The ninth inning of today’s Reds-Phillies series finale was full of statistical improbabilities. First, Delmon Young drew a four-pitch walk (yes, Delmon Young walked) against Aroldis Chapman. He was immediately replaced by pitcher and pinch-runner Cliff Lee. With Erik Kratz at the plate battling Chapman in a 2-2 count, the lefty reliever picked Lee off of first, seemingly a momentum and rally killer.
(Why did Phillies manager Charlie Manuel pinch-run with a pitcher instead of John Mayberry, Jr.? He wanted to save a right-handed bat to pinch-hit for reliever Antonio Bastardo later in the inning. Lee has pinch-run for the Phillies many times in the past, and is better at the task than Young.)
Kratz worked the count to 3-2, then drove a Chapman fastball over the fence in left field for a game-tying solo home run. It was the second consecutive game in which Chapman has forked over a lead. On Thursday, Chapman allowed an inherited runner to score on a Marcell Ozuna triple.
With a freshly-tied game and one out, Freddy Galvis — getting a rare start today — took his turn at the dish. With a 1-1 count, Chapman placed a fastball letter-high over the plate, which the normally light-hitting Galvis laced down the left field line, whizzing over the top of the fence above the 334-foot sign in the corner, giving the Phillies the walk-off 3-2 victory. It is the first time in Chapman’s career (157 games) that he allowed two home runs in one outing.
Despite the good vibes from the win, the Phillies did receive some bad injury-related news. Carlos Ruiz had left the game with a hamstring injury and Ryan Howard was given the day off due to soreness in his right knee, and both will be out tomorrow as they will have MRI’s. Matt Gelb reported that the duo did not fly with the team as they head to Miami for a nine-game road trip.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.