30 Aug

into the fire

Former Pillow Academy standout Louis Coleman is back in The Show, and he’s back at the best of times. Coleman rejoins the vaunted Kansas City bullpen in the heat of a title race; the first-place Royals lead Detroit by a half-game in the American League Central. And Cleveland, which beat KC 6-1 on Friday, isn’t out of it. Coleman worked a scoreless inning against the Indians in his first MLB appearance since July 12. Maybe that’s a good sign. The lanky right-hander, a Greenwood native who starred at LSU, pitched well for the Royals in 2011 and ’12 and was great last year, with an 0.61 ERA in 29 2/3 innings. But he has had problems in 2014, which he has spent bouncing between KC and Triple-A Omaha. His big league ERA is 7.15. In 22 2/3 innings, Coleman has yielded 31 hits (five homers) and 14 walks. His Omaha numbers have been much better: 3.86 ERA, seven saves in nine chances. Ned Yost and the Royals would surely love to see Coleman recapture that 2013 magic down the stretch. P.S. Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton swiped two bags on Friday and now has 53, one short of tying Cincinnati’s rookie record (see previous post). … Ole Miss product Phil Irwin, who was in the minors, has been released by Texas. He made one MLB appearance this season after making one last year with Pittsburgh.

28 Aug

welcome to the club

It’s not a record, but Billy Hamilton swiped his 50th base on Wednesday in Cincinnati’s 7-5 win over the Chicago Cubs. “It’s just what I do: Steal bases,” Hamilton told The Associated Press. The rookie from Taylorsville High joins an exclusive fraternity of Reds in the 50-bag club. Among the group: Bobby Tolan, Joe Morgan, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin and Deion Sanders. The Cincinnati record for steals by a rookie is within Hamilton’s reach: 54, by Bob Brescher in 1909, back in the deadball era. Brescher also holds the overall franchise record with 81, which he set in 1911. Hamilton has some other nice numbers, too: 126 hits, 66 runs, 24 doubles, seven triples and eight assists. … Also on Wednesday, Corey Dickerson belted his 20th home run, joining a whole lot of players in Colorado’s 20-homer club. However, the ex-Meridian Community College standout hit his milestone bomb into McCovey Cove in San Francisco for the 100th splash hit in AT&T Park’s history. (Barry Bonds hit most of them.) Dickerson has a few other numbers of note, as well: 109 hits, 60 runs, 63 RBIs, 23 doubles, four triples and eight stolen bases. P.S. Worth noting from Wednesday: Jarrod Dyson, the Southwest Mississippi CC product, put down a nifty bunt to squeeze home a run as first-place Kansas City rallied late for a 6-1 victory against Minnesota. It would have been Dyson’s seventh sac bunt of the year, but he beat it out for a hit, his 65th of the season.

27 Aug

boys of fall

Four current Mississippi Braves are scheduled for duty in the Arizona Fall League, according to an mlb.com report. Outfielder Kyle Wren, shortstop Daniel Castro and pitchers Ryne Harper and Brandon Cunniff are on the early roster for Peoria. The prospect-packed AFL begins on Oct. 7. Also slated for the league are ex-Mississippi State star Hunter Renfroe, now in Double-A for San Diego, and East Central Community College alum Tim Anderson, in Double-A for the Chicago White Sox. Anderson hit his first Double-A home run on Tuesday night at Trustmark Park. Wren, son of Atlanta GM Frank Wren, is batting .262 with 11 steals in 52 games for the M-Braves. Castro is at .277 in 47 games. Harper is 8-5 with a 2.65 ERA in 46 relief appearances, and Cunniff has a 2.13 in 32 games. Two former M-Braves, right-hander Aaron Northcraft — having a good year at Triple-A Gwinnett — and third baseman/outfielder Edward Salcedo — having a rough year at Gwinnett — also are on the Peoria roster. M-Braves second baseman Jose Peraza, hitting .341 but currently on the disabled list, is reportedly going to play in his native Venezuela this winter instead of in the AFL.

27 Aug

that’s great, but …

Jonathan Papelbon notched his 100th save as the Philadelphia Phillies closer on Tuesday, finishing off a win for the second straight game over first-place Washington. Papelbon is 100-for-114 in save opportunities in three years in Philly. That’s good stuff. But barring a trade, which seems unlikely at this stage, the former Mississippi State star will miss the postseason for the third straight season. He has made it very clear that he isn’t happy about that. The Phillies reportedly have tried to accommodate his wish to be moved but have found no takers for the brash, 33-year-old right-hander with the fat contract. Papelbon has had a very good year for a scuffling Phillies team: He is 33-of-36 in saves with a 1.60 ERA. Earlier this season, he recorded his 300th career save — an impressive milestone — and is 319-for-362 in his 10-year career. He also won a World Series ring with the 2007 Boston Red Sox, his original club. He saved three games in what has been his only Fall Classic appearance to date. Can’t really blame him for wanting to taste that experience again before he’s done.

26 Aug

cut to the chase

As the finish line draws near, the front-running Mississippi Braves just can’t seem to put any distance between themselves and Jacksonville. The M-Braves, who conclude their home schedule tonight, have won seven straight games and eight of 10. But the Suns have won four in a row (and eight of 10) and remain only a game back in the Southern League South with six to play. The M-Braves (40-24 in the second half) finish the regular season with five games at Huntsville. Jacksonville (39-25), which plays at Tennessee tonight, ends with a five-game set at home against third-place Mobile (37-27), the first-half champ. The M-Braves are seeking a second straight playoff appearance and fourth in 10 years in Pearl. Steady right-hander Mitch Atkins (5-1, 3.73 ERA) gets the call tonight at 7 against Birmingham. The M-Braves banged out 13 hits in Monday’s 8-3 win. Rich Poythress, recently off the disabled list, had two hits and two RBIs, and Cedric Hunter also drove in two. Kyle Wren and Daniel Castro scored two runs apiece, and hot-hitting Gustavo Nunez picked up two more hits to boost his average to .305. … Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College standout now with Birmingham, is 8-for-17 in his first four Double-A games with five RBIs and four runs. He was a first-round pick by the Chicago White Sox in 2013. P.S. The Oakland A’s will recall ex-Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz for a spot start on Wednesday against Houston. Pomeranz was 4-3, 3.21 for the A’s before suffering a broken hand in mid-June. He has been in the minors ever since, putting up a 3-1 mark with a 3.69 at Triple-A Sacramento.

24 Aug

star turns

Take 1: What will Gustavo Nunez do today? The Mississippi Braves infielder has had quite the weekend so far. On Friday night at Trustmark Park, he hit an inside-the-park home run — his first homer of the season — and also scored the game-winning run on a sac fly in the eighth inning. On Saturday night, Nunez hit an 11th-inning, walk-off homer. With the 6-5 win over Birmingham, the M-Braves, winners of five straight, kept a grip on first place, by a single game over Jacksonville, in the Southern League South. The win was also the M-Braves’ 77th of the year, most in a season since the team moved to Pearl in 2005. Nunez, a 26-year-old Dominican signed by Atlanta in the off-season, doesn’t typically garner a lot of attention, but he has had a good year. The switch-hitter, whose walk-off on Saturday came from the left side, is batting .302 with 29 RBIs and 43 runs in 85 games. He has played shortstop, second base and some outfield. This is his eighth pro season. … Take 2: Corey Dickerson’s dream season for Colorado continued on Saturday when he hit a game-tying homer — third deck in right field at Coors Field — in the ninth inning and then slapped a game-winning single in the 13th as the Rockies beat Miami 5-4. Meridian Community College alum Dickerson, in his second MLB season, is batting .322 with 19 homers and 61 RBIs. His homer on Saturday was just the 33rd to reach the third deck at Coors in the ballpark’s 20 seasons. “It was pretty awesome that it went that far,” Dickerson, a lefty hitter, told mlb.com. P.S. Brian Dozier, the former Southern Miss star, has scored six runs in the last two days (three games) for Minnesota to run his American League-leading total to 91. The Twins have put up 38 runs the last two days against slumping Detroit, winning two of the three games. Dozier is batting just .235 but has a .341 on-base percentage. He also has 20 homers and 20 steals, the first 20-20 season by a second baseman in Twins history.

23 Aug

action-packed night

Eventful game at Trustmark Park. Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College star, made his Double-A debut for visiting Birmingham, went 3-for-3 with a sac bunt and handled everything hit to him at shortstop. (Note: The 2013 first-round pick by the Chicago White Sox is really good.) Meanwhile, Gustavo Nunez of the Mississippi Braves hit an inside-the-park home run (poorly played by the Barons left fielder) and later scored the game-winning run (with a nice slide) in the eighth inning on a sac fly by Seth Loman. With the 3-2 win, the M-Braves maintained a one-game lead in the Southern League South with nine to play. P.S. In Cincinnati, Billy Hamilton, the Taylorsville Tornado, broke up former M-Braves lefty Mike Minor’s no-hitter (and shutout) with two outs in the eighth inning — but Atlanta beat Cincinnati 3-1 in 12. Hamilton had the Reds’ only two hits in the game, the lone RBI and stole three bases to run his season total to 49. (Note: Hamilton is going to win National League rookie of the year honors.)

22 Aug

collision course

The Mississippi Braves are running some playoff fever as they return to Trustmark Park for their final homestand of the season. Question is, Are M-Braves fans feeling it, too? Baseball and high school football go head-to-head tonight. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of crowd turns out to see the first-place M-Braves, who are averaging around 3,000 (announced) per game. The M-Braves are 36-24 after beating Mobile three straight on the road and hold a one-game lead over Jacksonville in the Southern League South. Mobile, the first-half champ, is 2 games behind. The M-Braves face Birmingham tonight in the opener of the five-game set. The M-Braves lead the league in batting (.264), though they are just sixth in runs, and are No. 2 in ERA (3.43). P.S. Down on the farm, former Southern Miss star Bradley Roney, an eighth-round pick by Atlanta this year, has a 4.12 ERA, a 2-2 record and one save in 16 games for short-season Danville. … Up on the farm, ex-M-Braves standout Joey Terdoslavich has homered in five straight games for Triple-A Gwinnett. He is batting .256 with 14 homers and 53 RBIs – and itching for a September call-up. … East Central Community College product Tim Anderson is playing again. The Chicago White Sox shortstop prospect is 4-for-17 with two homers in six games in the rookie Arizona League. Anderson, a first-round pick in 2013, was batting .297 with six homers, 31 RBIs and 10 steals at high Class A Winston-Salem before suffering a wrist injury. … Former Harrison Central High star Bobby Bradley is killing it in the AZL, batting .374 with eight homers, 47 RBIs and 36 runs in 35 games. The lefty-hitting first baseman was a third-round pick by Cleveland in June.

21 Aug

numbers to crunch

5 1/3 — Shutout innings hurled on Wednesday by former Picayune High standout T.J. House, who notched his second win for Cleveland in a victory against Minnesota and lowered his ERA to 3.80 in 13 appearances as a rookie.
6 — Current hitting streak for Ole Miss product Seth Smith, who banged out two more for San Diego against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The streaky Smith, on another roll, is batting .364 over his last 10 games and is at .297 for the season.
8 — Outfield assists for Taylorsville High alum Billy Hamilton, who got one for Cincinnati against St. Louis, completing a double play after making a diving catch in right-center. Hamilton has been involved in three DPs and has just one error.
14 — Wins for ex-UM star Lance Lynn, who went seven strong innings for St. Louis to beat Cincinnati 7-3. Lynn is 14-8 with a 2.78 ERA in 26 starts.
20 — Stolen bases for former Southern Miss standout Brian Dozier, who reached that number for Minnesota against Cleveland and matched his home run total for the year.
30 — Saves for Mississippi State product Jonathan Papelbon, the Philadelphia closer who nailed down a 4-3 win against Seattle with a scoreless ninth. Papelbon has a 1.55 ERA.
70 — Hits for former Rebels star Chris Coghlan, who got one for the Chicago Cubs against San Francisco. The oft-injured Coghlan, batting .273, has his most hits in an MLB season since 2010.

20 Aug

bigger fish

About this time in 1999, Lance Lynn was toeing the rubber in the Little League World Series. Former Ole Miss star Lynn, one of 12 players to participate in both MLB’s Fall Classic and the LLWS (Hattiesburg’s Charlie Hayes is another), has bigger things on his mind today. The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander faces Cincinnati at Busch Stadium in another in a series of crucial games for National League Central clubs. The Cardinals are 68-57 and in hot pursuit of first-place Milwaukee. The Reds, who’ll throw ace Johnny Cueto today, are trying to stay alive in the playoff race, having lost four in a row to fall to 61-65. Lynn is 13-8 with a 2.91 ERA for the year and has a 1.97 in his last eight starts. The lineups for today’s game haven’t been posted yet, but Lynn is likely to face Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton (1-for-6 vs. Lynn) and his former Rebels teammate Zack Cozart (0-for-6 this year, 6-for-23 career). Often overshadowed on the St. Louis pitching staff, Lynn is building a very nice resume. He is 47-26 for his career with a 3.57 ERA. And he has a World Series ring, the MLB variety. P.S. Former Mississippi Braves hurler J.J. Hoover might be hoping for a day off. Now a reliever for the Reds, Hoover pitched a disastrous ninth inning against the Cardinals on Tuesday and absorbed his 10th loss of the year. That ties a team record for losses by a reliever. It was also his 10 straight loss, which is a franchise record.