Chelsea Baker can strike your son out

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This is over a week old but I totally missed it. It’s ESPN’s E:60 story about the person who may be the best little league pitcher in the country:

She registered another perfect pitching record this year, 12-0, for her Little League team.

She threw her second perfect game — and predicted this one just hours before she did it.

Her
fastball hits the mid-60s, and she can send opponents to the bench in
tears, embarrassing them with a knuckleball she learned from former
major league knuckleball legend Joe Niekro.

Meet Chelsea Baker, a girl pitcher in a boys’ league.

The story is OK, the video that accompanies it is just wonderful. Except for the revelation that opponents’ parents taunt her for pitching in “a boy’s game” which, as the father of a girl who can do any damn thing she wants to, makes me want to commit heinous murder. But that aside . . .

Baker is 5’4″ and 117 pounds, so (a) she likely has a size advantage over a lot of her later-blooming competition; and (b) she may be done growing, but if the radar gun is accurate and she’s really throwing 65, she could totally play at higher levels as a knuckleballer.  All she’d probably need is a few more miles per hour for those get-me-over “fastballs” on days the knuckler isn’t fluttering, and that may be doable via training.

But even if that doesn’t pan out Baker’s is a great story.

(thanks to El Bonte for the heads up)

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.