Andruw Jones

Rejuvenated Andruw Jones leads the way as Yankees down Red Sox

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Figuring his right-handed stroke would serve him well at Fenway Park, the Red Sox pursued Andruw Jones for a part-time role over the winter. Andruw, though, had fun in his first year in the Bronx and opted to stick around, perhaps passing up some money in the process.

For a measly $2 million — one percent of the Yankees’ payroll — Jones has 11 homers this season, including four in the last three games. He delivered a two-run blast and an RBI single tonight as part of the Yankees’ 7-3 win in Boston.

The Red Sox lost three out of four in the series to fall back to .500 (43-43) with the first half over. They’re a full nine games back of the Yankees (52-33).

For what it’s worth, missing out on Jones probably didn’t hurt the Red Sox. If they had signed Andruw, it’s doubtful they would have added Cody Ross later, and Ross has hit .265 with 13 homers and 40 RBI in 56 games this year.

Still, Jones has been a bargain for the Bombers two years running now, delivering 24 homers and 55 RBI in 317 at-bats as a member of the Yankees.

Jones has played pretty strictly against lefties, but there’s little reason to think he wouldn’t be at least adequate in regular playing time. He hasn’t hit for average in limited action against righties the last two years, but he’s barely gotten to face them and he’s still showed good power against them. Also, while he certainly can’t cover ground like he used to, he’s still a pretty good defender in a corner.

That Jones has spent the last few years as a role player — he hasn’t had even 300 at-bats in a season since 2007 — could well cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame. But that’s probably not fair. As great of a defender as he used to be, he played at a Hall of Fame level at his peak. And while the fact that he’s hitting 15 homers per year now instead of 25 will hurt his career numbers,  he’s contributing more as a role player than Hall of Famers like Jim Rice, Roberto Alomar and Lou Brock did as regulars towards the end of their careers.

That said, the fact that he was done as a regular at age 30 is damning, even if he ends up getting to 500 homers. At age 35, he’s just 69 away, so he still has a legitimate shot.

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez killed in a boating accident

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Horrible news: Miami Marlins ace starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boat crash off of Miami Beach late last night.

No details have been released yet, apart from the fact that Fernandez was one of three people killed. The Marlins have issued a statement confirming Fernandez’s death, stating that the organization is devastated and that their thoughts and prayers were with Fernandez’s family. Today’s Marlins game against the Braves has been canceled.

Fernandez was only 24 years old. Though only in his fourth season in the majors, he was easily one of the best and most exciting pitchers in the game. In his four seasons he won 38 games and posted a fantastic ERA of 2.58 while striking out 11.2 batters per nine innings. He was an electric presence on the mound and was poised to become one of baseball’s most highly-paid and entertaining superstars.

His baseball exploits seem trivial now, however. His loss at such a young age, tragic. Our thoughts today are with Fernandez’s family, the Marlins organization and those who knew and loved him.

The Nationals are NL East champs once again

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after clinching the National League East Division Championship after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 at PNC Park on September 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Another day, another division title in the bag. The Nationals coasted to a 6-1 finish over the Pirates on Saturday evening; coupled with a Mets’ loss later that night, the NL East title was theirs for the third time since 2012.

The Nationals put up a three-spot in the first and fourth innings, scoring five of six runs on productive outs while Washington starter Joe Ross tossed 2  innings of one-run ball in his second start off the disabled list. Prior to the game, manager Dusty Baker seemed reluctant to delegate a set number of pitches to the right-hander, opting instead to base Ross’s workload on his performance.

Washington’s bullpen carried the team the rest of the way, combining for 6 ⅓ scoreless frames to preserve their five-run lead. When Anthony Rendon snared a liner from Andrew McCutchen to end the game, all eyes turned to the clubhouse TVs:

Murphy had sufficient cause for worry: After trailing 10-0 through four innings, the Mets returned with an eight-run drive that culminated with Jay Bruce‘s solo shot in the ninth inning. Had Bruce hit the home run after Philadelphia closer Michael Mariot issued a pair of walks, and not before, the Mets would have edged out the Phillies, 11-10. Instead, their late-game rally ended on a fastball down the middle, and the Phillies’ 70th victory confirmed the Nats’ place atop the NL East.

While Max Scherzer donned his two-toned goggles and Bryce Harper braved the champagne showers in U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky’s swim cap, Baker was already thinking about Sunday’s start. Against the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow, Baker announced his plans to start 24-year-old A.J. Cole, whose seven starts have yielded a 4.68 ERA and 0.2 fWAR in 32 ⅔ innings this year.

Cole hasn’t displayed the sharpest stuff in his sophomore season, touting a high 3.03 BB/9 and 1.93 HR/9, but with the division locked down and the Cubs in sole possession of home field advantage through the NLCS, the Nationals have bigger concerns as the playoffs draw near.