Hoffman back in action, but in setup role

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hoffman walking.jpgTrevor Hoffman returned to action on Sunday for the first the first time since allowing three earned runs in a blown save opportunity on May 18 against the Reds.  He got four days off in total, and it seemed to help him this afternoon as he pitched a perfect eighth inning against the Twins.

He won’t return to closing duties until he can string together several quality innings in setup or middle relief.  Carlos Villanueva is covering most of the save chances and John Axford is getting some looks, too.  Hoffman believes that will change eventually, though, and he’s probably right.

“It’s about winning ballgames,” the veteran told MLB.com.  We briefly discussed it, and [the eighth inning is] obviously not where I want to pitch, but I’ve put myself in this
position and put the team in a [poor] position. [Manager Ken Macha]
needs to worry about many different facets of what’s going on, so if I
go out and throw the ball better than I have for a little bit, then
things will change back.”

Hoffman, 42, has a 13.15 ERA and a 2.15 WHIP this season even with Sunday’s flawless frame.  The trust of Macha and the Brewers faithful will return slowly — with time and solid performances.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.