I am officially back from a two week hiatus, as I was in Yellowstone National Park. It appears that all I missed was a loud clap of thunder in Texas, Casey Fien being called up, Matt Capps doing whatever he can to make himself untradeable, short of going all Kevin Slowey on us (though the Twins managed to trade Slowey away anyway), and Brian Dozier tweaking his batting stance.
(Click to embiggen to your heart's content)
At this pace, come September the BullDozier will be holding his bat like Rod Carew.
- Recent Boston Red Sox draftee Shaq Thompson has started his professional career with... well, nothing. After being picked in the 18th round earlier this summer, Shaq's 0-for-39 start in the Gulf Coast League does look pretty bad, but usually you can just spit out the "He's hitting the ball hard, it's just going right at the fielders" cliche. Not in Shaq's case though, as in those 39 at-bats, 37 have resulted in a strikeout. His final AB came against one of the Twins' newest righthanders, Luke Bard, and Shaq managed to avoid strikeout #38 in lining out to right field. WEEI in Boston has a lengthy profile on Thompson, which points out that Thompson's best sport is actually football, but he was willing to challenge himself with baseball. He seems like the poster boy for the "toolsy" baseball player that just needs to figure out how to put everything together.
- On the other end of the spectrum, we have Boston Red Sox RHP Aaron Cook, who has apparently watched the "Strikeouts are fascist" scene from Bull Durham on repeat. In 29.2 IP this season, Cook has struck out only two hitters. That comes out to a 0.61 K/9, which looks absolutely miniscule next to his already tiny 3.76 K/9 career rate. You'd assume this means that Cook has been battered around this season, but in actuality he's been aboard the luck train, as his .248 BABIP and usually stellar groundball rate (58.8%) has carried him to a 3.34 ERA. Seems like a perfect Twins "pitch to contact" pitcher, no?
- I really want instant replay to be expanded in baseball, and this play from last night's Blue Jays - Red Sox game is more proof why. In the first inning with Colby Rasmus on 3rd base, Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder to Will Middlebrooks at 3rd base. Middlebrooks' throw beat Rasmus home, Kelly Shoppach blocked the plate... and yet Rasmus was called safe by home plate umpire Sam Holbrook. Holbrook was a little delayed in his call, but he called Rasmus safe after seeing swipe marks on the dirt, suggesting to him that Rasmus was able to get his hand in under Shoppach's leg. Watching the replay though, I think it's clear that Rasmus never touched the plate. You can watch the video here. While I'm not a fan of managers having flags that they can throw on the field like football (the game is slow-paced enough that a manager can come out of the dugout instead of throwing a damn flag) and I don't want balls and strikes reviewed, I would definitely be in favor of a 5th umpire that can notify the others if a play should be overturned, and plays on the bases and catches be reviewed in addition to home runs.
- Finally, another piece of evidence why you shouldn't hit things in anger. Miami Marlins 3rd baseman Hanley Ramirez was recently hospitalized for having an infection in his right hand. How did he get an infection? Well, he punched a cooling fan after grounding out on July 8th against the Cardinals, resulting in 2 stitches on the knuckle above his ring finger. No word yet on how long Hanley will be out, but seriously, baseball players need to learn to stop hitting hard, sharp objects.
After winning in 11 innings last night, the Twins will be playing tonight at 6:10 pm. Let's see if they can move out of last place in the AL Central.