Everyone expects spring training games to be messy, especially early. Players are just getting back into the swing of things. Some younger guys have the pressure of playing with the big boys for the first time, or are competing for a roster spot; older guys are doing everything they can to keep their careers alive. You can see a lot of crazy things in spring training.
Saturday afternoon’s affair between the Braves and Nationals brought messy to a whole new level. The game featured seven multi-run innings, including four of four runs or more. Six errors were committed, five by the Nationals. 15 pitchers were used.
The fifth inning in particular stood out because of everything that happened. MASN’s Dan Kolko captured it all in one picture, which he posted to Twitter:
First of all, the Nationals substitutions at all eight non-pitcher positions, which really cluttered up the page. Then Freddie Freeman reached on a fielding error. Later, when Matt Lipka singled to right, Michael Taylor both missed the ball and made a throwing error, leading to the Braves’ third and fourth runs of the inning. The Nationals replaced pitcher Blake Treinen with Josh Roenicke. The Braves pinch-hit four times and finished the fifth inning with nine runs on ten hits, including eight singles.
Shockingly enough, the nine-spot wasn’t enough as the Braves lost 16-15. The Braves logged 25 hits. Spring training, everyone.
When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.
The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.
Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.
Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.
The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.
Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.
Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:
Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.