Things turned sour for Lance Lynn in the postseason. The right-hander from Ole Miss made two lackluster starts in the National League Championship Series, which his St. Louis Cardinals lost to San Francisco. He also gave up a walk-off home run in the NLDS against Washington. But put all that aside. Lynn’s regular season stats were stellar: 18-7 record, 3.78 ERA, 180 strikeouts in 176 innings. He made the All-Star Game in his first full big league season. He played a prominent role for a playoff team. And he earned the 2012 Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the best performance by a Mississippian (native or college alum) in the majors. Lynn won out over some strong competition. Mississippi State product Jonathan Papelbon had another good year, his first in Philadelphia: 38 saves, 2.44 ERA. MSU’s Mitch Moreland hit .275 with 15 homers for Texas. Ole Miss alum Seth Smith hit .240 with 14 homers for Oakland. Ex-Rebels star Zack Cozart hit .246 with 15 homers and played solid defense for Cincinnati as a rookie shortstop. Meridian Community College product Cliff Lee had a 3.16 ERA and 207 K’s (with just six wins) for the Phillies. Still, Lynn’s 18 wins puts him over the top. He joins Chris Coghlan (2009), Roy Oswalt (2010) and Lee (2011) as winners of the Bell award.
While there have been many heroes for the San Francisco Giants as they bolted to a 3-0 lead in the World Series, you can’t overlook left fielder Gregor Blanco’s contributions. The former Mississippi Braves standout has: 3 sweet catches; 2 big hits (a bunt and a triple); and 1 good throw. He’s had a hand in every win. Speed is Blanco’s main skill, and we saw it at Trustmark Park in 2005 and ’06. In 123 games in ’05, he stole 28 bases and hit 12 triples. In 66 games in ’06, he swiped 17 bags. He didn’t make a huge impression during his time in Atlanta, especially in the field. But he has played so well for the Giants, they haven’t missed the suspended Melky Cabrera a bit.
Old Jackson Mets fans surely remember Kevin Elster. He played a pretty slick shortstop at Smith-Wills Stadium back in 1985 and ’86, helping the JaxMets win a Texas League title in ’85. He didn’t hit much for power — four homers total in his two stints in Jackson. But he’s in the news today because of a feat of power. Before San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night, the only player with a hat trick of that sort at the Giants’ ballpark was Elster. He did it in the very first game played there in 2000 when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Barry Bonds never hit three there. Kevin Elster did. Amazing. Elster hit just 88 home runs in a big league career that stretched from 1986-2000 and only once hit more than 10 in a season. But that one day he caught lightning in a bottle.
The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants franchises have been around since the dawn of time – or so it seems. Interesting that they’ve never met in the World Series before. Both have multiple championships on their resumes, with the Giants having celebrated one just two years ago. The Tigers were in the Fall Classic in 2006 but lost to St. Louis. Their last title came in 1984, when a pair of Mississippi natives played notable roles. Sunflower’s Larry Herndon was the Tigers’ left fielder that year, and he went 5-for-15 in the five-game World Series victory over San Diego. Herndon hit a crucial two-run, two-out home run in the fifth inning of Game 1, propelling the Tigers to a 3-2 victory. Jackson native Chet Lemon was Detroit’s center fielder; he was 5-for-17 in the Series and also made 15 putouts, a nice number for a man long noted for his glove. P.S. There are no Mississippians in the 2012 Series, but New Albany and Delta State product Eli Whiteside has been with the Giants (though inactive) throughout the postseason. He’s the third catcher and likely won’t be activated unless Buster Posey or Hector Sanchez goes down. Whiteside was active for the Giants’ 2010 championship run and got a ring.
Picayune High product T.J. House threw five hitless innings Friday for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. The Cleveland Indians prospect has a 1.13 ERA in eight innings over two starts in the AFL. … Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati) has five steals and a .300 average through five AFL games with Peoria. … After seven years as hitting coach of the Boston Red Sox, former Jackson Mets star Dave Magadan has taken the hitting coach job with the Texas Rangers. … Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alum Fred Lewis elected free agency after the New York Mets outrighted him to Triple-A. Lewis finished the 2012 season in the big leagues but hit just .150 in 20 at-bats; he hit .294 at Triple-A Buffalo. Lewis, who turns 32 in December, has been with five different organizations in the last three years. … Also on the free agent market is ex-Delta State player Edwin Maysonet, who was up for a short time with Milwaukee this season. … The fourth inning bit Lance Lynn again in the National League Championship Series. On Friday, after sailing through three innings, former Ole Miss star Lynn ran into trouble in the fourth and exacerbated the situation with a brutal throwing error. He took the loss as San Francisco won 5-0 and forced a Game 6. Lynn, an 18-game winner this year, also got KO’d by the Giants in the fourth inning of Game 1, which the Cardinals won.
Ex-Ole Miss standout Lance Lynn makes his second postseason start tonight as St. Louis goes for the clincher in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. “I’m as strong as I’ve ever been all year,” Lynn told mlb.com. The big right-hander, who had been working out of the bullpen in the playoffs after starting much of the regular season, got the call in Game 1 on Sunday and breezed through three innings before host San Francisco knocked him out in the fourth. The Cardinals went on to win the game and now take a 3-1 lead into tonight’s contest. They’d love to wrap it up at Busch Stadium, where Lynn is 9-4 with a 3.28 ERA this season. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, would be back in San Francisco’s AT&T; Park. Lynn doesn’t sound like he is feeling any pressure. “It’s enjoyable, no matter what the situation of the time of it,” he told mlb.com. P.S. Mason Robbins drove in three runs and Isaac Rodriguez a pair as Southern Miss’ Gold team beat the Black 12-3 Thursday night in Game 2 of their fall ball world series. Jake Drehoff got the win. … Mississippi State will play three intrasquad scrimmages this weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) as part of homecoming activities. Last Saturday, Adam Frazier scored a pair of runs to lead the Maroon to 4-3 win over the White, which got a home run from Tyler Fullerton. … Ole Miss’ fall world series is set for next weekend.
Chris Coghlan’s quest to get back to the big leagues has taken him to the Dominican Republic. The former Ole Miss standout went 3-for-5 with a homer in his winter league debut on Sunday. Coghlan, a former National League rookie of the year, hit just .140 in 39 games with Miami this season and spent most of 2012 at Triple-A New Orleans. In 89 games for the Zephyrs, he batted .284 with seven homers and 31 RBIs. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds. … Justin Henry, another ex-Rebel, is playing in Venezuela. Henry, a sixth-year pro who has yet to make The Show, batted .300 at Triple-A Toledo in the Detroit system this season. He is off to a .357 start with Zulia, playing on a team that includes Mississippi Braves alums Ernesto Mejia and Evan Gattis.
He is isn’t listed among Cleveland’s top 10 prospects, but T.J. House, the former Picayune High star, is certainly a minor leaguer to keep an eye on next year. The 23-year-old left-hander made his Arizona Fall League debut on Saturday and threw three solid innings, allowing three hits and one run with four strikeouts. (He got Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton twice.) House is sturdy (6 feet 2, 215 pounds) and durable (23 starts or more in each of his four pro seasons). Scouting reports indicate he isn’t overpowering but throws strikes and features an exceptional changeup. The Indians drafted him in the 16th round in 2008 after he went 7-2 with a 0.89 ERA and 99 strikeouts his senior year at Picayune. In four pro seasons, he has an ERA of 3.93, and at Double-A Akron in 2012 was 8-5 with a 3.98. The Indians were awful this year and will be under new management (Terry Francona) in 2013. House might have a real shot at making his big league debut sometime next season. P.S. Hamilton is hitting .500 through five games in the AFL. Former Meridian Community College standout Corey Dickerson is off to an .091 start.
After Friday’s miraculous, 9-7 comeback win extended their season, the St. Louis Cardinals will hand the ball to former Ole Miss star Lance Lynn in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday. The Cardinals face San Francisco in a matchup of the past two World Series winners. Lynn won 17 games in 29 starts during the regular season, including four W’s in his last four starts after a hiatus in the bullpen. For the year, Lynn went 18-7 with a 3.78. He has pitched four times in relief in this postseason. He gave up the walk-off homer to Washington’s Jayson Werth on Thursday but for the most part pitched well. Lynn’s a horse. The 7-game series starts at San Francisco, but the Cardinals don’t seem to care about home field. They won at Atlanta in the wild card game, then took two of three at Washington to win the NLDS. … Former Mississippi Braves standout Gregor Blanco, a lefty hitter, batted .286 with a homer, two RBIs and three runs in the Giants’ 5-game NLDS win over Cincinnati.
The list of Mississippians in the MLB playoffs grows thin. Ole Miss products Zack Cozart and Seth Smith bowed out on Thursday in the first two of the four 5-game division series battles we’ll be treated to this postseason. Cincinnati’s Cozart went 5-for-21 in his first postseason series. He was 1-for-4 with a run on Thursday but also committed a costly error at shortstop in San Francisco’s six-run fifth inning. The Giants held on to win 6-4. Smith was just 2-for-15 (with three RBIs) in Oakland’s ALDS loss to Detroit. His two hits were big ones in A’s wins, but he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Thursday as the Tigers followed Justin Verlander’s four-hitter to a 6-0 win. Smith made the last out of the A’s season, a ground out to second. Meanwhile, ex-Ole Miss standout Lance Lynn was involved in the last at-bat of Thursday’s St. Louis-Washington game. The Cardinals right-hander gave up the game-winning homer in the ninth to Jayson Werth (on the 13th pitch of the at-bat) as the Nationals evened the series 2-all. Lynn is 1-1 (with an 8.10 ERA) in three relief appearances in the NLDS and said after Thursday’s game he would welcome the chance to pitch again in today’s Game 5. Mississippi State product Tyler Moore must also be eager for another shot. He has just the one AB for Washington in this series — a two-run pinch single in a Nats win on Sunday. Baltimore, managed by Mississippi State alumnus Buck Showalter, forced a Game 5 in the ALDS with a 2-1, 13-inning win over the New York Yankees on Thursday. A decisive postseason game at Yankee Stadium is always a pretty cool thing.