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Anderson Espinoza to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Padres’ top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza is set to undergo Tommy John surgery, the team confirmed Friday. Espinoza was diagnosed with forearm tightness in early April and had only been throwing for a month before he was shut down again with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Per MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, Dr. Keith Meister will perform the surgery in Dallas sometime over the next week, though the club has yet to announce a specific date.

Espinoza, 19, was acquired by the Padres last July in a controversial trade for left-hander Drew Pomeranz. He entered the 2017 season ranked No. 1 in the Padres’ system (by Baseball America; Baseball Prospectus has him at No. 2 and MLB.com has him at No. 6) and was projected to be an eventual front-end starter for the club. While his timetable has been considerably pushed back, he showed promise after advancing to Single-A Fort Wayne in 2016, delivering a 4.38 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 8.5 SO/9 over 76 innings.

Without Espinoza, at least for the next year (or more), the Padres still have a deep pool of pitching prospects to draw from. MLB.com ranks left-hander Mackenzie Gore and right-hander Cal Quantrill in the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively, and Bill Center points out that Quantrill has made a successful, if limited return after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015. Right-hander Michel Baez and southpaws Adrian Morejon, Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi comprise the rest of the pitchers in the Padres’ top 10 prospect list, though few share Espinoza’s high ceiling.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.