By Andrew Kahn
On-field excellence from both pitchers and hitters, as well a questionable off-field move, highlight this week’s recap.
Sluggers reach 400
Is Adrian Beltre a Hall of Famer? He hit career home run No. 400 on Friday, becoming just the fifth third baseman to reach the milestone (Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Chipper Jones, and Darrell Evans are the others who played at least half of their games at the hot corner). Beltre debuted in 1998 with the Dodgers, went to Seattle for five seasons starting in 2005, played a year in Boston, and has been with Texas since. He’s won four Gold Gloves but never an MVP. Using the “similar players” feature on Baseball-Reference.com, Beltre compares favorably to Hall of Famers through age 35 (he turned 36 in April). Al Kaline and Eddie Murray are his two most comparable players. When you think of this era’s top players, does Beltre come to mind? Perhaps not, but when considering third basemen, he has a strong case. Another slugger who’s played some third base in his career, Miguel Cabrera, hit his 400th homer the next day.
Since PNC Park opened in 2001, only two homers have been hit out of the stadium and into the Allegheny River. Until Tuesday. The Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez crushed a fastball to right field that cleared the stadium and the walkway behind it before landing in an unoccupied docked boat.
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Daryl Ward (2002) and Garrett Jones (2013) accomplished the feat, but without the added bonus of landing in a boat. Since this was not an MTV Rock N’ Jock competition, Alvarez’s blast was only worth one run and the Pirates lost to the Twins 8-5.
New Marlins manager
After a poor start, Mike Redmond is out as Marlins manager and GM Dan Jennings is in, despite having no previous coaching experience beyond high school. It’s not unprecedented, as more than a third of current managers had no prior managing experience in the minors or majors. But Jennings is unique because he had no professional coaching experience at all and he never reached the majors as a player. It’s a strange move and further proof that owner Jeffrey Loria has a short leash. Here are the numbers:
And of course there’s only so much a manager can do in baseball. The Marlins are 0-4 since Jennings took over.
The final straw in Redmond’s tenure came Sunday, when the Marlins came within an out of being no-hit in a 6-0 loss. The culprit? Atlanta’s 24-year-old right-hander Shelby Miller, who owns the best ERA in baseball. Justin Bour hit a clean single up the middle with two outs in the ninth on a first-pitch fastball. In the pre-replay age, Miller’s bid wouldn’t have lasted past the third inning, as a Marlin was ruled safe at first on a grounder to short before it was overturned. Miller finished with two hits and four strikeouts.
Here come the Giants
A week ago, the Giants were 18-18 and 5.5 games back of the Dodgers in the National League West. The deficit is just 1.5 now that San Francisco has won five straight, including a three-game sweep over Los Angeles in which the Dodgers did not score. The Giants completed the sweep yesterday thanks to Madison Bumgarner, who outpitched Clayton Kershaw and homered off the reigning MVP, the first homer Kershaw has ever allowed to a pitcher. These two aces have faced each other before and likely will again. The Giants are 7-2 against their rivals this season.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about baseball and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn