Jessica Mendoza's Sunday Night Baseball debut must have impressed her bosses, because she's getting another crack at the position. Mendoza will fill in as an analyst on Sunday Night Baseball through the rest of the season, ESPN PR announced Friday, as a replacement for Curt Schilling.

Jessica Mendoza (@jessmendoza) will join Sunday Night Baseball as an analyst for the remainder of the MLB season pic.twitter.com/RmrbVm7kUk

— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) September 4, 2015

Mendoza received an opportunity to work as an analyst during last week's game after Curt Schilling was suspended for tweeting out a meme comparing extremist Muslims to the Nazi Party. ESPN announced Schilling's suspension would last throughout the rest of the season Thursday, prompting some to wonder whether Mendoza would be the choice to replace him moving forward.(Getty Images)

That is the case. Based on the initial reaction from those who watched last week's game, Mendoza certainly deserved another chance to show off her knowledge in the booth

[Elsewhere: 10 important MLB storylines for September.]

With Mendoza around, the dynamic in the booth certainly changed. Her and John Kruk were able to play off each other's analysis, allowing for some smart moments during the broadcast.

Mendoza's expertise was on display all night. She was clearly comfortable as an analyst due to her time in a similar role on Baseball Tonight. The two-time Olympic medalist also showed why she was one of the most feared hitters on the U.S. softball team.

One of Mendoza's highlights was describing a Dexter Fowler at-bat in the ninth inning. After Fowler singled, Mendoza broke down his swing, saying he made sure to wait until the ball was deep in the zone to offer at the pitch.

Jesse Spector of the Sporting News transcribed the exchange between Mendoza and Kruk following that hit, and their analysis and ability to work together in this scenario was everything a fan could want:

“Fowler just has a good approach. That’s three different pitchers that he’s faced, and all he’s doing is trying to simplify and let this ball get to his back leg. This is something so hard to do as a hitter, because your impatience wants you to get it out in front, but you watch how he lets this ball get back and because of that he’s able to hit it right up the middle. All of his hits tonight coming middle to opposite field.”

Kruk follows up with this: “I think that’s where Dexter Fowler gets in trouble. He gets home run happy, and he tries to pull balls, get out in front of balls and he doesn’t stay back like that. His game to me, even though he has 14 home runs, is get on, create havoc with your legs, hit the ball to all fields.”

That's the type of analysis fans deserve, and it's something they haven't received in the Sunday Night Baseball booth for quite some time.

Overall, it was a strong debut, and an even better game. Mendoza first experience in the booth resulted in a Jake Arrieta no-hitter, so she has a pretty good track record there. While that probably won't happen again, Gerrit Cole is on the mound this Sunday night.

Even if the game fails to live up to its billing, that shouldn't impact Mendoza's ability in the booth. Her strong debut, combined with Schilling's suspension, has given her the opportunity to make a huge impact for the rest of the year.

It has been a quick ascension for Mendoza, but it's not undeserved. In late August she became the first woman fill an analyst role during a baseball game on ESPN. Just a few weeks later, she's become one of the faces of the network's most prominent baseball broadcast.

[On this week's StewPod: Listen to our September MLB predictions.]

If she can continue to show the skills she displayed during her debut, there's a good chance this will become more of a permanent thing. 

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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: September 4, 2015, 4:49 pm

Joe Panik appears to be about ready for a return to the big leagues.

The San Francisco Giants second baseman was having a breakout season before going on the disabled list with lower back inflammation at the beginning of August. The 24 year old was slashing .309/.374/.443 and was named to his first All-Star Game in July.

But if this web gem from a minor-league game on Thursday is any indication, Panik’s back is just fine and he should be back in the majors soon enough.

Joe Panik made an unbelievable play in first rehab game. Giants have missed his glove as much as his bat: https://t.co/oYHOtO5aBw

— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) September 4, 2015

It was actually just his first rehab game so while his return may not be imminent, he isn’t showing much rust defensively. He showed no hesitation in sliding and bare-handing the ball to get the out at first. At the plate, he went 0-for-2 in Triple-A Sacramento’s 9-5 loss to Reno.

Since he hit the DL the Giants have gone 12-19 without him and fallen 6.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. They could use his glove and bat if they’re going to make it back to the postseason and attempt to defending their World Series title.

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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: September 4, 2015, 3:13 pm

As if the beleaguered Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen didn’t have enough problems, seemingly routine defensive plays are now conspiring against them.

Despite a rough start from Mat Latos, the Dodgers entered the sixth inning Thursday night leading 7-4. That’s when the wheels fell off. The San Diego Padres rallied for a 10-7 win, but they had a controversial play to thank for starting their rally.

After a Justin Upton leadoff single in the sixth, the Dodgers thought they turned a double play on a grounder by Jedd Gyorko. But second base umpire Chris Conroy ruled Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley did not tag the bag before the throw to first.

While he may not have directly touched the bag on the exchange, it’s a relatively routine play in baseball circles know as the “neighborhood play.” Utley has probably done the exact play many times without incident. Dodger manager Don Mattingly challenged, but the call was upheld. Upton scored one batter later on a Derek Norris double, the first of six unanswered runs that led to the Padres’ win.

[Elsewhere: 10 important MLB storylines for September.]

Mattingly was unhappy with the call, and the lack of consistency from umpires.

“He told me he didn't believe in the neighborhood play so I guess he changed the rules tonight and it is something for the league to think about, really,'' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “I didn't realize he could actually change the rules during the game. Jim Joyce believed in it the other day against the Cubs and tonight they didn't believe in the neighborhood play so I guess they changed the rules.”

Upton himself may have been the most surprised at the call:

@truebluela pic.twitter.com/sjyFEeLYdE

— Binh (@epk06) September 4, 2015

This incident is sure to spark more debate about the neighborhood play. It is one of baseball’s long standing unwritten rules that has just generally been accepted as part of the game. But since the implementation of instant replay in 2014 it has become a question for umpires – despite it not being a reviewable play, which makes Thursday’s incident even more bizarre.

It seems like it’s time for consistency on this play from umpires across the league.

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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: September 4, 2015, 2:42 pm

After watching Corey Seager's big-league debut Thursday night, more than a few Los Angeles Dodgers fans had to be wondering, "Why'd they wait this long?"

Seager, 21, made a good first impression in his L.A. uniform even though his squad suffered another disappointing loss in which its bullpen took a beating. The Dodgers fell to the San Diego Padres 10-7, as the Padres scored a total of six runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

[Bryce Harper's odd night: 0-for-0, four runs scored and an RBI. Huh? Read all about it.]

Before all that, though, Seager looked golden in his debut. It was with sixth-inning single that brought in two runs and gave the Dodgers their first lead of the game, 5-4. That was actually Seager's second hit, the first of his career coming an inning earlier. He doubled and came around to score.

Game No. 1 in the books for Corey Seager. (via @JonSooHooPics) pic.twitter.com/d1HqjO52t9

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 4, 2015

Dodgers since 1914 with at least 2 H, 2 RBI, 2B in MLB debut: Russell Martin Corey Seager

— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) September 4, 2015

Seager is the brother of Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, another rising star in the league. Corey was drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft by the Dodgers, No. 18 overall. He was the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball on Baseball America's midseason list, partially a function of so many big-name prospects getting called up this season.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!]

But Seager is worthy and the Dodgers need the help. In fact, many in Hollywood have been wondering why the Dodgers hadn't promoted him sooner. Despite owning first place in the NL West by seven games, it's been an up-and-down season for L.A.'s $300 million men. While Seager gave the offense a boost, where the Dodgers most needed help (again) Thursday night was in the bullpen. 

After Mat Latos surrendered four runs on eight hits in four innings, L.A. skipper Don Mattingly turned to six different relievers. Four of them let runs in. That included Jim Johnson, who served up a two-run, go-ahead homer to Jedd Gyorko in the eighth inning.

Good thing Seager's young career looks like it'll have a lot more hits and plenty of chances for wins.

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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: September 4, 2015, 7:16 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.

Nobody's going to criticize the way Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams used his bullpen Thursday night. That's one of the good things about winning 15-1. The other is, well, winning 15-1. 

That's just what the Nats did, thumping the rival Atlanta Braves. This one was out of control early and stayed that way until the final out. The Nats were up 7-1 after the second inning, 10-1 after the third and 14-1 in the sixth.

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We've covered Bryce Harper's odd night already. He scored four runs after taking four walks, a wonderful 0-for-0 night in which he also notched an RBI on a bases-loaded walk. The traditional offensive star was Ryan Zimmerman, who has been red-hot lately. He drove in four runs on three hits and scored two of his own. This is how hot he's been:

Ryan Zimmerman: 22 RBI in last 10 games, most in a 10-game span of a single season in Nationals/Expos history @EliasSports

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 4, 2015

The Nats had a rough start to the week, losing two games to the St. Louis Cardinals in which they blew late leads. Williams' bullpen management came under fire and his job security was questioned. Meanwhile, it started to look less and less likely that the once-World Series favorite Nats would even make the playoffs. That still could be very true, but handing out a 15-1 drubbing numbs the pain for a night.

ROCKIES, CARGO BRUISE THE GIANTS
Elsewhere in the world of routs, the Colorado Rockies did some damage to the San Francisco Giants. The Rockies launched three homers, including two from NL home-run leader Carlos Gonzalez, and beat the Giants 11-3. Ouch.

Double ouch, because it's the sixth straight loss for the Giants, who are coming off a sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. S.F. is seven games back in the NL West, though it could have been worse because the Dodgers lost too. Speaking of which ...

PADRES EDGE DODGERS IN COREY SEAGER'S DEBUT
The Dodgers finally called up top prospect Corey Seager on Thursday, giving him the start at shortstop against the San Diego Padres. Things went well for Seager, but not for the Dodgers as a whole.

[Elsewhere: 10 important MLB storylines for September.]

Seager was 2-for-4 with two RBIs — both of them coming on a sixth-inning single that gave the Dodgers a 5-4 lead. The Dodgers would open up a 7-4 lead in the inning, but the Padres charged back and won the game 10-7.

Jedd Gyorko hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning and Yangervis Solarte was 4-for-5 with two RBIs, including a homer in the seventh and RBI double in the eighth.

ROYALS WIN BIG OVER TIGERS
Yet another blowout from Thursday's small slate of games: The Kansas City Royals hung a 15-7 loss on the Detroit Tigers. This one started like a slugfest, with the Royals leading 6-3 after the second inning and the Tigers scoring three more in the third to tie it. 

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But the Royals scored two in the fourth and another six in the seventh inning. That was that. It ended as a proper sequel to Wednesday's 12-1 K.C. win over Detroit.

Leading the way for the Royals on Thursday was Kendrys Morales, who was 4-for-5 with four RBIs. Lorenzo Cain also had three RBIs and scored three times while the Ben Zobrist had four hits and three runs.

Want to see more from Wednesday’s slate of games? Check out our scoreboard.

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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: September 4, 2015, 6:00 am

Have a night, Bryce Harper — have a very bizarre and a very effective night.

The Washington Nationals pounded the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, winning 15-1. Harper scored four of those runs but didn't really do any pounding. Unless you count pounding the dirt out of his cleats.

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Harper came to the plate four times, he saw 20 pitches and didn't swing at a single one. Each time he walked, he came around to score. Once, he walked with the bases loaded. His final line for the night: 0-for-0, four runs, one RBI and four walks. 

You don't see that one every night. In fact, it's only happened three other times since 1914. The other players to score four runs in a game without registering an official at-bat: 

• Larry Doby in 1951
• Joe Morgan in 1973 
• Rickey Henderson in 1989

None of those three also had an RBI. Oh, and this is worth noting: The Nats pulled Harper in the sixth inning because the game was out of hand. C'mon, Matt Williams, you couldn't keep him in just until the swingless streak ended? The only player to see more pitches and not swing in the last 10 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info, was Juan Uribe in 2010. His total was 21, one more than Harper's.

[Elsewhere: 10 important MLB storylines for September.]

Harper wasn't itching to swing either. After the game, he told reporters, including MLB.com's Jacob Emert:

"I've got confidence in everybody on our team to get a job done behind me," said Harper. "I'll take my walks when I can. And when they throw the ball over the plate, I'll take my hits, too."

That was true on Thursday night. Ryan Zimmerman, hitting cleanup behind Harper, was 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Even if the potential NL MVP didn't take a single cut, it's hard to argue with the results.

One last footnote about Harper's odd night: This is actually the second time this season he's walked four times and scored four runs. The other came Aug. 18 against the Colorado Rockies. But that night Harper registered two official at-bats beyond the walks. 

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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: September 4, 2015, 5:09 am

Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias was struck on the hand by a pitch while attempting to bunt Thursday in the third inning at Kansas City and had to leave the game.

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It's unclear what Iglesias' availability will be going forward. The club reported X-rays were negative on his right hand and he will be re-evaluated Friday when the team returns home to host a weekend series against Cleveland. He suffered a contusion on his right middle finger

Iglesias doesn't do a lot to help the Tigers score runs and they needed to score a lot of them to contend with the Royals. He has hit two home runs and has 23 RBIs this season. However, he is stellar in the field, often making difficult plays look easy and occasionally providing something spectacular. He is the favorite to win the Gold Glove at shortstop in the American League this season.

[On this week's StewPod: Listen to our September MLB predictions.]

Losing Iglesias was just the start of what turned out to be a rough night for the Tigers. Kansas City had a season-high 19 hits by the end of the seventh inning and finished with 20 hits in a 15-7 win. The Royals scored 27 runs with six home runs in the past two games combined against Detroit.

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[Kyle Ringo is a contributing writer to Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KyleRingo

Author: Kyle Ringo
Posted: September 4, 2015, 4:25 am

An MLB season can be grind. Players, coaches and managers spend a lot of hours in the clubhouse over six months of the regular season, making it a home away from home.

Thinking about how much time these men spend here away from their families makes you wonder what the average player might accumulate over the course of a season and what he might keep in his locker.

[Elsewhere: 10 important MLB storylines for September.]

Hunter Pence's girlfriend, Lexi, wondered as much and she decided to check it out. What she found was a potpourri of memorabilia, equipment, fan mail and random items that Pence held on to for one reason or another during his 11th season in the big leagues and his fifth with the San Francisco Giants.

Pence has two lockers in the Giants clubhouse because he apparently needs them for all of his stuff. The most interesting item Pence keeps around is a spiked Spartan helmet that sits on top of his locker or maybe it's the unopened bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label.

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Pence hasn't played since Aug. 17. He is on the disabled list with an oblique strain. The Giants obviously need a healthy Pence down the stretch as they fight for a playoff spot.

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[Kyle Ringo is a contributing writer to Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KyleRingo

Author: Kyle Ringo
Posted: September 4, 2015, 12:22 am

Robert Redford is back on the silver screen this week, starring in the adventure/comedy "A Walk in the Woods." But if you're a sports fan, then there's one iconic role that hearing Redford's name will always bring to mind — Roy Hobbs in "The Natural."

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!]

Redford, now 79, sat down with Yahoo Movies recently, to discuss some of his favorite roles as part of the Role Recall series. "The Natural" was certainly in the starting lineup for Redford. Since we dig baseball and we dig baseball movies here at The Stew, we thought it was a good share for our readers too.

Like us, Redford is a baseball fan, so one of his favorite parts about making "The Natural" was that he really got to play baseball for the movie. He took pride in that. Redford also told Yahoo Movies about his struggle getting the film made and why he believed in changing the ending of the 1952 Bernard Malamud novel upon which the film was based.

[Elsewhere: MLB pitcher Derek Holland has a Jobu doll and a "Major League" haircut]

Redford says he loves the Boston Red Sox and Ted Williams and wished he could have played baseball for a living. His acting career turned out pretty darn good, in making "The Natural," he left his mark on baseball too.

That's not a bad consolation.

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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: September 3, 2015, 11:59 pm

(AP)If you thought the Curt Schilling drama had died down, not so fast.

Schilling, the ex-MLB star and current ESPN broadcaster, was punished again by the network Thursday. He'll be benched for the rest of the MLB season — taken off Sunday Night Baseball and nixed from wild-card game coverage.

At issue is an Aug. 25 tweet that Schilling sent that featured a meme comparing Muslim extremists to Nazis. Schilling quickly deleted the tweet and apologized, but ESPN still took him off that week's Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.

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Things could have ended there. ESPN was reportedly giving Schilling the green light to return this week. But then Schilling made headlines again, after he sent an email to sports media site Awful Announcing, ripping one of its writers. In that letter, which the site made public, Schilling said he apologized that he tweeted the meme but not for the content of the tweet. Awful Announcing then wrote an open letter to Schilling. Then Schilling retorted. ESPN, meanwhile, said it wasn't "aware of Curt’s plan to craft or send this email," which is essentially code for "Ah, man, not this again."

Now, it's obvious that ESPN is fed up with the Schilling sideshow. For now at least. ESPN issued this statement about Schilling and his status for the rest of the season. The network didn't use the word "suspension," but that's what this is. 

“At all times during the course of their engagement with us, our commentators are directly linked to ESPN and are the face of our brand. We are a sports media company. Curt’s actions have not been consistent with his contractual obligations nor have they been professionally handled; they have obviously not reflected well on the company.  As a result, he will not appear on ESPN through the remainder of the regular season and our Wild Card playoff game.”

At issue here isn't free speech. It's the consequences of saying whatever you want. Schilling is opinionated and unfiiltered, and that could make him a good broadcaster. Part of being a good commentator, however, is knowing where the line is and not crossing it. It's knowing not to drag your employer into political controversies. That's the part where Schilling has had trouble recently. And ultimately, ESPN decided it had enough. 

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It's unclear what will happen to Schilling after the MLB season. ESPN has a wealth of baseball commentators, though, so it won't have a problem replacing him now and shouldn't in the long term if it so chooses. Jessica Mendoza filled in for Schilling on Sunday night, and seemed to make a good impression overall. 

We haven't heard from Schilling yet about his latest punishment. And given his track record of late, that may be for the best. Especially if he wants to continue his employment at ESPN. 

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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: September 3, 2015, 10:34 pm

(AP Photo)San Francisco Giants righty Tim Lincecum will miss the rest of the season following hip surgery. Team general manager Bobby Evans confirmed the news to KNBR on Thursday morning.

Lincecum hasn't pitched for the club since June 27. He left that start after being hit in the forearm with a line drive. As Lincecum was recovering from that injury, he was diagnosed with a degenerative hip condition. He reportedly suffered a setback recently, which led Lincecum to seek a second opinion on his hips. It was recommended that he undergo surgery to fix the issue.

[On this week's StewPod: Listen to our September MLB predictions.]

Further complicating issues is the fact that Lincecum is in the final year of his contract. In a little more than a month, he'll officially be a free agent. Given his recent struggles, and now this injury, it's possible that Lincecum's time as a member of the Giants has come to an end.

If so, that would be sad. Lincecum hasn't been a top of the line starter since 2011, but, boy, his peak seasons were incredible. After an average debut in 2007, Lincecum exploded onto the scene during his sophomore season. 

He instantly became one of the best, and one of the most entertaining, starters in the game. Despite his size, Lincecum pumped a fastball that averaged 94 mph early in his career. His unorthodox, yet strangely beautiful, delivery was delightful to watch. Combine these traits, and it's no surprise Lincecum earned the nickname "The Freak." 

The awards speak for themselves. Lincecum won two straight Cy Young Awards during his first two full seasons in the majors. He made the All-Star game four straight years. During that period, Lincecum posted a 2.81 ERA over 881 2/3 innings. He struck out an incredible 977 batters.

Then, injuries and ineffectiveness started to creep in. Lincecum's fastball velocity, which was already declining, averaged just more than 90 mph in 2012. His walk and home-run rate jumped, leading to a 5.18 ERA. Lincecum was somewhat able to salvage his poor season by turning into a relief ace in the playoffs as the Giants won their second World Series championship in three seasons, though.

(Getty Images)

Since then, he hasn't really been the same. Lincecum's velocity has continued to decline, and he was even briefly sent to the bullpen during the 2014 season. Over the past four seasons, Lincecum has a 4.68 ERA through 615 2/3 innings. He struck out 577 batters during that period.

There have been moments of brilliance, even as he's declined. Lincecum threw two no-hitters during this period. The first came in 2013, while the second happened the following season. Even through his struggles, he still managed to occasionally remind us of his past.

Lincecum's decline would have made him an interesting free agent this offseason. His surgery further complicates matters. 

There's some reason for optimism, though. Jon Heyman of CBSSports noted that doctors believe Lincecum's lost velocity could be related to his condition. With surgery, there's a chance that will improve.

Nonetheless, doctors are said to have told Lincecum that he could easily be ready for next spring training if he had the surgery, and they've further suggested that he should be able to return to form. They also are said to believe that his steep velocity decline is related to his current hip woes. The smallish righthander known as "The Freak" is a pitcher who relies on extraordinary torque and the drive of his legs to generate unreal arm speed for a sub-6-foot pitcher, or any pitcher really.

All of that is encouraging. Lincecum was likely to get an offer merely based on his past upside, but teams will certainly be more interested if he suddenly regains some life on his fastball. 

In fairness, none of this means his time with San Francisco has come to an end. But given his current situation, Lincecum is going to hit the market for the first time in his career. While we have no idea what that market will look like, it's certainly possible another team will swoop in and make Lincecum a better offer.

A change of scenery might be for the best, too. Lincecum has spent the past few seasons in San Francisco trying to regain his old form. A fresh start isn't guaranteed to help, but it might provide a mental boost.

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Lincecum is no longer the dominant force he was earlier in his career. His signing won't cause major waves during the offseason. With that said, his possible departure from the Giants makes us think fondly about what used to be.

Lincecum's rise to the top was such a hugely entertaining experience. For a couple years, he took baseball by storm, and was the best pitcher on the planet. There are a lot of exceptional memories of Lincecum wearing a Giants uniform. To see him anywhere else seems strange, even if it makes sense for both sides. 

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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: September 3, 2015, 7:15 pm

Sliding is one of the first things a baseball player learns how to do in Little League. Anyone who has played the game at a young age can remember going home with raspberries on their legs. We'd be lying if we said we sometimes slid during unnecessary situations just to get our uniforms dirty. 

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We appreciate the art of the slide, is what we're saying, and we think maybe you do too. So when Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner pulled off two of the coolest slides we've seen this season on the same day, we couldn't help but have a debate.

Both slides are impressive, yet different. Both display intelligence, quick-thinking and acute awareness of a situation. They are both works of art in their own right.

With that said, we're here to decide which one is better.

Let's start with Donaldson's slide (featured above). Donaldson tagged up on a relatively shallow pop up to second base. Trying to advance on this type of play took guts, but he went for it. The throw from Jason Kipnis was pretty close, causing Donaldson to jump away from catcher Yan Gomes. He narrowly avoided the tag, just grazing home plate with his left hand. The play obviously scored a run for Toronto, though the Blue Jays were already up by four at that point in the contest.

Now, let's take a look at Turner's slide.

All right, so this is just a straight steal attempt. Under normal circumstances, Turner would have been thrown out by a couple feet. This, however, was not a normal circumstance. 

As Ehire Adrianza attempts to apply the tag to Turner's left hand, Turner somehow manages to shift his momentum mid-slide. The left hand comes off the ground, his helmet flies off and Turner is able to sneak his right arm around Adrianza's glove. It's sneaky. It's masterful. And Turner knew immediately he had gotten away with it. It didn't start out as a great slide, but he made it one. Turner's steal didn't lead to a run, though he did pull it off in a one-run game.

While we aren't considering these slides in our debate, we'll note that it's been a strange week for this type of thing. Charlie Blackmon was in a similar situation to Turner just a few days ago, while Brandon Barnes showed us how not to slide into second. These slides can be honorable mentions for now.

[On this week's StewPod: Listen to our September MLB predictions.]

So, between Donaldson and Turner, which slide is better? Though we love both, we're going to give it to Turner here. Maybe that's just because we love seeing a potentially disastrous situation turn into something beautiful.

Donaldson's slide was more traditional. Coaches aren't going to show their players video of Turner's slide and say, "do that." They might use Donaldson's slide in those situations, though.

Still, we value weird and wacky here, and that's what Turner did. If you disagree, you can always let us know in the comments. 

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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: September 3, 2015, 5:42 pm

On the heels of a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants and building a 6.5-game lead in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers are adding some extra fire power for their playoff run. On Thursday morning it was reported the Dodgers have recalled shortstop Corey Seager from Triple-A. Seager is the No. 2 ranked prospect in all of baseball, and No. 1 prospects still in the minors.

Dodgers are calling up corey seager, the top prospect in mlb

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) September 3, 2015

Seager slashed .292/.343/.486 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He was the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft.

What remains to be seen is how much playing time he will get with the Dodgers. While he certainly has the pedigree to play in the majors right now he will be thrust into a high-pressure situation as the Dodgers chase a third-consecutive division title, and their first NL pennant since 1988. The Dodgers everyday shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, is 36 and batting just .222/.276/.358, but he also has played in 46 career playoff games and won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008.

If this season’s trends have been any indication, the Dodgers shouldn’t hesitate to insert the prospect into the lineup right away. In what has been dubbed the Year of the Prospect several teams have gone with a youth movement and it has paid off.

The Chicago Cubs are poised to end a seven-year playoff drought, thanks in part to first-year players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, both of whom began the season in the minors. The surprising first-place Houston Astros received a boost in June when they recalled Carlos Correa, who is now a rookie-of-the-year favorite. Other top prospects that made big-league debuts this season include Byron Buxton, Joey Gallo, and Francisco Lindor.

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Seager, who’s brother Kyle plays for the Mariners, could get playing time right away at third base thanks to minor injuries to Justin Turner and Jose Peraza.

#Dodgers did not plan to promote Seager unless they could play him. Turner said pinkie OK, but perhaps condition or team’s thinking changed.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 3, 2015

The Dodgers have yet to confirm the move.

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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: September 3, 2015, 3:33 pm

When it comes to ballpark promotions, we always look to the minor leagues for next-level creativity and potential new trends.

While we're not yet sure if this is a trendsetter, we know with certainty it falls under the category of innovative. The Tampa Yankees — Class A Advanced affiliate of the New York Yankees — will be giving away Brett Gardner bobble-leg dolls at Steinbrenner Field on Sept. 5.

Yes, you read that correctly. A bobble-leg doll.

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Take a look.

Brett Gardner Bobble Legs Giveaway! http://t.co/KT3mnQQIaX pic.twitter.com/rKa3znDpp4

— Tampa Yankees (@TampaYankees) September 2, 2015

At first you may have thought that meant the head is stationary and the legs do the bobbling. That would be incorrect. The head bobbles and the legs bobble too, giving fans twice the bobble.

What a STEAL of a deal for the first 500 fans to walk through the gates on Saturday. 

While it's a unique promotional item, it's also very much fitting of Gardner's game. He's always been known more for his legs and his speed than anything else, and this bobblehead/leg cements that legacy.

Looking at his career, Gardner has swiped exactly 200 bases during his eight-year career with the Yankees. He added 157 steals during his time in the minors, including 30 for the Tampa Yankees back in 2006.

Simply said, if you're going to make a bobbling Brett Gardner doll, this is the way to do it. The only concern we have now is figuring out a way to get one on the shelf at the Stew offices . 

BLS H/N: Eye on Baseball 

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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: September 3, 2015, 6:39 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.

When we're looking back at how the NL West was won in 2015, chances are we'll be talking about the just completed three-game series at Dodger Stadium.  

At several points this season, it looked as though the Dodgers were poised to lose their grip and allow the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants to overtake them. That never happened, and now they have complete control again after sweeping the Giants out of town.

The Dodgers completed the task behind Clayton Kershaw. Their star left-hander was on point in Wednesday's 2-1 victory, going the distance and striking out 15.

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The outing required a season-high 132 pitches and contained plenty of drama. The Giants put two runners on base with two outs in the ninth and forced Don Mattingly's hand. To the delight of the fans, Mattingly stuck with his ace. The move paid off perfectly as Kershaw struck out Marlon Byrd to end the game. 

Speaking of strikeouts, Kershaw has now set a career-high with 251, and we still have four weeks to go. 

With his 15 Ks tonight, Clayton Kershaw is at 251 with at least six starts left. Could be first to K 300 since Johnson and Schilling in '02.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 3, 2015

Is Kershaw getting better?

It's possible. Just as it's possible the addition of Chase Utley will prove fruitful. He connected for his first Dodgers home run, and that held up as the difference. 

What we do know for sure is the Dodgers postseason chances got much better this week. They now hold a 6 1/2 game lead over San Francisco with 30 games to play. 

RYAN ZIMMERMAN AND JONATHAN PAPELBON SAVE THE NATS

In desperate need of a win Wednesday night in St. Louis, two veterans came to the Washington Nationals rescue.

Long-time cornerstone Ryan Zimmerman paced the offense, collecting three different go-ahead hits in the Nationals 4-3 victory.

Two of those hits were home runs against Cardinals starter Tyler Lyons. The second was the 200th home run of Zimmerman's career, which have all come wearing a Nationals uniform. After St. Louis evened things again in the seventh on Kolton Wong's RBI single, Zimmerman delivered the decisive hit, an RBI double scoring Anthony Rendon.

That set the stage for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Yes, it was a save situation. And no, Matt Williams did not hesitate calling on their trade deadline acquisition.

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Naturally, Papelbon did his job. Despite allowing a pair of hits, Papelbon put the clamps down, striking out Tommy Phan and getting Wong to ground out to end it. For Papelbon, it was his 23rd save overall and his sixth since joining the Nationals.

It was a rare night where everything went right for the Nationals.

Well, almost everything. Bryce Harper did leave the game with tightness in his glute, though that's expected to be minor. The Mets also won, so Washington didn't gain ground. But the fact they didn't lose ground is encouraging. 

JOEY VOTTO CRUSHES CUBS IN NINTH

During Monday's series opener, Cubs manager Joe Maddon elected to intentionally walk Joey Votto with runners on first and second. He's probably wishing he'd done the same on Wednesday. With two on and two outs in the ninth, Votto connected on a go-ahead three-run homer, propeling the Reds to a 7-4 victory.

The home run came against Cubs closer Hector Rondon. It immediately followed an error by Kris Bryant, who allowed a Jay Bruce grounder to scoot between his legs. That capped a bittersweet afternoon for the Cubs third baseman. Just moments earlier, he delivered his own clutch homer, a two-run shot which tied that game in the eighth.

The Cubs threatened against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, placing runners at first and second with one out. Chapman rebounded, getting an overanxious Javier Baez to ground out and Dexter Fowler to strike out to end the game. 

Reds starter Raisel Iglesias ended up with a tough luck no-decision. In seven innings, he allowed two runs on three hits while striking out 10. Over his last three starts, Iglesias has struck out a total of 33 batters.

YANKEES MASH RED SOX WITH FIVE HOMERS

The Yankees offense has been all or nothing over the last couple weeks. On Wednesday afternoon they went all-in, defeating the Red Sox and Henry Owens 13-8 at Fenway Park.

The Yankees slugged five home runs in the game, including three in their eight-run second inning. Greg Bird and John Ryan Murphy went back-to-back to start the barrage. Carlos Beltran then capped the rally with a two-run blast. In the third, Stephen Drew added a three-run homer. Didi Gregorious hit a solo shot in the fifth to punctuate the outburst.

[Roundtable: Which pitchers are poised for a Jake Arrieta-like breakout?]

At that point the Yankees held a 12-1 lead behind Masahiro Tanaka. Their ace right-hander ended up tossing 6 1/3 innings of four-run ball, which was plenty good enough for his 11th victory. However, things did get rather interesting once the Yankees bullpen entered. The Red Sox scored five runs over the final three frames, forcing Joe Girardi to use six different relief pitchers. That included Dellin Betances and closer Andrew Miller.

Fortunately for the Yankees they have an off day on Thursday. Everyone can get some rest. But anytime you need your two best relievers in a 12-1 game, it feels like a letdown.

Want to see more from Wednesday’s slate of games? Check out our scoreboard.

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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: September 3, 2015, 5:40 am

The Baltimore Orioles were in a season-altering slump coming in to Wednesday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays. 

After losing 12 out of 13, the defending American League East champions have all but officially removed themselves from playoffs contention.

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It's a disappointing reality to be sure, especially considering there were realistic expectations that they could repeat in a wide open division. With that in mind, it would be difficult to blame fans in Baltimore if they were feeling apathetic. In some cases, it might even render them sluggish or outright bored, to the point that they'd fall asleep in the bleachers at Orioles Park at Camden Yards.

At least that appeared to be the case for one fan during Wednesday's game. He was spotted sprawled out over several seats in right-center during the 11th inning, but he received the ultimate wake-up call from Chris Davis.

Hey bro, it's time to get up and celebrate. The Orioles just won a baseball game!

(MLB.TV)
Davis absolutely demolished that 3-0 pitch from Tampa Bay's Brad Brach. The walk-off home run was the fourth of his career — and second this season — and traveled 459 feet, giving the Orioles a 7-6 victory.

The distance was a good thing for our sleeping fan. Had it traveled 428 feet — like Davis' home run in the third inning — and landed a few feet to the left, it may have been in his lap. That would have hurt. As it was, it cleared him and the bleachers all together.

The home run also happened to be Davis' longest homer this season, which is saying something for a guy nicknamed "Crush." He has 38 overall, which is one behind former teammate Nelson Cruz for the MLB lead. Unfortunately for the Orioles, it just hasn't been enough in the big picture. 

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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: September 3, 2015, 4:23 am

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Spending a few hours at a major-league ballpark brings many layers of excitement and anticipation. There's the baseball game itself, the players, the atmosphere and the scenery, just to name a few of the more appealing attractions.

Of course, there's also the delicious ballpark food. It doesn't matter if you're going for the biggest and best item on the menu, or a mid-game snack like popcorn or nachos and cheese, that's all part of what we look forward to.  

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Unless this happens.

All together, in slow motion. 

Nooooooo!

(MLB.TV)
This unfortunate incident happened during Tuesday's game in San Diego. The poor unsuspecting Rangers fan was not ready for that foul ball off the bat of Will Venable. He was also not aware that baseballs do have eyes and appetites, and don't mind going out of their way to disrupt a meal.

One always has to be aware, regardless of seating location. Just ask this other Rangers fan who lost her nachos and wore the cheese while sitting in the upper deck at Globe Life Park back in May. 

That was a long-distance bull's-eye by Prince Fielder.

Admittedly, it's tough to wear a glove and eat nachos at the same time. But there are things you can do to better protect yourself from wearing nachos. You can take turns eating with the family, friends or other fans around you and help protect each other. If you're down in the box seats, maybe you can get one of those heroic ball boys or ball girls to stand guard.

[Elsewhere: 10 important MLB storylines for September.]

Whatever it takes, folks, protect those nachos. They're an essential part of the ballpark experience. Also, they're expensive.

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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: September 3, 2015, 2:06 am

The New York Mets season has been filled with memorable moments, both thrilling and unique.

On Wednesday, they added one that fits under both categories when Ruben Tejada raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

Of course, inside-the-park home runs are always thrilling because of the drama involved. There's a race going on as the runner flies around the bases and the fielders chase down the ball, hoping to relay it back to the infield in time. In this case though, the circumstances were definitely unique as Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown actually tumbled over the wall down the right field line, allowing Tejada to get a major head start.

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The wild play happened in the second inning. Tejada dropped one almost perfectly on the right field line about 250 feet from home plate, which put the hard-charging Brown in a difficult position. He had to decide if he was going to sell out for the ball or pull up and play it safe. Brown decided to sell out, ended up missing the ball, and his momentum took him head over cleats over the short right field wall. 

(MLB.TV)

Ouch.

The fall looked like it could be bad for Brown. He was obviously shaken up after banging his knees and landing hard on the concrete, but remained in the game initially. He was removed from the game later however due to concussion concerns. 

As for the baseball, it continued rolling into the right field corner. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez eventually ran it down on the warning track, but it was too late to make a difference. Both Kelly Johnson and Tejada scored on the play, extending New York's early lead to three runs. 

[On this week's StewPod: Listen to our September MLB predictions.]

Though no one on the Phillies will complain about Brown's effort, they'll probably suggest a safer approach next time around. If the upside includes staying upright, staying healthy and keeping the ball in front of you, that's probably the way to go. 

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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: September 3, 2015, 1:12 am

Light a candle and pray to the baseball gods, because Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman claimed another victim Wednesday. 

This time, it was Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez. With two men, Baez was called upon to hit against Chapman. He represented the possible tying run. After spending most of this season in the minors, this was Baez's first big opportunity to prove himself in the majors this year.

[Elsewhere: 10 important MLB storylines for September.]

He may have been a little overexcited. Knowing a fastball was likely on a 3-1 count, Baez nearly swung out of his shoes to hit it out of the park. The momentum and speed of his bat were so much that Baez immediately fell to the ground following his swing. 

The whole thing looked pretty embarrassing, and yet, we can't really fault Baez here. Everyone looks silly against Chapman, and asking a player to come off the bench and hit him seems pretty cruel. While swinging as hard as possible might not be the best idea, it's hardly the worst strategy against a guy who routines destroys hitters.

[On this week's StewPod: Listen to our September MLB predictions.]

Baez was able to recover somewhat on the next pitch. He made contact, which was a huge step in the right direction. Problem is, he grounded into a fielder's choice. He didn't get the job done, but he recovered after a disastrous moment. 

Honestly, we're not even laughing at Baez here. Chapman is awesome, and we know we would look much worse at the plate if we ever had to face him. Also, it's crazy to think any player could come off the bench and immediately hit Chapman.

We sympathize with you, Baez. You'll get 'em next time, we're sure of it!

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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: September 3, 2015, 12:40 am

(Getty Images)As The Stew's Chis Cwik wrote earlier on Wednesday, the New York Mets are being very cautious when it comes to handling their young pitchers.

They've already skipped Matt Harvey once in August. They have designs on skipping rookie right-hander Noah Syndergaard this weekend. And they also fully intend on returning to a six-man rotation with the return of Steven Matz. 

Those are all protective measures instituted to limit the innings on their young arms. With Harvey, though, it's proving to be a little more complicated as doctors have advised the Mets to limit his innings to 180.

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As Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports, the doctors have not issued a mandate. It's a suggestion, but it's one the Mets figure to take seriously given that Harvey is in his first year back following Tommy John surgery. In fact, manager Terry Collins already acknowledged that Harvey will have at least one more start skipped again down the stretch, with the potential for a second that's likely based on the standings. 

Based on the doctor's advice, the latter might be in the Mets best interests regardless. Harvey enters his start Wednesday against Philadelphia with 160 innings already under his belt, meaning he'd be on pace to blow past the 180 threshold. With the six-man rotation taken into account, Rubin figures Harvey would make four more starts during the regular season. Unless the Mets plan on limiting those to strict five-inning outings, he'd end up surpassing 190. 

The good news right now is that the Mets' outlook is very good. They currently hold a 6 1/2 game lead over the Washington Nationals with 30 games left to play. Though not impossible, it would take a combination of an epic collapse on their end and an unrelenting September surge from Washington to flip the script. Assuming things stay on pace, the Mets should be able to buy time for everybody, not just Harvey, down the stretch.  

Of course, that leads to the next and perhaps greatest concern of Mets fans: What will Harvey's availability be during the playoffs?

At this point, Rubin says the Mets are treating it separately with the hope that all parties will be comfortable unleashing Harvey without limits. There are no current plans to shut him down like the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg in 2012. But he also cautions that Harvey's full availability is not a guarantee either, which suggests any usage they can save now will be beneficial later on. 

[On this week's StewPod: Listen to our September MLB predictions.]

Without question, this is one storyline that needs to be followed closely down the stretch.

If Harvey enters October without restrictions, the Mets are as dangerous as any team in the tournament. Anything less they would still be a tough out because of their rotation depth, but he's an unquestioned difference maker in a month that's often defined by impact pitchers.  

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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: September 2, 2015, 11:36 pm

 This is The StewPod, our weekly baseball podcast with a dash of pop culture. If you dig us, please subscribe and review us on iTunes.

Baseball's getting fun. The games matter more. The tacticians are under more scrutiny. We're watching the standings closer. The dog days are done and we're getting down to the good stuff. Ah yes, September.

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So on this week's StewPod, we're talking about the major September storylines in MLB and making predictions about what's going to happen. Will Matt Williams survive with his job? Will the San Francisco Giants make the postseason? Will the Los Angeles Dodgers put it all together finally? Will the Texas Rangers actually make the playoffs? We hit on all that and much more in this week's podcast.

(Getty Images)

We've got two guests joining us to talk September — The Stew's Israel Fehr, who is making his StewPod debut, and our old pal Bad News Ramen, who has no problem dishing out hard truths.

Here's a full rundown of the show:
• Intro 
• Mike and Chris, reunited 
• September predictions roundtable 
• What TV shows we're into right now. 
• Ranking Disney/Pixar movies

[Music: Eric B & Rakim - "Juice (Know the Ledge)"]

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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: September 2, 2015, 11:09 pm

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams. The New York Mets have surged into first place, while Williams' Nationals haven't been able to keep up.

As a result of the team's recent slide, Williams' moves in the dugout have come under more scrutiny. Things nearly boiled over Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. 

There were a few moments during the contest when fans criticized Williams, but the biggest criticism came in the ninth inning. With the game tied, Williams opted to go with Casey Janssen over Jonathan Papelbon. Janssen had thrown 26 pitches the previous day, and didn't perform particularly well, giving up four runs. Papelbon, on the other hand, was fresh, and has been the better option all season.

Going with Janssen turned out to be the wrong decision. The reliever gave up a three-run walk-off homer to Brandon Moss in the bottom of the inning, giving the Cardinals an 8-5 win.

This, of course, did not go over well with the fans. If they were in charge, it's clear Williams would no longer be running this team.

The fans, however, can't make that call. And, much to their chagrin, the man who can is giving his full support to Williams. General manager Mike Rizzo told a D.C. radio program early Wednesday that he agreed with Williams' decisions during Tuesday's contest, according to Scott Allen of the Washington Post. 

“We’re 55-5 when we have the lead after seven innings, we’re 43-2 when we have a two-run lead after seven innings, so Matt Williams did a masterful job last night, in my mind, putting people in a position to succeed,” Rizzo said. “The sixth and seventh inning that Matt managed was unbelievably well-crafted. He got us to the point where he pushed all the right buttons, put in the lefties for the lefties, got the matchup he wanted and in a real tough situation brought in Blake Treinen because he’s a ground-ball pitcher and you’re trying to induce the double-play ball.”

There's a lot to break down here, so let's start with Rizzo's comments. First off, it's no surprise that he would publicly back Williams. Even if there are doubts about Williams' ability to manage the club moving forward, Rizzo wouldn't come out and say that. He's not going to throw his manager under the bus, and that's probably a smart move.

(AP Photo)

However, it's also tough to look at some of Williams' missteps this season and think Rizzo is satisfied. It's not just this game, but there have been plenty of other times this season when Williams' bullpen management has been scrutinized. His refusal to use Drew Storen or Jonathan Papelbon in the team's most recent series with the Mets was heavily criticized among those watching the games. The Nationals lost all three of those contests, and it's part of the reason the club is in such a bad place right now.

During Tuesday's game, Williams was put in an unfortunate position after Storen had a melt down in the eighth inning. If Storen had performed well, this whole situation could have been avoided. His struggles set the stage for Williams' ninth-inning blunder.

It appears Williams didn't even consider Papelbon an option for the ninth inning during Tuesday's game. He doubled down on that sentiment while doing a radio hit in D.C. on Wednesday morning, according to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. 

“All these people want to know why Papelbon isn’t in the game. Because we lost,” Williams continued. “He’s our closer. He’s the the one that closes the game. Now when you’re at home, it’s a different story. It’s a different story because you always have the hammer at home. You always have the last at-bat at home. But on the road it’s a different story. You know, 99 times out of 100, every single manager is not going to use their closer on the road in a tie game because they need somebody to close that game.”

Williams might be right about that. We rarely see managers turn to their closers in tied games, even though many have argued against traditional closer usage. We have, however, seen managers get away from conventional thinking during playoff games, or games with playoff implications. Every game the Nationals play at this point carries that type of intensity, and Williams doesn't seem to be willing to stray from the norm. Instead of giving his team the best chance to extend the game, Williams saved his best reliever for a situation that never materialized.

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The entire situation is a mess. Williams continues to make the same mistakes, and they are receiving even more attention now that the Nationals are collapsing. There's been so much scrutiny about Williams that his general manager had to come out and issue support for his manager.

These situations rarely end well. While Rizzo pretty much has to issue public support for Williams, you wonder whether he would express the same feelings behind closed doors.

Someone is going to have to take the fall for the Nationals late-season collapse. Given his very public failures, Williams seems like the most expendable candidate.

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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: September 2, 2015, 9:42 pm

(AP Photo)You might not believe us, but we here at The Stew have acquired a time machine. Allow us to take you on a journey, all the way back to the year 2013.

You're sitting in an establishment debating baseball with your friends. The topic of no-hitters comes up. Since it's a fun game, you decide to ask your buddies which pitchers they think will throw a no-hitter during their careers.

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The first couple answers are typical. Your buddies rattle off all the biggest names in the game. Then, your pal across the table speaks up. He's probably had too much to drink at this point, but it doesn't matter. "Jake Arrieta," he says. The table scoffs at him.

"Jake Arrieta," you say, dumbfounded. "The guy with the career 5.23 ERA in the majors?" 

"I still believe he'll figure it out someday," your friend replies. 

Let's travel back to the present. Your friend was right. Arrieta struggled mightily early in his career, but has blossomed into an ace with the Chicago Cubs. Now, at age 29, Arrieta is 17-6 with a 2.11 ERA this season. He has 190 strikeouts against 44 walks and has Sunday's no-hitter on his list of accomplishments.

With that in mind, we've asked our experts to play a similar game. Which pitcher is next in line for a similar breakout? We're looking for guys who haven't put it all together yet, but have some skills, or have shown enough promise to make us believe.

(Getty Images)

MICHAEL PINEDA, NEW YORK YANKEES
Since arriving in the Bronx in a then-blockbuster trade with the Mariners in 2012, Pineda has not lived up to expectations. Injuries have been a major factor. After being an All-Star in his rookie 2011 season he missed all of 2012 with a rotator cuff injury then spent 2013 in the minors. His 2014 big-league season with the Yankees was off to a fine start before he was shutdown with a shoulder injury. He’s missed 25 games in 2015.

But the talent is there and if he can stay healthy for a 200-inning season, he has the potential to be very good. He has a five-pitch arsenal and tremendous movement though he’s lost some velocity since his rookie season. Pineda has the physical tools and potential to be a star, and to continue being drafted by me too early in fantasy drafts, waiting for him to breakout. (Ian Denomme)

DREW HUTCHISON, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
A popular breakout pick before the 2015 season started, Drew Hutchison has posted a 4.87 ERA in 25 starts and was even sent down to the minors for two weeks in August. If we can learn anything from Arrieta's arrival as an ace though, it's that sometimes it takes time for even the most talented arms to settle down and settle in.

For the second straight year, Hutchison's ERA is significantly worse than his FIP predicts it should be. His strikeout (20.3%) and walk rates (6.7%) are both above league average, but his results so far don't reflect the peripheral numbers. What's holding the 25-year-old right-hander back is inconsistency with his slider and getting down on himself too quickly after a poor stretch on the mound. Easier said than done, but if he can clear those two hurdles, Hutchison's got a chance to be real good. (Israel Fehr)

(AP Photo)JAIME GARCIA, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
After a promising rookie campaign in 2010, St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia had pretty much fallen off the radar. Not necessarily due to performance, which has always been fair to pretty good when healthy.

But the problem has always been just that, staying healthy. From 2012-2014, Garcia made just 36 starts due to three separate shoulder injuries. When his name turned up on the disabled list again this spring, it was fair to question if he might be done completely. Now he's back though and he's finally looking completely healthy, which had led to impressive results. In 14 starts, he's posted a minuscule 2.03 ERA. It's a small sample size, but it's also a reminder that Garcia has the ability to make a difference.

Garcia's road to redemption might be slightly different from Arrieta's because he's never truly bottomed out, but a good run of health could put him on the same track to fulfilling his potential. (Mark Townsend)

(Getty Images)

RUBBY DE LA ROSA, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
It's never been a matter of "stuff" with De La Rosa. His fastball averages 95.48 mph, and that was enough for the Red Sox and the D-Backs to take a chance on the youngster. Tommy John surgery delayed his chances of receiving significant playing time early in his career, but he finally became a full-time starter this season.

While his peripherals are solid, that hasn't shown up in his ERA. De La Rosa's 4.46 ERA is 10 percent worse than the league average. He's managed this despite a solid strikeout rate, much better walk rate and strong ground ball numbers. Normally, when pitchers do those three things well, the results are better than this.

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De La Rosa's biggest issue seems to be the lack of the third pitch and a home-run problem. When he misses his spots, or when his stuff isn't perfect, it leads to a lot of big flies. Getting out of homer-happy Chase Field will help with that, and working with a new pitching coach could help him develop that third pitch. The stuff is tantalizing, he just needs someone to fully unlock it. (Chris Cwik)

(AP Photo)TREVOR BAUER, CLEVELAND INDIANS
We’ve seen flashes from Trevor Bauer that suggest he’s getting close to delivering on his potential. Bauer, 24 and a former No. 3 overall pick, looked poised for a breakout this season, but he’s been a one-step forward, one-step back pitcher thus far. He looked good in the first half, but his post-All Star break ERA of 5.44 is not good at all.

Bauer struggles with walks (his 67 lead the AL this season), but when he’s on, he can be tough to hit. He’s had three games this season with 10 or more strikeouts. Bauer’s path could end up being like Max Scherzer, who was also drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and traded away early in his career. They’re both smart pitchers who didn’t exactly thrill early on. Scherzer got it together and became one of the best pitchers in baseball. Bauer’s still just 24, so he has plenty of time to get right before he hits his prime. (Mike Oz)

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Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: September 2, 2015, 7:09 pm

The Kansas City Royals are cruising to the American League Central title, and even though the clubhouse is currently guarding against a chickenpox outbreak, their confidence is still sky-high.

That confidence certainly extends to the group of people cheering them on.

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Cameras spotted a young Royals fan at Tuesday night's game at Kauffman Stadium against Detroit enjoying an ice cream cone. And when we say enjoying it, we mean really enjoying it.

Three words for you: Treat. Yo. Self. http://t.co/jfPl29dP9z pic.twitter.com/jXgBN96WKJ

— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) September 2, 2015

The kid attacked his ice cream like the back-end of the Royals' lights-out bullpen attacks opposing hitters with their fastballs: fearlessly. It mustn't have taken long for his face to be covered in glorious mint chocolate chip, and he could not have been more delighted.

It didn't matter at all that Kansas City was trailing the Tigers and would lose the game 6-5. There was some ice cream to be eaten, and our young hero wasn't going to let anything get in his way.

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Life's good when you're on top. Life's even better when you're on top and savoring a delicious ice cream cone.

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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: September 2, 2015, 3:15 pm

It's September now. And while a good chunk of the sports world is going football crazy, we over here in the land of baseball are pretty excited about the month ahead of us too. We've got playoff races to watch, divisions to decide and postseason awards to lock up.

There will be excitement, disappointment, surprise and agony — and that might only be in the NL East.

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As we size up the month ahead, there are storylines abound, from these surprising teams like the New York Mets and the Houston Astros to the juggernauts hoping to escape disappointment like the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers.

So The Stew's Mike Oz and Chris Cwik are here with the 10 most important storylines for the month ahead. Get ready, baseball fans, because this is going to be a fun one.

(AP)

1. Can the Nats make a run … and what happens if they don’t?
No team will inspire more agony, anger and mockery than the Washington Nationals if they don't make the playoffs. They were World Series favorites who will probably be also-rans by the end of this month. Entering Tuesday’s action, they’re nine games back from a wild-card spot and have a better chance of winning the NL East, where they’re 6.5 behind the New York Mets. If neither happens, if the Nats are sitting at home in October while people laugh about Bryce Harper’s “Where My Ring?” comment, there will be ramifications. Matt Williams will probably lose his job as manager, for one. And Harper’s MVP case — once thought to be a lock — may not be as strong. (Mike Oz)

• • •
(Getty Images)

2. The NL Central features the best three teams in the National League
The big question here is whether the injured St. Louis Cardinals can hold off the surging Pittsburgh Pirates. St. Louis has been able to remain in the driver’s seat all season despite injuries to Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday, among others. Though they might opt to rest some of their starters in anticipation of a postseason run, the Cardinals still look like the team to beat in the Central. Pittsburgh is absolutely a threat, but it’s tough to bet against St. Louis at this point. (Chris Cwik)

• • •
(Getty Images)

3. The Dodgers and the Giants battle for the West
As strong as the NL Central is, there probably isn’t room in the postseason for both the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have a 5.5 game lead in the division and still have the best World Series odds, according to Fangraphs. But the Dodgers have been an up-and-down team all year. While we’re waiting for them to show some of that $300-million muscle, they’re getting no-hit twice in nine days. So the Giants very much have a chance. They have the third-easiest schedule in baseball until the end of the season, playing the Rockies, Padres, Reds, D-Backs and A’s. The only above.-500 team on their schedule is, in fact, the Dodgers. They’ve got four games together at the end of the season in S.F. and they finish a three-game series in L.A. on Wednesday. (Mike Oz)

• • •
(The Canadian Press via AP)

4. Will the Blue Jays finally break their playoff drought?
Get excited, Toronto fans, because it looks like that playoff drought is coming to an end. Everyone knew the Blue Jays could hit, but the team’s pitching staff has actually been much better since the trade deadline. Picking up David Price certainly helped, but R. A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Marco Estrada have all put up decent numbers as well. For a large portion of the year, the Blue Jays have had the best run differential in baseball. The Yankees are a big threat, but it’s starting to look like they won’t be able to unseat Toronto in the AL East. (Chris Cwik)

• • •
(AP)

5. Are chickenpox the only thing that can stop the Royals?
The Kansas City Royals wouldn’t say it themselves, but they’re basically on cruise control. They’re 80-51 entering Wednesday, the best mark in the AL, and have a 13-game lead in the Central. Nobody’s catching them unless there’s a catastrophic collapse and that’s not happening unless the whole team comes down with a disease or something. So do you want to hear the latest news out of K.C.? There's a chickenpox outbreak in the Royals' clubhouse. Two players — Kelvin Herrera and Alex Rios — will be out for at least two weeks and the team is hoping no one is infected. Is that enough to derail the Royals' postseason hopes? Hardly. But it might bring a little more chaos than expected to their final month. (Mike Oz)

• • •
(Getty Images)

6. Get ready for another crazy MVP debate
Unless Mike Trout or Josh Donaldson go into a complete tailspin during the final month of the regular season, we’re about to have one of the best MVP debates in recent history. Trout currently leads the pair in on-base percentage, but Donaldson has a slight lead in average and slugging percentage. He also holds a slight advantage according to fWAR, but it’s close enough that you could make the argument for either player. The numbers are close enough that the on-base difference might make Trout the frontrunner right now, but thankfully we have another month before we have to make that decision. (Chris Cwik)

• • •
(Getty Images)

7. Can Astros really win the AL West? Like, is that really happening?
Sometimes you just have to rub your eyes and ask if what’s in front of you is really happening. Like with the 2015 Houston Astros. We’ve loved the Astros’ underdog story all year and now, in September, things are getting really real. Like, this could actually happen. They’ve got a three-game lead in the AL West and even if that falls apart, they should be good for a postseason spot. The sneaky Texas Rangers are hanging out in division race, but the Los Angeles Angels, the favorites in the spring are 6.5 back. It’s won’t be a cakewalk into October, but the Astros look poised to at least get into the postseason. Yes, for real. (Mike Oz)

• • •
(AP)

8. Did you bet on Kris Bryant to win the NL ROY award? Good!
Kris Bryant was the odds on favorite to take home the award at the beginning of the season, but found himself in a tough fight with Joc Pederson over the first few months. Pederson’s production has dropped off recently, but now Bryant has to deal with the pesky Matt Duffy. Duffy has a much higher average, but Bryant leads him in nearly every other offensive category. Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang is also lurking in the background. There’s still a chance both players can make a late surge, but Bryant still looks like the favorite. (Chris Cwik)

• • •
(Getty Images)

9. Will the Mets' young starters be fresh in October?
Led by a young pitching staff, it’s looking like the New York Mets are bound for the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Having a young rotation is somewhat of a double-edged sword, though. While those young pitchers have played a pivotal role in the club’s success, there are concerns about innings limits. The club has already talked about giving Matt Harvey a rest, and it appears the same will happen with Noah Syndergaard. The Mets need both players to be fresh for a possible October run, but they need to make sure sitting their studs doesn’t lead to an epic collapse. (Chris Cwik)

• • •
(Getty Images)

10. The second AL wild-card is going to be the most chaotic race to watch
The playoff spot that will undoubtedly bring the most fun, chaos and unpredictability to baseball is the second AL wild card. The runner-up in the AL East, either the Yankees or Blue Jays should get the first one, but the second spot? Shoot, even the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners are only eight games out. The Rangers own it at current (with a one-game cushion before Wednesday’s action), but the Twins, Angels, Rays and Indians are all within five games. If you’re looking for the race that will most likely come down to the final day, this is it. (Mike Oz)

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: September 2, 2015, 6:58 am

Opposing pitchers take note: Do not fall asleep when Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is on the bases. San Diego Padres reliever Kevin Quackenbush did not take heed of this warning Tuesday, and he paid for it dearly.

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With his team already up 7-4, Andrus reached third base with two outs in the seventh inning. He must have really wanted to extend the lead, because he took it upon himself to score another run.

Quackenbush got set on the mound, but apparently forgot about Andrus over at third. Noticing this, Andrus broke for the plate. Andrus made it more than halfway to home before Quackenbush finally reacted to what was happening.

Given Andrus' speed, it's no surprise Quackenbush was a bit flustered when he saw the shortstop charging towards home. A good throw may have resulted in an out, but Quackenbush's toss wound up on the first base side of home plate. 

Catcher Austin Hedges snagged the ball and turned to tag Andrus, but it was already too late. Andrus beat the tag, pulling off the incredible steal of home. 

It was the first time since 2000 that the Rangers pulled off the feat. 

According to STATS Inc., the last Ranger with a straight steal of home was Scarborough Green on May 26, 2000 versus Minnesota.

— John Blake (@RangerBlake) September 2, 2015

Amazingly, Andrus last stole home in 2013. That came on the back of a double steal, so it's not as impressive, but still it's pretty cool.

We know it was late, Kevin Quackenbush, but you can't try to catch some Zs with Elvis Andrus on the bases. If you are going to take a quick nap on the mound, it's much safer to do so with a catcher out there.

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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: September 2, 2015, 6:37 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.

The St. Louis Cardinals showed why they have the best record in baseball Tuesday night against the Washington Nationals. The club pulled off an incredible come from behind victory, beating Washington 8-5.

It didn't come easy. The Cardinals entered the eighth inning down two runs, but managed to come back. Washington's bullpen certainly aided in that comeback.

After putting two men on base to start the inning, reliever Drew Storen made a costly throwing error, allowing one run to score. Another run would cross the plate on a double play, tying things up.

In order to hold the lead in the ninth, manager Matt Williams called upon Casey Janssen. Janssen could not get the job done. Though he managed to pick up two outs quickly, Janssen couldn't keep the Cardinals from rallying.

Cody Stanley would double with two outs. That was followed up by a Tommy Pham walk. With two men on, Brandon Moss stepped to the plate. 

On the second pitch Moss saw from Janssen, he clobbered an 87 mph fastball out to center for the three-run walk-off blast.

With the win, St. Louis improved to 86-46 on the year. The Nationals fell to 66-65. Washington remains 6.5 games behind the Mets in the National League East.

TORONTO GETS WALK-OFF HOMER FROM UNLIKELY SOURCE

The Toronto Blue Jays bats came through once again Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians. This time, however, an unlikely candidate helped lead them to a 5-3 win.

Toronto was all set to wrap things up in nine innings, but the Indians had other plans. Yan Gomes hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning, tying the game 3-3. The Blue Jays were unable to score in the bottom of the frame, sending the game to extras.

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Brett Cecil tossed a scoreless 10th for Toronto, leaving the Blue Jays' bats to do their usual work. The middle of the order had batted during the previous inning, however, meaning the bottom of the order would have to get things done.

They came through. Ryan Goins belted a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th to give Toronto the 5-3 victory.

With the win, the Blue Jays improved to 75-57. The club holds a 1.5 game lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East.

YANKEES KEEP PACE IN THE EAST

The New York Yankees continued to keep pace in the AL East on Tuesday, defeating their long-time rival. New York bullpen made sure to keep the Boston Red Sox off the board during the club's 3-1 win.

Starter Michael Pineda did a pretty good job of that as well. Pineda allowed just one run on four hits over six innings. He did not issue any walks and struck out seven during the contest. 

Unsurprisingly, the Yankees bullpen was able to close things out from there. Dellin Betances did give up three hits during his 1 1/3 innings pitched, but was able to work out of trouble. Andrew Miller struck out the side in the ninth, preserving the victory.

With the win, New York improved to 73-58 on the year.

SCHWARBER'S BLAST KEEPS CUBS ON TOP

The Chicago Cubs have relied on their young hitters all season, and Tuesday was no different. Kyle Schwarber played the hero during the club's 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

With the Cubs trailing by one, Schwarber stepped to the plate with a man on in the seventh inning. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Schwarber belted an 84 mph splitter for the go-ahead two-run blast. 

The rookie has been pretty locked in lately.

9 National Leaguers have 30+ RBI since the All-Star Break. 3 of them are #Cubs 32 Schwarber 31 Bryant 30 Rizzo

— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 2, 2015

With the win, Chicago improved to 75-56. They hold a 6.5 game over the San Francisco Giants for the second wild card spot in the National League.

Want to see more from Tuesday'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: September 2, 2015, 5:53 am

The Miami Marlins have decided to reverse course. The club will ask manager Dan Jennings abandon his role as manager in order to return to the front office at the end of the season, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.

Sources: #Marlins will ask Jennings to step down as manager and resume role as GM. If Jennings agrees, change would occur at end of season.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 2, 2015

UPDATE: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald took things even further Tuesday, saying Jennings could return to the front office, but it may not be as the general manager. Owner Jeffrey Loria is apparently planning on major changes within the organization, and that could impact Jennings' status. Sources also told Spencer the relationship between Loria and Jennings has become strained after the team's struggles this season. 

The Marlins fired Mike Redmond after the team went 16-22 to start the season. In an unorthodox move, the club opted to have Jennings step out of the front office and into the dugout. Jennings hasn't been much better than his predecessor, going 37-57. He did have to manage a fair amount of those games without slugger Giancarlo Stanton, but it's not like Jennings reinvigorated the club.(Getty Images)

Jennings' era as manager hasn't been smooth. There were initial rumblings that the clubhouse had a tough time adjusting to their general manager now making on-field decisions. Members of the team even skipped a charity event shortly after Jennings took over, and though it was never officially called a protest of the hire, that didn't stop people from speculating. 

It should be noted that most of those concerns have died down recently, and the Marlins have plugged along as usual. The fact that the organization wants to retain Jennings seems to imply that the clubhouse didn't descend into complete anarchy once he took over. The team was bad, sure, but it was bad under Redmond as well.

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It's unclear what happens if Jennings wants to remain in the dugout. Rosenthal's report seems to imply the Marlins would like to go a different direction next season, meaning Jennings would have to look for work elsewhere. Presumably, he could also look for a new front office role elsewhere in this scenario. That would give him an opportunity to get away from Jeffrey Loria. 

It would seem likely Jennings would stay if he can slot back into his former position, though. General manager is the higher title, and Jennings would presumably be able to hire his successor in the dugout. Now that he has experience in that area, perhaps Jennings is better suited to pick the ideal manager for the club. 

There are only 30 general manager positions in the game and Jennings has an opportunity to slide back into one after a down season. Given the rumors about his relationship with Loria, though, Jennings might be one of the few to turn down that chance.

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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: September 2, 2015, 4:30 am

The Colorado Rockies may have lost Tuesday, but it wasn't all bad. The club pulled off the improbable, picking up a triple play against the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

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Allow us to set the stage. Ender Inciarte led off the inning with a double. The next batter, Phil Gosselin, walked, putting men on first and second for slugger Paul Goldschmidt.

On the third pitch of his at-bat, Goldschmidt hit a line drive to Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes. Curiously, both the runners were moving on the play. Reyes made the catch for the first out, fired to second for the second out and watched as second baseman DJ LeMahieu casually tossed the ball to first for the triple play.

Even though Goldschmidt was at the center of the play, he seemed to handle it pretty well, according to Dargan Southard of MLB.com.

"It's part of the game," Goldschmidt said. "It may never happen again to me, personally. They got really good jumps. It was unfortunate. It maybe would have been nice to just take and let them get second and third with no or one out, but it was a good pitch to hit. It just happened to be right at him."

Though the Rockies haven't been around that long, the franchise has already pulled off four triple plays.

It was the fourth triple play turned in franchise history, including Troy Tulowitzki's famous unassisted triple play on April 29, 2007. The Rockies had last turned a triple play on May 18, 2014, against San Diego.

Goldschmidt became the latest victim of the Rockies incredible defensive magic. The slugger is hitting .324/.416/.557 at Coors Field during his career, so maybe he was due for some bad luck. At the same time, Goldschmidt's line this season is an amazing .323/.439/.560, so pretty much every park is Coors Field as far as he's concerned. 

The Rockies may have won this time, but we're pretty certain Goldschmidt will get the best of them again pretty soon. 

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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: September 2, 2015, 12:30 am
(AP Photo)

The Normal Cornbelters are about to get a lot more interesting. On Wednesday, the independent league club will be managed by former Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen.

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It's not a permanent gig, though. Guillen will serve as the guest manager for just one game. It will be the first time Guillen has served as a manager since 2012. 

The only downside to the whole event is that Guillen won't be able to wear No. 13 in the dugout. That number is worn by Ozney Guillen, Ozzie's son. Ozney is the club's right fielder, and will not give up the number to his dad for the game. 

Guillen said he couldn't persuade his son to give him No. 13, according to the team's press release.

“I’m glad that I can help [Manager Brooks Carey] and this great group of guys that I get along with so well,” said Guillen. “The only bad part is that I can’t use the number 13 because I can’t persuade the guy.”

Since being fired by the Marlins after a 69-93 season in 2012, Guillen has expressed interest in returning to Major League Baseball as a manager. In nine seasons in the role, Guillen compiled a 747-710 record. He also led the White Sox to a World Series championship in 2005. He was also named the AL Manager of the Year that season.

Guillen was known for being outspoken in the dugout, and often got himself in trouble for his off the cuff comments. He was suspended five games by Miami for saying he respected Fidel Castro, and got himself in hot water after using a homosexual slur to describe a Chicago reporter. 

Despite his solid results as a manager, Guillen doesn't really get mentioned when new managerial jobs open up. Perhaps Wednesday's one-time return to the dugout will get his managerial juices flowing again. Love him or hate him, Guillen definitely made the game more exciting when he was around.

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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: September 1, 2015, 10:08 pm

Welcome to September, when baseball gets more serious, we watch the standings closer and even the dingers matter more. There's sure to be an entertaining month of baseball ahead, but before we get there, let's have one last look back at August.

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As is tradition around here, a flip of the calendar means a leaderboard of the top home-run hitters from the previous month. This month, we don't have the same star power we usually do. There's no Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton topping the list. But we do have a new overall No. 1. 

His name is Michael A. Taylor of the Washington Nationals and he's now hit the longest homer of 2015, which is something the Nats' fan base can be proud of amid their disappointing season. Won't make it all better, though. 

Here are the top 5 for August (as seen in the video above) as well as the overall top 10 for the season. All distances via MLB's Statcast system.

(Getty Images)

TOP 5 FOR AUGUST
1. MICHAEL A. TAYLOR, 493 FEET (AUG. 20)
Just like we all predicted at the start of the season.

2. JONATHAN SCHOOP, 485 FEET (AUG. 26)
Salt-N-Pepa would be proud.

3. IAN DESMOND, 477 FEET (AUG. 15)
Good job, Nats, you hit some long homers in August. 

4. PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT, 470 FEET (AUG. 26)
You don't see too many homers to that part of the ballpark, folks.

5. BRETT LAWRIE, 471 FEET (AUG. 28)
See, A's fans, he's just as good as Josh Donaldson. Wait. Oh. No. Sorry.

• • •
(Getty Images)

TOP 10 HOMERS OF THE 2015 SEASON
1. Taylor, 492.8 feet (Aug. 20)
2. Schoop, 484.5 feet (Aug. 26)
3. Nelson Cruz, 482.7 feet (April 29)
4. Josh Donaldson, 481.2 feet (April 23)
5. Hanley Ramirez, 480.5 feet (June 21) 
6. Giancarlo Stanton, 478.6 feet (June 23)
7. Giancarlo Stanton, 478.4 feet (June 5) 
8. Giancarlo Stanton 478.4 feet (May 16)
9. Kris Bryant, 477.4 feet (May 26)
10. Desmond, 477.1 feet (Aug. 15)

PREVIOUSLY: Top homers of July Top homers of June | Top homers of May | Top homers of April 

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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: September 1, 2015, 8:56 pm

Oakland's O.Co Coliseum is often a disappointment, and not just because Billy Beane's torn-down Oakland Athletics have the worst record in the American League this season. No, the Coliseum is generally just a mess. It's outdated, broken down and prone to embarrassing flooding. Plus, the A's have to share space with an NFL team, which makes for a funky bedfellow.

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That was on display Monday night, as the Athletics' game against the Los Angeles Angels was delayed when part of the outfield wall came loose. Shane Victorino crashed into the left-field fence while tracking a fly ball and part of it came unhinged. That's like Single-A shenanigans. 

As you can see, it was a portion of the State Farm advertisement. The game was delayed 10 minutes and both teams left the field while the wall was fixed. (Unfortunately, not by Jake and his khakis). 

(AP)
(AP)

Grounds crew had a quick turnaround after Sunday's Oakland Raiders preseason game, which led to less-than-ideal playing conditions for the A's and Angels. As the L.A. Times reports, the window to change the Coliseum from a football stadium back into a baseball stadium was 22 hours. Things weren't done quickly enough and, as a result, the teams had to cancel batting practice. The outfield was also pretty rough, especially in center field.

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The A's have needed — and deserved, probably — a new stadium for a while. Whether it's in Oakland or somewhere else. That won't happened in the immediate future. They signed a new 10-year lease last summer. This latest OMG O.Co moment won't change anything, but it will serve as a reminder that baseball is being played in subpar conditions in Oakland right now.

On the bright side, at least sewage didn't gush out when the outfield wall came loose. The Coliseum isn't that crappy.

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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: September 1, 2015, 7:39 pm

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants played some weird baseball Monday — 14 innings that stretched past midnight local time. When the Dodgers scored the winning run, on an Adrian Gonzalez single that made the score 5-4 at close to 1 a.m., some early risers on the East Coast were starting their days.

Such times demand drastic rallying powers. If you're the Dodgers, such times demand bananas.

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So Kiké Hernandez, the injured utilityman who introduced the team to the Rally Banana earlier this season, appeared on the Dodgers bench in extra innings in an actual banana suit. It's one thing to post banana emojis on Twitter but another entirely to show up in a bright yellow banana jacket while everyone else is in proper uniform.

The full Kiké Hernandez-Andrew Friedman banana suit anecdote, as told by Hernandez: http://t.co/aMwnqbB6rQ #Dodgers pic.twitter.com/k5RhEyM1Um

— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) September 1, 2015

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The how and why of all this was explained by J.P. Hoornsta of the L.A. Daily News, who learned that Fernandez was sent in banana uniform by none other than team president Andrew Friedman.

The 24-year-old utilityman was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game with a Grade 1 hamstring, so he intentionally went inside the clubhouse in the ninth inning, in case the Dodgers happened to win in their final plate appearance. “I came in here to like contain myself,” he said, thinking that he might further injure his hamstring celebrating on the field.

According to Hernandez, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spotted him in the 12th inning wearing the banana suit. Hernandez said “Andrew saw me and said, ‘you’ve got to go down there.’ I said, I’ll get fined. He said, ‘I’ll pay your fine.’

Well, we know the Dodgers certainly have the money, so that part shouldn't be a problem.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: September 1, 2015, 6:35 pm

Need another example that proves how talented the young players are in MLB these days?

Here's a good one: Michael Conforto's solo blast in the Mets' win Monday was the 150th home run hit by a rookie in August and set the major-league record for most home runs by a rookie class in any single month.

Michael Conforto's HR earlier tonight provided a milestone for MLB rookies pic.twitter.com/L81dKTbuGG

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 1, 2015

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Carlos Correa, Tim Beckham, Addison Russell, Adam Duvall and Mark Canha added homers later on in the night to raise that number to 155.

In total, 56 rookies contributed to the record-breaking haul. Miguel Sano of the Twins and Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs led the way with nine apiece. National League Rookie of the Year frontrunner Kris Bryant smashed seven, as did Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp and Red Sox first baseman Travis Shaw.

It's tough to score runs with how dominant pitchers are right now. To see all these rookies have this kind of success, this fast, is mighty impressive.

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They aren't just doing it in meaningless games either. Conforto, Correa, and the Cubs' trio of Russell, Schwarber and Bryant are on teams in the thick of the playoff race. Could October bring another rookie home-run record?

The future of baseball is in good hands.

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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: September 1, 2015, 4:00 pm

Shoeless Joe Jackson.There were rumblings Monday that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had made a decision about the possible reinstatement of Shoeless Joe Jackson.

It appeared unlikely the decision would be reversed, and that proved to be true. In a letter sent to Arlene Marcley, the president of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville, S.C., Manfred concludes that "it would not be appropriate for me to re-open the matter."

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The letter from the commissioner, dated July 20, was posted on the museum's Facebook page early Tuesday morning:

(Facebook)

Jackson was one of eight members from the 1919 Chicago White Sox team that were banned from baseball by then-commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for allegedly throwing that year's World Series. Dubbed the "Black Sox Scandal," it remains one of the most infamous events in the long history of the game. There have always been questions about Jackson's involvement though. He was acquitted of the charges by a Chicago court, but that did not change his status in baseball. Jackson died in 1951, but his legacy lives on as one of the game's most compelling figures.

Marcley told the Hall of Very Good she had sent a petition with over 16,000 signatures to Bud Selig a few years back, but never received a response. With Manfred taking over the commissioner's office from Selig, Marcley had hoped that a fresh perspective would help Shoeless Joe's case, especially considering public comments Manfred made about Alex Rodriguez.

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It was not be be.

That doesn't mean they're done campaigning to clear Jackson's name. Marcley and the Shoeless Joe Museum are asking fans to make it known to the commissioner that they too believe Jackson should be removed from the league's ineligible list.

Now, about Pete Rose ...

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Author: Israel Fehr
Posted: September 1, 2015, 2:15 pm

(Getty Images)Major League Baseball's waiver trade deadline rarely results in huge deals, but contending teams can still make upgrades while heading into the final month of the season.

The Cubs struck first, picking up Austin Jackson from the Seattle Mariners. While the Cubs were rumored to be involved in acquiring other players, the team was unable to get anything else done prior to the deadline.  

Other contenders must have taken notice, as three more outfielders would change teams before the deadline passed. 

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The Kansas City Royals acquired Jonny Gomes from the Atlanta Braves for minor-league shortstop Luis Valenzuela. The 34-year-old Gomes hasn't hit much over the past two years, but has consistently performed better against lefties over his career. He's not much of a threat defensively, so it looks like he'll mostly be used as a reserve/pinch hitter once the team reaches October. Gomes is also regarded as a strong clubhouse presence, and it's possible the Royals valued that down the stretch. There's no word on whether the Royals will utilize Gomes on the mound

(Getty Images)

The San Francisco Giants added Alejandro De Aza from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for pitcher Luis Ysla. De Aza's overall numbers for the season are underwhelming, though he's been much better since joining Boston. In 60 games with the club, De Aza has hit .292/.347/.484. He did so in just 178 plate appearances, so there's some concern about small sample, but it's clear the Giants think he has something left in his bat. Like Gomes, De Aza is expected to be used as a reserve down the stretch. 

Finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked up Justin Ruggiano from the Mariners for a player to be named later. Ruggiano began the year in the majors, but was sent to Triple-A after hitting just .214. Ruggiano has been more effective against left-handers over his career, and will likely be used as a platoon/bench option in September.

None of the moves made Monday are considered major, though all four players can provide value for their clubs down the stretch. For teams in a playoff race, even the smallest tweak can make a big difference in October.

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: September 1, 2015, 6:38 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.

It may be too late, but the Cleveland Indians are surging heading into September. The club picked up its sixth straight win Monday, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2. 

Starter Danny Salazar was magnificent against the best offense in baseball. Salazar allowed just two runs on six hits over seven strong innings. He walked one and struck out 10 Blue Jays during the performance. 

Though Salazar was great, the team ran into some trouble after he exited the game. Toronto was able to make things interesting in both the eighth and ninth innings.

Bryan Shaw picked up two quick outs to start the eighth, but followed that up by allowing a hit to Jose Bautista. He was removed from the game at that point in favor of closer Cody Allen.

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Allen looked shaky to kick things off. After a single from Edwin Encarnacion put men on second and third, Allen intentionally walked Troy Tulowitzki after falling behind in the count 2-0. He was able to strike out Justin Smoak to end the frame.

Things weren't any easier in the ninth, though. Allen allowed two singles in the inning, bringing the winning run to the plate twice. Ben Revere popped out, setting the stage for American League MVP candidate Josh Donaldson to play the hero.

For once, Donaldson couldn't get the job done. Allen struck him out, preserving the victory. With the win, Cleveland improved to 64-66 on the year. The team is just four games out of the second wild card spot in the AL.

DALLAS KEUCHEL LEADS ASTROS TO ANOTHER WIN

In what should come as no surprise, the Houston Astros won a game with Dallas Keuchel on the mound Monday. Keuchel was excellent, helping his team pull off the 8-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

The AL Cy Young award candidate tossed seven strong innings, allowing one run on six hits. He struck out eight and walked one during the contest.

With the win, Keuchel became the first 16-game winner in the American League. He did some show that he was human during the start, though, giving up his first home run in Minute Maid Park this season. 

Trumbo's HR was first off Keuchel at Minute Maid Park this year in 367 at-bats. He'd started 17 straight here since last HR in 2014.

— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) September 1, 2015

Coming into the game, Keuchel had a 1.35 ERA at home this year. He's still in good shape, despite the home run.

With the win, Houston improved to 73-59 on the season. They are four games up on the Texas Rangers in the AL West.

METS CONTINUE WINNING WAYS

The New York Mets gained a game in the standings Monday. The club did so by riding Bartolo Colon to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Colon had everything working during the contest. He kept the Phillies off the board for eight innings, giving up just four hits. Colon struck out nine and walked one.

He was backed by Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson. Both players hit home runs in the fifth inning, giving Colon a three-run lead. 

Jeurys Familia came on in the ninth, and made things interesting before finally closing it out. Familiar loaded the bases to kick things off. One run would come around to score, but Familia would induce a double play. With one out, and the tying run at the plate, Familia struck out Andres Blanco for the win.

With the victory, the Mets improved to 73-58. They hold a 6.5 game lead over the Washington Nationals in the NL East.

NATIONALS BULLPEN CAN'T GET IT DONE

The Mets were able to gain a game Monday after the Washington Nationals bullpen imploded. The Nats couldn't hold a lead against the St. Louis Cardinals, eventually falling 8-5. 

The loss was a real let-down for Washington. After the club fell behind by two runs early, the Nationals managed to claw their way back into the game. 

The team cut the deficit to one run in the sixth, and managed to take a two-run lead on a Ryan Zimmerman home run the following inning. It wouldn't last.

In the bottom of the frame, Casey Janssen struggled to pick up outs. While he did induce a double play ball, it was too late. Janssen was removed after allowing the Cards to tie things up. Felipe Rivero came on in relief, but gave up a two-run double to Jason Heyward and a run-scoring single to Kolten Wong. 

After the five-run inning, the Cardinals kept the Nationals off the board. With the win, St. Louis improved to 85-46 on the year.

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

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: September 1, 2015, 6:10 am

It's been a disappointing year for Boston Red Sox fans, but there's still a chance to celebrate before the season ends. Designated hitter David Ortiz is inching closer to reaching 500 home runs for his career, and should reach that goal at some point in September. 

Ortiz belted No. 494 on Sunday, prompting the Red Sox to put up a banner in left field that would count down his home runs until he reached that magical number.

#RedSox counting down to 500 homers for @davidortiz pic.twitter.com/INXx2B0nAr

— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) August 31, 2015

It didn't take long for them to tear down the first number. 

In the bottom of the fourth inning during Monday's contest against the New York Yankees, Ortiz collected No. 495. He belted an 85 mph changeup from Ivan Nova to the opposite field for the solo shot.

Ortiz came dangerously close to hitting the banner the Red Sox put up for him. It was as if he were saying, "I hate that banner, I want it to be gone and I will do everything in my power to make that happen quickly."

It was Ortiz's 29 home run of the season. While the 39-year-old started the season slowly, he's on pace to match his numbers from last year. 

David Ortiz in 2014: .263/.355/.517 35 HR. David Ortiz in 2015: .263/.354/.525 on pace for 36 HR.

— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) September 1, 2015

Ortiz's run to No. 500 is somewhat amazing considering his career. While he showed some promise with the Minnesota Twins, Ortiz didn't develop into an All-Star until his age-28 season in Boston.

Given his late start and body type, few expected he would continue producing at this rate this late in his career. Ortiz's batting average has fallen off, sure, but he can still get on base and provide power at an above-average clip. Few players can do that at his age. 

If he can keep up this pace, Ortiz will achieve the milestone hit at some point in September. Since 500 home runs is a nice, round number, that ought to spark a more furious debate about Ortiz's Hall of Fame candidacy. Hitting 500 home runs in no longer a lock for the Hall, but it should help Ortiz's cause.

Until then, Ortiz will continue to build his case. The Red Sox hold club options on Ortiz's contract through 2017. Next year's option may have already been guaranteed, giving him at least another season to pad his stats. 

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Based on Ortiz's graceful decline, it would be tough to count him out for 2017 as well. Most hitters are out of the league at his age, and the few who stick around struggle to hit above the Mendoza Line. As he's already proven during his amazing career, David Ortiz isn't most hitters. 

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: September 1, 2015, 4:31 am

 

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier is known for his stellar defense in the outfield. That hasn't come across lately, as Kiermaier looked silly on a recent home run ball that hit the catwalk.

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He made up for that Monday against the Baltimore Orioles, though. In the bottom of the first inning, Manny Machado hit a ball out to deep center. It certainly had the distance to leave the park, that is, until Kiermaier showed up. 

Kiermaier not only tracked the ball perfectly, but was able to jump high enough to make the play. He didn't even use the wall to boost himself up, making the catch even more impressive. You can tell based on where Kiermaier makes the catch that Machado had a no-doubt home run taken away from him on the play. 

Amazingly, it looks like Kiermaier may have predicted his excellent defensive play prior to the contest.

#Rays Kiermaier talking pre-game: "If I have to go back there and jump and take one away, I’d love to do it.”

— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 31, 2015

So, on top of flying, we can now assume Kiermaier also has psychic abilities. We're not sure a baseball player has ever been compared to Jean Grey before, but we're willing to go there. How else can you explain this series of events? 

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: September 1, 2015, 12:13 am
(AP Photo)

The Chicago Cubs aren't playing around. With about a month left before the playoffs, the team is still looking for ways to improve. They showed as much Monday, acquiring outfielder Austin Jackson from the Seattle Mariners. 

Hearing Jackson has been traded to the Cubs.

— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) August 31, 2015

The move, while not major, should help the team down the stretch. Jorge Soler is currently sidelined due to an oblique issue, and neither Chris Coghlan or Chris Denorfia have established themselves as full-time options. 

Jackson is hitting .272/.312/.387, so he isn't really an upgrade at the plate. He can play center field and has some value as a pinch runner, though. Jackson's stolen base figures are somewhat questionable, as he's been caught nine times this season, but he's the type of guy who could go first to third on a single, and that can make a big difference during a playoff game. 

The Cubs aren't counting on Jackson to be a full-time player, and that's probably a good thing. While he could probably still start on other teams, he'll make for one heck of a fourth outfielder with Chicago. The club didn't give up much to acquire Jackson, so the move makes sense. 

Austin Jackson traded to Cubs for player to be named and possible international slot.

— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) August 31, 2015

For Seattle, the trade allows them to get a look at Brad Miller in center. Miller hasn't really developed as a shortstop, but the team is still looking for a way to keep him involved. If he can prove himself over the final month, there's a chance he'll work his way into the team's future plans. If not, the club will be looking for replacements during the offseason. 

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While the trade benefits both clubs, the Cubs side is more significant now. It doesn't look like a major acquisition on paper, but Jackson could play a significant role down the stretch if used correctly. 

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: August 31, 2015, 10:52 pm

(AP Photo)Rob Manfred has reportedly come to a decision on whether to reinstate former Chicago White Sox great Shoeless Joe Jackson. Arlene Marcley, curator of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville, S.C., will reveal Jackson's fate on the museum's Facebook page Tuesday, according to Greenville Online.

Shortly after Manfred took office, Marcley organized a petition asking him to consider reinstating the outfielder. Jackson was one of the eight members of the 1919 White Sox who were banned from the game by former commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis after allegedly throwing the World Series. 

Jackson was accused of accepting a bribe to throw games, though he was acquitted of those charges by a Chicago court. Despite the acquittal, Jackson remains banned from baseball.

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This whole reinstatement situation is a little strange. If Jackson were being reinstated, you would think Major League Baseball would make that announcement. At the same time, the fact that the museum is promoting the announcement makes it look like that's exactly what's going to happen. 

Of course, it's possible Jackson won't be reinstated, and the museum is releasing the news in order to get some attention. It's starting to look like that's the case.

For what it's worth, Shoeless Joe Jackson is not getting reinstated by MLB tomorrow

— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 31, 2015

If that's what happens, we can't really fault the museum for promoting the story. If they have a letter from Manfred ruling on Jackson's reinstatement, even if it's a negative outcome, that's still significant to them. Plus, a little self promotion in this case is hardly the worst thing.

If Manfred has truly made a decision regarding Jackson's reinstatement, questions about Pete Rose are sure to follow. A decision on Rose is expected by the end of the year, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer

While the two cases aren't directly connected, it would be tough to see Rose allowed back in the game if Jackson remains ineligible. Jackson was at least acquitted by a jury, while Rose accepted a lifetime ban and admitted to gambling on baseball. Letting one of them in while the other remains out doesn't make a lot of sense unless Manfred is all-in on the Rose redemption tour. 

In Jackson's case, it looks like we'll have our answer Tuesday. Reinstating Jackson would be a major story that could have huge implications regarding how Manfred will approach the Rose decision. If something that big is going to happen, we doubt MLB would allow anyone else to break the news.

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: August 31, 2015, 9:52 pm

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Derek Holland had an excellent day Sunday. He threw a three-hit shutout against the Baltimore Orioles with 11 strikeouts as the Texas Rangers won 6-0. It was Holland's third start since returning from a shoulder injury that had him sidelined since April.

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Holland has a little something extra in his corner these days. And if you're a fan of baseball movies, you're sure to love this. The 28-year-old has fully embraced "Major League" and now has a Jobu doll in his locker to go along with the Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn-inspired haircut he's been sporting for the past couple weeks. 

Why, yes, @Dutch_Oven45 does have a Ricky Vaughn haircut and now a Jobu altar in his locker. http://t.co/69btweVeuX pic.twitter.com/3iOHFhuhpO

— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) August 30, 2015

Like those overachieving fictional Indians, the current Rangers are surpassing everyone's expectations. They'd be in the playoffs if the season ended right now, owners of the second AL wild card. They are also within range to challenge the Houston Astros for the AL West title, three games out entering Monday's action.

Since we at The Stew are devoted fans of "Major League" and Jobu, we give Holland a round of applause. But we also think all of this deserves a little more inspection. First, here's the haircut: 

And now, here's the video Holland posted to Instagram unboxing the Jobu doll that a fan sent him after his public display of Wild Thing-ness:

Other Rangers fans seem to be on board too. Holland posted the fan-made pic below on his Instagram on Monday afternoon. It has Adrian Beltre as "Major League's" Pedro Cerrano and some of the other Rangers, including Holland and Elvis Andrus, gathered around him like the famous scene from the movie where Jobu is introduced:

Because you might be wondering: Officially licensed replica Jobu dolls were released earlier this year by a company called Jobu Lifestyle. They sell for about $35

BLS H/N: Dallas Morning News

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: August 31, 2015, 9:23 pm

Jake Arrieta's no-hitter Sunday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers was the sixth of the season in MLB. That's quite a lot for something we usually think of being so rare and so memorable. Can you even remember the others from this season?

Astros pitcher Mike Fiers celebrates his Aug. 21 no-hitter. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)Well, there was Mike Fiers nine days earlier against those same Dodgers. Hisashi Iwakuma threw one Aug. 12 for the Seattle Mariners. That's three in August alone. Who else?

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Oh yeah, Cole Hamels in July, when he was still with the Phillies. Max Scherzer threw one in June. That's five, who are we missing? Oh yeah, San Francisco Giants rookie Chris Heston, the least-known name on this list, who threw the first no-no of 2015 on June 9.

Point being: There have been so many no-hitters this season, it's getting hard to keep track. If you could name all six pitchers who threw one without looking it up, props to you. The no-hitter in baseball — like the outrageous Miley Cyrus awards-show outfit — just gets more and more common by the year it seems. 

We're up to 30 this decade and on pace for 47 before 2020, according to Cork Gaines of Business Insider. The most in any decade in baseball history is 33, back in the pitcher-friendly 1960s. The 2010s should easily surpass that, unless commissioner Rob Manfred passes a rule next year that says pitchers have to throw half the game with their opposite hand. 

The record for no-hitters in a season is eight, which happened in 1884. In the modern era, the record is seven, which happened most recently in 2012 and also in 1990 and 1991. Those records are well within reach considering how things have gone in baseball this season and these past five seasons. Here's a decade-by-decade no-hitter look from Gaines:

MLB no-hitters by decade (frequency of no-nos by games at the link) http://t.co/THuI8lhtw6 pic.twitter.com/r6LqdaYkgn

— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) August 31, 2015

Why is this happening? Why are no-hitters so plentiful? Here are three reasons:

• First, offense as a whole is way down. Last year, MLB games averaged 4.07 runs, the lowest since 4.00 in 1981. This season, that number is 4.20, still significantly lower than 5.14 in 2000 and 4.59 in 2005. If this year's runs-per-game average holds, it would make 2013, 2014 and 2015 three of the four lowest totals since 1991. Some might attribute that to a "cleaner" game with fewer PEDs and perhaps that's true. But do recall that Biogenesis happened in the 2010s.

Catfish Hunter celebrates his perfect game in 1968, one of five no-hitters that season. (AP)• Pitchers and defenses are more prepared than ever, which contributes to the figures above. Thanks to better analytics, data and technology, pitchers can study their opponents better and know their weaknesses. Add to this defensive shifts and alignments that take hitters' tendencies into account and you'll see why it's harder to get a hit.

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• Finally and simply: There are more teams than there were back in the '70s, '80s and '90s and thus, more games being played. For much of the '60s, there were 20 teams in MLB compared to the current 30. So the pitching then was even more dominant.

After 1968 — a year in which five no-hitters were thrown and average scoring was 3.42, an all-time low outside of the dead-ball era — MLB lowered the mound because the pitchers were just too good. They called that 1968 season "the year of the pitcher."

And now, almost 50 years later, it looks like we're living in The Decade of the No-No.

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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: August 31, 2015, 6:50 pm

Mark Shapiro couldn't have picked a better time to come to Toronto. Hired Monday by the Blue Jays to replace retiring team president Paul Beeston, the longtime Cleveland Indians executive will have the power to make an already promising situation even more appealing.

In terms of their place in baseball, the Blue Jays have been a sleeping giant for years. By itself Toronto is a growing market of over six million people, and every game they play is broadcast to a national audience on Sportsnet. Owned by Rogers Communications – a gigantic Canadian telecommunications and media company – Shapiro can expect to be handed a larger budget than what he had in Cleveland.

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Landing Shapiro gives Toronto much-needed stability at the top of the organization and by every indication he's in it for the long haul. After ownership whiffed on Dan Duquette and Kenny Williams in the offseason and just watched Dave Dombrowski take over baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox, they still managed to attract an experienced executive who might even be a better fit than the three other candidates anyway.

Having joined the Indians in 1991, he worked his way up from player development director to general manager in 2001. During his time as GM he was twice named Sporting News' Executive of the Year and his success saw him promoted to team president in 2010.

Shapiro won't officially take over in Toronto until the season ends, but that certainly won't stop him from thinking about what he's going to do next. His first major decision will be whether or not to retain Alex Anthopoulos as GM. Shapiro shouldn't really have to think long and hard about it. Anthopoulos' contract expires Oct. 31, and based on his recent moves – he acquired Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin last offseason and made trades for Troy Tulowitzki and David Price before the deadline – he's absolutely earned himself an extension. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, that's how Shapiro is believed to be leaning.

Anthopoulos' job with Shapiro in charge might differ slightly from what it was like Beeston with at the helm. Rosenthal writes that Shapiro will want "more structure" and "more systematic decision-making," and ultimately that could end up being a significant positive for the franchise going forward.

The work won't stop there either. With grass scheduled to replace the much maligned turf at Rogers Centre for the 2018 season and the stadium needing a bit of a facelift, Shapiro's going to be busy right from the get-go.

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This past month has shown just how big the Blue Jays can be. Their talented roster is winning games at a record pace and in turn, captivating a large audience across Canada. They currently lead the AL East, and their first postseason appearance since they won the World Series back in 1993 is in sight.

Taking into account what he brings and where he's going, Shapiro is in a terrific postion to elevate the Blue Jays to the next level as a business and a baseball team and make sure they stay there for the foreseeable future.

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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: August 31, 2015, 4:30 pm

Can you think of a better way to celebrate a no-hitter than a pajama party?

That's exactly what the Chicago Cubs did following Jake Arrieta's no-no Sunday night at Dodger Stadium.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has been doing themed road trips with his teams since his days with the Rays, and he's brought the practice over to Chicago. The Cubs were going to fly home clad in pajamas regardless of Sunday's result, Arrieta's first career no-hitter just brought the festivities to another level.

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As you can see, the man of the hour was decked out in a mustache-themed onesie when he addressed the media:

Best thing @JArrieta34 did today? Wearing a MUSTACHE onesie to his press conference. #DomiNoNo #Legend pic.twitter.com/PmlkSpBVhj

— MLB (@MLB) August 31, 2015

He also drank champagne in the clubhouse while wearing his comfortable garb and was joined by his teammates, who wore an assortment of themed pajamas, on the field for a team photo:

@cubs onesie selfie pic.twitter.com/wBe7sB8zU8

— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) August 31, 2015

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We can only imagine how much more fun was had on the plane ride back to Chicago.

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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: August 31, 2015, 2:50 pm

The Toronto Blue Jays have found their next team president. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Sunday that Cleveland Indians president Mark Shapiro was set to take the same job with Toronto. The Blue Jays confirmed Shapiro's hiring Monday morning.

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Shapiro will replace Paul Beeston, who is expected to retire at the end of the season. Sources told Heyman that Shapiro intends to keep general manager Alex Anthopoulos, which makes sense considering the team's success this year. Anthopoulos' contract is up at the end of the season, but Shapiro is expected to retain him.

Shapiro has been a member of the Indians organization since 1991. He worked his way up through the franchise during the 90s, eventually becoming the team's general manager in 2001. As the club's GM, Shapiro was named Executive of the Year two times according to Sporting News. He led the team to two first-place finishes in the American League Central.

In 2010, Shapiro was promoted to team president, allowing Chris Antonetti to take over as the club's general manager. With Toronto, Shapiro should have a much higher payroll. 

After spending so much of his professional career in Cleveland, taking the job with the Blue Jays was obviously a difficult decision:

"Through my 24 years as part of the Cleveland Indians, I have developed a deep emotional and civic attachment to the Indians organization and the Cleveland community," Shapiro said. "The root of those ties is in the personal relationships that my family and I have built. While weighing those bonds carefully and seriously, I feel the unique and compelling nature of the Blue Jays President/CEO position warranted my consideration. This position represents a unique opportunity for me and one that I felt was the right new challenge to undertake."

Both Shapiro and Dave Dombrowski had been mentioned as possible candidates for the Blue Jays job for quite some time. Toronto spoke with Dombrowski, but he eventually decided to head to Boston, leaving Shapiro as the most desirable candidate. 

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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: August 31, 2015, 2:00 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 New York Yankees offense hasn't been as strong in recent weeks, but that changed Sunday. The club seemed to take out all their frustrations during a 20-6 win over the Atlanta Braves. 

New York wasted no time getting to work. After a scoreless first, the club picked up three runs in the second, and four in the third.

The team really exploded in the seventh inning, however. The Yankees scored nine runs during the frame. Alex Rodriguez opened the scoring in the inning, picking up a pinch hit, two-run single. Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Greg Bird, Chase Headley and Stephen Drew would all drive in runs in the seventh.

It's the second time this season the club scored 20 runs during a road game. 

Yankees have scored 20 runs in a road game twice this season. Last time they did that-- 1939, when they had 3 20-run road games

— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) August 30, 2015

With the win, the club improved to 72-57 on the season. They remain 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.

BLUE JAYS KEEP THE PACE

The Toronto Blue Jays' offense wasn't as dominant as the Yankees' on Sunday, but it was close. Toronto erupted for nine runs during a 9-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. 

After hitting three home runs during Saturday's game, Edwin Encarnacion struck again Sunday. In his first at-bat, Encarnacion blasted a solo home run to right center. 

Over the past 25 games, he's put up some insane numbers.

Edwin Encarnacion homers again and now is hitting .407 during his 25-game hitting streak with 11 HRs and 35 RBI. #BlueJays

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 30, 2015

Encarnacion was joined by teammates Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar during the contest. All three added home runs at various points in the game.

With the win, Toronto improved to 74-56 on the season. They hold a 1.5 game lead over the Yankees in the AL East.

METS RALLY FOR LATE WIN

Things looked bleak for the New York Mets for a few innings Sunday, but they eventually came out on top. The club broke a tie late, beating the Boston Red Sox 5-4.

At first, it looked like the team would cruise to an easy win. Noah Syndergaard seemed to have his best stuff, shutting out Boston through the first five frames. 

Things changed in the sixth. With two outs, Syndergaard gave up a two-run shot to David Ortiz, falling behind 2-1.

The Mets would rally in the bottom of the inning to give Syndergaard the lead again, but he couldn't hold on. After giving up another run, Syndergaard was removed with the Mets ahead 4-3. Hansel Robles replaced Syndergaard, but allowed Mookie Betts to drive in a run on a triple, tying up the game.

The Mets would rally in the bottom of the inning, as Michael Cuddyer singled home the eventual game-winning run.

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New York held on over the next two innings, picking up the win. With the victory, the club improved to 72-58. The team has a 5.5 game lead over the Washington Nationals in the National League East.

WHITE SOX PICK UP THE WALK-OFF

Despite being down by four runs after two innings, the Chicago White Sox managed to rally Sunday. The club eventually pulled off the feat, beating the Seattle Mariners 6-5 in extras.

Pitcher Jose Quintana didn't have his best stuff early, giving up a two-run homer to Kyle Seager in the first inning. He would allow another two-run shot in the second, this time against Austin Jackson. 

Chicago would rally, however. With the team down by three, the White Sox went to work in the fourth inning. The club picked up two runs in the frame, lowering their deficit to just one run.

They would tie things up in the seventh, but gave up the lead almost immediately. Kyle Seager struck again, driving in a run with a single in the eighth.

With the White Sox down by one, they would need to rally in the bottom of the ninth. It worked. The team tied the game again on a Brad Miller throwing error.

In extras, they finally completed the comeback. Tyler Flowers singled in Alexei Ramirez from second base, picking up the walk-off hit.

With the win, Chicago improved to 61-68 on the season.

Want to see more from Saturday'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: August 31, 2015, 4:02 am

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There is no longer any doubt concerning who is the ace of the Chicago Cubs. Jake Arrieta put that debate to rest Sunday, tossing a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Arrieta was masterful during the performance. He struck out 12 and walked just one during the outing. Arrieta seemed to get stronger as the game went on, striking out the side to end the game. 

For the Cubs, it was the team's first no-hitter since 2008.

Jake Arrieta is bidding to be the 1st #Cubs pitcher since Carlos Zambrano in 2008 to throw a no-hitter, and only the 2nd in 43 years

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 31, 2015

Only two batters reached against Arrieta during the contest. Enrique Hernandez broke up a possible perfect game in the third inning, reaching on a Starlin Castro error. Hernandez actually reached second on a sacrifice bunt, but could not advance further.

Arrieta would walk Jimmy Rollins in the sixth inning, taking some of the possible heat away from Castro. Rollins was stranded at first after Arrieta got Chase Utley to fly out to end the frame. 

For Arrieta, the performance highlights his amazing turnaround since joining Chicago. 

Jake Arrieta had a 5.46 ERA in 358 innings with the Orioles prior to being traded to the Cubs in 2013. His breakout has been amazing.

— D.J. Short (@djshort) August 31, 2015

With the Cubs, and under the tutelage of pitching coach Chris Bosio, Arrieta has undeniably transformed into an ace. In 330 2/3 innings since he joined the club, Arrieta has posted a 2.37 ERA. He has dramatically increased his ground ball rate while striking out more than a batter per inning with Chicago.

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As the Cubs have inched closer to making the playoffs, there's been some debate about which pitcher should start a possible one game playoff. After this start, it's becoming clear that Arrieta is probably the right choice. 

For the Dodgers, it's the second time in nine days that the club has been no-hit. Amazingly, that's not a major-league record. 

Dodgers were no-hit 9 days ago. They won't set a MLB record, though. 1917 White Sox went down on consecutive days, May 5 and 6.

— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) August 31, 2015

With the performance, Arrieta now has a 2.11 ERA on the season. 

Things might have been rough for Arrieta for a number of years, but now he's turned into a legitimate threat. His recent performance, including Sunday's no-hitter, is the perfect metaphor for the Cubs' return to relevance. 

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Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: August 31, 2015, 3:03 am

When Yogi Berra said "it ain't over 'til it's over," this is exactly what he had in mind. Japan fell into a huge hole to begin the championship game of the Little League World Series, but they never gave up.

After trailing by eight runs after the first inning, team Japan began its comeback. The club scored seven runs in the second, cutting the lead to just one.

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That wasn't enough. The following inning, Japan plated four more runs, taking a three-run lead in the third. While Mid-Atlantic would plate another run in the bottom of the frame, they couldn't match Japan's bats. 

Japan remained up by three until the final inning, when they added five insurance runs. Mid-Atlantic couldn't pull off the massive comeback in the bottom of the frame, giving Japan the 18-11 victory.

With the win, the club became the 2015 Little League World Series champions

Throughout the contest, a number of records were broken.

23 combined runs already in @LittleLeague title game (ABC) Ties record for most combined runs in title game, set in 1947 (at the 1st LLWS!)

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 30, 2015

As you can see from the final score, the teams would eventually combine to score 29 total runs, setting a new record. Mid-Atlantic's 10-run inning also set a record, as did the teams combining for 30 hits during the game. The eight-run deficit was also the largest any team had ever overcome. Amazingly, the combined seven home runs was not a record. 

That's 7 combined home runs if you're scoring at home. #LLWS

— Little League (@LittleLeague) August 30, 2015

This is the 10th Little League World Series championship for Japan. That places them second all-time behind Taiwan, which has won 17 titles. 

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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: August 31, 2015, 12:48 am

Your browser does not support iframes. The best thing about Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout isn't that he's among the very best players in the game today, it's that he's also among the most caring, compassionate and giving.

Prior to a recent Angels home game, Trout's genuine kindness was on display again when he spent much of his day hanging out with eight-year-old Thomas Walkup.

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Walkup, who's also from Trout's hometown of Millville, New Jersey, wasn't in California for a family vacation or to meet up with Trout specifically. He was legally blind due to a condition called “shaky eye syndrome” and traveled there to undergo life-changing surgery.

We're happy to say Walkup's vision has improved greatly since undergoing the operation, which was funded in part by the people of Millville and nearby communities.

“He’s doing very well,” former Millville mayor Tom Shannon told the Daily Journal last week. “The operation went very well. His vision has improved significantly already, and it could improve significantly more.”

It was Shannon who passed along Walkup's story to Debbie Trout, Mike Trout's mother, who in turn encouraged her son and the Angels organization to reach out.

“I had known Susan was working really hard getting this together with fundraisers and things,” Shannon said. “So when I found out about it, I told Debbie (Trout) and asked if she heard about it. I told her he’d love to meet Mikey while he’s out there. She took it from there.”

There was no hesitation on Trout or the Angels part, and Walkup's improving spirits were raised even higher after spending the day at Angel Stadium.

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Thanks to the incredible video above, which was produced by MLB Network, we're able to learn more about Walkup's story and his toughness, while witnessing the special time he recently spent with Trout.

The segment originally aired this week on "MLB Tonight.' If you missed it, we encourage you to check it 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: August 30, 2015, 7:55 pm

(USA TODAY Sports)The Oakland A's likely cringe every time the next season's schedule comes out. Along with the Seattle Mariners, they travel the most miles annually due to their location and the location of other teams in their division, and they knew 2016 would be no different.

Only this time, it kind of was different.

As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the A's were truly upset after learning of their 2016 travel schedule, which they considered to be brutal in comparison to previous seasons. 

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Among the biggest issues: for the second year in a row, the A’s do not play back-to-back series at Houston and Texas, meaning Oakland will make 12 trips to that state in 2015 and 2016. When the Astros joined the AL West in 2013, one of the suggested “benefits” was that teams would travel to play both in succession.
Next month, the A’s do play Texas and Houston on the same trip — but not back-to-back. In a puzzling bit of planning, they go from Dallas to Chicago and then to Houston.

That is puzzling to say the least, and it obviously planted a seed for their frustration. Slusser adds that the A's were upset enough with next season's schedule that  team president Mike Crowley tried to push for changes during the recent owners meetings in Chicago. They were denied, meaning the A's will have to deal with the road that lies ahead. 

Here's more from Slusser's report.

More galling are two particular stretches next year. From April 18 to May 15, the A’s will be on the road for 22 of 28 days — and they’ll spend off days at Milwaukee and at Cincinnati on the same trip, lengthening their time away.
In fact, the club will wind up with three days off in an eight-day span, which barely skirts the collective bargaining agreement that limits days off to two in a seven-day span. That’s terrible from a competitive standpoint because it will disrupt the pitching schedule.

The trips to Cincinnati and Milwaukee represent another scheduling quirk, in that the A's are repeating interleague trips from 2013. That flies in the face of the supposed interleague policy that every team visits cities in the other league every six years. The exception in the A's case would be the Giants, whom they play home and away every season.

It sure seems like the A's have good reason to be annoyed, but there's really nothing they can do other than point out the issues and hope they aren't repeated.

“Every year there are challenges with the schedule, and, unfortunately, a number of teams either have or will find themselves with similar scheduling/travel challenges,” MLBPA head Tony Clark wrote via e-mail. “I say that with a complete understanding as to just how challenging it is to put the schedule together. As always, we look forward to discussing and addressing as many of these scheduling challenges and issues as possible, which will invariably be beneficial to everyone involved.”

The planning and logistics that go into formulating the MLB schedule have to be overwhelming, even with a computer assisting in the task. Between limiting miles, adhering to the CBA and simply lining up opponents, it doesn't sound like much fun to figure out. All things considered, the league does a good job piecing it together. It's just too bad that some team's will always be victims of geography.

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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: August 30, 2015, 6:27 pm

Randy Flores with the Cardinals in 2006. (USA TODAY Sports) For all the success and stability the St. Louis Cardinals have enjoyed over the past 15 years, they've recently experienced a surprising amount of turnover atop their scouting department.

On Friday, they added another new face to the department, hiring former reliever Randy Flores as their fourth different director of amateur scouting in the past five seasons. Flores takes over for Chris Correa, who was dismissed earlier this summer after admitting to having a role in the Cardinals’ breach of the Astros’ computer network.

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Correa was with the Cardinals long enough to oversee their 2015 draft, but took an extended leave of absence soon after and was ultimately fired on July 2 amid the investigation.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the federal government's investigation continues, as does the Cardinals internal investigation into the possibility that other members of the front office assisted in illegally accessing the Astros' information. So while the Cardinals have moved on on one front, it's possible the fallout is only really beginning.

As for the hiring of Flores, it seems like a safe and smart move on the Cardinals part. Though they originally looked outside the organization for a replacement, under the circumstances they may have felt more comfortable bringing back a familiar face. Someone with an established presence in the organization who also understands the philosophy in place.

Flores spent five seasons with the Cardinals, from 2004-2008, appearing in 237 regular season games and another 17 postseason games. Flores fits the bill, and has been working on gaining experience in several fields during his time away from baseball.

After retiring following the 2010 season, Flores returned to USC to complete a master’s degree in education and serve as the baseball team’s assistant coach. If that's not impressive enough for the resume, he also founded OnDeck Digital, which uses video capture technology to allow baseball and softball players to critique their own game.

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch adds that 11 MLB teams are currently using the service, which also allows video access to scouts and other baseball personnel to help evaluate talent. With all of that said, it's obvious that Flores can bring a lot to the table and will probably succeed in keeping the Cardinals ahead of the curve.  

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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: August 30, 2015, 4:19 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.

It was a bittersweet afternoon for Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn.

On the plus side, he was excellent on the hill, silencing the San Francisco Giants bats for seven scoreless innings in the Cardinals 6-0 victory. Lynn allowed six hits, walked two and struck out two en route to his 11th win.

On the down side, he was forced from the game with an ankle injury that according to reports looked worse than it actually was.

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The injury occurred in the eighth inning when Lynn attempted to field Juan Perez's chopper. Lynn fielded it cleanly, but then twisted his right ankle trying to throw to first. The Cardinals are calling it a mild ankle sprain, though given what happened to Adam Wainwright this season Cardinals fans might hold their breath until they see him pitch again.

(Getty Images)
The Cardinals offense was locked in as well against San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong. They scored four runs on seven hits in his 4 2/3 innings, before adding two extra runs in the ninth. Matt Carpenter and Stephen Piscotty set the pace atop the order, combining for six hits and four runs scored. Piscotty was 4-for-4 with a triple.

That sets up the rubber match on Sunday with Jaime Garcia facing off against Chris Heston. 

MIKE FIERS STAY HOT FOR ASTROS

Coming off a dominant no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his previous outing, Houston Astros right-hander Mike Fiers stayed hot in their 4-1 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

With three extra days rest after throwing a career-high 134 pitches, Fiers tossed six innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and three walks. Fiers had fans moving toward the edge of their seats early, carrying another no-no into the fourth inning. That's when serial history interrupter Joe Mauer singled cleanly to center field.

Fiers finished the game with five strikeouts and improved to 2-0 since being acquired from Milwaukee. He's allowed one run or less in his last four outings.

Offensively, Houston did its damage early, scoring four runs in the first four innings. Evan Gattis and Jake Marisneck each singled home one, while Luis Valbuena doubled home a pair.

With the win, the Astros have now won six of their last eight. The surging Twins have seven wins in their last nine. 

RED SOX EMBRACE SPOILER ROLE AGAINST METS

Remember when it looked like the Mets wouldn't lose again? The Boston Red Sox have taken care of that, knocking off the NL East leaders in two straight games to begin their weekend series.

The Red Sox emerged with a 3-1 victory on Saturday behind a stellar outing from Joe Kelly. The 27-year-old right-hander tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing just five hits and two walks.

That continued a string of stellar outings from Kelly, who was sent to the minor leagues in June to retool and refocus. He's done just that, completing August with a spotless record.

So Joe Kelly wins each of his 6 starts in August with a 2.68 ERA & limited batters to a .252 average. Pitcher of the month shocker?

— Jason Collette (@jasoncollette) August 29, 2015

Well, he did say he'd win the AL Cy Young this season.

Obviously, that's not going to happen. The Pitcher of the Month award probably won't either, but he definitely has something to hang his hat on moving forward.

NATS GAIN GROUND IN NL EAST

It's big news these days when the Mets actually lose. It's even bigger news when the Washington Nationals take advantage and gain ground with a victory. 

They were able to do just that on Saturday, topping the Marlins 5-1 behind Jordan Zimmermann's pitching and three home runs. 

Zimmermann was actually coming off a pair of tough outings in which he allowed four earned runs in each. Against Miami, he was on point, allowing a Justin Bour home run and little else. Zimmermann ended up tossing seven innings, allowing seven hits and one walk. 

Meanwhile, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman got Washington's offense on track with a first-inning solo home run. In the sixth, Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond went back-to-back, with Robinson's shot driving home two. 

From there, Washington cruised to victory while the Mets sat back and licked their wounds from the Red Sox defeat. The Nationals are now 5 1/2 back in the division race. As we all know, that's their only hope for a postseason berth. 

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

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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: August 30, 2015, 5:27 am

A fan has died after falling from the upper deck into the lower-level stands at Turner Field during Saturday's Yankees-Braves game.

The tragic incident occurred while the Yankees were batting in the seventh inning. Alex Rodriguez had just been announced as a pinch-hitter when Fox Sports 1 play-by-play man Justin Kutcher reacted to the fan's fall and suggested play be halted.

Most of the crowd went unaware initially as their attention was focused on Rodriguez. The players and fans appeared unaware as well, as the action continued without interruption.

Before Rodriguez settled in, the Fox Sports 1 broadcast briefly flashed a shot of the crowd as stunned fans looked on and medical personnel quickly arrived on the scene.

Here's more from the Associated Press: 

The man fell close to the area where players' wives and families sit. The family members were escorted to a room near the clubhouse, and many were crying.
A security guard at the room holding the family members said the families saw the man try to hang onto a wire that runs from the protective net behind the plate to under the press box. The man then fell the rest of the way to the lower level seats.
The wires and even the net shook for a few seconds immediately after Alex Rodriguez was introduced as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. The man apparently fell from the upper deck, hit the wire and then fell farther into the seats.

Bad scene, fan fell from an upper deck behind home plate. They spent 5-10 minutes trying to revive him, took him on out body board

— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) August 30, 2015

The fan was taken to Grady Hospital in Atlanta and was later pronounced dead from his injuries. 

Via APD: the fan that fell from the upper deck was a male in his early 60's. Died at Grady Hospital. No further details at this point

— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) August 30, 2015

The fans has since been identified as 60-year-old Greg Murrey, a 23-year Braves season ticket holder. 

The Atlanta Braves are deeply saddened by the loss of an incredibly passionate Braves fan. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/1980DQp1Lg

— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 30, 2015

According to eye witness accounts, Murrey fell from the 400 level of the stadium, behind the home-plate area and landed between the second and third row of seats on the first level in section 202. No other injuries were reported.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has more

Marty Burns of Vernon, Ala., was seated in section 401 near the man who fell.
“When they called A-Rod coming to bat, he got all excited, and his momentum took him over (the railing).”
The area near where the man sat soon was vacant as people reacted to what they saw.
“People started crying right away,” said Donnie Marley of Fayetteville, N.C., who also was seated near the man who fell. “A lot of people left. It was surreal. It was like, ‘did I just see that happen.’”

This is the second fan death at Turner Field in the last three years. In 2013, Ronald Lee Homer Jr., 30, died after climbing over a railing and leaping to his death in a parking lot 85 feet below. Homer's death was ruled a suicide despite his family's contention it was an accident.

The Braves welcomed their largest crowd of the season on Sunday, with 49,243 in attendance to watch the Yankees make a rare visit to Atlanta. But obviously there's a somber mood in the aftermath of a truly unfortunate tragedy.

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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: August 30, 2015, 3:17 am

(Getty Images)Even with his New York Mets holding a six-game lead in the National League East, general manager Sandy Alderson is still looking for ways to solidify his roster.

On Saturday, he went for an upgrade in the bullpen, acquiring Addison Reed from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

ESPN New York's Adam Rubin was the first to report a deal was in place, pending the physical.

Source: #Mets acquire Addison Reed from #Dbacks pending physical.

— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) August 29, 2015

Newsday's Marc Carig has since confirmed the deal, noting that Reed will likely be a two month rental since he'll likely carry an expensive arbitration price tag.

Here's how the rest of the deal shakes out. 

The #Dbacks will get Matt Koch and Isan Diaz from #Mets once physicals are approved from #Mets in Addison Reed trade.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 30, 2015

As far as Mets fans are concerned, all that matters are the next two months anyway. They are in position to win the division and make a deep run into the postseason with their star-studded rotation and revamped offense finally providing postseason level production. The one area that clearly needed some bolstering down the stretch was the bullpen, particularly in the late innings, and Reed can certainly fill that role. 

Reed began the year as the Diamondbacks’ closer, but was removed from the role in mid-May. In fact, Reed even spent some time at Triple-A Reno retooling and refocusing, before being recalled on July 29. Since then, Reed has been on point, posting a 1.65 ERA over 16 1/3 innings. 

Though Reed has closing experience, the Mets won't need him there with Jeurys Familia and Tyler Clippard already locked in. They'll be looking more at the seventh inning, a role New York had hoped one of Jenrry Mejia, Jerry Blevins, Bobby Parnell or Vic Black would have helped fill by now.

The circumstances for each pitcher is different, but the bottom line is still the same for Terry Collins. He needs an arm he can rely on. Time will tell if Reed can supply that arm. 

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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: August 30, 2015, 1:38 am

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It's official. Vin Scully, arguably the greatest living broadcaster in baseball, sports or any other form of entertainment, will return to Dodgers television booth for what he expects to be his final season in 2016.

With help from Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Scully's 2016 return was officially announced to the fans at Dodger Stadium during Friday's game against the Chicago Cubs.

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An announcement was also made on social media, where baseball fans collectively rejoiced. 

OFFICIAL: It'll be a very pleasant 2016. Vin Scully to return for his 67th season. pic.twitter.com/i2WrutItRO

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 29, 2015

Scully, 87, met with the media on Saturday to discuss his future. Something the always humble Scully couldn't believe was necessary. 

Vin Scully will hold a press conference tomorrow. He never understands why that's necessary. He says it should be a line in the game notes.

— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 29, 2015

You're kind of a big deal, Vin. And not just in Los Angeles. 

It was there Scully indicated that 2016 would be his final season. 

Scully said when he does call it quits it will be final. "I won't be hanging around." But the idea of retirement frightens him.

— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) August 29, 2015

Scully: "I would say realistically, next year is my last one . ... I do feel in my bones that will be enough."

— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) August 29, 2015

According to a Los Angeles Times report from two weeks ago, Scully spent a little extra time pondering his decision this year. Health and the wishes of his wife, Sandra, were among the primary factors weighing on Scully's mind. The Times report also noted that Scully wanted to be certain he was still doing an effective job providing the information, descriptions and anecdotes that have long made his Dodgers broadcasts must-see TV.

We're sure Scully has since received plenty of positive reinforcement from the Dodgers, his family, his co-workers and especially the fans who can't imagine a Dodgers home broadcast without his voice. 

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In recent years, Scully has cut down on his workload, working only home games and select road games to avoid fatigue and to remain close to his wife. That set up will remain in place, though it sounds there will be no addtional changes for perhaps his final run.   

As Kevin Roderick of LA Observed so perfectly put it, Scully is the most important constant in Los Angeles and the voice that unifies the city. But his presence transcends Los Angeles and the game of baseball. He's a national treasure and icon, and we couldn't be happier to have him back for one more year.  

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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: August 29, 2015, 11:52 pm

The closest thing to a home team at the Little League World Series emerged from the pack on Saturday to claim the United States Championship.

The little leaguers from Lewisberry, Pa. — a community of 356 people that's located 97 miles south of the host city Williamsport — earned the crown by knocking off the very capable team from Pearland, Texas, 3-2.  

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The game wasn't decided until the sixth and final inning when Lewisberry's Chayton Krauss smacked an opposite field single to score Braden Kolmansberger with the game winner. Kolmansberger started the rally by drawing a walk, and then moved to third on Jaden Henline's single. Henline also homered in the fourth inning to tie the score 2-2.

(Getty Images)Cole Wagner, who had starred for Lewisberry leading up to the final, was a big part of the win as well. He connected on a first-inning home run, his fourth of the tournament, and pitched 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball before being lifted due to pitch count restrictions.

As for Texas, they scored one in the second on an error and another in the fourth on Marco Gutierrez's double. 

The game was played in front of a record crowd at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. 45,716 fans filled the seats and lined the layers of hills beyond the outfield wall. The previous single-game record of 44,800 was set back in 2001.

With the win, Lewisberry became the first Pennsylvania team to win the United States Championship since Shippensburg in 1990. On Sunday, they will attempt to bring back the first World Series title since Levittown in 1960. 

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Awaiting them will be the team from Japan. They advanced to the world championship game with a thrilling 1-0 victory over Mexico in seven innings earlier on Saturday. 

The ABC broadcast for Sunday's final is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. ET.

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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: August 29, 2015, 10:48 pm

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If Major League Baseball is really concerned about pace of play, they might have to consider instituting a short-term mercy rule for all of the remaining Toronto Blue Jays games this season.

Just ask the Detroit Tigers.

Toronto's "no mercy" tour continued at their expense on Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre. The Jays offense erupted early and often as they slugged their way to a 15-1 victory.

The star on this particular day was Edwin Encarnacion, who entered play with a 23-game hitting streak. It didn't take him long to extend it to 24. In the first inning, Encarnacion started the scoring with a mammoth three-run homer. 

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That was just the beginning though for Encarnacion. In the sixth inning, he stepped up again and launched a two-run homer off Guido Knudson. One inning later, he capped his monster afternoon with a grand slam against Alex Wilson, giving him three home runs and a career-high nine RBIs for the game. 

It’s take your parrot to work day for @Encadwin. pic.twitter.com/AsumsdTXsY

— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) August 29, 2015

They aren't kidding.

To say Encarnacion is on fire right now would be an understatement. The hitting streak says plenty, but the production goes well beyond that. For example, over his last 17 games, he has six games with three RBIs or more. Over his last seven, he's driven in 23 runs total. That is remarkable production even if you acknowledge the RBI stat is overrated and outdated.

Here's another interesting stat courtesy of MLB.com. Of Encarnacion's last 78 hits, 41 have gone for extra bases. 

As for the Blue Jays offense collectively, Saturday was their 21st game this season with 10 runs or more, which is a franchise record. Overall, the team is now 30-6 in games decided by five or more runs.

Before acquiring Troy Tulowitzki at the trade deadline, Toronto's offense was already the best in baseball. Since acquiring Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays have been both the irresistible force and immovable object. No one can stop them, and everybody knows a three-game series against them can and likely will disrupt the confidence of their pitching staff. 

They are literally slugging their way to October, and will no doubt provide one of the most interesting and entertaining stories down the stretch.

We know we'll be watching. 

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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: August 29, 2015, 8:53 pm

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Position player pitching appearances have become such a regular part of baseball this season, we probably haven't appreciated some of the performances — both pitching and entertainment wise — to the fullest extent.

That wasn't a problem, though, when Atlanta's Jonny Gomes took the hill in the Braves' 15-4 loss against the Yankees on Friday night. Gomes embraced his first career relief appearance from the time Freddi Gonzalez told him to warm up to the moment he danced off the mound after striking out Yankees reliever Bryan Mitchell.

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It was, in a word, glorious.

It all began with Gomes' entrance. When the bullpen gate opened, Gomes jogged to the hill like a confident reliever with some pep in his step. Of course, his confidence was immediately challenged when Chris Young greeted him with a home run. However, after first being taken aback, Gomes simply tipped his cap, collected himself and moved on. 

(Getty Images)
And by collected himself, we mean morphed into Luis Tiant.

Fundamentals. #NotAPitcher http://t.co/QG69pYH0KJ pic.twitter.com/bmiIjg1869

— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) August 29, 2015

Err, well, something kinda close to Luis Tiant. Or maybe that wind up is juat a Jonny Gomes original? These are the questions we're left to ask. 

Gomes did run into more trouble in his outing, allowing back-to-back doubles to John Ryan Murphy and Brett Gardner. But we can't just focus on the negative. We have to focus on the positive as well, and most would agree Gomes' pace was outstanding. 

Jonny Gomes throws 2 pitches in 20 seconds. This is how you fix pace of play. pic.twitter.com/qPpaY2T5yD

— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) August 29, 2015

As an outfielder, Gomes knows what it's like to stand around and wait ... and wait ... and wait for a deliberate pitcher to throw. Gomes wasn't going to do that to his outfielders. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Gomes appearance was his efficiency. He threw 12 of his 20 pitches for strikes, which isn't half bad, but none were better than his final one. 

Treat every game like it's Game 7: http://t.co/uYurI4GuCt #NotAPitcher pic.twitter.com/sQt9e8q7h8

— MLB (@MLB) August 29, 2015

Granted, that was Yankees reliever Mitchell at the plate. And yes, home-plate umpire Dana DeMuth may have expanded the zone slightly. But come on, he dropped that right where Chrstain Bethancourt wanted it. It was a pitcher's pitch with a genuine reaction, which far too often gets criticized when a regular pitcher does it. 

Happiness is allowed out there, folks. As is fun. And despite the score, no one was having more fun than Gomes or the Braves fans who stuck around until the end. 

It was, indeed, a half-inning for the ages. If you left early, we're sorry. #Braves. #Gomes. #Epic. https://t.co/cgYpY0l5eC

— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) August 29, 2015

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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: August 29, 2015, 6:42 pm

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If not for those pesky catwalks, baseball at Tropicana Field would be pretty much normal.

Granted, the ballpark itself would still be slightly dull and not aesthetically pleasing, but the baseball would be normal. And that's all we can ask for.

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About those catwalks, though. They definitely exist, and they aren't going anywhere any time soon, which means they'll continue wreaking havoc on Major League Baseball games.

In fact, this week alone we've seen two notable instances of the catwalks interfering with play.
On Thursday, they helped out the home team by robbing Minnesota's Miguel Sano of a monster home run. Sano's smash, which according to one estimate would have traveled 470 feet, struck a catwalk that's considered in play. The ball remained live, and Sano was only able to make it to second base. 

That brings us to Friday night with the Royals in town. Kansas City's Kendrys Morales crushed a baseball that appeared ticketed for the blue hitter's eye in straight away center field. Kevin Kiermaier, who's among MLB's premier defensive outfielders, read the same thing and raced back, even climbing the wall in anticipation.

Then this happened.

Strike a pose. http://t.co/DqbGf7llq1 pic.twitter.com/61CX8ZW8C5

— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) August 29, 2015

Doink.

The catwalk strikes again, and Kiermaier's left hanging around.

#Rays Kiermaier on the wall as Nava tries to get under #Royals Morales' 2-run HR that hit the catwalk in the 3rd. pic.twitter.com/MtIsWExFfT

— Will Vragovic (@willvrag) August 29, 2015

Incredible effort. Even better image. But, yeah, right fiielder Daniel Nava actually had a better chance at catching it.

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Here's the most interesting part about the play. Had Nava actually caught, it wouldn't have mattered. Since Morales' ball hit a different catwalk than Sano's ball, it had a different result.

(MLB.TV)
For Morales, it was a two-run homer, which would have been the likely result anyway. Nothing gained, nothing lost this time around. Though based on the final score, which saw the Royals win it 3-2, the ground rules were critical to the outcome.

The same could be said one night earlier. When Sano settled for a double, he was stranded on second, and the Twins lost the game 5-4. It's kind of a silly way for a baseball game to ultimately be decided. It's like baseball pinfall, for the lack of a better term, but that's the reality of baseball at Tropicana Field. We're just glad the catwalks don't impact the outcome more often. 

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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: August 29, 2015, 4:35 pm

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