Matt Kemp

We now have a reason to explain why Matt Kemp will improve or regress in 2011

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I do not believe that anyone can know what a ballplayer’s social life means to his on-the-field performance. These aren’t figures of Greek mythology we’re talking about here. Cutting their hair, taking their prized lute, or pairing them up with or separating them from a maiden fair is just as likely to help them as it is to hinder them.  We don’t know.  But no matter what Matt Kemp does in 2011, there will probably be someone who blames or credits this development for it:

Rihanna is single again after splitting from baseball hunk Matt Kemp, according to U.S. reports. Sources tell Us Weekly magazine the couple grew apart and ended its 11-month romance before Christmas.

If he does poorly, people will say that he’s sulking. If he does well, people will say he’s focused again and is finally away from the Hollywood high life.  Nowhere in this will anyone ask how ballplayers do when they break up with their non-famous girlfriends. Because that would be a buzz kill.

I don’t know. Rock stars tend to make better albums when their love life sucks, but the rest of us just start eating poorly and keeping weird hours.  This could go either way, really.

Jon Niese leaves start with knee pain

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Mets starter Jon Niese left his start Tuesday night against the Cardinals due to left knee pain.

Niese walked two and gave up an RBI single before leaving with a trainer with one out in the bottom of the first inning. He was eventually charged with three earned runs. Robert Gsellman, just up from Las Vegas, took over, making his major league debut under unexpected circumstances.

Niese, who has not pitched well at all since coming over in a trade with the Pirates, is likely to be placed on the disabled list after the game or before tomorrow’s game.

Mark Trumbo’s home run streak ends

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 11:  Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles hits an RBI single against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 11, 2016 in Oakland, California. The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics 9-6. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Mark Trumbo still has many chances to hit a home run tonight — it’s only been an inning or so in the Nats-Orioles game — but his weird home run streak is over.

Coming into tonight’s game, Trumbo’s last seven hits had been homers. The all-time record had been 11, set by Mark McGwire back in 2001. The last time Trumbo got a hit that wasn’t a dong was back on August 11. Later in that game, however, he hit a grand slam. After that he went 6 for his next 34, with all those safeties dingers.

But that’s over now. In the first inning tonight he drove in a run with a two-out single. Then he was thrown out trying to stretch it to two. Good job on the RBIs, Mark. Bad job on the base running. Judgment withheld on the homer streak because, really, that’s just kind of weird and cool.