20 Sep

here and there

Ole Miss product Alex Presley’s second home run of the season on Tuesday was the 5,693rd by a major league player in 2017, which tied the single season record set in 2000. Shortly after Presley went yard for Detroit, Kansas City’s Alex Gordon hit the record-breaker. Presley, playing for a 2018 job, went 4-for-6 in the Tigers’ loss to Oakland and boosted his average to .322 in 61 games. The journeyman outfielder is in his 12th pro season and with his fifth big league club. … Ex-UM star Drew Pomeranz threw 6 1/3 shutout innings but got a no-decision in Boston’s 1-0 win in 11 innings against Baltimore. Pomeranz, who is 16-5, lowered his ERA to 3.15. … Orioles manager Buck Showalter, the former Mississippi State standout, may be headed for his first losing campaign since 2011. The O’s have lost 11 of 13 to fall to 73-79. … Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart hit his 23rd homer for Cincinnati — and fourth in seven games – as the Reds lost to St. Louis in 10. Cozart, an All-Star this year and a pending free agent, is batting .303. … There is speculation that former Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton, on the disabled list with a broken thumb, might return as a pinch runner for the Reds before the year ends. He leads the majors with 58 steals, three ahead of Miami’s Dee Gordon. … Ex-State star Dakota Hudson started and worked three innings for Memphis in Tuesday’s Triple-A championship game, which the Redbirds lost to Durham. Hudson posted a 2.40 ERA in three postseason starts for St. Louis’ Triple-A club. He was 1-1, 4.42 in seven regular season starts after going 9-4, 2.53 in Double-A.

19 Sep

bombs away

The record for home runs by all teams in a major league season likely will be broken today. The current number is 5,677, 16 short of the mark that was set in 2000. Of those 5,677, a total of 175 were hit by Mississippians (natives or college alums). There are 108 players with 20 or more homers – that record should also fall this year – and four of those are Mississippians. Brian Dozier, the ex-Southern Miss standout, leads the All-Mississippi Home Run Derby with 31; he has 73 the last two years. (His ability to drive high fastballs was highlighted by Tom Verducci on MLB Network on Monday night.) Dozier is followed on the Mississippi chart by Corey Dickerson (career-high 26), Zack Cozart (career-high 22) and Hunter Renfroe (21 in his second year). Mitch Moreland is sitting on 19, and Tim Anderson, with 16, could also reach 20. Seth Smith is in double digits with 13, four shy of his career-best. Jarrod Dyson, who had seven career homers in seven previous seasons, hit five in 2017; he is out for the season with an injury. Adam Frazier also has five, one of them an inside-the-park job. (Still counts.) Rookies JaCoby Jones and Stuart Turner hit their first career homers this season. Jones has three all told and Turner two. There also have been a record number of strikeouts in 2017 – for the 10th straight year – and, of course, Mississippians have contributed their fair share of those, as well. Six already have topped the 100 mark, including speed demon Billy Hamilton, who has only four home runs. Indeed, the game has changed.

17 Sep

go figure

The sight of Tim Anderson coming to the plate likely doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of many major league pitchers. But Detroit’s Matt Boyd, one out away from a no-hitter, might rather have faced someone other than the former East Central Community College star. Anderson, a .262 hitter on the season, entered today’s game batting .429 in September and coming off his first career four-hit game for Chicago. What’s more, the right-handed hitting Anderson was 8-for-23 (.348) against left-hander Boyd over the last two seasons. He’s now 9-for-27. In the ninth, Boyd fell behind in the count 2-0, then threw a changeup, which Anderson was looking for. He sliced it into right-center field for a double, spoiling the no-no in what was otherwise an awful day for the White Sox, who lost 12-0 at Comerica Park.

16 Sep

stepping up

From Mike Minor’s save in Cleveland to Blaine Boyer’s last pitch at Tampa Bay, it was quite an eventful night for former Mississippi Braves in the major leagues. Minor notched the first save of his pro career on Friday as Kansas City stopped Cleveland’s record win streak at 22 games with a 4-3 victory. Minor, who has 17 holds and a 2.71 ERA, allowed a leadoff hit but then struck out the side to nail down the win for a Royals team clinging to postseason hopes. Ryan Buchter, another M-Braves alum, also threw a scoreless inning for KC. … Charlie Morton worked six innings for his 12th win and Evan Gattis went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs to help Houston knock off Seattle, another American League wild card hopeful. … Alex Wood tossed six shutout innings and fanned eight in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rout of Washington in a battle of the National League’s two best teams. Wood is now 15-3. … Andrelton Simmons went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to help the Los Angeles Angels, who sit in the No. 3 spot in the AL wild card standings, beat fading Texas 7-6. … In a game of much less significance, Sean Newcomb started and Arodys Vizcaino closed as Atlanta beat the New York Mets. Newcomb picked up his third win, Vizcaino his 11th save. … And in the game of the night, Boston scored seven runs in the 15th inning to finally put away Tampa Bay 13-6, with Boyer, a member of the 2005 M-Braves, working the last inning for the Red Sox as the 21st pitcher to appear in the game. Boston remained 3 games up on the New York Yankees in the AL East, while the Rays suffered a crippling defeat. P.S. Mississippi State product Mitch Moreland homered for Boston and needs one more to become the fifth Mississippian (native or college alum) with 20 bombs this season. Ex-Southern Miss star Brian Dozier hit his 31st for Minnesota on Friday, and Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart hit Nos. 21 and 22 for Cincinnati. Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson has 26 homers and former State standout Hunter Renfroe 20.

14 Sep

time grows short

September is not the time to fall into a hitting funk. With their teams fighting for postseason berths, three Mississippians, all toiling in the American League East, are fighting slumps. With less than three weeks left in the season, Mitch Moreland, Seth Smith and Corey Dickerson need to rise and shine. Boston leads the division but only by 3 games over the New York Yankees. Moreland, the former Mississippi State star from Amory, has had a productive first year with the Red Sox (.248, 18 home runs, 68 RBIs) but currently finds himself in a 6-for-38 skid. He is homer-less in September. Jackson native and Ole Miss product Smith is just 2-for-23 in September for Baltimore, which sits 4.5 games out in the wild card chase and is desperate for some offensive spark. Smith, batting .259 overall, has contributed 13 homers and 31 RBIs in his first (and probably last) year with the Orioles. Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes are also rather dim; the Rays are 5 games out. Dickerson, the McComb native and ex-Meridian Community College standout, is just 3-for-35 this month and has been slumping for a while. He was hitting .312 at the All-Star break – when he started for the AL – but has hit .218 since with just 18 RBIs. For the year, he’s at .277 with 26 homers and 60 RBIs. The Rays would certainly love to see the All-Star version of Dickerson reemerge. P.S. For the record, ex-State star Dakota Hudson got the win for Memphis in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League title series on Wednesday night; former Bulldogs slugger Hunter Renfroe went 1-for-4 for El Paso.

13 Sep

hot and cold

It’s becoming clear what kind of hitter Tim Anderson is. In a word: streaky. The East Central Community College product, now the Chicago White Sox’s shortstop, went 2-for-4 on Tuesday to boost his September average to .405. Anderson batted .204 in April but rebounded to hit .319 in May. He hit a summer swoon in June and July, batting .206. He started hot in August, hitting safely in 14 of his first 16 games that month before cooling off. But he has cranked it back up in September. He has three three-hit games this month and is up to .252 for the year with 16 homers, 60 RBIs and nine steals. He hit .283 as a rookie. White Sox fans best get used to this streakiness: Anderson, drafted 17th overall out of ECCC in 2013, is signed for five more years. P.S. Some magic numbers from Tuesday: Southern Miss alum Brian Dozier hit his 30th homer, marking the second time he has reached that figure. He was a double shy of a cycle in Minnesota’s 16-0 drubbing of San Diego. … Ex-Ole Miss star Zack Cozart reached the 20-homer plateau for the first time, taking former Rebels teammate Lance Lynn deep. But Lynn, now 11-7, won the day as St. Louis whipped Cincinnati 13-4. … Former Mississippi Braves standout Ozzie Albies stretched his hitting streak to 10 games as Atlanta zapped Washington 8-0. Albies, the rookie second baseman, went 3-for-5 with his third homer and is hitting .293 with 18 RBIs in 39 games.

12 Sep

oh, that hurts

Jarrod Dyson – and the Seattle Mariners – got some bad news on Monday when it was revealed that the M’s center fielder would have season-ending surgery for an apparent sports hernia. The Southwest Mississippi Community College product from McComb hit .251 with five homers, 30 RBIs, 56 runs and 28 steals in 111 games. He also had 11 outfield assists. The Mariners, still in the American League wild card hunt, will no doubt miss Dyson. “When he was healthy, he did a lot for us in the outfield defense-wise and what he can do on the bases, that’s his game,” Seattle manager Scott Servais told the Seattle Times. Dyson, 33, is a free agent at the end of this season. He joins a sizable list of Mississippians in the majors who have suffered significant injuries this season. Billy Hamilton and Bobby Wahl are also out for the year, and Kendall Graveman, Tony Sipp, Brandon Woodruff, Zack Cozart and Adam Frazier missed chunks of time. Woodruff’s big league debut was delayed by a pregame injury. Anthony Alford, called up by Toronto on May 19, went on the DL on May 24, was optioned back to the minors on July 25 and hasn’t been back up. JaCoby Jones also was knocked out of the big leagues by an injury, though he is with Detroit again now.