Thanks to Rule 5.05(a)(8), Hunter Renfroe’s place in postseason history is secure. The Crystal Springs native and ex-Mississippi State standout will forever be linked to the quirky rule that had a major impact in Sunday’s American League Division Series game at Boston. In the 13th inning, with the go-ahead run at first base and two outs, a batted ball hit the short right-field wall at Fenway Park, caromed off the hip of Renfroe, the right fielder who was giving pursuit, and then went over the wall. For a few moments, confusion reigned. Apparently, no one involved had ever seen this happen before. Fenway is one of the few ballparks where something like that is even possible. Had the ball remained in play, the runner would have scored easily and the batter, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier, likely would have made third. But the umpires got together and correctly applied Rule 5.05(a)(8), which states that a bounding fair ball unintentionally deflected out of play by a fielder is a ground-rule double. That put the runners at second and third. The score remained tied. Fair or not, the rule is the rule. Nick Pivetta then struck out the next batter, concluding his four shutout innings. In the bottom of the 13th, after Renfroe drew a one-out walk, Christian Vazquez gave Boston a 6-4 win and a 2-1 series lead with a homer over the Green Monster. … Meanwhile, in Chicago, in the other ALDS Game 3, things got a little wacky, as well, as the White Sox rallied from 5-1 down in the third inning to beat Houston 12-6 and stay alive in the best-of-5. The White Sox’s decisive three-run fourth was ignited by — who else? — Tim Anderson. The East Central Community College star led off with an infield single and eventually scored the go-ahead run. (And, yes, there was a quirky deflected-ball play later in that inning.) For his part, Anderson went 3-for-6 with two runs and an RBI Sunday and is now batting .467 in the series. … There are four games on tap today. Something crazy, something you’ve never seen before, is almost guaranteed to happen. That’s baseball.
At just the right time it would appear, Adam Frazier is heating up. The former Mississippi State star went 7-for-10 with three runs and two RBIs in San Diego’s last two games, big wins over San Francisco, the best team in the National League. The Padres, a half-game back of St. Louis in the battle for the second wild card, begin a three-game series with the Cardinals tonight at Busch Stadium. Frazier, who hit .324 as an All-Star with Pittsburgh to begin this season, started slowly with the Padres and even faded from regular playing time. In 42 games with the Padres, the lefty-hitting second baseman is batting .264 — but over his last 15, he’s at .349. Typically a leadoff batter in Pittsburgh, Frazier hit cleanup for the Padres on Thursday against Giants ace Kevin Gausman. He singled his first time up in the second inning and scored the game’s first run. He finished 3-for-5 with two runs as San Diego beat Gausman (14-6) and the Giants 7-4. The Padres are showing signs of life after a prolonged funk; they’ll meet a Cardinals team that has won five straight. … MSU product Dakota Hudson, coming back from Tommy John surgery, has an 0.66 ERA in four rehab appearances in the minors. He might be ready to help out in St. Louis’ bullpen. P.S. Cody Reed, the Northwest Mississippi Community College alum from Horn Lake, threw a scoreless inning Thursday in a rehab appearance for Tampa Bay’s Florida Complex League team. Reed, a lefty reliever, has been on the injured list since May and recently had shoulder surgery. There is speculation the Rays, top team in the American League, might activate Reed soon. He had a 3.72 ERA in 12 games before he went on the IL.
Capping a rapid rise through the minor leagues this season, Colby White made his Triple-A debut on Sunday, pitching 1 2/3 innings in relief for the Durham Bulls. The former Mississippi State star began his second year in pro ball at the Low-A level for Tampa Bay, advanced to High-A, then Double-A and got the promotion to Durham last week. “This is my first full season, and I’m in Triple-A,” the 2019 draftee told The Columbian-Progress of Columbia. “It’s pretty cool.” White played at West Marion High and Pearl River Community College before signing with MSU, where he posted a 3.12 ERA in 27 games in 2019 on a staff that included Ethan Small, J.T. Ginn and Cole Gordon. Tampa Bay drafted the hard-throwing right-hander in the sixth round, and he made 15 appearances at the rookie level that summer. After the 2020 COVID-19 hiatus, White has been nothing short of sensational this season: 1.49 ERA, 10 saves, 93 strikeouts and 12 walks in 54 1/3 innings over the four levels. He reportedly touched 100 mph in an outing with Montgomery at Trustmark Park in Pearl last week. P.S. Ole Miss product Lance Lynn returned from an injured list stint (knee) on Sunday to throw five scoreless innings for the Chicago White Sox against Boston. He yielded two hits, no walks and fanned nine. Ocean Springs native Garrett Crochet followed Lynn and got five outs in a game the first-place White Sox would win 2-1 on Leury Garcia’s walk-off homer. … Former State standout Brandon Woodruff (9-8, 2.48) was held out of a slated start on Sunday for first-place Milwaukee because of a stomach ailment. He’ll go Wednesday. … Ex-Bulldogs ace Dakota Hudson, rehabbing in St. Louis’ system (see previous posts), went five innings Sunday and got a win for Double-A Springfield.
In his first season with Boston, Hunter Renfroe is rubbing elbows (virtually, of course) with Red Sox legends. In a jaw-dropping performance on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, in the heat of the battle for playoff spots, former Mississippi State star Renfroe hit a game-turning home run and made a game-ending throw. The Red Sox beat division rival Tampa Bay 2-1 and moved into first place – ahead of New York – in the American League wild card race. Renfroe, cut loose by the Rays after the 2020 season, launched a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the Sox ahead. “There’s your magic, baby,” screamed one of the Boston broadcasters. There was more to come. In the ninth, Renfroe scrambled into deep center field to run down a ball hit by Joey Wendle and fired a cannon shot to nail Wendle at third base to end the game. It was the second assist of the night for Renfroe, who has 16 on the season, the most by a Boston right fielder since at least 1961, per mlb.com. Move over Dwight Evans. Renfroe’s homer was his 27th. He is just the sixth player in Boston’s long history with 25-plus homers and 15-plus assists in a season, again per mlb.com. Others on the list: Jason Bay, Manny Ramirez, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams. Renfroe is batting .267 and slugging .515 with 85 RBIs. He has 12 bombs since Aug. 1. “What he’s done for us this season, it’s been amazing,” manager Joey Cora said in an mlb.com piece. P.S. In other impactful games, MSU product Adam Frazier, in need of some big hits, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in San Diego’s 8-5 win against the Los Angeles Angels. In a funk since joining the Padres at the trade deadline, Frazier doubled his RBI total and raised his average to .235 in 35 games with his new club, which is clinging to second in the National League wild card chase. … At Yankee Stadium, in red-hot Toronto’s 6-3 win over the skidding Yankees, Jarrod Dyson did what Jarrod Dyson do: The McComb native entered the game late as a pinch runner, scored on a sac fly and then ended the game with a diving catch in center field. The Blue Jays trail the Yankees by 1.5 games for the second AL wild card.
Jack Kruger, who caught half an inning in May in his first and so far only big league appearance, is playing for Triple-A Round Rock in the Texas organization. The ex-Mississippi State star was called up on May 6 by the Los Angeles Angels, got in the game that night, then was designated for assignment the next day. Kruger, who was in his sixth year in the Angels’ system, was claimed by the Rangers, who promptly DFA’d him and sent him to Round Rock. He is batting .198 with two homers in 25 games. A career .261 hitter in the minors, Kruger batted .305 at Double-A Mobile in the Southern League in 2018 and was a mid-season All-Star there in 2019. P.S. In other news: Chris Ellis’ long-awaited return to the big leagues was short-lived. After posting his first career win on Tuesday, Ellis was designated for assignment today, which means the Ole Miss product could be claimed by another team or returned to Triple-A Durham. … Drew Pomeranz was to have season-ending surgery today to repair a flexor tendon tear in his left arm. Done for 2021, the Ole Miss alum is signed through ’23 with San Diego. Pomeranz was a key piece in the Padres’ bullpen with a 1.75 ERA. … Billy Hamilton, the former Taylorsville High standout, could be close to returning to the Chicago White Sox’s active roster, per comments from manager Tony LaRussa. Outfielder Hamilton (oblique) has been on the 10-day injured list since July 31. … If anyone was wondering, Mitch Moreland’s career ERA is 0.00 in three mop-up appearances spread over eight years. The Mississippi State alum, Oakland’s DH/first baseman, worked an inning of the A’s loss to the White Sox on Tuesday. Moreland pitched at Amory High and a limited amount at MSU.
It was a good night for Ole Miss pitchers in pro ball. Chris Ellis and Mike Mayers registered wins Tuesday in the big leagues, Parker Caracci picked up a W in Double-A and Taylor Broadway made a third straight scoreless appearance in Low-A. Ellis, in his second MLB game and first in 2½ years (see previous post), worked the final four innings of Tampa Bay’s 10-0 win against lowly Baltimore. The 28-year-old righty yielded three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. “That’s awesome. We’re really, really pumped,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told mlb.com in reference to Ellis’ outing. … Mayers, beginning to show his 2020 form (2.10 ERA in 29 games), pitched two scoreless innings of the Los Angeles Angels’ 8-2 win at Detroit, benefitting from a six-run ninth to claim his third win of the year. Mayers has 13 holds and a 4.02 ERA for the scuffling Angels. … Caracci, a 2019 draftee by Toronto, threw two scoreless innings in his Double-A debut for New Hampshire. The Jackson Prep product had eight saves and a 2.64 ERA in high-A ball. … Broadway, a 2021 draftee by the Chicago White Sox, pitched a clean inning in a loss by Kannapolis, which scored its lone run on a homer by former Loyd Star High star James Beard. P.S. It was a tough day for Hunter Renfroe and his Boston Red Sox mates, who suffered a doubleheader loss at the hands of the rival New York Yankees and fell into a virtual three-way tie for the American League wild card lead. Mississippi State alum Renfroe was 2-for-5 on the day but was thrown out at third base for the final out of the first inning in the opener and struck out – on a 100-mph pitch – with the bases loaded for the final out of that game, a 5-3 defeat.
Chris Ellis is getting a second chance in the big leagues, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ex-Ole Miss standout Ellis, who made a single, one-inning appearance with Kansas City in March 2019, was purchased today from Triple-A Durham, where he had a 6.32 ERA over 15 appearances, 13 starts. The 28-year-old right-hander was originally drafted by St. Louis in 2014 after going 10-3, 2.55 for Ole Miss. He is 46-45 with a 4.92 career ERA in the minors. Once a rated prospect, Ellis pitched for the Mississippi Braves in 2016, posting an 8-2 record and making the Southern League All-Star game before a promotion to Triple-A. He has been with four different big league organizations and also pitched in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, keeping the dream alive.
Yes, there is a big game in Starkville tonight, but if you can keep an eye on – or an ear tuned to – one big league game, make it Tampa Bay-Chicago White Sox (7:10 CDT) at Guaranteed Rate Field. Lance Lynn, the grizzled vet out of Ole Miss, will pitch for the White Sox against rising star Tyler Glasnow of the Rays. It’s a matchup of division leaders who own the two best records in MLB. Lynn, never better even at age 34, is 7-1 with a 1.23 ERA. He leads the American League in ERA and is fourth in WHIP (0.88). He has one complete game (nine innings) and is averaging six innings a start, admirable by today’s standards. Lynn is 111-72 career, needing one more W to tie for 499th place on all-time list. That’s no mean feat. Only one Ole Miss product has ever won more: Jeff Fassero racked up 121 wins over 16 seasons. Lynn faces quite the challenge tonight. The Rays are on a 23-5 tear with a plus-86 run differential in the stretch. But Lynn will have the full-throated support of ChiSox fans, who have taken to the big man’s emotions-on-his-sleeve personality. “I’m going to give it everything I have to help the team win,” Lynn told the Chicago Sun-Times in a recent interview. “I’ve had that since I was a little kid.”
Cody Reed, who was on the injured list during Tampa Bay’s run to the World Series last fall, is back on the bump this spring and looking sharp. The Northwest Mississippi Community College product from Horn Lake has retired all 12 batters faced over four appearances. “He looks totally healthy. He’s landing the breaking ball in the zone,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told mlb.com. Reed made only two appearances for the Rays after they acquired him from Cincinnati just before the trade deadline last year. The left-hander went on the IL with a finger injury. Reed was up and down from Triple-A to the Reds during his time (2015-20) in their system while also shuffling between starting and relieving. His career ERA is 5.33, but he’s better than that stat might suggest. He appears to be a lock for a spot in Tampa Bay’s bullpen. P.S. Former Madison Central High star Spencer Turnbull is on Detroit’s injured list and away from the team in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. Turnbull, 4-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 2020, was a candidate to be the Tigers’ opening day starter, but the Detroit Free Press reports that he may not be cleared by the beginning of the season on April 1. “It’s getting more and more unlikely that he’s going to be able to do much between now and then, as of right now,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ll see as we get toward the end of camp, if he’s available or not.” … Ole Miss alum Drew Pomeranz has been shut down by San Diego due to “left forearm tightness.” The left-handed reliever, who posted a 1.45 ERA in 20 appearances last season, is expected to return to action soon. … Justin Steele, the former George County standout, was optioned to the minors by the Chicago Cubs; the left-hander was briefly on the Cubs’ active roster last season but has not yet made his big league debut. … Arizona released Bradley Roney, the ex-Southern Miss star who had signed as a minor league free agent in the off-season.
The Green Monster beckons for Hunter Renfroe. The former Mississippi State standout has signed as a free agent with Boston, where the iconic left-field wall has been an inviting target for many a right-handed slugger. Renfroe, 28, who reportedly got a 1-year deal worth $3 million-plus, hit two of his eight homers in 2020 at Fenway on Aug. 13 while playing for Tampa Bay. One of those bombs cleared the Monster. Renfroe has 97 homers in an MLB career that began in 2016. He hit just .156 for the Rays this season, dragging his career average down to .228. A good defender, he could be a fit in right or left field for Boston. The Red Sox actually drafted Renfroe in the 31st round in 2010 out of Copiah Academy, but he chose to go to State, where he became a first-rounder with San Diego in 2013.