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.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.
The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.
Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.
Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.
Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.