Quick hits: Tigers avoid sweep

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– The Tigers avoided a three-game sweep
at the hands of the surging Twins with a 6-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
Nate Robertson allowed two runs over five innings, while Placido
Polanco went 2-for-3 with three RBI. The Tigers now sit three games in
front of the Twins with 13 games to go. They aren’t quite out of the
woods yet, as the clubs will meet for a three-game series Sept. 28-30.




– If the Twins are going to jump the Tigers in the standings, they are going to have to do it without the services of Joe Crede.
Battling pain in his lower back since August, Crede will undergo
surgery to clean up fluid from a herniated disk next week. It will be
the third surgery Crede has had on his back in the past three years.
Limited to just 90 games this
season, Crede batted .225/.289/.414 with 15 homers and 48 RBI in 333
at-bats. Though there have been whispers about retirement, the
31-year-old third baseman and impending free-agent has no plans to hang
it up.




– It looks like Michael Young may have jumped the gun when he unexpectedly returned to the lineup
against the Athletics last Tuesday. His season is now in jeopardy after
he re-aggravated his left hamstring during a second-inning at-bat.
It’s just the latest bad news for
the Rangers, who now sit 7 1/2 games out of first-place after dropping
two out of three to the Angels this weekend. With a
.322/.375/.523 line to go along with 22 homers and 67 RBI, Young has been the
Rangers’ most valuable player this season.




– Shocking news, as Giants prospect Angel Villalona has been detained in connection to a murder
in the Dominican Republic. Villalona, 19, is the prime suspect in the
shooting death of a 25-year-old man. According a report by the
Associated Press, he will appear in court on Monday and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Villalona batted .267 with nine home runs
and 42 RBI in 74 games with Class A San Jose before being shut down
with a quad injury in July. Villalona, who was ranked as the No. 33
prospect in baseball by
Baseball America, was signed to a team record $2.1 million signing bonus in 2007.

– And finally, the Cubs have suspended Milton Bradley for the rest of the season. Yeah, he doesn’t like Chicago very much. Got news for ya, the feeling is mutual.

Is Bud Black the favorite to be the next Braves manager?

Bud Black
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We talked last week about how Fredi Gonzalez is likely a dead man walking as the Braves manager. They stink, he’s a lame duck and part of the team’s whole marketing thrust is “2017 will be a new beginning,” what with the new ballpark and all. It stands to reason that Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t have long for this world.

Last week I suspected he’d be fired tomorrow, the Braves off day before a home stand. They’ve won in the past week, but it still wouldn’t shock me. Even if firing Gonzalez would be an act of scapegoating. It’s the roster that’s the problem, not the manager, even though Fredi doesn’t exactly inspire anyone.

Today Bob Nightengale throws this into the mix:

As of yet he hasn’t followed that up with an actual column or more tweets about who, exactly, considers Black to be the heavy favorite, but there’s a definitiveness to that which makes me think he’s heard something solid.

Black, as you know, was the long time Padres manager who had an unsuccessful flirtation with the Nationals before they hired Dusty Baker this past offseason. Black is now cooling his heels with his longtime boss Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, in what is clearly a “wait for his next managing opportunity” posture.

Could it be in Atlanta? At least one national writer and some nebulous group of insiders believe so, it would seem.

The Reds bullpen set a record for futility

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher J.J. Hoover reacts after giving up a solo home run to Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez, left, during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Cincinnati. The Cubs won 8-1. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Associated Press
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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning but it’s worthy of its own post.

The Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen gave up two runs last night. In so doing it made for the 21st consecutive game in which it has allowed at least one run. That’s a new major league record, having surpassed the 2013 Colorado Rockies’ record of 20, according to Elias.

Last year the Reds set a record — shattered it, really — by going with rookie starting pitchers in 64 straight games to end the season. Those guys aren’t rookies anymore, but they’re still really inexperienced. They could probably use some better bullpen help than they’ve been getting.

Headline of the Day– A-Rod: “Trophy Boyfriend”

Alex Rodriguez
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For as long as there have been couples, the woman in a couple has been publicly defined by the man’s life and accomplishments. It doesn’t matter if the woman cures cancer, walks on the moon or wins the Eurovision Song Contest, when news stories or obituaries are written, she is invariably referred to as “wife of ___” or “girlfriend of ___.” Even if the guy is a grade-A schmuck.

While that pattern still persists, it’s nice to see someone flip the script on it once in a while. Like The Cut did in its story about a new, high-profile couple going public:

 

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The couple: Alex Rodriguez and Anne Wojcicki. Who, if you were unaware, is a Silicon Valley biotech CEO and a billionaire. She went to Yale, played varsity hockey in college and is a mother. Alex Rodriguez is accomplished and famous, but outside of the sports bubble he’s a padawan to Wojcicki’s master Jedi. Despite this, in places other than The Cut, it would still not be surprising to see her referred to as “A-Rod’s girlfriend,” because that’s just how people roll. Here’s hoping others take The Cut’s lead when referring to women in the public sphere more often.

A related note: in the rare cases when a famous male personality is identified in reference to his female partner and not the other way around, people like to make jokes and like to question the masculinity of the man. Which is equally stupid. And, to the man in question, should be utterly beside the point.

To that end, I think it’s worth noting that Alex Rodriguez has been involved with several women who, outside of baseball, are far more famous than he is and it’s never seemed to be an issue for him whatsoever. People like to say a lot of things about A-Rod’s ego and personality, but in this respect I bet he’s a hell of a lot better adjusted, grounded and self-assured than the vast majority of men who might find themselves in his place.

Video: Jeff Samardzija breaks a bat over his knee after striking out

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Jeff Samardzija had a great night last night. He allowed one run on three hits over eight innings and picked up the win. In the early going he’s proving wrong those who thought that the Giants overpaid for him and is providing solid performance from the third spot in the Giants rotation. It’s all good.

But good is not always good enough for a professional athlete. Especially one like Samardzija, who excelled in multiple sports and likely can count his lifetime athletic failures on one hand. No, when you’re wired like that you get upset even when you’re excellent because sometimes you want to be perfect.

For example, most pitchers don’t get too worried about striking out. They’re there to pitch, not bat. They turn on their heel and calmly walk back to the dugout. Samardzija, however, got a bit irate when he struck out. Then he did this: