13 Aug

three-pronged success

One by one, three Magnolia State products took the mound on Saturday and delivered the kind of performance playoff-chasing teams need this time of year in the big leagues. “Bring in the sheets,” as Oppenheimer might say. Former George County High star Justin Steele and Mississippi State alums Brandon Woodruff and J.P. France steered their teams to meaningful wins. Steele, a 2023 All-Star and a Cy Young contender in the National League, toughed out five innings for the Chicago Cubs at Toronto, yielding six hits and three runs. The left-hander left with a lead, which the bullpen squandered, but watched the Cubs rally to win 5-4. He is 13-3 with a 2.79 ERA, tied for the NL lead in wins and second in ERA. “(T)he year he’s had has been insane,” teammate Julian Merryweather told mlb.com. The Cubs, on a 19-6 roll, stayed within 2.5 games of NL Central leader Milwaukee, which beat the White Sox 3-2 behind Woodruff. The big right-hander from Wheeler worked 6 1/3 innings in his second start after four months on the injured list. He allowed four hits, a walk and two runs. In four outings this year, the two-time All-Star is 2-1 with a 1.99. “He’s in a really good place after two starts (off the IL),” manager Craig Counsell said in an mlb.com piece. In Houston, France continued his remarkable season, which might garner some rookie of the year consideration. He went seven innings in an 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. He has won five straight — one in relief — and stands 9-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 17 games. He leads American League rookies in wins and would be second in the league in ERA if he had enough innings to qualify. “(J)ust trying to pitch my game,” the bespectacled righty told mlb.com. The Astros’ win kept them 2.5 games back of AL West leader Texas, which never seems to lose. (Ex-State star Chris Stratton pitched three scoreless innings in the Rangers’ 9-3 win vs. San Francisco on Saturday, his fifth scoreless appearance since being acquired at the trade deadline.) P.S. Tanner Allen, the 2021 SEC player of the year and Ferriss Trophy winner at MSU, was promoted to Double-A Pensacola in the Miami organization. He did not play Saturday. … Northwest Mississippi Community College product Dalton Fowler made his pro debut in the Florida Complex League, throwing an inning (two runs) for Tampa Bay’s rookie team. Fowler, a Southaven native, was a ninth-round pick by the Rays out of Memphis, where he was the American Athletic Conference’s pitcher of the year in 2023. … Fowler’s Memphis teammate Dalton Kendrick, an Hernando High alum and the AAC’s saves leader last season, was drafted in the 18th round by the Angels but has yet to appear in a game.

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