30 Sep

did you see that?

One of the most bizarre plays of the season happened Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas, and former Mississippi State star Mitch Moreland was in the thick of it. Moreland, on first base for the Rangers, scored the game-winning run on a wild-pitch third strike and a throwing error by the Seattle catcher. It was one of those plays that make you wonder if the playoff-bound Rangers are a team of destiny.
P.S. In case you missed it, Hattiesburg native John Lindsey’s first big league tour ended last Saturday when he was hit by a pitch and suffered a broken hand. He went 1-for-12 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

27 Sep

call it clutch

It came in a losing cause, but Bill Hall’s performance against Mariano Rivera on Sunday night is worth a round of applause. At Yankee Stadium on ESPN and in the ninth inning, the Nettleton native singled to knock in the tying run, stole two bases and then scored the go-ahead run as Boston went up on New York 3-2. Jonathan Papelbon, the former Mississippi State ace, came on for the Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth and blew his eighth save, an American League worst. New York won it in the 10th, essentially quashing Boston’s slim playoff hopes. Hall has started at six different positions for Boston. Maybe he should try closing.
P.S. Not to be overlooked is Mitch Moreland’s two-homer, five-RBI game for Texas. With seven homers in less than two months in The Show, the ex-MSU standout has virtually assured himself of a postseason roster spot with the Rangers.

25 Sep

more magic moments

Former Ole Miss star Seth Smith broke up a perfect game with a sixth-inning double and then scored Colorado’s lone run Friday night. Alas for Rockies fans, their club lost to the brilliant Tim Lincecum and San Francisco 2-1 and fell further back in the two playoff berth races. Nettleton native Bill Hall, who hasn’t had a great year with Boston, belted his 18th homer and helped take down the New York Yankees 10-8, dropping the Bombers out of first in the American League East. Mississippi State alum Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox’s hot-and-cold closer, notched his 37th save. Starkville native Julio Borbon went 2-for-4 with two RBIs as Texas beat Oakland 10-3 and reduced its magic number in the AL West to 2.

24 Sep

closing fast

Roy Oswalt may be pulling up on and even passing Fred Lewis in the race for the second Cool Papa Bell Award (see previous posts). The Toronto Blue Jays announced Thursday that Lewis, the former Stone County High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College standout, is done for the year. He’s having surgery on his left foot to remove a bunion. He hit .262 with 8 homers, 31 doubles, 5 triples, 36 RBIs, 70 runs and 17 steals in 110 games. Oswalt, out of Weir and Holmes CC, is 7-1, 1.76 ERA with Philadelphia and 13-13, 2.80 overall.

24 Sep

in the heat …

Desmond Jennings, the Itawamba Community College product, played a part in Tampa Bay’s big win over the New York Yankees on Thursday night, and he also played a part in a record-tying performance, albeit a forgettable one for Yankees right-hander Javier Vazquez. Jennings was one of the three consecutive batters plunked by Vazquez, who tied the major league mark. Jennings entered the game as a pinch runner and wound up scoring twice in the Rays’ 10-3 win. East Central CC’s Marcus Thames, the pride of Louisville, gave the Yankees an early lead with his 12th homer of the year. New York’s lead in the American League East slipped to a half-game. … Delta State alumnus Eli Whiteside, who has the unenviable task of backing up star rookie catcher Buster Posey, made a rare appearance for San Francisco and contributed a hit and a run in the Giants’ 13-0 win at Chicago. The Giants re-took first place in the National League West. … Ex-Meridian CC star Cliff Lee walked consecutive batters for the first time all season and took the loss for Texas, which failed to reduce its magic number (4) for clinching the AL West by falling to Oakland 5-0. Lee also got clipped in the ear by a flying piece of bat. Rough day.
P.S. Tip of the cap to David Dellucci, who goes into the Ole Miss sports hall of fame tonight. Dellucci was a two-time All-SEC outfielder and an All-America selection during his tenure with the Rebels (1993-95). As a pro, he hit .256 with 101 homers (29 in 2005!) over 13 seasons with seven teams, and he won a World Series ring with Arizona in 2001.

23 Sep

remember him?

Good for Charlie Morton. Got his second win of the season on Wednesday, his first since April. Lowered his ERA from 10.03 to 8.11. He’s lost 11 times for the pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates. Morton, a tall right-hander with a good-natured demeanor and a live arm, pitched one memorable game (in the 2007 Southen League playoffs) for the Mississippi Braves. Didn’t do much else. Atlanta traded him away, though his departure has not proven as hurtful as some of the other prospects they’ve shipped out in recent times. Anyway, good to see him have a good day. Several other former JADAPs (Jackson area Double-A players) also stood out on Wednesday. Tommy Hanson pitched great for Atlanta but didn’t get a decision in the crushing loss to Philadelphia. Martin Prado had the Braves’ only hit. Matt Harrison plucked a win — his third of the year — for Texas, which is closing in on the American League West title. Jeff Francoeur scored the winning run in the 12th inning on a passed ball for the Rangers. (Neftali Feliz, traded away by the Braves before he ever got to Pearl, earned another save.) Gregor Blanco, the fleet center fielder the Braves gave up on, got three hits for the Kansas City Royals. And going way back on the memory trail, ex-Jackson General Melvin Mora, a key player for resurgent Colorado, homered in the Rockies’ loss, and another former Generals star, Lance Berkman, homered for the New York Yankees, his first bomb in pinstripes.

20 Sep

into the fire

A few weeks back, Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman predicted that Brandon Beachy would pitch in the big leagues. It might happen a little sooner than expected — like tonight. Reports say Atlanta is prepared to hand the 24-year-old right-hander the ball in the first game of a crucial showdown with Philadelphia. If scheduled starter Jair Jurrjens, who has a sore knee, can’t go, Beachy will. Beachy, an undrafted signee out of Indiana Wesleyan, began this season in the M-Braves’ bullpen but moved into the rotation in mid-summer. He was so impressive that he jumped to Triple-A Gwinnett after only a handful of Double-A starts. Beachy went 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA overall this year with 148 strikeouts and just 28 walks in 119 1/3 innings. His command of three pitches was big-league quality, Wellman said. If Beachy goes tonight, what a baptism under fire it will be.
P.S. Wellman, who had dropped hints that he might not be back next year, is officially out. It has been confirmed that his contract was not renewed for 2011 by the Atlanta organization. He’ll be missed at Trustmark Park. He was not only a sharp manager who seemed well-respected by his players, he also worked very well with the media.

19 Sep

finding meaning

It was a battle to stay out of last place in the American League Central, a rain-drenched game that seemingly meant nothing to anybody. Well, maybe that’s not true. Jarrod Dyson, the McComb native and Southwest Mississippi Community College alumnus, had his best game in his brief big league career on Saturday night. He went 3-for-5 with a run and a stolen base as his Kansas City club lost to Cleveland. Dyson may be battling former Mississippi Brave Gregor Blanco for the Royals’ center field job in 2011. So these games mean something to Dyson, for sure. And he’s holding his own, batting .357 with three steals in six games.

18 Sep

louie, louie!

Quite a feat by Luis Hernandez today. The little infielder, who played for the first Mississippi Braves team in 2005, hit a home run for the New York Mets off Atlanta ace Tim Hudson. It was just the third career homer for the 5-foot-10, 180-pound (maybe) Hernandez in some 300 career at-bats. But that’s not the amazing part. He actually hit the homer after fouling a ball off his right foot and breaking it on the previous pitch. No one knew it was broken until Hernandez tried running the bases, which was painful just to watch.

17 Sep

just wondering

Jason Heyward continues to rake. The former Mississippi Braves star had two hits tonight, including a game-changing home run, to spark scuffling Atlanta to a greatly needed win over the New York Mets. Heyward is hitting .418 over his last 25 games and .288 for the season. He’s not the Braves’ leading hitter, but he is their most dangerous hitter. Why doesn’t Bobby Cox hit him third instead of second? The Braves’ lineup needs a shakeup, and moving Heyward to the 3-hole would be a great start. Here’s more: Bat Nate McLouth leadoff. He’s started to swing it well. He’s got power and speed. He’s suited to the role much better than Omar Infante. Move Infante, the Braves’ most consistent hitter, to the 5-hole, behind slugger Brian McCann. Hit Martin Prado second, not third. Drop Derek Lee to sixth or even seventh until he starts to show some pop. Alex Gonzalez fits nicely in the 6-hole. The Braves are at a critical juncture, and a lineup change is worth a shot, if only for a couple of games. … Meanwhile, Holmes Community College product Roy Oswalt notched his seventh straight win for Philadelphia and improved to 8-1 with his new team. With three aces (Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels), the Phillies are going to be hard to catch in the National League East and equally hard to beat in the postseason.