Day 1 of the (latest) Jack McKeon era in Florida involved benching Hanley Ramirez, but the Marlins’ shortstop is back in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Angels.
And not only that: Ramirez is hitting cleanup for the first time in his career.
Also of note is that Marlins beat reporter Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post wrote this morning that they should trade Ramirez because “they’re a better (happier) team without him.”
Ramirez has been awful this season while playing through back problems, hitting just .200 with four homers and a .593 OPS in 55 games, but the notion that the Marlins are “a better team without him” in the long term seems fairly absurd.
Even with this year’s struggles included Ramirez has hit .306 with a .380 on-base percentage and .507 slugging percentage in 813 career games for the Marlins, averaging 25 homers and 40 steals per 160 games while posting an .886 OPS that leads all MLB shortstops during that six-year span (2006-2011):
HANLEY RAMIREZ .886
Troy Tulowitzki .856
Jose Reyes .809
Derek Jeter .805
Jimmy Rollins .780
Not only does Ramirez have the best OPS of any shortstop since 2006, including an OPS above .800 in five straight seasons, he won’t be 28 years old until December and is signed through 2014.
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.