30 Sep

the x factor

The Mississippi factor in tonight’s wild card playoff game might not be much of a factor in the outcome. Former Mississippi State star Mitch Moreland, now Texas’ first baseman, has hit just .125 over his last 10 games and struck out seven times in his last 15 at-bats. It’s possible the lefty hitter won’t even start against Tampa Bay left-hander David Price. Desmond Jennings, the ex-Itawamba Community College standout who usually mans center field for Tampa Bay, may not play either. He has been battling a hamstring problem and has made just two pinch-hit appearances since Sept. 22. Jennings was a late-season spark for Tampa and is batting .252 with 14 homers and 20 stolen bases. One intriguing matchup of note: The Rangers’ hitting coach is former Jackson Mets infielder Dave Magadan, and the Rays’ pitching coach is onetime Jackson Generals coach Jim Hickey. … Ole Miss product Seth Smith, who has had a lackluster 2013, ended the regular season on a strong note, going 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI in Oakland’s 9-0 win over Seattle. The A’s get Detroit in the ALDS. … Four former Mississippi Braves pitchers got decisions in games with playoff implications on Sunday: Julio Teheran beat Zach Miner in Atlanta’s win over Philadelphia, Todd Redmond (Toronto) was roughed up by Tampa Bay, and Scott Diamond (Minnesota) lost to Cleveland. … Ten former M-Braves played in Atlanta’s 12-5 romp, including Christian Bethancourt, who struck out in his first MLB at-bat after sitting on the bench for a couple weeks. His time will come. … Only one of the six Mississippi-connected managers in MLB made the postseason: former JaxMets skipper Clint Hurdle of Pittsburgh. Davey Johnson, another OJMs manager, is retiring in Washington. Ex-JaxMets infielder Ron Gardenhire reportedly is getting a new contract with Minnesota, which went 66-96. MSU alum Buck Showalter will return in Baltimore, former JaxMets catcher John Gibbons reportedly will be back in Toronto and JaxMets alum Ned Yost is expected to keep his job with Kansas City.

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