It probably just seems like it’s been years.
Nick Markakis hit a grand slam in the second inning and drove in two more runs with a double in the eighth inning as the Orioles beat the Rays 7-0 on Friday.
The outburst gave him as many RBI (six) as he had in his previous 27 games combined.
For those with short memories, Markakis actually was a run producer at one point. As a 23-year-old sophomore in 2007, he hit 23 homers and drove in 112 runs. Even in 2009, he finished with 101 RBI.
The homer totals, though, kept tumbling. After he hit 23 in 2007, he fell off to 20 in 2008, 18 in 2009 and just 12 last year. He entered Friday’s game with four in 59 games this season.
There were no injury explanations: apart from his rookie season in 2006, Markakis has averaged 160 games per year. He kept hitting plenty of singles and doubles and finished with averages of .300, .306, .293 and .297 the last four years.
However, even Markakis’ average had plummeted this year. He entered the game hitting .238. His OBP, which stood at .370 last year, was a meager .298. His slugging percentage was particularly horrid at .304. He had just four doubles after hitting 45 each of the previous two years.
The Orioles have to be hoping that tonight marks a turning point for Markakis’ season. He hit his first grand slam since 2009, and the six RBI were a new career high. Maybe it doesn’t mean much: Markakis actually had two other games this season in which he both homered and doubled and nothing came of them. But the Orioles need him badly if they’re going to score runs with Brian Roberts out.
The Braves have signed former football player and current outfielder Sanders Commings, an Augusta, Georgia native, to a minor league contract, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
Commings, 26, was a defensive back who played for the University of Georgia before being selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He appeared in two games in the 2013 season.
Commings also played baseball for Westside High School and was selected by the Diamondbacks in the 37th round of the 2008 draft. He chose to attend the University of Georgia instead. When football didn’t pan out, Commings started training with Jerry Hairston, Jr. Hairston said he was “blown away” when he saw Commings hit for the first time.
Obviously, Commings’ path to success as a professional baseball player will be long, but it’s a no-risk flier for the Braves. The club has past experience with football players, including Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan.
The next task for the Braves will be to acquire Ryan Goins from the Blue Jays. That way, players will look at the lineup card each day to see if it’s Commings or Goins.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.