Bullpens for contending teams come under extreme scrutiny in September. Crucial situations abound. To wit: At SunTrust Park in Atlanta on Monday night, Dakota Hudson, pitching for St. Louis, faced a few and survived, if a little bloodied. The former Mississippi State star entered the game in the sixth inning with two runners on, one out and the Cardinals up four. Hudson retired the two batters he faced. Both the inherited runners scored, but the runs were unearned because of throwing errors. Hudson got the first two Braves batters in the seventh but then yielded three straight hits and a run that pulled Atlanta within 6-5. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt struck with the rookie right-hander, and he struck out Johan Camargo to end the inning. Hudson got a hold, his 10th (to go with four wins) in 21 appearances, as the Cardinals rolled on to an 11-6 win, keeping pace in the National League Central and a grip on the second wild card. … Flash to Minute Maid Park in Houston: Pascagoula native Tony Sipp, pitching for the Astros, entered in the seventh with his club up 1-0 on Seattle. Sipp, very effective this year as a situational reliever, got a strikeout and a ground out sandwiched around a walk but was lifted after allowing a single. Ryan Pressley bailed Sipp out — the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alum actually was credited with a hold — but the Astros went on to lose 4-1 when Hector Rondon gave up an eighth-inning grand slam to Daniel Vogelbach. Houston’s lead in the American League West dipped to 4 games over Oakland. … At Miller Park in Milwaukee, MSU product Brandon Woodruff got the ball in the seventh inning with a nice cushion, the Brewers leading Cincinnati 8-0. Still, the former Wheeler High star made the most of the opportunity, delivering three scoreless innings for his first MLB save. He now has a 3.99 ERA (and three W’s) in 16 games for the Brewers, who lead the NL wild card standings and lurk just 2.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the Central Division.
Ah, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Mississippians experienced both on Friday — and something in between, as well — in the wide world of big league baseball. Start with the agony. In the big Houston-Oakland showdown, former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College standout Tony Sipp, an Astros reliever, surrendered a walk-off home run to Matt Olson that gave the A’s a 4-3 win in 10 innings and cut Houston’s lead to 1 game in the American League West. Sipp has been very good this season. His ERA entering Friday’s game was 1.50. He hadn’t allowed a run since June 24. He hadn’t allowed a home run all season. So, yeah, that one hurt. On to the thrill: Mitch Moreland, the Mississippi State product, is also having a helluva year — and so is his team, the Boston Red Sox, who have the best record in the game. They trailed early on Friday against Tampa Bay in Fenway Park but rallied, going ahead to stay in the fifth inning on an RBI hit by Moreland, his 62nd RBI of the year. He scored a run in the seventh inning as the Red Sox, 87-36 and 43-15 at home, stormed to a 7-3 win. Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, ex-Ole Miss star Lance Lynn, who had been lights out in his first three appearances for New York, gave up four runs in the first inning against Toronto but his personal agony was erased by a thrilling Yankees rally. They won a rain-shortened affair 7-5, staying within shouting distance — if only barely — of the Red Sox in the AL East. Lynn now has a 2.61 ERA in four games, three starts, with the Yanks since arriving in a trade with Minnesota.
9 — Batters faced and retired on Saturday by Dakota Hudson, who notched his second big league win for St. Louis. The Mississippi State product has not allowed a run in four appearances for the Cardinals.
4 — Holds this season for Mike Mayers, the ex-Ole Miss standout who followed Hudson with a scoreless inning in the Cardinals’ 8-4 victory over Pittsburgh. Mayers has a 3.63 ERA.
.317 — Corey Dickerson’s batting average, which ranks second in the National League. The Meridian Community College product went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter in his return to Pittsburgh’s roster after a stint on the disabled list.
13 — Home runs by Mitch Moreland, the MSU alum whose two-run first-inning shot propelled Boston to a 4-1 win against the New York Yankees.
8 — Times reached base by Brian Dozier in his four games with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The ex-Southern Miss star walked three times in the Dodgers’ 14-0 loss to Houston; he is 5-for-11 since the trade from Minnesota.
55 — Runs this season by Tim Anderson, the former East Central CC standout who scored the game-winner (on a throwing error) in the top of the ninth inning for the Chicago White Sox in a 2-1 victory vs. Tampa Bay.
0.69 — Tony Sipp’s ERA over his last 15 appearances for the Astros. The left-hander from Pascagoula and Mississippi Gulf Coast CC retired the only batter he faced vs. the Dodgers, cutting his season ERA to 1.63.
24 — Stolen bases by Billy Hamilton, who got one in Cincinnati’s Game 1 win against Washington. The Taylorsville High alum ranks third in the National League in steals.
17 — Earned runs yielded in his last three MLB appearances (over 10 innings) by Chris Stratton, the former State standout who was sent back to Triple-A by San Francisco on Saturday.
4 — Hits, including a walk-off single in the 10th inning, by Bobby Bradley at Triple-A Columbus. The Harrison Central High product, one of Cleveland’s top prospects, was promoted from Double-A last week.
7 — Shutout innings posted by David Parkinson in his high Class A debut with Clearwater in the Philadelphia system. The ex-Ole Miss star was 8-1 with a 1.51 ERA at low-A Lakewood.
After he posted a 5.79 ERA in 2017 and was left off Houston’s postseason roster, Pascagoula native Tony Sipp’s future with the World Series champs appeared rather cloudy. The left-hander’s results in spring training weren’t great, but an injury to another relief pitcher enabled Sipp to grab the last spot in the Astros’ bullpen. To his credit, he has not let go. The former Moss Point High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College standout enters the second half of the season with a 1.93 ERA in 27 appearances. Over his last 15 games, it’s a 0.66. Home runs plagued him in 2017, when he yielded eight. He hasn’t allowed one this year. Sipp, now 35 years old, is only used situationally – he’s worked just 23 1/3 innings – but he has been effective in his role. “I can use him a little bit more, the way I used him in 2015 and 2016, and he adds a different dimension to a bullpen that I’ve been able to mix and match,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch told The Houston Chronicle last week. The first-place Astros are said to be seeking bullpen help for the second half (and beyond), but Sipp’s job would appear secure. Quite a change from just a few months ago.
When he’s good, he’s very good. And Billy Hamilton was at the top of his game on Sunday, slashing hits, stealing bases, scoring runs and splashing down on the PNC Park warning track after one of the great catches of the season. The former Taylorsville High star produced three hits, three runs and two stolen bases in Cincinnati’s 8-6 win at Pittsburgh. But it was his defense that stole the show. The speedy center fielder tracked down a fly ball in right-center to make a catch that, according to Statcast, had a 2 percent probability of being made. He reportedly covered 83 feet in 4.3 seconds. “It’s like video game stuff,” said Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani in an mlb.com article. Francisco Cervelli, who hit the ball, applauded the play, as did Pirates fans. Hamilton needed a good day at the plate. The 3-for-4 boosted his average to .197, and he now has 13 stolen bases and 34 runs in 67 games. … At Dodger Stadium, Chris Stratton, the former Mississippi State standout from Tupelo, threw six impressive innings – three hits, one walk, no earned runs – to notch his eighth win of the year for San Francisco in a 4-1 victory against Los Angeles. It was the first career win for Stratton in four decisions vs. the Dodgers. He is 8-4, 4.22 ERA on the year and tied for second in the National League in wins. … At Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Tony Sipp, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alum from Pascagoula, worked a scoreless seventh inning and earned the win as Houston extended its streak to 11 by beating the Royals 7-4. Sipp has made four scoreless appearances during the Astros’ run. Coming off a couple of rough years, the 34-year-old lefty has sliced his ERA to 2.16 and has 16 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings over 20 appearances overall.
If the Minnesota Twins are going to make a playoff run this year, they’ll need more of what they got from Lance Lynn and Brian Dozier on Saturday. With the Mississippi tag team leading the way, the Twins took down first-place Cleveland for the second straight day and, despite a 24-30 record, moved to within 4 1/2 games of the Indians in the American League Central. Former Ole Miss standout Lynn, whose role has grown even more important with Ervin Santana still on the disabled list, worked six innings to notch his third straight win. After a horrid start with his new club, he is 4-4 with a 5.46 ERA. He yielded just two hits but walked five and plunked a batter in what manager Paul Molitor termed a “pretty gritty” effort in the 7-1 victory. Ex-Southern Miss star Dozier had a game-tying RBI triple in the third inning off Trevor Bauer and scored the go-ahead run on an Eddie Rosario homer. Dozier doubled in another run in the fourth as the Twins broke it open. Dozier, who always seems to be in the middle of things when Minnesota wins, is batting just .241 but has 23 RBIs and 34 runs in 54 games. … Surprising Detroit (28-30, 2 1/2 GB in the AL Central) has won eight of 10, and former Pillow Academy (and LSU) star Louis Coleman has played a key role in this stretch for the Tigers as a middle reliever. The sidearming right-hander picked up a win on Saturday with a clean eighth inning against Toronto and is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 10 games since getting called up in mid-May. Coleman’s career ERA is 3.40 spread over seven MLB seasons. … Tony Sipp’s role with Houston has diminished, but the left-hander out of Moss Point High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College has been effective in middle relief of late. Sipp worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the Astros on Saturday, including a strikeout of Mississippi State alum Mitch Moreland, and now has hung up eight straight scoreless appearances, trimming his ERA to 3.09. Sipp’s Astros lost to Boston 5-4 and have been caught by Seattle in the AL West standings.
Dalton Minton threw seven shutout innings to pace Delta State to a 2-0 win against Mississippi College on Sunday in the rubber game of a Gulf South Conference series in Cleveland. Minton allowed seven hits and struck out eight batters in running his record to 8-1 and cutting his ERA to 3.74. DSU rolls into the GSC Tournament — at Ferriss Field starting this week — with a 38-8 record. … Mason Strickland tossed 3 1/3 near-perfect innings in relief to help Southern Miss beat host Old Dominion 9-2 on Sunday and complete a C-USA sweep. Strickland allowed one hit and walked none for the Golden Eagles, now 32-11, 16-4 in conference, with nine straight wins. … Rahman Williams smacked a three-run homer to cap a five-run eighth inning as Jackson State beat Alcorn State 7-4 in the rubber game of a SWAC series on Sunday at Braddy Field. JSU is 28-15, 17-7. … On Saturday in Oxford, before a crowd of 12,000-plus, Thomas Dillard’s three-run bomb in the seventh inning carried Ole Miss to a 9-8 win over LSU in the rubber game of an SEC series. Dillard is hitting .306 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs for the Rebels (34-11, 12-9). … Also on Saturday, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Kole Kittrell threw a five-inning no-hitter in a 13-0 win vs. East Mississippi CC. Kittrell fanned six and walked just one.