It started – and ended – with a Rebel vs. Bulldog confrontation. The worst start of Lance Lynn’s MLB career began on Saturday with a double off the bat of Adam Frazier. Former Mississippi State star Frazier would also be the last batter ex-Ole Miss standout Lynn would face in the first inning of the Pittsburgh-St. Louis game. In between Frazier’s two at-bats – the second resulted in a walk — the Pirates scored six runs. Lynn, who recorded just two outs, would be charged with eight runs all told in the inning and took the loss in the Pirates’ 11-6 victory. Lynn’s ERA jumped almost 40 points to 3.47; his record dipped to 11-8. What’s worse, the Cardinals fell behind Milwaukee in both the National League Central and wild card races. The Brewers’ 4-3 10-inning, walk-off win over the Chicago Cubs moved them 4.5 games back in the division and 1 back of Colorado for the second wild card. St. Louis is 5 back and 1.5 back in those races. In sum, it was a bad time for a bad start for the usually reliable Lynn, a pending free agent. P.S. Ex-State star Mitch Moreland’s 20th homer of the year propelled Boston to a 5-0 win against Cincinnati and closer to clinching the American League East. The New York Yankees clinched at least a wild card by beating Toronto 5-1 but remain 4 back of Boston in the division. … Southern Miss alum Brian Dozier’s leadoff “little league home run” – he circled the bases on a pair of errant throws – started Minnesota on its way to a 10-4 win over Detroit as the Twins kept a grip on the second wild card in the AL. Kansas City is now third, 4 games back.
In the category of Best Performance by a Mississippian in the Majors, it’s hard to top a three-homer game. But Adam Frazier did it. The former Mississippi State standout hit his first career walk-off homer for Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, effectively stealing the thunder from former Bulldogs teammate Hunter Renfroe, who belted three homers for San Diego in a losing cause. Frazier’s two-run blast, with two outs in the ninth in a tie game, came off Milwaukee bullpen ace Corey Knebel and delivered a stern punch to the gut of a Brewers team seeking to tie Colorado for the second wild card spot in the National League. Frazier also had a two-run triple in the Pirates’ 6-4 victory. He is batting .282 with six homers in his second big league campaign. Renfroe, also in his second MLB tour, now has 24 homers this season. Both ex-Bulldogs were drafted in 2013, Renfroe in the first round, Frazier in the sixth.
It’s showtime for JaCoby Jones, the ex-Richton High star now playing center field for the Detroit Tigers. Jones took a star turn on Tuesday in a 13-2 win over Kansas City, smacking a pair of home runs and driving in three runs all told. The Tigers want to see more of that from the 25-year-old rookie over the next few weeks. It has been a rocky year for Jones, who has been up and down from Detroit to the minors several times after winning the center field job in spring training. Now getting regular playing time again for an also-ran club, he has eight hits in his last 31 at-bats, a modest .258 average but a jump from his season clip of .183. The homers on Tuesday were his first since his only other big league bomb in April. He has 10 RBIs. He also has 38 strikeouts in 82 ABs. A converted infielder, Jones is an athletic center fielder at 6 feet 2, 205 pounds with speed and power. This is only his fifth year of pro ball, but he is 25. If he’s going to be an impact player, the time is at hand. P.S. Former Mississippi State standout Hunter Renfroe of Crystal Springs is San Diego’s nominee for the 2017 Roberto Clemente Award. The award goes to the major leaguer who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Renfroe, who was the Padres’ opening day right fielder, is currently back in the minors. … Ex-Jackson Mets skipper Clint Hurdle has been given a four-year extension (through 2021) as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hurdle, who won the National League Manager of the Year award in 2013, has been with the Pirates since 2011.
The work was a little sloppy along the way, but the finished product looked pretty darn good. Former Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz, who has emerged as a surprising stopper for Boston, notched his 14th win – tied for the American League lead – as the Red Sox beat Toronto 6-5 on Monday night. The first-place Red Sox had dropped four in a row; they are now 7-2 this season in Pomeranz’s starts following a loss. Pomeranz, whose Players Weekend nickname was “Big Smooth,” was anything but on Monday. He allowed seven hits, five walks and three runs, two in the first inning. But he pitched out of trouble several times, stranding eight runners all told. The visiting Red Sox trailed 3-2 after six but rallied for four runs in the seventh, and the game was turned over to their bullpen. It’s amazing to think that Pomeranz wasn’t even a lock to make the Boston rotation heading into spring training. But injuries and struggles by others have enabled him to move up the pecking order. Chris Sale is the unquestioned ace, but Pomeranz, who has a 3.23 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 142 innings, has become a valuable No. 2. P.S. T.J. House, the Picayune High product, has been designated for assignment by the Blue Jays after two appearances and will likely wind up back in their minor league system. … Former Mississippi State standout Adam Frazier, who has quietly had a very good year (.280, 45 RBIs, 46 runs in 104 games) has landed on the 10-day disabled list for Pittsburgh.
As he took his place in the batter’s box in the ninth inning on Sunday at PNC Park, Adam Frazier had 392 big league at-bats, 109 hits and 39 RBIs under his belt. The former Mississippi State star then did something he had not done in his previous 135 MLB games: He delivered a walk-off hit. Pittsburgh beat St. Louis 4-3 on Frazier’s single off Brett Cecil. Frazier, who was batting .361 in late May, had been scuffling mightily heading into the All-Star break. During the time off, he did nothing baseball-related. “Everybody needs a mental break,” he told mlb.com, “to get away and live life like normal people for a few days.” It appears to have helped. The Pirates’ super utility player is 6-for-13 in the three games since the break, helping the Pirates take two of three from the Cardinals in the weekend series. For the season, the second-year big leaguer is batting .267 with three homers, 29 RBIs, 36 runs and seven stolen bases in 70 games. The Pirates (44-48) are 7 games back of first-place Milwaukee in the National League Central heading into a four-game home series against the Brewers.
These are trying times for Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College standout and current Chicago White Sox shortstop. Anderson is away from the team this weekend, attending the funeral of a longtime friend who was shot and killed last weekend in Anderson’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala. Anderson has been struggling on the field most of this season. He is hitting .221 with two homers and two steals in 29 games, and his defense also has been spotty. After a strong rookie season (.283, nine homers, 10 bags) in 2016, Anderson signed a 6-year, $25 million contract in the off-season. The White Sox drafted Anderson 17th overall in 2013, the year he led ECCC to a state championship. Obviously, the organization believes in him and believes he’ll bounce back from this adversity. As manager Rick Renteria told theathletic.com, “Experiences occur and you deal with them and then you hopefully grow with them.” Anderson is scheduled to return to the club on Monday in Anaheim, where they’ll play the Angels. We should wish him well. P.S. Adam Frazier, activated from the disabled list on Friday, was back in the Pittsburgh lineup on Saturday, batting leadoff and playing left field. The ex-Mississippi State star, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury, went 1-for-5 as the Pirates beat Arizona 4-3 to stop a six-game skid. Utility man Frazier is hitting .291 with five RBIs and five runs.
Apparently, Brian Dozier’s bruised knee is just fine. After sitting out Saturday’s game, the former Southern Miss star smacked an inside-the-park home run on Sunday, producing the only run Minnesota would score in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Target Field. It was Dozier’s 119th career homer but first inside-the-parker. “I put it in a different gear,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Dozier’s recent power surge has overshadowed the fact that he can run a little bit. He has five steals already this season and has swiped 12 or more bags in each of the last four seasons. … Mississippi State product Mitch Moreland continues to deliver big hits for Boston, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs on Sunday. He had the go-ahead hit in the seventh inning of the Red Sox’s 7-5 win over Tampa Bay at Fenway Park. Moreland is hitting .356 with a homer, five RBIs and seven runs in his first season with Boston. “It’s been a smooth transition,” he told The Associated Press. … Jarrod Dyson, inserted as a pinch hitter, sparked a ninth-inning rally for Seattle with an infield hit and a stolen base, his fourth of the year. “We are down one (run), and I am on base with no outs? I am looking to go — and go early,” McComb native Dyson told the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald. He scored the tying run in the Mariners’ 8-7 win against Texas at Safeco Field. Dyson is batting just .200 with five runs in 12 games for his new club. … Ex-State star Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh’s super utility man, went 3-for-4 with homer – his first – and three RBIs as the Pirates completed a sweep of the Chicago Cubs with a 6-1 victory at Wrigley Field. Frazier is batting .343. … Ole Miss alum Chris Coghlan, who’s due a World Series ring from the Cubs, got his first hit and first RBI for Toronto, but the scuffling Blue Jays fell to Baltimore 11-4 at Rogers Centre. Coghlan was called up from Triple-A last week as a replacement for injured Josh Donaldson.