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How Andre Ethier Ankle Injury Affects Dodgers’ Hopes for Postseason Success

Andre Ethier was held out of the lineup again on Tuesday due to a sore foot, leaving the Los Angeles Dodgers without one of their top outfielders.

The Dodgers had hoped that Ethier would be able to start on Tuesday, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday:

He has jogged and hit during pregame workouts the past two days, and said he is feeling better. Mattingly said if there are no setbacks, he hopes Ethier will be able to play during the three-game series in San Francisco that starts Tuesday.

However, the Dodgers obviously feel that Ethier is not ready to handle the physical demands of MLB play, resulting in his absence in the lineup.

Ethier has had just one at-bat since he injured himself on Sept. 13, with that one plate appearance being a strikeout.

Tuesday marks the 10th consecutive game that Ethier has failed to start in, and he’s running out of time to get back to 100 percent. The Dodgers have just five regular season games left after Tuesday night’s contest against the San Francisco Giants.

Ethier‘s foot has been a serious concern as of late, and according to Ken Gurnick of, he was seen in a walking boot as recently as Sept. 17.

While he has taken swings without a problem, Ethier still hasn’t been able to run the bases without discomfort, as reported by Anthony Jackson of

What’s more, the loss of Ethier is exacerbated by the fact that Matt Kemp still isn’t completely healthy either.

Kemp has played in just 70 games this season and recently returned from an ankle injury that caused him to miss 52 games from July 21 to Sept. 16.

Kemp’s recovery also went poorly, as he suffered a setback on Sept. 6. in the form of a hamstring injury.

Kemp has been a mere shadow of himself in the seven games he’s played in since his return, making the loss of Ethier so much more painful.

While Kemp did go 4-for-4 with three RBI in his second game back, he’s gone 2-for-15 since then without an extra-base hit, run scored or RBI.

The Dodgers have Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford in the outfield alongside the struggling Kemp, but losing Ethier still hurts. The team has gone 3-6 without Ethier this month, including 1-3 against teams with sub-.500 records.

Ethier was also one of the best players the team had in the month of October, as he hit .355 with three home runs, six RBI and seven runs scored in the 2009 postseason. He has not played in the playoffs since, and it remains unclear how much he’ll play in them this season.

The Dodgers do not have a lot of players with postseason experience on their roster. Guys like Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ricky Nolasco and Hanley Ramirez have never played in the postseason before, leaving the team very inexperienced.

The team also has several stars who have historically struggled in October, including Carl Crawford (.253 BA), Matt Kemp (.226 BA), Clayton Kershaw (5.87 ERA) and Zack Greinke (6.48 ERA). These guys haven’t been able to step up when it matters most, and Ethier was one of the few Dodgers who found postseason success.

The loss of Ethier is a serious one for the early World Series favorites, and L.A. could see its unbelievable second half comeback be all for naught if the team is ousted early in the postseason.

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Will Chris Sale’s Dominant Win over Max Scherzer Help Sway Cy Young Voters?

Chris Sale showed up Max Scherzer on Monday when the Chicago White Sox took on the Detroit Tigers.

The two AL Cy Young candidates faced off in a terrific pitching matchup, but it was Sale who led his team to victory with a gem of a game.

Sale held the Tigers to one earned run on four hits in eight innings or work while striking out eight. His White Sox would win 5-1, as the offense roughed up Scherzer, who gave up five runs (four earned) in four innings pitched.

It was Scherzer‘s shortest outing of the season, while Sale won his 11th game of the season.

Both guys are competing for the AL Cy Young Award, along with a host of other candidates. However, Sale appears to have surpassed MLB‘s wins leader in Cy Young standing after the two went head-to-head on Monday.

Sale not only outshone one of his competitors in a head-to-head matchup, but his numbers are now better than Scherzer‘s in almost every category.

Chris Sale 195.2 11-12 2.90 207 41 1.04
Max Scherzer 194.1 19-3 3.01 215 48 0.96

While Scherzer has the best record in baseball by far, he’s been getting help from one of the best offenses in baseball. The Tigers rank second in runs scored and put up 161 runs over Scherzer‘s first 27 starts, when he won his 19 games.

Sale, on the other hand, is supported by the worst offense in the AL, and he has still managed to win 11 games. Had received the same run support that Scherzer has, Sale could already have 23 wins this season.

While wins will give Scherzer a big advantage, Sale has him beat in innings, ERA and walks among others.

Sale appears to have given himself a healthy lead over Scherzer in the AL Cy Young race with his performance on Monday. However, the last few starts for the year will be key in deciding who wins the race, as the two are so close.

As it stands, Scherzer will face the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. He has two easy teams in his final two starts of the season, which could be enough to open the door for him to come back and surpass Sale.

Sale, on the other hand, will face the Tigers and Kansas City Royals if the White Sox stick with a six-man rotation. He will have to face the second-best offense in baseball again, which could lead to some trouble.

Obviously the door hasn’t closed on Scherzer, but for now it looks like Sale has taken a healthy lead over him in the Cy Young race.

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Watch Orioles’ Chris Davis Lose the Ball in His Own Jersey After a Foul Tip

Chris Davis pulled a Houdini against the New York Yankees on Monday, making a ball disappear.

The Baltimore Orioles first baseman, who has earned a reputation for sending balls out of the park, took one into his jersey on a bad swing.

After whiffing on a pitch from CC Sabathia, the ball ricochets and takes an odd bounce before hopping up and skidding along Davis’ jersey.

Davis leads the majors in home runs with 48 on the year, though it certainly didn’t look like it on that swing. 

Texas Rangers fans can certainly take delight in the play. 

The Orioles won 4-2, and the game also featured a shouting match between managers Joe Girardi and Buck Showalter. The Yankees are now three games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild-card spot, while Baltimore is just 1.5 games back.

The Orioles will certainly be counting on Davis’ power down the stretch. 


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Is Justin Morneau the Missing Piece to Put the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Top?

If you thought the Pittsburgh Pirates were done making deals after trading for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, think again.

As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported, the Bucs have traded for Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.

The Pirates are looking to capitalize on their success this season by going all-in. The team is not content to win a wild-card spot or an NL Central crown, but is instead looking for a World Series ring.

At 78-56 going into Saturday, Pittsburgh is tied for the NL Central lead with the St. Louis Cardinals. This is the most success the Bucs have enjoyed in the last two decades, and they’re looking to go as far as possible this year before their window of opportunity closes.

Morneau was considered among the top first basemen on the market this year, and by adding him, the Bucs address one of their biggest needs.

According to Mike Axisa of CBS Sports, the team’s first basemen have struggled all year, but Morneau can help them:

The Pirates have gotten a .260/.336/.432 (99 OPS+) batting line and 16 homers out of their first baseman this year, with Gaby Sanchez and Garrett Jones sharing a platoon. The righty hitting Sanchez can still platoon with the lefty hitting Morneau while Jones sees time in the outfield. With rosters set to expand on September 1, there is plenty of room for all three guys.

Morneau has hit righties well this season, posting a .281/.343/.488 line with 15 homers in 342 at-bats, while Sanchez has hit .326/.440/.539 in 89 at-bats against lefties. Morneau is more powerful than either Sanchez or Jones, and he has been on fire as of late, as noted by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

With first base shored up, the team now has a complete lineup to back its tremendous pitching staff.

The Pirates rank second in MLB in ERA at 3.17. Unfortunately, they rank 22nd in runs scored and have been unable to take advantage of their fantastic pitching to post a better record.

The Pirates are obviously excited to have an experienced veteran like Morneau because they believe he can take them to the next level. Pitcher Mark Melancon is definitely looking forward to having him on the team.

With the additions of Morneau, Byrd and Buck, the Pirates have addressed their main offensive issues and look like serious contenders to make a deep run in the postseason.

The Bucs are obviously trying to win right now, and adding Morneau helps. He could easily be the difference-maker that helps the team not only win the NL Central crown, but also make it to the World Series.

If you weren’t taking the Pirates seriously before, it’s time to start.

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Watch Hunter Pence Launch MLB’s Longest Home Run of Year at 476 Feet

Hunter Pence channeled his inner Hulk to blast the longest home run of the 2013 MLB season.

As Pence’s San Francisco Giants took on the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night, Pence stepped up to the plate in the first inning with a runner on first and two outs.

On the third pitch of the at-bat, Pence took Chad Bettis deep to left field, completely clearing the stands and hitting a brick wall.

At 476 feet, Pence’s two-run shot is now the longest of the 2013 season.

It’s hard to gauge the crowd’s reaction in the video, but I think we can safely assume it was something like this:

Pence saw Bettis throw a belt-high fastball on the inside half of the plate and he knew what to do with it. He turned on the pitch and launched the ball a staggering 476 feet.

We knew it was only a matter of time before Pence blasted another deep ball. He is tied for the second-longest average distance on home run balls this season at 419.0 feet, according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker.

Pence has always had a powerful swing, and he got all of Bettis’ pitch on Tuesday night.

Needless to say, fans were pretty stoked.

Surprisingly, Pence’s home run only beat out the previous mark this season by a single foot. Even more surprising is that two players hit 475-foot bombs this year and were tied for the longest of the season before Pence surpassed them.

Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs blasted his 475-foot home run on April 18 against the Texas Rangers, nearly hitting the ball out of Wrigley field.

Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim also reached the 475-foot mark, doing so against the Oakland Athletics on April 29.

Pence’s 16th home run of the season was the longest yet, and his mark could hold up for the rest of the year. 

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Odds of Alfonso Soriano Reaching the 500-Homer Club and Hall of Fame Chances

Alfonso Soriano had himself a whale of a game on Tuesday night, clubbing a pair of home runs in his first two at-bats to reach 400 career dingers.

The New York Yankees left fielder has been on fire, and J.A. Happ and the Toronto Blue Jays could do nothing but watch as they faced him.

Soriano’s first blast hit the fourth deck in Toronto and was one of the most impressive shots of the 2013 season. And while his second wasn’t quite as amazing, it still cleared the fence for No. 400.

Perhaps rejoining his former team sparked Soriano’s torrid pace, as he’s been unstoppable since joining the Bronx Bombers.

Soriano has become one of the best hitters in the game since he came back to New York, but how will that affect the rest of his career?

Let’s take a look.


Can He Hit 500 Career Home Runs?

After becoming the 51st player in MLB history to blast 400 career home runs, Soriano will look to join the 25 men who have blasted 500 dingers.

At 37 years old, it will be hard for Soriano to hit another 100 home runs. Obviously he still has a great deal of power, as we’ve seen over these last few weeks. However, he will eventually begin to decline as he reaches the age of 40.

Let’s take a look at Soriano’s home run progression over the last several years.

Year Age Games Played Home Runs
2009 33 117 20
2010 34 147 24
2011 35 137 26
2012 36 151 32
2013 37 123 28

As you can see, Soriano has been hitting more and more home runs since 2009, when he was dealing with injuries. He has been defying father time and has looked like he’s 28 again over these past few seasons.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Soriano hits another eight home runs this season. That will put him at 408, which is 92 home runs shy of the 500 mark.

Hitting 92 home runs after turning 38 years old is tough to do. Babe Ruth couldn’t do it. Neither could Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. or Jim Thome. Mickey Mantle only hit 82 home runs over his last four seasons, and he was only 33 at the time.

Obviously, staying in the American League as a designated hitter for a few years will help Soriano. And playing in the launching pad known as Yankee Stadium next season can’t hurt, either. However, he will likely still fall just short of 500.


Will He Be Elected into the Hall of Fame?

Soriano’s ultimate goal is to be elected into the Hall of Fame, and he has a good chance of getting there. 

His power certainly sets him apart, but what makes him so special is his combination of speed and power.

With 285 career stolen bases, Soriano is only 15 away from 300. He could easily swipe another 15 bags in his career, as he’s already matched that this season. Once he reaches 300, he will become just the fifth player in history to reach 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases, joining Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

The seven-time All-Star might not have racked up MVP trophies, but he has always been among the game’s best, and his four Silver Slugger awards help prove it.

No one knows if Soriano will be elected. However, he has a good chance to join baseball’s greatest in Cooperstown. 

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Alfonso Soriano Hits Second Homer of Game to Join 400-Home Run Club

Alfonso Soriano clubbed home run No. 400 on Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the 51st player in MLB history to reach the milestone.

The New York Yankees were hoping add a power bat to the lineup when they traded for Soriano earlier this year, and Soriano has lived up to expectations.

His first blast of the night came in the top of the first inning. With two men on and no one out, Soriano stepped to the plate with 398 career home runs to his name. He quickly changed that, however, taking the first pitch he saw from J.A. Happ deep to left field, launching a moon ball that hit the fourth deck in Toronto.

That swing was truly a thing of beauty, and one that has been in a groove since the outfielder rejoined the Yanks, as noted by ESPN:

Soriano wasn’t done just yet. He still had work to do as he stepped up in the top of the third inning for his second at-bat of the game.

Soriano put on another power display, although this one wasn’t quite as impressive as the first:

The slugger skied the ball toward left field, and if you watch him after the ball leaves the bat you’ll see that he shakes his head. However, the ball kept carrying and eventually cleared the fence by just a few feet.

His second home run of the night might not have been as impressive as the first, but was historic nonetheless:

Soriano has always been a fan favorite in New York, and returning to the team certainly helped their offense. Now he is one of the best power hitters in the lineup, and fans can’t get enough of it:

Soriano was the hero on Tuesday night, adding a historic milestone to his already impressive career resume.

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Yasiel Puig Hits Dramatic Tie-Breaking HR After Being Fined and Benched

Yasiel Puig had a rough start to the day, but he knows how to finish in style.

The Los Angeles Dodgers superstar was late to the ballpark for pregame drills prior to the team’s meeting with the Miami Marlins and was fined for his tardiness.

Dodgers beat writer Bill Plunkett was first to break the news.

If that wasn’t enough, Puig was also benched to start the game (though the official reasoning by manager Don Mattingly was the rookie’s recent slump). It was as though the stage was setting itself for Puig on Tuesday for a dramatic turnaround.

Puig stepped in to play right field in a double-switch in the bottom of the sixth inning. He then came up to bat in the top of the eighth as he led things off.

The young Cuban phenom needed just one pitch to make his appearance count, as he took a low Dan Jennings offering to deep center field for his 12th home run of the season. The blast also broke a 4-4 tie to put the Dodgers ahead in their eventual 6-4 victory.

Talk about a finish.

This home run couldn’t have come at a better time for Puig. His emotions have been getting the best of him recently, and we’ve seen that coincide with a decline in his play. Undergoing the worst slump of his young career, Puig was just 6-for-35 with 10 strikeouts and just one RBI in his previous nine games. He posted a .171 batting average and .257 slugging during that time.

Yasiel Puig came back and showed us why we are so enthralled with him with this clutch solo shot Tuesday night. Don Mattingly has to be hoping that his prized rookie’s slump and off-field troubles are finally over.

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Are Yasiel Puig’s Immaturity Issues Finally Causing On-Field Dropoff?

Yasiel Puig is an MVP candidate and then some…unfortunately, by “and then some” I mean that he’s also a diva.

Puig has taken Major League Baseball by storm since being called up to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, turning the team from a basement-dwelling team to a World Series favorite. He has had arguably the best first month in baseball history by a rookie and become a national star seemingly overnight, but he’s still not perfect.

Everyone has their vices, and Puig is no different. He’s had quite a few incidents since defecting from Cuba to play the game he loves in America, and Tuesday brought a new fiasco.

Dodgers beat writer Bill Plunkett reported that Puig was very late to the ballpark, and was fined by manager Don Mattingly because of it.

Puig being late and fined comes just one day after he reportedly cursed out media members in the visitor’s clubhouse in Miami.

It’s worth noting that Puig‘s words may have been taken out of context.

No matter what happened in the clubhouse on Monday, it caused another distraction for Puig and the Dodgers, and coincided with an 0-for-5 performance with two strikeouts.

Puig‘s antics in the last two days have not been isolated incidents. He’s ignored MLB legends like Luis Gonzalez, argued with teammates in front of reporters, had heated exchanges with Adrian Gonzalez because he held at third when Puig wanted to extend a double into a triple and played a major role in a benches-clearing brawl.

What’s worse, we may finally be seeing his off-field issues interfere with his performance on the field.

Puig has struggled over his last nine games, going 6-for-35 with 10 strikeouts and just one RBI. He’s posted a .171 batting average and .257 slugging. This is the worst slump of his short career, and he was benched on Tuesday night (although that was not related to his being late).

Puig may simply have become too bright a star for his own good. He’s been living it up, going clubbing with celebrities like LeBron James even after losses (per TMZ).

The Dodgers remain the hottest team in baseball and are among the top contenders to make it to the World Series. However, Puig‘s new celebrity status appears to be going to his head—and it’s affecting his play.

Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi argued that Puig is a liability in the postseason, and is just as likely to cost the Dodgers a game as he is to win one for them.

ESPN’s Mark Saxon documented Puig‘s recent troubles with umpires, and how manager Don Mattingly has had to do some damage control multiple times over the last week.

During Monday night’s 6-2 loss to the Miami Marlins, Mattingly had to walk out and make peace with an umpire after Puig inexplicably erupted at John Hirschbeck after a three-pitch strikeout in the fifth inning. Only one of those pitches was a called strike, the last was Puig swinging wildly at 97 mph fastballs.

Mattingly said he had to assuage an umpire in Philadelphia just a day or two earlier. Monday’s dispute started with Puig glaring at Hirschbeck and ended with his teammates having to hustle him out of the dugout before he was ejected. Puig has already alienated opponents with his flamboyant style. Of course, you could argue, who cares? It’s a little bit riskier to get on the wrong side of umpires.

We know that Puig is a star, but we also know that he has his issues. He’s an immature 22-year-old, and the argument can be made that we can’t fault him for acting like one.

However, when that interferes with his play, it’s a problem. Very few 22-year-olds have as much freedom as Puig, and very few would keep their jobs if they acted like Puig has.

I’m not saying that Puig needs to be benched long-term—he’s the reason the team is where it is now. However, he does need to get back to focusing on baseball. Otherwise, the Dodgers could be in trouble in October.

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Is Robinson Cano a Shoo-in for All-Time Second Base Home Run Record?

We could be witnessing history every time we watch New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano step up to the plate.

The 30-year-old slugger blasted his 200th career home run Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, taking Esmil Rogers deep to center.

Cano launched the ball a staggering 426 feet for a three-run home run to reach the milestone, becoming just the 14th second baseman to do so.

What’s more, Cano is just the third second baseman in history to reach 200 home runs and bat .300 or higher over the course of a career, joining Roberto Alomar and Rogers Hornsby.

It’s rare to find a second baseman with such a great combination of contact and power, which is what makes Cano such a a special player. He is a future Hall of Famer, but is he also a future record holder?

Jeff Kent set the mark for most career home runs by a second baseman with 377 over his incredible 17-year career. He surpassed Hornsby’s previous mark of 301 without a problem, but left future second basemen with a tall order.

Cano could be just the man to take down Kent’s record, and, barring injury, he has a good chance to do it.

Cano has an edge on Kent in the fact that he entered the majors much earlier than Kent did. Cano started playing for the Yankees age 22, whereas Kent didn’t make his MLB debut until age 24.

At 30 years old, Cano already has a big advantage on Kent in terms of home run numbers. Just take a look at their stats by the age of 30 side by side.

Jeff Kent 894 3,231 138 23.41
Robinson Cano 1,337 5,190 200 25.95

As you can see, Cano has the edge in playing time and home runs. However, Kent was hitting home runs at a more accelerated pace.

Despite Kent hitting home runs faster than Cano, the fact that Cano had such a head start in terms of playing time gives Cano a 62 home run lead at the age of 30—and he still has up to 39 more games to play before he turns 31.

What helped Kent break Hornsby’s record so handily was his longevity. Kent really caught fire after the age of 30, blasting another 239 home runs. He wasn’t even named an All-Star until he was 31, he didn’t win his MVP award until he was 32, and his fourth and final Silver Slugger award came when he was 37.

Kent had nine 20-plus home run seasons after he turned 30, including all three of his 30-plus home run seasons.

Cano has been tearing it up in the bigs thus far, but to ask him to get even better in his 30s is just ridiculous. He has been playing well, but very few second basemen can hold up as long as Kent did, and it’s unlikely that Cano will continue to slug homers until he’s 40.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Cano plays another eight seasons. Tack on another 39 games this year and use his career average of 151.8 games per year (excluding 2013), and that leaves him with 1,253 games to hit another 178 home runs to break the record. That’s one home run per 7.04 games, which is just slower than his current pace of one per 6.69 games.

If Cano hits another six home runs this year, he’ll be at 206 and just 172 short. Over eight years he’d have to average 21.5 home runs per year to break the record. While it’s unlikely that he smacks 22 dingers at the age of 38, a progression like this is not out of the question: 28-28-26-25-23-20-18-14. That adds up to 182 home runs, which would break the record by 10 home runs.

It’s unclear whether or not Cano will break the record, but he certainly has a shot. No matter what happens, Cano’s battle with Kent for the most career home runs by a second baseman will come down to the wire, and every at-bat will count for the slugger over the rest of his career.

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