Video: Watch Robbie Grossman save the game by robbing a home run Saturday night

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Astros outfielder Robbie Grossman isn’t exactly a household name, but he was on all the TV sets late Saturday night when he went to the wall in right field and robbed Blue Jays pinch-hitter Juan Francisco of a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning, preserving Brett Oberholtzer’s win.

Manager Bo Porter brought in lefty reliever Tony Sipp when the Blue Jays pinch-hit Francisco for right-hander Danny Valencia. Sipp’s first pitch to Francisco was an 81 MPH slider, and Francisco put a charge into it, sending a fly ball out to deep right field. Grossman ranged back, timed his leap, and snagged the ball at the apex of his jump with his glove clearly above and beyond the yellow line at the top of the fence.

The Astros hung a four-spot on the Jays in the bottom of the eighth, bumping their lead to 8-2 and ultimately winning by that score. The game had a little bit of everything: SABR 44, the open roof, a knuckleballer, Grossman’s catch, and Jonathan Singleton’s inside-the-park home run.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉