18 Oct

spirit of ’76

The most famous player on the 1976 Jackson Mets arguably was pitcher Mike Scott, who became a Cy Young award winner. You could make a case for outfielder Lee Mazzilli, who played briefly in Jackson that season and went on to be a fairly successful big leaguer. A few others from that team also made the majors, including Roy Lee Jackson, Dwight Bernard and, of course, Ned Yost, who is certainly the most talked-about former JaxMets player at the moment. The Kansas City Royals manager played 83 games for Jackson in ’76, which was the second year the New York Mets’ Double-A club operated at Smith-Wills Stadium. Yost, a catcher, batted just .199 with three homers and 25 RBIs for manager John Antonelli. Yost was back in Jackson to start the 1977 campaign, batted .309 in 30 games and was promoted to Triple-A Tidewater, where he hit .299 with 12 homers in 60 games. He made it to the big leagues in 1980 with Milwaukee. Yost married a Jackson girl, and their son, former minor league player Ned Yost IV, was born in the Capital City in 1982. P.S. Gavin Collins, a catcher who made the All-SEC Freshman team in 2014 for Mississippi State, clubbed a walk-off homer Friday night as the Gray beat the Maroons 4-3 in a fall ball scrimmage in Starkville. The Bulldogs will play an intrasquad game at Smith-Wills today at 4 p.m. … Former State star Tyler Moore hit his first homer on Friday in the Dominican Winter League.

15 Oct

full speed ahead

Tuesday’s League Championship Series games had the feel of defining moments. And a pair of Mississippi-connected players — former Southwest Mississippi Community College standout Jarrod Dyson and ex-Mississippi Braves star Gregor Blanco — were involved in crucial plays. Blanco’s bunt — and subsequent hustle down the first-base line — drew a wild throw from pitcher Randy Choate and sent the winning run home in San Francisco’s 5-4, 10-inning victory over St. Louis. The Giants, who blew a 4-0 advantage on Tuesday, lead the NLCS 2-1 with two more games ahead in the tricky confines of AT&T Park. Blanco, the Giants’ leadoff batter, is just 2-for-14 with no runs in the series, but that sac bunt was as big as any hit the Giants got in Game 3. In Kansas City, Dyson scored the game-winning run on a sac fly in the sixth inning as the Royals beat Baltimore 2-1 and went up 3-0 in the ALCS with two games left at crazy Kauffman Stadium. Dyson’s “bold” and much-publicized prediction that the series would not be returning to Baltimore may well hold up. Dyson is 0-for-3 in the series and twice has been caught stealing. But his speed has had an influence. The Orioles are using that strange ploy to hold Dyson on at first base, and it might have been a factor in the game’s key hit in the pivotal sixth inning. Dyson entered as a pinch runner in the 1-1 game and bolted to third when Eric Hosmer slapped a single to the right of first baseman Steve Pearce, who was still very close to the bag. According to an mlb.com story, Statcast tracking technology showed Dyson reached 21 mph en route to third base. He also reached that speed as he scored the go-ahead run — quite easily — on Billy Butler’s sac fly to left. A mad dash here and a mad dash there, and now we appear headed for a Giants-Royals World Series.

10 Oct

scatter shots

Hunter Renfroe hit his first Arizona Fall League home run on Thursday night and is now batting .385 with four RBIs in three games. The former Mississippi State star from Crystal Springs, a San Diego outfield prospect, helped Surprise beat Glendale 7-4 in a game in which former East Central Community College standout Tim Anderson made his AFL debut. Anderson, a shortstop in the Chicago White Sox system, went 1-for-5 with four strikeouts for Glendale. Anderson made his Double-A debut with Birmingham at Trustmark Park this summer, going 10-for-22 in five games vs. the Mississippi Braves. … Ole Miss product Lance Lynn will start Sunday’s Game 2 for St. Louis in the National League Championship Series against San Francisco. Lynn got a no-decision in his division series start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing two runs in six innings. A 15-game winner this year, the big right-hander lost his only start against the Giants on June 1, yielding four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Giants star Buster Posey went 3-for-3 against Lynn in that game. … Freshman Kyle Watson has made a splash during fall scrimmages at Ole Miss. The former DeSoto Central High standout, an infielder, has three home runs during the first three sets of intrasquad scrimmages. Watson hit .345 in his prep career but belted just one homer, according to his UM bio. The Rebels scrimmage again today and Saturday.

08 Oct

crazy happens

Let’s see: There was a walk that loaded the bases. Then a wild pitch that scored the go-ahead run. That was followed by an intentional ball four that went over the catcher’s head. Runner races home from third. Pitcher covers. Play at the plate. Runner called out. Video review to confirm. It was a crazy few minutes there in the seventh inning Tuesday night for Ole Miss product Aaron Barrett. Ultimately, his Washington Nationals were eliminated from the postseason with the 3-2 loss to San Francisco. Barrett’s wild pitch plated the winning run. All told, Barrett faced three batters in the postseason — he also pitched in the Nats’ 18-inning Game 2 loss — and yielded a hit and two walks. That’s what many Washington fans will remember about Barrett. But they shouldn’t forget his work during the regular season. The rookie right-hander, a ninth-round pick in 2010, went 3-0 with eight holds and a 2.66 ERA in 40 2/3 innings over 50 games for the National League East champs. He struck out 49 batters, which is one of the reasons he was inserted into Tuesday’s game with runners at first and second and one out. Washington needed a punch out. Barrett also walked 20 batters during the season — and threw six wild pitches. Those things happen, and when they happen in October, they are magnified.

04 Oct

been there, done that

Lance Lynn, the former Ole Miss standout, gets the ball tonight for St. Louis with a chance to drop the hammer on the Los Angeles Dodgers. After their stunning comeback against Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium on Friday, the Cardinals are up 1-0 in the National League Division Series. If they head back to St. Louis with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5, it’s all but over. Lynn, who went 15-10, 2.74 ERA this season, faced LA twice in 2014. In a July 18 game at Busch Stadium, he beat them, allowing just four hits and two runs over six innings. In a June 28 game in Dodger Stadium, he didn’t fare so well. Lynn lasted just two innings, allowing nine hits, two walks and seven runs (six earned). Zack Greinke, who starts tonight for the Dodgers, was the winner in that 9-1 game. Lynn doesn’t lack for postseason experience; this will be his 22nd appearance over the past four years. He has both started and relieved, compiling a 5-4 record and 4.81 ERA. One of his wins came against the Dodgers, in LA, last Oct. 15 in the Game 4 of the NL Championship Series, which the Cards won in six. If there is a troubling aspect on Lynn’s ledger it might be that he failed four times to get win No. 16 down the stretch this season as the Cardinals were fighting to win the NL Central title. P.S. McComb’s Jarrod Dyson was at it again on Friday, this time using his arm to help Kansas City take a 2-0 lead in its American League Division Series against the LA Angels. Dyson, freshly inserted as a defensive replacement in center field in a 1-1 game, threw out a runner at third base in the eighth inning to complete a double play. “I assume they thought I don’t have a good arm,” the ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star said in a TV interview. Ned Yost’s Royals won 4-1 in 11 innings, their third straight extra-inning postseason victory. Dyson, as a pinch runner, contributed a stolen base and a key run in the wild card game against Oakland on Tuesday. … Ole Miss product Aaron Barrett, a righty reliever, made Washington’s postseason roster but didn’t get into Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday as the Nationals lost at home to San Francisco.

01 Oct

speed thrills

Is it safe to assume that Jarrod Dyson will never forget the first postseason game of his MLB career? The former McComb High and Southwest Mississippi Community College standout got a piece of a record in addition to the thrill of a dramatic victory in Kansas City’s first postseason game in 29 years. The Royals beat Oakland 9-8 in 12 innings in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game at a raucous Kauffman Stadium. KC trailed 2-0, 7-3 and 8-7 but used seven stolen bases and four sac bunts to claim the win-or-go-home contest. “That’s the most incredible game I’ve ever been a part of,” Royals manager Ned Yost, the former Jackson Mets catcher, told mlb.com. The seven steals tied a postseason record, held by two other clubs, and seven different players with steals set a postseason mark. Dyson got one of those bags. He entered the game in the ninth inning as a pinch runner, with the Royals down 7-6. He was bunted to second, stole third and scored the tying run on a sac fly. Dyson, rated the fastest player in the AL in a Baseball America survey, swiped 36 bases in 43 attempts this season. He led the league with 10 steals of third base. In 359 MLB games, the former 50th-round draft pick has 120 steals. Speed, it would appear, is back as a weapon in the big leagues. And on that subject, it wouldn’t be surprising to see former Mississippi Braves star Gregor Blanco have an impact on tonight’s NL Wild Card Game with his legs. Blanco, who figures to hit leadoff for San Francisco at Pittsburgh, stole 16 bases in 21 tries this year and also banged out six triples.

30 Sep

a touch of history

The last time before today that the Kansas City Royals were on the field for a postseason game was Oct. 27, 1985. It was Game 7 of the World Series, and Greenville native Frank White was playing second base for the host Royals when Bret Saberhagen got the final out of an 11-0 win against St. Louis. White batted fifth that day, behind George Brett, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run. The eight-time Gold Glove award winner also had five assists. White, a five-time All-Star, spent all 18 of his MLB seasons with the Royals, from 1973-90, batting .255 with 160 home runs and 168 stolen bases. He is currently living in the KC area and running for a seat in the county legislature, according to a recent New York Times story. McComb native Jarrod Dyson will be on the roster for the Royals’ wild card game in KC today against Oakland. Dyson, a left-handed hitter, won’t start vs. A’s lefty Jon Lester, but he’s likely to get in the game as a defensive replacement or pinch runner. P.S. Former Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz, a lefty who can start or relieve, has a good chance to make Oakland’s postseason roster. He put up a 2.38 ERA in 20 games. … There are a handful of managers and coaches with Mississippi ties involved in the postseason. Former Mississippi State standout Buck Showalter manages Baltimore, ex-Jackson Mets star Ned Yost Kansas City and former JaxMets skipper Clint Hurdle Pittsburgh. Jackson native and MSU alumnus Chris Maloney is St. Louis’ first-base coach; Tupelo native and Jackson State product Dave Clark is Detroit’s third-base coach; Waynesboro native Jeff Branson is the Pirates’ hitting coach; Laurel resident (and former Southern League manager) Bobby Dickerson is the Orioles’ third-base coach; and Southern Miss product Jim Davenport is a special assistant with San Francisco. Davenport, in his 50th year with the organization, is a former Giants player, coach and manager. … Sad to see former JaxMets infielder Ron Gardenhire ousted as Minnesota’s manager, but he had a good run with six division titles during his 13-season stint.