Rocco Baldelli stops coaching to begin comeback at Single-A

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Rocco Baldelli played reasonably well as a backup outfielder for the Red Sox last season, but after struggling with a shoulder injury in the second half he decided to spend the first half of this season as a “special assistant” for the Rays. That role involved mostly coaching minor leaguers, but now Baldelli is ready to join them on the field.
Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that he’s officially signed a minor-league contract with the Rays and will be in the lineup at high Single-A tonight as a designated hitter. In addition to Baldelli the Rays’ high Single-A team also includes former No. 1 overall picks Tim Beckham and Matt Bush.
Of course, assuming he looks to be in decent playing shape and avoids more health problems Baldelli may not stay at Single-A very long. Topkin speculates that he could be promoted to Double-A or Triple-A within 2-3 weeks as the Rays evaluate him as a possible part-time outfielder for the stretch run and playoffs. He’d need to be added to the roster by August 31 to be postseason eligible.
Despite seemingly being around forever and having his career stalled numerous times by health problems Baldelli is still just 28 years old and has hit .257/.323/.448 in 254 plate appearances over the past two years.

Mike Leake loses perfect game bid on leadoff single in the ninth

Mike Leake
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Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.

It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.

The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.

In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.

Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.