Thoughts from Tuesday's games

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Twitter is broken for me and a bunch of other new users, so let’s post some quick notes here:

– Hopefully, Tuesday’s ninth inning will bring an end to manager Terry
Francona’s attempts to keep Nick Green in the shortstop mix for the Red
Sox. Green did better than expected as a stopgap in place of an injured
Jed Lowrie and a gimpy Julio Lugo, but he doesn’t get on base, he
doesn’t have much range and he’s just not a very smart ballplayer. Two
ugly plays led to two runs against Jonathan Papelbon tonight, allowing
the A’s to tie it up.

Lowrie needs to play regularly for the next few weeks, allowing the
Red Sox to see whether they truly need an upgrade at short for
September and the postseason. Green should be thought of strictly as a
utilityman.

– MVP candidate Jason Bartlett hit ninth for the Rays tonight.
Against a left-hander. Against an ace left-hander he’s actually slugged
.483 against in his career. Bartlett is hitting .333/.386/.511 this
season. He’s hit .328/.381/.464 against southpaws in his career. He was
9-for-29 against CC Sabathia. And the Rays arranged it so that he would
potentially get one less at-bat than Pat Burrell, Gabe Kapler or Dioner
Navarro.

For the record, leadoff hitter B.J. Upton was batting .184/.311/.254 against lefties this season.

– Ross Gload walkoff blast against Rafael Soriano in the bottom of
the ninth Tuesday was his fourth homer for Florida in 134 at-bats this
season. He hit three homers in 388 at-bats for Kansas City last year.
Sadly, the Royals may well have been better off with him instead of
Mike Jacobs. They’re still paying most of Gload’s salary, and the
pitcher they gave to the Marlins for Jacobs, Leo Nunez, got the win in
relief tonight.

– Poor Scott Downs. Battles back from bases loaded with no outs in a
tie game against the Mariners by getting a 5-2 groundout and a
strikeout and then gets 0-2 on Ichiro Suzuki with a chance to send the
game into extra innings. He throws a perfect breaking ball off the
plate and barely off the ground and Ichiro somehow bloops perfectly in
between the shortstop and center fielder, ending the game. No one else
in baseball gets that pitch in the air.

Downs now has three losses and an additional blown save in his last five appearances.

He wouldn’t have even had to face Ichiro tonight if the defense had
done a better job on the 6-2 groundout. It was just to the right of
third base, and Scott Rolen could have touched third and still had
plenty of time to throw home, with the caveat being that the runner
would have been in his throwing lane. When he fired home instead, the
Jays still might have had a chance for the double play at third base,
except the shortstop was late getting over to cover the bag.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.