Good news for Indians fans.
According to Jordan Bastian, MLB.com’s new Indians beat writer, South Korea defeated Taiwan 9-3 on Friday in the final of the Asian Games. Tribe outfielder Shin-Soo Choo should now be exempt from Korea’s required two-year military service.
Choo batted .300/.401/.484 with 22 home runs, 90 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 144 games for the Indians in 2010 and he hit .300/.394/.489 with 20 homers, 86 RBI and 20 steals the year before. With Grady Sizemore hurt, he’s probably been Cleveland’s most valuable position player over the last two seasons.
Had Korea not won, Choo might have tried to become a United States citizen in order to avoid the military stint. But that certainly wouldn’t have gone over well in his home country and it’s far more fun that he beat the odds in a Hollywood-esque “play for your freedom” type of challenge.
Updates were hard to come by throughout the Asian Games, but we do know that Choo went 6-for-10 with three home runs and nine RBI over the first four games of the tournament.
The Indians, if so inclined, can now feel comfortable about discussing a contract extension with the 28-year-old. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason.
UPDATE: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Choo drove in two runs in the championship game. Can the story get any better?
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.