Link-O-Rama: Bloomquist is proving it all night

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* Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star is the latest in a long line of mainstream media members to inexplicably fawn over Willie Bloomquist. Here’s my favorite excerpt:
Bloomquist, 31, has already set career highs this season in virtually every offensive category. His 342 at-bats through Wednesday put him on pace to finish with 440 after never getting more than 251 in Seattle. And he finds satisfaction in proving, finally, that he only needed a chance to prove he can be a regular player.
Bloomquist is hitting .257 with four homers and 25 RBIs, so this stuff about “setting career-highs in virtually every offensive category” and “proving finally that he only needed a chance to prove he can be a regular player” is laughable.
He came into this season with a lifetime .263 average and .645 OPS. This season he has a .257 average and .654 OPS. The only thing he’s really “proving” is that newspaper writers take care of friendly players who provide them with good quotes. Dutton, incidentally, is president of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
* San Francisco is reportedly the team that claimed Trevor Hoffman off waivers, but the odds of a trade taking place seem slim. Instead the Giants likely just wanted to make sure that he doesn’t win up with the Dodgers or Rockies.
* His dad finally seems to be out of the spotlight, but 22-year-old catcher/outfielder Koby Clemens is making a name for himself by hitting .346 with 20 homers and 65 total extra-base hits in 106 games at high Single-A.
* According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com the Twins are close to acquiring veteran left-handed reliever Ron Mahay from the Royals. Mahay was designated for assignment earlier this week after posting a 4.79 ERA and 34/19 K/BB ratio in 41.1 innings, but prior to struggling this season he had ERAs of 3.95, 2.55, and 3.48 with solid K/BB ratios in the previous three years.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.