Why Yankees think Greg Bird is about to explode

Why Yankees think Greg Bird is about to explode

The results don’t match the optimism. The numbers haven’t followed the quality at-bats.

But the Yankees and Greg Bird believe he’s inching closer to a scalding stretch, that this four-game hitting streak is a sign of what is to come for the young first baseman.

“I feel like he’s pretty close to being really locked in,” manager Aaron Boone said Sunday after Bird went 1-for-4 in the Yankees’ 3-1 loss to the Rays at the Stadium.

Bird, who missed the season’s first 48 games after undergoing right ankle surgery to remove a bone spur, echoed his manager’s optimistic take, saying he feels “good” at the plate, that he is close to doing major damage. Early on, Bird felt he wasn’t getting his best swing off nearly enough. But lately, he sees an improvement there. The results just haven’t come yet. He’s produced an underwhelming .215/.282/.462 slash line with three home runs, five RBIs and a .743 OPS in 65 at-bats.

“I’m happy where I’m at right now, but there’s room to get better for sure,” he said. “Get better, stay the course and turn this thing around.”

While he has felt healthy for a while, missing so much time certainly was a setback. His rhythm hasn’t been quite right. He’s missed pitches he would ordinarily crush. It happened last year as well upon returning from ankle surgery. Bird exploded in the playoffs after struggling in September.

“I try to figure it out all the time. It’s just the ups and downs,” he said. “You want to be consistent in this game. I just feel like when you’re coming back like that, there’s more obstacles.”

More than the overall lack of production in a limited number of at-bats, Bird has been bothered by his problems in the clutch. He has just one hit in 18 at-bats with men on base, is 0-for-5 with the bases loaded, and 1-for-15 with men in scoring position.

“There’s been some situations where I’ve come up in big spots with guys on, great at-bats in front of me, and I just haven’t been able to get it done,” he said. “That frustrates me more than anything.”

Watch: Rangers rookie Jose Trevino gets emotional when trying to explain what 'crazy' week has meant to him

Watch: Rangers rookie Jose Trevino gets emotional when trying to explain what 'crazy' week has meant to him

“One of the craziest weeks of my life.”

That’s a good way to sum up life for Rangers catcher Jose Trevino right now, who got emotional when trying to describe the last seven days. His week was capped off with his first walkoff which gave Texas a 13-12 win over Colorado.

“I knew this was going to happen,” he said in the above video as he pointed to the sky.

When asked what was going through his mind when he stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, he said he was thinking about his late father.

“I wished he was here,” he said. “I knew he was going to help me too.”

Here’s a recap of the week that Trevino had:

Last Sunday — His son Josiah Cruz was born, meaning that today’s game was Jose’s first Father’s Day.

Friday He made his Major League debut going 0 for 4.

Trevino was on his way to the ballpark — the Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco — for Friday’s game when he got the news he was instead headed for Arlington. The Rangers needed a backup catcher because Robinson Chirinos was going to be suspended for a game for his role in the home plate dustup with Matt Kemp.

In the weird second inning that saw the Rangers blow a five-run lead, Carlos Perez, who had started in place of Chirinos, heard a “pop” in his right ankle as he dove for an errant throw to the plate. By the end of the inning, he was having significant soreness.

It meant Trevino, a Corpus Christi native, was in the game, initially to pinch hit for Perez to start the bottom of the second.

“There was no time to even have nerves about it,” Trevino said. “It was like, ‘OK, get to work’. My mom was asking me after the game if I was nervous and I was like, ‘uh, no, I didn’t even have any time to be.”

Saturday — He collected his first hit.

Sunday — His first walkoff and all of the emotions that hit him in the interview above.

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Three homers and Eduardo Rodriguez power Red Sox past Mariners, 9-3

Three homers and Eduardo Rodriguez power Red Sox past Mariners, 9-3

SEATTLE – Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts all homered and the Boston Red Sox routed the Seattle Mariners 9-3 on Sunday.

Devers’ 11th homer of the season capped a five-run, two-out rally in the third against Seattle starter Mike Leake (7-4).

Andrew Benintendi and Bogaerts began Boston’s rally with a pair of singles. J.D. Martinez drew a nine-pitch walk to load the bases before Mitch Moreland drove in two with a single to centerfield, and Devers followed with a blast off the Hit It Here Cafe in right field to give Boston a 5-0 lead.

The Red Sox pulled away in the seventh against right-handed reliever Chasen Bradford, who gave up three runs and two homers while getting two outs.

Bradley Jr. sent Bradford’s first pitch over the center field wall for his fourth home run this season. Benintendi hit his third single of the game with one out before Bogaerts put Boston ahead 8-2 with a shot into the bullpen in left centerfield, his 12th of the season.

Facing left-hander Roenis Elias in the eighth, Benintendi extended Boston’s lead to 9-2 with a sacrifice fly to center.

Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez picked up his sixth victory in a row, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out nine. Rodriguez (9-1) has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his starts during his winning streak.

The Mariners loaded the bases with no outs for the heart of their order against Rodriguez in the fifth, but managed just one run. Jean Segura cut Seattle’s deficit to 5-2 with a fielder’s choice, but Seattle’s rally was cut short following back-to-back fly outs from Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz.

Cruz hit his 17th home run of the season in the fourth, sending a 3-2 fastball from Martinez 442 feet into the upper deck in left field to trim Seattle’s deficit to 5-1. In the eighth, Ryon Healy doubled down the left field line, scoring Cruz to make it 9-3.

UP NEXT
Red Sox: Chris Sale (6-4, 2.75 ERA) takes the mound as the Red Sox continue their road trip against the Twins on Tuesday. Sale has allowed just one run in each of his last two starts and has nine starts this season allowing one or fewer earned runs.

© 2018 by Associated Press.

 

Dodgers and Cubs could be headed for another postseason showdown

Dodgers and Cubs could be headed for another postseason showdown

Five thoughts from the week in baseball:

It was around this time last year that the Dodgers went on a hot streak that put them on pace to break the all-time record of 116 wins in a season.

They were 35-25 on June 7 before going 46-11 over their next 57 games, virtually wrapping up the National League West by August. The Dodgers beat the Cubs 4-1 in the NL Championship Series with Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Rich Hill limiting the Cubs to five earned runs in a combined 22 1/3 innings over their four starts.

The Cubs simply lost to a better team, most of the experts said.

But then the Dodgers lost a wild seven-game World Series to the Astros in which Darvish was pounded early in Game 7 at Dodger Stadium.

Darvish and Brandon Morrow signed with the Cubs, and the Dodgers started 2018 looking nothing like the team that cruised to the World Series.

Gasping for air on May 8, the Dodgers were nine games under .500 with a boatload of injures, including shortstop Corey Seager, who was lost for the season. The outlook looked bleaker than Roseanne Barr’s career.

As the Dodgers arrive at Wrigley Field on Monday for their rematch against the Cubs, Kershaw and Hill are on the disabled list (and Darvish, of course is on the Cubs’ DL).

But somehow they’re still the favorites in the NL West, having won 21 of their last 28 games to move 1½ games behind the first-place Diamondbacks. They’re 11-3 in June with a major-league-high 34 home runs in the month, and their two big starters are on their way back.

Hill is set to return to the rotation this week after two stints on the DL with a blister on his middle left finger. He has been out since May 20 and had laser treatment on the blister to speed up the healing process. Kershaw, who made one start after coming off the DL before going back on with a lower back strain, is expected to throw a simulated game this week and perhaps return to the rotation by the end of June.

So we’re probably right back where we started, and the Cubs could face the Dodgers in the postseason for the third straight year.

Go figure.

Slow but steady

Wade LeBlanc is a junkballer’s junkballer. The Mariners’ 33-year-old left-hander has been on seven teams since 2011, bouncing around like a pinball.

LeBlanc was pressed into the Mariners rotation on May 3 because of injuries and is 3-0 with a 2.06 ERA in his nine starts. He came into Saturday’s game against the Red Sox with an average fastball velocity of 86.5 mph, lowest of any major-league starter, yet shut them out on two hits over 7 2/3 innings, mostly with his off-speed stuff, including a nasty changeup.

“It’s more of a power game right now, for good reason,” LeBlanc told the Seattle Times. “There’s a lot of guys that can throw hard and execute pitches. But I think the game would get boring if you could throw that hard and execute pitches. I like to keep things challenging, I guess.”

The Mariners are 27-12 since May 8, hanging in the AL West with the Astros, who have won 11 in a row. Shockingly, the Mariners began to sizzle after Robinson Cano went on the suspended list for his PED violation.

Two of the big reasons why are outfielder Mitch Hanger and shortstop Jean Segura, both of whom came over from the Diamondbacks after the 2016 season for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte.

Haniger already had a career high 53 RBIs on Sunday, while Segura was at .343 with a league-leading 98 hits.

The M’s have 21 comeback wins, including 14 in which they’ve taken the lead in the seventh inning or later. Scott Servais, the underrated manager, is a likely front-runner for AL Manager of the Year.

Old-school rules

In an interview with the New York Times, Goose Gossage dismissed the growing number of Ivy League-educated executives who have taken over baseball’s front offices from old-school general managers.

“Here are people trying to control this game that really, really don’t have a clue about the game, period,” Gossage said. “Whatever that computer spits out, that’s it. There are volumes and volumes of knowledge that go into playing baseball — that computer has no idea — and it’s called the human element and it’s everywhere. They think they’ve got it figured out because they won their rotisserie leagues at Harvard.”

Gossage was not invited to Sunday’s Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium because of his penchant for speaking his mind. Sad but true.

Parting shot

Padres manager Andy Green was ejected Friday after arguing with veteran umpire Joe West. Green was heard on TV taunting West over his shoulder as he left the dugout: “Don’t worry, Joe, I’m leaving, so you can go call another call wrong.”

Surely this won’t came back to haunt Green, will it?

Down time

The Brewers-Phillies game was delayed Sunday when Milwaukee reliever Adrian Houser entered the game and immediately vomited behind the mound. While delicately describing the scene to his listeners, Brewers radio broadcaster Bob Uecker said they would not be making the moment into a bobblehead day.

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Tigers' Martin earns praise after eye-popping plays

Tigers' Martin earns praise after eye-popping plays

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Chicago — Leonys Martin chased after the soaring line drive as if he was in an open field, as if there was no fence or wall in right-center field.

Running full throttle as he got to the warning track, he didn’t slow down as he leaped and caught Tim Anderson’s smash just as he crashed into the chain-linked fence.

It was a brilliant, selfless effort that ended the fifth inning of the Tigers’ 3-1 win over the White Sox on Sunday. But, of course, all it got him was grief in the clubhouse.

“The only reason he made that catch was the phenomenal communication he had,” said right fielder Nick Castellanos, whose locker was next to Martin’s. “If I didn’t talk to him the whole way, he doesn’t know where he’s at and he doesn’t make the catch.”

Martin was shaking his head, smiling.

“That was the right-fielder’s ball,” he said.

“I directed him the whole way,” Castellanos said.

“He didn’t say (nothing),” Martin said.

More: Wojo: Tigers keep winning, now more than a curiosity?

Martin was asked if he thought that part of the fence was softer — it does have some give to it — so he knew he could crash into it that hard.

“That’s not a soft wall, man,” he said, showing his forearm, which had the pattern of the fence links embedded in his skin.

That wasn’t the only exceptional play Martin made Sunday.

In the third inning, with the score 2-1, Yolmer Sanchez hit a ball over Martin’s head and to the wall in right-center. Sanchez is fast and has eight triples on the season. But Martin, though he slipped on the warning track, got to the ball and fired a missile straight to third base — forcing Sanchez to stop at second.

It ended up preventing a run. Kevan Smith followed with a broken-bat infield single. Had Sanchez been on third base, the game would’ve been tied. Because of the throw, Sanchez was on third when starter Blaine Hardy struck out Matt Davidson to end the inning.

“This is not Comerica Park,” Martin said. “This is a little bit closer. I felt like I would be able to throw him out. Just got caught up in the moment.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire, who often uses Martin as a comic foil in the clubhouse and dugout, makes no jokes about his value to the team defensively.

“He runs them down,” he said. “He’s pretty darn good and he’s got a cannon for an arm. He’s an exciting player. He wants to win. I’m telling you, he really wants to win.”

More: Avila: Too soon to say Castellanos is a foundation piece for rebuild

Base-running boo-boos

The Tigers ran themselves out of the third inning.

JaCoby Jones singled and went to third on Martin’s double with nobody out. Jeimer Candelario hit a ball back to pitcher James Shields. Jones was caught off third and then Candelario was thrown out at second — a 1-5-2-4 double play.

“We killed ourselves on the basepaths today,” Gardenhire said. “And we don’t say that too often. We’re pretty aggressive and that’s going to happen sometimes.”

The White Sox played their middle infielders back, in double-play depth, and their corner infielders in. Jones was not supposed to be running on contact.

“He was told not to go,” Gardenhire said. “We were going to go if the ball got by the pitcher up the middle and then freeze if it’s at the corners. That’s not an easy read. But you have to make it get by the pitcher — that’s the first part of it.”

Third base coach Dave Clark tried to take the blame.

“Dave said he yelled, ‘Go,’ when it was hit,” Gardenhire said. “Dave said it was on his shoulders. But Jonesy went as soon as the ball hit the bat.”

Jones didn’t let Clark take the heat.

“I should’ve just seen it through,” Jones said. “But from my angle, it looked like it was hit at the shortstop. I could’ve paused. There were no outs. But it looked like it was four or five feet over the pitcher’s mound. It looked like a routine grounder to short.”

Jones also got picked off first base by left-hander Luis Avilan.

“I talked to him afterwards,” Gardenhire said, with a smile. “I said, ‘You are exciting. You are really exciting.’”

Pitching wins

Four Tigers pitchers and not a single walk on Sunday. In fact, the Tigers walked just four batters in the three-game series and have walked two or fewer in nine straight games.

“Free passes, that’s what gets you killed,” Gardenhire said. “The pressure goes back on the pitcher and the defense when you start putting people on base. We have to throw the ball over. In the games we’ve had trouble, we’ve put people on base with free passes — and that’s the same for any team in baseball.”

The Tigers late-inning relievers have also been lights out. They have not allowed a run after the sixth inning in the last seven games. That’s 13 innings of scoreless work after the sixth inning.

Louis Coleman, Alex Wilson, Joe Jimenez and Shane Greene have carried the load. Wilson hasn’t allowed a run in 11 innings over 10 outings. Jimenez, who got his second save of the year Sunday, has allowed one earned run in 19 outings.

And Greene, who was unavailable Sunday, had saved the last four wins in a row.

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