Giancarlo Stanton hits walkoff grand slam versus Mets

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The Marlins have had some big ninth-inning struggles this season. Today, they turned the tables on the Mets.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a walkoff grand slam as part of a six-run bottom of the ninth as the Marlins topped the Mets 8-4.

The game was tied 2-2 entering the ninth when the Mets rallied for two runs in the top of the inning off Heath Bell. That would have given the struggling Bell his fourth loss of the season had the Mets been able to close it out.

However, Frank Francisco didn’t have it today, either. He gave up a triple, a walk and an RBI single to the three batters he faced before being replaced by Manny Acosta. A sac fly then tied the game at 4. After a pop out to right, it looked like the game might go to extras. However, a walk and a HBP followed, loading the bases and allowing Stanton to do his thing. It was his second career walkoff homer and third career slam.

Francisco’s latest misadventure could well get him replaced in the closer’s role for the Mets. With Acosta also struggling, Jon Rauch would be the favorite to take over. Eventually, Bobby Parnell might earn a look there.

The Marlins also couldn’t have been too happy with what they saw from Bell, whose ERA jumped back over 10.00 today. Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica rate as their most reliable relievers.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.