30 Jun

answering the call

Despite a rash of injuries, defending World Series champion Houston has stayed afloat in the American League playoff pool, and one of the unexpected heroes is rookie right-hander J.P. France. France, who capped his college career at Mississippi State, threw seven shutout innings at St. Louis on Thursday night as the Astros routed the Cardinals 14-0. It was the fifth straight quality start for France, who is 3-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 10 starts since being recalled from the minors in early May. “I just was able to locate, and it was one of those games where everything was working …, ” he told mlb.com. With the win, Houston (44-37) moved past the Los Angeles Angels and into second place alone in the AL West, 5 games back of first-place Texas (49-32). The Astros and Rangers start a four-game series at Globe Life Field tonight. France, who started his college career at Tulane, went 5-5, 3.84, at MSU in 2018 and was a 14th-round draft pick as a senior that summer. He made the Astros’ 40-man roster this past off-season and made his big league debut May 6, throwing five shutout innings at Seattle. Grae Kessinger, the ex-Ole Miss star and another Astros rookie, got into Thursday’s game as a defensive replacement at first base. He went 0-for-1 with a walk and is 1-for-10 in his six MLB games. He is 1,930 hits behind grandfather Don but just six back of uncle Keith on the Kessinger hit list. … The Angels (44-39) lost 9-7 at home to the Chicago White Sox as a trio of Mississippi products played key roles for the enigmatic Sox. Former Ole Miss standout Lance Lynn (5-8, 6.47) got the win despite yielding three homers — including MSU alum Hunter Renfroe’s 14th — and five earned runs in six innings. East Central Community College alum Tim Anderson, in an 0-for-24 spiral entering the game, went 2-for-5 and scored twice. And MSU product Kendall Graveman (3.06 ERA in 36 appearances) closed out the win despite allowing two runs — on a Shohei Ohtani bomb — in the ninth. P.S. Kudos to former Mississippi Braves star Freddie Freeman and Biloxi Shuckers alum Orlando Arcia for making the National League All-Star team, joining ex-M-Braves standout Ronald Acuna, and to Madison Central High alum Braden Montgomery, now at Stanford, for making the final roster of the Collegiate National Team.

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