I watched Jeff Kent on “Survivor” last night so you didn’t have to …
• As hinted at last week Kent aligned himself with tribe-mate Jonathan, who has possession of the hidden immunity idol. And they also brought in a third tribe-mate, Carter, in order to have a stronger alliance with more voting power. Or as Kent put it: “I can control some people.”
• During the weekly immunity challenge Kent came through in the clutch again, this time smashing pots that were perched atop columns by throwing “wrecking balls” tied to a rope. It wasn’t totally unlike the throwing motion used to underhand a double-play ball to a shortstop, at least if you’re like me and need to equate everything he does to baseball in order to make yourself feel better about watching the show.
• As the immunity challenge wound down Kent and a contestant from another tribe, Malcolm, were basically neck and neck hurriedly swinging their wrecking balls. Kent smashed his final pot before Malcolm, allowing his tribe to finish in second place and avoid having to boot someone.
• On the “next time on ‘Survivor’ …” preview Kent was shown rubbing his injured knee, which has a brace on it. And then the footage cut to a medical boat coming to the island and showed several contestants making “wow” faces while harrowing music played, followed by host Jeff Probst saying, “The only time medical gets involved is when someone’s life is in danger.”
• So based on all of that, I guess we’re meant to believe that Kent’s knee injury, which he suffered five minutes into the first episode and had seemingly ceased being a storyline, has now put his life in danger. Or, more likely, that’s the only thing the “Survivor” producers could think of to hype next week’s show.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.