One Last Chance To Take Down Cleveland

After a homestand that saw the Red Sox go 3-3-1, they head to Cleveland for one last chance to beat the Indians. The first game starts on Monday, with Eduardo Rodriguez going up against Zach Plesac. For those who don’t know, last Wednesday’s game got suspended due to rain, and therefore will be played on August 22nd. That was the last time Rodriguez pitched. This time, he is looking to have a better game.

This last homestand saw the Red Sox slip deeper in the standings, not just in the AL East,one last chance but in the Wild Card as well. After loosing the last two games to the LA Angels, they look to end the skid now in Cleveland. Right now, the Indians are 71-47, and are tied for first place. The Red Sox have one last chance to do some damage against the Indians these next three days. Let’s see what happens.

A Royally Strange Homestand

The Royals came to town last week for one final showdown of the season at Fenway. After splitting the first two games of the series, it was tied 1-1. Now, Red Sox Nation has to wait until August 22nd to know the final score. The game will be their one last chance to grab a win against Kansas City.

The first game saw the Red Sox snap an eight game loosing streak, as they won 7-5. Rick Porcello picked up his 10th win of the season, going six inning allowing one run on four hits. Both Sam Travis and Rafael Devers homered in the game. While the bullpen did give up four additional runs, Brandon Workman pitched in the ninth inning to earn his sixth save of the season.

Game two resulted in a loss for the Red Sox, as the Royals won, 6-2. Andrew Cashner’s 5.1 innings of work resulted in all six runs, while the Boston bats fell silent. Royals starter, Jakob Junis and the bullpen kept the Boston bats quiet, only allowing two runs, despite the lineup getting nine hits. The Red Sox had multiple opportunities to try and win this game, but none of them worked.

Game three started off with the Red Sox down 2-0, but a two run home run by JD Martinez tied it in the bottom of the fourth inning. Then, Xander Bogaerts’ two run double in the fifth put Boston ahead 4-2. However, Darwinzon Hernandez and Nathan Eovaldi allowed a runner each to score, tying the game. The score of 4-4 will last until next week, when the Red Sox have one last chance to take the series from the Royals.

The Angels Faced the Red Sox for the First Time in 2019

Seriously, who makes the schedule? The last time the Red Sox played the LA Angels was from June 26th – June 28th 2018 that resulted in a sweep of the Angels in Boston. The next time Boston faces the Angels will be at the end of August in Anaheim.

After the suspended game on Wednesday, the Red Sox looked to defeat the Angels at Fenway. Game one turned into a successful one for the Sox, as they shut out the Angels, 3-0. Chris Sale pitched eight solid innings for his sixth win of the season. Sale allowed only two hits while striking out thirteen batters. Sam Travis and Sandy Leon provided the run support, with home runs in the second and fifth innings respectively. Brandon Workman, the highlight of the bullpen, came in and earned his seventh save of the season.

Game two turned into a slugfest for Boston. After giving up a three run home run to Albert Pujols in the first inning, the Red Sox responded with a total of 16 runs. Brian Johnson started the game, pitching 2.2 innings. From there, the bullpen went to work, only allowing one more run, and striking out five. Marcus Walden earned his seventh win of the season. JD Martinez went on a home run tear, homering in the fourth inning and in the seventh inning. Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland also hit home runs in the game.

Mike Trout Finally Hits a Fenway Home Run

After taking the first two games from the Angels, the Red Sox couldn’t hang onto the possibility of a sweep, or taking three of the four games from the Angels. Game three, however saw something that has never been done at Fenway Park – Mike Trout hitting a home run. Yes, since breaking out in the majors in 2011, he has never hit a home run at Fenway. Then, with one on and no outs in the sixth inning, he launched the ball over the Green Monster off of Rick Porcello. The Angels ended up winning 12-4.

Game four was another lost opportunity for Boston. After coming back to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Angels scored in the eighth, and then again in the tenth inning. Andrew Cashner only lasted 1.2 innings, but a solid 2.1 innings from Josh Taylor and a strong inning each for Marcus Walden and Nathan Eovaldi proved to be promising. Kole Calhoun had other plans, as he hit a home run off of Matt Barnes to tie the game, and a single by Anthony Bemboom sealed the deal, as the Angels won 5-4.

One Last Chance to Defeat Cleveland on the Road

Following Sunday afternoon’s game, the Red Sox flew to Cleveland to get ready to take on the Indians. The Indians, who went 3-1 against the Twins, look to continue their climb in the AL Central against the Red Sox. They’re currently 71-47, and are tied with the Twins in their division. The Red Sox will have one last chance to defeat the Indians, and keep them back in the AL Central.

They will be sending Zach Plesac up against Eduardo Rodriguez in game one. Game two will feature Chris Sale and Mike Clevinger. Game three’s starter for Cleveland will be Shane Beiber, while Boston has yet to name a starter. The Red Sox will be looking at an Indians rotation without Trevor Bauer, but a line up featuring Yasiel Puig. Last time the Red Sox saw Puig was during the World Series against the Dodgers.

2019 MLB Top Five First Basemen

Historically, the best first basemen around the league bat in the middle of the lineup. In the past two decades, players such as Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira have not only been the best hitters on their respective teams, but the best hitters in baseball. In Pujols’s eleven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, he made the All-Star team nine times, averaged 40 home runs, 120 RBI, a .328 batting average and a 1.037 OPS. He also won Rookie of the Year, three MVPs, and two World Series titles. Though Teixeira’s first seven seasons were split between four teams (TEX, ATL, LAA, NYY), he remained a pitcher’s nightmare, averaging 34 homers, 114 RBI, and a .921 OPS. Both Pujols and Teixeira were, at one point in their prime, Top Five First Basemen.

This season, there were four clear-cut players that made the list. Finding number-five wasTop Five First Basemen difficult. One may have favored Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, who has averaged a .869 OPS in five seasons since being signed as an international free agent out of Cuba. Other candidates were Eric Hosmer (San Diego Padres) and Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians). The selection, however, goes to up-and-coming star Rhys Hoskins, who slugged an .850 OPS in his first full season in 2018.

Top Five First Basemen – 5 – Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia Phillies)

Hoskins’s 38 doubles and 34 home runs last season were no fluke. He made his MLB debut in August 2017, and in 50 games, hit 18 home runs, knocked in 48 runs, and posted an OPS of 1.014. Back in 2016, Hoskins spent a full season playing at Double-A Reading. He hit 38 homers and 116 RBI. In 2017, at Triple-A, he played 115 games and set the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs franchise-record in HRs with 29. After eclipsing the 30 home-run-mark in 2018, look for Hoskins to hit closer to 40 this season, if not more.

Top Five First Basemen – 4 – Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis Cardinals)

Goldschmidt has been an All-Star in each of the past six seasons. His most notable strength is that he is a master at reaching base, averaging a .406 clip since 2013. He is one of the very few at his position to add speed on the base paths (17 per season). Goldy has finished top-3 in the MVP voting three times. He joins a new team in the Cardinals this year after spending his entire career with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Cardinals rewarded him with a 5-year contract extension on March 21st. The D-Backs never won a division title in the Goldschmidt era.

Top Five First Basemen – 3 – Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)

The 2010 NL MVP turns 36 in September and has put together a spectacular career. Besides Pujols and Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, JV is the only other active 1B to win a MVP award. In terms of reaching base, no one else comes close. His career OBP clip is an astounding .427. He has led the league in walks five times and OBP seven times. His slugging percentage, however, took a big dip last year (.419). The three years prior he had averaged .556. That decline, combined with the fact the Reds have won just 2 games in Votto’s career, puts him at 2019 first baseman number-three.

Top Five First Basemen – 2 – Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs)

The only first baseman to put together four straight 100 RBI seasons is Rizzo. He won his second Gold Glove in the past three years in 2018 and was a major contributor to the Cubs 2016 World Series championship. Rizzo is extremely durable, at least 616 plate appearances in each season, and has led Chicago to four straight playoff appearances.

Top Five First Basemen – 1 – Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)

Freeman led all first basemen in hits, doubles, and batting average last year. In his last three seasons he has averaged a slash line of .306/.397/.949. Freeman’s Braves won the NL East in 2018. He won his first Gold Glove last year and enters 2019 as the most feared first baseman.

Angels Fan Returned 600th Home Run Ball to Pujos

Albert Pujols, the veteran infielder and DH for the Los Angeles Angels, hit his 600th career home run on June 3rd. An Angels fan named Scotty Steffel caught the ball and held it tight as his father pulled zealous fans off his son. Pujols’ 600th home run marked only the ninth time a played in the MLB has reached that plateau. Pujols also made history as the only player whose 600th home run was a grand slam. So it’s only natural that the fan who caught it would want something major in return for the ball. In some cases, fans demand tens of thousands of dollars for a significant piece of baseball memorabilia. But in a display of class and integrity, the Angels fan returned the ball to who he called its rightful owner.

“It’s not my ball, it’s his,” Steffel told CBS Los Angeles. “He deserves it. He’s one of theAngels Fan returned best baseball players right now. Of all time.” While many were quick to praise Steffel for giving up the ball without asking for anything in return, others were not so kind. “Of course you sell it,” someone wrote on the Facebook wall of the Institute for Baseball Studies. “One life so look out for yourself and your family. Opportunity comes so take it. So if that makes me greedy I’m fine with that.” Others were more blunt. “Oh yea, giving the Baseball back in 2017 for free………DUMBEST F*@&!#G THING I EVER DID IN MY LIFE!”

Angels Fan Returned the Baseball Out of Respect, Not Cash

Steffel allegedly could have gotten $100,00 for the baseball. But it’s not really like he walked away empty handed. He got his fifteen minutes of fame. He got to meet Pujols after the game. The newest member of the 600 home run club hugged Steffel and shook his hand. Steffel also got the chance to sit in the broadcast booth for a while. And not to mention the tremendous amount of press coverage he’ll get for weeks to come.

In a time when players’ inflated egos are causing unwarranted brawls, it’s refreshing to see someone like Steffel be so selfless. Hopefully his actions will serve as a model for others.