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MLB Regular Season Thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Tue Sep 20th, 2016 01:19 am
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After a week that saw him post an eye-popping OBP of 1.077, Hanley Ramirez was awarded the American League's Co-Player of the week along with Oakland Athletics slugger Khris Davis.

Ramirez' hot streak helped the Boston Red Sox sweep the New York Yankees and claim top spot in the AL East division. He's hit .462/.517/1.077 with five home runs, 12 RBIs, and a league-leading 1.594 OPS.

Davis has been equally impressive in the Athletics' recent run-scoring surge, with five home runs and 13 RBIs, hitting .400/.531/1.040. Davis is currently third in league home runs with 40, behind Brian Dozier and Mark Trumbo.

Arizona Diamondbacks rookie Brandon Drury and Pittsburgh Pirates utility player Sean Rodriguez were awarded with National League's Co-Player of the Week honors. Drury has hit .500/.588/1.036 with four home runs and seven RBIs while Rodriguez has five home runs and 11 RBIs, hitting a combined .423/.448/1.000, reaching base in 10 straight games.

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 Posted: Tue Sep 20th, 2016 01:28 am
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Steven Souza Jr.'s season has been officially cut short two weeks, as the Tampa Bay Rays outfielder will undergo surgery Wednesday to correct an impingement in his left hip.

The 27-year-old expects to return in time for spring training in 2017.

Souza Jr. revealed Sunday to the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin that he has been battling pain in his hip since June, and with his team now mathematically eliminated from the postseason, decided to visit a specialist to determine the best solution for the ongoing discomfort.

"We know what's wrong - I have some kind of pinching going on caused by some irregular bone growth, and that's been going on since June,'' he said Sunday. "We've known it the whole year. Sometimes it never inflames back up and sometimes it comes right back.

"And that's kind of what the doctor said to me when I was there (in June), eventually is this is something that we need to deal with, just when is the question.''

The Rays' starting right fielder cemented his place in the lineup this season, batting .247/.303/.409 with 17 home runs in 120 games this season.

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 Posted: Tue Sep 20th, 2016 01:29 am
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As New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira plays out the final few weeks of his career, the 14-year veteran took some time to discuss his stance on performance enhancing drugs, and how he almost became a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2008.

In an exclusive interview with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Teixeira said that despite his prime years coming in the PED-era, the thought of deceiving the game never crossed his mind.

"I was never tempted. It’s cheating. It’s wrong. My parents raised me the right way. They had zero tolerance for drugs when I was a kid," Texeira said.

"When I started playing professional baseball, I told myself, 'If I have to take drugs to play this game, I’ll quit.' It’s not worth it. I stuck to that. And I’m proud of sticking with it."

Teixeira added: "We’ve done a better job (of dealing with the issue). But guys that are trying to cheat, it’s very tough for me to accept that they’re allowed to stay in the game."

In the last eight years donning Yankee pinstripes, Teixeira has hit 203 home runs, with 26 of those coming against the rival Red Sox. Fittingly, Teixeira admitted just how close he was to joining them as a free agent.

"Very close. They came to Dallas. My agent (at the time, Scott Boras) and I met with their brass at the airport hotel. I thought we were there to finish the contract," he said.

"At the time, I had three or four offers on the table that were almost exactly the same. (Boras) said, 'Guys, we’re not going to sign this right now.' So, we just kept negotiating with the other teams. And New York ended up on top."

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 Posted: Tue Sep 20th, 2016 08:20 pm
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Big Papi can only be compared to fine wine.

David Ortiz continued tearing through his final MLB season Monday against the Baltimore Orioles, as the Boston Red Sox slugger launched a two-run homer off starter Dylan Bundy, lifting Boston's lead to 5-1.

Ortiz's fifth-inning blast made him an ageless wonder, as the retiring Boston icon is the first player in history aged 40 or older to hit 35 home runs in a season. It also tied him with Dave Kingman for the most homers in a player's final year.

The longball was Ortiz's seventh this season and 53rd of his career against Baltimore, putting him behind only Harmon Killebrew and Alex Rodriguez - who had 68 and 59, respectively - for third most by an Orioles opponent.

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 Posted: Tue Sep 20th, 2016 08:20 pm
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Rick Porcello is not only getting the job done for the Boston Red Sox, but he's doing it at a blistering pace.

The Red Sox starter needed only 89 pitches on Monday in a dominant, complete game performance over the Baltimore Orioles, leading the way for Boston's 5-2 win. Along with preserving his club's spot atop the American League East, the win also leaves Porcello standing alone atop the MLB leaderboard with 21 victories, two more than Toronto Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ in second.

He also became the first hurler this season to record a complete game in less than 90 pitches.

"When it's his day on the mound, he sets the tone for us," Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters postgame Monday. "Did once again."

Porcello limited Baltimore's heavy-hitting lineup to only four hits and two runs over nine innings. The Orioles did not have a single baserunner until the fourth when Porcello plunked Manny Machado on the shoulder with two outs.

With the outing, Porcello further improved his case for Cy Young consideration, as he lowered his ERA and WHIP to 3.03 and 0.98, respectively, over 210 2/3 innings pitched. Despite his consistency, he's not interested in prioritizing his personal accomplishments.

"All of us are honored to be mentioned for those awards," Porcello said postgame. '"But I've been saying it all year, our focus is winning and what we want to accomplish as a team."

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 Posted: Tue Sep 20th, 2016 08:22 pm
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The Houston Astros will need to make their final postseason push without Dallas Keuchel.

The left-hander has been sidelined since Aug. 27 with shoulder inflammation, and general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday that Houston would have to make the playoffs for Keuchel to possibly return.

"At this point, neither (Lance McCullers nor Keuchel) could build up quickly enough to start in the regular season," Luhnow told reporters.

"Whether or not either could be available to start in the postseason remains to be seen, (depending on) how deep we go and what kind of progress they're making."

An MRI on Keuchel's shoulder earlier this month revealed no structural damage, but the reigning AL Cy Young winner has yet to resume throwing.

The Astros entered play Monday sitting 9 1/2 games back of the Texas Rangers in the AL West, and three games back of the second wild-card spot.

Keuchel is 9-12 with a 4.55 ERA and 1.29 WHIP across 26 starts. Despite his early-season struggles, the 28-year-old went 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in August before hitting the DL.

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 Posted: Tue Sep 20th, 2016 08:24 pm
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Caleb Joseph is headed toward making baseball history - but not the kind any baseball player wants.

The Baltimore Orioles' backup catcher has come to the plate 135 times this season, and has zero runs batted in to show for it. Should he finish the season with this stat line, Joseph would become the first player since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920 to have over 100 plate appearances and zero RBIs in a season.

But Joseph isn't bothered by potentially having his name linked with this dubious historical footnote in baseball lore. Rather, he's embraced the "chase" and is happily taking the stream of jokes coming his way in the clubhouse.

"The clubhouse manager and I, we've got a little bet thing going on," Joseph told ESPN's Eddie Matz. "He told me I can't order any more bats until I get an RBI. I'm running kind of low on bats, so it's getting down to crunch time.

"Contrary to popular belief, I am trying to get one. Some guys in the clubhouse think there's a conspiracy to not get one. It may keep some fans up at night, but it don't keep me up."

Surprisingly, Joseph actually has a pair of hits with runners in scoring position this year, and one of them almost ended the RBI-less streak, which dates back to September 2015. During a game at Fenway Park in May, the 30-year-old lined a single to right field that should have scored Ryan Flaherty from second base, but Flaherty was stopped while rounding third. That, and Flaherty's .291 on-base percentage in the No. 8 spot, caused Joseph to crack that his drought is "all Ryan Flaherty’s fault."

Joseph isn't concerning himself with his RBI drought, though, and is confident he'll drive a runner in before the season's out. His major concerns this September lie in more important areas - like helping his Orioles nail down a playoff spot for the third time in five years.

"I'm not going to go change socks or change soap or anything like that," Joseph said. "It's just a matter of time. I really could care less, so long as we're winning."

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 Posted: Wed Sep 21st, 2016 04:53 pm
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David Ortiz continues to make his final major-league season one of the most impressive in history.

The Boston Red Sox designated hitter belted a record-setting, three-run home run off Baltimore Orioles starter Kevin Gausman in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving him 36 on the year.

With the blast, Ortiz set the major-league record for most home runs by a player in their final season, passing Dave Kingman's mark of 35 set in 1986.

"I'll have to hit a couple of more so nobody can reach me," Ortiz told reporters following the 5-2 win. "It's just a number, man. I'm just trying to help this ballclub. I don't really care about personal numbers. I care about winning."

Ortiz also collected his 121st RBI, moving into a tie with Shoeless Joe Jackson for the most by a player in their final season.

The 40-year-old Ortiz entered Tuesday's game hitting .317/.403/.630 in 139 games.

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 Posted: Wed Sep 21st, 2016 04:54 pm
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Another night, another milestone for Mookie Betts.

The Boston Red Sox outfielder blooped a single into shallow center field in the third inning off Baltimore Orioles starter Kevin Gausman on Monday, picking up his major-league-leading 200th hit on the season.

In addition to becoming the first player this season to reach the 200-hit plateau, at 23 years and 349 days old, Betts became the second-youngest player in Red Sox history to record at least 200 hits. Johnny Pesky accomplished the feat in 1942 at 22 years old.

Betts also became the fifth player in Red Sox history with 200 hits and 30 home runs in a season, joining Nomar Garciaparra, Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn and Jacoby Ellsbury.

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 Posted: Wed Sep 21st, 2016 04:55 pm
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David Ortiz's slash line is out of this world in his final MLB season, but if he had the ability to traverse time, he probably would be too.

The Boston Red Sox slugger has plied his trade for 20 years in the big leagues - meaning he's spent literally half his life crushing baseballs - but if he was equipped in his early days with the abundance of knowledge he has now, not even the sky would hold him down.

"If I had the mentality I have now 20 years ago, who knows, I might be working for NASA," he told reporters Tuesday. "Experience goes a long way."

Ortiz has been carving up opposing pitching in his age-40 season, batting .317/.403/.630, smacking a MLB-leading 47 doubles, and setting home run records that veterans may not touch again for a while.

Though he's produced some of the best offense of his career in 2016, the retiring veteran has struggled with pain in his heels and required medication to ease the discomfort. It's because of those aches he's remaining firm on his decision to call it quits after this season.

"Every year gets worse," he said. "I've got to put a lot of effort and a lot of work to perform at my highest level. At some point it wears you out. ... I love this game. It's been my everything - but not forever."

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 Posted: Wed Sep 21st, 2016 04:56 pm
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Gary Sanchez, the New York Yankees catcher quickly emerging as a strong contender for the American League Rookie of the Year award, appears determined to force his way into the MVP conversation, too.

Sanchez, who smacked his first MLB home run Aug. 10, added another accolade to the ever-growing list Tuesday. He stroked a go-ahead, three-run blast off Brad Boxberger to join Wally Berger as the only players since 1900 with 17 homers through the first 44 games of their respective careers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. No player in modern baseball history has more through that many games.

Recalled from Triple-A less than seven weeks ago, Sanchez carried a 1.091 OPS into Tuesday's series opener and sits first among American League rookies with 2.7 WAR, having homered in nearly 33 percent of his career games (and now three straight with his bomb at Tropicana Field).

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 Posted: Thu Sep 22nd, 2016 01:31 am
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The Baltimore Orioles are in the midst of a hotly contested playoff race in the American League, won an AL East title in 2014, and have marquee players such as the powerful Chris Davis, home run leader Mark Trumbo, and flashy superstar Adam Jones on their roster, yet they can't seem to get butts in seats at home games.

Baltimore ranks 20th in MLB attendance, averaging just 19,422 fans during the first two games of their current showdown with the Boston Red Sox, which is dumbfounding to Jones, arguably the team's franchise player.

"It's sad. It's eerie," Jones told ESPN's Eddie Matz. "We grind and grind, and grind. We understand, there's a lot that factors into it. Ticket prices being higher, although you can bring in food and beverages. Marketing and promotions, I'm sure they're not the best. I get all that."

Since 2012, no team in the AL East has won more games (439) than Baltimore, which is why Jones doesn't understand the lack of fans in attendance at one of baseball's most beautiful parks, Camden Yards.

"I'm just saying, the city wanted a winner - the last five years we got 'em a winner," he explained. "I don't know if they've gotten complacent already on us winning. I wish they haven't. I hope they haven't. Because winning is fun every single year, and being in this race is exciting every single year. So to the ones that come every night, thank you with open arms."

Baltimore is currently holding onto the second wild-card spot in the AL, with an 82-69 record, but the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners are all within three games of overtaking them for the important position.

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 Posted: Thu Sep 22nd, 2016 01:33 am
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After spending nearly $6 million on an anti-Donald Trump campaign, Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts and his family are apparently now Trump supporters.

On top of endorsing the Republican nominee, Ricketts intends to pledge at least $1 million to help Trump win the November election, according to the Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins and Rebecca Ballhaus.

Brian Baker, political advisor to Ricketts, said myriad reasons led to the flip-flop, with one being that they don't want Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton winning the ballot.

"The Ricketts decided they could not sit back and watch Hillary Clinton become the next president of the United States," Baker said. "Even though the Ricketts supported other candidates during the primary, they believe it is time to unite behind the nominees. ... This is all about helping Republicans win in the fall."

The stunning turnaround comes after Trump called out the Ricketts family for hiding skeletons in their closet on Twitter in February.

I hear the Rickets family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $'s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2016
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in response to the Tweet that "It's a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mom."

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 Posted: Thu Sep 22nd, 2016 06:48 pm
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TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees rookie Gary Sanchez has become the first player in major league history to hit 19 homers in his first 45 games.

Sanchez's solo drive in the sixth inning of the Yankees' 11-5 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday, his second homer of the night, allowed him to best Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves. Berger went deep 19 times in his first 51 games, while Sanchez was playing in the 45th game of his career -- 43 games this season and two games last season. The two blasts were Sanchez's fourth and fifth homers in his past four games.

Sanchez's sixth-inning homer, following his three-run shot in a four-run second off Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb, also marked the third time he has hit two homers in a game in his career. He has eight home runs in his last 12 games after a 10-game drought.

"It's hard to believe,'' New York manager Joe Girardi said of Sanchez. "I haven't seen anything like it.''

With an RBI single in the first inning and the two homers in the following four innings, Sanchez pushed his batting average to .337 with 38 RBIs in 165 at-bats. His 19 homers are the most by a Yankees rookie since Alfonso Soriano hit that many in 2001. Soriano needed 574 at-bats.

"It's great when you achieve something like that, but what makes it better is that you're helping the team win,'' Sanchez said through a translator.

On Tuesday, Sanchez's three-run homer in the seventh inning gave the Yankees the lead as he continued to thrill his teammates.

"There are plenty of words -- amazing, incredible, impressive," said 14-year veteran Mark Teixeira when asked to describe Sanchez's streak. "He's carried us. We are not even close to talking about a playoff berth if Gary doesn't come up and do what he has done."

The Yankees are 2.5 games back in the AL wild-card race.

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 Posted: Thu Sep 22nd, 2016 08:34 pm
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The New York Yankees have dealt former big leaguer Phil Coke to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations, the club announced Friday.

He's expected to join the team Saturday when the Pirates host the Washington Nationals.

A nine-year veteran, the left-hander was used as a full-time reliever with the Detroit Tigers from 2009-14, while struggling as a starter in 2011. Over the next three seasons, he spent time with the Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, and Yankees.

Over the course of his career, Coke owns a 4.23 ERA in 417 innings of work.

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