How times change: Andre Ethier walked to get to Manny

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Manny Ramirez double.jpgI missed this in the recaps, but file this under “wow, that wouldn’t have happened a year or two ago.”

In the seventh inning of the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game, A.J. Hinch decided to
intentionally walk Andre Ethier with two men on in order to load the bases for Manny Ramirez. And it wasn’t like they were setting up the double play. There were two outs. Ramirez, of course, promptly hit a three-run double off the wall, turning a one-run game into a four-run game, and essentially icing it for L.A.  And, as Vin Scully notes in the video, Manny’s shot would have been a grand slam in just about any other park.

I know Andre Ethier leads the N.L. in everything at the moment, but I think we’ve reached a point where we’ve discounted Manny Ramirez a bit too much.  He’s at .393/.507/.589 on the year.

L.A. has a lot of problems, but they’re only 4.5 out.  If 2010 Manny does a reasonable approximation of 2008 Manny, the Dodgers may jump back into this thing yet.

(thanks to Mike Bogen for the heads up on the IBB)

Video: Bryce Harper crushes a home run to the Chase Field concourse

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Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.

Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.

The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.

The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Chi Chi Gonzalez to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.

This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.

It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.