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Video: Jon Lester gets a pickoff in the playoffs

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Jon Lester‘s mild case of the yips is well known. It was front and center in the playoffs last year when runners greedily took extra-long leads off first base, knowing he lacked confidence in his ability to throw over to first base. A pickoff for Lester is so notable that it earned a standalone post from us earlier this year when he did it during the regular season.

Lester entered Game 4 of the NLDS on Wednesday in the fifth inning in relief of starter Jake Arrieta. He had pitched three shutout innings when he took the hill in the eighth. The lefty walked Ryan Zimmerman with one out. Zimmerman, unsurprisingly, started taking a big lead off of first base. After falling behind 1-0 to Daniel Murphy, Lester decided to summon up his courage and throw over to first base. He spiked a one-hopper to first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Zimmerman got back to the bag. Lester decided to throw over again. It was a little off the mark, as Rizzo had to reach for it, but he swiped Zimmerman’s left foot. He was ruled safe, but Cubs skipper Joe Maddon challenged the ruling and it was overturned, giving Lester a pickoff in the playoffs.

The Cubs, though, lost Wednesday’s contest 5-0 and will have to battle the Nationals again in a pivotal Game 5 of Thursday.

Angels fire back at Rob Manfred’s comments re: Mike Trout

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout‘s marketability has been a topic of conversation in recent days as the best players in baseball converged upon Washington, D.C. for the All-Star Game. We learned that, according to one firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, Trout is as recognizable to the average American as Brooklyn Nets reserve forward Kenneth Faried, despite being far and away the best player in baseball and one of the greatest players ever to play the game.

Commissioner Rob Manfred also addressed Trout’s marketability, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reported. Manfred said, “Mike has made decisions on what he wants to do, doesn’t want to do, how he wants to spend his free time or not spend his free time. I think we could help him make his brand very bug. But he has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort.”

The Angels fired back on Wednesday, releasing a statement that said:

On behalf of the Angels Organization and baseball fans everywhere, congratulations to Mike Trout on another outstanding All-Star Game performance.

Mike Trout is an exceptional ambassador for the game. Combined with his talent, his solid character creates a perfect role model for young people everywhere. Each year, Mike devotes a tremendous amount of his time and effort contributing to our Organization, and marketing Major League Baseball. He continually chooses to participate in the community, visiting hospitals, schools, and countless other charities. One of Mike’s traits that people admire most is his humility. His brand is built upon generously spending his time engaging with fans, both at home and on the road, while remaining a remarkable baseball player and teammate.

In addition, Mike spends quality time as a husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend. We applaud him for prioritizing his personal values over commercial self-promotion. That is rare in today’s society and stands out as much as his extraordinary talent.

It’s not on Trout to build a brand that appeals to MLB’s marketing department, so the Angels are right to back Trout’s decision to stay out of the limelight. The Angels’ motivation likely isn’t entirely selfless, however, as supporting him in this situation may make it more enticing for him to sign a contract extension before his current contract expires after the 2020 season.