An extremely abbreviated Home Run Derby diary

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Given my view of it all,
you won’t be surprised to hear that I ended up only watching a fraction
of the Home Run Derby last night, but I’ll offer the following
observations:

— It took something like 20 minutes for the actual hitting to start
following the commencement of the broadcast. One would think that if
you’re hyping a Home Run Derby as much as ESPN was, you’d want to get
to some actual hitting eventually.

— Nelson Cruz was pretty impressive. Wasn’t expecting that.
Probably because I never get to see any Rangers games. I think I’ll
blame ESPN for that too.

— I get tired watching Prince Fielder simply walk around, so
watching him hack violently like he did last night was an exhausting
experience.

— Call me crazy, but I don’t know that I’d want my son to be one of
the kids who wipe down the sweaty ballplayers after they’re done
hitting. Very weird vibe.

— Berman might read CTB — or Deadspin — because in at least the parts I saw of it, he seemed to have ratcheted, um, back on the “back back backs” a good 50%

Greg Doyel of CBS Sports made a veiled accusation of steroid use by Brandon Inge yesterday. Wonder if he’s gonna take it back now that Inge didn’t hit a single dinger.

— The little comet trail thing they’re putting on the ball makes me
burn with an anger that is hotter than a thousand suns. Beyond stupid.
Who can’t follow the flight of a baseball? Who doesn’t have the
patience to see if the ball makes the stands? Half the time it doesn’t
even track the ball very well. Note to ESPN: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

— Adrian Gonzalez came to bat and Joe Buck made his way to the
broadcast desk. To review the bidding at that point, we had Berman,
Steve Phillips, Joe Buck, a contrived contest I can’t really get into,
and some lame, 1980s video game graphics on the ball. That’s when I
bailed. Congrats to Prince Fielder and everything, but my Ross MacDonald book was way, way more entertaining.

Look, I’ll fully admit that everyone looks like they’re having fun at
this thing. Especially all of the kids shagging flies in the outfield.
But it simply doesn’t work as televised entertainment. Perhaps if they
sped it up a bit, jacked the intensity somehow and made it into a
shorter and more direct contest the results would be better. Of course
that can’t happen because guys would get too tired and people wouldn’t
sit in the stands buying $8 beers for three hours.

All-Star Game tonight. You won’t be surprised to learn that I have a
million complaints about it too, but at least it’s baseball.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.