ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick notes that the Reds’ 67 stolen bases as a team last season was the franchise’s lowest total since 1971. Shin-Soo Choo, now a Ranger, led the team with 20 stolen bases but was inefficient, needing 31 attempts to do so. Billy Hamilton ranked second on the team with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts, and he was a September call-up.
Hamilton was a prolific base stealer in the Minors, stealing 75 last season, 155 in 2012, and 103 in 2011. He’s expected to be the team’s everyday center fielder and lead-off man in 2014.
Manager Bryan Price wants to team to be more aggressive on the bases, and he isn’t just talking about Hamilton. From Crasnick:
“I know that we need to be able to create scoring opportunities, especially in that bottom third of our lineup,” Price said. “Being station to station didn’t give us as many opportunities to score as I would have liked. We have to be somewhat creative.”
Two candidates to run more often in 2014: Shortstop Zack Cozart and third baseman Todd Frazier.
Price added, “When we talk about being aggressive on the bases, it means working hard on your secondary leads, understanding where the fielders are, and knowing the game situation and score in the inning.”
Despite the reputation, the Reds were baseball’s seventh-best base running team according to Baseball Prospectus. Cozart was by far the team’s most productive runner, adding seven runs, five more than Jay Bruce in second place.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.