Jeff Francoeur got a game-winning "hit" off Mariano Rivera

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This went down in the wee wee hours of Sunday morning so a ton of people missed it, but Jeff Francoeur had a walkoff hit against Mariano Rivera. Hit-by-pitch, that is.

The Rangers trailed 6-5 heading into the ninth and it was enter sandman. Rivera walked Vladimir Guerrero, who
was replaced by pinch-runner Esteban German. The Nelson Cruz singled and Ian Kinsler doubled, which scored German. Joe Girardi then had Mo walk Chris Davis to get to Matt Treanor. Ron Washington pinch hit Andres Blanco for him and he popped out.  Up comes Francoeur, who who most people would have bet their baseball card collection wouldn’t be able to touch Rivera. Hell, I would have bet my son that he’d hit into a double play.

But he can’t do that if he doesn’t swing, and he didn’t have to: Mo’s first pitch grazed Frenchie’s left arm (video here). I’d like to think the ump heard it nick the jersey or something, but he may have made the call based on Francoeur’s dramatic reaction to it. According to the game story he yelled “It hit my arm! It hit my arm!” I’ve spilled gallons of ink slamming Francoeur over the years, but the young man gave me a smile with that one. His teammates too:

“Great … awesome,” Rangers starter Tommy Hunter said. “Glad to see
Frenchy could stand up there and get hit. He made sure the whole world
knew he was hit. That was funny.”

Please correct me the next time I say that Francoeur has no vaule, because that’s clearly not the case. Dude’s a Mariano Rivera killer, I tells ya.

Giancarlo Stanton dented the outfield wall in Marlins Park

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If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.

It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:

Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.

The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.