Out since mid-June with a knee injury, Carlos Beltran is expected to rejoin the Mets tonight.
New York has gone 27-42 since Beltran landed on the disabled list, which makes his opting against simply sitting out the final four weeks of a lost season pretty admirable.
Here’s what Beltran had to say about his decision:
I don’t want to sit back. I’m a ballplayer. When you’re a ballplayer, your job is being able to rehab yourself and if that’s the last game of the season, then play the last game of the season. That’s what we’re here for, that’s what we get paid for.
Beltran was having an MVP-caliber season prior to going on the shelf, doing his usual solid work defensively while hitting .336/.425/.527 with 29 extra-base hits, 11 steals, 40 RBIs, and 40 runs in 60 games despite playing through the knee injury for half that time. I’ve long felt that Beltran was among the more underappreciated stars in baseball and his trying to finish this year on something resembling a high note makes me an even bigger fan.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.