Pirates clinch MLB's worst record and next year's No. 1 pick


Last night the Pirates won for just the 56th time this season and still managed to clinch the worst record in baseball. That and an 18th consecutive losing season is obviously the bad news. The good news is that they’ve also secured the No. 1 overall pick in next June’s draft.
Right now Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is considered the draft class’ top prospect, with UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole and TCU left-hander Matt Purke among those also in the mix as possible first selections.
During the current 18-year losing streak Pittsburgh has picked first overall twice, selecting Clemson right-hander Kris Benson in 1996 and Ball State right-hander Bryan Bullington in 2002. Both pitchers were sidetracked by major injuries and have combined to win just 71 career games, with Bullington contributing one victory to that total.
Rendon already has health-related question marks, as he’s recovering from a major ankle injury suffered in June. Asked to comment on whether Rendon was likely to be atop the Pirates’ draft board, general manager Neal Huntington said:

I’ll be able to give a lot more information about who we take No. 1 in the country after we take him. There’s a good list of guys available, some college arms, and there could be some college bats. Prior to the injury, Rendon’s a very interesting player. We’ve got to see where he is post-injury.

Also of note is that the Pirates already have their “third baseman of the future” in Pedro Alvarez, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Of course, one of them could always move to first base and … well, I guess having to figure that out would qualify as a nice problem for the Pirates to have.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
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Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.