24 Jun

the ups and downs

Saturday was a roller coaster day for the two former Mississippi State pitchers in the big leagues. Jonathan Papelbon suffered his first blown save of the year (in 18 opportunities) and then had to write a check for $5,000 to a teammate, though he was actually happy to do that. Paul Maholm hit his second career home run but was knocked out of his start in the fourth inning and lost his fourth straight decision. Philadelphia’s Papelbon, whose ERA has risen 82 points in June and is up to 2.83, blew a 6-4 lead in the ninth against Tampa Bay. He told mlb.com he offered to pay $5,000 to anyone who could hit a walk-off home run — and Jim Thome obliged with his record 13th, giving the Phillies and Papelbon a 7-6 win. Papelbon said he wrote the check. Maholm, after all those years of frustration in Pittsburgh, is finding more of the same with the Chicago Cubs, who have the worst record in MLB. (Ironically, the Pirates are now a second-place club in the National League Central.) Maholm allowed nine hits, three walks and six runs in 3 1/3 innings of Saturday’s 10-5 loss to Arizona. The veteran lefty’s record dipped to 4-6 and his ERA surged to 5.38. His last win came on May 9. P.S. Former Mississippi Braves shortstop Brandon Hicks, once upon a time considered a possible heir apparent to Chipper Jones at third base, went 1-for-5 with two RBIs in his Oakland A’s debut on Saturday. Hicks, in sporadic playing time, didn’t hit enough while in Atlanta.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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