The Astros have a better record than the Red Sox and Rays

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Here’s where the team that has lost 100+ games for three straight years stands compared to the defending World Champions and a Tampa Bay team which has averaged 91.6 wins over the past six seasons:

  • Houston Astros: 29-36, .446 winning pct.
  • Boston Red Sox: 28-35, .444 winning pct.
  • Tampa Bay Rays: 24-41, .369 winning pct.

This comes as the Rays have skidded, the Red Sox have, with the exception of one nice week, skidded pretty badly themselves and as the Astros have won 12 of their last 16. So yes, we’re seeing the Astros at their absolute best and the Sox and Rays at their worst.

Personally, I think the Sox are a clearly better team than either of them in terms of talent and potential for the rest of the season and I would be utterly shocked if they don’t finish with a significantly better record than Houston does. But man, it’s weird and kinda neat to see stuff like this. At least if you’re not a Red Sox fan.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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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.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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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.