Mistrial declared in Roger Clemens case

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UPDATE: On day two of what was supposed to be a long, arduous criminal trial of Roger Clemens, the judge has declared a mistrial. It’s over. For now anyway.  A hearing has been set for September 2nd when the entirety of the case will be revisited, but now everyone goes home.

The judge was plain as day when he ordered a mistrial. He said “it was caused by the government.”  How so: the government played a video in which the affidavit of Andy Pettitte’s wife was read by Congressman Elijah Cummings, in which she said she remembered Pettitte telling her that Clemens had admitted using steroids. The judge had specifically forbade them to play this video because the testimony was inadmissible as about 18 layers of hearsay.  That was a serious transgression. Inexcusable, really, and could have been caused by only (a) extreme incompetence; or (b) contempt for the judges’ order.

The prosecution will likely continue to pursue this case when the matter is revisited in September.  But at this point, between the Bonds’ acquittal and this blunder, I suspect that the fates are trying to tell the government something about the wisdom of pursuing high-profile perjury prosecutions regarding professional athletes and steroids.

UPDATE II:  If you’d like to see an excellent real-time account of what happened, go to Les Carpenter’s Twitter feed here, scroll down to the tweet that begins “Judge Walton is checking his Blackberry,” and read up.  Fantastic reporting by Carpenter. Totally captures how Twitter can be used in reporting this kind of story.

11:26 AM: Roger Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has moved for a mistrial.  And this just isn’t a case of Rusty being Rusty: the judge said that he will probably grant the request, ending this trial before it truly began.

Reports are still preliminary, but apparently the prosecution played a video to the jury with Andy Pettitte’s former testimony on it. Testimony that the judge has already ruled was inadmissible in this case. Hardin went crazy — you can’t practically ask a jury to disregard something they’ve heard, even though it happens often — and according to those in the courtroom, the judge had no small amount of sympathy for Hardin’s position.  Which he should, because such conduct by the prosecution is, quite frankly, inexcusable and is terribly prejudicial to the defendant.

There’s a recess going on now while the judge considers the mistrial motion.  If he declares a mistrial, we start all over again.  Likely many months from now.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”