Rays opt not to keep Hank Blalock for bench job

Leave a comment

Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays have chosen Reid Brignac over Hank Blalock for their final bench spot, so Blalock “will assess his other major-league options for a few days” after saying earlier this week that he’d refuse an assignment to the minors.
Topkin speculates that Blalock “could end up at Triple-A Durham if he doesn’t find a better opportunity” and manager Joe Maddon noted that he’d be happy to keep the veteran in the organization as a possible in-season call-up.
Of course, Maddon also said “I really think he’s going to have a big year” moments after the team chose not to keep him around as a bench player, so who knows. Don’t expect Blalock to land a big-league job at this point, so whether it’s with the Rays or another team he’ll likely need a productive stint at Triple-A to re-surface in the majors.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: