Dontrelle Willis is in the best shape of his life

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Boy, it’s a rare treat to get a BSOHL story in July, but we have one! It’s Dontrelle Willis, who was scratched from his start down at AAA Louisville yesterday. The speculation was that he was going to get called up to Cincinnati to fill in for Bronson Arroyo, who was complaining of dizziness, but it seems Arroyo is better now.

Willis is good too: he has a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts and — key for him — he has a 3.35 K/BB ratio, suggesting that he may have a handle on what has been ailing him these past few years.

But the real story here are the words of Willis’ agent, Matt Sosnick, who puts us in mind of spring training with his assessment of his client’s state of health:

“I feel strongly that he has turned the corner.  He’s in the best shape of his career and is throwing with the highest velocity he’s ever had.  I feel very confident that he will be an impact player in the Major Leagues this year and for many years to come.”

All that’s missing for perfection is something about how Willis has been working on a new pitch.

(thanks to Hannah for the heads up)

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.

Video: Aaron Judge sends a baseball into the upper deck at Citi Field

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.

The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.