Friday, March 27, 2015

Chris Johnson Delivers in Braves Win over Pirates; Luis Martinez, Khris Davis Hit Grand Slams for Brewers in 15-1 Romp

Players of the Day for Thursday, March 26, 2015

Grapefruit League

Chris Johnson
Atlanta third baseman, Chris Johnson, went 3-for-4 in Atlanta's 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh, delivering a single, double and home run, driving in two runs and scoring twice.

The Braves have struggled thus far in the Grapfruit League, the win upping their record to 10-13. The Pirates dropped to an even .500 at 10-10.

Johnson, a major leaguer since 2009, had his best year in 2013, when he had the second-highest batting average in the National League, at a zesty .321. His production fell off in 2014, batting .263 with 10 homers and 58 RBI, but he and the Braves are hoping for improvement this season.

Luis Jimenez
Johnson has a .270 batting average this Spring. The home run was his first.

Cactus League

Khris Davis
Making contact wasn't an issue for the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday, but, runners and base and balls leaving the yard was a major issue for the Mariners as the Brewers amassed 22 hits and two players hit grand slams in a 15-1 laugher.

Khris Davis got things started with his first-inning slam and Luis Jimenez finished off the scoring with a bases-chocked, round-tripper in the eighth.

Davis played full time in the Milwaukee outfield last season, belting 22 homers with 69 RBI. He's batting a robust .389 in Spring training. The homer was his first.

Jimenez will likely end up in the minors, but may get a back-up role behind Aramis Ramirez at third base. His home run was his second of the Spring. Jimenez has limited major league experience, hitting .234 in 141 at-bats over the past two seasons.

Both teams ended up with records of 10-11 at the conclusion of the exhibition.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Seattle's Taijuan Walker Extends Scoreless Streak to 18 Innings; Max Scherzer Fans Nine as Nats Fold to Cards

Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Grapefruit League

Scherzer: 9 Ks
As noted by more than a few baseball writers, the Washington Nationals look to have one of the best starting rotations in recent memory, perhaps one of the best of all time.

The addition of Max Scherzer, dealt from the Tigers to the Nats in the off-season, brought the rotation to extreme prominence, adding to an already robust staff that includes Gio Gonzales, Doug Fister, Stephen Strasberg, and Jordan Zimmerman.

Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young award winner, will likely assume the role of ace, or #1 starter, and work opening day of the regular season.

In what looked like his final tune-up prior to that opening day start, Scherzer had complete command of his pitches and the St. Louis lineup, fanning nine in Washington's 1-0 loss to the Cardinals. Scherzer allowed three hits and no walks in his six innings of work.

Aaron Barrett, working in relief, allowed the game's only run, surrendered to the Cardinals in the bottom of the eighth. While Washington will likely have few issues on the mound, they'll have to find ways to score runs if they hope to reach the pinnacle of success in the NL East.

Walker: 18IP, 0ER
Cactus League

During the course of the Cactus and Grapefruit pre-seasons, there have been some notable performances and fabulous flops, but no player has displayed as much cold determination and dominance as Seattle starter, Taijuan Walker.

Walker, who exceeded rookie requirements last year (53 innings total between 2013 and 2014), has been to the mound for five starts this Spring, and has not allowed a run in 18 consecutive innings. On Wednesday, he went up the hill for six innings of work in Seattle's 3-2 win over the Cubs, allowing two hits and a walk while fanning six. The Cubs didn't come close to scoring off him, and only put up a deuce in the ninth inning.

As far as domination is concerned, Walker is the poster boy for it. In 18 innings this Spring, in addition to not allowing any runs (earned or unearned), he's allowed only six hits and four walks, striking out 19, while holding opposing hitters to a paltry .103 average.

Walker is expected to solidify the Seattle staff, which includes Rafael Perez, Joe Saunders, and the King, Felix Hernandez.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stephen Voget Powers A's into 1st Place in Cactus League; Ramon Flores Hits Walk-Off Homer, Sends Yanks to Top of Grapefruit

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grapefruit League

Ramon Flores
There may still be some magic in being a Yankee, despite the retirement of Derek Jeter and the controversy that will never end surrounding performance-enhancers and Alex Rodriguez.

All will be forgotten and forgiven if the Yankees perform as they did Tuesday, scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth - the final three on a home run by Ramon Flores - to down the Detroit Tigers, 9-8.

New York was down 8-2 when Flores entered the game as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the seventh, eventually scoring to make it 8-3, but his moment was still to come as the Yankee bullpen kept the Tigers in check over the final two innings.

After John Ryan Murphy knocked in Aaron Judge to make it 8-6, Flores got to the plate with two on and two out and delivered the crushing blow off Tiger reliever Rafael Dolis, making the round-trip to a throng of teammates celebrating at home plate.

While Flores is expected to stay at the AAA level most of this season, he could get some playing time in the thin Yankee outfield. In any case, his dramatic blow put the Yankees into first place in the Grapefruit League with a 12-7 mark, 1/2 game better than the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost to the Twins, 6-5.

Cactus League

Stephen Vogt
Following the limited successes of their 2014 season, the Oakland A's are quickly gearing up for competition in what should be a very competitive AL West division.

The A's went 88-74 last year, finishing 10 games behind the Angels in the division, but still managed to make it into the post-season as a wild card. As Fall turned to Winter and Winter to Spring, the A's now find themselves in a three-way tie atop the Cactus League - with Kansas City and the Dodgers - after piling on for 18 hits against the Cubs in a 14-2 romp.

Stephen Vogt, who is likely to be the A's regular receiver when during the 2015 campaign, powered Oakland's attack with a 3-for-3 effort, singling, doubling and homering, with three RBI and a pair of runs.

Last year, Vogt saw action in 84 games, batting .279 with nine homers and 35 RBI.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

David Buchanan Tosses 5 Scoreless in 3-0 Phillies Win; Matt Shoemaker's 6 Shutout Innings Earns Angels Win over Seattle

Players of the Day for Monday, March 23, 2015

Grapefruit League

David Buchanan
As a rookie last season, David Buchanan started 20 games for the Phillies, won six and lost eight, with an ERA of 3.75. That effort was good enough to assure that he'll be in the rotation this season as the Phils seek to rebound.

On Monday, Buchanan took the mound for the fifth time this Spring - his third start - and delivered a solid performance, blanking the Twins for five innings on two hits.

The 25-year-old Atlanta native fanned three and walked none. The Phillies went on to the 3-0 victory, putting them at an even 10-10. Minnesota dropped to 8-10.


Cactus League

Matt Shoemaker
If Matt Shoemaker returns to the Angels in 2015 with the kind of stuff he had in 2014, the AL West is going to be just as tough as last season, when LA took the division by 10 games.

Shoemaker started 20 games in 2014, went 16-4 with a 3.02 ERA and 124 Ks in 136 innings. His win total was fourth-highest in the American League, and judging by his six innings of shutout ball against the Mariners on Monday, he appears to be right on track for the regular season. He allowed just two hits and a walk, striking out a pair.

As a rookie last season, Shoemaker displayed toughness and durability. With a full season under his belt, he may be on the path to becoming one of the more dominant pitcher in the AL.

The Angels won the game, 5-0, putting them at 11-7, 1/2 game behind the Royals and Dodgers in the Cactus League standings.

***

Monday, March 23, 2015

Josh Satin Carries Reds in 4-3 Win over A's; Sabathia Rocked as Matt Harvey and Mets Shut Down Yanks, 6-0

Players of the Day for Sunday, March 22, 2015

Grapefruit League

Harvey: 5 2/3, 2H 0R
On Sunday, the Mets and Yankees staged the Sunshine State version of the Subway Series, playing at the Mets' Spring home at Tradition Field, in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The result - a 6-0 Mets victory - had all the feel of one club trying to hang on with aging veterans (Yankees) while the other (Mets) seemed to be embracing and enjoying the spirit of a young club on the rise.

Matt Harvey tossed 5 2/3 innings of 2-hit, scoreless ball for the Mets and was rewarded with the win, as his teammates smacked three homers against Yankee starter C.C. Sabathia, who was shelled in his second start of the pre-season, allowing homers by David Wright, Lucas Duda and leadoff hitter, Juan Legares.

Legares' shot was of the inside-the-park variety, facilitated when Yankee center fielder, Jose Pirela, attempting to chase down the drive, crashed into the wall and was knocked out. Pirela was taken from the field with what appeared to be a concussion, and did not return.

Satin: HR, 4RBI
Harvey, who missed all of last season due to injury, is returning after Tommy John surgery. He fanned four and has looked solid in four starts, allowing two runs over 14 1/3 innings.

Cactus League

Evening their record at 9-9 with a 4-3 victory over Oakland, the Cincinnati Reds got all of their offensive production from the player all the way down at the bottom of the lineup, left fielder, Josh Satin.

Satin rallied the Reds from a 3-0 deficit with a three-run homer in the eighth and then delivered the game-winner with two down in the ninth on an RBI single.

A California native, Satin played part-time for the Mets from 2011-2014, and was acquired by the Reds in the off-season. His most productive stint was in 2013, when he hit .279 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 75 games.