Hi-ho, boys and girls. Back from vacation in New Mexico. As you might know, I have a small hat collection, but the caveat is that a) I have to be in the city that hosts the teams or b) if it’s a gift, same thing for the giftor (not that I’m hinting or anything). In other words, I can’t just stop into a Lids at the mall or buy it online. So thanks to multiple plane changes and locations, we made found ourselves in four major and minor league towns: El Paso, Albuquerque, Houston, and Denver, but the only one I got was for the El Paso Chihuahuas, the AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres, purchased at the airport. “Technically,” since we were in the other locales, I could buy those caps anywhere, but at my age, this is starting to seem a bit silly to me.
Had a chance to catch the All-Star Game but wouldn’t you know, I was in another room when Alex Bregman hit the game-winning home run. Drat my timing. He had entered the game in the sixth, hitting into a fielder’s choice and beating the throw to first to avoid a double play. He also struck out in the eighth. But in the 10th…
Bregman became only the second JML to hit an All-Star home run, joining Al Rosen who hit both of his in a single game to help the AL beat the NL 11-9 in 1954.
Here are some more pertinent clips from Tuesday’s 8-6 AL victory, the sixth straight for the junior circuit.
And leave us not forget his performance in the previous evening’s Home Run Derby:
Having seen what’s happened to past HRD participants, let’s hope Bregman doesn’t break down in the second half.
All in all , it was a great time for the first-time All-Star:
During the first “half” — never really a half since the teams have all played more than 81 games — here’s Bregman’s line (all stats courtesy Baseball-Reference.com). By the way, the Houston Astros have the second-best record in the American League at 64-35, leading the Western Division by five games over the Seattle Mariners.
Time doesn’t permit me to go into great detail on the rest of the JMLs, but here are their records with just a comment or two…
Gabe Kapler started out slowly as the new skipper for the Philadelphia Phillies. His unorthodox (no halacha intended) manner had some calling for his ouster after just a couple of weeks. But now he’s got the Phils in first place in the NL East at 53-42, a half game ahead of the Braves.
Jeremy Bleich, Oakland A’s (55-42, third in AL West). The latest JML, the 31-year-old lefty pitcher made his debut on July 13 and it did not go well. He entered the game against the San Francisco Giants in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and gave up a two-run double then hit the next batter. Bleich was then relieved and his two responsibilities came around, leaving him with no innings, one hit, one HBP, and an ERA of infinity. (By the way, during my vacation I was reading Keith Law’s fascinating book, Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball. It’s given me a whole new perspective on evaluating players. Highly recommended.)
Richard Bleier, Baltimore Orioles (28-39, fifth in AL East). Bleier was probably the best pitcher on the woeful O’s. He hit a bit of a snag shortly before an injury put him on the disabled list for the rest of the year.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (55-43, second in NL Central). We can all agree this has been a disappointing half-season for the Hebrew Hammer, who has appeared in just 71 of the team’s 98 games, suffering through a bunch of nagging injuries and currently on the DL (20 days missed).
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves (52-42, second in NL East). The second year hurler has been up and down with the Braves. He had one brilliant game then went on the DL with blister issues on July 6 and is yet to return (14 days lost).
Ty Kelly, NY Mets (39-55, tied for last in NL East). Kelly — who played for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and has been deemed “kosher” by the powers that be — rejoined the Mets as a free agent in January. They brought him up on July 9.
Ian Kinsler, LA Angels (49-48, fourth in AL West) also spent some time (13 days) on the DL with an ab muscle problem. Some teams offer “mid-season report cards.” Here’s his (and it’s pretty harsh).
Speaking of Kinsler, on this date in 2009:
Joc Pederson, LA Dodgers (53-43, first in NL West). A slow start — when he did actually start as opposed to coming in as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement — didn’t prevent Pederson from having a great June in which he hit 10 of his 13 home runs.
Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays (43-52, fourth in AL East) is the latest JML to go on the DL after jamming his shoulder just before the break. Of course it came making one of his fine defensive plays. Looks like he’s going to be out a considerable amount of time. A shande.
Ryan Sherriff, St. Louis Cardinals (48-46, third in NL Central) is also out for the year, having appeared in just five games.
Richard Stock, San Diego Padres (40-59, fifth in NL West) made his debut on June 24, striking out two and allowing one hit against the host San Frsancisco Giants. he was sent down after three more appearances.
Danny Valencia, Orioles, has had a pretty good season considering.
Zach Weiss, Cincinnati Reds (43-53, fifth in NL Central). Like Bleich, Weiss had an inauspicious debut in 2018. He gave up back-to-back home runs to the first two batters he faced against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 12 then walked two more before departing. ERA: Infinity. That was his only outing in the bigs.