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Saturday, August 17, 2019


Joey Votto was squeezed three times by Angel Hernandez on strikeouts

Angel Hernandez serving as the home plate umpire for Sunday’s Cincinnati Reds-Chicago Cubs game was Joey Votto’s worst nightmare.

Votto went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in his team’s 6-3 loss. Known for having one of the best commands of the strike zone in MLB and highest walk rates in the league, Votto was called out by Hernandez on all three of the strikeouts. Here’s a look at the pitches, which were all very close to the zone.

One of the calls appears to have been correct, though two of the strike calls — and a handful of others — seemed to be wrong.

Votto did have an RBI double in the third to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Cincinnati went up 3-0 in the game before allowing six unanswered runs to lose.

No surprise, Votto let Hernandez know he wasn’t pleased with the calls.

Votto should actually be somewhat thankful. When it comes to Hernandez, the blown calls usually are much worse.

Giants to retire Will Clark’s No. 22 in 2020

san francisco giants

The San Francisco Giants are making what many fans will think is a long-overdue step to recognize one of the franchise’s finest hitters.

During a reunion of the 1989 NL Champion Giants, the team announced Sunday that they would retire Will Clark’s No. 22 in a ceremony in 2020.

Will the Thrill was the star attraction on the Giants teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. In eight years with the organization, he hit .299 with power, making five All-Star appearances and finishing in the top five of NL MVP voting on four different occasions. He was also a Gold Glove winner at first base in 1991.

One has to wonder if it will be the only Giants’ jersey retirement in the near term, with a beloved figure currently finishing out his last year with the organization.

Alex Cora suggests struggling Red Sox are pressing

Alex Cora

The Boston Red Sox lost their 11th game in the last 14 on Sunday, dropping them seven games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second AL wild card spot. Understandably, panic is starting to set in among Red Sox Nation, and it seems the team is feeling it too.

Manager Alex Cora suggested after Boston’s 5-4 extra innings loss to the Los Angeles Angels that the team is pressing a bit and trying too hard to make things happen.

It’s certainly not what you’d want to hear from a manager, but it’s probably the truth. Boston’s playoff hopes are quickly slipping away, with the AL East all but over and the Rays and Oakland Athletics pulling well out in front of the reigning champions. With the possibility of a star player being dealt in the offseason, this may be a rough end to the season for the Red Sox.

Shane Bieber seeks to trademark ‘Not Justin’ nickname

Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber is inevitably going to get jokes and confusion about his last name as long as pop singer Justin Bieber is famous. So Shane may as well make some money off it.

According to sports business reporter Darren Rovell, Shane Bieber has filed for the trademark to his “Not Justin” nickname. The move comes days after he went viral over a Topps baseball card that mistakenly referred to him as “Justin,” which gained the attention of the singer himself.

Bieber has more or less embraced it, even using “Not Justin” as his nickname on the back of his jersey for Players’ Weekend in 2018. Maybe we’ll see some apparel come out of this.

Watch: Orioles’ defensive disaster allows Michael Brantley to score on triple

Baltimore Orioles logo

The Baltimore Orioles are one of the worst teams in baseball, and teams as bad as they are tend to find new ways to lose every day. Sunday was no exception.

Baltimore held a 5-4 lead in the 9th, but the Houston Astros put the first two men on in the inning for Michael Brantley. Brantley ripped a line drive to right that would have given Houston the lead either way but got even worse thanks to right fielder Anthony Santander.

So what exactly happened in that right field corner? The simple answer is Santander completely forgot how to throw.

That’s a bad one. The only consolation was that the Astros would have taken the lead no matter what, but Santander’s effort was ruled a throwing error, giving Brantley a triple and an extra base on the mistake.

Despite the blunder, the Orioles rallied in the bottom of the ninth off Astros closer Roberto Osuna and actually came back to win 8-7. That’s some happy news for a team that has endured a difficult week/a>.

Nationals’ Juan Soto leaves game with apparent leg injury

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals are hoping that one of their key players isn’t seriously injured after leaving Sunday’s game against the New York Mets.

Outfielder Juan Soto appeared to tweak his right ankle or foot as he was rounding third base, potentially turning it. He was initially unable to put weight on it, but seemed to be doing a bit better moments later. Still, he was removed from the game, with no word on his status.

The Nationals are locked in an increasingly tight NL Wild Card race, and they’ve been carrying on without their ace pitcher. Soto, a .289 hitter with 24 home runs and 77 RBIs, is a key part of their lineup. They can’t really afford to be without him for too long.

Joe Maddon optimistic Cubs will offer him new contract

Joe Maddon

The Chicago Cubs have been steadfast in their refusal to discuss a new contract with Joe Maddon, who is in the final year of the five-year contract he signed when joining the organization. That doesn’t mean Maddon sees no future in Chicago, though.

Maddon said Sunday his optimism is “very high” that the Cubs will give him a new contract, even as the team sits a modest 1.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

“It’s very high, yeah,” Maddon said, via Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. “Very high. Very, very high. I’m operating in that I believe we’ll be together for a couple more years at least.”

Maddon’s confidence comes despite the fact that the front office has been unhappy at various points about the team’s progress this season. It’s entirely possible he has some private assurances, but you’d still think a division title is imperative.