Descalso Provides Late-Inning Lift

Daniel Descalso has had his problems as a pinch-hitter. On Wednesday night, however, he came up big for the Rockies. He delivered a walk-off pinch-hit single in the Rockies 5-4 victory against the Padres at Coors Field.

It was Descalso’s first hit in five pinch-hit at-bats this year, and the second run-producing pinch-hit of the season for the Rockies.

The Rockies are a combined 3-for-22 in pinch-hit situations this year with 10 strikeouts and two walks. The Rockies .136 pinch-hit average is tied with Pittsburgh for 12th in the NL Their 10 strikeouts are tied with Cincinnati for second, one less than the Padres.

Descalso is 1-for-5, and Wilin Rosario, who was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque prior to Wednesday’s game to make room for an additional pitcher, is 2-for-4. Rosario had a two-run, game-winning pinch-hit home run earlier in the season, and also had a pinch-hit double.

Descalso is now 22-for-119 as a pinch-hitter in his career (.185). He has 12 pinch-hit RBI in 10 pinch-hit appearances, including a bases-loaded walk from Joel Peralta in the Cardinals 5-2 victory against the Marlins on Aug 13, 2014.

Descalso has two two-RBI pinch-hits in his career. He had a two-run single off Aaron Crow that gave the Cardinals a 5-3 lead on the Royals on May 29, 2013, and a two-run double off Wilton Lopez in a 9-2 Cardinals victory over Houston on June 9, 2011.

Alex Guerrero of the Dodgers leads the major leagues this year with five RBI, which is the entire RBI total for the Dodgers. Guerrero is 3-for-6 with a double and two home runs in a pinch-hit role. Tampa Bay leads the majors in pinch-hit RBI with 9. The Dodgers are second with five.

Extra Work Not Kind to Feliz

Texas closer Netfali Feliz owned the Seattle Mariners.

Until Sunday.

Feliz had never allowed a run in 27 innings against the Mariners.

Until Sunday.

Feliz was 12-for-12 in save situations and had a 3-0 record against the Mariners.

Until Sunday.

Sunday, the Mariners rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Rangers 11-10.

Feliz gave up a two-run single to Kyle Seater after coming on with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, and then two runs of his own in the ninth. Austin Jackson delivered a one-out single to score the tying run in the ninth, and Nelson Cruz delivered the game-winning single with two out following an intentional walk to Robinson Cano.

When Feliz entered the game with the bases loaded and one out in the eight Cruz was the first batter he faced, and Feliz struck him out. That was the first time in his career Cruz faced Feliz, who were former teammates in Texas.

Managers tend to avoid asking relievers to work in two innings to earn saves.This game was the first game since May 27, 2011 when Feliz blew a save against the Royals that he had been asked to get four or more outs for a save.

Feliz is now 5-for-9 in his career in save situations requiring four or more outs. He has failed in his last three chances — Sunday against the Mariners, May 27, 2011 against the Royals and May 18, 2011, also against the Royals, and Sept. 8, 2009 against Cleveland.

His four-out-plus saves came April 10, 2011 against Baltimore; Sept. 25, 2010 against Oakland, April 14, 2010 against the Indians, Sept. 4, 2009 against the Orioles, and Aug. 15, 2009 against Boston.

In his 22 career appearances against the Mariners prior to Sunday, Feliz had allowed seven hits in 87 at-bats, an .080 average, walking seven and striking out 26.

The two runs charged to him on Sunday give him a career ERA 0.64 ERA against the Mariners. Tampa Bay is the only AL team that has never scored against Feliz, who has worked 10 1/3 innings against the Rays. His third lowest ERA against an AL team is 0.75 against Boston, allowing one earned runs in 12 innings.

The Red Sox have hit .051 against him, second lowest to the Mariners. He has held the Angels to a .144 average, third lowest against an AL team.

Since Feliz’s last previous attempt at a save of four outs or more on May 27, 2011 major league relievers have converted 320 saves in 594 save opportunities of four outs or more.

There were four pitchers who failed to convert the extended saves on May 27, 2011 — Feliz, Rubby De La Rosa with the Dodgers, Luis Ayala with the Yankees and Drew Storen with the Nationals.

A Primer on Who Did What Among 82 Players Since 1914 to Debut Hitting Cleanup

Kris Bryant of the Cubs on Friday became the 82nd player to make his big-league debut and hit cleanup in a starting lineup since at least 1914, according to Baseball Reference’s data base only goes back to 1914.

Bryant is the first of the 82 players to strikeout three times in his debut. There were 10 players who struck out twice hitting cleanup in their debut. The most recent was Jose Abreu of the White Sox on May 31, 2014. Others to do it in this century were Barbaro Canizares of the Braves, June 11, 2009; Brad Eldred of the Pirates, July 22, 205, and Justin Morneau of the Twins on June 10, 2003.

Bryant is the fifth third baseman to hit cleanup in his big-league debut. Others were Max Alvis, Indians, Sept. 11, 1962; Mel Hoderlen, Red Sox, Aug. 16, 1951; Roland Gladu, Braves, April 18, 1944, and Harry Damrau, A’s, Sept. 17, 1915. There have been 26 first basemen, 18 left fielders, 15 right fielders, 10 center fielders, six DHs, one each at second base (Jewel Ens, Pirates, April 29, 1922),and  shortstop (Pep Goodwin, Kansas City Packers of the Federal League, April 16, 1914) and no pitchers or catchers.

Bryant was 23 years, 103 days of age, 27th youngest of the 82 to debut in the cleanup sot. The youngest was Kenny Hogan, who was 18 years, 358 days when he debuted for the Reds on Oct. 2, 1921. Bryant is the youngest since Pete Incaviglia, at the age of 22 years, 6 days, debuted with the Rangers on April 8, 1986.

Four of the 82 players homered in the debut: Jay Gainer, Rockies, May 14, 1993; Dave Schneck, Mets, July 14, 1972; Ben Taylor, Browns, July 29, 1951; Joe Mack, Braves, April 17, 1945, and Frank Welch, A’s, Sept. 9, 1919.

Twenty-five of the players drove in at least one, led by Al Chambers of the Mariners, who had four RBI against the Red Sox on july 23, 1983. four others drove in two runs: Dave Schneck, Mets, July 14, 1972; Jim Tyack, A’s, April 20, 1943; Maurice Van Robays, Pirates, Sept. 7, 1939, and Mahlon Higbee, Giants, Sept. 27, 1922.

Maurice Van Robays of the Pirates went 3-for-6 with a double and two RBI on Sept. 7, 1939, the most hits of the 82 players. Twenty-two of the players had two hits.

Kershaw Next Rockies Challenge

The Rockies have equalled their best start in history at 7-2, and they have won their first six games on the road for the first time ever. They opened the season sweeping three games in Milwaukee, and are coming off a three-game sweep at San Francisco, where they have swept a series only four times at AT&T Park, which opened in 2000, and have won only 11 series total.

Now comes a challenge — Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium in the opening game of a three-game series on Friday. The Rockies are 68-109 all-time at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw is 13-5 with 3.17 ERA in 26 lifetime starts against the Rockies. At dodger Stadium, however, he is 6-2 with a 1.38 ERA in 11 starts. He has struck out 86 and given up one home run in 71 2/3 innings. He is 7-3 against the Rockies at Coors Field, but has a 4.58 ERA and has allowed 12 home runs in 15 starts.

HOW BIG a deal is it for the Rockies to have swept their first two road series this season? They had only one road sweep a year ago — three games at San Francisco June 13-15.

KERSHAW’S CAREER 3.17 ERA against the Rockies is his second highest against an NL team. He has a 3.46 ERA against St. Louis. In the AL, he has a 3.46 ERA against Seattle in only two starts, 3.76 against the Angles in six starters, 4.00 against the White Sox in three starts, and 7.20 against the Indians, but has pitched against Cleveland only once in his career.

GIANTS HAVE reason for hope in their early season struggles. After a 7-6, 12-inning loss to Arizona on Thursday night they are 3-8, their worst start since they were 2-11 to open 1951. Remember 1951? That’s the year they rallied from a 13 1/2-game deficit in August to force a best-of-three playoff with the Dodgers for the NL pennant, and Bobby Thomson delivered the shot heard round the world.

The Giants also saw their losing streak extend to seven games with the loss to Arizona. It’s their longest losing streak since they lost seven in a row June, 26-July 2, 2010. Does that ring a bell? They won the World Series in 2010, the first of three world championships in five years.

Lower Mounds = Higher Injury Rate for Pitchers?

Dodger pitching coach Ricky Honeycutt both feel the growing number of surgeries needed by pitchers stems at least in part from the lower mound.

A column I wrote last summer:

Hall Vote: It’s Not a Perfect 10

The Hall of Fame vote has become a challenge.

It’s no longer figuring out who to vote for.

It’s now a matter of splitting hairs to the point of deciding who to leave off.

What the supporters of different candidates don’t understand is that given the quality of candidates on the ballot in recent years leaving a player off a ballot does not mean the voter does not believe that player is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

A year ago, I didn’t vote for Frank Thomas, and that prompted a lot of negative responses from his fans.

A year ago, Thomas joined Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux in being elected in his first year of eligibility, and that was something I felt was deserved.

Confused? Don’t be.

Last year, like this year, I saw more than 10 candidates I could endorse. I, however, could only vote for 10. I had to settle on the 10 who I felt was most deserving.

Ditto 2015.

I had to settle on 10 names, even though in my initial review of the 34 candidates I came up with more than 10 I felt were worthy of enshrinement.

What is really difficult is leaving on a candidate I have voted for in the past – Larry Walker.

This is Walker’s fifth year of eligibility. He’s been on my ballot each of the last four years, and most likely he will be on my ballot in the future. He was a complete player, who I had the pleasure of covering on a regular basis during his days with the Rockies.

But the ballot is overloaded with complete players who deserve enshrinement so choices had to be made. Nobody said it was going to be easy, and it wasn’t.


My 10:

Jeff Bagwell

Craig Biggio

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

Randy Johnson

Pedro Martinez

Mike Piazza

Tim Raines

John Smoltz

Alan Trammell

Even Nolan Ryan Was Anxious Waiting for Hall Call

As dominate as he had been in his career, Nolan Ryan admits, there were anxious moments when he waited for that call from Cooperstown.

Read Ryan’s story at Sports On Earth:

So Stanton Could Afford How Many Barn Cats?

Now that Giancarlo Stanton has agreed to a 13-year, $325 million contract, the second-guessing begins.

Did he sell himself short? Did the Marlins overpay? Who knows? The bottom line is that it is a lot of money and it’s guaranteed.

As Mike Norris said more than three decades ago when he lost his case with the A’s in arbitration, “No problem. I was either going to wake up rich or richer.”

Here are 10 ways to put Stanton’s contract in perspective:

1. In 1980, Nolan Ryan became the first player in history to make $1 million a year when he signed as a free agent with the Houston Astros. In his 12 big league seasons prior to that, Ryan had earned a total of $1,127,000. The all-time strikeout leader and Hall of Fame pitcher made a salary of $3,600 in his rookie season, 1966, with the Mets. In his 27-year big-league career, Ryan earned a total of $25,725,100, according to

2. Stanton’s salary over the next 13 years is more than twice as much as the purchase price of $158.5 million that Jeffrey Loria paid to buy the franchise in 2002. The expansion price of the Marlins, who debuted in 1993, was $95 million. In 1973, George Steinbrenner paid $10 million for the New York Yankees.

3. Stanton is under contract for the next 13 years. In the past 13 years there have been 305 players appear in a game for the Marlins. Stanton is 10th all-time in games played for the Marlins with 634, and his 154 home runs are tied with Dan Uggla for the franchise record. Luis Castillo spent a club-record 10 years with the Marlins. Jeff Conine, Alex Gonzalez and Ricky Nolasco spent eight seasons each.

4. With the price of marlin steak at about $20 a pound, including a six percent tax, Stanton could afford to buy 16,250,000 pounds.

5. Over the past five seasons, the Marlins’ combined Opening Day payroll was $316 million — $9 million less than Stanton is guaranteed to make.

6. Stanton will set a record for total guarantee; the first contract to exceed $300 million, and ninth to exceed $200 million. Alex Rodriguez had the two previous biggest guarantees at $275 million for 2008-2017, which broke the record of $252 million that he set with the deal from 2001-10 which he opted out of, forcing negotiation of his current contract with the Yankees.

7. In the first winter of free agency, Wayne Garland was the shocker. Cleveland gave him a 10-year deal worth $2.3 million — total. Only 26 years old when he made his Indians debut, Garland hurt his shoulder in his first start in Spring Training and never fully recovered. His career ended after five years with the Indians. He was 28-48 with a 4.50 ERA in 99 games, 88 starts for Cleveland.

8. Jose Reyes signed the previous largest guarantee in Marlins history, a six-year, $100 million deal in 2012. He was traded after that season to the Blue Jays.

9. The Dodgers had a Major League-record Opening Day payroll in 2014 of $238.9 million, according to

10. And, in light of the fact Stanton once told youth correspondent Meggie Zahneis about his fondness of animals, with $350 million he could adopt 35 million barn cats from the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Animal Shelter. CAS offers barn cats for $10.

Expanding Post-Season Adds Challenge for MVP Voters

When the Baseball Writers Association of America created the MVP awards in 1931 there was no problem with the voting being completed prior to the first pitch of the post-season. It made sense to not let a short series carry too much weight in evaluating a season-long effort.

Times, however, change.

The post-season no longer is a blip on the screen.

Oh, teams can be eliminated in just one game, but for a team to take each step in October and win a world championship it is possible for it to play 20 games.

A key is the word Valuable. It is not the Most Outstanding Player. It the Best Offensive Player.

Major League Baseball, with the Hank Aaron Award, and the Major League Baseball Players Association, with the Player Choice Awards, have created honors based off the pure statistical accomplishments of a hitter.

The BBWAA presents the Most Valuable Player.

The ultimate value in baseball is winning, and if the award is based on a player’s value the decision should rest on how valuable he was to his team’s success. Winning the World Series is the ultimate sign of a team’s success.

That aspect, however, has been diminished in terms of the annual presentation of the Most Valuable Player awards in the NL and AL each time the post-season has expanded.

This year, for example, the BBWAA announced the three finalists for the AL and NL MVPs, and none of the six players participated in the World Series.

This year will be the 15th time in the 20 years since the post-season was expanded to include the best-of-five Division Series that neither MVP will come from one of the World Series competitors. And four MVPS who did play in the World Series came from teams that lost – Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers in 2012, Josh Hamilton of the Rangers in 2010, Barry Bonds of the Giants in 2002 and Chipper Jones of the Braves in 1999. The exception was Buster Posey in 2012 when the Giants won the World Series.

In the 25 years of two rounds of the post-season – the LCS and World Series – only seven times was the World Series void of both the NL and AL MVP. Eighteen times the World Series featured an MVP, including both MVPs four times – Mike Schmidt of the Phillies and George Brett of the Royals in 1980; Joe Morgan of the Reds and Fred Lynn of the Red Sox in 1975; Morgan and Thurman Munson of the Yankees in 1976, and Johnny Bench of the Reds and Boog Powell of the Orioles in 1970.

And in the first 38 years the BBWAA issued the award, when the post-season consisted solely of the World Series, at least one MVP was in the World Series 33 times, including 20 World Series that featured the MVP of both the NL and the AL.

What happens each time the post-season is expanded is the voters get into more of a guessing game as to the impact of the player. Four of the six finalists for the two MVPs did play on teams that advance to the post-season this year, but not advanced as far as the ALCS or NLCS.

Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, Victor Martinez of the Tigers and Mike Trout of the Angels were on teams eliminated in the best-of-five Division Series. Andrew McCutcheon and the Pirates lost the wild-card showdown with the Giants.



Arenado Rewarded for Hard Work

Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado arrived in the big leagues on the final weekend of April in 2013. He’s four weeks shy of two years of big-league service.

Tuesday, however, he won his second Gold Glove in two years for his defensive excellence.

Not too bad for a guy who when he was at High-A Modesto was being considered as a future first baseman because of defensive deficiencies.

Here’s a column I wrote on Arenado and his defense during the regular season.


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