By Andrew Kahn
Little League grand slams
On Sunday, Xander Bogaerts hit what should have been a bases-clearing double. Instead, he wound up belly flopping into home with an inside-the-park grand slam, Little League style. See for yourself:
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The defensive miscue came at the end of the play, when the relay throw gets away from the Philadelphia catcher. In Washington on Tuesday, there was a similar play, though the error came at the beginning:
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Yoenis Cespedes is not making his only appearance in this column, and it gets much better for him. His mistake here was playing the ball off to his side, perhaps in an attempt to throw at the runner from second. When it takes a bad hop, his body isn’t in front of it. Michael Taylor doesn’t even need to make an acrobatic slide to complete the second Little League grand slam of the week.
“And maybe the momentum of the season just changed with one swing of the bat.” Umm, not quite. Taylor’s aforementioned slam put the Nats up 7-1 in the sixth. But Cespedes made up for his gaffe the next inning, when he socked a bases-clearing double to make it 7-6. The Mets tied it with a walk, the sixth of the inning, and took the lead in the eighth on a pinch-hit homer. They held on for the win, and won the next night to complete a three-game sweep and extend their lead in the NL East over Washington to seven games. Tuesday’s comeback was the highlight of their season:
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“I Will Pitch in the Playoffs”
Since it’s the Mets, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Matt Harvey—with a huge assist from his agent, Scott Boras—created a controversy surrounding a potential innings limit. It led to Harvey writing a blog post in which he declared he would pitch in the postseason if the Mets made it. Later, we learned the Mets plan to skip a couple of his starts the rest of the regular season in order to preserve his arm. The situation could have been avoided, especially since there’s no obvious right answer. The final solution—Harvey skipping a start or two now that the Mets have built a bigger lead, but not sitting out the playoffs—seems like the most logical.
Houston, we have liftoff
It wasn’t all about the Mets this week. The surprise team of the American League, the Astros, tied the major league record for number of players with at least 10 home runs after Marwin Gonzalez became the team’s 11th to reach double digits on Wednesday. That’s an impressive number. The Tigers were the last team to accomplish the feat, in 2004. Five of the Astros have done it despite appearing in fewer than 100 games. Hank Conger has only played in 63. In case you’re wondering, there’s a good chance Houston will set a new record. Jake Marisnick hit two homers earlier this week to put his tally at nine for the season. Jed Lowrie is at eight. And while Carlos Gomez only has three since coming over from Milwaukee, he has 11 total on the year.
Hudson to retire
Tim Hudson, perhaps wanting to be remembered as a slugger after his home run on Tuesday, announced that this season will be his last. The 40-year-old right-hander is in his second season with the Giants after spending the previous nine with Atlanta and six before that with Oakland as part of a formidable trio with Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. He’s a four-time All Star and won the Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2010 after returning from Tommy John surgery. He finished second in Cy Young voting in 2000 (despite a 4.14 ERA that season that I had to triple-check) and fourth two other years. Hudson has 221 career wins. Is he a Hall of Famer, Pete? Absolutely not, but only because Hudson was a really good pitcher, but not a great one. He is also, by all accounts, a class act.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn