Jorge Lopez
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Jorge López loses perfect game bid in the ninth

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Royals rookie right-hander Jorge López was three outs shy of the first perfect game in franchise history on Saturday. He dealt eight flawless innings against the Twins, striking out four of 24 batters and keeping the basepaths clear with an even 100 pitches.

In the ninth, however, things began to unravel after Max Kepler worked a 3-1 count against the righty, then took a walk after López’s fastball missed the edge of the strike zone. With the perfecto gone and the no-hitter still intact, López lasted just five more pitches against the Twins before giving up a single to Robbie Grossman, who lined an 86.5-MPH changeup into center field for the Twins’ first hit of the game. Carrying a pitch count of 110 and a comfortable four-run lead, he was given a swift exit from the mound and replaced by right-handed reliever Wily Peralta.
The Royals backed López’s extraordinary efforts with a handful of runs, from Hunter Dozier‘s RBI single in the sixth to Alberto Mondesi’s RBI double and another pair of base hits from Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon in the seventh. The Twins spoiled the shutout in the ninth after Ehire Adrianza plated a single run on a sac fly, but they weren’t quite able to close the gap against the Royals and convert a stunning loss into a comeback.
Had López completed the perfecto, he would have been the first to do so in franchise history and the 22nd to do so in MLB history. No pitcher has recorded so much as a no-hitter for the Royals since Bret Saberhagen’s no-no against the White Sox in 1991, when he blanked the club’s division rivals with nine innings of two-walk, five-strikeout ball. On the flip side, it’s only been six years since the Twins found themselves on the losing end of a no-hitter. Former Angels hurler Jered Weaver was the last to no-hit the team after taking them to task with a 9-0 victory in 2012. Funnily enough, the league’s last three perfect games were also recorded in 2012, when the White Sox’ Philip Humber no-hit the Mariners in April, the Giants’ Matt Cain delivered a perfect game against the Astros in June, and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez crafted a perfecto against the Rays in August.
Needless to say, this still was the strongest start the Royals had seen from López since they acquired him from the Brewers prior to the July trade deadline. While he was primarily used as a relief pitcher in Milwaukee, he transitioned to a starting role in Kansas City and entered Saturday’s game with a combined 4.26 ERA, 4.7 BB/9, and 7.4 SO/9 through 40 1/3 innings for both teams.

Minor League Baseball accuses MLB of making misleading statements

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Yesterday several members of Congress, calling themselves the “Save Minor League Baseball Task Force,” introduced a resolution saying that Major League Baseball should drop its plan to eliminate the minor league clubs and, rather, maintain the current minor league structure. In response, Major League Baseball issued a statement accusing Minor League Baseball of refusing to negotiate and imploring Congress to prod Minor League Baseball back to the bargaining table.

Only one problem with that: According to Minor League Baseball, it has been at the table. And, in a new statement today, claims that MLB is making knowingly false statements about all of that:

“Minor League Baseball was encouraged by the dialogue in a recent meeting between representatives of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball and a commitment by both sides to engage further on February 20. However, Major League Baseball’s claims that Minor League Baseball is not participating in these negotiations in a constructive and productive manner is false. Minor League Baseball has provided Major League Baseball with numerous substantive proposals that would improve the working conditions for Minor League Baseball players by working with MLB to ensure adequate facilities and reasonable travel. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball continues to misrepresent our positions with misleading information in public statements that are not conducive to good faith negotiations.”

I suppose Rob Manfred’s next statement is either going to double down or, alternatively, he’s going to say “wait, you were at the airport Marriott? We thought the meeting was at the downtown Marriott! Oh, so you were at the table. Our bad!”

Minor League Baseball is not merely offering dueling statements, however. A few minutes ago it released a letter it had sent to Rob Manfred six days ago, the entirely of which can be read here.

In the letter, the Minor League Baseball Negotiating Committee said it, “is singularly focused on working with MLB to reach an agreement that will best ensure that baseball remains the National Pastime in communities large and small throughout our
country,” and that to that end it seeks to “set forth with clarity in a letter to you the position of MiLB on the key issues that we must resolve in these negotiations.”

From there the letter goes through the various issues Major League Baseball has put on the table, including the status of the full season and short season leagues and implores MLB not to, as proposed, eliminate the Appalachian League. It blasts MLB’s concept of “The Dream League” — the bucket into which MLB proposed to throw all newly-unaffiliated clubs — as a “seriously flawed concept,” and strongly counters the talking point Major League Baseball has offered about how it allegedly “subsidizes” the minor leagues.

You should read the whole letter. And Rob Manfred should probably stop issuing statements that, it would appear, are easily countered.