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U.S. crushes World team in Futures Game

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When the Futures Game rosters were announced last month, the difference in the pitching staffs appeared dramatic; the U.S. was littered with big-time arms featuring first-round pedigree. The World team just didn’t match up.

So, it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that the U.S. beat up on the World’s second-tier pitchers Sunday in running away with a 17-5 victory.

The World squad was able to take an early lead. Shortstop phenom Jurickson Profar (Tex) homered off Jake Odorizzi (KC) in the first, and Jae-Hoon Ha (ChC) hit a two-run blast off Gerrit Cole (Pit) in the second. Ha’s shot was a big surprise, as the defensive-minded center fielder came in with just three homers on the season. A sac fly from Oscar Taveras (StL) made it 4-0 in the top of the third.

From there, it was all U.S.A. Billy Hamilton (Cin), the fastest player in the minors, showed his wheels with a two-run triple hit over the head of Ha in center. Here’s the video. Ha misjudged the ball initially, and Hamilton seemed to think it’d be caught off the bat. If he had gone full bore from the start, he might have turned into an inside-the-park job with his speed.

The U.S. squad kept racking up singles and doubles from there before Nick Castellanos (Det) homered in the sixth to make it 15-5.

Ariel Pena (LAA) took the worst of it for the World team, giving up eight runs in one-third of an inning. Julio Rodriguez (Phi) gave up Castellanos’ homer and allowed three runs — two earned — in his innings. Chris Reed (LAD) gave up four runs — two earned — in an inning. The most impressive World team pitcher was starter Yordano Ventura (KC). He hit 100 mph a couple of times on the fast Kansas City gun and retired all three batters he faced.

The U.S pitchers weren’t exactly dominant. All seven guys to work a full inning gave up at least one hit. After Odorizzi and Cole allowed their homers, Danny Hultzen (Sea) surrendered another run in the third. Dylan Bundy (Bal), the one guy everyone wanted to see, gave up three hits in the fourth, but escaped with a scoreless inning. Taijuan Walker (Sea) looked the best of the bunch today. He allowed one hit while working a scoreless seventh. Matt Barnes (Bos) finished the game. After entering with one down and none on in the ninth, he threw two pitches and got two outs.

The offensive star was Castellanos. The third-base prospect had two singles and a walk to go along with his home run. Chris Singleton (Hou) also had three hits. Hometown hero Wil Myers (KC) played the entire game and went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Many of the Royals fans in attendance would probably like to see him step in for Jeff Francoeur after the break.

For the World team. Profar went 2-for-3 with the homer before stepping aside for Francisco Lindor (Cle). Since the World team was overloaded with shortstops, Jean Segura (LAA) played second base, his old position, and went 2-for-3. Ha ended up 2-for-2 before being replaced.

Is Bud Black the favorite to be the next Braves manager?

Bud Black
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We talked last week about how Fredi Gonzalez is likely a dead man walking as the Braves manager. They stink, he’s a lame duck and part of the team’s whole marketing thrust is “2017 will be a new beginning,” what with the new ballpark and all. It stands to reason that Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t have long for this world.

Last week I suspected he’d be fired tomorrow, the Braves off day before a home stand. They’ve won in the past week, but it still wouldn’t shock me. Even if firing Gonzalez would be an act of scapegoating. It’s the roster that’s the problem, not the manager, even though Fredi doesn’t exactly inspire anyone.

Today Bob Nightengale throws this into the mix:

As of yet he hasn’t followed that up with an actual column or more tweets about who, exactly, considers Black to be the heavy favorite, but there’s a definitiveness to that which makes me think he’s heard something solid.

Black, as you know, was the long time Padres manager who had an unsuccessful flirtation with the Nationals before they hired Dusty Baker this past offseason. Black is now cooling his heels with his longtime boss Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, in what is clearly a “wait for his next managing opportunity” posture.

Could it be in Atlanta? At least one national writer and some nebulous group of insiders believe so, it would seem.

The Reds bullpen set a record for futility

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher J.J. Hoover reacts after giving up a solo home run to Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez, left, during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Cincinnati. The Cubs won 8-1. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Associated Press
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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning but it’s worthy of its own post.

The Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen gave up two runs last night. In so doing it made for the 21st consecutive game in which it has allowed at least one run. That’s a new major league record, having surpassed the 2013 Colorado Rockies’ record of 20, according to Elias.

Last year the Reds set a record — shattered it, really — by going with rookie starting pitchers in 64 straight games to end the season. Those guys aren’t rookies anymore, but they’re still really inexperienced. They could probably use some better bullpen help than they’ve been getting.

Headline of the Day– A-Rod: “Trophy Boyfriend”

Alex Rodriguez
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For as long as there have been couples, the woman in a couple has been publicly defined by the man’s life and accomplishments. It doesn’t matter if the woman cures cancer, walks on the moon or wins the Eurovision Song Contest, when news stories or obituaries are written, she is invariably referred to as “wife of ___” or “girlfriend of ___.” Even if the guy is a grade-A schmuck.

While that pattern still persists, it’s nice to see someone flip the script on it once in a while. Like The Cut did in its story about a new, high-profile couple going public:

 

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The couple: Alex Rodriguez and Anne Wojcicki. Who, if you were unaware, is a Silicon Valley biotech CEO and a billionaire. She went to Yale, played varsity hockey in college and is a mother. Alex Rodriguez is accomplished and famous, but outside of the sports bubble he’s a padawan to Wojcicki’s master Jedi. Despite this, in places other than The Cut, it would still not be surprising to see her referred to as “A-Rod’s girlfriend,” because that’s just how people roll. Here’s hoping others take The Cut’s lead when referring to women in the public sphere more often.

A related note: in the rare cases when a famous male personality is identified in reference to his female partner and not the other way around, people like to make jokes and like to question the masculinity of the man. Which is equally stupid. And, to the man in question, should be utterly beside the point.

To that end, I think it’s worth noting that Alex Rodriguez has been involved with several women who, outside of baseball, are far more famous than he is and it’s never seemed to be an issue for him whatsoever. People like to say a lot of things about A-Rod’s ego and personality, but in this respect I bet he’s a hell of a lot better adjusted, grounded and self-assured than the vast majority of men who might find themselves in his place.

Video: Jeff Samardzija breaks a bat over his knee after striking out

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Jeff Samardzija had a great night last night. He allowed one run on three hits over eight innings and picked up the win. In the early going he’s proving wrong those who thought that the Giants overpaid for him and is providing solid performance from the third spot in the Giants rotation. It’s all good.

But good is not always good enough for a professional athlete. Especially one like Samardzija, who excelled in multiple sports and likely can count his lifetime athletic failures on one hand. No, when you’re wired like that you get upset even when you’re excellent because sometimes you want to be perfect.

For example, most pitchers don’t get too worried about striking out. They’re there to pitch, not bat. They turn on their heel and calmly walk back to the dugout. Samardzija, however, got a bit irate when he struck out. Then he did this: