tino martinez getty

After Tino Martinez resigns, Marlins name John Pierson interim hitting coach


Amid allegations from several Marlins players that hitting coach Tino Martinez resorted to both physical and verbal abuse, the former Yankee star resigned from his position. John Pierson was named the interim hitting coach. Pierson had been serving the team as the organization’s Minor League field director.

Martinez had offered to resign when the organization was made aware of the complaints, but owner Jeffrey Loria stunningly gave a vote of confidence to his hitting coach. It was only when the allegations went public that Martinez stepped down. “It has been building for a few days,” Martinez said. “I didn’t know this was going to come out publicly. When this came out, I thought it was the right thing to do.”

As Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel describes it, Martinez had a controversial style, engaging in disagreements with manager Mike Redmond along with a physical engagement with rookie second baseman Derek Dietrich. The allegations suggest Martinez had grabbed Dietrich by the neck, but Martinez firmly denied any such action, saying, “I want to say that I never physically touched anyone by the neck. That never happened.”

Martinez sounds legitimately apologetic about his actions. Via MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro:

“I just thought with some young players, you needed to be a little firmer and try to get them on the right track,” Martinez said. “Obviously, I made a mistake, and I apologize for that too. I apologize to the Marlins’ organization, my family and everyone involved.”

To his credit, Redmond was rational about the situation as well, empathizing with the difficulties Martinez faced as a new coach following a 16-year playing career:

“Coaching is tough,” Redmond said. “I know that going from a player to a coach, it’s hard. Part of the grind is learning how to deal with different situations with different players and personalities. All of that stuff is a challenge. Some people can do it. Some people can’t.

“At the same time, too, we need those guys. That’s the show. Those 25 guys out there, they’re the ones who go out there and perform. Our job is to keep them going. That’s the important thing.”

For the Marlins, it’s another blemish on a very blemished record. After opening up a $634 million new stadium last year, the Marlins boasted a payroll north of $100 million, $40 million more than it had been at its highest point dating back to 2000. Quickly, though, after the team fizzled, Loria traded away the same free agents he had signed to rich, lengthy contracts as free agents, and sent away some of the organization’s homegrown stars as well, such as Hanley Ramirez. They opened up the 2013 season with a $50 million payroll. On average, the Marlins are averaging about 11,000 fewer fans per game than they were last year. Their latest misstep won’t help bring any more fans to the ballpark.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.