Cardinals-Tigers has an appeal that takes us way back. There was the 1934 World Series featuring the St. Louis Gas House Gang and the 1968 Series of Mickey Lolich and Bob Gibson and, of course, the 2006 Series won by Albert Pujols and a crew of upstarts. Tonight, these old rivals meet in Detroit in a fairly compelling interleague game: Ole Miss alumnus Lance Lynn, with his 10-2 record, goes for the Cardinals against Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who is 6-4 with a 2.66 ERA. These are third-place teams at the moment, but both have designs on challenging for championships. Tonight’s game at Comerica Park could be a dandy series opener. … Meanwhile, there are reports that Roy Oswalt is being considered for a Friday debut with Texas. The onetime Holmes Community College star threw 100 pitches in his fourth minor league tuneup on Sunday and impressed Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, who was in attendance. Oswalt, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since last fall, had a 7.71 ERA in his first three starts. But he went six innings on Sunday and allowed just two runs on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts. The Rangers host Colorado on Friday.
Pulled a Tyler Pastornicky rookie from a pack of cards today. A little late, don’t you know. The former Mississippi Brave’s tenure as the Atlanta Braves’ starting shortstop is very much over. Barring some major injury to Andrelton Simmons, Pastornicky’s future with the Braves, if he has one at all, is as a utility infielder. Pastornicky didn’t play poorly in the big leagues: .248 with a homer and 12 RBIs in 47 games. But Simmons has been better, certainly on the defensive side, since he was called up from Mississippi. To his credit, Pastornicky has gone down to Triple-A Gwinnett and kept on plugging away. At last look he was batting .260 with eight doubles and 10 RBIs in 18 games. P.S. Just for the record, here is the list of M-Braves to advance to The Show: (Year is year of debut; *jumped from Double-A) 2005 (1) Brian McCann* Blaine Boyer* Jorge Vasquez* Jeff Francoeur* Macay McBride Jay Powell* Joey Devine* Anthony Lerew Chuck James (10) Roman Colon (w/ Tigers); 2006 Zach Miner (Tigers) Martin Prado* Kevin Barry Phil Stockman Scott Thorman; 2007 Sean White (Mariners) Jarrod Saltalamacchia* Yunel Escobar Jo-Jo Reyes (20) Luis Hernandez (Orioles) Jose Ascanio* Manny Acosta Clint Sammons* Brandon Jones Jeff Bennett; 2008 Gregor Blanco T.J. Bohn (Phillies) Brent Lillibridge Charlie Morton (30) Jason Perry Matt Harrison (Rangers) Chris Waters (Orioles) Francisely Bueno James Parr; 2009 Jordan Schafer* Kris Medlen Tommy Hanson Diory Hernandez Barbaro Canizares (40) Luis Valdez (Jairo Asencio) Reid Gorecki; 2010 Jason Heyward Jonny Venters Craig Kimbrel Brandon Hicks Mike Minor Freddie Freeman J.C. Boscan Brandon Beachy; 2011 (50) Tim Collins (Royals) Matt Young Cory Gearrin Julio Teheran Randall Delgado* Scott Diamond (Twins) Arodys Vizcaino Juan Abreu (Astros) Antoan Richardson Tyler Pastornicky; 2012 (60) J.J. Hoover (Reds) Mauro Gomez (Red Sox) Gorkys Hernandez (Pirates) Andrelton Simmons* Todd Redmond
D.J. Davis went 1-for-3 and Anthony Alford 1-for-4 in their pro debut today in the Gulf Coast League. Stone County’s Davis, the first Mississippian picked in this year’s draft, played left field and hit leadoff for Toronto’s rookie club, while Petal’s Alford, the state’s Mr. Baseball and a third-round selection, played center and batted second. The GCL Blue Jays lost to the Pirates 13-3.
Todd Redmond just kept showing up. Showing up and putting up strong numbers. Finally, after 194 games and 1,112 2/3 innings over eight years in the minor leagues, the former Mississippi Braves ace was called up by Atlanta on Sunday when Brandon Beachy went on the disabled list. Redmond — the 63rd M-Braves alumnus to advance to The Show — was the Southern League pitcher of the year in 2008 when he went 13-5 with a 3.52 ERA for the league champs. He has been toiling in Triple-A since 2009, winning 34 games. He made the 40-man roster this off-season. The 27-year-old Redmond has a career ERA of 3.54 and has fanned over 900 hitters; he could be a serviceable arm out of the bullpen or even as a spot starter. He certainly deserves this chance. P.S. The current M-Braves finished the first half with a 30-40 record, the worst mark in the SL. But they did win their last two games and took the 5-game series from Jacksonville at Trustmark Park. The second half starts Thursday, after the All-Star break.
This Cliff Lee thing has to be a concern to the Philadelphia Phillies, who have a boatload of them. Lee, the former Meridian Community College standout, could not hold a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning against Toronto on Saturday and is now winless in 11 starts in 2012. The veteran left-hander yielded 12 hits and was charged with five earned runs in a game the Phillies would lose 6-5 in 10. The defending National League East champs are 31-36, in last place, 9 games back. Lee, a 17-game winner in 2011, is 0-3 with a 3.48 ERA. He had some hard luck early in the season, but of late he just has not pitched well. His ERA over his last four starts is well over 4.00. “I can only control what I can control,” Lee told mlb.com, concerning his winless status. “I’m not going to get frustrated.” Maybe not, but Phillies fans certainly are. P.S. Seth Smith, meanwhile, is surging at the plate for Oakland. The Ole Miss product belted his seventh homer on Saturday in a 6-4 win and is batting .406 with three homers and nine RBIs in his last 10 games. … Mississippi State product Mitch Moreland is also hot, batting .281 with two homers and five RBIs in his last 10. The second of those homers, Moreland’s 10th of the season, was a tape-measure blast in Arlington on Friday night. … Tyler Moore, another former MSU first baseman, had another hit for Washington on Saturday and swiped his first bag. He is 7-for-14 since being recalled from Triple-A and is up to .303 for the year. … UM product Chris Coghlan may have run out of chances with Miami. The 2009 rookie of the year was optioned to the minors for the second time this season at midweek. He was in an 0-for-16 slump and is batting .140 for the year.
Todd Cunningham, one of seven Mississippi Braves in the Southern League All-Star Game, is the only one in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s showcase at Smokies Park in Kodak, Tenn. Cunningham will open in left field and bat seventh for the South Division. Also on the squad from the M-Braves are pitchers David Hale, Sean Gilmartin, Gary Moran, Zeke Spruill and Ryan Buchter and catcher Christian Bethancourt. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was voted to the team but is now in the big leagues.
Catching up on some ex-Mississippi Braves pitchers: Gotta feel bad for Charlie Morton. The Pittsburgh Pirates announced today that the tall right-hander will have Tommy John surgery and be out at least a year. Morton, after a great spring, was just 2-6 with a 4.65 ERA this season for Clint Hurdle’s improving Bucs. … Tommy Hanson (7-4, 3.55) plays the role of stopper tonight for Atlanta, which has lost four straight and fallen 5 games back in the National League East dogfight. The Braves host Buck Showalter’s surprising Baltimore Orioles, who have won five straight, at Turner Field. … Tim Collins, a short (no pun intended) reliever for Kansas City, picked up a win Thursday night and is 4-0 with a 2.03 for Ned Yost’s scuffling Royals. … Scott Diamond had a rare rough outing for Minnesota and slipped to 5-2 after a 6-1 loss to Philadelphia. … Matt Harrison was denied what would have been his ninth win for Texas on Wednesday night; he left in the eighth inning of a 0-0 game that the Rangers ultimately won 1-0. … Matt Wright, who was on the original M-Braves club in 2005, recently signed with the Phillies out of the independent Atlantic League. Wright, still seeking that first big league call-up, pitched well in his debut at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. P.S. Southwest Mississippi Community College alum Jarrod Dyson scored the game-winning run in an odd way as Kansas City topped Milwaukee 4-3 on Thursday. In the bottom of the ninth, after the tying run had just crossed the plate on a single to left field, Dyson broke from third when Delta State product Edwin Maysonet, the Brewers shortstop, made a curious relay throw to second base. The ball bounced and skipped off the glove of Rickie Weeks, whose throw home was too late to get the swift Dyson.
A 50-game drug suspension in his rearview mirror, Picaynue native and onetime big leaguer Rhyne Hughes is playing again in the Baltimore Orioles’ system. He is batting .344 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in eight games at Double-A Bowie. The former Pearl River Community College star, an eighth-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2004, was slapped with the suspension by MLB last September after what was reported as a positive test for a banned amphetamine. Hughes had a cup of coffee in the majors with the Orioles in 2010, batting .213 in 14 games. He spent all of 2011 at Triple-A Norfolk, and his career minor league numbers are good: .271, 92 homers. It’ll be interesting to see if the lefty-hitting first baseman can overcome his setback and work his way back to the big leagues.
One thing Gregor Blanco can do for sure is run. The enduring image of Blanco’s days at Trustmark Park is of him flying around the bases on a triple, of which he had many. The former Mississippi Braves standout flashed that speed on Wednesday night when he ran down a fly ball in the seventh inning that preserved what would become a perfect game for San Francisco’s Matt Cain. Blanco’s catch, a diving snag in right-center, robbed former M-Braves standout Jordan Schafer, who was hitting for Houston. Cain called it “the defining play” in his 10-0 masterpiece, the first perfect game in the Giants’ long history. P.S. The stars were out for Mississippians in the majors on Wednesday. Tyler Moore (Mississippi State) hit his first two big league homers for Washington. Lance Lynn (Ole Miss) picked up his 10th win with a 12-strikeout effort for St. Louis. Seth Smith (Ole Miss) homered, doubled and scored the go-ahead run in Oakland’s comeback win over Colorado. Jonathan Papelbon (MSU) notched his 17th save in 17 shots for Philadelphia. Desmond Jennings (Itawamba Community College) drove in the lone run for Tampa Bay in the ninth inning of a 9-1 loss to the New York Mets, who got a one-hitter from R.A. Dickey. Edwin Maysonet (Delta State) picked up two hits, stole his first base of the season and made two nice defensive plays at shortstop for Milwaukee.
Roy Oswalt worked 3 1/3 rather shaky innings tonight in minor league tuneup start No. 3 for the Texas Rangers. Pitching for Double-A Frisco, Oswalt, from Weir and Holmes Community College, allowed five hits (three doubles), a walk and three earned runs. He also yielded two stolen bases and threw a wild pitch. His 85-pitch stint included 55 strikes.