Posts

Showing posts from August, 2018

Reaching 300

Image
It almost looked too easy for Giancarlo Stanton to reach 299 career home runs.  After clearing the fences twice on opening day in Toronto, he remained a steady power source for the Yankees. He stood just one away from 300 on August 18th after his 32nd homer of the season -- before waiting 10 games over 12 days before his drought came to an end. Thursday night in the bottom of the 3rd inning, his laser to the right field seats of Yankee Stadium granted him membership in a still-impressive, if no-longer quite exclusive club. At age 28 and 295 days, Stanton's blast was noteworthy -- he became the fifth fastest player ever to reach 300 home runs. Fewest Games to 300 in MLB History: Ralph Kiner 1,087 Ryan Howard 1,093 Juan Gonz├ílez 1,096 Alex Rodriguez 1,117 Giancarlo Stanton 1,119  Remember, every at bat for Stanton is under the pressure of a pennant race. That's something he never experienced while a Marlin. And for the past five weeks, he's done it without hi

Christian Yelich's Big Night

Image
Here's a good look at the player who made baseball's biggest Wednesday headline. Christian Yelich went six-for-six, including hitting for the cycle, in the Brewers 13-12 10-inning victory over the Reds. A tremendous achievement -- especially on a team battling to remain in the wild card chase. But this story will take a different turn. While looking for a photo of Yelich to post, I went back to his Miami days, and the game played  August 30th, 2016 .  -- exactly two years ago today: The Marlins were playing the Mets at Citi Field, a good opportunity to capture the images of what appeared to be a young and talented team on the rise. There was Yelich, Dee Gordon, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto. Giancarlo Stanton was out injured. All this talent backed by a pitching staff featuring the health-again Jose Fernandez. Perhaps because he had missed a year due to Tommy John surgery, I paid special attention to Fernandez in the dugout. He was a charismatic presence,

Walker-Off

Image
With one swing, Neil Walker turned a sluggish night for the Yankees into an exhillerating one. His pinch hit home run in the bottom of the 9th, gave the Yankees a 5-4 win over the surprisingly feisty White Sox. Pinch hitting for Ronald Torreyes with one out, the veteran switch hitter crushed the first pitch he saw from Dylan Covey, and planted it in the righr field seats. Eight and a a half innings of collective frustration replaced instantly with the joy of a walk-off victory. Look at the delight Walker expressed as he approached home plate with arms outstretched. A joyful mob was waiting, with hugs, high fives, and a moment later, a Gatorade bath. A seat in the bleachers gave my Canon the perfect angle to capture it. The statistical surprise: this was just the 10th pinch hit walk-off home run in Yankee history.

Big Bat Bregman

Image
You'll always find plenty of heroes when the winning team scores in double digits. Still, there's good reason to single out Alex Bregman  as a vital cog in the Astros Monday night win over the division-rival A's. The 3rd baseman doubled, drove in a run and later scored as Houston came from behind with a five-run 3rd innning. He then belted a three-run homer in the 8th as the Astros broke the game wide open -- and tacked on another valuable game to their division lead.  In a year Houston expected to cruise to another division title, with perhaps the Angels as their chief threat, Oakland's small budget A's didn't appear to be a pre-season contender. With the Athletics flexing muscle and, for a moment, pulling into a first place tie, the guys who helped bring a World Series title to Houston are beginning to assert themselves again. My images of Alex Bregman are from a Yankees/Astros ALCS game in the Bronx last fall.

This Carpenter Keeps Building

Image
Matt Carpenter continued his sizzling second half on Sunday, when he tied a major league record.  The Redbirds leadoff man had four doubles as St. Louis crushed the Rockies 12-3 at Coors Field. He's just the second Cardinal -- Hall of Famer Ducky Medwick was the first, back in 1937 -- among several dozen major leaguers who have done so. So far, in nearly 150 years, no player has ever had five doubles in one game. Carpenter started fast -- doubling twice during a six-run 1st inning, added another in the 3rd and punched his fourth double of the day in the 7th. The Cardinals have been on a roll ever since changing managers. They've won nine consecutive series and Sunday's win capped a 5-1 road trip. After struggling under the since-dismissed Mike Matheny, the Redbirds have surged under Mike Shildt and at the moment hold the number-one National League Wild Card. And after being stuck in the .150s back in May, Carpenter's robust second half is certainly putting him in

Happy Homecoming

Image
Matt Holliday   spent the first five years of his career as a Rockie -- and just returned to Colorado this week after a decade with the A's, Cardinals and in 2017, the Yankees, where I snapped the image you see here. A steady power source and respected clubhouse leader, Matt's days as a big leaguer appeared over after illness torpedoed his time in the Bronx. Unsigned as a free agent over the winter, he accepted a mid-summer minor league deal with the Rockies that media-wise, flew under the radar. But his bat came alive again in Albuquerque, leading to his recall to Coors Field a few days ago. Saturday, in his third game back with the Rockies, his bat spoke loudly. Pinch hitting in the 7th inning, he crushed a John Gant pitch for a home run. A sweet homecoming for a player who broke in as a Rockie, packed the moving van a few time and now returns to where it all began. With Colorado battling for the NL West title, his veteran bat will be an asset coming off the bench. Th

Yankee Power

Image
Friday night, the Yankees relied on their signature, the home run, as they beat the Orioles 7-5 at Camden Yards. Neil Walker (above) put the Yankees ahead in the top of the 10th, finding the center field seats against Cody Carroll. But they weren't done. Gleyber Torres walked, bringing up Luke Voit. Recently obtained in a deal with the Cardinals, Voit got the start at 1st base instead of the slumping Greg Bird. It proved to be a wise choice by Aaron Boone; The Saint Louis native tied the game with a 4th inning homer, then came up again in the 10th. He crushed what proved to be the Carroll's final pitch of the night, giving the Yankees their insurance runs. So where's my photo of Luke Voit ? He's the player circled below in green. The fun and mission of this blog is to pair my baseball photos with noteworthy games and players whose stories are worth telling. But I ran up against a problem regarding Luke Voit. I checked my archive and matched it against baseball-re

"A" is for...

Image
Aaron, as in Aaron Nola . And "A" is also for ace, as on Thursday when the Phillies young star outdueled Max Scherzer of the Nationals. Eight innings of shutout ball to lead his team team to a badly needed victory. Coming into the afternoon on a four-game losing streak -- and with the memory of Wednesday night's 9th inning collapse still a fresh memory -- Nola went zero for zero with the reigning Cy Young winner, until Odubel Herrera's two-run homer gave him a lead. And then he protected it -- striking Bryce Harper with two on and two out in the 8th to stifle a possible Washington rally. For one more indication of his determination, check out his expression in the image below. Not just a 15-game winner, Nola is the biggest reason the Phils are still in the NL East race.  The team has won each of Nola's last four starts. In their other 13 games over the last 2-1/2 weeks, they're 3-10. That's what an ace does. My images of Aaron Nola are from the J

Ryan Zimmerman

Image
Nationals TV broadcaster Bob Carpenter read his tea leaves correctly as he called  Zimmerman  "Mister Walk Off" when he came up with his team down a run with two outs in the bottom of the 9th and Juan Soto on 2nd base. Moments later, Washington's longest-tenured player homered off Seranthony Dominguez to give the Nats their second straight come-from-behind victory over the Phillies. This was the 15th walk off hit of Zimmerman's 14 year career. Keep in mind, that comes on the heels of Washington trading away Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams. Moves which seemingly weakend the club instead appear to have had the opposite effect. ( My image of Zimmerman comes from a Nats/Mets game in New York on June 17th, 2017 .)

A Future in Flushing

Image
Jeff McNeil continues to impress. Just a month after being promoted from the minors, the Mets rookie 2nd baseman had his second four-hit game and stood with Michael Conforto as the batting stars of Tuesday night's 6-3 win over the Giants. Continuing the momentum built from a breakthrough season in the minors, McNeil has made a convincing argument that he can be a key player for the Mets as they try and recover from the disappointment of 2017 and '18. A young player with a good bat and decent glove who still has some upside is going to excite fans a lot more than 30-somethings signed out of the bargain aisle at the free agent marketplace. My images are from Tuesday night's game at Citi Field.

On This Date in 1931...

Image
Another day powered by the Babe and Lou: Ruth's unprecedented 600th career home run comes off George Blaeholder of the Browns in an 11-7 Yankee victory at Sportsmens Park in St. Louis. Teammate Lou Gehrig followed Ruth's blast with one of his own -- one of 19 times the duo combined for back-to-back home runs!  Teammates for 10 years, they homered in the same game 72 times. My images are from the replica Monument Park plaza outside Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

Strong Second Half

Image
Amed Rosario was the Mets' top prospect when he was promoted to the majors a year ago. And while he showed some bursts of potential, his final totals were rather ordinary. The first half of 2018 went along similar lines. But August has seen his numbers on an upswing. Hitting .277 this month, the 22 year old capped a big weekend against the Mets (where he went 10 for 24) with the game-breaking two-RBI single that capped a four-run 1st inning. Mets fans are hoping Rosario develops into the next Jose Reyes. And while the jury's still out, there is more and more encouraging evidence.

Big Surprise Team of 2018

Image
That has to be the Oakland A's. Billy Beane's low-budget, analytics-driven club has now moved within a game of the defending World Champs! Last night's 10-inning victory over the Astros was another signal that these guys aren't flying under the radar anymore. Down 3-2 entering the bottom of the 9th, Oakland tied it on Nick Martini's RBI double. An inning later, Matt Olson led of the inning with a walk off homer. I'll plead guilty to paying less attention to the A's than I should. I didn't catch them on their only visit to the Bronx this year -- or last. The Athletics have turned their roster over since April 2016. In fact, only two regulars remain from the last group I saw -- slugger Khris Davis and shortstop Marcus Semien (above). Plagued by low attendance in an awful stadium, Oakland doesn't keep many players through the first six seasons of team control. You won't find many big names here. Instead, Beane has elevated the theory of gett

4 of the 24

Image
With one swing, Jose Bautista of the Mets produced four runs in the opening half of yesterday's Citizens Bank Park doubleheader. Bases loaded, top of the 5th inning and Joey Bats pulled one toward the left field corner. It landed in the seats and gave the Mets an insurmountable lead. The game, which ended 24-4 New York , was so out of hand that Phillies manager Gabe Kapler used not just one but two position players to pitch the final three innings: Roman Quinn and Scott Kingery. Below, a not-quite-perfect image -- obscured a bit by the railing in front of where my friends sat in section 320 -- of Wilmer Flores, a moment after he scored the 24th and final New York run. Those 24 runs were most in single game in Mets history -- add that to the 16 they scored the night before when they shredded the Orioles, it's the Mets best two-game outburst ever. it was also a long, long, LONG delayed payback for the Phillies' 26-7 destruction of the Mets on June 11th, 1985 -- the

Hello, Philadelphia!

Image
What a debut for Wilson Ramos in a Phillies uniform! The hard-hitting catcher was sidelined with a hamstring strain when the Rays sent him to Philadelphia at the trade deadline. He remained on the DL for another couple of weeks -- but for Phils fans, the wait was worth it. And he didn't do it against any opponent -- he beat up on the Red Sox, the team with the best record in baseball. Number 40 belted an RBI double to right field and then came around to score when the Phillies put up three in the fourth inning. Two innings later, tied with Boston, Ramos crushed a line drive into right center. When it took an odd carom off the wall, he kept running full steam and landed at 3rd base with his first triple since 2011! Minutes later, the 2018 All Star scored on Scott Kingery's sacrifice fly to put the Phils on top in a game they won 7-4. Having plenty of pennant race experience from his days with the Nationals, the Phils hope to tap Wilson's wisdom and leadership as they b

If Your Birthday is August 15th...

Image
...you share it with the former A's and Yankees 3rd baseman Scott Brosius . The Oregon native enjoyed his greatest season in 1998, his first in the Bronx. He batted .300 while playing stellar defense. Scott then capped the year by earning World Series MVP honors. And who can forget his dramatic game tieing homer in game five of the 2001 Series? My image was taken at the Yankees 2015 Old Timers Day. Who else gets their cake and candles today: Jarrod Dyson , the talented centerfielder who joined the Diamondbacks this year. Chris Singleton , who played five years in the majors and is now Ed Farmer's partner on White Sox radio broadcasts. Duffy Dyer , a backup catcher on the 1969 World Series champion Mets, who went onto play parts of 14 seasons in the majors. There's only one Hall of Famer born on this date: Charles Comiskey , the 19th century player and founding owner of the Chicago White Sox, who made it to Cooperstown despite his club being subsumed by the 1

Ronald's Rarity

Image
Ronald Acuna Junior joined a very select circle on Monday. How rare? He became just the fourth player ever to lead off both ends of a doubleheader with a home run. Only  Harry Hooper of the Red Sox (May 30, 1913), Rickey Henderson (July 6, 1993) and Brady Anderson (Aug. 21, 1999)  accomplished it previously in the 142 year history of the major leagues. His power display got the Braves off and running toward 9-1 and 6-1 victores over the Marlins. Acuna was hitting second in Atlanta's batting order when I saw him back in early May. Since being moved up to the leadoff spot, he's raised his game several notches. In those 22 games,  Acuna has hit .329 with nine homers and an OPS of 1.141, boosting his case for National League Rookie of the Year. ( My image of Acuna is from the May 1st Braves/Mets game at Citi Field.)

CC and DiDi

Image
Sitting in section 120 on Saturday gave me a great angle to capture the Yankee dugout. As it turns out, two of the players in the center of two images proved to be two of the standouts in Sunday's victory over the Rangers. CC Sabathia (above) threw six innings of one-hit shutout ball, while Didi Gregorius (below) turned in several sparkling defensive plays and added two hits, including his 21st home run of the season. Most times, I'm zooming in on home plate or some other spot on the playing field. Seeing how well these images turned out, providing different images of Sunday's Yankee stars, convinced me to go with these for today's post.

Deadline Find

Image
Yesterday, I had my first chance to see Lance Lynn since joining the Yankees from Minnesota. And he was impressive. In a season clouded by inconsistent work from Aaron Boone's rotation, Lynn turned in his second good start -- that on the heels of 4-2/3 innings of shutout relief in his Yankee debut. Lynn turned in three top notch seasons with the Cardinals -- winning 15 or more in 2012, '13 and '14. But his career was knocked off track after Tommy John surgery in 2016. Some pitchers take longer to recover than others. And Lynn's final season as a Cardinal was marked by inconsistency -- as was his half-season in Minnesota. Perhaps, being back on a contender, refueled Lynn's competitive fire. Maybe it's the excitement of being on a new club. Or the "mystique and aura" of playing in Yankee Stadium. Regardless, Lance Lynn looks like the Yankees best in-season pickup for 2018. ( My image of Lance is from the August 11th Yankees/Rangers game .)

On This Date in 1970

Image
Jim Bunning becomes the first pitcher since Cy Young to win 100 games in each league... He worked the first 8-2/3 innings as the Phillies edged the Astros 6- 5 at the Astrodome. The Hall of Fame-bound righthander, who won 118 games with the Tigers, notched, between his days with the Phils, Pirates and Dodgers, his 100th NL victory. For trivia buffs: Cy Young won more than 200 games in each league (511 overall), a feat that will never be matched! ( My image of Jim Bunning is from his appearance at the Phillies 2015 Alumni Weekend .) A few other August 11th souvenirs -- all involving Cooperstown inductees: 1928: Carl Hubbell of the Giants earns the first of his 253 career victories, as he shuts down the Phillies. 1929: Babe Ruth belts the 500th home run of his career, off the Indians' Willis Hudlin. 1955: Ted Williams gets the 2000th hit of his career, against Bob Turley of the arch-rival Yankees. 1961: Warren Spahn's 300th career victory is a 2-1 Braves win over

Mookie (the) Best?

Image
In a season full of stellar performances, Mookie Betts topped himself on Thursday. The dynamic Red Sox lead off batter hit for the cycle -- capping it with a 9th inning homer. But, a great night for Betts came with a less than satisfying Red Sox result -- they lost 8 - 5 to the Blue Jays in Rogers Centre. Betts is the 21st Red Sox player with a single, double, triple and homer in the same game -- and the first since Brock Holt in 2015. It's been an MVP caliber season for the fourth year player -- whose .;347 average leads the league, as does his 1.103 OPS. Mix in terrific defense and 22 stolen bases and you have the credentials to keep him in the conversation along with teammate JD Martinez on the team with the best record in baseball. If you think of a leadoff hitter as the "igniter," Betts has been Boston's spark ever since game one. ( My image of Betts is from the Red Sox/Twins exhibition on March 7th at Fort Myers. )

History for Big Sexy

Image
Congratulations to Bartolo Colon , now the winningest pitcher of all time from Latin America. At age 45 in his 21st big league season, he's now a Texas Ranger -- and still able to outwit opposing batters. There's some endearing about Colon. Far from today's well-chiseled, nutritionally savvy athlete, he looks more like the guy who sat next to you last week in the cheap seats. Yet this unlikely looking player has built himself an impressive brand. Think of the love Mets fans gave him in his three Flushing seasons -- when that "Big Sexy" nickname flourished -- especially when he became the oldest big leaguer ever to notch his first home run. Now working for his 11th team, the well traveled righty returned this year to challenge Juan Marichal's record 244 for Dominican natives and Dennis Martinez's 245 for pitchers from anywhere in Latin America. And slowly but surely, he's notched the W's. Tuesday night, while not quite vintage,

Rookie Results

Image
Miguel Andujar delivered the Yankees first and last runs in Tuesday night's win in Chicago. With the Yankees down 1-0 to White Sox righty Reynaldo Lopez, the rookie got his club on the scoreboard with booming home run to left field. The game went to extra innings -- the teams traded two-run homers in the 10th. On to the 13th, two men on and two out, and Andujar came through again. His bloop single off Jeanmar Gomez that brought Didi Gregorius home for the go-ahead run. Sonny Gray, in his bullpen debut, made that hold up in the bottom of the inning for another Yankee victory. The 23 year old wasn't expected to be an everyday player this year. That job was virtually handed to Brandon Drury in the spring, before he was sidelined by migraine headaches and dizziness. Andujar stepped up -- and never looked back. Let's not sugarcoat it, he's no Graig Nettles or Scott Brosius in the field -- not yet. Lately, he's been DH-ing more often. But anyone who saw him play in t

If Your Birthday is August 7th

Image
Did you realize that no current Baseball Hall of Famer has an August 7th birthday? That could well change over the next 20 years if Mike Trout   (above) continues to play at the level he has since joining the Angels. The two-time American League MVP and 2012 Rookie of the Year is a .306 hitter with more than 230 career homers and turns 27 today. If he's not the best player in baseball today, he's in a very select circle alongside perhaps Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Maybe the only thing wrong on the back of his baseball card is that he's yet to play in a World Series.  There's another iconic name on today's cake and candles list: Don Larsen . Please ignore the losing career record or that he never won more than 11 games in any regular season. The self-professed "imperfect man" threw the first and only World Series perfect game in baseball history. It was October 8th, 1956, and Larsen, who never made it out of the 2nd inning when he started game

Sunday Night Standout

Image
Sandy Leon jump started both Red Sox rallies as they completed a four-game Fenway sweep of the Yankees. His 9th inning walk against Aroldis Chapman kicked off the three-run explosion that tied the game. An inning later, Leon's two-out single ignited the sequence that was capped by Andrew Benintendi's walk-off single. Not Betts, not Martinez -- though they also factored in the win -- but light hitting Sandy Leon: the first man to reach base in the both dramatic Red Sox rallies. A night that may have locked down a division title for Boston.

Boston Difference Maker

Image
The Red Sox have rolled to easy victories in this weekend's mid-summer showdown with the Yankees. The last two nights, the biggest Boston bat has belonged to Steve Pearce . A righty power bat off the bench, he often tormented the Yankees -- for whom he briefly played in 2012 -- in his time with the Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays. And he's really been on a tear this weekend. Three home runs in Thursday night's series opener; and last night, his two-run blast off Luis Severino jump-started the Sox toward their 4 - 1 win. Pearce's talents seem tailor-made to playing at Fenway Park -- since the trade from Toronto, he's hit over .350 in a Boston uniform with an OPS of 1.162. That's impressive. And between the Blue Jays and Red Sox, in 10 games against the Yankees in 2018, he's batting .414 -- after hitting .406 vs New York a year ago and .447 in 2016. So this is a pattern, a consistent pattern of success. In a lineup with feared hitters such Mookie Betts, J.D. M

Walk-offranco

Image
Maikel Franco kept the Phillies in first place Thursday night. Facing Marlins closer Kyle Barraclough with two on, two out and the game tied in the last of the 9th, he reached the left field seats for his 18th and arguably, most important home run of the year. Keep in mind, the Phils came into the 9th down by a run -- and already aware that the second place Braves had beaten the Mets. After Nick Williams tied things on an infielder grounder with the bases loaded, Franco sent what was left of the 26,000 spectators home happy. After a slow start that followed two seasons of declining production -- amidst questions about his attitude and work habits -- things finally seemed to click for Franco the last six weeks. If the Phils are going to keep ahead of the Braves and the underachieving Nationals, Gabe Kapler is going to need this version of Maikel Franco. ( My images of Franco came from a July 2017 Phillies/Astros game at Citizens Bank Park .)

Sonny Skies Turning Gray

Image
Things have not gone well since Sonny Gray became a Yankee. Acquired in a deadline deal a year ago, he's had an up-and-town time in pinstripes -- clearly a lot more "down" of late. Facing an Orioles club that looked a lot more like Triple A than AL East on Wednesday, he was shelled -- giving up seven runs in 2-2/3 innings.  Gray had already established that he had trouble working against contending teams. But struggling against a Baltimore club stripped of its best players save for Adam Jones just won't fly for Yankee fans. After the game, Aaron Boone wouldn't commit to Gray making his next start -- especially after Lance Lynn's impressive relief stint. Over the years, some pitchers -- most famously Ed Whitson, Jeff Weaver and Carl Pavano and Javy Vazquez -- learned that despite success elsewhere, they're just not cut out to do well in the Bronx. And Sonny Gray appears to be the latest in that line of "imports" to meet the same fate. In 3

Those Kids Again!

Image
Rookie standouts  Gleyber Torres  and  Miguel Andujar  are a big reason why the Yankees are staying close to the Red Sox. Give Yankees GM Brian Cashman credit for trusting his organization's two top hitting prospects with manning 2nd and 3rd base this season. Their talent and energy has been on display almost every night. Tuesday's win over the Orioles was another textbook example. Torres opened the scoring with an RBI single in the bottom of the 1st inning. Andujar's three-run homer in the 5th (his 13th of the year) gave the Yanks a six-run lead in a game that ended 6-3. His bat has been warming up of late: Miggy hit .330 in July. Want to zero in on a cool stat? The YES Network noted on the post-game show that Torres (with 15) and Andujar are the pair of Yankee rookies each with 13 or more homers since 1951, when Gil McDougald and Mickey Mantle pulled of the feat. (By the way, McDougald, with 14, actually outhomered Mantle's 13. You didn't expect to see th