going to do just fine here in The Show: http://t.co/QIv4H5dAIp pic.twitter.com/5AfI5FXLMH

— MLB (@MLB) April 25, 2015

From his position, Russell got a great read and better jump on the ball. With a few quick steps to his right, he actually manged to flag it down with a diving backhand. That was step one, which in and of itself was pretty good. From there, he quickly sprang to his feet and not only attempted the long throw, but got enough on it to nip Hamilton at first base. 

That's a special play that you simply won't see happen to Hamilton very often. It's also an important play, as keeping Hamilton off the bases is vital to controlling Cincinnati's offense.

Consider this: In his first two at-bats on Friday, Hamilton reached, stolen three bases and scored twice. After being retired here, the Reds ended up going quietly in the fifth, and wouldn't score again all evening as the Cubs walked away with a 7-3 win in 11. 

If we're allowed to go here, the play had some Ozzie Smith to it, as Russell dove, snatched the baseball and bounced back to his feet in one seemingly fluid motion. Only the Wizard of Oz could pull that off with any consistency, though obviously Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons can make such magic as well. 

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The Cubs anticipate getting many great years from Russell defensively, most likely from his more comfortable position at shortstop, where he might join the elite group of defenders that have come before him. In the mean time, they're just happy to have him around and are happy knowing that the future had indeed arrived in Chicago. 

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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

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 25, 2015, 2:00 am

(Getty Images)Noah Syndergaard, the New York Mets' top pitching prospect, got an earful from David Wright after he was spotted eating lunch in the clubhouse during a spring training game. And Friday, Syndergaard found himself getting an earful again — this time from the Mets after he got into a spat with a Twitter troll.

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Syndergaard was scratched from his scheduled start Friday with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s because he was sick. And, of course, some rabble-rouser on Twitter called out Syndergaard. This sort of thing happens quite often — an online troll is looking for attention from an athlete or celebrity and starts mouthing off.

Most of the time, these people get ignored, but Syndergaard felt compelled to defend himself. The conversation, captured by Newsday's Marc Carig, went as seen below. The Twitter troll, in a sure sign of shame, has since deleted his account.

Obvious troll comes after athlete. Athlete fires back, in this case Syndergaard. Question: Is it a big deal? pic.twitter.com/PwnIEigMXk

— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) April 24, 2015

For context on the exchange between this fan and Syndergaard: pic.twitter.com/HZrJTkXOPF

— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) April 24, 2015

The Mets, as you might recall, clashed with Matt Harvey over his Twitter account at one point. He deleted it, then brought it back. Keeping with that pattern, the Mets weren't too happy about Syndergaard responding to this troll. 

Noah Syndergaard was spoken to by the organization for engaging a Twitter troll. #mets

— Kristie Ackert (@Ackert_NYDN) April 24, 2015

Syndergaard's response on Twitter when people started to pile on him was, "I'm allowed to stick up for myself, aren't I?" Yes, he is. But when it comes to people in the public eye, sometimes it's not worth it. Celebs have more to lose than they can gain by getting snarky with a troll.

And you can bet that's what the Mets told Syndergaard.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: April 24, 2015, 11:14 pm

A year ago at this time, when baseball fans heard the name Yordano Ventura, we thought of the fire-balling Kansas City Royals pitcher, one of the top young arms in the game, the guy they'd already started calling "Ace Ventura" in his rookie season.

Today, when baseball fans hear Ventura's name, we think of his fiery personality, one of the main troublemakers of the young 2015 MLB season, the guy they've already started calling a "thug," a "hothead" and various other not-so-endearing names.

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In the last three weeks, Ventura, 23, has joined Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig in the ranks of baseball's villains, all of them a few steps down from baseball's villainlord, Alex Rodriguez. It's not always fair to get cast as a villain. For some players, it's the role they've been given. Others, it's the role they've assumed. In Ventura's case, it's more of the latter.

In each of his last three starts, he's been in the middle of an incident with an opposing player that caused the benches to clear. On April 12, he jawed with Mike Trout at home plate, causing Angels and Royals players to flood the field. Last Saturday, hit plunked Brett Lawrie with a pitch as part of the escalating feud between his team and the A's. And Thursday night, Ventura was front and center in the huge brawl between the Royals and White Sox.

He yelled "f*** you" at Adam Eaton after Eaton hit a comebacker, which immediately caused umpires to step in and both teams to spill onto the field. That F-word, as you can imagine, was not Fudgsicle.

A number of Royals fans have spent the last week explaining away their team's actions in their clash with the A's. The most loyal of them will make the same excuses for Ventura's three outbursts: Trout said something to him, Brett Lawrie started it, Eaton mouthed-off. 

Certainly Ventura is not the only guilty person in each incident, but he is the common denominator. He's also the one who walked straight at Lawrie after hitting him with a pitch. He stared down Trout after Trout singled off him. And consider this: How many fights has Mike Trout been in? How many times has Adam Eaton incited the benches to clear? 

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The Royals are supporting Ventura, all the way up to the front office, where GM Dayton Moore told the Kansas City Star's Andy McCullough on Friday that he wouldn't condemn what Ventura did against the White Sox. But Moore readily admits that Ventura needs to learn to control his temper. 

“If you’re going to have long-term success, it’s crucial that you manage your emotions well, in a way that’s constructive for the team,” Moore said. “So you have to be able to do that. There’s no doubt, it’s something that you have to manage.”

And so we've reached the point where the story shifts for Yordano Ventura. Last year, he was the hardest-throwing starting pitcher in the big leagues, the guy who went out and played rec-league softball after his team lost the World Series. You root for guys like that.

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This year, Ventura's a villain to the baseball-watching public. There's no denying it right now. It doesn't always have to be that way. But as Puig and Harper and A-Rod have showed us, it can be difficult, no matter how talented you are, to convince people otherwise. Unless, of course, you're Pedro Martinez.

People have been comparing Ventura to Martinez long before he was making the benches clear. They're both hard-throwing Dominicans whose electric arms made up for their small (by pitcher's standards) stature. Pedro was a villain too, a polarizing pitcher who caused problems at various points in his career.

Ultimately, Pedro ended up OK. He's a soon-to-be Hall of Famer and an in-demand broadcaster now. He had the right mixture of fierce competitor and charming showman. That's something Ventura still needs to learn. Right now, nobody's going to accuse Ventura of being charming.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: April 24, 2015, 8:10 pm

Sample size can be a dangerous thing. Most analysts will caution against reading into early season stats due to sample size. Any player can perform well, or poorly, over 50 at-bats. Any pitcher can look fantastic, or awful, over three starts.

That makes it incredibly difficult to make a judgment during the season's first month. Is Jake Odorizzi really an ace now? Has Mike Moustakas finally put it all together? We can look at the numbers, but we won't truly know until we have more data.

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There are some stats that stabilize early, however. Baseball Prospectus' Russell Carleton has done research on the subject, and concluded that strikeout rates for pitchers tend to stabilize around 70 batters faced.

Many pitchers have already reached that threshold, and those who are performing way above their established strikeout rates could be in line for a breakout.

Name2014 K%2015 K%Dif
Brandon McCarthy 20.900% 34.700% 13.80%
Trevor Bauer 21.600% 34.700% 13.10%
Clay Buchholz 17.900% 28.700% 10.80%
Miguel Gonzalez 16.600% 27.400% 10.80%
Chris Archer 21.100% 30.900% 9.80%
Joe Kelly 15.900% 25.00% 9.10%
Scott Kazmir 21.100% 29.900% 8.80%
James Shields 19.200% 27.900% 8.70%
Lance Lynn 20.900% 28.600% 7.70%
Francisco Liriano 25.300% 32.900% 7.60%
Andrew Cashner 18.400% 25.300% 6.90%
Michael Pineda 20.300% 26.700% 6.40%
Jimmy Nelson 18.600% 25.00% 6.40%
Travis Wood 18.700% 25.00% 6.30%
Kyle Hendricks 14.600% 20.600% 6.00%
Anibal Sanchez 20.0% 25.800% 5.80%
Bartolo Colon 17.900% 23.00% 5.10%

The above chart shows the 17 pitchers who have posted strikeout rates that are 5 percent better than their rates last season.

It's worth noting that strikeouts aren't everything. Despite leading the list, Brandon McCarthy has an unspectacular 4.50 ERA. That's mainly due to the fact that 35 percent of his fly balls have left the park. That should regress, and McCarthy's numbers should be in for a solid correction.

Brandon McCarthy (Getty Images)

Still, it's possible to strike out a fair amount of hitters and still be an iffy pitcher. A.J. Burnett posted a nice strikeout rate last season, but his walks prevented him from being an ace again. At the same time, there's a reason guys who strike out a ton of batters routinely contend for the Cy Young Award. Strikeouts are a sign that a pitcher is dominating.

So, what about the pitchers in our chart? Should we consider all of them breakout candidates? Yes and no. A few of the pitchers who look like solid cases are McCarthy, Bauer, Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Jimmy Nelson.

Be warned: These numbers can still change quite a bit if a guy goes out and throws seven innings with no strikeouts. There's also a chance these pitchers were on for one game, and that's why their strikeout figures are elevated so early in the year.

In order to determine which players are more likely to keep this up, we can try and figure out if they've altered their approach or repertoire on the mound. Finding those things can give us some evidence to back up these early surges. 

The best resource for this is BrooksBaseball.net. The site uses PITCHf/x data to categorize and sort pitches. You can find basically anything on the site, from situation stats to whiff rate for each pitch. It's a tremendous asset.

It should come as no surprise that the top three players in the chart, McCarthy, Trevor Bauer and Clay Buchholz have introduced altered repertoires thus far. McCarthy has opted to use his four-seam fastball quite a bit more this season. After seeing a solid spike in velocity with the pitch last year, McCarthy has been able to retain that thus far. 

Clay Buchholz (Getty Images)

Buchholz has gone the other way, relying on his sinker more than his four-seamer. That's not the reason for his elevated strikeout rate, but it helps explain why he's been able to post a 55.6 percent ground ball rate this year. 

In Bauer's case, he toned down his repertoire. Bauer is somewhat notorious for throwing seven or eight different pitches. This year, he seems to be more focused on five. For Bauer, the development of his slider has been huge. He's not only using the pitch a lot more, but he's getting whiffs 26.92 percent of the time with it. 

Those are just a few ways to evaluate these pitchers early in the season. You're looking for things like altered repertoires, increases in velocity or new-found dominance with a specific pitch. 

So, why don't you give it a shot? Head on over to BrooksBaseball.net and see whether Chris Archer is showing new skills, or if Joe Kelly has really figured it out.

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It might be early, but we've already reached a point where some numbers are starting to become significant. Strikeout rate not only stabilizes quickly, but it's also one of the best ways to determine how dominant a pitcher has performed. 

McCarthy's traditional numbers may not reflect it just yet, but his strikeout rate tells us he may have taken things to another level this season. It's not too early to get on the bandwagon.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 24, 2015, 5:50 pm

It appears the 70 percent of Los Angeles natives who don’t get to watch their Dodgers on television will have to continue to wait. According to the Orange County Register, a proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is collapsing.

Time Warner owns and distributes SportsNetLA, which carries Dodgers games in the local market. But the other major television providers don’t carry the station, leaving Dodgers fans without access to the games. More from the Register:

“TWC and the Dodgers agreed to a 25-year, $8.35 billion deal in January 2013 and launched SNLA in February of last year – with Time Warner as the only major distributor. Time Warner is the largest provider in the L.A. market, but represents only about 30 percent of cable and satellite customers. All the other major players, including No. 2 provider DirecTV, balked at the monthly asking price for the new regional sports network – reported to be between $3.84 and $5 per subscriber.”

A merger with Comcast could have gotten the station into more homes in the LA area. Online streaming deals are not much better at the moment, but improvements could be on the way. Instead, Dodgers fans are again missing out on seeing their first-place team.

It has to be a real drag because the Dodgers are one of the league’s most-fun-to-watch teams. What are fans missing out on?

How about Yasiel Puig’s arm:

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And Adrian Gonzalez’s moon shots:

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And Howie Kendrick’s defense:

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Combine all that with the timeless voice of Vin Scully, and you have a team that deserves to be seen by as many fans as possible.

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Ian Denomme is an editor and writer for Yahoo Sports. Email him at denomme@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter.

Author: Ian Denomme
Posted: April 24, 2015, 2:38 pm

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Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

The pitching may have been the story throughout most of the game, but Tampa Bay Rays catcher Rene Rivera turned in the biggest play of the night against the Boston Red Sox.

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With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Rivera knocked a single to left field on a 79 mph curve from Anthony Varvaro, giving Tampa Bay the walk-off victory. 

Up until that point, the game had been dominated by pitching. Boston starter Clay Buchholz turned in the more impressive start, striking out 10 batters over six innings. He allowed one run on just two hits during the outing.

He was matched by Rays pitcher Jake Odorozzi throughout the contest. Odorizzi allowed one run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out three. With the performance, Odorizzi lowered his ERA to an exceptional 1.65 on the season.

The Rays bullpen was phenomenal once Odorizzi left the game. Over 2 1/3 innings, Tampa's relievers did not allow a hit against Boston.

The Red Sox pen didn't have the same luck. Varvaro struggled almost immediately in the ninth. After a leadoff single, he managed to pick up the first out of the inning with a fly out. Another single put men on first and second, and that's when Rivera struck.

With the win, the Rays improve to 8-8 on the season.

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TORONTO NEARLY BLOWS HUGE LEAD IN THE NINTH

The Toronto Blue Jays nearly wasted an excellent start from pitcher Drew Hutchison on Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Hutchison was on his game throughout most of the contest, turning in five perfect innings to open the game. A Manny Machado home run may have broken up Hutchison's shot at history, but he remained strong after the play. Hutchison wound up allowing two runs on just four hits over eight innings. He struck out seven and did not issue any walks.

That performance was almost all for naught, as Liam Hendriks and Miguel Castro had a tough time closing things out in the ninth. With the Blue Jays up by five, it seemed like things would be fine. Those two made it interesting.

Hendriks opened the inning by giving up a leadoff single. He was able to pick up a strikeout against the next batter, but allowed two more singles before being pulled from the contest.

Castro then entered with two men on and allowed a home run to Manny Machado. It was Machado's second big fly of the night. 

With the Orioles now down by one run, Castro was able to settle in, picking up a fly out and strikeout to finish the game. 

With the 7-6, Toronto improved to 9-7 on the year.

 

ANGELS ONLY NOTCH ONE HIT, WIN ANYWAY

The Los Angeles Angels only had one hit Thursday against the Oakland Athletics, but that was all they needed. 

Kole Calhoun's two-run homer in the third inning wound up being the difference maker for Los Angeles. After Drew Butera reached on an error, Calhoun belted a 93 mph fastball from Jesse Chavez out to right for the two-run blast. 

Chavez had some issues with walks during the contest, but that was the only real mistake he made all game. 

Chavez was matched by Nick Tropeano, who was making his first start of the season. Tropeano was fantastic, tossing six scoreless innings against Oakland. He struck out five during the contest. 

The game marked the third time in team history the Angels have won a game after picking up just one hit.

Zobrist flies out in foul territory, & for just the third time in franchise history, the #Angels win with only one hit. 2-0. Record now 7-9.

— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) April 24, 2015

Los Angeles will begin a series with the Texas Rangers on Friday.

WACHA COMES OUT VICTORIOUS OVER SCHERZER

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha had a tough task Thursday. He not only needed to shutdown a promising Washington Nationals' offense, but he had to out-duel the team's new ace Max Scherzer.

He was successful in both areas, turning in a spectacular performance. Wacha gave up just one run on five hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked two. 

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Scherzer was nearly as strong, giving up two earned runs over seven innings. Scherzer struck out four batters, but did not put anyone on base via the walk. 

With the win, Wacha is now 3-0 on the season. Over 20 1/3 innings, he's posted a 1.35 ERA. 

Want to see more from Thursday's slate of games? Check out our scoreboard.

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 24, 2015, 6:56 am

(Getty Images)It's been quite the unusual path for Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. The 22-year-old was born in Cuba, but came over to the United States in 2008.

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Unlike many players who were born in Cuba, Fernandez attended high school in the United States, making him eligible for the draft. He was selected by the Marlins in the first round back in 2011.

On the field, Fernandez has already reached a number of accomplishments. Upon reaching the majors as a 20-year-old, Fernandez posted a 2.19 ERA over 172 2/3 innings, winning the Rookie of the Year award. He was well on his way to another fantastic season in 2014 before Tommy John surgery put him on the shelf.

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Because of that, Fernandez's latest accomplishment will come away from the game. He's set to become a U.S. citizen in a special ceremony Friday. Fernandez will serve as the keynote speaker during the event. About 140 other South Florida residents will join Fernandez in becoming U.S. citizens during the ceremony, according to MLB.com. Fernandez is expected to take the Oath of Allegiance with his friends and family present. 

Fernandez is currently rehabbing from his surgery, and is expected to be back with Miami around midseason. 

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 24, 2015, 5:17 am

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The Kansas City Royals can't seem to avoid trouble this season. They were at it again Thursday, this time taking on the Chicago White Sox. 

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Things started in the bottom of the seventh inning. With two outs, White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton hit a comebacker to Yordano Ventura. As Eaton was running to first, Ventura appeared to yell a not so friendly phrase at him.

Eaton appeared to have said something to Ventura after hitting the ground ball.

The replay shows Eaton saying something after contact. I guess we'll have to find out postgame what was the exchange.

— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) April 24, 2015

The first base umpire immediately got in front of Eaton, while the home plate ump came out in front of Ventura.

At that moment, both benches cleared. At first, it seemed like a normal baseball bruhaha. There was a lot of pushing and shoving, but no punches were thrown. 

(Getty Images)

That didn't last. White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija went after Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, causing a scrum on the field. As Samardzija charged at Cain, one Royals player, possibly Edinson Volquez, took a swing at Samardzija.

Samardzija was eventually separated from the fray. He was held back by Geovany Soto, his teammate with both the Cubs and Athletics.

Once the fight was over, the umpires gathered to figure out which players needed to be ejected from the contest. For the White Sox, that wound up being Samardzija and starting pitcher Chris Sale. Sale was still in the game at that point, though had thrown 99 pitches, so it was unclear whether he would have returned for the next inning.

The Royals lost Ventura, Cain and pitcher Edinson Volquez for the rest of the contest. For Ventura, this is the second straight game in which he has been ejected. Ventura was sent to the showers early against Oakland after hitting Brett Lawrie on the elbow with a pitch. Ventura was fined, but not suspended, for his actions.

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Given his recent history, it would be surprising if Ventura escapes this one without missing some time. Samardzija is also probably in line for a suspension. It's unclear whether Sale or Cain will be punished once Major League Baseball is able to review the entire brawl. Also, if Volquez was the player who threw the punch at Samardzija, it's likely he'll miss a start or two.

Following the game, both Eaton and Ventura attempted to downplay the situation.

Eaton: "Sometimes boys will be boys and I think that was a situation where we had some excitement."

— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) April 24, 2015

Ventura expressed similar sentiments, but added that he needs to do a better job keeping his cool on the mound. 

Yordano Ventura was contrite and apologetic. He took responsibility for sparking the brawl. He said he needs to control his emotions better.

— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) April 24, 2015

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer had perhaps the most encouraging quotes of the night. Hosmer said the Royals might be playing with too much emotion at the moment, and stressed that fights are never a great way to handle this type of situation.

Quick transcription of important part of Eric Hosmer's interview after #Royals game. Hopefully the words hold. pic.twitter.com/kTdinsn8uP

— Danny Lawhon (@DannyLawhon) April 24, 2015

This is, obviously, not the first time the Royals have been involved in a brawl this season. They've already developed an ongoing rivalry with the Athletics. The two aren't set to play again until June.

That's not the case with Chicago. These two teams will have to play each other 15 more times this season, including the next three days. Given the comments made by both sides after the game, there's hope cooler heads will prevail this weekend.

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 24, 2015, 2:57 am

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Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is known for his ability to launch moonshots. When Stanton isn't launching balls 500 feet, he's smacking liners all over the field.

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(Getty Images)

Sometimes, Stanton is able to combine the two, leading to some insane displays of power. That's precisely what happened Thursday against the Philadelphia Phillies. 

With one man on, Stanton drilled a 91 mph fastball from Justin De Fratus. For an ordinary hitter, this would have been a low line drive that dropped for extra base hits. For a superhuman like Stanton, the ball just kept going until it left the ballpark. 

This is not the first time Stanton has muscled a line drive over the fence. He hit a similar home run to the opposite field in Marlins Park last June. In both cases, the exit velocity of the ball had to be some ridiculously small figure.

Thanks to Statcast, we actually have some figures on Thursday's shot. The ball left the bat at 118.5 mph, the fastest speed on a home run this season. It traveled 366 feet into a stiff wind, and never rose more than 35 feet off the ground. Think about that for a minute.

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Employees in Citizens Bank Park may want to check that seat where the ball landed, because it may need repairs. Stanton is a lot like Ivan Drago. Whatever he hits, he destroys.

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 24, 2015, 1:14 am

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Some say the best revenge is success. After Thursday's game, that's a sentiment San Francisco Giants outfielder Justin Maxwell can understand. 

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With the Giants down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Maxwell stepped to the plate with two outs. The bases were loaded, giving Maxwell a chance at playing the hero. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Maxwell lined a shot up the middle for what would have been the go-ahead hit.

It was not meant to be. Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick made a fantastic diving catch on the play, robbing Maxwell.

He would get another chance, and, this time, he wouldn't fail. The Giants scratched across a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, sending the game to extras. In the 10th, Maxwell stepped to the plate with men on first and second. 

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On the second pitch of the at-bat, Maxwell delivered. He stayed far away from Kendrick this time, knocking a single down the left field line for the walk-off hit. The Giants won the game 3-2.

Maxwell may have been robbed earlier in the contest, but he came through when it mattered. Revenge is sweet, isn't it, Justin?

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 24, 2015, 12:37 am

(AP Photo)New commissioner Rob Manfred believes Barry Bonds should be "engaged with the game." The commissioner sat down with the Associated Press Sports Editors, telling them he believes prominent players should remain a part of baseball, according to the Sporting News.

“I think that it’s important for former players, quality former players, to be engaged with the game,” Manfred said in a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. “People develop hero worship for great players like Barry. I think, in terms of keeping fans engaged, it’s important to keep those players around.”

Upon leaving the game in 2007, Bonds remained away from the spotlight for quite some time. He's emerged more recently, attending games, serving as a spring training instructor in Giants' camp and creating a Twitter account. There's even been talk about Bonds joining the San Francisco Giants in an expanded role. 

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While Manfred appears to be on board with Bonds being a prominent ambassador for the game, it's unclear whether the fans will embrace him. Bonds still receives support from a fair amount of Giants' fans, but he's universally loathed around the game for being a "liar" and a "cheater." He's no longer a convicted felon, but that's unlikely to change the public's opinion. 

Fans remain upset with Bonds because they believe he's a bad guy and that he cheated in order to break records. They hated him then, and they still hate him now. 

What's weird is that there's a sense among many of the same fans that Pete Rose deserves to be allowed back into the game. In their defense, Manfred seems to agree, at least somewhat, allowing Rose to take part in the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati. Among these fans, there's a sense that Rose has served his time.

(AP Photo)

Bonds has not, apparently. Though Rose broke a clearly defined rule, and knew the consequences, fans are clamoring for his reinstatement. Bonds admitted to unknowingly using "the cream" and "the clear" in leaked grand-jury testimony. All of this happened at a time when Major League Baseball was still trying to set rigid guidelines for steroid use. Bonds never failed a test once they were made mandatory by the league.

None of that matters, of course. It didn't matter when Bonds somehow didn't get a job after hitting .276/.480/.565 in 2007, and it doesn't matter now. Bonds remains a pariah among the vast majority of fans. 

There are many who would prefer Bonds remain far away from the game. They don't want to be reminded of his "tainted" accomplishments. 

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The truth is, having Bonds involved in baseball is good for the game. Regardless of how he compiled his numbers, we're still talking about one of the greatest players of all time. Hearing him talk about his approach at the plate, or the way he studied opposing pitchers would be a treat for both players and fans. We're talking about one of the most technically-sound and patient hitters ever. Surely, players can benefit from that type of teaching.  

Conveniently ignoring Bonds is about to get a lot more difficult. You can still hate him all you like, but you're not the commissioner. Manfred believes Bonds should be around, and his opinion is the only one that matters.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 23, 2015, 11:09 pm

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Bartolo Colon, if you haven't been paying attention, is having an amazing baseball season so far. He's losing his helmet, he's driving in runs at the plate, he's pitching well, and he's becoming a baseball folk hero on the Internet.

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Colon, 41 and rotund, is pretty much must-watch TV, between his contributions to the scorching-hot Mets and his ability to entertain us with his improbable athleticism. He improved to 4-0 on Thursday, the first pitcher in MLB to win four games, as the Mets beat the Braves 6-3. It was the Mets' 11th straight win, making them an MLB-best 13-3. They swept the Braves and finished their homestand 10-0.

Colon gave us the most talked-about moment of the game again. In the sixth inning, Colon had A.J. Pierzynski picked off from first base and rather than whipping the ball to a teammate, Colon ran down Pierzynski and tagged him out. Oh, glorious 1U, you make our day.

(AP)

The pickoff was enough to get Colon trending on Twitter. It should be noted for fairness that Pierzynski is 38 and not incredibly fleet of foot either, so it's not like Colon chased down Jarrod Dyson. 

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Doesn't matter who it is, though, Colon picking off and chasing down a base runner might be his best moment of the year so far. Until, of course, he finally hits that long-awaited first career homer at the plate. 

That will be a national holiday.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: April 23, 2015, 8:52 pm

Pete Rose was one of the Reds World Series winners honored in 2013. (AP)We knew that Pete Rose would likely be a part of the MLB All-Star game this July in Cincinnati. Reds owner Bob Castellini said so in January. But on Thursday, we heard that come directly from the mouth of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

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And, as you can imagine, Pete Rose getting an endorsement from the sitting MLB commissioner is a big deal. Manfred, speaking at a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors, told reporters:

"I've agreed with Mr. Castellini that we're going to have a conversation about what specific kind of participation the Reds are interested in, and we have not had that conversation yet," Manfred said. "You can rest assured that he will about allowed to participate in some of the activities."

MLB is running a Franchise Four vote that will honor four icons of each ball club at the All-Star game. Some people figured that would be a loophole to get Rose involved in the Cincy celebrations without MLB officially "allowing" him in. Sure enough, Rose is the leading vote-getter for the Reds. 

But it doesn't sound like, based on Manfred's comments Thursday, that Rose's participation is contingent on the Franchise Four vote, so that's an encouraging sign for anybody hoping for smoother relations between baseball's all-time hit leader and the commissioner's office.

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Rose has already petitioned Manfred for reinstatement, a prudent move with a new commissioner in office. Manfred said Thursday he's preparing to review documents related to the Rose case:

"We have gathered volumes, I mean literally volumes of documents, related to the original investigation," Manfred said, explaining how they had been brought out of storage. "They're in the process of organizing those, preparing summaries so that I can review those documents."

Being involved in the Cincinnati All-Star game and getting a full reinstatement are two vastly different things, of course. One certainly doesn't fast track the next. Nonetheless, the MLB commissioner giving Rose his stamp of approval — however limited it is — signals that ol' Pete might just have a hope.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: April 23, 2015, 7:45 pm

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A Toronto Blue Jays fan made a regrettable mistake that we see every now and again at MLB games — he reached down onto the field Wednesday night during the Jays' game with the Baltimore Orioles and picked up a live ball.

Manny Machado had hit a double down the third-base line to start the ninth inning and the fan must have thought it was a foul ball. Or, he just thinks anything that comes his way belongs to him. Either way, that's not how these things work, dude.

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We understand wanting to get a souvenir. We've seen fully grown people do worse things in such pursuits. But where things took an especially humorous turn for our Jays fan is when he realized he goofed. (With the help of his fellow fans, mind you).

Our hero gently tossed the ball back on the field, threw up his hands like, "it wasn't me." That didn't work for Shaggy, bro, and it's not working for you. Everybody saw what happened. The Homer Simpson-disappearing-into-the-bushes act ain't gonna fly.

The good news for the hometown team: This didn't affect the game too much. Machado was going to end up on second base anyway. The Jays were ahead 4-2 when Machado doubled and the game finished at the same count.

As for the fan, well, he doesn't have a souvenir but he's probably learned to pay better attention before reaching for a baseball.

BLS H/N: For The Win

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: April 23, 2015, 7:07 pm
(AP)

The Detroit Tigers confirmed the worst for Joe Nathan after the "intense" arm injury he suffered Wednesday during a minor-league rehab appearance. He tore the UCL in his elbow and needs Tommy John surgery, which means Nathan will be out for at least the season.

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Conventional wisdom says this injury could be the end of Nathan's career. He's 40, after all. But Nathan said Thursday that's not his plan. Via Bless You Boys' Catherine Slonksnis, Nathan told the media:

"Hanging my cleats up never crossed my mind until that day that I have to," Nathan said. "My motto in this game has always been throw 'til you blow. Unfortunately, yesterday I did blow. One of those things that I've been proud of my career, I've been proud of the things I've done. It's always been about hard work and getting myself ready, so this will be no different. I will prepare myself to get ready and bust my butt to see whatever's in store for me in the future."

He continued:

"Nothing's come easy and this definitely won't be easy, it's gonna be a long road. I've always enjoyed the work and this will be no different. I will rehab and do everything I am supposed to as if I am coming back to be a major league pitcher. That is my goal, to come back and pitch again.

"But more importantly, the rehab will be good for the rest of my life anyway, it's something I need to do to get strong again, be able to play catch with my kid, play golf, whatever I'm going to do. I am preparing myself to come back and be a major league player."

This will be Nathan's second Tommy John surgery. His first was in 2010. Coming back from a second surgery is tougher for pitchers and requires around 18 months. As our Jeff Passan notes, that means Nathan possibly wouldn't be able to pitch in MLB again until 2017.

There is precedent for a Joe Nathan comeback: John Franco returned at 42 after Tommy John. Nobody has made it from a 2nd TJ at Nathan's age.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 23, 2015

The catch with Joe Nathan: Tommy John revisions, especially with flexor-tendon tears, require a much longer rehab time. Closer to 18 months.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 23, 2015

So unless Nathan's rehab goes extremely well -- and there's incentive to push for a fast one -- he could be waiting until 2017 to return.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 23, 2015

Nathan is in the final season of a two-year, $20 million deal with the Tigers, which has an option for 2016 that obviously won't be picked up now. For purposes of his bank account, Nathan could hold off until after the season to retire – if that's the route he chooses – and collect the rest of his money from the Tigers. 

The team, meanwhile, is in a rough spot with its bullpen, which has been an overall black eye the past few years. Nathan himself hadn't been terribly consistent since joining the Tigers, but they're still losing a veteran arm who was supposed to be a key part of the team. Detroit can hope young fireballer Bruce Rondon, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, returns and thrives. After Nathan's initial injury, Joakim Soria took over as the team's closer. He's 5-for-5 in save opportunities with a 1.35 ERA.

Despite a rough past year or so in Detroit, Nathan was one of the best closers in baseball for a decade. The Stew's Chris Cwik detailed Nathan's successes Wednesday in his post about the latest injury.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: April 23, 2015, 4:28 pm

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Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City is known for its fountains in the outfield, but clearly the Fountain of Youth is nowhere within its confines.

We know as much, because despite Torii Hunter's most aggressive efforts to relive his younger, more athletic days during Wednesday's Twins-Royals tilt, his efforts were met with disappointment and despair.

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With the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning, Hunter thought he might catch Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie off guard by charging down the third-base line with an attempted straight steal of home plate.

At the time, the thought process was honestly quite puzzling. 

Was Hunter inspired by the Royals aggressive style of play? Perhaps the now 39-year-old outfielder was looking to literally steal a run, as the terminology would imply, for a struggling offense. Perhaps he just thought it was the right thing to do at the time based on what he'd seen from Guthrie on the hill. Or, perhaps, it was in fact an attempt to relive past glory. 

Torii Hunter has stolen home once before - 5/4/02 vs. Detroit. #MNTwins

— Dustin Morse (@Twins_morsecode) April 23, 2015

As we learned after the game, it was actually entirely strategic based on observations he'd made about Guthrie.

"I said if he doesn't look at me, I'm going, and he didn't, so I took off," Hunter said. "I saw a weak link there with his slow delivery, but he kind of sped it up and short-armed the ball. He threw it in the dirt and it was right there for [Salvador] Perez, who has a Gold Glove. But if he throws it anywhere up I'm safe." 

He even got the nod of approval from manager Paul Moiltor.

"I gave him a little nod and I wasn't sure if he took me seriously, but he did," Molitor said. "So it was a weird play. It was obviously a sped-up delivery once Guthrie saw what was going. It was awkward with him not getting his foot down before he released the ball. I wanted to get an explanation on a balk."

Unfortunately, both should have thought twice, because once Guthrie spotted him out of the corner of his eye, he was able to adjust quickly and get the ball to catcher Salvador Perez, who applied the tag to end the rally.

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And that's the real issue here. The timing.

Again, it's a bases loaded situation for Minnesota. Two outs, sure, but a rare chance to break a game open already with a three run lead. 

It ended up not being costly in the grand scheme, as the Twins held on to a 3-0 victory behind Mike Pelfrey, who earned his first MLB victory since 2013. But perhaps the next time Hunter finds himself in that position with an itch to steal home, he should run these things through his mind.  

Things 39-year-olds should not do. 1) Go to the club 2) Act like a 21-year-old 3) Try to steal home like Torii Hunter just did. He was out.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 23, 2015

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 23, 2015, 7:29 am

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Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

A battle that started with Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner on the mound was ultimately decided in the ninth inning following a non-interference call involving San Francisco Giants third-base coach Roberto Kelly.

With the game tied, runners on first and second and one out, Brandon Belt lined a single to left that for a moment seemed to be leading to a game-deciding play at home plate. That's because, for a moment Kelly was waving home pinch-runner Gregor Blanco with all his might, but then as Blanco neared third base he changed his mind and put up the stop sign while positioning himself close to the bag.

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Close enough, in fact, that Blanco actually bumped into Kelly as he slowed down rounding the bag. This prompted an argument from Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly, who was looking for a violation of Rule 7.09 (g), which states the following. 

In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base.

The key, of course, is that it's up to the discretion of the umpires. In this case, third base umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled there was no intent to physically assist the runner. That infers Blanco was already coming to a stop, and the contact was incidental in nature. Had interference been called, the Giants would have lost their lead runner and the inning would have proceeded with two outs. As it was, Joe Panik following immediately with a sacrifice fly that wrapped up a Giants 3-2 victory

The non-call was obviously the talk in both clubhouses after the game, and based on comments from Mattingly it may not be the last we hear of this play.

“(Kelly) blocked him,” Mattingly said. “The third base coach is not allowed to block the runner from continuing in. It’s obviously interference. They missed the call, basically. I don’t know who’s supposed to be watching but they weren’t watching.”

Stay tuned, folks. . 

PIRATES HOLD OFF RESILIENT CUBS

These aren't your father's Cubs, and they aren't his father's Cubs either. OK, that might be a slight stretch, but it's been a long time since Cubs fans could honestly feel like they're never truly out of a game, as opposed to always in position to give one away. Their core of young hitters are already making that much of a difference, but despite their best efforts on Wednesday, they dropped a 4-3 game to a Pirates team that has carried the same vibe since 2012.

The Pirates own young core was at the center of this victory. Gregory Polanco launched a solo home run to provide some offensive insurance. They also received a sacrifice fly from Jung Ho Kang, who seems to finally be settling in at the plate.

On the hill, Vance Worley went 5 2/3 innings, allowing just an unearned run. Tony Watson, who was an All-Star in 2014, went two innings for the save after Jared Hughes struggled to navigate the eighth inning.

As for the Cubs, they pounded out 10 hits and kept the pressure on in the latter innings. Joe Maddon went all out despite having a short bench, which for one inning led to Kris Bryant making his debut in center field. After pinch-running for Anthony Rizzo in the ninth, Bryant would have also made his debut at first base had the Cubs tied or taken the lead.

That's the mindset right now in Chicago. Be aggressive now, ask questions later. To this point, it's made them the team to watch on a nightly basis.

KOLTEN WONG'S BIG NIGHT SAVES CARDINALS

The St. Louis Cardinals got to Doug Fister early and often on Wednesday, scoring in each of the first three innings to grab an early five-run lead. Second baseman Kolten Wong had a big swing during that stretch, contributing a second-inning two-run home run. But it would be his defense, and later his eighth-inning RBI double that proved to be the defining moments in a Cardinals 7-5 victory.

After the Nationals scored five in the third off John Lackey to even the score, both offenses went quiet through the middle innings. Both starters settled into a pretty good rhythm, but Wong deserves credit as well after making a pair of remarkable back-handed plays up the middle, which he capped with accurate jump throws to first base.

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That video features the second and slightly fancier of Wong's defensive gems.

A couple innings later, Wong went back to work offensively. After Jon Jay walked and Yadier Molina singled to start the rally, Wong smacked his go-ahead double off Blake Treinmen. The Cardinals added one insurance run in the ninth on a Matt Adams home run and rode Trevor Rosenthal's right arm to the win.

SAMARDZIJA OUTDUELS KLUBER IN CHICAGO

After a pair of rough starts to begin his season, White Sox deputy ace Jeff Samardzija is getting back on track following a pair of workmanlike performances. On Wednesday, Samardzija backed up eight innings of one-run ball last Friday in Detroit by shutting out the Cleveland Indians for six innings, which helped the White Sox earn a 6-0 win and a series victory.

Samardzija wasn't exactly dominant, allowing six hits and two walks. He only struck out three, but he was better than the American League's defending Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber, who was touched up for six runs on 13 hits in his six innings.

Most of the damage was inflicted by the top four in Chicago's lineup. Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Jose Abeu and Adam LaRoche to go 8 for 20 with four RBIs and four runs scored. Abreu knocked in three of those runs with a first-inning home run and a two-run double in the seventh.

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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

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 23, 2015, 6:58 am

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How well are things going for the New York Mets right now?

All one needs to do to find the answer is watch the incredible catch made by center fielder Juan Lagares during Wednesday night's 3-2 victory against the Atlanta Braves, which extended New York's winning to streak to 10.

It happened on a seventh-inning rocket off the bat of Atlanta's Jace Peterson. Lagares got twisted around a bit in his pursuit, which under the circumstances is excusable. As they always say, the hardest ball to judge is the line drive right at you, and this truly was a missile that ended up with more slice than Lagares anticipated.

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Not that it was any problem for Lagares. As he continued tracking the baseball, he showed incredible athleticism to not only keep up with the fast-traveling baseball, but to contort his body on the run to make an awkward yet exceptional over-the-shoulder catch. 

(AP)

A photo is worth 1,000 words there. Lagares wasn't even positioned to watch the ball enter his glove, but it still found leather and he still squeezed it for an out.  

Honestly, the Willie Mays comparison may not work best here because Mays made his famous World Series catch look smooth and almost effortless, but it's definitely a hat tip and a high five. 

The play came at a key time in the game as well. The Mets were trailing 2-1 and Dillon Gee was in his seventh inning of work. If Peterson gets extra bases leading off that inning, it changes the entire outlook of the game and likely changed how manager Terry Collins used his bullpen. As it was, Gee finished the seventh inning, which gaves Collins his full complement of relievers in the eighth and ninth.  

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It also ensured the Braves lead wouldn't expand beyond, which allowed the Mets offense to tie it and take the lead with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings.  Lagares contributed to the winning rally with an infield hit. Lucas Duda delivered the go-ahead run with an RBI single. 

The Mets will now attempt to match their franchise record with an 11th straight victory on Thursday.  At 12-3, they own the best record in baseball and a 3 1/2 game lead over Atlanta in the NL East.  

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 23, 2015, 4:04 am

If you live in the upper midwest and parts of the northeast,  then you're well aware that Wednesday was a miserable day weather wise. Perhaps not necessarily miserable by winter weather standards, but April 22 and baseball standards it was actually something beyond miserable.

You probably won't get an argument from too many New York Yankees or Detroit Tigers in particular. After playing through the cold, wind and some occasional rain on Monday and Tuesday night, they were subjected to the s-word on Wednesday at Comerica Park.

I'll spell it out for you but refuse to actually say it: S-N-O-W.

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This was the scene in the first inning. 

Though it can't entirely be blamed on the cold and wet conditions, Tigers' left-hander David Price looked the least comfortable of everybody on the field. The former Cy Young Award winner required 51 pitches just to record the first three outs, and along the way allowed six runs on five hits, two walks and one hit batter.

In fact, Price never could find a comfort zone, lasting just 2 1/3 innings. He was charged with eight earned runs by night's end. 

Winter is coming. pic.twitter.com/UQpiErKoY5

— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) April 23, 2015

Yankees right-hander Adam Warren didn't fare much better in the early going. He walked four of the first five batters he faced and allowed four first-inning runs of his own, but settled down to last 5 2/3 innings without allowing any additional runs. He picked up the victory in the Yankees 13-4 win. 

Eventually, the weather settled down too, at least in Detroit. 

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For awhile, it was coming down at a pretty decent clip in Pittsburgh, though it didn't appear to wreak as much havoc on the Cubs or Pirates.

#Cubs pic.twitter.com/WnCMrhSi1f

— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 23, 2015

Again, it's April. We're three weeks into a regular season that started a week later than usual, and we're still dealing with the white stuff. If this were Denver, we'd know what we're getting into, but this isn't just Denver. 

We beg of thee, baseballs gods and Mother Nature, just give us baseball weather!

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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

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 23, 2015, 2:26 am

Bernie Williams waving his cap as he is introduced before the Yankees Old Timers Day baseball game in 2012. (AP)Nobody likes filling out paperwork, though it appears no one likes it less than former New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams.

Nine years after making his final major-league appearance, Williams, now 46, has finally requested his retirement papers and is scheduled to put pen-to-paper on Friday. 

In fact, according to a Yankees announcement on Wednesday, Williams will formally announce his retirement and hold a press conference with general manager Brian Cashman and assistant general manager Jean Afterman at Yankee Stadium prior to the Yankees hosting the New York Mets. 

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.@bw51official will formally sign his retirement papers at a press conference on Friday at Yankee Stadium. pic.twitter.com/kX7KAXjlTZ

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 22, 2015

Obviously, this announcement and the events scheduled for Friday are a mere formality. No big comeback was ever in the works, but it does give Williams finality and it allows the Yankees to move forward with plans to retire Williams' No. 51 and honor him with a Monument Park plaque dedication, which is scheduled to take place on May 24.

It's noted that as part of Friday's festivities, the Yankees will unveil a logo related to those events on the field.

This will also give Yankees' fans a couple opportunities to honor Williams during the season. During his 16-year career, which was spent entirely with the Yankees, he was a beloved player in New York and a key member of four Yankees world championship teams.

Outside of New York, however, Williams' consistent contributions may have gone overlooked as he wasn't considered part of the Yankees much celebrated “Core 4,″ which included Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. Just as there was never a fifth Beatle and never will be a fifth president's likeness on Mount Rushmore, there was never an expansion to the "Core 5,"but Williams certainly fit the mold and had a distinct career of his own that's worth honoring.

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In addition to being a four-time World Series winner, Williams was a five-time AL All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove Award winner

In 2,076 games, Williams was a .297 career hitter and ranked top ten in several offensive categories for the obviously storied franchise. He currently ranks third in doubles (449), fifth in hits (2,336), sixth in games played and runs scored (1,366) and seventh in home runs (287) and RBIs (1,257).

Rock solid numbers on the field, and he's been known to produce some quality numbers off the field as well as a jazz guitarist who has released two albums and performed the national anthem at several notable sporting events. He was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2009, proving he possesses immense talent in two entirely different but extremely difficult fields. 

Simply stated, you won't see too many people as versatile or successful as Bernie Williams. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 23, 2015, 12:56 am

Detroit Tigers closer Joe Nathan may not be close to returning to the majors any time soon. The 40-year-old left Wednesday's rehab game after throwing just 10 pitches.

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Nathan was attempting to come back from an elbow injury, and was slated to throw 25 pitches during the game. On the 10th pitch, it was clear something was wrong. 

Your browser does not support iframes. Ugh ... that video is hard to watch. You can tell there's something wrong with Nathan almost immediately after he releases the pitch. The worst part is Nathan's first warm up pitch following the injury. It's clear he was in a ton of pain.

Nathan admitted as much to mlive.com's James Schmehl after the game.

"It feels like I broke my arm," Nathan said. "I never have broken my arm, but I would assume this is what it feels like."

Nathan wasn't willing to speculate about the severity of the injury after the Mud Hens' game, but acknowledged that he felt a sharp pain in his right forearm after throwing a strike to Louisville Bats outfielder Bryson Smith in the seventh inning.

Nathan had looked strong prior to leaving the game. While he only hit 88 mph with his fastball, he threw seven of his 10 pitches for strikes. Nathan also struck out one of the two hitters he faced with an 85 mph slider. 

It was believed Nathan would be activated shortly after this appearance. Now, it's unclear when he'll pitch again.

"Until we go find out what's going on, I don't want to speculate on what it is," Nathan said. "But obviously, it was enough for me to take myself out of a game. And anytime somebody walks off the mound is never a good thing."

Nathan will return to Detroit tonight and await further instruction from the Tigers. He's expected to undergo testing, including an MRI exam.

Given his age, a significant arm injury at this point in his career could signal the end for Nathan. While his recent struggles have made him a punchline among some fans, Nathan was one of the best relievers in the game for an extended period of time. 

Over 917 career innings, he's posted a 2.89 ERA, with a 3.37 FIP. From 2003 to 2013, Nathan posted the second-highest WAR among relief pitchers, behind Mariano Rivera. He compiled 340 saves with a 2.24 ERA over that period while striking out 30 percent of opposing hitters.

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Nathan isn't that player anymore, and it seems unlikely the Tigers will pick up his $10 million option for 2016 even if this injury turns out to be nothing serious. If Nathan has to miss significant time, there's a good chance he's pitched his last game in the majors.

For now, Nathan's season, and possibly his career, will be determined by the results of his upcoming MRI.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 23, 2015, 12:15 am

(Getty Images)Barry Bonds, baseball's polarizing home run-king, has one less name for people to call him as of Wednesday. He's no longer a convicted felon. 

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Bonds' 2011 conviction for obstruction of justice. It was the lesser of four counts Bonds faced in his perjury trial, which stemmed from a 2003 grand jury hearing in which the prosecutors believed Bonds gave an evasive answer to a question about PED use.

The lineage here is a bit complicated and confusing, but the upshot is Bonds was cleared. His trial, if you're curious, cost an estimated $6 million at the time. 

From the Associated Press:

"Real-life witness examinations, unlike those in movies and on television, invariably are littered with non-responsive and irrelevant answers," Judge Alex Kozinski wrote.

Baseball's career home runs leader was indicted in 2007 for his testimony four years earlier before the grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Dennis Riordan, Bonds' appellate lawyer, spoke with his client after the ruling.

"He said an enormous, enormous weight had been lifted from his body and soul," Riordan said.

Jessica Wolfram, one of the jurors who convicted Bonds, said she couldn't help but feel it was '"all a waste, all for nothing.'"

"Just a waste of money, having the whole trial and jury," she said.

Here is the statement Bonds issued Wednesday:

Today's news is something that I have long hoped for. I am humbled and truly thankful for the outcome as well as the opportunity our judicial system affords to all individuals to seek justice. I would like to thank my family, friends, and all of you who have supported me throughout my career and especially over the past several years. Your support has given me strength throughout this process and for that, I am beyond grateful. This has been a long and strenuous period in my life; I very much look forward to moving beyond it. I do so without ill will toward anyone. I am excited about what the future holds for me as I embark on the next chapter. Lastly and certainly not least, I would like to thank my legal team for their hard work and diligence on my behalf.

After the 2011 conviction, Bonds was sentenced to 30 days of home confinement (which he already served) and two years of probation, plus community service and a fine. Not the harshest penalty in the world, but for someone like Bonds, who is fighting to rehab his image and get in the Hall of Fame one day, you have to figure this isn't so much about evading penalty as it is clearing his name.

On that last part though, we're left to wonder what affect, if any, it will have. Raise your hand if you hated Barry Bonds because he was convicted felon. Probably not too many hands, huh?

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The people who hate Barry Bonds hated him before 2011. They hated him when he was chasing down Hank Aaron's home-run record. They hated him when the PED cloud lingered above. The court of public opinion tried, convicted and sentenced Bonds long ago. He's a liar, a cheater and a hollow home-run king to many fans. The conviction was just a little somethin'-somethin' on top.

(Getty Images)

People who take a hardline anti-Bonds stance won't just throw up their hands now and say, "Oh well, guess I was wrong. Love ya again, Barry." Nope, they'll just hate him for all the reasons.  

A few people may soften their opinions on Bonds, since he's also been trying to make himself more likable by hanging around the San Francisco Giants again, getting active (and personal) on social media and even celebrating with fans on the streets of San Francisco after the World Series.

But the vast majority of people aren't changing their minds about Bonds after Wednesday's ruling. Maybe there's a Hall of Fame voter or two out there who doesn't want a "convicted felon" in Cooperstown (you know those voters and their beliefs), but most of the people who aren't voting for Bonds are more concerned about him being a "cheater."

So this, it's mostly for Bonds. For his pride and his own personal scoreboard. Maybe he'll smile real big knowing there's one less asterisk next to his name. It's just not the one that matters most.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: April 22, 2015, 11:25 pm

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Amidst the drama on Tuesday night between Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista and a slew of Baltimore Orioles, most notably pitcher Jason Garcia and outfielder Adam Jones, came an aggressive and seemingly unnecessary decision on Bautista's part which could prove costly for Toronto.

Fortunately, it did not involve any physicality between the two teams. Unfortunately, at least for the Blue Jays, Bautista's pre-existing shoulder injury was aggravated on an aggressive but ill-advised throw that was clearly fueled by his anger.  

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To set up the scene: After Bautista responded to a Garcia fastball that sailed behind his back by launching a monster home run, Bautista sauntered around the bases, exchanging words with first baseman Steve Pearce and second baseman Ryan Flaherty. Following the inning, that escalated into an exchange of words with Adam Jones, who reportedly called Bautista's actions bush league.  

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Still clearly heated, Bautista took his position in right field. As it turned out though, he was too fired up for his own good, which led Bautista to charge Delmon Young's basehit and come up firing aggressively to first base, not necessarily to throw Young out, though that's something Bautista has done in the past, but more so to send a message back to the Orioles. 

The message was clearly received, as Young glared into the outfield after running through the bag to beat the throw. But a more important message was received on Wednesday, when it was announced Bautista underwent an MRI on his shoulder immediately following the game and was diagnosed with a strain. 

That strain will keep him out of the lineup for Wednesday's rematch with Baltimore, and there's concerm he'll require a DL stint in order to rest the shoulder and allow it ample time to heal. 

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The reality is, that sounds like an ailment that was bound to linger anyway and potentially require a DL stint at some point regardless of Tuesday's circumstances, but Bautista understands he did himself or the team no favors by not managing his aggression or temper.  

“I probably shouldn’t have made that throw … but I did, so I can’t take it back,” Bautista said Wednesday.

Given Bautista's status, the incident that played out on the field and the fact Toronto held a comfortable nine-run lead at the time, it's probably fair to wonder why manager John Gibbons bothered keeping Bautista in the game to begin with. Granted, the circumstances that cost Bautista were unique, but managing volitile situations such as these are part of his job as well, and in this case he'd probably like a do-over. 

As for the rest of this series, it's yet to be seen whether or not Bautista's absence will calm the hostilities. It probably can't hurt, though given how this season is playing out, wherever there's the small spark, there will almost certainly be fire.  

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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

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: April 22, 2015, 11:20 pm

African-American participation in baseball is on the decline. This isn't a new development. Over the past couple years, a number of black athletes have addressed the issue

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This isn't just an issue for other black players, it's becoming an issue for black fans, according to comedian Chris Rock. Rock gave his take on the alarmingly low rates of blacks in baseball for HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." (WARNING: NSFW Language).

Rock's rant is humorous, obviously, but it also points out some discouraging facts about why fewer black people are playing, and watching, the game. The fact that Howard, a prominent all-black college, doesn't even have a baseball team should give some idea of how troubling this situation has become.

While many will take issue with some of the points made during the video, Rock is absolutely right about at least one thing. Baseball is rooted in the past. No other sport is as nostalgic about the "good ol' days" than baseball. 

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Near the end of the video, Rock highlights how the issue isn't just about African-Americans. Sure, revenues are up, but Little League participation is down. The average age of baseball viewers is 53, and that's problematic.

African-Americans aren't playing baseball, and it sounds like they aren't watching it either. Rock lays out plenty of reasons why that's the case during his rant. 

Since he's taken over, commissioner Rob Manfred has vowed to find a way to get young people back into the game. Baseball is clearly aware of the issues with their demographics. Whether Manfred can fix that may be the biggest issue he'll face during his tenure. 

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 22, 2015, 9:23 pm

(AP Photo)Baseball super-agent Scott Boras has never been shy about sharing his opinion. This season has been no different.

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Boras has been quite vocal about the Chicago Cubs using service time manipulation as the reason third baseman Kris Bryant would begin the season in the minors. Under the current system, the Cubs needed to keep Bryant in the minors for 12 days in order to gain an extra year of control on him in the future.

That's precisely what happened. Now that Bryant is up, Boras is hoping his case while inspire change in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

Not surprisingly, Boras has some ideas on how to improve the current system, according to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago.

“For example, I would say that the union or somebody may come in and say that they’ve made a claim that this player is major-league ready,” Boras said. “And that to place him in the minor leagues would not be appropriate from a skills standpoint. And then all of a sudden, it’s subject to review by a panel of former managers or baseball experts.”

The Cubs needed Bryant to miss 12 days from the major-league calendar, and that’s exactly how long it took before Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect got promoted. Boras would limit the board’s scope to high-profile decisions coming out of spring training (and not roster churn throughout the season).

“It’s objective in the sense that they’re neutral,” Boras said. “The only way subjective turns objective is that you’ve got the best-known experts who are going to make an evaluation of what they do.”

Boras explained that this scenario would be different than the current grievance procedure. Currently, an arbitrator would rule on the case. Boras' main objection to that scenario is that an arbitrator is "not a talent expert."

(Getty Images)

Whether employing a group of "experts" will actually improve the situation is up for debate. Boras is correct in saying an arbitrator is not a "talent expert." In that sense, having people who are more knowledgeable about the game making the decision sounds like a better strategy.

At the same time, just because you played the game doesn't make you more qualified to sit in this position. The former managers or players picked to serve on this panel would have to prove they were still actively involved in watching games. You don't want people serving on the panel based on their name, you want them to be knowledgeable.

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The term "baseball experts" is fairly open-ended, so Boras would have to elaborate here if this were ever something the league considered. Is he talking about writers? Baseball historians? This isn't a difficult question to answer, but, again, you want to make sure the right people are a part of this decision.

It's an interesting idea, though it's unclear whether it would actually improve the current situation. 

As far as Bryant is concerned, Boras says he's not sure whether the union will file a grievance. 

“I’m not involved in a grievance decision,” Boras said. “I don’t go to the union and say: ‘You should file a grievance.’ That’s their decision.”

Boras may not have the power to officially file a grievance, but he does have some influence around the game. His idea is far from perfect, but it's at least an alternative to the current system.

The current CBA is set to expire in 2016, and it's clear that service time manipulation will be a major issue in negotiations. Boras' idea is likely the first of many that will attempt to fix this situation.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 22, 2015, 7:32 pm
(Getty Images)

The city of San Francisco took its first step toward banning tobacco in ballparks. Supervisors voted to unanimously outlaw the use of smokeless tobacco at athletic venues Tuesday.

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Baseball, which has a long history of players using chewing tobacco, was singled out during the hearing, according to Janie Har of the Associated Press.

That's not the right message to send to children, said Mark Farrell, chief sponsor of the legislation. Kids shouldn't get the idea that they need to use tobacco to play ball, Farrell said.

The ordinance is part of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which is based in Washington, D.C. The ordinance aims to promote anti-smoking efforts in California. In addition to this bill, there's another moving through the Assembly that would ban all tobacco use anywhere an organized baseball game is being played. This would include both electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Minor-league players have been prohibited from using smokeless tobacco since the early 1990s. While use is not prohibited in the majors, there are some rules for using tobacco. Coaches and players cannot chew tobacco during interviews, and are not allowed to carry tobacco while wearing a uniform when fans are present. 

Players union spokesman Greg Bouris did not respond to emails sent by the Associated Press regarding the ordinance.

San Francisco already prohibits smoking in arenas, and this new smokeless tobacco ban would be enforced in the same way. Signs would be posted on the premises, and violators would be removed. 

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When asked whether a ballplayer would be kicked out of the park for using tobacco, Jess Montejano, and aide for Mark Farrell, told the AP:

"We would hope it doesn't come to that," Montejano said, "and that the league would work to educate players coming to AT&T Park."

The ordinance still needs another formal vote by the board in order to pass. That vote will take place next week. If it passes, the new laws would take effect January 1. 

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 22, 2015, 5:56 pm

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The series is over, the suspensions have been doled out, you'd think that now maybe the bad blood between the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals could die down a little bit, right?

Nope.

A's third baseman Brett Lawrie — either the chief antagonist or the victim, depending on which side you're on — spoke out Tuesday, specifically calling out Kansas City fans for making things worse between the two teams. Shame on the fans, he said, and shame on the Royals players. 

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If you missed the fireworks: Lawrie took out Alcides Escobar with a slide at second base Friday. He was then hit by Yordano Ventura on Saturday, then thrown at by Kelvin Herrera on Sunday. Benches cleared twice, multiple people were ejected and both Ventura and Herrera were disciplined by MLB on Tuesday.

(Getty Images)Rather than just moving on after punishments were announced, Lawrie then told Jane Lee of MLB.com:

"That was probably the worst series of baseball that I've ever played," said Lawrie. "I don't think you can even call it baseball, because it wasn't. I've never been a part of anything like that in three days in my entire life. It wasn't baseball. It didn't feel like baseball.

"And the way their fans approached everything, I hated it. The way their fans were antagonizing everything, you know, I got a first-pitch missed curveball up in my head and everyone leaps up in their seat like Bruce Buffer is about to come out. That's not how we're doing things.

"Shame on their fans for antagonizing everything that went on there, because that had a lot to do with it. Shame on the players and their team that went with it. I'm just glad it's all over and we're moving on. We don't have to see them till June, and we're just going to continue to go out and continue playing baseball." Well then. He's right that Royals fans had been standing up for their players, and getting called out like this sure isn't going to quiet them down.

In fairness to Lawrie and the A's, the Royals also haven't moved on yet. On Monday, manager Ned Yost was still sending shots at Lawrie. 

Yost spoke w/Herrera. He got message to Lawrie: "You better think about it. Because we’ve got guys that throw 100. You want to mess around?"

— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) April 20, 2015

The odds that things will be friendly when the two teams meet again in June are getting slimmer by the interview.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: April 22, 2015, 4:41 pm

Sample size can be a dangerous thing. After two weeks, some surprising clubs have gotten off to hot starts, and have found themselves near the top of their respective divisions. While winning a ton of games in April doesn't guarantee success, it's certainly helpful.

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It's usually unwise to dramatically alter our opinions after just two weeks of play, but that's exactly what we're doing here. If you had to pick one surprising team you think is for real, which team would you pick? 

NEW YORK METS
While the first two weeks have brought forth concerns about their health, the key takeaway about the New York Mets is such: They know how to win ballgames. The Mets, 11-3, have the best record in the NL, and are winners of nine straight. Their strength has been pitching — with Matt Harvey returning in ace form and Bartolo Colton impressing as an elder statesman. Their ERA is good, their strikeouts are nice and they've given up the second fewest walks in MLB. Pitching wins, all year long, so that's the best reason for optimism about the Mets. They'll probably need another bat, and they can't sustain too many more injuries, but these Mets have every opportunity to make a run. Especially with the Marlins underwhelming and the Nats only playing so-so. (Mike Oz)

(Getty Images)

COLORADO ROCKIES
For the past four seasons, the Rockies have been two players away from being relevant. Those two players have been on the roster the entire time, but not on the field nearly enough. Of course, I'm talking Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. As long as they're healthy, Colorado will be a difficult team to contend with. The starting pitcher is what it's always been, inconsistent and unattractive. But with emerging stars like Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson joining the big two, in addition to a highly underrated bullpen, they could easily continue rolling out West. (Mark Townsend)

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HOUSTON ASTROS
Sure they’re just 8-6, but these are the Houston Astros we’re talking about. Losers of 92 games last season, 111 the season before that, 107 in 2012, and 106 in 2011, a plus-.500 record even at this early juncture is sign of progress in Houston and actually has them in first place in the AL West. They’re not scoring many runs  the Astros are third to last in the AL in runs scored at 41  but their pitching staff is giving them a chance to win. Led by unheralded starters Dallas Keuchel (2-0, 0.90 ERA) and Collin McHugh (3-0, 2.41 ERA), Houston is already proving they’re not going to get pushed around like they have been in the past. (Israel Fehr)

(AP Photo)

ATLANTA BRAVES
After the Braves spent the offseason trading Jason Heyward and Justin Upton and Evan Gattis and Melvin Upton and Craig Kimbrel, it seemed like they were going into rebuilding mode. Instead, at 8-5, they trail only the New York Mets (?) in the suddenly formidable NL East. Why can they keep it going? Pitching, mostly. The Braves acquired Shelby Miller in the Heyward trade with the Cardinals and at 24 he’s already in his third full season and has the pedigree to be a star. Miller along with Julio Teheran, an All Star in 2014, and budding star Alex Wood form a young, very good top three in the rotation. If they can continue to get offense from new outfielders Nick Markakis and Jonny Gomes, and from holdovers like slugger Freddie Freeman, the Braves will be able to keep up with anybody in the East. (Ian Denomme)

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
After a strange offseason, many expected the Athletics to be decent, but still finish behind both the Mariners and Angels in the West. Thus far, the A's have been passable, at 7-8. That's not a tremendous start, but there's still a lot to like here. The Athletics are currently getting by without Jarrod Parker or A.J. Griffin. Parker appears to be about a month away, so any wins the team can bank before getting those players back is significant. On top of that, it's starting to look like Stephen Vogt's performance last season wasn't a fluke. The A's have been willing to embrace platoons in recent years, and early returns on Ike Davis are proving that this strategy can work. This team is run by smart people, both in the front office and on the field. We were foolish to doubt them coming into the year. (Chris Cwik)

Which team do you believe in? Be sure to let us know on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments. 

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: April 22, 2015, 3:55 pm

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No doubt, the early surprise of the 2015 is the first-place New York Mets. After winning their ninth game in a row Tuesday night, the 11-3 Mets sit atop the National League East division and have the best record in the entire NL.

Of course, it’s early, but the Mets look like they are for real. And a nine-game winning streak at any time of year is worth standing up and taking notice. They are two wins away from matching the franchise record for consecutive wins at 11, last accomplished in 1980. Imagine the buzz if the Mets were riding an 11-game win streak on Friday when they head up to the Bronx to face the very-average Yankees in a weekend subway series. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

It seems early on in this magical season every time somebody goes down, another player steps up. On Tuesday it was catcher Kevin Plawecki, who was making his major-league debut. The former first-round pick went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and threw out a runner in a 7-1 win over the Braves.

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But the biggest reason for the streak, and the reason it seems sustainable, is their pitching staff. The motley crew includes a doughy 42 year old junk-ball thrower in Bartolo Colon, the reigning rookie of the year in Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey, at 26 already once an All-Star and Tommy John survivor. And they’ve all been great. Putting value in pitching wins may be a fools game, but it’s worth noting the Mets starting five are a combined 10-2. They’re going deep into games and making things easier on their bullpen. Mets pitching has the fourth best earned-run average in the majors, and the second fewest walks.

The Mets are winning despite missing some key contributors, too. Perennial All-Star third baseman is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud just joined him there with a hand injury. Reliable reliever Jerry Blevins is out at least six weeks, and former closer Jenrry Mejia was put on the DL then shockingly suspended 80 for testing positive for Stanozolol, a banned PED.

The Mets go for double-digits on Wednesday night against the Braves.

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Ian Denomme is an editor and writer for Yahoo Sports. Email him at denomme@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter.

Author: Ian Denomme
Posted: April 22, 2015, 3:46 pm

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Take a look around MLB with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

Chicago is the place to be this season if you're looking for promising rookie debuts. The Cubs already made headlines by calling up uber-prospect Kris Bryant earlier in the season, but Tuesday gave the White Sox a chance to show off their young ace.

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Carlos Rodon made his major-league debut in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game against the Cleveland Indians. Much like Bryant's debut, Rodon's probably didn't go as well as he had hoped.

Rodon ran into trouble almost immediately. He walked Brandon Moss on four straight pitches, loading the bases. After going 2-0 to the next batter, Rodon received a mound visit from pitching coach Don Cooper. The visit wasn't enough, as Ryan Raburn hit a weak single, plating two runs. Rodon was able to get Lonnie Chisenhall out on a weak grounder to end the inning, but the damage was already done.

His control issues remained throughout the appearance. Rodon would walk the first two hitters he faced to open the seventh inning. Both players would come around to score later in the frame. 

Rodon calmed down a bit in the eighth. He allowed a double against Raburn, but notched his first major-league strikeout against Chisenhall. 

When all was said and done, Rodon allowed two runs on three hits over 2 1/3 innings. He walked three and managed one strikeout. 

Following the game, manager Robin Ventura said Rodon was probably a little too amped up during the outing. 

RV on Rodon: "He was probably amped up, and couldn't place it. That (situation is) what he's here for."

— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) April 22, 2015

Rodon will continue to pitch out of relief, but it's assumed he'll eventually move to the rotation at some point this season. Like Bryant, he's probably hoping things get better quickly following a tough debut.

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REDS AND BREWERS COMBINE FOR THREE GRAND SLAMS, SCORE 26 RUNS

The Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers showed how much they appreciated Bryan Price's rant Tuesday by trying to score as many runs as Price used profanities. While both clubs fell short, there's no shame in scoring a combined 26 runs.

The scoring began in the third inning. With the bases juiced, Jay Bruce clobbered a 91 mph fastball out to right field for the first grand slam of the contest. The Brewers would battle back in the bottom of the inning, however, tying the game at four.

That wouldn't last. In the fourth inning, Todd Frazier added the Reds' second grand slam of the night. Cincinnati's offense would continue to put crooked numbers on the board, finishing with 16 runs.

The Brewers did their best to get back into the game. In the sixth inning, they picked up their own grand slam. Elian Herrera belted a splitter out to right field, notching the third grand slam in the contest.

This is just the fourth time in Major League history that there has been 3 grand slams in one game

— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) April 22, 2015

The Brewers would finish with 10 runs, but it wasn't enough.

(Getty Images)

STARLIN CASTRO STEALS THE SHOW DURING ADDISON RUSSELL'S DEBUT

Future shortstop Addison Russell may have been the biggest story line for the Chicago Cubs coming into the game, but current shortstop Starlin Castro stole the show Tuesday.

Castro went 3 for 5, with one run scored and four RBI during the contest. He singled in a run during the third inning and hit a solo shot in the fifth. Castro's biggest hit came in the ninth, though.

With his team trailing by two, Castro hit a ground ball to left field, plating two runs and tying the game. Welington Castillo wound knock in the go-ahead run later in the inning, and the Cubs would hold on for the 9-8 victory.

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Russell, who hit ninth during his debut, finished 0 for 5, with three strikeouts.

PADRES SCORE FOUR IN THE EIGHTH DURING COMEBACK VICTORY

The San Diego Padres continued their hitting ways Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies. With the team trailing by two in the eighth, the Padres started working their magic at the plate.

Things started with a leadoff single from Will Middlebrooks. After picking up one out, the Rockies opted to go to reliever Boone Logan. Logan promptly hit Yonder Alonso with a pitch, putting two men on. 

Yangervis Solarte then delivered a pinch-hit RBI single, bringing the game within one run. With two outs, Wil Myers would single in the tying run, and Derek Norris would double home two go-ahead runs.

Closer Craig Kimbrel would allow a solo home run in the ninth inning, but the Rockies couldn't complete the comeback, falling 7-6. 

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 22, 2015, 7:34 am

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Baseball blowouts can be tough to watch. Unless you're a diehard fan of the winning team, it's highly unlikely you're going to tune in to a game where one team has virtually no chance of coming back.

All of that changes the instant a position player takes the mound. 

That was the case Tuesday during Oakland's 14-1 loss against the Los Angeles Angels. With the club down 13 runs in the bottom of the eighth, first baseman Ike Davis took the mound.

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After all was said and done, Davis was the team's best pitcher during the contest. Davis threw nine pitches, picking up three groundball outs over a perfect inning. He was the only pitcher on the Athletics to not allow a run during the game.

Davis' success maybe shouldn't have been that surprising. His dad, Ron, was a former major-league pitcher. 

Davis' dad, of course, is former ML pitcher Ron Davis, so he's got a good idea out there, and pitched in college.

— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 22, 2015

As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, Davis pitched in college as well. 

Following the game, Davis seemed to have a good sense of humor about the situation. After he was seen watching video of his performance in the clubhouse, Davis said he would be ready to pitch again the next time the A's needed him. 

Ike Davis only threw nine pitches, jokes he should be available tomorrow.

— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 22, 2015

He also was willing to discuss his repertoire.

Ike says he was throwing two different fastballs and a cutter/slider hybrid. "I had some sink," he said straight-faced.

— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichCSN) April 22, 2015

That seemed to work for him. Davis topped out at 88 mph during the appearance. That's hardly considered fast for a pitcher these days, but that's not bad for a position player. He did appear to have some deception with his fastball as well, getting a swinging strike on his first pitch. 

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Davis seemed to be joking about pitching for the team again, but he might not realize what he's getting himself into. The Athletics have had some success converting former first basemen into closers. Sean Doolittle may be sidelined at the moment, but Oakland may have found his clone Tuesday.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: April 22, 2015, 6:21 am

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