San Diego’s win over Seattle on Sunday was cause for two celebrations, though one was a little muted. The Padres, with Mississippi college products Mitch Moreland and Drew Pomeranz doing their part, clinched a playoff berth for the first time in 14 years by beating the Mariners 7-4 in 11 innings at Petco Park. Seattle’s loss handed the New York Yankees a playoff spot, though the Yankees weren’t really in a celebratory mood after losing to rival Boston 10-2 at Fenway Park. Mississippian Jonathan Holder, working in relief, took some lumps for New York in the defeat that snapped a 10-game win streak. For the Padres, who did party down Sunday, Amory native and Mississippi State alum Moreland went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. His double in the 11th inning scored the go-ahead run. He has batted just .185 for San Diego since being acquired from Boston at the trade deadline. Ex-Ole Miss star Pomeranz made his 18th scoreless appearance for the Padres, working the seventh inning for his ninth hold. The Yankees’ Holder, an MSU product from Gulfport, has made 17 appearances in a secondary bullpen role and, after back-to-back rocky outings, has seen his ERA rise to 5.03. The hot-hitting Yankees, whose hitting coach is Louisville native Marcus Thames (see previous post), are in the playoffs for the fourth straight year and still have a chance to catch American League East leader Tampa Bay. P.S. The sudden retirement of former Jackson Mets standout Ron Gardenhire as Detroit’s manager might open a door for Tupelo native and ex-Jackson State star Dave Clark to get the job. Currently the Tigers’ first base coach, Clark has been a candidate for several managerial posts in the past. He served as interim skipper for Houston at the end of the 2009 season and has managed in the minors. One has to wonder also if Thames’ name might come up.
Demarcus Evans and Garrett Crochet made their major league debuts on Friday night, but the two former Mississippi prep standouts took very different paths to The Show. Their results were a little different, too. Evans, a 25th-round draft pick out of Petal High by Texas in 2015, spent five years honing his craft in the minors; he posted a 0.90 ERA in 2019. First batter he faced on Friday: Albert Pujols. The Los Angeles Angels’ future Hall of Famer sent Evans’ second pitch — a 93-mph fastball — over the wall in Anaheim for his 662nd career home run. Evans plunked the next batter, Justin Upton, but the the 6-foot-5, 265-pound right-hander got out of his only inning with no further damage. Crochet, an Ocean Springs High alum who pitched at Tennessee the last three years, was drafted 11th overall in June by the Chicago White Sox. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound lefty became the first player since Brandon Finnegan with Kansas City in 2014 to make his MLB debut in the same year he was drafted. For Crochet, who has been working out in the White Sox’s alternate camp, this was his first professional game. First batter he faced: Brian Goodwin of Cincinnati. Crochet struck him out, then struck out the next batter and retired the third on a grounder to first base. He threw six of his 13 pitches at 100 mph or more, including two clocked at 101-plus, in his lone inning. “I felt like I was on top of the world and just truly living the dream,” he told mlb.com. It was surely a dream come true for Evans, as well, and he’ll have better days. Crochet has set his bar pretty high. It’s gonna be fun to see what they do next.
Two teams – and several Mississippians — celebrated playoff-clinching victories on Thursday. The Chicago White Sox, with Magnolia State juco products Tim Anderson and Jarrod Dyson in the lineup, rallied past Minnesota, and Tampa Bay, getting big hits from Mississippi State alums Hunter Renfroe and Nate Lowe, completed a twinbill sweep of Baltimore. Anderson, out of East Central CC, was 0-for-4 Thursday but is batting .365. Ex-Southwest Mississippi CC star Dyson (.190) made a rare start and went 2-for-4, with a key steal and a game-tying run in the seventh inning of a 4-3 win. The Rays clinched with a 10-6 Game 2 win vs. the Orioles as Renfroe hit his eighth homer and Lowe went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run. Renfroe is batting just .163 but has 21 RBIs. Lowe, a recent call-up, is hitting .278 with three homers, nine RBIs and seven runs in 13 games. Northwest CC product Cody Reed, a lefty reliever, is on the Rays’ injured list (finger) and has been moved from the 10-day to the 60-day. … St. Louis’ playoff hopes took a double blow on Thursday as they lost to lowly Pittsburgh and saw former MSU standout Dakota Hudson depart his start early with an elbow problem that has landed him on the 10-day IL. Hudson, 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA, had won three straight starts. P.S. The White Sox summoned former Ocean Springs High standout Garrett Crochet from their alternate camp today. The left-hander was the 11th overall pick in the June draft out of Tennessee.
Petco Park should be the center of MLB attention tonight. The hard-charging San Diego Padres, with some Mississippi connections kicking in, host the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of a hot National League West series. The Padres closed to within 1.5 games of the Dodgers with a 7-2 win on Monday night, their eighth straight victory. They’ve made up 4 games in the standings over the last 10. “Of course we’re amped,” Trent Grisham, the former Biloxi Shuckers star who homered off Clayton Kershaw on Monday, told mlb.com. Grisham’s post-homer posturing riled up the Dodgers’ bench, perhaps adding more juice to a growing rivalry. Ole Miss product Drew Pomeranz threw a scoreless inning in relief for San Diego and maintained his 0.00 ERA. Over 17 appearances, the big lefty, a high-priced free agent addition in the off-season, has eight holds and four saves. He has worked two straight days, so he might be down tonight, but ex-Mississippi State star Mitch Moreland won’t be. Moreland, who doesn’t hit left-handers well, sat out against Kershaw on Monday, but the veteran first baseman is in the lineup tonight against right-hander Tony Gonsolin. Moreland was batting .328 with eight homers when the Padres traded with Boston to get him. He has hit just .167 with a homer and four RBIs in 11 games with San Diego. He’s bound to get going, and the last two games of this series are bound to be good. P.S. Washington has recalled Ole Miss alum Aaron Barrett from its alternate camp. The 32-year-old right-hander made an admirable comeback from injuries (see previous posts) to reach the majors last year for the first time since 2015.
On this date in 2010, in his 16th season in pro ball, at age 33, John Lindsey made his big league debut. The former Hattiesburg High slugger was announced as a pinch hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then the San Diego Padres changed pitchers, and Lindsey was called back. Another hitter took the turn. Lindsey did get his long-awaited first at-bat the next day and popped up, again as a pinch hitter. He would get 11 more ABs that season, delivering one hit, but that would be his only fling in the majors. Though he never hit a home run in the big leagues, Lindsey belongs in the conversation about the best mashers Mississippi has produced, right there with Dave Parker, George Scott, Luke Easter and the like. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Lindsey bashed 377 homers in pro ball, according to numbers from baseball-reference.com, over a 22-year career that ended in the Mexican Pacific League in 2016. He hit his first homer for Colorado’s rookie league team in 1995 at age 18 and his last long ball for Novojoa in the MPL at age 38.
First, the bad news from Sunday in MLB land. Anthony Alford, the former Petal High star, was placed on the 10-day injured list with a fractured elbow by Pittsburgh. He’s likely done for the season. It’s a cruel blow. A waiver claim by the Pirates on Aug. 28 from Toronto, Alford was getting regular duty in center field and was 3-for-12 with a homer and four RBIs. … For a bunch of Mississippians, Sunday was a good day. Former Mississippi State standout Dakota Hudson went five innings for St. Louis to beat Chicago at windy Wrigley Field; he improved to 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA. Ole Miss product Drew Pomeranz threw another scoreless inning — his ERA is 0.00 over 13 appearances with six holds and four saves — in a win by San Diego. Ex-State standout Hunter Renfroe hit his sixth homer in Tampa Bay’s victory; Renfroe is batting just .155 but has 19 RBIs for the first-place Rays. DeSoto Central alum Austin Riley had a hit, two walks and a run in first-place Atlanta’s win; Riley’s average has climbed to .244. East Central Community College product Tim Anderson had a hit for the first-place Chicago White Sox and continues to lead the American League in batting at .351. Former State star Brent Rooker drove in two runs for Minnesota and is 3-for-11 in his first MLB stint. Surging Adam Frazier (.304 in his last 15 games, .234 for the year) went 2-for-4 for the Pirates, and fellow Bulldogs alum Chris Stratton worked a scoreless inning to trim his ERA to 3.79. Ex-Ole Miss standout Mike Mayers notched a win in relief for the Los Angeles Angels; he has a 2.93 ERA over 19 appearances for a bad team. MSU product Kendall Graveman worked a second straight scoreless inning for Seattle in his return from the IL with a neck problem (see previous posts). McComb native Corey Dickerson, scuffling of late, had a triple and scored twice for Miami. And, finally, former UM standout Henri Lartigue was added to Philadelphia’s 60-man roster and is in the alternate camp.
With a boatload of makeup games ahead for the St. Louis Cardinals in September, the durability of their pitchers will be tested as they try to make a playoff push. Ex-Mississippi State star Dakota Hudson gave them some length on Monday, working seven innings in a 7-5 win against Cincinnati that got the Cardinals to 13-13. The 25-year-old right-hander (1-2, 2.77 ERA in five starts) allowed just one earned run on four hits at the Reds’ so-called Great American Small Park. He struck out seven and walked none. While winning 16 games for St. Louis as a rookie in 2019, he led the majors in total walks (86 or 4.4 per nine innings), a stat that needs to improve. Through 26 innings in 2020, he has seven walks (2.4 per nine). He is reportedly throwing more curveballs and fewer sinkers this year. Hudson got a final swinging strike from three Reds batters on a different type of pitch in one inning. “It’s just me recognizing quality hitters that I’m facing and having a complete arsenal as a starter, rather than just being out there trying to overpower guys,” Hudson said in an mlb.com piece. P.S. Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of Hattiesburg native and longtime big leaguer Charlie Hayes, is slated for his big league debut tonight for Pittsburgh. The younger Hayes, one of the Pirates’ top prospects, is in the lineup at third base, batting seventh, against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. … Tampa Bay has recalled ex-MSU standout Nate Lowe from its alternate camp. Lowe batted .263 with seven homers as a rookie for the Rays in 2019. … Olive Branch native Kendall Williams, a second-round pick out of IMG Academy in Florida last year, has been traded from Toronto to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander was in the Blue Jays’ alternate camp.
The stakes have been raised for three Mississippians who changed MLB teams in recent days. Jarrod Dyson, Cody Reed and Mitch Moreland have moved from losing clubs to contenders as the abbreviated 2020 season enters its final month. Dyson, the former McComb High and Southwest Mississippi Community College standout, went from lowly Pittsburgh to the Chicago White Sox. Dyson, a .245 career hitter with 254 stolen bases, was acquired primarily for his speed on the bases and in the outfield. He entered Sunday’s game as a pinch runner in the 10th inning and scored on Luis Robert’s walk-off homer; the win put the ChiSox in a tie for first in the American League Central. Reed, a Horn Lake High and Northwest Mississippi CC product, went from scuffling Cincinnati to Tampa Bay, which sits atop the AL East. Reed, a left-hander who worked as both a starter and reliever with the Reds, joins a Rays staff that has been hard hit by injuries. He was activated today, just in time for the Rays’ visit to the New York Yankees tonight. Moreland’s move from the struggling Boston Red Sox to surging San Diego was described by Padres manager Jayce Tingler as “impactful.” “Not only the bat, but somebody like Mitch with 80-grade makeup, a very, very tough man … that’ll blend in really well to this clubhouse,” the rookie skipper told mlb.com. Moreland, a former Amory High and Mississippi State star, is a .253 career hitter with 174 homers in 11 seasons; he was leading the Red Sox in homers and RBIs at the time of Sunday’s trade. Moreover, he has played in 48 postseason games and been in three World Series, winning a ring with Boston two years ago. That’s what the Padres appear all-in to do in 2020. … In other news, Lance Lynn did NOT get traded by Texas, a non-contender, though many in the media believed the Ole Miss product could have been a difference-maker for a contender, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Even though he went to Ole Miss, I still like him,” Buck Showalter, the ex-Mississippi State star and former big league manager joked today on MLB Network’s trade deadline show. Lynn is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA for the 12-21 Rangers.
Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn, facing a team he might be traded to, allowed a season-high four runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers and lost for the first time this season on Saturday. The Texas Rangers ace is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA. … Ex-East Central Community College star Tim Anderson went 4-for-5 for the Chicago White Sox on Saturday and now leads the American League in batting at .361. He won the batting crown in 2019. … DeSoto Central High product Austin Riley, playing everyday at third base for Atlanta, has started to heat up, batting .360 over his last seven games and .283 in the last 15. He’s at .220 with five homers and 14 RBIs on the season. … Drew Pomeranz, the veteran lefty out of Ole Miss, was activated from the injured list Saturday by San Diego and made his 11th straight scoreless appearance in the Padres’ loss against Colorado. … Northwest CC alum Cody Reed was traded by Cincinnati to Tampa Bay (for a prospect). Lefty Reed has a 5.44 career ERA but is at 2.72 as a reliever. … Southwest CC product Jarrod Dyson, traded by Pittsburgh to the White Sox on Thursday, made his debut Friday night as a defensive replacement in left field. Dyson has been with five teams in the last five years. … Former Mississippi State star Brandon Woodruff (2-2, 3.19) goes to the mound for Milwaukee today against Pittsburgh. On Monday, he’ll come home to Mississippi, where his pregnant wife, Jonie, is to be induced on Tuesday with the couple’s first child, a girl.
Can’t really ID the proverbial “defining moment” until a season is over, but Atlanta might have experienced that event on Wednesday. The New York Yankees led all of baseball in OPS (on base-plus-slugging) and were among the best with 5.4 runs per game heading into the doubleheader at Truist Park. Ian Anderson and Max Fried, a couple of recent Mississippi Braves standouts, held the Yanks to six hits and two runs over 12 combined innings as the Braves won 5-1 and 2-1. Former M-Braves Ronald Acuna, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman hit big home runs as the Braves scored the sweep in games started by New York aces Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka. This day belonged to the Braves’ young guns, Anderson and Fried. Anderson, a strapping, 6-foot-3 right-hander making his MLB debut, started with five no-hit innings before Luke Voit took him deep in the sixth. Anderson walked two and fanned six. It was precisely the kind of step-up effort the Braves needed from one of their touted but untested young guns. In Game 2, left-hander Fried, an emerging ace at age 26, yielded four hits – only one extra-base knock – walked one and struck out five. He is 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA. Atlanta reached the midpoint of its season with an 18-12 mark, good for first place in the National League East. More work — more solid pitching — must be done, but there may come a day in October when the Braves will look back at Aug. 26 as their defining moment.