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Desmond Jennings triples, doubles in 2011 MLB debut


Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings technically made his major league debut during the 2010 season, but Saturday evening felt like his true arrival.

The 24-year-old was promoted from Triple-A Durham late Friday night and got to work immediately in Saturday’s game against the Royals.

Jennings led off the contest with a first-inning triple to deep left-center field, smacked an RBI double in the second inning, drew an intentional walk in the fourth inning, and then scored after drawing another walk in the sixth inning. All in all, the promising young speedster stole one base, scored two runs, drove in one run, and provided a welcome spark at the top of the Tampa Bay lineup.

Kansas City eventually won in extra innings courtesy of an Eric Homser walkoff RBI double.

Jennings is expected to see regular playing time down the stretch and should be a mainstay on highlight reel shows for years to come. He had an .825 career OPS in the minors and 188 steals in 222 attempts.

Wild Card, Division series umpires announced

Angel Hernandez
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Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.

Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.

Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:

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Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.