Prince Fielder powers Tigers past Yankees

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Prince Fielder saw to it that the Tigers didn’t need a closer today.

Fielder hit a three-run homer off Boone Logan in the fifth to give the Tigers the lead and added a two-run blast for insurance in the seventh Friday as the Tigers beat the Yankees 8-3.

Fielder’s first homer came immediately after Yankees manager Joe Girardi made the call to pull starter Ivan Nova. With the Yankees up 3-2, Nova was one out away from being eligible for the win at the time. He had allowed the first two runners in the fifth to reach base, only to induce a double-play ball from Torii Hunter afterwards. However, he then hit Miguel Cabrera on the hand with a pitch, causing Girardi to make the change.

Logan had limited Fielder to one single in five at-bats lifetime before Fielder got a hold of a fastball today and lined it just over the wall in right.

Since the lead proved comfortable, the Tigers allowed Drew Smyly to pitch the final four innings for his first career save. Then again, given the way he was throwing, Smyly probably would have been the best choice in a 4-3 game, too. The left-hander retired all 12 batters he faced, striking out five of them.

Starter Doug Fister got the win after allowing three runs in five innings. Shaky with his command, as he often was in spring training, he walked two and hit a pair of batters. One of those batters, Eduardo Nunez, left the game with a badly bruised forearm.

The Yankees dropped to 1-3 with the loss, while the Tigers improved to 2-2. Kevin Youkilis homered for the Bombers.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.

Brewers’ Julio Mendez remains hospitalized after hit by pitch

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Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.

Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.

Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.