KANSAS CITY—If the Futures Game is a springboard to the major leagues then Blue Jays prospect Anthony Gose’s future is indeed bright.
In the third inning of Sunday's Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium, when the baseball jumped off the bat of 20-year-old Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras, it clearly had extra bases written all over it. There were runners on first and third with nobody out for the World Team when the pitch was crushed. Gose broke quickly, raced back, left his feet and dove head-long in his finest Jim Edmonds imitation, snaring the ball in the end of his glove and sliding to a halt.
But the play was not over.
Gose popped to his feet and, flat-footed, threw a one-hop strike to first baseman Jonathan Singleton, barely missing doubling off Rangers’ prospect Jurickson Profar, who also had assumed it was going to be a hit. The U.S. team managed by George Brett went on to crush the World and its manager Bernie Williams 17-5, so the great defensive play early in the game was sort of lost in translation. But for those paying attention, it may have turned the tide for Team USA.
“It felt good to go out there and make a play like that and hopefully I can see it on TV tonight,” a smiling Gose said. “I'm hoping for my family and friends and everybody, so it was exciting. From the moment that they informed me I made the team through the whole game, it was exciting. A lot of talent on the field at one time. The group of guys that was here was pretty impressive.”
Even before Sunday’s game, the Jays knew that what they had in Gose was already pretty impressive. They had pinpointed him as a trade target as far back as the negotiations with the Phillies for Roy Halladay in December of ’09. But instead, they settled for Michael Taylor who they immediately rolled over to the A's for Brett Wallace. Oh well.
But when Gose was later included in a deal to the Astros for Roy Oswalt in 2010, Alex Anthopoulos leapt to the bat phone with Astros GM Ed Wade, moving Wallace to Houston for Gose. It is now paying off.
Success in the Futures Game many times translates into a trip to the major leagues often by the end of the next calendar year. The rapid rise happened for right-hander Henderson Alvarez a year ago. In addition to the great catch, Gose bounced a single through the right side, advanced to second when the throw missed the cutoff man and scored in the third inning. It was a great day for the 21-year-old.
“Everybody here belongs around everybody, it's not just one person,” Gose said with a huge smile as he packed his baseball stuff for the trip back to Vegas. “The organization wouldn't have sent you if they didn't believe in you, think highly of you. So everybody here is sent for the same reason and everybody's a big piece of their organization.”
But what do the Jays do with Gose? The talented outfielder has risen steadily through the system, from A-Dunedin, to AA-New Hampshire, now to Triple-A Las Vegas, but the next step is his final step. The pleasant Jays' dilemma is that some time between spring training and right now, Colby Rasmus stepped up and took a stranglehold on centre field, putting up numbers, making plays, smiling and styling through the last two months like he, himself, belonged in Kansas City with the MLB all-stars. Gose has noticed and is in awe.
“What he's doing is unbelievable,” an admiring Gose said. “He's hitting .330 in the last two months, with 16 home runs. How can I not notice? It's unbelievable. The team up there is doing great. They've had some unfortunate injuries. Some pitchers and a couple of guys, so, other than that they're playing great. Just some unfortunate things have come their way.”
The great thing about baseball spring training is the opportunity it allows for players competing for the same position to get to know one another. They can stand around in the outfield together, they perform their fundamentals together, they hit in the same groups at batting practice and they locker next to one another for seven weeks. Baseball friendships last a long time and seem to cross all differences in background, personality and age. It's one of the nice things about baseball clubhouses.
“Colby, I told him he's probably one of the best defensive centrefielders in baseball,” Gose recalled a spring training conversation. “What he's doing is special and it's something that he's done early in his career. He's doing it again now.”
In fact, the Jays have clearly been looking for a solution to their centre field glut, which led them one day this month to post a 51s starting lineup with Gose in left field. Try not to be so subtle, guys.
“It's hard to sit here and say I didn't think about it,” Gose laughed. “I've always played centre field my whole career. So coming up here it was always centre field, centre field, centre field. They told me to play left. Naturally thoughts crept into my head but, like I said, everybody up there's doing their job and they're playing well. Rajai (Davis) is a real big catalyst for the team. Colby at the top of the lineup, Raj at the bottom, and those guys. What they've got up there right now is really special and it's really doing well. They're performing. So, I'm back in centre and I'm playing and hopefully sometime I get an opportunity, whether it's this year, next year or down the road.”
Gose is batting .290 in his first season in the Pacific Coast League, with four homers, 38 RBIs, 75 runs scored and 29 stolen bases. When the 6-1, 190 lbs., speedster arrived in the organization, it was believed he needed about 1,500 more minor league at-bats, from the start of 2010, in order to matriculate to the majors. He now has 1,382 in that time frame. That time is coming.
But he's not there. Every year, the learning curve continues. In 2011 at New Hampshire, they did not allow him to bunt, made him swing the bat, looking for more power. It was a teaching tool.
“Last year was finding the swing,” Gose explained. “I mean (batting coach) Justin Ashore did an incredible job with me getting me ready, getting me started on the path and finding the swing. Last year they just let me swing freely. It felt great. I was just hacking away. Then this year with (Chad) Mottola (in Vegas) just kind of fine tuning it and fixing the little things. I feel I've been able to be consistent and good things have happened for this year.”
At Triple-A, the organization has allowed Gose to add the bunt back into his repertoire of offensive weapons and he feels it has paid dividends, completing him as a top-of-the-order guy.
“I'm bunting again,” Gose said. “I don't know how many hits I have on bunts, but I've been bunting a lot more, sacrificing a lot more. I think last year I only bunted five times the whole season. I think two of them were for hits, the others were for sacrifices. This year I've used it quite a bit and it's really helped me. It keeps me afloat when I'm not doing too well. It keeps me going, get a hit here and there and keep things rolling, getting on base.
“I'm hoping that's what my game will translate to, being the all-around guy, being able to help the team at whatever it is. To be able to hit the ball out of the park, hit the ball in the gaps, just been the all-around guy offensively. That's what everybody wants to be, the five-tool guy, per se, and help the team at any point, with anything that you can do.”
Gose found himself in the unaccustomed position of batting ninth in the Team USA order at the Futures Game. Why? Because the leadoff man was Reds' uber-prospect, SS Billy Hamilton, a man that already has 100 steals at A-Bakersfield. That total makes Gose look like lumbering Thomas on the base paths. Gose accepted and understood batting ninth. He spoke to Hamilton with admiration.
“I asked him how do you do it? He said 'I just run' and I understand because that's what I would tell people when they asked me how I did it, I just run,” Gose said.
Which was essentially one of the problems when Gose arrived with the Jays' organization. He just ran. In 2010, combined at two Florida State League stops, Gose stole 45 bases but he was caught 32 times. That is an unacceptable ratio and the Jays have preached stealing in the right situations on the right counts. He has been listening and it's all been part of the process.
“There's obviously situations, I've learned that as I've come along,” Gose said. “My first year I had a lot of success and I just ran. The next year I tried to just run and I had a terrible success rate. Last year was putting it together and thinking, being smart.
“I had (manager) Sal Fasano, a great major-league catcher, who could nit-pick things, find things between the pitcher and catcher to help me out a lot. Mashore, with some of the drills we did, and this year it's the same thing. Find the right time, pick your moments, be smart about it. But I completely understand what (Hamilton) says, 'I just run,' because he's just running.”
For his part, Gose is on a run that will see him in the major leagues as early as Sept. 1. He must be added to the 40-man roster in any case at the end of the year, so why not bring him up for the final month, have him soak up the major-league atmosphere, maybe pinch run a little and the Jays can ponder their dilemma of what to do with all of these outfielders. It's a nice problem to have.
One solution might even be to think about moving Jose Bautista to first base, a position he has showed he can handle. He would need to agree and even with re-signing Edwin Encarnacion, he could be the DH again. There's plenty of time to work that out, but in the meantime, Gose is working hard to force himself into the equation. The future for the Jays’ young outfielder is very soon.
THE RANT: TOO MANY UMPIRES SPIKE BACK
The Brewers have made it clear. They are interested in trading former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke by the trade deadline if the price is right. As such, the Minute Maid Park home plate scout seats were bristling with radar guns on Saturday for Greinke's last outing before the break.
But just four pitches in, Greinke raced over to cover first base, took a feed from first baseman Corey Hart and was a hair late as the Astros’ Jose Altuve beat him to the bag for an infield hit. The first batter, Jordan Schafer had tripled and he scored from third. No big deal, right? Wrong!
As Greinke ran past the umpire with the ball, making that great circle route back to the mound, he slowed down, got mad and spiked the ball in the infield dirt, having it bounce out towards second base. Greinke is a different cat anyway. He's not wired the same as most pitchers, most players, so it may have seemed a little unusual, but not malicious and not in the direction of the umpire as some Canadian third basemen from Langley, B.C., have been wont to do with other items of equipment.
In any case, first-base arbiter Sam Holbrook, who likely believes fans come to see him make his calls, immediately tossed Greinke from the game. Then he tossed manager Ron Roenicke. That's a clown move, bro'.
When a player strikes out, or when a player is called out on a close play at first base, you often see a helmet bounce or batting gloves, etc. The normal penalty, at the discretion of the umpire is a small fine and a written report to the central office in New York. That's enough.
That's fair, but Holbrook made the moment all about him. It's just another example of an umpire wrecking a good thing. It's happened all too often this season and needs to stop. Is there anything baseball can do except review a play like that and suspend Holbrook. But they likely won't.
So, because Greinke's being heavily scouted and because he's not playing in Kansas City, the right-hander volunteered to start Sunday's game in Houston, maybe for scouts. Guess who was working the plate? Correct, Sam Holbrook.
Now the umpire's not the reason Greinke was not very good on Sunday, lasting just three innings, but his presence didn't help and the fact that Greinke was forced so far out of his routine that any other result than three innings and out, would have been a shock.
Looking ahead, Greinke is also scheduled to start on Friday coming out of the break. That will be three straight games for his team, something that has not been done in MLB since Urban “Red” Faber of the White Sox did it in 1917. Faber started both ends of a twin bill in Chicago, then took a train overnight with his teammates to St. Louis and tossed a 16-hit complete game against the Browns.
Baseball has the capability and responsibility to right wrongs. Someone should compile a video of all the umpire-player, umpire-manager confrontations, analyze them and do something about it. There's always been conflict with umpires, going back to forever, but this year has been ridiculous.
MLB POWER RANKINGS
Last week’s ranking in parentheses
1. New York Yankees (2)
While Derek Jeter’s average drops, Robinson Cano’s production rises towards MVP
2. Texas Rangers (1)
Yu Darvish signing looking pretty good as rest of rotation gets healthy
3. Washington Nationals (4)
Bryce Harper late pick for ASG said “Surprised ... try to remain mellow, calm.”
4. Los Angeles Angels (5)
Dan Haren injury seems short-term but hampers their charge to top
5. Chicago White Sox (10)
Sox bullpen loaded with rookies and that’s a tough call in Aug.-Sept.
6. Boston Red Sox (7)
Sox lost Dustin Pedroia but get unexpected energy from Pedro Ciriaco
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (12)
If GM Neal Huntington truly believes, he will be big time deadline “buyer”
8. New York Mets (8)
Hard to believe that David Wright won't be starting at third base at the all-star game
9. Los Angeles Dodgers (13)
Lost SS Dee Gordon to thumb injury then started scoring runs again
10. San Francisco Giants (3)
Made their rush to top of division and have settled down. Melky's the one
11. Baltimore Orioles (11)
Right now, O's, Bucs and Nats sitting in playoff position
12. Cincinnati Reds (6)
Manager Dusty Baker still taking shots at Tony La Russa for all-star snubs.
13. Tampa Bay Rays (9)
David Price quietly making his case for Cy Young
14. Atlanta Braves (14)
Chipper Jones gets late all-star call at the only park he has not played in.
15. Cleveland Indians (15)
Hanging around in the hunt for AL Central. Have a puncher's chance
16. St. Louis Cardinals (17)
Yadier Molina leaves on bereavement leave and misses all-star show
17-Arizona Diamondbacks (16)
D-backs will need another miracle second half to repeat playoffs
18. Oakland A's (20)
Starting staff is young and talented and Josh Reddick is a steal
19. Detroit Tigers (19)
Need to find a contributing second baseman and one outfielder
20. Toronto Blue Jays (18)
Alex Anthopoulos still likely to look for help rather than throw a man overboard
21. Miami Marlins (21)
Fish prez David Samson upset Giancarlo Stanton not replaced by teammate. Zero Marlins
22. Milwaukee Brewers (23)
Zack Greinke will be first since Red Faber in 1917 to start 3 straight team games
23. Philadelphia Phillies (22)
Ryan Howard is back with Chase Utley, but too little too late?
24. Kansas City Royals (24)
Biggest game at home in years and 24 of 25 Royals have to pay to get in
25. Minnesota Twins (26)
If any team can be pegged for a good second half, usually the Twins
26. Seattle Mariners (25)
M's futile hitting recently is AL equivalent of NL Dodgers
27. San Diego Padres (27)
They have Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley as chips at the deadline
28. Colorado Rockies (28)
Pitching coach Bob Apodaca calls it quits during mile-low year on mound
29. Chicago Cubs (30)
Finally made a move up through the rankings from last to second-last
30. Houston Astros (29)
Rid of world's biggest first baseman (Carlos Lee) and led by smallest second sacker (Altuve)
JAYS WEEK IN REVIEW (43-43; tied-4th AL East)
The Jays had a pedestrian week, going 3-4, entering the all-star break at .500, with a 43-43 record.
The bad news was there is no predictable return date to the rotation for Brandon Morrow. The good news is that the struggling ace Ricky Romero posted a quality start against the first-place White Sox on Saturday. The fact that he lost is secondary to the fact that he pitched well.
Manager John Farrell said Morrow was throwing pain-free of the left oblique strain that had forced him out of the game on June 11, but that he occasionally felt it, even on a sneeze. That can't be considered him being on the verge of a return.
The Jays opened the week splitting a four-game set against the Royals at the Rogers Centre. However they lost the series finale on Thursday, 9-6 with a chance to win the series three games to one, then flew to Chicago and lost the first two at U.S. Cellular, to drop a game below .500. On Sunday they jumped on rookie Dylan Axelrod early in the series finale then hung on to win 11-9 with Casey Janssen efficiently picking up his 12th straight save without a glitch.
Left-hander Brett Cecil was given a 4-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of two-run homers by Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion, then had his disturbing issues with shutdown innings continue, giving three of those back immediately on an opening-inning three-run blast by former Jay Alex Rios.
Cecil continues to be paired with catcher Jeff Mathis, who homered in the game, his fifth of the season, coming in the fourth off rookie Brian Omogrosso. That total ties his most since hitting five in 2009 and is four shy of his career best of the nine that he hit with the Angels in 283 at-bats in '08.
At the end of the week, even with all of the campaigning by Jose Bautista for a very deserving Encarnacion to be included on the AL all-star roster, it turned out that Joey Bats is the lone Jays representative in Kansas City. In terms of “sizzle” for the mid-summer classic, having Harper replace Stanton is a solid choice.
It seems after a third solid outing by left-hander Aaron Laffey that he will remain in the mix for the short term. One thing is certain, he did not lose his job to 49-year-old Jamie Moyer, who was quietly released from Triple-A Las Vegas a couple of days after his second start, which had been the length of his agreed to tryout with the Jays. If Laffey had spit the bit, maybe Moyer would have been given a shot, but the journeyman lefty, Laffey, continues to give Farrell innings every time out.
Moyer was told that the Jays would not recall him in the short time left before the all-star break. They offered to let him continue pitching for the 51s, but that number was becoming too close to his actual age, so he declined and is likely to retire — clearly not by choice. The Jays and Moyer sort of knew it was coming, the end was near. The Triple-A team flies commercial and when they travelled to Reno and Moyer was set to pitch in that other Nevada gambling town, it was reported he did not have a return flight to Vegas booked with the rest of the team, even before he had started. Toronto or bust!
It was like he was playing black jack and hitting on 17. The odds were never good.
Besides, Canadian right-hander Shawn Hill has even become a more solid choice at Vegas with a chance to contribute if the Jays were to need yet another fifth starter in the majors.
The other guy already on the staff that is a solid pro and one of the leaders of the young Latin pitchers, is Carlos Villanueva. I wrote a column on his leadership during the week and the 28-year-old right-hander is backing it up with some solid starts, from a better prepared position than a year ago.
The Jays continued to hang in this week, but realistically have to be considered more out than in, trailing the second wild-card by 2 1/2 games at the break, but needing to crawl over a passel of other contenders in what is looking like a solid Bud Selig initiative to maintain interest in extra markets throughout the summer. There are 10 teams within 2 1/2 games of a playoff spot.
Injuries: A new addition to the lineup of the limping is Brett Lawrie. The exciting sophomore leadoff man felt some discomfort in his back during the game on Saturday and left the game, probably a veteran move. He had done the same thing in Milwaukee with a wonky knee after a slide on the wrong hip, but bounced back strong in Miami.
The Langley Flash sat out the finale in Chicago on Sunday, meaning he will have almost six full days off before returning to the lineup on Friday vs. the Indians. That is only good news if he takes care of it during the break when he will be away from the trainers, away from the clubhouse, on his own.
The funniest video clip of the week came late on Sunday, from Rangers Park in Arlington. The Twins were batting when a huge clap of thunder shook the high home plate camera and quickly cleared the field. It could have been a disaster but turned to high comedy as macho ballplayers melted down into God-fearing puddles of goo. Twins outfielder Denard Span tweeted that it sounded like “Jesus was coming.” Denard, would that be Alou or Figueroa? In any case, the reaction of former Expos outfielder and current Twins 1B coach Jerry White was priceless. White's arms spread wide and he quickly crouched down, creeping over to first base umpire Jeff Kellogg, perhaps trying to use him as a human lightning rod. Hilarious. The Rangers are going to be tough to beat in the second half. They have several underachievers in their current lineup, led by all-star catcher Mike Napoli, but the rotation is back in full voice coming out of the break: Derek Holland, Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Roy Oswalt and Colby Lewis... As for Napoli and his selection in a transparent Rangers fan assault on stuffing the ballot box and the Internet that victimized White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, the ever-outspoken Pierzynski had some interesting things to say about his fine offensive season being overlooked by AL manager Ron Washington. “He had an opportunity to and he didn't do it,” Pierzynski said of Washington's half-hearted apology. “Obviously, he can feel as bad as he wants, but he didn't feel that bad.” Now, normally I'm not a big Pierzynski fan, but the way he then went out and handled this situation was great. Playing at The Cell on July 4, in the second inning, Alexi Ramirez singled to right. Pierzynski rumbled around third base and rolled over Napoli in a home plate collision to score. That's my style of baseball... Speaking of the White Sox, six of seven pitchers in their bullpen are rookies, with the only veteran being lefty Matt Thornton. That might explain GM Kenny Williams' recent claim from the Pirates of 26-year-old reliever left-hander Danny Moskos off the waiver wire. Hmm. What other team needs pitchers as much as the Chisox? Because of injuries you could easily make an argument for the Blue Jays and if they had also claimed Moskos during the waiver period, because of being lower in the current standings, the Jays would have ended up with him. So why not? He's an arm with a pedigree. Moskos is a former fourth overall pick by the Bucs in June '07 out of Clemson University. Ah, maybe that's why. Clemson is a notorious killer of long pitching careers under head coaches Bill Wilhelm ('57 to '93) and Jack Leggett ('94-now). Think Brian Barnes, Billy Koch, Kris Benson, Matt White and others. The institution of learning wins a lot of games, but does not produce what should be the corresponding number of quality MLB pitchers. Maybe the Jays think that same way, otherwise an underachieving former first-rounder is right up their alley... The A's have surprised the world winning 22 of 34 games to get back to .500. The A's staff has an AL leading 3.38 ERA and beat the M's in extra innings on Sunday. There may be a reason, one of the strangest ever, for the low-scoring on Sunday — other than two pathetic offences. “It was a little rough with the white baseball and the white seagulls and the sun. At the end of the day, we fought through the seagulls and we won,” A's second baseman Jemile Weeks said of the bad hitting background at the Coliseum. Where's Dave Winfield when you need him? Oh yeah, last time I saw him, Winfield was popping up to pitcher Rollie Fingers on Sunday afternoon in a slow-pitch celebrity softball game at Kauffman Stadium. Yikes.
The Marlins may, in hindsight, have made a supremely bad decision when they agreed to be the focus of the sports reality show The Franchise for an up-close-and-personal TV series. Manager Ozzie Guillen may soon feel like a changing his view of reality, by heading over to Cuba to look for a part in another proposed reality show Keeping up with the Castros. How bad is it? On Sunday, closer Heath Bell blew his sixth save and is in danger of being replaced. Ozzie's star third baseman Hanley Ramirez made an out and punched a dugout cooler, tearing up his knuckles for two stitches and coming out of the game. “I don't pay attention to stupidity. That made me mad,” Guillen said of his volatile star. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton had arthroscopic knee surgery and is out six weeks just as first baseman Carlos Lee arrived. And prez David Samson is complaining that there are no Marlin all-stars without Stanton and that outfielder Justin Ruggiano should have been invited. David, you've got to be kidding... How anxious are the Cubs to showcase right-hander Ryan Dempster to interested teams? On Sunday, in the final game before the all-star break, the Cubs activated the classy Canuck and saw him toss five shutout innings against the Mets after being on the DL with tightness in his lat since June 18. Unless he is traded during the break, Dempster will start again on Friday vs. the D-backs. He is now 4-3, with a 1.99 ERA and is a free agent at the end of the season. He would look good in Jays blue... I'm not a big fan of the Braves’ Chipper Jones but you have to feel happy for him going to the all-star game in his final season. Coincidentally, Kauffman Stadium was the only current park of the 30 in which Jones had never played. Jones has played in 44 different ballparks, 15 of which are no longer in use. That still comes up short of Jamie Moyer and his 50 ball parks that he has twirled in... So how much has the Pirates operation been affected by the recent success? They are in first place at the break for the first time since Barry Bonds weighed 190 lbs. They have sold out the beautiful PNC Park nine times. GM Neal Huntington is looking to add a starting pitcher (competition for the Jays) and a corner outfielder (hmm? Rajai Davis, a former Pirate? Travis Snider? Eric Thames?). And A.J. Burnett is the fifth Pirates pitcher in 75 years to have at least 10 wins before the all-star break... You may have to pull a sheet over the Braves' playoff hopes if they are forced to use righty Ben Sheets in their second-half rotation. The 33-year-old former first rounder in '99 has missed the '09 and '11 seasons and is working his way back at Double-A for the pitching strapped Braves. The team may have lost sensational rookie SS Andrelton Simmons with a fractured left pinkie on Sunday. He hurt it on a headfirst slide into the foot of the Phils’ Chase Utley. The Futures Game featured just one Canadian this year, right-hander Kyle Lotzkar from Delta B.C. The 22-year-old was signed to the Reds by former Jays' Canadian scouting director Bill Bychowski, in the first round, supplemental in 2007. Lotzkar worked an inning on Sunday and was thrilled to be at AA-Pensacola just one step away from the majors. Lotzkar had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2009 season, but at the same time had a 3-1/2 inch screw implanted in another part of his injured elbow. He understands that he needs to work out differently to protect his new body parts, but when he's on the mound he claims he never thinks about it.
THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL HISTORY
7/9/46 Ted Williams dominates in the AL's 12-0 all-star win at Fenway Park. The Splendid Splinter bangs out four hits, including two homers and four RBIs... 7/9/68 an impressive string of four future Hall-of-Famers lead the way in a 1-0 NL victory -- Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver... 7/9/76 Larry Dierker of the Astros no-hits the Expos at the Astrodome. The pathetic Expos went on to win 52 games in the year of the Olympics in Montreal... 7/9/91 Cal Ripken Jr. slams a three-run homer off the Expos' Dennis Martinez at the SkyDome giving him All-Star MVP... 7/10/32 So you think some of today's franchises are cheap? Hall-of-Fame manager Connie Mack decides to save money for a one-game makeup in Cleveland by taking just TWO pitchers on the trip from Chicago to Cleveland in order to save train fare. The best laid plans, etc. The A's starter, Lew Krausse, managed to go just one inning, handing the ball to an unfortunate guy named Eddie Rommel. The game went 18 innings and Mack had no other pitchers. Rommel's line: 17 IP; 29H; 14R; 13ER; 9BB; 7K. He faced 87 batters and did not pitch again for another 41 days... 7/10/34 LHP Carl Hubbell fanned five Hall-of-Famers in a row, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin... 7/11/14 Babe Ruth makes his major-league debut with the Red Sox, beating the Indians 4-3 as a starting pitcher... 7/11/61 Relief pitcher Stu Miller is famously and literally blown off the mound at Candlestick Park in mid delivery, committing a balk for a 3-3 all-star tie that went to extra innings before the NL won... 7/11/49 Maybe it had something to do with the All-Star Game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, but Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe became the first African-Americans to play in the All-Star Game... 7/13/82 The All-Star Game is played outside of the U.S. for the first time. At Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Dave Concepcion homers off starter Dennis Eckersley for a 4-1 win. Five Expos were in the starting lineup... 7/14/67 Braves Eddie Mathews hits his 500th career homer against Juan Marichal of the Giants... 7/14/68 a year to the day later, Braves Hank Aaron hits 500th career homer vs. Mike McCormick of Giants... 7/14/70 Pete Rose in one of the most replayed all-star moments in history runs over catcher Ray Fosse of the Indians for the winning run in the 12th inning. That play cemented baseball's all-star game as different in intensity than other sports and served to send Fosse to a premature end to his career.
Birthdays this week: Andre Dawson 58, Bob Bailor 61, Joey McLaughlin 56, Ron Fairly 74, Bill Caudill 56, Pepe Frias 64, Donn Clendenon 77.
JAYS MINOR LEAGUE ROUNDUP
AAA-Las Vegas (50-40) had no game on Sunday. LF Travis Snider is hitting .317 with nine homers, 46 RBIs and a .959 OPS. DH Eric Thames is hitting .323 with two homers and 19 RBIs. SS Adeiny Hechavarria is leading the team with 58 RBIs. Canadian RHP Shawn Hill is part of a horribly mediocre rotation supported by a pretty good offence. Hechavarria and reliever Chad Beck were named to the PCL all-star game... AA-New Hampshire (36-52) split a twin bill with New Britain, losing 4-0 and winning 5-4. 3B Mark Sobolewski, 1B Mike McDade, SS Ryan Goins, RHP Sam Dyson and RHP Yohan Pino (4-3, 3.34 ERA) were named to the Eastern League all-star game. CF Jake Marisnick was promoted from Dunedin. OF Kevin Bailli is hitting .370 with a homer and 5 SB. The top two starters, RHP Deck McGuire (4-9, 6.01 ERA) and Chad Jenkins (4-7, 5.20 ERA) have started 33 of the Fisher Cats 88 games... A-Dunedin (7-11) beat Tampa 4-2 on Sunday. SS Kevin Nolan has 5 HR, 39 RBIs, with 12 steals. RHP John Stilson is 3-0, 2.82 ERA. LHP Sean Nolin is 7-0, 2.35 ERA. RHP Asher Wojciechowski is 6-2, with a 3.87 ERA... A-Lansing (10-7) beat West Michigan 5-3 on Sunday. RH Noah Syndergaard allowed one run in 6 innings and is 6-2 with a 3.06 ERA. LF Kenny Wilson was 2-for-5 with 2 RBIs and 28 SB. RF Chris Hawkins was 4-for-4 and is batting .289. RH Aaron Sanchez is 8-0 with a 0.63 ERA. He has struck out 70 batters in 62 2/3 innings. LF Kevin Pillar is batting .319 with 34 steals... A-Vancouver (14-9) lost 10-6 to first place Everett on Sunday. 3B Balbino Fuenmayor is hitting .316 with three homers and 20 RBIs. RHP Javier Avendano is 3-0, with a 0.45 ERA and 25 Ks in 20 IP. RHP Ian Kadish is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA and 20 Ks in 11 IP... A-Bluefield (7-12) lost to Burlington 6-5 on Sunday. C Santiago Nessy hit his third HR and is batting .308. 2B Christian Lopes was 3-for-4 with his 3rd HR. LH Daniel Norris (1-1, 3.52 ERA) has fanned 18 batters in 15 1/3 innings... Rk-Blue Jays (6-12) RH Francisco Gracesqui (3-0, 0.00 ERA) has struck out 17 in 13 innings.
ONE FOR THE ROAD
Flew out to the all-star festivities from Pearson on Sunday morning. Why is it that every airport landing in the American Midwest that I've been involved in since 1977, charter or commercial, has seemed like it is the rock-and-roll equivalent of touching down through a combination tornado, hurricane, cyclone and tsunami, with airplane wings flapping — unintentionally, of course — and uneasy flyers squeezing the armrests and whimpering like babies. Get a grip.
Such was the case with the Kansas City landing. And, also, I wonder whose idea it was to build the Royals' home Kauffman Stadium nowhere near actual Kansas City, out in the middle of the Show Me State. Someone should have showed them. Take a cab, go along back roads, up along some river and through the woods. Suddenly, around a bend you are surprised by the looming sight of Arrowhead Stadium with Kauffman Stadium over on the left. They are beautiful, but why way out here?