White Sox manager Robin Ventura has avoided naming a closer or even giving strong hints about which way he’s leaning among Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, and Addison Reed, but Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times reports that “the smart money” is on Thornton getting the job.
Thornton struggled with some save chances early last season before giving way to Sergio Santos as the full-time closer, but Santos was traded to Toronto and Thornton has been one of the elite relievers in baseball for the past six seasons.
During that time he’s thrown 370 innings with a 3.21 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts per nine frames, including a 3.32 ERA and 63/21 K/BB ratio in 60 innings last year. Crain has also been a very good setup man for a long time and Reed is a 23-year-old rookie who projects as a dominant late-inning reliever, but in the short term going with Thornton makes sense.
As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.
Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.
Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.
Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.
Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:
Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.
Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.