15 Sep

game on out west

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.

12 Sep

hot and cold

Mississippi State alumnus Nate Lowe took part in an historic event on Friday night, and he took advantage of the opportunity to have one of the best games of his young MLB career. Lowe was part of Tampa Bay’s all-left-handed hitting lineup — the first in big league history — and delivered two homers and four RBIs in an 11-1 rout of Boston. Lowe, who batted .263 with seven homers as a rookie in 2019, was 1-for-14 since being recalled by the Rays on Sept. 1. “I’m pretty thankful for the opportunity and I hope (the bat) gets hot from here. Like, super hot from here,” he told mlb.com. Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash, who’ll seemingly try anything, went with all lefties to try to snap the first-place Rays out of an offensive funk. … Ex-Bulldogs star Brandon Woodruff stepped up in a time of need for Milwaukee (see previous post), throwing seven shutout innings at the Chicago Cubs. He yielded one hit, no walks and fanned 12. The Brewers won 1-0 on a walk-off sac fly. … Austin Riley’s bat has cooled off after a recent surge. The former DeSoto Central star is 5-for-29 (.174) in his last seven games for Atlanta and went 1-for-7, leaving nine runners on base, in Friday’s loss to Washington. The Braves left 22 on base as a team in the 8-7, 12-inning defeat. … Ole Miss product Jacob Waguespack was recalled from Toronto’s alternate site on Friday, but his return didn’t go well. The right-hander allowed six runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings in an 18-1 loss to the New York Mets.

07 Sep

big league chew

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.

04 Sep

clearing the bases

Brent Rooker, the former SEC Triple Crown winner from Mississippi State, got some dents in his fender today in his first MLB game. He became the first Mississippian (native or college alum) to debut in the big leagues in 2020 when he started in left field for Minnesota against Detroit in Game 1 of a twinbill at Target Field. In his first career at-bat, vs. lefty Matthew Boyd, Rooker was hit by a pitch on a 1-2 count. He then collided with the Tigers shortstop on a force play. In his second AB, he lined out, after which he was replaced in the field. He was back in the lineup, batting cleanup, for Game 2 and got his first hit and RBI. Rooker, an outfielder/first baseman, was a first-round pick by the Twins in 2017. He has batted .267 with 54 homers and 178 RBIs in 259 minor league games, reaching the Triple-A level last summer. He was a Southern League All-Star in 2018. … Seven players with Mississippi ties are among the 30 nominees, one from each team, for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award. The award is “an annual recognition of the MLB player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.” The honored players include Mississippi State product and Amory native Mitch Moreland (now with San Diego, nominated by Boston); Ole Miss alum Drew Pomeranz (San Diego); ex-East Central Community College star Tim Anderson (Chicago White Sox); Mississippi Braves alumni Charlie Morton (Tampa Bay), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta) and Jason Heyward (Cubs); and Biloxi Shuckers alum Brent Suter (Milwaukee). … Former Biloxi Shuckers star Josh Hader is Milwaukee’s bullpen ace, the hard-throwing lefty with the scraggly mane. Everyone knows this. The Brewers’ secret bullpen weapon is Devin Williams, another Shuckers alum who has been lights-out in 2020, his second MLB season. He has a better ERA than Hader, more strikeouts per inning and fewer walks. One analyst has called Williams “the most dominant reliever in baseball.” Featuring a great changeup, he has a 0.60 ERA and 31 punchouts and six walks in 15 innings. The right-hander, 25, pitched for Biloxi in 2019, posting a 7-2 record, four saves and a 2.36 ERA in the Double-A Southern League. He struck out 76 in 53 1/3 innings. He was also an All-Star Futures Game participant last summer before getting his first call-up in August. … Whatever happened to: Ernesto Mejia, who had a monster season with the Mississippi Braves back in 2011, is still swinging it for the Seibu Lions in the Japanese Pacific League. The 34-year-old Venezuela native hit a walk-off home run earlier this week and has seven bombs in 24 games. He has hit 340 homers in pro ball. Mejia had one of the best seasons ever by an M-Brave, batting .297 with 26 homers and 99 RBIs for the 2011 club. He reached Triple-A but never got to The Show. He has been in Japan since 2014.

31 Aug

game on

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.

30 Aug

stuff

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.

24 Aug

he’s a gamer

A day after taking a scary-looking tumble and leaving the game, Corey Dickerson was back in Miami’s lineup for tonight’s contest at Washington. Dickerson, the Meridian Community College and Brookhaven Academy product, hurt his left shoulder on Sunday when he went over the wall chasing a foul ball down the left-field line at Nationals Park. It was the fifth inning of a game the Marlins trailed 9-1. Dickerson said the lopsided score never entered his mind; he was trying to make a play for his team. “That’s how I approach the game,” the McComb native said in an mlb.com story. “I just approach the game to go full force until the last out. That’s how I was raised and kind of got myself here.” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he wasn’t surprised at all by Dickerson’s daring effort: “He’s never giving anything less than that.” Dickerson, who signed with Miami as a free agent in the off-season, earned a Gold Glove as Pittsburgh’s left fielder in 2018 and has twice won the Heart and Hustle Award for his team during his eight-year MLB career. Dickerson went 2-for-2 Sunday with his third homer as the Marlins (11-11) lost 9-3. After a slow start, Dickerson has hit .346 over his last seven games and boosted his average to .257. He is a career .285 hitter. P.S. Former Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz will be out until at least Saturday after going on San Diego’s 10-day injured list last week. The veteran lefty’s injury, a shoulder strain, is a blow to the surprising Padres; Pomeranz has four saves and a 0.00 ERA over 10 appearances.

22 Aug

alternate universe

They labor in a sort of netherworld, an alternate universe, so to speak. Every major league club has an alternate camp, where 30 or so players are working out and scrimmaging, mostly out of the view of media. News from these camps is sparse, but the transactions page on mlb.com is always humming. Players come and go from the active big league roster to the alternate camp on a fairly regular basis. “Our job is to just be ready to go whenever we’re called upon,” Mississippi State alum Brent Rooker, who is in Minnesota’s alternate camp in St. Paul, Minn., told the Columbus Commercial-Dispatch last month. “With this being a shortened season we kind of know anything can happen and we’re all just trying to stay ready to go.” Rooker, a first baseman/outfielder, hasn’t yet gotten the call for what would be his MLB debut. Former George County High star Justin Steele, also anticipating his first big league game, was summoned by the Chicago Cubs earlier this month, but the left-hander was sent back to their South Bend, Ind., camp a couple of days later. Southern Miss product Cody Carroll (Baltimore) and ex-Ole Miss standout Bobby Wahl (Milwaukee) were playing real games to start the season but are now in the alternate universe, where a bundle of other Mississippians work and wait. UM alum Jacob Waguespack was sent to Toronto’s alternate camp on Friday. Former State star Nate Lowe had an impact with Tampa Bay as a rookie in 2019, batting .263 with seven homers in 50 games, but the lefty-hitting first baseman hasn’t gotten a call from the Rays this summer. Ditto for Bobby Bradley, the Harrison Central High product who made his MLB debut last year with Cleveland and is no doubt itching for another crack. That would also be true for Jacob Lindgren, the injury-plagued former State ace who is in the Chicago White Sox’s alternate camp. His last MLB appearance was in 2015. Ex-Petal High standout Demarcus Evans, a hard-throwing reliever, appears to be on the cusp of his first call-up with Texas but for now is honing his command at Globe Life Park, the Rangers’ former home and current alternate camp. MSU product Ethan Small, Milwaukee’s first-round pick in 2019, is among a handful of inexperienced prospects who have been in alternate camp primarily to get specialized work. That group would include Southern Miss alum Nick Sandlin (Cleveland) and two 2020 draftees, former Ocean Springs High star Garrett Crochet (White Sox) and ex-Ole Miss star Tyler Keenan (Seattle). Justin Foscue, the 14th overall pick out of MSU by Texas in June, was just added to the Rangers’ 60-man pool and assigned to the alternate camp on Thursday. Crochet, who pitched at Tennessee, recently told the Chicago Tribune he would welcome a big league shot this year but is focused on other things in Schaumburg, Ill. “I feel as each side (session) has passed, I’m getting more and more comfortable in the environment and with the coaching staff,” he said. “I’m trusting the little tidbits of information they are feeding me. … I definitely would say each bullpen has progressed, but I’ve got a ways to go.” Still, in 2020, anything can happen. He might have to go fast.

17 Aug

big league chew

Pitching on 20 days “rest,” Mississippi State product Dakota Hudson went four innings for St. Louis on Sunday and allowed just two hits and a lone run. Hudson had last pitched on July 26; St. Louis’ season was interrupted three days later by COVID-19 issues. Hudson (0-2, 5.40 ERA) was the tough-luck loser as the Cardinals fell to the Chicago White Sox 7-2 in their third game back from the hiatus. Hudson’s replacement, rookie Roel Ramirez, gave up the record-tying four straight home runs in the fifth inning. … If anyone was wondering, no Mississippi-connected hitters have been involved in any of the 10 occurrences of the back-to-back-to-back-to-back blasts. But … on June 8, 1961, when the Milwaukee Braves became the first team to do it, Jackson native Marshall Bridges, pitching for Cincinnati, yielded the last two homers to Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas. (Bridges actually had a nice MLB career: 23 wins, 25 saves, a 3.75 ERA and a World Series ring over seven seasons.) … Ex-Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz already has a career-best four saves for San Diego and may get even more opportunities now that Kirby Yates, the erstwhile closer, has gone on the injured list with an ailing elbow. Pomeranz has not allowed a run in nine appearances (7 2/3 innings) entering Monday’s play. … Former Petal High standout Anthony Alford hit his second career homer on Sunday in a rare start for Toronto. He is 2-for-10 this season. Alford’s first career homer was a memorable walk-off bomb last year. … Meridian Community College alum Corey Dickerson went on the bereavement list on Saturday, which means he’ll miss a minimum of three games for Miami. He is batting .208 in his first year with the Marlins. … Wondering what’s next for Brian Dozier, the former Southern Miss star who was designated for assignment by the New York Mets on Sunday. The veteran second baseman, who got only 15 at-bats with the Mets after joining the club on July 30, could be traded or claimed on waivers by another club, but it seems more likely he’ll become a free agent — again. Over a two-year span, the one-time All-Star has been with five different teams. He batted .238 with 20 homers for Washington last season.

15 Aug

good, bad and ugly

Good: OK, this was more like great. Lance Lynn, the veteran right-hander out of Ole Miss, threw a complete-game two-hitter — at Coors Field, no less — to pace Texas to a 3-2 win Friday night against Colorado. Lynn (3-0, 1.11 ERA) struck out the side in the eighth inning and reportedly told manager Chris Woodward as he arrived in the dugout, “I’m finishing it.” He got Trevor Story (fly out), Charlie Blackmon (ground out) and Nolan Arenado (fly out) to end it, notching just his third career complete game and first since 2014 with St. Louis. Lynn threw 110 pitches, walked none and fanned six.
Bad: Brandon Woodruff, the ex-Mississippi State standout, was pulled in the fifth inning of Milwaukee’s game at Wrigley Field after allowing six straight batters to reach as Chicago bolted to a 3-1 lead. Woodruff took a no-hitter into the fifth but suddenly lost command, yielding four hits, two walks and the three runs in the inning. It was the second straight abbreviated outing for Woodruff, who saw his ERA rise to 3.16. He got a no-decision as the Brewers’ bullpen and a three-run bomb by Christian Yelich bailed him out in a 4-3 Milwaukee victory.
Ugly: Southern Miss product Cody Carroll was recalled from Baltimore’s alternate site on Friday and was called on for mop-up duty in the regularly scheduled half of the twinbill against Washington. He got five outs but gave up six runs in the 15-3 loss. His ERA now stands at 54.00 in three appearances; he didn’t record an out in his 2020 debut last month and was charged with four runs. Oh, and he was sent back to the alternate site today.