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Pierce Jones goes 4-for-4 with 3 home runs and triple in Little League World Series debut (Video)

One of the best stories of the Little League World Series this year is the Jackie Robinson West squad from Chicago’s South Side that is the first all-black team to reach Williamsport in over a decade. Jackie Robinson West, which is representing the Great Lakes region at the LLWS, might also have the best player in the entire tournament: Pierce Jones.

I happened to be watching Jackie Robinson West’s first game of the tournament Thursday and saw Jones lead off the game with a home run to the right of center field. In his second at-bat, he went with an outside pitch and tripled off the wall in right-center. Then he took a 1-2 pitch up and in and hammered it out to deep left for his second home run of the game. In his fourth at-bat, he tomahawked a high pitch out to left for his third home run.

Jones went 4-for-4 with 3 home runs, a triple and 4 RBIs in his first LLWS game. He was so locked-in, it was like that Barry Bonds feeling — you didn’t want to miss one of his at-bats.

Pierce Jones LLWS

Jones said in an interview after the game that he’d never had a game like this before. It’s hard to believe that. He hit well over .600 at the regionals (I think he was 12-for-16 but can’t remember for certain) and he looks so advanced for his age that he should probably be playing with 16-year-olds. He’s got a long, long way to go in his career, but you can bet now that he’ll be an MLB Draft prospect in six or so years.

No surprise, Jackie Robinson West won their opening game over Pacific Little League of Lynnwood, Wash., 12-2 via the mercy rule. They went 13-for-27 as a team and have clubbed 18 home runs in their past 7 games.

Mike Matheny rips critics of Cardinals coaching staff

Mike-MathenyThe St. Louis Cardinals are struggling at the plate. The defending National League champions rank 29th in baseball in runs scored this season and have scored three or fewer runs in nine of their last 16 games. The Cards are also hitting just .243 with runners in scoring position this year, a full 87 points lower than their remarkable 2013 average.

Mike Matheny is well aware of the stats and struggles. He also realizes his team is just two games out of first and is very much in the playoff hunt, so the Cardinals manager is growing tired of hearing negative feedback.

“You’re putting as much work if not more now than what you did last year when things were going so well,” Matheny said earlier this week, via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You’ve got people taking cheap shots all the time. You’re human. You wear that. Plus you know that the (players) are not happy with where the guys are right now.

“If you have coaches who don’t care, then they’re just putting in their time and chalking it up to a number of issues. That’s not what we have.”

The Cardinals have been shut out 11 times this season, but they are still pitching fairly well (12th in the majors with a 3.59 team ERA). While it might be time to make some adjustments, Matheny certainly doesn’t feel that his team needs to panic.

“I don’t care what anybody else thinks about the statement I’m about to make but our best offense is ahead of us,” Matheny said. “I’m 100 percent convinced of that. … We can’t do our job in defense of criticism. It’s never going to work out. Just keep doing the job and in the end it will come out in the wash.”

The Cardinals will be just fine. Their manager knows how to wear one on the chin. No, really, he does.

Joe Nathan does F— yourself gesture to Tigers fans (Video)

Joe Nathan F yourselfJoe Nathan appeared to tell Detroit Tigers fans to go f— themselves after they booed him during a shaky 9th inning in which he closed out an 8-4 win on Wednesday night.

Nathan was signed in the off-season after putting together an All-Star year with the Rangers last year and was expected to be a steady force in the Tigers’ pen. Instead, he’s struggled all season. He has a 5.11 ERA and blew his sixth save over the weekend.

Manager Brad Ausmus inserted him into a non-save situation to protect the lead Wednesday and, when he walked two batters to start the 9th, the fans booed him. Nathan got a fly out and double play to end the game, and he responded by giving the fans a f— yourself gesture twice. Either that, or he just had an itch on his chin.

Be careful, Joe. We know you’re frustrated, but cameras catch everything.

Byron Buxton carted away in ambulance after outfield collision (Video)

Byron Buxton collisionMinnesota Twins top prospect Byron Buxton was carted away in an ambulance and taken to the hospital after colliding with a teammate in right-center field during his debut with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats on Wednesday.

Buxton is rated as MLB.com’s top prospect for his ability to hit for power, average, run and make great plays on defense like this. He collided with right fielder Mike Kvasnicka while going for a ball in the gap, and Kvasnicka’s knee appeared to hit him in the left shoulder and left him down on the ground.

Milb.com reports that Buxton was down for 10 minutes and not moving before being placed on a stretcher and carted off in an ambulance. Kvasnicka was able to walk after the collision but the 25-year-old was also taken to the hospital.

Buxton, who had been having a rough time at the plate with High-A Fort Myers prior to his promotion to Double-A, was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and an outfield assist prior to the collision.

Buxton ended up with a concussion.

Robin Ventura gets his money’s worth during ejection (Video)

GIF: Displeased with his first effort, Ventura went back to k... on Twitpic

Robin Ventura ejectionRobin Ventura was ejected from Wednesday’s 7-1 loss to the Giants after a call at the plate was overturned, leading him to throw a classic manager’s fit.

The White Sox were up 1-0 in the bottom of the 7th when Joe Panik was batting with men on the corners and one out and grounded into a fielder’s choice. First baseman Jose Abreu threw home to catcher Tyler Flowers, who tagged out Gregor Blanco at the plate. That would have made it runners on first and second with two outs and the White Sox still leading 1-0.

Instead, the umpires reviewed the call and determined Flowers was blocking Blanco’s path home, which is in violation of the new rule against catchers blocking the plate. The call was overturned, giving the Giants the tying run.

As soon as the call was overturned, Ventura bolted out of the dugout to argue. He got in Fieldin Culbreth’s face and was promptly tossed. Then he started doing the old kick dirt on the plate number.

You can see the whole thing in the video below:

GIF via @cjzero

Jon Lester: ‘I’m not going to the highest bidder’

Jon LesterBarring some sort of unforeseen event, Jon Lester will not be pitching for the Oakland A’s next season. Oakland can’t afford him. And the more Lester talks, the more it sounds like he is hoping the Boston Red Sox make him a competitive enough offer that he can return to the place where he started his career.

Lester’s interview with Jon Tomasse of the Boston Herald earlier this week had two interesting takeaways — he isn’t necessarily signing with the highest bidder and he is by no means opposed to returning to Boston.

“My time there, the memories and all that stuff don’t get erased based on this whole ordeal,” Lester said. “I’m glad with where I’m at, and I understood where (Red Sox GM Ben Cherington) was at. At the end of the season, it’s not going to change my mind about going back there if they are aggressive and competitive and do the things they say they’re going to do. Boston is definitely a place I would go.”

[Related: David Ortiz hints Jon Lester will be back with Red Sox]

Lester added that the Red Sox told him before trading him that they planned on pursuing him aggressively this fall, but he basically said they don’t have to be all that aggressive.

“They told me, ‘We’re going to be aggressive. You’re going to get blown out of the water by some of these (other) offers,’” he said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t need to be blown out of the water.’ Why would I need to be blown out of the water? That doesn’t make or break your decision, at least for me. I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. If that’s Boston, it’s Boston.”

It would be easy to envision a scenario where Lester plays for the A’s for a few months, helps them in the playoffs, and returns to the place he has called home for years. His family wouldn’t even have to move and his life would basically remain the way it was before.

Jayson Werth busted for reckless driving – clocked doing 105 in a 55

Jayson WerthJayson Werth may challenge Yasiel Puig for the title of fastest outfielder in baseball — and we’re not talking about 40-yard dash times.

Werth was cited for reckless driving on July 6 after being pulled over for speeding at 105 mph in a 55-mph zone, a check of the Fairfax General District Court shows. The Washington Nationals outfielder was scheduled to appear in court Aug. 8, but that hearing was continued to Nov. 12.

The Nats issued this statement to The Washington Post in response to Werth’s violation:

“The Washington Nationals have been in communication with right fielder Jayson Werth regarding this situation for multiple weeks,” a Nationals spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. “Jayson is cooperating with the authorities. As it is an ongoing legal matter, the team has no further comment.”

The only good thing we can say about this citation is at least Werth wasn’t wearing pink shorts and caught on a dash cam video when he was busted for speeding.

First spotted by The Nats Enquirer