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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Baseball

Blake Snell targeting September return

Blake Snell

The Tampa Bay Rays could be getting their reigning Cy Young winner back just in time for the stretch run of the season.

Rays lefty Blake Snell, who has been out for almost a month after undergoing surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow, said on Monday that he played catch for the first time since the procedure. Snell also expressed optimism about a September return, per team reporter Neil Solondz.

The 26-year-old had not been particularly sharp before his injury, going 6-7 with a 4.28 ERA. But the Rays are currently clinging to the second AL Wild Card spot, and the return of their star southpaw would only be a good thing.

Snell would also benefit from an opportunity to salvage a 2019 campaign that was marred by a bizarre toe injury back in April as well.

A-Rod reportedly had $500K in jewelry, electronics stolen from rental car

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez was the victim of a robbery while he was in San Francisco working Sunday night’s game between the Giants and Philadelphia Phillies, and police are trying to find the thieves that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items from him.

A thief or thieves broke into Rodriguez’s rental car at some point after ESPN’s broadcast of the game, sources told Evan Sernoffsky and Phil Matier of the San Francisco Chronicle. The car was parked roughly three blocks from Oracle Park, and the culprit made off with an estimated $500,000 in items including a laptop, camera and jewelry.

San Francisco Police said the burglary involved a private citizen and did not reveal his or her identity, but the Chronicle confirmed A-Rod was the victim. Rodriguez and some other members of the ESPN production crew were having dinner after the game when the robbery took place. The case is being treated as a high priority by investigators.

A-Rod must not have been aware about this issue in the Bay Area, which has affected broadcasters in the past. Even Luke Walton had his car stolen in the Bay Area a few years ago.

Christian Yelich likely to return from back issue Tuesday

Christian Yelich cap

Christian Yelich’s back problem appears to be nearing a resolution after a week of rest.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder is likely to return to the lineup on Tuesday having not played since Aug. 5 due to back stiffness.

The Brewers have been understandably careful with Yelich, who remains tied for the league lead with 39 home runs. Yelich, too, had stated he would not play again until he was completely confident that the issue was behind him. It looks like he’s in the clear, and the Brewers will simply hope to avoid any recurring flare-ups as they head down the stretch in search of a playoff spot.

Gleyber Torres’ 2019 numbers against the Orioles are unheard of

Baltimore Orioles logo

It’s no secret that the Baltimore Orioles are one of the worst teams in the league, and the New York Yankees are one of the best. Put the two together 19 times a year as AL East rivals, and you’re going to get some gaudy numbers.

Still, the eye-popping numbers put up by Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres are unparalleled. Torres has been a decent, but not great hitter against teams other than Baltimore this season. When the Orioles come to town, however, he turns into peak Barry Bonds except even better.

Torres hit a home run in his first at bat against the Orioles on Monday, adding to the numbers. Such is Torres’ dominance against Baltimore that nearly half of his 2019 home runs — 11 of 24 after Monday’s aforementioned homer — have come against Baltimore.

Torres is a career .360 hitter against the Orioles, so this is nothing new. He’s been so dominant against them that Baltimore’s announcers have noticed and are extremely sick of him.

Rays have creative way of announcing 2020 schedule

Tampa Bay Rays logo

Major League Baseball announced its 2020 regular season schedule on Monday, leaving it up to individual teams to decide how they want to present that information to their fans.

So far, the Tampa Bay Rays are standing out for their efforts. They opted to reveal some key parts of their schedule by jumping in on the meme about storming Area 51 and looking for the aliens, and it seems they found some.

Schedule announcements have become quite the production in recent years, though the NFL has really leaned into things. Kudos to the Rays for trying something different, and it actually ends up working fairly well for them.

Nelson Cruz will not need surgery for wrist injury

Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz is currently on the injured list with a wrist ailment that also forced him to miss time earlier in the season, but the Minnesota Twins slugger got some good news after visiting with a specialist on Monday.

Cruz has been diagnosed with a ruptured ECU tendon in his left wrist, which probably sounds a lot worse than it is. Fortunately, a doctor did not find any additional damage on Monday, and he will not need to undergo surgery. It sounds like the 39-year-old should return sooner rather than later.

Cruz has proven this year that he is still capable of producing at a high level despite his age. He has 32 home runs and 76 RBI in 78 games and currently boasts a career-high .650 slugging percentage and 1.034 OPS. The DH has been a huge part of Minnesota’s offense, so it’s obviously a relief that he is expected back in the near future.

The Twins entered Monday tied with the Cleveland Indians for first in the AL Central.

Giants reliever used Madison Bumgarner-inspired bat to hit game-clinching single

Madison Bumgarner hitting

Madison Bumgarner’s proficiency at the plate may have just gone from impressive to downright mythic.

The San Francisco Giants faced off against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday in a game that went down to the wire. Giants reliever Will Smith was called on to get the final out in the eighth inning, and once he did, stuck around for an at-bat in the bottom half so that he could remain in the contest to pitch the ninth as well. Kevin Pillar came up with a triple for the Giants to break a 6-6 tie, and then Smith followed with a two-run single (in his first career plate appearance no less) to make it 9-6. He then got the final three outs in the ninth inning to earn the victory.

Afterwards, Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic revealed that the bat the All-Star reliever used to get the clutch hit was the same model that Bumgarner has, as he had requested that the team’s clubhouse manager order him as much.

MadBum is known as the league’s marquee “pitcher who rakes,” leading all active hurlers by a wide margin with 18 career homers. In fact, Bumgarner is so good at the dish for a pitcher that it has led to some wild anecdotes like this and makes it easy to see why Smith drew inspiration from him.