Today’s Buster Olney column is actually pretty good as it relates to Jason Heyward’s expectations and the media and all of that, but I can’t help but think his opening paragraphs were specifically intended to give Braves fans a heart attack:
Jason Heyward was born in Georgia, was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves,
was seen as a hometown-kid-makes-good star since high school, has been
given high marks for his makeup, and is on the verge of breaking into
the majors amid outsized expectations.
Jeff Francoeur knows something about all that. He was born in Georgia. He was a first
round pick of the Braves. He was seen as a
hometown-kid-makes-good-star, was given high marks for his makeup, and
he broke into the majors amid outsized expectations.
I like to slam Francoeur whenever I can because he made me cry big tears when he was in a Braves uniform, but I have to be fair here and note that he gives some very good advice to Heyward in the column about how to handle it all. For as big as city as Atlanta is, it’s a pretty provincial place when it comes to its athletes, so if Heyward has even a fraction of the start Francoeur had when he broke into the league, you can bet people will go kinda crazy.
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.