Take a left on Matt Stairs Way

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Thanks to the curly mullet, the swing-from-his-heels approach and the big postseason homer in Philly last year, Matt Stairs would be awesome even if he didn’t have a street named after him.  Now, however, he has a street named after him:

On Saturday, the free-agent rightfielder, who played for the
Phillies the past two seasons, had a street named after him in his
hometown of Fredericton in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. And not just any street. The road that runs alongside Royal Field Park – the place Stairs first played professionally – has been renamed Matt Stairs Way.

“Royals Field . . . that’s one of the most special ones I’ve ever
been in,” Stairs told the Canadian Broadcasting Centre News. “One, it’s
in my hometown. Two, it’s where I was scouted, where I was signed. It’s
a home inside of a home city. And now, just to have a street named
around it is a great honor.”

I can’t think of a player I like more than Stairs. He’s all kinds of awesome packed into such an unassuming package. Stairs is one of the great “coulda beens” in baseball history. Sometimes I wonder what kind of damage Stairs would have done to major league pitching had the Expos not decided to try and make a second baseman out of him, which basically delayed his big league career until he was 29. If someone had stuck the guy at first or DH at age 23 or 24 and who knows what he would have done?

Sadly, it doesn’t look like the Phillies are interested in bringing him back for 2010. Not sure if anyone else will either (we’ll probably have to wait until the last possible minute before spring training to find out).  But even if he never plays another inning, we’ll always have our memories of the guy, and Stairs will always have his street.

Jose Bautista is starting at third base for the first time in over four years

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is getting a rare start at third base today. How rare is it? Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae notes that he last started at third base on April 14, 2013 against the Royals.

Bautista has played some third base already this year. On April 27 against the Cardinals, Bautista pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Coghlan and stayed in the game at the position. Last Saturday, Bautista moved from right field to third base as part of a handful of defensive switches. Overall, he’s played four defensive innings at the hot corner this season.

The Blue Jays have had to get creative at third base while Josh Donaldson has dealt with a calf injury. Darwin Barney and Chris Coghlan have drawn most of the starts at third base, but catcher Russell Martin started there on Sunday and tonight we’ll see Bautista there.

Braves’ bullpen hasn’t allowed a hit to last 54 batters, setting franchise record

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The Braves announced on Tuesday, citing Elias Sports, that the bullpen set a franchise record, preventing the last 54 batters faced from getting a hit.

The last reliever to allow a hit was Josh Collmenter to the first batter he faced against the Blue Jays last Thursday. Since then, the bullpen has logged 15 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Here are the logs since Collmenter gave up that hit.

Date Opp. Pitcher BF IP H R ER BB SO
May 18 vs. TOR Josh Collmenter 7 2.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 18 vs. TOR Ian Krol 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 19 vs. WAS Jason Motte 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 19 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Ian Krol 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Jason Motte 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 21 vs. WAS Luke Jackson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jason Motte 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 22 vs. PIT Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 22 vs. PIT Arodys Vizcaino 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jim Johnson 4 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 54 15.1 0 0 0 4 10

Despite the hot streak lately, the Braves’ bullpen still ranks in the middle of the pack in ERA at 4.07. Its 21.3 percent strikeout rate ranks 18th out of 30 teams and its 8.6 percent walk rate is ninth.