In praise of Vin Scully

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This is not the almost obligatory “Vin Scully is the best” stuff. I get that and participate in that often, but I almost feel like Scully has become such an institution that people feel like they have to say that, even if Scully isn’t doing anything particularly great.

But today he did something, the kind of thing you don’t notice too often, but which is really the stuff that makes him great. In the third inning of the Dodgers-Giants game, Angel Pagan was on first base, Clayton Kershaw holding him on. Scully talked about Kershaw’s success at holding runners on. A minute later Pagan took off for second and was nailed by A.J. Ellis. The reason he was out mostly had to do with Kershaw messing with his timing.

No, it’s not spectacular that Scully foreshadowed the caught stealing as such. The greatness of it was that, to Scully, there really was nothing more important in the moment than talking about what might happen with that runner on base and that pitcher on the mound. The caught stealing stats weren’t dropped in quickly, as if read straight from the stat sheet. Scully was in the moment, delivering the game to us, not at all distracted by overarching news stories, who he talked to before the game or any of the noise that so often pollutes broadcasters. Scully does not consider himself a reporter at all. He’s a broadcaster, in the purest sense of the term.

Maybe I’m not doing the moment justice here. But that moment, after watching baseball for nearly five hours, stood out as something so much higher and better than everything else because it flowed so naturally with what I was watching and thinking at the time. Scully is praised for his longevity and his stories and his style all the time, but it’s in these little moments where he really shines.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.