Link-O-Rama: Strasburg to debut in AFL

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* Now that they have Stephen Strasburg signed, the Nationals plan to have the No. 1 overall pick make a few instructional league starts before pitching in the Arizona Fall League. According to general manager Mike Rizzo, the goal is to have him throw “35-50 innings total” after not pitching since San Diego State’s season ended in late May. Strasburg will wear No. 37, just like he did in college.
* Alfonso Soriano has been dealing with knee pain since running into the outfield wall at Wrigley Field on April 22, hitting just .231/.288/.395 in 99 games since then while going 11-for-70 (.157) with 18 strikeouts this month. He’s been out of the lineup for the past three games and is set to undergo an MRI exam this afternoon. “I hope it’s nothing serious,” Soriano said. “I want to see the doctor and see. I don’t like surgery.”
* Also in the Cubs’ outfield, Milton Bradley talked yesterday about the “hatred you face on a daily basis” and how “it’s hard to be comfortable when you don’t get a hit and get booed every time.” Luckily for everyone involved, there are still two years and $21 million remaining on his contract.
* Random trivia: A.J. Pierzynski is batting .316 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs, putting him on pace to become just the third player in baseball history to hit above .300 with at least 15 homers and fewer than 50 RBIs in a season. The others? Bill Madlock (.309-15-44) in 1978 and Richie Zisk (.311-16-43) in 1981.
* Thanks to Joe Maddon and the Rays, hair-dye sales in the greater St. Petersburg area have gone through the roof.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.