During a radio interview this morning longtime Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone said that he’d be interested in taking the same position with the Yankees or Mets, calling both openings “a great job.”
Mazzone had an incredible amount of success in Atlanta and much of that was obviously due to the three Hall of Famers on the staff, but he also seemed to have a knack for plucking guys off the scrap heap and turning them into valuable pieces to go alongside Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.
J.C. Bradbury studied Mazzone’s track record back in 2004 and found that, on average, he shaved about a half-run off a pitcher’s ERA when they joined the Braves, which is obviously amazing. ESPN.com named him the best “assistant coach” in sports history and there was even some Hall of Fame buzz.
However, after leaving Atlanta following the 2005 season Mazzone found little success as the Orioles’ pitching coach. He lasted just two seasons in Baltimore and was fired after the Orioles’ staff ranked second-worst in ERA and led baseball in walks in 2007. Mazzone has been working as a television analyst since being let go by the Orioles in October of 2007 and his lack of another opportunity during that time is certainly surprising.
At age 62 he’s unlikely to be a long-term solution anywhere and my guess is that the Yankees and Mets aren’t the type of teams Mazzone should be targeting for a comeback opportunity. Either the baseball world is convinced that he wasn’t as big a factor in the Braves’ amazing pitching as Bradbury’s study suggests or Mazzone really rubbed a lot of people the wrong way over the years, because the way pitching coaches are recycled it’s hard to imagine him not getting a third chance somewhere along the line.
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.
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.