Here are more MLB The Show ’14 Screenshots

You’ll probably want to click to enlarge these to enjoy the full detail. Just a beautiful game visually, and you can only hope to have a game that plays this smoothly someday in the form of Madden of NFL Football.

We’re currently immersed about 65ish games into our Angels franchise. Trout sits at .310 with 17 home runs, 49 RBI, and 35 stolen bases! We are gunning for a 40/40 season.

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This is trout legging out a triple, not stealing third. And there’s that decrepit Oakland Coliseum. A game or two later, Mike Trout hit two home runs off Sonny Gray in the same game.

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Jered Weaver dealing! One of our favorite shots yet.

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We faced Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez in Philly. Just had to get him on the blog somehow.

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Albert Pujols may be done for the regular season. He cracked his tibia playing first base. There’s Mike Scioscia feigning being upset – Pujols wasn’t hitting worth a damn and he felt old and stitched together prior to this. This is a realistic game you realize when you’re playing with Albert Pujols day in and day out.

Andrew McCutchen is Unbelievable in all ways that one can not be believed

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[Box Score]

[Pittsburgh Post Gazette]

The guy simply does not get enough run in these parts. His remarkable career is passing us by entirely too quickly, in part because the Pirates are blacked out in Columbus, Ohio by Major League Baseball. We only get to catch a handful of McCutchen games per year; and every time we do he does something that is absolutely one of a kind. Let’s preface the post by saying the Pirates weren’t blacked out tonight.

Mike Trout is the best player in the American League. If you hit the ‘freeze frame’ on the National League, right now it’s McCutchen.

As he so often does – he put his team on his back tonight in a game that they had to have. He homered last night also in a game the Pirates let slip away. With the Pirates trailing 5-4 tonight in the top of the 9th inning on the road, he led off the inning with a monstrous home run off Jonathan Broxton to tie it up.

Two innings later in the top of the 11th, the backbreaker. The kill shot. The death knell, and the dagger.

If you’ve watched as much baseball as we have; and lets be modest, if you’ve seen a lot of baseball you knew it was the type of home run that the opposing team just isn’t going to come back from. McCutchen ripped Cincinnati’s heart out and served it to them in their home stadium Saturday night.

McCutchen is the National League MVP again if things continue. He deserves the majority of the vote; even if the Pirates come up short. He’s also got 15 steals in 15 attempts, something no one is talking about enough. McCutchen is close to the perfect player right now; and you’re missing out if you’re not paying attention to the NL’s version of Trout.

Two Must-Note items from last night’s Reds game

Last night, the Reds pulled off another improbably win to move to 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. The Reds won an ugly game 6-5, which featured a big blown lead by the Pirates.

We’re a fan of all-world talent here, and the following two videos are exhibits of such.

Billy Hamilton was in the matrix. Look at this little jumping bean refuse to be denied his arbitrary right to first base! Hamilton had three hits in the game and is now up to .285 on the year.

Next up is Aroldis Chapman, who locked down his 20th save of the season. But that isn’t what all the hoopla was about. This was Chapman’s 40th straight appearance with at least one strikeout, a Major League record.

That was the 97th save of Chapman’s big league career. Here’s to about 403 more of these before he is finished.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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Happy baseball Saturday. Today we’re going with Vince Coleman, who was a legend to us even before we knew what Vince Coleman looked like.

The reason for this is we had R.B.I. Baseball for the NES, and we never played as the Cardinals (Mets typically) but this Coleman character was absolutely unstoppable for St. Louis. He was an absolute pest who robbed us blind on the basepaths. He was a menace to society, even when we were six years old we hated seeing ‘Coleman’ come to the plate with his .298 average and three home runs. If you owned the game and tangled with the Cardinals, it wasn’t Jack Clark you feared.

None of the games start until 3:00 PM today, so you’ve got time to get some household chores done before the fun begins. It’s been a glorious week of baseball with what seems like a lot of bombs and big moments. And of course in the non-baseball world (if there is such a thing), LeBron James announced his return home to Cleveland yesterday. Good on you ‘Bron.

Enjoy your Saturday. Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers, where baseball is at the center of our universe.

Bryce Harper finally got one tonight

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Harper’s second home run of 2012

A Friday night in Philadelphia and Bryce Harper is mired in what seems like a one for forever slump. There are whispers that he’s not catching up to fastballs, even some wondering if he has the ever-dreaded ‘diminished skills’ at age 21 from all the injuries.

Nothing quiets these fears into a serenity momentarily like a nice bomb to right field to get some jeers from those brutal Philly fans.

Harper only had one hit tonight, but this was exactly the kind of confidence builder he needed to get something really big going. Something tells us that he’s going to be the driving force behind getting the Nationals past the Braves in the National League East division race. These teams are tied for the division lead as the night ends.

You figure A.J. Burnett will be hanging them up soon – but before he leaves the game forever the kid from Las Vegas touched him up for one. It’s good to see. It’s good for the game when this kid is hitting. We are really pulling for him.

It was the 44th home run of his career. It was his third at Citizens Bank Park. It was the 35th off a righty, and first time he’s gone deep hitting sixth in the Nationals lineup. It was his 28th solo shot.

The Nationals lost the game 6-2.

The One where the Angels swallow Colby Lewis whole

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[Box Score]

[OC Register]

When I saw the pitching match-up last night was Hector Santiago versus Colby Lewis in that July heat at the Ballpark in Arlington, I knew it was going to be a fun night for someone and possibly both teams. I look back on it and ask myself why the Hell wouldn’t I just bet the over total in this game and make some money. It was a safe bet.

My suspicion was correct, as Colby Lewis surrendered an astounding 13 hits, 13 runs, 11 of which were earned in just 2 and 1/3 innings. Nice assist by his manager Ron Washington in deciding it was a good night just to leave Colby to the wolves of the Angels lineup.

Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout each had four hits, and it seemed that they had them before the first half of the game was over. Trout moved his OPS to 1.003 with the monster game, and got a low pitch off Colby Lewis that landed on that pretty lawn in center out in the heart of Texas.

When it was over, the Angels had compiled a 15-6 win. In the loss, future (maybe) Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre had three hits including a home run. It was the Angels 54th win of the season and the first credited to Hector Santiago.

Here’s Mike Trout’s 21st home run of the season, off poor Colby Lewis:

Let’s tip our caps to Alfredo “Big Pasta” Simon

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Alfredo Simon is 12-3, after getting the win last night in a 4-1 game against the Cubs in Cincinnati.

If it weren’t for Simon, the Reds wouldn’t be 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central right now.

As we said, he’s 12-3, with a 2.70 ERA and 75 strikeouts to 28 BB. His STEAMER says he’ll finish the year at a paltry 16-9; which at this point would be a monumental disappointment. We’ll take the OVER or the ‘better’ on those figures. For you saber-statheads, his xFIP is 3.93 for the rest of the year, meaning the pitcher who once may have bayoneted the shit out of a man in his native country (ALLEGEDLY); is expected to be pretty average the rest of the way. That means little; because these same stats told us he would never be more than average to begin with.

His last outing was the most Big Pasta outing ever. He went 6.2 innings, allowed four hits, one earned run, and struck out eight. That’s pretty much Simon in a nutshell when he takes the mound this season. He’s a quality-start machine, seemingly never gets hit hard, uses his fielders, strikes out a few more than you thought he would, goes deep into the ballgame, gets his win and heads home.

He was incredibly effective in his long-relief role in years past, displaying a greater value if you watched him. He would come into a game and strike out five of six batters often times and not be touched in a game that was a runaway. You had to figure Bryan Price saw something in him that could be harnessed and shaped into more, but no one saw this coming.

At one moment in time, in a baseball season that could have easily been deemed meaningless for the Reds; an unlikely hero has emerged. Every fifth day when Alfredo Simon bounces the rosin bag on his palm and takes the pearl, I look forward to it. We want to give him his due – he’s been that exceptional that he deserves a post all to himself.

Bryce Harper: This is SportCenter Commercial

ESPN is continuing to do what they can to make Bryce Harper a perceived superstar. He’s not holding up his end of the bargain, but hopefully that comes along in due time.

We like Harper, we like everything he stands for, we believe the talent is there. But we watch him night in and night out and it just isn’t happening. Something is off, and has been since he ran into that wall in Los Angeles last season.

Jay Bruce is entering one of his customary hot streaks

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It’s happening. At least, it may be happening. It’s hard to know for certain, but it sure feels like Mt. Bruce is starting to erupt. And when it happens, there’s nothing that can stop it. You best just get your camera and get the fuck out of the way, because there is no pitcher (any handed) that is safe when the Bruce volcano starts to bubble and burst like so.

When he was in the middle of one of these rages last season, we did a post about the finest hot streaks of his career. By our count, he only really erupted for one stretch last year, and if indeed that is what is going on right now it would be the first time this year that he has done so.

The hallmark signs are all there. It started with the game-winning home run on Sunday. Then he dropped the bat head on one last night for another no-doubter. This afternoon, while you were working (you should have been working you sand-baggin’ son of a bitch), he hit another moonshot that was the difference in the game. Three days, three moonshot home runs off left-handed pitching. Including one in his first career game as a first baseman!

The Reds really need this. They’ve gained 2.5 games on the division leading Milwaukee Brewers in a couple of days, and have the chance to do more damage tonight. With Joey Votto hitting the disabled list, the Reds just need to step up and carry them for a little while.

While I think the Reds have a formidable lineup overall and a good pitching staff, Bruce is the one guy in the lineup who can step in and carry them on his back for a few weeks. He’s one of the few guys in baseball capable of doing that. He’s a truly mystifying player – but if he’s in one of those Jay Bruce grooves – Reds fans are in for the best stretch of their summer. Do not doubt the man when he gets hot.

He *could* change the shape of the NL Central division, single handed. Opposing teams know it, opposing pitchers know it, and they all know they’re in deep shit if he keeps deciding to erupt. There simply without a remedy or solution for him. We’ve also covered that before.

Throwing it Around

Happy ‘back to work’ Monday. Don’t stress, it won’t be long until it’s the weekend; and if you work as hard as we do during the day the week will seem about five minutes long. Here are the links of the day in the baseball world:

-Mike Petriello says it’s time for the Rockies to trade Troy Tulowitzki. [FanGraphs]
-Here’s a GIF of Brewers outfielder Logan Schaefer, eating it while fielding a base hit. [Deadspin]
-Edwin Encarnacion to the DL. [Hardball Talk]
-The Anaheim Angels have won 10 games in a row at home. [OC Register]
-What’s the deal with Mark Appel, the Astros top pitching prospect? [Prospect Pipeline]
-Byron Buxton is back in action. [Minor League Ball]
-Yasiel Puig, NL All-Starter. [Dodgers Now]
-This is a baseball website; but when there’s talk of LeBron James returning to his home state, it gets at least a footnote on the site. [ESPN]

Baseball is fun, unpredictable, and random

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Out of absolutely NOWHERE: Jay Bruce is the Reds new first baseman.

I think I know Reds baseball and specifically Jay Bruce about as well as anyone out there. If they played the game for one hundred years I never could have predicted this. This is awesome!

We already have a lunch bet with our boy Nick that Jay Bruce gets through tonight without an error. If he moves to another position at any point during the game the bet is off. If he does not commit an error, free Piada!

Sometimes you’re just proud of a player

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[Box Score]

It’s a funny thing. Jay Bruce is still our favorite player. Other guys might be more exciting, other guys are a more captivating watch, other guys are just plain better; and he’s not the superstar we were certain at points he would be. He’s a good player. But we’ve said it before, Jay Bruce is just our sentimental favorite. There’s no one that can take that place and hold it in baseball, no matter how low his batting average gets. No matter how inconsistent he remains. No matter when the end comes of him wearing a Reds uniform.

We couldn’t wait to get to the park to see him play today, just like that first magical night when he made his MLB debut. And then the next night when we went back. We talked with our wife about how Bruce has actually been with the Reds now for parts of SEVEN seasons! It seems like yesterday that we were watching Bruce in big league game numbers one and two. Today, was Bruce’s 899th big league game. It was the first game we’ve gone to with our pregnant wife. It seemed like when we started watching Jay Bruce we were still immature children. Life – and baseball – can blend time and be weird like that. Nonetheless I was excited to see Jay Bruce play today, just for some reason I had a feeling about something.

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We got out of our car and parked in a choice spot. The sun seemed to be shining on the Redlegs from the time we got out of the car, as it was a beautiful day for baseball. Was it foreshadowing that the sun would shine upon the Reds on this day?

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I told my wife that Yovani Gallardo was Jay Bruce’s ‘type’. That he could get one today off him. If you can fight through what my iPhone did to the Reds jumbotron here, you can see he had great career numbers against Gallardo. He would groundout for an RBI in his first at-bat, fly out against the wall in left-center in his second AB, and hit a rocket line out to center in his third. His fourth at-bat wouldn’t come against Gallardo, but rather Will Smith. And Jay Bruce won the Reds the game.

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Here’s a picture of the Reds Smokehouse out in the right field corner. The food options are a little pricey, but they feature really cool special menu items that change with each opposing team that comes to town. For the Brewers, they were serving beer-soaked bratwurst.

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I just realized the All-Star Selection show was tonight when I saw this advertisement for the All Star Game at the stadium. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are All Stars for the first time.

I would like you to remember back to the Reds season preview post we did for a moment. Here’s what we said:

Ryan Ludwick returns from injury. He’s really aging, so I don’t expect much. I think the Reds will get less than people want to see out of Ludwick and Cozart and they’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much Mesoraco and Todd Frazier hit. Frazier is one of my breakout player candidates in all of baseball. He has an ugly swing but I think he’s simply too talented to flop completely and that park will aid his numbers in a great way.

Bada-bing bada boom.

 

 

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We’re on our way to the game and I’m listening to Sirius MLB Network radio and Jim Bowden tells us that the Reds owner is in the clubhouse and something big is going down. Joey Votto was actually headed to the disabled list, again. So this is the only Votto sighting we had today.

Mat Latos went eight strong innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Todd Frazier had two hits and Devin Mesoraco had three. But the take-home from today was Jay Bruce.

On a day when baseball selected it’s All-Stars, Bruce wasn’t on the list. He has had better seasons, and he will certainly have better seasons. His stats are pretty and his teammates have dropped like flies all season around him, he’s even had knee surgery. But he’s continued to grind – because that’s the type of player he is. Even within the game today, he had to grind. He drilled a couple of balls right at people and just when it seemed he couldn’t buy a hit and the average is plummeting, he steps up in the bottom of the 8th inning and hits a towering home run off a lefty that made George Grande sing, voice cracking like a schoolgirl.

I’ll always love Jay Bruce. I have no way of knowing how many pages to the scrapbook I’ll be able to add to before the game has decided time has run out for us, but today was yet another. Our time has not come yet. I’m still really thankful Jay Bruce is playing in my big league city and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Sometimes, it’s easiest to love those who have their glaring imperfections because they’re like the rest of us. It’s easy to love Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera right now. These guy are the perfect ballplayers. We’ll still take Jay Bruce with his warts and these big moments that mean all that much more.

Trades are beginning to go down

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Last night, the Cubs dealt Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics for highly touted minor-league prospect Addison Russell. The Cubs are entirely loaded, flush with top prospects and youth heading into the future.

One Cubs fan over at World Series Dreaming breaks it down this morning for us more eloquently than we could. It’s a great post. Read it.

The reactions that have been flying around FaceBook and Twitter have been quite amusing, and have flown across the entire spectrum from “Theo is an idiot” to “greatest trade ever made”. With this deal standing alone, I am not sure I can give either one of those comments any more merit than simply mentioning that they were made. This trade does not make Theo Epstein an idiot, and this is so far from the greatest trade ever made that I cannot imagine how this was said with a straight face.

For the ‘right now’ this trade immediately shifts the balance of power in the American League West heavily to the Athletics. So what do the Angels do to combat this?

They trade for a little pinch-runner and lefty bullpen help. On Campana (BBREF page here), one of our friends coached him one summer in college and wondered ‘how the Hell did this guy make it to the big leagues’ when it came up in conversation.

If you follow @Ken_Rosenthal, you can see that the trade market is really heating up all around baseball with the Blue Jays sizing up Martin Prado and the Cardinals are in the market for a bat.

You have to love this time of year when everyone is on the lookout for a hired gun and spare pieces are changing teams quicker than you can keep track of.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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It’s the first July Saturday of baseball season, pennant races are heating up and some big trades are starting to go down. Now that summer’s biggest celebration has ended, we are all faced with the reality that before we know it, there will be an autumn chill in the air and the boys of summer will pack up their gear and return to their respective hometown’s for the winter.

But it’s not time yet. There’s still half a season remaining of big moments, great plays, and high drama that makes baseball the greatest sport on earth.

Enjoy your Saturday, wherever you may be, whatever you may be doing.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

Baseball