The big series of the weekend kicked off last night in Cincinnati, as the Reds blanked the second-place Pirates by the score of 3-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 40,829 at Great American Ballpark.
Mat Latos was dominant in the victory, allowing just four hits (all singles) over 7 1/3 shutout innings while striking out five and walking three. It turned out that a second inning inside-the-park homer by Chris Heisey was all the offense he needed, but Latos helped his own cause in the bottom of the fifth inning by launching a two-run home run off Wandy Rodriguez. It was the third homer of his career.
The newly-acquired Jonathan Broxton induced a key double play ground ball in the top of the eighth while Aroldis Chapman worked around a hit-by-pitch of NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen in the ninth inning for his 24th save of the season. After the game, Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman stayed true to his word by having his head shaved on the field for charity. Great night all around for Cincy.
With the win, the Reds increased their lead in the National League Central to 4 1/2 games. The Pirates will hope to chip away at that lead tonight when they send the struggling James McDonald to the hill against Mike Leake.
Your Friday box scores:
Mariners 3, Yankees 6
Marlins 4, Nationals 7 (first game of doubleheader)
Marlins 5, Nationals 2 (second game of doubleheader)
Indians 2, Tigers 10
Diamondbacks 4, Phillies 2
Orioles 0, Rays 2
Twins 6, Red Sox 5 (10 innings)
Astros 1, Braves 4
Rangers 5, Royals 3
Brewers 3, Cardinals 9
Angels 6, White Sox 8 (10 innings)
Giants 16, Rockies 4
Blue Jays 4, Athletics 5 (15 innings)
Mets 1, Padres 3
Cubs 1, Dodgers 6
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.