In a surprising turn of events, the Giants have opted to call up 2008 first-round pick Buster Posey to help out with Bengie Molina still struggling due to a strained right quad.
The Giants had indicated that Posey would finish the season in the minors and then get a break before taking part in the Arizona Fall League. The 22-year-old Florida State product hit .326/.428/.540 with 13 homers in 291 at-bats for Single-A San Jose and .321/.391/.511 with five homers in 131 at-bats for Triple-A Fresno this season. The Giants purposely kept him off their Double-A Connecticut affiliate, which plays in a terrible environment for hitters. His numbers have definitely been aided by playing in strong hitters ballparks in leagues that enhance offense, but his first full pro season has gone as well as anyone could have hoped.
Posey still doesn’t figure to have a particularly big role with the Giants this month. Molina’s injury has become a bigger issue than anticipated, but he’s expected back as the regular catcher before long. Posey will serve as protection there and as a pinch-hitter. His ability to make contact could make him very useful in that role, and he shouldn’t be dismissed as a postseason roster possibility just yet.
The late callup also serves as an audition for Posey. Molina is a free agent this winter, and while the Giants would likely be happy to bring him back for 2010, they shouldn’t match the multiyear commitments he could receive from other teams. If Posey shows enough in his limited time behind the plate, the Giants could be more open about turning the job over to him on Opening Day. That he’ll already have 33 days of service time may work in his favor. Teams these days find it pretty reasonable to keep a prospect in the minors for two months to guarantee they won’t have super-two eligibility. However, the Giants now would have to wait until July to turn to Posey. It might make more sense to simply bite the bullet and go with him the whole year.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.