The Cardinals have scored fewer runs this season than the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Reds, Red Sox, Marlins, Angels, Rockies, Tigers and Mets, among others, and the frustration is really starting to build in St. Louis. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it may have reached a tipping point Friday, when superstar slugger Albert Pujols and future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa shared a heated exchange in the Cardinals’ dugout.
La Russa called for outfielder Ryan Ludwick to steal second base with two outs in the eighth inning and Pujols at the plate. Ludwick, of course, was gunned down, and Pujols was left standing at the dish.
Albert flipped his bat and helmet in disgust, then knocked over two trays of gum in the home dugout. La Russa yelled “that’s enough,” and after a few moments added “I (expletive) know how to manage.”
Both La Russa and Pujols played it off as a non-issue when asked to describe the incident Saturday and it sure sounds like a heat of battle moment. But few would argue that the Cardinals are struggling, or at least under-performing in a weak National League Central division. In fact, the Reds are currently in first place by a half-game.
The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.
Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.
Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.
Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).
Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.