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.
Javier Baez may be an MVP candidate, but the shortstop who most looked the part in today’s tiebreaker game at Wrigley Field was Orlando Arcia. Biloxi Shuckers fans will remember him. The former Shuckers star went 4-for-4 and scored twice as Milwaukee beat Chicago 3-1 to claim the National League Central title. For Arcia, it was the kind of performance Brewers fans – and brass — had thought they’d see more of. Arcia, 24, had a poor season in 2018, batting just .227 and spending time in the minors, but he was a full-fledged star as he rose through Milwaukee’s system. He batted .307 with eight homers, 69 RBIs and 25 steals on a good Biloxi team in 2015. He played in the All-Star Futures Game that summer. He was a Triple-A Pacific Coast League All-Star in 2016 and made his big league debut that year. Arcia hit .277 with 15 homers and 14 bags as the Brewers’ regular shortstop in 2017 but started so poorly this year that he went to the minors for much of June and July. It’s October now, and he looks like he belongs in The Show.
All eyes – well, a lot of them — are on the National League Central and the two intra-divisional series that start today in Chicago and St. Louis. And, yes, Mississippi ties are all around. The first-place Cubs host fourth-place Pittsburgh – officially eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday – in a four-game series at Wrigley Field, while second-place Milwaukee – 2.5 games behind the Cubs – and the third-place Cardinals – 4.5 games behind the Cubs – tangle in a three-game set at Busch Stadium. The Brewers and Cardinals top the wild card standings, with Colorado lurking 1.5 games back. The Brewers’ roster includes former Mississippi State standout Brandon Woodruff and several other former Biloxi Shuckers, notably pitchers Josh Hader, Freddy Peralta, Jacob Barnes and Taylor Williams and shortstop Orlando Arcia. Brewers coach Carlos Subero is a former Shuckers manager. Ex-Ole Miss star Mike Mayers and State alum Dakota Hudson have been key contributors in St. Louis’ bullpen, and ex-Mississippi Braves John Gant and Chasen Shreve are also on the pitching staff. The Milwaukee-St. Louis season series is tied 8-8. The Cubs suit up a pair of M-Braves alums – Jason Heyward and Tommy LaStella – and their pitching coach is former Jackson Generals coach Jim Hickey. The Cubs have the best record in the NL but they’re in no position to breathe easy against a Pirates lineup that usually features Meridian Community College alum Corey Dickerson, one of the league’s leading hitters, and ex-State standout Adam Frazier. Pittsburgh is managed by former Jackson Mets skipper Clint Hurdle, and the hitting coach is Waynesboro native Jeff Branson. P.S. Frazier hit his 10th home run on Sunday and joins Hunter Renfroe, Brian Dozier, Tim Anderson, Mitch Moreland, Dickerson and JaCoby Jones as Mississippians with double-digit bombs in the majors this season.