Lots of cool stuff to share with you today, and most of it is good news. Let's get started.
On Byron Buxton's injury
If you've seen the article on the front page, or if you've seen the video, you know that Buxton had one hell of an ugly crash in a game on Wednesday evening. As he was streaking into the right-center field gap, he dove for a ball - it's unclear whether he called anyone off or if right fielder Mike Kvasnicka didn't hear him or what the circumstances were - and collided with Kvasnicka's leg.
Buxton was unconscious for ten minutes. When he was stabilized he was moved to the hospital, along with Kvasnicka. Kvasnicka left the field under his own power, but it was a big collision. Both players were going full pelt.
The good news is that Buxton appears to be fine. He returned to the team following the game and was fully alert, although he has been diagnosed with a concussion. Buxton and the Twins will follow the prescribed procedures, but eventually he will be cleared to play.
2014 has been a season to forget for Byron Buxton. No doubt we'll be following up on this as time goes on.
Mauer continued his recent surge with a big night at the dish yesterday, collecting two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. His first hit was the 1,500th of his career, and the second was a solo homer in the sixth to put the Twins up 1-0 in a lead they'd never surrender. That homer, by the way, came right after a great defensive play that saw Mauer dive to his right to snare a sinking liner just inches off the ground.
It should also be noted that Trevor Plouffe made his own great play at third last night, making a throw across the diamond from his knees after diving towards the line to snag a grounder.
Mauer, riding a 15-game hitting streak, is 5-for-12 in his return to the Twins, including a home run, double, two walks, no strikeouts, and two runs batted in. His OPS is up 56 points over the course of the hitting streak.
There are no in-between performances for Gibson this season, or at least that's been the narrative. And it's been true. He went seven and two-thirds yesterday, holding the Astros to one run. His ERA is back below 4.00 again, giving him a 3.96 mark over 134 innings.
Going back to that narrative, 13 of Gibson's 23 starts have seen him allow two runs or less across at least six innings. A 14th start was a seven-inning, three-run effort, which constitutes about as middle-of-the-road as he's been this year. In eight of Gibson's remaining starts he's allowed at least five runs. There was also one four-run appearance, a six-inning outing in Milwaukee.
The takeaway is this: Gibson has either allowed two runs or less, or five runs or more, in 21 of his 23 starts in 2014.
Borrowing from Bryz, we'll now hit a lightning round.
- There's a great article at FanGraphs from a couple of days ago, where Eno Sarris talks to Phil Hughes about what has or hasn't changed in 2014. There are the usual stats associated with the site (park effects, performance versus league average, etc), but there's also some great scouting detail. It turns out that Hughes' down stretch could be attributed, at least in part, to a broken nail that has affected his breaking balls.
- Target Field has the ninth-best assortment of beer in baseball. I have to be honest - I'm a little shocked we're that low on the list. But Cincinnati and Cleveland and Seattle look like pretty good places to go. I want to try some of those "World Class" beers.
- Joe Nathan has had a struggle in Detroit this year, but he's been pitching better lately (0.96 ERA in his last ten games) and has still converted 24 saves for the Tigers. But last night was another Joe-esque shakey outing, walking two before finally recording the final out. The Detroit faithful were all over him, booing the walks and giving "Bronx Cheers" for strikes, but it looks like Nathan let it get to him last night with a pair of unsavory gestures towards the crowd. Bless You Boys has more.
- The Yankees are eight games out of the AL East, but that hasn't stopped the New York media from talking about what it will take to get into the playoffs. The Angels appear to have the first Wild Card spot locked up, with both Detroit and Seattle tied for the second spot five-and-a-half back. Toronto his three games behind for that second Wild Card spot, and then come the Yankees at three-and-a-half games behind. You know they're going all-in for Derek Jeter's last ride, but they're in a dog fight with at least three other teams for one spot. Ken Davidoff thinks 89 wins will do the trick, which would mean a 28-15 (.651) record down the stretch. Think they can do it?
- The infamous baseball strike of 1994 kicked off twenty years ago on Tuesday. There was a solid conversation about this fact on our Facebook page earlier this week. Head over to see what everyone remembers, and then leave your own memories in the comments.