Showing posts from June, 2016

Miss Me Now?

Wednesday night was revenge night for Daniel Murphy. The former Mets 2nd baseman belted a pair of home runs and drove in three as the Nats completed a three-game sweep over Murph's former team. He now leads Washington with 14 homers -- which ties his career-high with half the season remaining. How good has Daniel Murphy been against the Mets? Check out these numbers: in 10 games, he's 15 for 35 (a .428 average). In a series that began with Washington holding a three-game lead, the Nats dominance helped them push to them to a six-game advantage. T hese images of Daniel Murphy are from the Nats first visit to New York in May.

Beltre v Beltran

The best way to tag Tuesday night's Yankees/Rangers game was Beltre versus Beltran. Two of baseball's best veteran hitters, both on probable Hall of Fame tracks -- but for this one game, with very different results. Rangers 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre homered in the top of the 1st inning. Carlos Beltran (#36) runs out of room and watches it land in the right field seats of Yankee Stadium, as Texas takes a lead they'd never relinquish. In the bottom of the 1st, it was Beltran's turn to send a message. He tried -- with a booming hit to left field. It appeared to be a double, except that Carlos stopped at 1st base, and then began squatting -- instantly tipping us that something was wrong. Moments later, accompanied by trainer Steve Donahue, he left the game with what were later reported to be leg cramps. So the Beltre versus Beltran competition was over for this night. The Rangers tacked on five runs in the 8th and cruised to a 7-1 victory behind Cole Hamels. But

If Your Birthday is June 28th...

Image share it with Reds 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips . His combination of speed and power have kept him near the top of his position for the past decade. But one place you're not likely to find him anytime soon is the post-season. Last winter, Phillips turned down a possible trade to the Nats, who instead went on fill their hole at 2nd base with Daniel Murphy. I was surprised -- maybe you were, too. Sure, it's nice developing roots in a community where you've played for a decade. But with Reds in full "rebuild" mode and the Nationals one of the league's most powerful teams, Phillips' decision remains puzzling. While no Baseball Hall of Famers have June 28th birthday, some well known names share this date. Mark Grace , a .303 lifetime batter in a 2245-game career with the Cubs and Diamondbacks. A promising broadcasting career was derailed by a DUI arrest and conviction. These days (right), he's a coach on Chip Hale's Arizona Diamondba

Cleveland's Next Champ?

Days after the NBA Cavaliers gave Cleveland its first pro sports title since 1964, Northern Ohio's baseball team is making waves. The Indians, managed by Terry Francona and featuring shortstop Francisco Lindor, are certainly the American League's hottest team -- making the case that between a strong lineup and outstanding starting pitching, they could be a legitimate contender this fall. Sunday , the Tribe won their 9th game in a row and Lindor (seen here against the Yankees last August) was in the center of the action. He went three-for-five and scored a pair of runs in a 9-3 demolition of division rival Detroit. Also noteworthy was a four-hit game from teammate Lonnie Chisenhall. Not only are the Indians hot -- they're winning big on the road! The victory -- in which they pounded Detroit ace Justin Verlander for eight runs in less than five innings -- keeps them 5 up on second place Kansas City in the loss column. Compare that to a strong outing from Cleveland's

Sunday Extra: Zooming in on the Twins

Nothing like the perfection of a sunsplashed afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The Twins are in town, making their only 2016 visit to the Bronx. Another big crowd -- notice how the bleachers are just about full. (Below) Minnesota 2nd baseman Brian Dozier may be having an "off-season," but showed fine form in homering off Michael Pineda. It was the Twins only run in Saturday's loss to the Yanks. (Below) Twins coach Butch Davis stands on the dugout step to position his outfielders. And here's the veteran righthander Ervin Santana. He limited the Yankees to just a run in his five innings of work. (Below) Eduardo Nunez showed flashes of talent when he broke in with the Yankees several years ago. But he's coming into his own during 2016. Now Minnesota's everyday 3rd baseman, he could be the Twins representative in the All Star Game. Taken from the 200-level, here's Joe Mauer singling off Aroldis Chapman in the top of the 9th inning. But the Yankee

A Baseball First

Erik Kratz is probably far from the first guy you'd expect to make baseball history. Yet the prototyical "well traveled backup catcher," now in his second stint with the Pirates, did exactly that on Tuesday night. Kratz came into pitch for the Pirates pitch near the end of Tuesday’s 15-4 blowout loss to the Giants. He tossed a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out a batter. OK, you've seen that before... countless times. What made it unique was the backdrop. This marked the second time this season the Kratz pitched -- again, nothing extraordinary. But here's the wrinkle: Kratz also came in to pitch April 26, while with the Astros (a less successful outing where he gave up two runs to Seattle). Put the games together and Kratz has become the first position player ever to pitch for two different clubs in the same season. These images of Erik Kratz, in his more traditional role, were taken June 15th at Citi Field against the Mets.

Yankee Walk Off

Starlin Castro may have taken this pitch back on June 7th. But Wednesday afternoon, he ended a topsy turvy game against the Rockies by smacking a walk off homer against Jason Motte. It was his 10th round tripper of the season and salvaged the day after the Yanks wasted an early 4-0 lead and trailed at one time by 4. In his first season as the Yankees 2nd baseman, the former Cub has provided power but neither the average or consistency New York hoped for. While he's an upgrade over Steven Drew, will Yankee fans really warm to him -- or will he forever face negative comparisons with Robinson Cano?

Big Night in the Bronx

Charlie Blackmon plays his home games in one of baseball's best hitters parks, Coors Field. But he quickly felt at home Tuesday as the Rockies opened an interleague series at Yankee Stadium. He led off the game clanging an Ivan Nova pitch off the right field foul pole. And a few innings later, he found the right center field seats, again while working against Nova. Two home runs that helped propel Colorado to an 8-4  victory. The man with the big beard delivered the big blows.

Mets and Yankees Prospects on Display

Saturday night in Trenton, I got a good look at some of the better Yankees and Mets prospects... as the Thunder hosted Binghamton. We'll start with B-mets 1st baseman Dominic Smith, at DH for this game. While fans have heard his name, his 2016 numbers (so far) have not suggested that he'll be in the majors anytime soon. Also worth noticing: the clock just behind the batter, a device to increase the "pace of the game." So far, it's only used in the minors. Do you think we might see in the National and American Leagues before long? (Below) Just promoted to Trenton, here's 3rd baseman Miguel Andujar . Just 21, he showed power and the ability to hit for average at single-A Tampa. His success led to his advancing to Trenton. The ball pops off Andujar's bat. (Below) Binghamton 2nd baseman LJ Mazzilli -- yes, he's the son of the onetime Flushing hero.  (Below) Trenton's also got a prospect from a famous family. It's Michael O'Neill,

If Your Birthday is June 20th...

Image share it with one the living legends of '60s rock and roll. Brian Wilson , who wrote and sang about surfing, told  me in our 2005 interview that he's been a lifelong baseball fan.  Onto some baseball names getting cake and candles today:  Carlos Lee , the power-hitting outfielder starred primarily for the White Sox and Astros. His 358 career home runs are the most for any Panamanian-born player. Other names tagged to June 20th include longtime Orioles catcher Andy Etchebarren; Dickie Thon, who played 15 seasons in the majors, mainly with the Astros and Phllies; and Royals DH  Kendrys Morales , whose baseball career was changed forever after he stomped on the plate after a 2010 home run. That resulting broken leg took him almost two years for him to recover.

The Injury Bug Takes a Major Bite

Two contending teams lost key players this week for extended periods of time. The Mets David Wright, whose stiff neck turned out to the sign of a herniated disc, is likely gone for the season after surgery. And the Tigers lost right fielder JD Martinez, who suffered a fractured elbow when he ran into a wall at Kauffman Stadium. While Wright had struggled even when considered healthy -- his play was clearly hampered by the spinal stenosis, that was diagnosed a year ago -- Martinez, is one of the Tigers rising stars. He was hitting nearly .290 with a dozen home runs and had been red hot in June. Losing his big bat as they battle the White Sox, Royals and Indians in the AL Central makes that challenge even more difficult.

Old Timers Day: A Few Final Images

Part of the fun of shooting any event is finding the unique images. How about the above stretch by Hideki Matsui as he manned 1st base? And below, always fun to see Reggie Jackson back in the batters box. (Below) I love how Bernie Williams just radiates a youthful joy as he heads back to the dugout. (Below) "The Warrior," Paul O'Neill. 1960s and '70s outfielder Roy White watches the action from the dugout. (Below) 1990s pitcher Ramiro Mendoza is back on a Bronx mound. (Below) Pat Kelly salutes the fans along the 1st base line. (Below) New Jersey native Scott Bradley came up through the Yankee farm system, but played most of his career with the Mariners. Since 1998, he's been the baseball coach at Princeton. A closeup of the special bases used for the Old Timer's Game.

Old Timers Day: Time to Play

Last Sunday was not only the Yankees 70th annual Old Timers Day, it was also Hideki Matsui's 42nd birthday. And this relatively young "Old Timer" had plenty to celebrate -- belting a home run off David Cone that delighted the fans who came to see the past come alive. Lou Piniella is another longtime fan favorite who was back in pinstripes and on the diamond for a day. It's always great to see Ron Guidry back on the Yankee Stadium mound. This year, Mister October takes his swings in June -- it's one of the treats from Old Timers Day. Hideki Matsui makes a friend, with a souvenir from the Old Timers Game. Below, Brian Doyle, who delivered the game-winning hit for his squad of Yankee legends.  A high-five from 1970s teammate Willie Randolph after Doyle's decisive hit.