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  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Giants RHP Lincecum undergoes hip surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum underwent hip surgery on Thursday and will miss the rest of the season, general manager Bobby Evans said.

    • Lincecum, 31, went on the disabled list in July and had sought several opinions. The final decision was made after Lincecum met with Dr. Marc Philippon, a noted hip specialist, in Vail, Colo., on Wednesday.

      The Giants had referred to it as a "degenerative" condition. It was believed to have been the source of Lincecum's decreased pitching velocity.

      Lincecum is expected to be ready for spring training, although he will be a free agent next offseason.

      "The next step for him is to do everything he can and get back and get well, but it's going to take him out for the season," Evans said. "What that leads to in terms of his progression healthwise will dictate what opportunities he has with us or elsewhere."

      Lincecum was 7-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts this season.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Yankees send INF Figueroa to Triple-A
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New York Yankees sent infielder Cole Figueroa to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.

    • Figueroa had been designated for assignment Tuesday.

      He saw limited action with the Yankees this season, batting .250 (2-for-8) with two doubles in two games. In the minors, he hit .299 (130-for-435) with three home runs and 44 RBIs in 118 games.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Twins' closer Perkins 'can barely walk' due to spasms
    By The Sports Xchange

    Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins told reporters on Thursday that he "can barely walk" suffering back spasms.

    • Perkins will definitely not travel with the team for a three-game series beginning Friday at the Chicago White Sox and his timetable for return is unknown.

      Perkins has converted 32 of 34 save opportunities this season and has a 2.68 ERA with 46 strikeouts against only eight walks. Kevin Jepsen, who was acquired at the trade deadline, will fill in as the Twins' closer with Trevor May working as the primary set-up man.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Dodgers to call up top prospect Seager
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly called up infielder Corey Seager, the franchise's top prospect and the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline.

    • The team had yet to confirm Seager will be promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

      Seager, 21, is expected to join the Dodgers in time for Friday night's game at the San Diego Padres.

      Seager has primarily played shortstop but has also started 19 games at third base, where he could be needed immediately with the status of Justin Turner uncertain after he was hit in the left pinkie by a pitch Wednesday. Seager could also cut into the playing time of shortstop Jimmy Rollins (.222 batting average with 13 home runs and 10 stolen bases).

      The younger brother of Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, Corey Seager was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2012 draft and has a .307 career batting average and .368 on-base percentage in parts of three minor-league seasons. He has hit .293 with 18 home runs combined this season in stops with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    RHP Ventura coming up big since rejoining Royals
    By The Sports Xchange

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On July 21, the Royals optioned right-hander Yordano Ventura to Triple-A Omaha, the day after he gave up six runs on 10 hits in four innings in a loss to the Pirates.

    • After winning his first two starts of the season, Ventura went 2-7 in his next dozen starts. Before his July 21 demotion, he had not pitched five or less innings in his previous four starts.

      But before Ventura could leave Kansas City, left-hander Jason Vargas blew out his elbow on July 21 and would need season-ending Tommy John surgery.

      Ventura got a reprieve and was recalled. He has made the most of his new lease.

      In his past five starts, Ventura is 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA.

      Ventura punctuated his recent stretch Wednesday night against the Tigers, allowing one run on five hits, while walking one and striking out 11, which matches his career high. He also struck out 11 Orioles in his previous start.

      Ace Ventura has yielded just 20 hits and four runs in 32 innings in his past five starts.

      "He's got his swagger back," Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland said.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Phillies lose Brown to concussion; Franco shut down again
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW YORK -- The Philadelphia Phillies began Wednesday hoping to get promising young third baseman Maikel Franco back this season. They ended the day wondering if they'll see Franco or right fielder Domonic Brown again before spring training.

    • Franco experienced soreness in his fractured left wrist while taking 20 dry swings in the cage prior to the Phillies' 9-4 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field. He'll be shut down for at least the next couple days, which will make it all but impossible for him to rehab with a Phillies affiliate before the minor league season ends.

      "He's not any closer than he was before," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said following the game. "It's going to take more time than we thought originally. So if we go another week or so, it probably doesn't look good for him coming back.

      "He needs at-bats to get back in the lineup and it's tough to do that if you only have two weeks left in the season."

      Franco, who was injured when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 11, was batting .277 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs in 77 games before getting hurt. He is expected to play winter ball, which lessens the need for him to get at-bats before this season ends.

      Hours after Franco's setback, Brown left the game with a possible concussion. He was injured in the second inning after he fell headfirst over the wall in foul territory in right field as he pursued an inside-the-park home run by Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

      Brown, who was slow to get to his feet and needed the help of teammates to get over the wall and back on the field of play, initially remained in the game. Mackanin said Brown told trainers that he hurt his knee, not his head.

      However, Brown was pulled when for Cody Asche when the Phillies took the field in the bottom of the fourth.

      "We asked him numerous times in the dugout: 'You feel OK? You all right?'" Mackanin said. "He said 'Yeah, I'm fine.' He didn't really look dazed or anything like that, but then the trainer came up to me the next inning and said he's done."

      Mackanin said Brown took concussion tests, on which he "didn't score exceptionally well," and that he doubted Brown would be available for a weekend series against Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

      A Phillies spokesperson said Brown will undergo further tests during Thursday's off-day. Brown struck out in his lone at-bat Wednesday and is batting .228 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 63 games this season.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Padres' latest injuries aren't serious
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN DIEGO -- Although the Padres lost to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, San Diego's bigger losses involved player personnel.

    • The Padres saw one player exit early in the game due to injury, then two more in the seventh inning.

      However, first baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Derek Norris and right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley are unlikely to miss significant amounts of time.

      "That was difficult to see," assistant general manager Josh Stein said of the trio of injuries.

      Alonso was the first to exit, as a lower back strain he was monitoring finally revolted. He didn't play Wednesday as the Padres fell 4-3 to the Rangers, but he should be available to pinch-hit during the upcoming series with the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.

      Then on a bang-bang play at the plate in the Rangers' four-run seventh, Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre kicked the ball out of Norris' glove. The catcher's left arm took the brunt of the collision, and it appeared he was seriously injured.

      It would up the ailment was more of an arm contusion, and Norris will be OK. He flied out as a pinch hitter Wednesday.

      As Austin Hedges came in to replace Norris on Tuesday, Kelley threw a warm-up pitch and immediately walked off the mound.

      "When a pitcher comes off like that, you usually think of the worst-case scenario," Stein said.

      However, Kelley's ailment is being categorized as a strained forearm instead of a shredded elbow.

      "It's not his elbow, it's more of a nerve issue," Stein said. "But he's going to be down for a few days."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Mets, Murphy not worried about new quad injury
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy's left quad is not 100 percent. But it's probably a good sign for the New York Mets that the droll sense of humor possessed by their do-everything infielder remains fully intact.

    • Murphy started at first base Wednesday night but was pulled for Michael Cuddyer following the third inning of the Mets' 9-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. He is expected to visit with team doctors for a precautionary exam Thursday, when the Mets are off, and rejoin his teammates Friday, when New York begins a three-game series in Miami against the Marlins.

      Asked if he was worried he'd miss any time, Murphy offered up a familiarly sarcastic response.

      "I won't be in there tomorrow," he said as reporters laughed. "And then we'll see."

      Neither Murphy nor manager Terry Collins seemed overly concerned about Wednesday's injury, which both men said was not nearly as serious as the left quad strain that sent Murphy to the disabled list for more than three weeks in June.

      "I think it's been there for a while," Collins said. "I think Dan plays through a lot. He was smart to say something tonight. I don't think it's real serious."

      Said Murphy: "I characterize it as probably just a shade less than 100 percent."

      Murphy added that he decided to pull himself out of the lineup because the Mets were up 6-0 with right-hander Matt Harvey on the mound and an expanded roster at Collins' disposal. He declined to answer if he would have stayed in the game earlier in the season and/or if Wednesday's game was a closer contest.

      "I try not to answer hypothetical questions," Murphy said. "But today was a six-run lead with Harvey going, guys swinging the bats really well. Felt like today was the right decision to come out."

      The Mets are better positioned now -- following the July additions of infielders Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson -- to handle any absence by Murphy than they were without him in June, when New York went 10-12 and averaged just three runs per game.

      "We're lucky because of the pieces we have -- we've got Kelly," Collins said. "I think Juan's a lot more athletic than people give him credit for. I know he can play second.

      "So we've got a couple pieces that we have that can still make us effective."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Morneau anxious to get back in Rockies lineup
    By The Sports Xchange

    DENVER -- First baseman Justin Morneau returned to the Rockies after playing five rehab games at Double-A New Britain and he's eager to play for the Rockies for the first time since May 13.

    • "Try and negotiate my way into the lineup," Morneau said, smiling as he headed from his locker to manager Walt Weiss' office.

      "Oh, he tried," Weiss said.

      Morneau, who has a concussion history, suffered concussion symptoms and a cervical strain diving for a ground ball at Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels. His road back to the Rockies has been slow and unpredictable, but Morneau finally progressed to the point where he could go out on a rehab assignment.

      In five games with New Britain, where he played while coming up with the Twins, Morneau went 9-for-18 (.500) with two doubles, two homers and nine RBIs. The New Britain franchise is relocating to Hartford, and Morneau was able to play in the final home games at New Britain.

      Now the reigning National League batting champion hopes to return to the Rockies. That won't happen until Morneau gets medical clearance to play. "I don't know about complete clearance quite yet, but he's definitely close," Weiss said before the Rockies beat the Diamondbacks 9-4.

      Morneau, 34, could be in his final days with the Rockies or, for that matter, the final days of his career. His contract includes a mutual option for 2016 at $9 million with a $750,000 club buyout.

      The Rockies have a host of players who can play first base, including Ben Paulsen, who like Morneau is a left-handed hitter and has been the regular at the position, along with Kyle Parker, Matt McBride and Wilin Rosario.

      When Weiss was asked why Morneau would play over these younger players, Weiss said, "For what he's done. That would be No. 1 -- what he's done as a player, what he's done for this team. If he's cleared to play, he's going to play. We've got a lot of guys. I'd imagine I'll be mixing and matching quite a bit, but if he's cleared to play, he's going to get playing time."

      Morneau last played in New Britain in 2003. He did more than hit .500 in his short stay at New Britain.

      "The Double-A manager sent me a text just raving about the way he played the game," Weiss said, referring to Darin Everson: "What an impression he had in a few days on our Double-A team. Those types of things we already knew, but you have somebody in New Britain confirming the things we've seen here for a couple years. He's a consummate pro, and he's meant a lot in his couple years here."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Demotion meant to help, not punish, M's Montero
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON -- It seemed noteworthy when Mariners infielder Jesus Montero, a formerly ballyhooed prospect who scuffled attempting to fulfill his vast promise, was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday, one day after teams throughout the majors expanded their rosters.

    • Upon further investigation, the decision to shuttle Montero to the minors had more to do with opportunity than production.

      Stuck behind several veterans in pursuit of limited at-bats as the Seattle designated hitter, Montero will get those at-bats in Tacoma over the next week before returning to the Mariners for the final three-plus weeks of the season.

      "It was an opportunity to get him some at-bats over the next six days, kind of sharpen him back up," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Montero. "When he comes back, he'll have a better chance of helping us win ballgames.

      "He hasn't played consistently. We had that stretch of lefties where he played. Now he's been sitting a little bit and has got a little rusty, so go back, get some at-bats, get sharp, and come back and help us."

      Montero, reputed enough that Seattle traded talented right-hander Michael Pineda to secure his services, hit .500/.533/.929 over a five-game stretch sandwiching his second stint with the club. But with diminished playing time came a decline in production, including a .057 average and one extra-base hit over his past 11 games.

      Montero hit .346 (130-for-376) with 39 extra-base hits and 75 RBIs over 93 games with Tacoma previously this season, but he has yet to find success in the majors. The Mariners hope one more stint in the minors might help to that end.

      "That's with any player that comes from the minor leagues that's got 300 at-bats under their belt," McClendon said of Montero's fast start. "And then when you sit a little bit, you get a little rusty. It's tough."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Keuchel wants playoff success, not awards
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON -- Upon claiming the third American League Pitcher of the Month honor of his breakout season, Houston Astros ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel responded with his usual mix of modesty and competitiveness.

    • While the race for the AL Cy Young Award is undoubtedly tight, Keuchel has earned the right to be called the front-runner. He followed Pitcher of the Month honors in April and May by going 4-1 with a 1.94 ERA over six starts in August. That Keuchel won't spend much time focusing on the individual accolades reflects his macro-view focus.

      "It's not something I think about. It's not something I ever think about," Keuchel said. "I just like to pitch well every fifth day or sixth or seventh day now that we have the 47-man rotation. We're all doing great, and we're all striving for greatness.

      "I was actually telling (Astros left-hander Scott) Kazmir that I was kind of jealous that he won in July. I think the whole staff has done a great job. I was looking at some of the August stats from the other guys -- (right-handers Scott) Feldman, (Collin) McHugh and (Mike) Fiers -- and they were just as good, if not better than me. I was very surprised."

      While Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archer and Oakland A's right-hander Sonny Gray own the stats to match Keuchel, their teams aren't in the pennant chase. That leaves Keuchel to battle with Blue Jays left-hander David Price down the stretch, with Toronto in pursuit of the AL East title while the Astros chase the West crown. Of course, Keuchel won't use September to create an individual campaign for the award. He has bigger team goals in mind.

      "I'd much rather get a World Series ring than a Cy Young Award," Keuchel said. "I'm going to continue to strive for that, and I think everybody else is as well."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Nationals' call-ups see immediate action
    By The Sports Xchange

    ST. LOUIS -- The bullpen badly needing fresh arms that might help record outs late in games, the Washington Nationals again dipped into the roster of Triple-A Syracuse to add a pair of relievers Wednesday.

    • Both left-hander Matt Grace and right-hander Rafael Martin got into high-leverage situations during the Nationals' 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night, pitching to one batter apiece in the seventh inning.

      Grace coughed up a game-tying hit to second baseman Kolten Wong, but Martin retired his batter, fanning catcher Tony Cruz to end the inning.

      When first baseman Ryan Zimmerman doubled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth, Martin was the proud owner of his first big league win.

      "Those guys were here and they were available, so let's use them," Washington manager Matt Williams said. "Rafael got a big out for us. We were trying to get through the eighth any way we could."

      Grace and Martin were with the club earlier in the season, with Grace seeing action in 17 games and Martin getting four outings. The 31-year old Martin doesn't throw hard by current major league standards, but he has 12 strikeouts in his first 5 1/3 innings.

      With only 30 games left and 6 1/2 games of ground to make up on the New York Mets in the National League East, it will be all hands on deck. That means Grace and Martin might be seen in more tough situations down the stretch.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Cards view rotation with big picture in mind
    By The Sports Xchange

    ST. LOUIS -- A night after giving one of its young guns a couple of extra days off, the St. Louis Cardinals stole a little more rest for their other young fireballing right-hander.

    • The Cardinals scratched Michael Wacha from his start Wednesday, opting to save him, probably for next week's visit from the Chicago Cubs. They recalled three pitchers from Triple-A Memphis, giving lefty Tyler Lyons the start against the Washington Nationals.

      With a six-game lead in the NL Central and baseball's best record, St. Louis figured the time was right to save innings now so that Wacha can be fresher for October. What's more, with a stretch of 26 straight games against division foes starting Friday night, the Cardinals clearly thought those were more important than a random meeting with Washington.

      Think of it as a San Antonio Spurs type move, although Cardinals manager Mike Matheny will never be accused of trolling sideline reporters in the manner of a Gregg Popovich. But like the NBA coaching legend, Matheny sees a bigger picture.

      St. Louis is understandably pointing at October this year, as it usually can, and knows that it will need Martinez and Wacha to make a deep postseason run. With its heavy lifting done for this series after two comeback wins, it took a chance on Lyons.

      Although the 4-3 loss was aggravating in that the Cardinals left 13 men on base and wasted a 16-hit night, Lyons pitched decently. St. Louis lost no ground in the division and got some rest for the young pitchers it will need next month.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Ramirez enjoying one last playoff push with Pirates
    By The Sports Xchange

    MILWAUKEE -- With the 2015 season, and his career, winding down, veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez is enjoying one last playoff push with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    • The 37-year-old announced during spring training that this season would be his last and after 3 1/2 years with the Milwaukee Brewers, was dealt just before the trade deadline to the Pirates, the team he broke in with back in 1998.

      "Hopefully we win the division but at least we're in the wild card."

      Ramirez was greeted with applause by the Miller Park crowds before each game and each of his at-bats; they also cheered when he hit home runs in each of the first two games of the series.

      "When I hit that homer, they treated me like I still played for the Brewers," Ramirez said. "They cheered, and I appreciated that."

      Ramirez spent five seasons with the Pirates, who traded him to Chicago in 2003. He played nine years with the Cubs then signed a four-year deal in Milwaukee, where he hit .285 with 65 home runs and 262 RBIs.

      Since returning to the Pirates, he's played in 32 games and is batting .248 with four home runs and 25 RBIs.

      "It's been great," Ramirez said. "We're 28 games over .500, we're leading the wild card by a lot of games right now but hopefully we win the division. St. Louis is pretty good. We've still got two more series against them."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Brewers' Lucroy wants to finish on high note
    By The Sports Xchange

    MILWAUKEE -- With a disappointing season almost at its end, Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonatan Lucroy just wants to finish on a high note.

    • An all-star a year ago, Lucroy never got going in 2015 and was batting just .133 when he suffered a fracture in his foot and missed 38 games.

      Since then, Lucroy has gone .278 (80-for-288) at the plate, with seven home runs and 36 RBIs and went 2-for-5 with three RBIs Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, matching a career-high.

      "I wish I could my finger on it," Lucroy said. "Sometimes when your body is working together and your eyes and your hands and body works together, and things click and all of a sudden you start feeling it, you just try to repeat it as much you can, that feeling.

      "So that's what it's about, because everything's got to be perfect on swings to get hits, especially on moving fastball and good sliders and stuff like that. You've got to be perfect as much as you can with your body and just try to repeat."

      During his streak, Lucroy is 18-for-40 with four doubles a triple and three home runs. He's raised his season average from .235 to .260 during that stretch.

      "You just want to sit there and go 'Man, at least feel good, somewhat good about the season' and finish up strong," Lucroy said. "We were struggling most of the season and battling and not doing much. Finishing up strong means a lot."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Orioles righty Gonzalez confident he will pitch again
    By The Sports Xchange

    BALTIMORE -- Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is confident he will pitch again this season.

    • After battling fatigue and soreness over his past several starts, Gonzalez underwent an MRI earlier this week that showed there wasn’t any structural damage in his right shoulder or elbow. He was simply dealing with some inflammation and tendinitis. Gonzalez received a cortisone injection Monday, which means it will take several days before he can begin throwing again.

      "Things like this, you never know what could happen," Gonzalez said. "After we got the results back and could see what was wrong, it was definitely a positive."

      Still, the Orioles plan to move him along carefully. Whether he rejoins the rotation or pitches out of the bullpen remains to be seen.

      "First of all, he's got to get through the period where the shot, it's two or three days," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Then, he's going to do some exercises to strengthen it in there that they do with certain weights. If he meets all that criteria, then he will start throwing. It's a minimum of 15 days since the injection, I've been told."

      Gonzalez has struggled over the past month. He's gone 2-5 with a 6.04 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. He is also on a five-game losing streak.

      However, he did not entirely blame the soreness on his recent struggles.

      "Obviously I have not been doing well in the second half," Gonzalez said. "But it’s part of baseball."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Moore to rejoin Rays rotation
    By The Sports Xchange

    BALTIMORE -- Left-hander Matt Moore, who was called up from Triple-A Durham on Sept. 1, will rejoin the Tampa Bay Rays rotation and start Saturday against the Yankees.

    • As a result, rookie Nathan Karns, who has gone 7-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 26 starts, will work out of the bullpen at least in the short-term. Rays manager Kevin Cash said he will revisit the overall rotation after Moore makes his start.

      "It was a difficult decision," Cash said. "We all know in this clubhouse and in this organization that we are not in this spot if it wasn't for what Nathan Karns has provided. That being said, Matt Moore is also a huge part of this organization now and going forward."

      Moore underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2014 and struggled with his command when he returned earlier this season. He was optioned to Durham on Aug. 3 to work on his mechanics and he responded by going 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA with 43 strikeouts in five starts. On Aug. 22, he struck out 16 batters in six innings for the Bulls, which set a record for the minor league club.

      Moore went 17-4 in 2013 and was also named to the All-Star team that year. However, when Moore returned to the club in July, he went 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA in six starts.

      Rays officials were optimistic those struggles were an aberration and the rust was from not pitching the major leagues for a year.

      "He went down and did what was needed and what was asked," Cash said about Moore. "We decided given the matchup against the Yankees -- all the lefties, all the switch-hitters, the short porch in right -- we figured we take a crack at it with a left-handed pitcher."

      Tampa Bay will not go with a six-man rotation, Cash confirmed. Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly and Erasmo Ramirez kept their spots in the rotation, which left Karns as the odd man out.

      "There is definitely a chance he gets starts again," Cash said about Karns.

      The Rays believe they can make a run at the wild card. A successful trip to Baltimore, where they won two out of three games, has given them even more confidence. Tampa Bay has six games remaining with both the first-place Blue Jays and second-place Yankees. So, the Rays essentially control their own destiny.

      "For a team in our situation right now, you want to play these teams because we are going to have to beat all of these teams to get where we need to," Cash said.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Donaldson continues to amaze for Blue Jays
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson is so full of surprises that whatever he does is no longer a surprise.

    • In the second inning of the 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, he was at third base when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki popped up a ball to shallow right center that second baseman Jason Kipnis caught.

      Donaldson tagged up at third and scored with a spectacular, diving slide to avoid the tag by catcher Yan Gomes and catch part of the plate with his left hand.

      The pop to second became a sacrifice fly.

      "If the right fielder had caught the ball I would have stayed," Donaldson said. "Kipnis has a pretty good arm but he's moving back. I felt like his momentum was carrying him back, which makes it a little bit more difficult of play for him to throw home. So I thought I had an opportunity to score."

      "It's gotten to the point where nothing this guy does surprises you anymore," said right-hander R.A. Dickey, the winning pitcher on Wednesday. "He's a superhero. He's in a special place right now. He's got such a great game clock. You can't teach that. It's an intangible that some guys possess and he's got it."

      "He's a great player," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Donaldson. "I don't know him personally but he's a very good player and when he comes to the plate he makes you nervous. But so does (right fielder Jose) Bautista and (DH Edwin) Encarnacion and Tulowitzki. He certainly plays the game the way you're supposed to."

      "He's a madman," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's on mission. It's fun to watch, it's fun to be a part of. I can't recall any time this year when it's been a down day for him. ...I haven't seen a game all year where he's looked fatigued. I don't think he takes anything for granted."

      Donaldson had three runs batted in and three hits Wednesday. He has 36 homers and 111 RBIs for the season and is a contender for the Most Valuable Player in the American League.

      It would be no surprise if he wins.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    AL Central record cripples Indians' postseason chances
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- Blame it on the American League Central.

    • This has been a disappointing season for the Cleveland Indians so far although they have crept back into contention for one of the AL wild card spots.

      Despite losing two in a row to the Toronto Blue Jays -- the first time they have lost consecutive games since Aug. 18-19 at Boston -- they are 15-15 against the AL East.

      They are 19-14 against the AL West and 12-8 against the National League.

      Within their own division, the AL Central, however, they are 18-31.

      After losing two of three to the Blue Jays, they return to the Central on Friday with a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. They are 3-9 against the Tigers.

      "What's our record against Detroit?" Indians manager Terry Francona asked before the game Wednesday. "It's terrible. They beat us up. Then Kansas City is the best team in the American League. Those are two factors right there (for their problems in the AL Central).

      "Minnesota has been good. I mean that's our league. But Detroit really beating us up has probably been the biggest factor."

      The Indians are 5-7 against the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins and 5-8 against the Chicago White Sox. They have seven games each against Kansas City, Minnesota and Detroit and six games against Chicago.

      The Indians entered Wednesday five games out of the second wild card spot.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Rockies 9, Diamondbacks 4
    By The Sports Xchange

    DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez hit two homers, including a go-ahead grand slam, and drove in a career-high seven runs Wednesday night as the Colorado Rockies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-4.

    • The victory gave the Rockies a split of the four-game series and sent the Diamondbacks to their eighth loss in the past 11 games.

      Gonzalez's grand slam came with no outs in the seventh inning on a 1-1 slider from Keith Hessler, a left-hander who was recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Reno and was brought in to face Gonzalez. It was Gonzalez's fourth career grand slam and second this season.

      The rally began when pinch-hitter Cristhian Adames led off the inning with a single against Randall Delgado (5-4). Adames took third when center fielder Charlie Blackmon singled to right for his third hit of the game, and Blackmon dashed to second when right fielder Ender Inciarte threw to third. Delgado walked shortstop Jose Reyes walked to load the bases for Gonzalez.

      After Reyes singled with two outs in the eighth, Gonzalez belted his 33rd home run to tie teammate Nolan Arenado for the National League lead.

      Arenado hit his 33rd homer in Colorado's three-run first, a two-run shot that followed Gonzalez's sacrifice fly and gave Arenado 100 RBIs for the season. He's the first Rockies player to drive in 100 runs since Troy Tulowitzki had 105 RBIs in 2011.

      Arenado has homered in three straight games, tying the longest streak of his career. He also homered in three straight games this season from May 30 to June 1.

      Brooks Brown (1-2), who was recalled by the Rockies on Wednesday, pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings and posted the victory.

      The Diamondbacks took a 4-3 lead with two runs in the sixth. Doubles by third baseman Jake Lamb and shortstop Chris Owings netted the first run. When switch-hitter Jarrold Saltalamacchia came up to pinch-hit with one out, Rockies manager Walt Weiss brought in left-hander Christian Friedrich to relieve Jon Gray, who made his sixth career start.

      Gray is on an innings limit and left after throwing 79 pitches in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a career-high 10 hits and four runs with two walks and one strikeout.

      A three-run first gave the Rockies a 3-1 lead. The inning began with two singles and right fielder Carlos Gonzalez's sacrifice fly. Arenado hit a two-run homer, driving Chase Anderson's first pitch over the wall in center.

      Center fielder AJ Pollock was camped to make the catch well in front of the warning track, only to turn around and watch the ball sail beyond the wall.

      NOTES: Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt flew back to Phoenix after Tuesday night's game to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. He will rejoin the team in Chicago but likely will miss Friday's game against the Cubs. ... Arizona RHP Zack Godley will be recalled from Double-A Mobile to start Friday at Chicago. ... Diamondbacks LHP Kevin Hessler was recalled from Triple-A Reno. ... The Rockies recalled RHPs Brooks Brown and Justin Miller from Triple-A Albuquerque. Brown begins his third stint this season with Colorado, and Miller began his fourth. ... Diamondbacks RHP Jeremy Hellickson (strained left hamstring) threw 67 pitches Tuesday in a simulated game in Scottsdale, Ariz. ... Arizona swept doubleheaders from Colorado on May 6 and Tuesday to become the first team to sweep two doubleheaders from the same opponent in one season since 2012, when Minnesota swept two doubleheaders against Kansas City. ... In his first rehab start since undergoing Tommy John surgery July 24, 2014, Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood pitched two innings for High Class A Modesto and allowed three hits and one run in two innings with two walks and one strikeout while throwing 42 pitches, 23 strikes.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Sox's Sale's struggles against Twins may be costly
    By The Sports Xchange

    MINNEAPOLIS -- If Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale doesn't win the Cy Young Award in the American League this season, blame it on the Minnesota Twins.

    • Sale, once again one of the top pitchers in the league, has been dominant at times again in 2015. But against the Twins, Sale looks much more hittable.

      Minnesota's relative dominance was on display again during the opener of a three-game series on Friday when the Twins scored four runs on pounded out nine hits against Sale over 6 1/3 innings. The lefty actually left in line for the win, but late rally against the Chicago bullpen spoiled that.

      "They hit the ball hard and they score a lot of runs," Sale said. "I don't know if I can pinpoint one thing (as to why he struggles against Minnesota)."

      All of the damage against Sale was done in the second inning, when the Twins ambushed him with four singles among the first five hitters in the inning. Throw in a wild pitch, and the Twins scored once without ever getting a ball off the ground. A sacrifice fly made it 2-0 before the big blow, a two-out double by Brian Dozier into the left-center field gap.

      "That early on in the game, you don't want to get too down on yourself," Sale said. "You still have a lot of ballgame left. And we came back and fought. You just want to be able to give your team a chance and not let it snowball and make things worse."

      In five starts against the Twins this season, Sale is 1-3 with a 6.30 ERA. Tuesday's game marked the fourth time in those starts Minnesota had scored at least four runs against him. The Twins are hitting .291 off of Sale overall.

      Against all other teams this season, Sale is 11-4 with a 2.68 ERA and has held opponents to a .207 average.

      In eight career starts at Target Field, Sale is 4-3 with a 4.78 ERA.

      Still, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he was pleased with how Sale finished the game giving his team a chance for the win.

      "These guys have given him some tough days," Ventura said. "Even with how things started, some guys would end up going the other way. He battled through and we scored a few runs there to get it close. He did a great job of getting it there."

      Sale likely has one more chance against the Twins this season, barring injury, lined up to start against Minnesota on Sept. 12 at U.S. Cellular Field.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Sano 'in middle of something positive' for Twins
    By The Sports Xchange

    MINNEAPOLIS -- The arrival of Minnesota Twins third baseman/designated hitter Miguel Sano created a buzz not seen in the Twin Cities since Joe Mauer arrived in the scene in 2004.

    • Sano was rewarded for a fantastic month of August on Wednesday, being named the American League's Rookie of the Month after swatting nine homers, scoring 18 runs, knocking in 26 and also walking 16 times. All numbers led league rookies.

      Sano celebrated the award by homering again in his first at-bat on Wednesday in Minnesota's 3-0 win over the Chicago White Sox, his second homer in as many days against the Pale Hose and eighth in his last 14 days overall.

      The numbers over Sano's first month are staggering.

      His 15 homers are third-most among AL rookies and the 10th most by a rookie in club history. His 12.57 at-bats per homer are third-best in all of baseball, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton and Kyle Schwarber.

      "We talk about him (a lot)," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He's usually in the middle of something positive for us offensively.

      "He's been an impact player at an important juncture in the season."

      With the Twins entering the night just a game out of the second wild card spot in the American League, Minnesota will have to carefully manage Sano and a bulky hamstring that has begun to rear its ugly head.

      Sano first missed time with the ailment on Friday against the Houston Astros, but has been in the lineup each day since.

      His ability to run the bases has gotten worse by the day, however. In the fourth inning on Wednesday, Sano grounded into what should have been a simple 4-6 fielder's choice. But with Sano unable to run, he was doubled off easily at first base.

      The club believes it can manage the injury, although he won't be playing in the field any time soon.

      "If that's all we're going to get out of him on the bases, we'll take it to let him get his swings in," Molitor said.

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Yankees head home after successful 5-1 road trip
    By The Sports Xchange

    BOSTON -- The way the Toronto Blue Jays are playing, all the New York Yankees can do is keep winning and hang within range before the four-game Yankee Stadium series between the two teams Sept. 10-13.

    • The Yankees had to sweat a bit more than they would have liked, threatening to blow a 12-1 lead, but finished off a 5-1 road trip with a 13-8 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

      New York scored 56 runs on the trip and now goes home for a 10-game homestand -- three with the Tampa Bay Rays, three more with the Baltimore Orioles and then the four with the sizzling Jays.

      "We had a really good road trip," manager Joe Girardi said after his team gave him his 800th win as a major league manager. "We have a really important stretch here at home."

      Girardi hoped the big lead would allow him to stay away from relievers Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, but all three had to work to put down the Boston comeback.

      "They can rest tomorrow," Girardi said, "but preferably you’d rather not use them."

  • Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Dodgers' Mattingly downplays rumors of move to Marlins
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Initially, it was all fun and games when Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked about speculation he would become the new manager of the Miami Marlins.

    • "Preston called me today, and he's the one that keeps me informed about anything that's going on," Mattingly said amusement, referring to his son. "I have no idea where that comes from. I'm happy, I'm not worried about anything. I'm happy where I'm at. I love being manager of the Dodgers.

      That being said is pretty much the only thing to talk about as far as me. If you talk about winning games or moving forward, that's the only thing I care about."

      Pressed on the issue, Mattingly's demeanor quickly changed from jovial to stern.

      "Again, there's nothing to talk about. I didn't read or I don't know what was said or whatever. I just really want to win a game tonight," Mattingly said.

      The Marlins are expected to end Dan Jennings' stint as interim manager at season's end and begin a search to fill the void. Jennings is expected to return either return to the Marlins' front office, where he worked before stepping in when the club fired former manager Mike Redmond, or leave the club.

      Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is a long-time admirer of Mattingly, according to writer Jon Heyman.

      There has been speculation that Mattingly and the Dodgers need to at least go deep into the postseason for the skipper to retain his job. Mattingly was inherited by the Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi, who were brought in during the offseason.

      Mattingly has a 6-8 playoff record with the Dodgers, who have been bounced by the St. Louis Cardinals during the past two postseasons.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    A's ace Gray has day to forget
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- Athletics' ace Sonny Gray entered Wednesday's game at the Coliseum with a 5-1 career mark against the Los Angeles Angels.

    • Now he's 5-2 against the Angels after his worst outing of the season.

      Gray (12-7) gave up a season-high six earned runs and lasted only five innings, matching his season low. Gray gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out two, equaling another season low. He has lost a season-high three straight games and hasn't won since Aug. 7 against Houston.

      Gray allowed four runs in the first inning and two in the second when designated hitter Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer.

      "I didn't think all the pitches I made were that bad, but they put some good swings on the ball and had four runs before you knew it," Gray said.

      "They had a really good approach. If you look at them, especially early, they were swinging early and hit the ball up the middle. I just wasn't able to execute as often as I obviously needed to."

      In the first inning, Gray gave up five singles, including one to each of the first four hitters. Then in the second, Pujols lined his low 0-2 pitch over the left field fence.

      "Pujols just kind of stayed down and was able to backspin it," Gray said. "Just shows how strong he is."