20 Jun

something’s brewing

A three-game home run streak for Hunter Renfroe has coincided with the three-game win streak Milwaukee will take into a big four-game series against National League Central rival St. Louis starting tonight at American Family Field. The teams, both of which feature Mississippi products, are tied atop the division at 38-30. Former Mississippi State star Renfroe, whose 444-foot homer at Cincinnati on Sunday was his first on a Father’s Day since the death of his dad — his “best friend” — last summer, has 13 homers on the season and is batting .250 with 27 RBIs as the prime power source in the Brewers’ lineup. This series will feature some good pitching matchups, including Thursday’s between ex-State standout Dakota Hudson of the Cardinals and Jason Alexander, a 29-year-old Brewers rookie. Hudson, who beat Boston at Fenway on Saturday, is 5-3 with a 3.31 ERA in his first full season after Tommy John surgery. He has never faced Renfroe in the big leagues, and their careers at State did not intersect. Missing from this series, unfortunately, are State product Brandon Woodruff, one of the Brewers’ top starters, and ex-Meridian Community College star Corey Dickerson, a St. Louis outfielder. Both are on the injured list and on rehab assignments. P.S. East Central CC alum Tim Anderson, out roughly three weeks with a groin injury, is expected to return to the Chicago White Sox’s lineup at shortstop today against Toronto. Anderson is batting .356. … Blaze Jordan, the 19-year-old slugger from DeSoto Central High, clubbed two homers as part of a three-hit game Sunday for Boston’s Low-Class A Salem team. Jordan, a second-year pro, is batting .291 with six homers and 37 RBIs in 57 games this season.

15 May

have a day

On Tim Anderson Bobblehead Night at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, it was only fitting that the former East Central Community College standout would play a leading role in the White Sox’s walk-off 3-2 win against the New York Yankees. With the score knotted at 2-2 Saturday, Anderson got a one-out single in the ninth inning off Aroldis Chapman. Yankees broadcasters credited Anderson with distracting Chapman into walking the next batter and then falling behind 3-0 to Luis Robert. On a 3-1 pitch, Robert poked a single into right field and Anderson scored the winning run from second base just ahead of a throw by Aaron Judge. The bobblehead commemorated Anderson’s walk-off homer vs. the Yankees in the Field of Dreams Game last summer. The dynamic Anderson went 3-for-5 Saturday, boosting his average to .339, second in the American League. He was just the brightest star on a day filled with shining moments from Mississippians in the majors. To wit: In the ChiSox-Yankees game, Mississippi State alum Kendall Graveman pitched two scoreless innings (the sixth and seventh) for Chicago, registered his eighth hold and trimmed his ERA to 1.56 in 15 games. … In Atlanta, a scuffling Austin Riley, the ex-DeSoto Central High star, went 3-for-4 and delivered the game-deciding run in the eighth inning of a crazy 6-5 victory over San Diego. … In St. Louis, MSU product Dakota Hudson blanked San Francisco over five innings, picking up the win — he is 3-2, 3.06 — as the Cardinals stopped the Giants’ six-game win streak 4-0. McComb native Corey Dickerson went 1-for-4 for the Cards. … Former Southern Miss standout Nick Sandlin picked up a win for Cleveland, working 1 1/3 scoreless innings (in the eighth and ninth) in the Guardians’ 3-2, 10-inning win against Minnesota. Sandlin is 3-1 with a 3.65 ERA in 12 games in middle relief. … Chris Stratton, the MSU product from Tupelo, struck out two batters in the eighth inning and got his fourth hold for Pittsburgh in a 3-1 win against Cincinnati. … Hunter Renfroe, the former State star from Crystal Springs, belted his ninth home run in Milwaukee’s 9-3 loss to Miami. He is tied for the National League lead in homers. … Ole Miss alum Mike Mayers, who has found his form in recent outings, worked a scoreless ninth inning for the Los Angeles Angels in their 9-1 win vs. Oakland in Game 2 of a twinbill.

04 Apr

sudden change of sox

Suddenly, the local flavor of the Chicago White Sox has been seriously diluted. Craig Kimbrel, the former Mississippi Braves star, was traded; Ocean Springs native Garrett Crochet is lost for the season with Tommy John surgery; and Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn will be out four weeks and probably more with a knee injury. On top of that, ex-East Central Community College standout Tim Anderson will miss the first two games of the season while serving a suspension. (Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, who was with the team last year, became a free agent and signed with Seattle.) The loss of Lynn, a Cy Young Award contender in 2021, is a big blow to the rotation of a team with postseason aspirations. Losing Kimbrel and Crochet from the bullpen likely means an enhanced role for Mississippi State product Kendall Graveman, who signed a 3-year, $24 million contract as a free agent after a standout 2021 with Seattle and Houston. The right-hander was 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA, 11 holds and 10 saves between those two clubs and helped the Astros reach the World Series. He has not allowed a run in four appearances this spring.

27 Mar

a ray of sunshine

Something good happened for Anthony Alford on Saturday. The former Petal High star launched an opposite-field home run for Pittsburgh in a Grapefruit League game against Baltimore. He needed something good, because his previous results this spring had been mostly bad. Alford, battling for an outfield job, was 0-for-12 with nine strikeouts before that homer. Greg Allen, a newcomer to the Pirates this spring, is batting .300 with a couple of homers; he appears to have locked down the right field job, with Bryan Reynolds and Ben Gamel penciled in at the other spots. Alford, 27, played well in Triple-A last year but hit just .233 with four homers in 44 games with the Pirates. He struck out 58 times in 133 at-bats. He is a .208 career hitter who has played sparingly in the majors since 2017. If he doesn’t step it up, his 40-man roster spot for 2022 might be in jeopardy. P.S. Also scuffling: Mississippi State alum Brent Rooker, in Minnesota’s camp, is 0-for-8 this spring and has been down lately with a reported shoulder issue. He hit .201 with nine homers in 58 big league games in 2021 and is no lock to make the Twins’ opening day roster. … Not scuffling: Ex-State standout Nate Lowe, who is batting .467 after a 2-for-3 day for Texas on Saturday. He hit 18 homers last year, his first with the Rangers. … Tim Anderson, the ex-East Central Community College star, had another hit Saturday for the Chicago White Sox and is 6-for-15 (.400) this spring. … Ocean Springs High alum Garrett Crochet punched out two more batters on Saturday and now has five in three innings of scoreless work for the White Sox. … Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, recently signed by Seattle, got his first stolen base on Saturday and is 1-for-4 in two Cactus League games.

05 Jan

’22 targets

Assuming there is a major league season in 2022, Mississippians in the majors will be chasing some noteworthy milestones. Start with Corey Dickerson, the Meridian Community College alum from McComb. He’s a free agent at the moment, but, at age 32, the left-handed hitting outfielder shouldn’t have trouble finding a team and adding to his career total of 917 hits. The thousand mark is within reach. He had 91 in an injury-shortened ’21 season. Making it to a 1,000 career hits in MLB is no minor feat. Mitch Moreland, another free agent, is sitting on 186 home runs. He could reach 200 with a healthy year. He hit 10 last season at age 36 despite missing a chunk of time with injuries. The ex-Mississippi State star from Amory currently sits sixth on the list of career homer leaders among Mississippi natives. Former Ole Miss star Lance Lynn needs nine strikeouts to reach 1,600 career, a mark reached by only 185 pitchers; the big right-hander could do it in his first start. He had 176 K’s last season in a banner year for the Chicago White Sox. Teammate Tim Anderson, the White Sox’s shortstop and an East Central Community College product, has 91 homers and 91 steals over six MLB campaigns. He should get to 100 in each category with ease. He put up 17 homers and 18 steals in 2021. Veteran outfielder Jarrod Dyson, 37, a free agent, has played in 992 games (.244 average, 266 steals in 12 seasons). The McComb native surely wants a chance to get to 1,000. Ex-MSU star Hunter Renfroe, coming off a career year but joining a new team (Milwaukee), could crack 150 career homers in 2022. He has 128 after belting 31 for Boston a year ago. He also has 465 career hits; No. 500 is clearly in his sights. Former State ace Chris Stratton has worked 399 innings over six big league seasons. The right-hander, 31, is coming off his best year, having won seven games, saved eight and posted a 3.63 ERA for lowly Pittsburgh.

29 Oct

silver and gold

Though he came up short of a World Series ring, Hunter Renfroe has a chance to pick up a couple of other nice prizes this season. The ex-Mississippi State standout is a finalist for both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award following his outstanding first season with Boston. Renfroe, who tallied 16 outfield assists and hit 31 homers with 96 RBIs, is joined by Kyle Tucker and Joey Gallo among the American League Gold Glove candidates in right field. Renfroe had more assists but also more errors than either of the other two. Crystal Springs native Renfroe is among eight finalists for three AL outfield Silver Slugger awards. (Houston’s Tucker is also on that list.) Also making the cut for Silver Slugger honors were DeSoto Central High alum Austin Riley, Atlanta’s third baseman, and ex-East Central Community College star Tim Anderson, shortstop for the Chicago White Sox. Gold Glove winners will be announced Nov. 7, the Silver Sluggers on Nov. 11.

04 Oct

these are the moments

The regular season is a wrap. Before the second season starts, here’s a tip of the cap to the best moments of 2021 by a Mississippian in the majors:
Best hit: Tim Anderson’s walk-off home run in the inaugural Field of Dreams Game on Aug. 12. The former East Central Community College star’s blast into the Iowa cornfield will endure as one of the great moments in this or any season.
Best pitch: Spencer Turnbull’s final fastball to Mitch Hanigar, which produced a swing and a miss and completed the Madison Central High product’s no-hitter on May 18. The no-no was the first ever in MLB by a Mississippian (native or school alum).
Best throw: Hunter Renfroe’s laser from deep center field to nail a runner at third base for the final out in a 2-1 Boston win on Sept. 8. It was the second assist of the game for the former Mississippi State star, who also homered to put the Red Sox ahead.
Best debut: Nick Fortes, who singled in his first career at-bat on Sept. 18, hit a home run in his second AB later in that game. The ex-Ole Miss standout was one of six Mississippians who debuted in 2021. Worth noting: George County High alum Justin Steele struck out the first batter he faced, and Delta State alum Trent Giambrone got a pinch-hit single in his first at-bat.

02 Oct

a good fit

In a lineup packed with attention-grabbing stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Marcus Semien and George Springer, Corey Dickerson has been a quiet but steady contributor for Toronto. The former Brookhaven Academy and Meridian Community College standout went 2-for-4 with a home run Friday night as the Blue Jays beat Baltimore 6-4 to remain in the thick of the battle royale for the two American League wild card berths. Dickerson, who provides a left-handed bat in a largely right-handed order, is batting .333 over his last 15 games, .364 with two homers in his last seven. Toronto traded with Miami for the nine-year veteran, along with reliever Adam Cimber, back in late June. A foot injury kept Dickerson on the injured list until early August. He settled in quickly, driving in two runs in his second game. In 45 games overall for the Jays, he is at .289 with four homers, 15 RBIs and 16 runs. Toronto is tied with Seattle, 1 game back of Boston and 2 behind New York in the wild card standings with two games left on the schedule. Meanwhile, former Mississippi State standout Hunter Renfroe’s 31st homer broke a scoreless deadlock in the sixth inning and propelled Boston to a 4-2 win over Washington. Renfroe has three homers in the past four games. P.S. Ole Miss product Lance Lynn notched his 11th win and East Central CC alum Tim Anderson went 4-for-4 as the playoff-bound Chicago White Sox beat Detroit. … Ex-MSU star Dakota Hudson, in his second game since returning from Tommy John surgery, threw five shutout innings for playoff-bound St. Louis in a win against the Cubs. … Mississippi Braves alum Spencer Strider made his MLB debut for Atlanta on Friday, completing an impressive step-by-step rise from Low-A ball to the big leagues this season. The hard-throwing right-hander, a 2020 draftee, was 3-7, 4.71 ERA for the Double-A M-Braves but demonstrated impressive stuff with 94 strikeouts in 63 innings.

23 Sep

follow the leader

Here’s a very interesting and very telling statistic about the 2021 Chicago White Sox: Heading into the first game of a twinbill at Cleveland today, the White Sox were 32-4 when Tim Anderson drove in at least one run. So, yeah, it was a pretty good omen when the former East Central Community College star led off with a home run. The White Sox (86-66) rolled on to a 7-2 victory that clinched the American League Central championship, their first in 13 years. Anderson finished 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs. For the year, the dynamic All-Star shortstop is batting .306 with 16 bombs, 58 RBIs, 90 runs and 17 stolen bases. He might not be the league MVP, but he is certainly the straw that stirs the ChiSox’s drink. Former Ocean Spring High standout Garrett Crochet got a couple of outs in the game. Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn and Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, both contributors in their first year with the club, didn’t play but were on the field for the largely subdued postgame celebration. They had another game to play.

18 Sep

in the spotlight

In his first game since becoming a father, Brent Rooker doubled and homered to help Minnesota cool off Toronto in a key American League game on Friday night. Former Mississippi State standout Rooker came off the paternity list to hit his eighth homer of the year and drive in two runs as the last-place Twins beat the Blue Jays 7-3 and knocked them back to third in the AL wild card race. Corey Dickerson, the ex-Meridian Community College star, had two hits and scored a run for the Blue Jays. … Elsewhere in the playoff chase: MSU product Hunter Renfroe drove in three runs and scored another as AL wild card leader Boston whipped Baltimore 7-1. East Central CC alumnus Tim Anderson went 1-for-3 and scored twice as AL Central leader Chicago thumped Texas 8-0. Former State star Kendall Graveman blew a save — just his third of the season — in the eighth inning, but AL West leader Houston rallied to beat Arizona 4-3 in 10 innings. Former Biloxi Shuckers outfielder Brett Phillips hit a walk-off homer — and celebrated as you might expect only him to do — to give AL East leader Tampa Bay a 7-4 win vs. Detroit. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss star Nick Fortes was called up by Miami on Friday and likely will make his MLB debut today against Pittsburgh. The 24-year-old catcher, a fourth-round pick in 2018, hit .245 with seven homers and 44 RBIs at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season. The Marlins reportedly want to give him a closer look as they plan for next season. Fortes will be the fifth Mississippian (native or school alum) to debut in 2021 and the 29th to make a big league appearance this season.