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.
On this date in 1990, former Mississippi State standout Bobby Thigpen became the first pitcher in baseball history to reach the 50-save mark. Pitching for the Chicago White Sox, Thigpen closed out a 7-4 win over Boston. He had already set the MLB record for saves in a season with his 47th on Sept. 3. Thigpen finished the 1990 season with 57 saves, a mark that stood for 18 years. Francisco Rodriguez broke it in 2008 en route to 62. Thigpen’s mark is still second on the all-time list. Only 16 pitchers have reached 50 saves in a season. Thigpen, who retired in 1994 with 201 career saves, coached in the White Sox’s system for many years and as recently as last season was the big league team’s bullpen coach.
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.
The must-see prospects on the Birmingham Barons’ roster include outfielder Eloy Jimenez, catcher Zack Collins and pitchers Alec Hansen and Spencer Adams. As the Barons visit the Mississippi Braves for a regular season-ending series, a fair number of fans in the seats will have an eye on Birmingham’s No. 20, Mason Robbins, the right fielder. A former Mr. Baseball at George County High and All-C-USA pick at Southern Miss just a few short years ago, Robbins comes to Trustmark Park swinging a hot bat. Though he is not among the Chicago White Sox’s top-rated prospects, Robbins, 24, is a .286 hitter over four pro seasons, including a .314 mark in A-ball in 2016. In his Double-A debut this year, Robbins has been up-and-down, but he is batting .300 over his last 40 at-bats and is currently at .270 with three homers, 36 RBIs and 47 runs in 120 games. The main knock on the 6-foot, 220-pound lefty hitter continues to be his lack of power as a corner outfielder: 18 homers in pro ball. But if keeps making contact (only 46 strikeouts all year), the power may yet come. Not that Robbins seems to be stressing over it. “Any time you get to wake up every morning and play baseball, it’s a fun opportunity,” he recently told Biloxi’s WLOX. P.S. Jacob Lindgren has begun throwing live batting practice, the Biloxi Sun-Herald reports. The Biloxi native and former Mississippi State standout, now in the Atlanta system, had Tommy John surgery last August. Drafted in the second round by the New York Yankees in 2014, lefty Lindgren blew through their system to reach the big leagues in 2015. He missed most of 2016 with the arm injury. The Yankees did not offer him a contract after last season, and he signed with the Braves. He has a career minor league ERA of 1.83 with 85 strikeouts in 54 innings.
Former Columbia High star Ti’Quan Forbes changed organizations as part of an under-the-radar second-deadline trade on Thursday. Forbes, 21, a second-round pick by Texas in 2014 who is still in A-ball, went to the Chicago White Sox for major league pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. “Forbes seems like an intriguing enough return for a two-hours-’til-deadline August deal, as he has some pedigree and skills,” msn.com reported. And, a fresh start might do him some good, though the 2017 minor league season is almost over. Forbes was a shortstop at Columbia when he earned Mr. Baseball honors but now plays mostly third base. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Forbes is batting .227 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 51 games for high-A Down East. He batted .242 with eight homers at low-A Hickory before being promoted. He had hit just four homers prior to this season and is at .246 for his pro career.
His team has the worst record in the American League, and he’s not having such a good year, either. So that first career walk-off hit on Wednesday night and the subsequent Gatorade shower had to feel pretty good to Tim Anderson. “I’m going to enjoy it and wear it until tomorrow,” the ex-East Central Community College star told csnchicago.com. Anderson’s ninth-inning single scored Avisail Garcia and the Chicago White Sox beat playoff-contender Minnesota 4-3 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Though his bat has perked up a bit this month, Anderson was in a 1-for-20 slump when he stepped to the plate in the ninth on Wednesday. He is hitting .239 on the year after batting .283 as a rookie in 2016. He has produced 14 homers, 42 RBIs and 49 runs but hasn’t been the base-stealing threat (six bags) he was projected to be as a first-round pick in 2013. At shortstop, Anderson has 25 errors and a .944 fielding percentage, well below league average. But for one night, at least, he soaked in some glory – and some Gatorade. P.S. Cincinnati’s Mississippi-flavored lineup did not produce an appetizing result on Wednesday. The Reds started Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton in center field, Ole Miss product Zack Cozart at short and UM alum Stuart Turner at catcher. Alas, they went 2-for-10 in a 9-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Home runs in back-to-back games, including a walk-off for San Diego on Monday night, is a good sign for Hunter Renfroe, who has been struggling of late. Here’s another: The Mississippi State product from Crystal Springs has walked nine times in his last nine games. He walked twice in his first 30 games this season. Being more selective should translate to being more productive. “He’s making an adjustment back to the league right now and that’s really good to see,” Padres manager Andy Green told The Associated Press. Renfroe’s homer on Monday – on a 3-2 pitch in the 10th inning against Milwaukee’s Oliver Drake – was his seventh of the season and first career walk-off. “That’s pretty special,” Renfroe said. He lifted his average, which had dipped to .200 a few days ago, to .217, and he now has 17 RBIs. He has fanned 43 times in 143 at-bats. In his 11-game MLB debut in 2016, he hit .371 with four homers and five punchouts in 35 at-bats. P.S. Ex-East Central Community College star Tim Anderson (see previous post) was back on the Chicago White Sox’s bench on Monday and is expected to be back in the lineup tonight against the Los Angeles Angels.