Billy Hamilton had a whale of a game in his starting debut

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So far Reds’ speedster Billy Hamilton has been deployed as a pinch runner/secret weapon. Last night he got a start, however, and boy what a start it was.

Hamilton went 3 for 4 — his first three major league hits — with two walks and four stolen bases against the Astros. He is the first player to get four stolen bases in his first major league start. One of his stolen bases led to the run which broke a 4-4 tie in the 13th inning. He’s now nine-for-nine in stolen base attempts.

In just one start and a couple of pinch running appearances Hamilton is tied for 37th in the NL in stolen bases. At the rate he’s going he could finish in the top ten despite being a September callup. That would be pretty trippy.

More significantly, he has to be putting the Reds in mind of placing him on the postseason roster. Sure, he’s not going to start much, but I feel like he’d be more valuable than a couple of the back-of-the-bullpen arms Dusty Baker may otherwise be inclined to carry around.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.