They were playing “Taps” for the Minnesota Twins’ season as recently as Aug. 3. They had just traded away closer Brandon Kintzler and starter Jaime Garcia and stood 51-54, well off the playoff pace. They were coming off a rough 2-6 road trip that a Minneapolis Star-Tribune writer called “the beginning of the end.” But Brian Dozier, the former Southern Miss star, had other ideas. As if to proclaim, “This season isn’t over until I say it’s over,” the veteran second baseman and leadoff batter went on a tear – and the team followed. Dozier hit his 25th home run and scored three times as Minnesota beat Arizona 12-5 on Sunday to improve its record to 63-59. Dozier, a .260 hitter on the year, is batting .329 in August. Over his last 16 games, he has belted eight home runs, driven in 16 runs and scored 19. Heading into a doubleheader today against the Chicago White Sox, the Twins are tied for the second wild card and 5 games back of first-place Cleveland in the American League Central. Having just put Miguel Sano on the 10-day disabled list, the Twins may look to Dozier to carry even more of a load. He appears more than capable. P.S. Milwaukee sent rookie Brandon Woodruff back to Triple-A Colorado Springs – but not because of any disappointment in the Mississippi State alum’s performance. The Brewers, still in playoff contention in the National League, won’t need a fifth starter until September. Woodruff is 1-1, 1.62 ERA in his three starts.
Brandon Woodruff makes his second big league start for Milwaukee tonight. The 24-year-old right-hander, a Wheeler High and Mississippi State alum, went 6 1/3 innings to beat Tampa Bay in his debut last Friday. At Miller Park tonight in the opener of a two-game set against Minnesota, Woodruff will be opposed by a slightly more experienced pitcher: Bartolo Colon. Colon is 44. He has made 517 MLB starts in a career that dates to 1997. He has logged 3,259 2/3 innings and posted 236 wins. Colon, who started this season with Atlanta, is just 3-9 with a 7.32 ERA in 2017 but threw a complete game against Texas his last time out. Both the Brewers and Twins are still playing meaningful games. The Brewers (59-56) are hot on the heels of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central, while the Twins (55-56) are still hanging around in the American League Central race. “We’re never out of it,” former Southern Miss star Brian Dozier told The Associated Press after belting a grand slam in the Twins’ win over the Brewers on Tuesday. “I think that’s kind of the mentality that we’ve been sticking to.”
Brandon Woodruff was slated to make his big league debut today for Milwaukee, but cbssports.com has reported that the former Mississippi State star was scratched with right hamstring tightness. Ouch. Woodruff, a highly rated prospect in his fourth pro season, was 6-4 with a 4.12 ERA at Triple-A Colorado Springs. The Wheeler High product pitched for the Biloxi Shuckers last year, going 10-8, 3.01 and earning minor league pitcher of the year honors in the Brewers’ system (see previous posts).
Don’t look now, but ex-Ole Miss star Zack Cozart has climbed into the top two at shortstop in the National League All-Star voting. Cozart, batting .348 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs for Cincinnati, trails the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager and is just ahead of the Chicago Cubs’ Addison Russell. Cozart, in his seventh big league season, has never made the All-Star Game. He said it was “a little shocking” to pass Russell, who is buoyed by Cubs fever. Cozart leads NL shortstops in most offensive categories and is also tops in Defensive Runs Saved. He went 2-for-4 on Monday night against St. Louis – extending his on-base streak to 27 games – and was in the middle of a game-winning four-run rally in the seventh inning. The Reds (26-30) are battling to stay afloat in the NL Central. P.S. Former Biloxi Shuckers standout Brett Phillips was 1-for-3 with an outfield assist (and an error) in his MLB debut for Milwaukee. Phillips is the 12th Shuckers alum to make the majors, a list that includes Orlando Arcia, Jacob Barnes and Yadiel Rivera.
There ought to be some energy at Biloxi’s MGM Park the next few days. The Mississippi Braves and Biloxi Shuckers renew their burgeoning rivalry tonight in the opener of a rather meaningful five-game series. The Shuckers, who have won five in a row and 12 of 15, are 19-16 and tied for first in the Southern League South at the halfway point of the first half. The M-Braves are a game back at 18-17, having won the rubber match of their home series with Mobile on Friday night. Ronald Acuna, one of Atlanta’s top prospects, put on a show in that series. The 19-year-old outfielder went 8-for-16 with two homers, five RBIs and six runs in his first four Double-A games. But he is hardly the only hot hitter in the Mississippi lineup. Travis Demeritte, another young prospect, was 9-for-20 in the series with three homers. He is at .274 with four bombs, 17 RBIs and 24 runs for the year. Carlos Franco picked up three RBIs on Friday to run his league-leading total to 31. He has seven homers and a .273 average. And Luis Valenzuela, batting .289, has been a productive leadoff batter. The M-Braves’ rotation, featuring 19-year-olds Kolby Allard (3-1, 1.38 ERA) and Mike Soroka (3-3, 2.84), might be as good as any in the league. The Shuckers, a Milwaukee affiliate, have been sparked by Mauricio Dubon, batting .294 with an SL-best 18 stolen bases. Johnny Davis has 10 bags despite hitting just .189. Biloxi’s main power source is Michael Reed, who has six homers. The team has a weapon in the bullpen in Matt Ramsey, who has 10 saves and a 1.76 ERA. Here’s an oddity: The Shuckers are just 5-10 at home, while the M-Braves are 9-6 on the road. Just makes this series all the more interesting.
Whenever the Milwaukee Brewers feel the need for a new arm in their rotation, Brandon Woodruff looks more than ready. Woodruff, the former Mississippi State standout from Wheeler, is 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs, 4-0, 1.54 at home, which is not a pitcher-friendly place. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-hander, who relies primarily on a mid-90s fastball, has 30 strikeouts and seven walks in 34 1/3 innings. “(Y)ou talk about mound presence, his is way up there,” Sky Sox manager Rick Sweet, a former Jackson Generals skipper, told The Gazette of Colorado Springs. “When he gets on the mound he’s got control of the game.” Woodruff, 24, was an 11th-round pick by the Brewers in 2014. He emerged as a top prospect last season, when he went 4-1, 1.83 at Class A Brevard County and 10-8, 3.01 at Double-A Biloxi, earning the organization’s pitcher of the year honors. Woodruff got a brief look with the big club in spring training this year. His next opportunity can’t be far off.
Even though he had filled his role admirably, Tyler Moore was designated for assignment by Miami on Monday. The Marlins had to clear a roster spot for former Mississippi Braves star Martin Prado to return from the disabled list. Moore, the Northwest Rankin, Meridian Community College and Mississippi State product, was the odd man out in the numbers game. He was 4-for-11 with an RBI, used primarily as a right-handed pinch hitter. Moore is a .230 career hitter with 24 home runs in 285 big league games; 10 of those homers came with Washington in 2012, his rookie season. He may wind up at Triple-A New Orleans. … Also popping up on Monday’s MLB Transactions page were ex-State standout Kendall Graveman and Ole Miss alum David Goforth. Oakland put Graveman on the 10-day disabled list with a shoulder strain. He is 2-0 with 3.00 ERA in three starts; reports indicate he’ll only miss one turn. Goforth, who was DFA’d by Milwaukee on April 14, was reassigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. He got into one game, throwing a clean inning, for Milwaukee during his brief call-up. He has a 5.94 ERA in 36 1/3 innings in the majors.