The Diamondbacks are still playing for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. And if they get it, they can thank whatever deity gave them their miracle win over the Dodgers last night.
It was tied 1-1 after nine innings. When you see a game like that, you figure that it will end on a sac fly or something. Not this one. Instead, it ended with the two teams combining for 11 runs in the 10th inning, thanks in part to a triple that ricocheted off Justin Upton’s face (more on that later this morning), a bases-loaded walk and a walkoff grand slam. Ho-hum.
The Dodgers got five runs off Micah Owings before even making an out in the tenth, but then they scored no more. The Diamondbacks grounded out meekly twice against Blake Hawksworth, but then didn’t make another out. To the contrary, they got singles from Cole Gillespie and Miguel Montero and a walk from Chris Young. Then John McDonald reached on an Aaron Miles error. Then Javy Guerra came into the game and walked Aaron Hill with the bases loaded. Then he gave up the grand slam to Ryan Roberts. Ballgame.
If Arizona wins today and Milwaukee loses, the teams will both finish with 95-wins and the tiebreaker for home field advantage will go to Arizona by virtue of winning the head-to-head season series against the Brewers. But we’re not even talking about that if it wasn’t for last night’s insanity.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.