Pirates hitting coach Gregg Ritchie stepping down to take college job

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Pirates hitting coach Gregg Ritchie will not return for 2013 and will instead take a job as the new head coach at his alma mater, George Washington University.

Ritchie has spent seven years in the Pirates’ organization and was promoted to hitting coach in November of 2010. In two seasons under his coaching Pittsburgh’s offense has ranked 10th and 14th in the 16-team National League.

Brink notes that Ritchie denied rumors that he was leaving the Pirates to take the GW job back in August. Good thing, too, or else maybe the Pirates would have been distracted and their performance would have suffered down the stretch or something.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.