Rick Ankiel homers in 11th as Braves draw even with Giants

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We might just have ourselves a competitive series here.

The Braves evened things up with the Giants tonight — or this morning,
really — taking Game 2 by the score of 5-4 in 11 innings. They jumped
ahead thanks to a long solo home run by Rick Ankiel, which splashed down
in McCovey Cove beyond the right field fence.

The Giants were actually in great position to win in the bottom of the
10th inning, as Edgar Renteria led off with a bunt single, testing the
hobbled Troy Glaus at third base. After Andres Torres sacrificed him
over to second base, Billy Wagner was removed from the game due to an
oblique injury. Kyle Farnsworth entered and hit Freddy Sanchez with a
pitch and walked Aubrey Huff to load the bases for Buster Posey. It pretty easy to think the worst.

Farnsworth was able to induce a groundball to Glaus at third, but instead of going the safe route and throwing home, he made the do-or-die decision to go for the double-play by throwing to second base. Incredibly, it worked. Just barely. Inning over. Without a doubt, the key play of the ballgame.

With the series now knotted up at 1-1, the Braves return home for Game 3 on Sunday. Tim Hudson will square off against Jonathan Sanchez.

Adrian Beltre cleared for extended spring training

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Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.

Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.

Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.

Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.