By Ron Kaplan, contributor

Ryan Braun entered Friday’s game for the Milwaukee Brewers (34-20, first in NL Central) against the visiting NY Mets as a defensive replacement at first base; he did not come to bat. He was the starting left-fielder, batting third, in Saturday’s 17-6  blowout, going 1-for-4 with two runs scored, two walks, a stolen base (#5) and an RBI. Braun lined out as a pinch-hitter Sunday in an 8-7 win but had a single in a subsequent at-bat when he stayed in the game in left as the Brewers took their third straight against NY.

Kevin Pillar’s 19th double drove in a run as the visiting Toronto Blue Jays (25-28, fourth in AL East) beat Gabe Kaplers Philadelphia Phillies (29-21, second in NL East) on Friday, 6-5. It was his only hit in four at-bats. He singled as a pinch-hitter the next day in a 2-1 loss and was hitless in four trips to the plate yesterday in a 5-3 win.

Speaking of Kap, the Virginian-Pilot ran a fascinating article on his early career missteps, including getting kicked out of college and losing a near-full scholarship.

Richard Bleier — ever wonder what makes him so effective? — picked up his fourth hold on Friday, tossing one inning of scoreless relief (one strikeout) as the Baltimore Orioles (17-37, fifth in AL East) shut out the host Tampa Bay Rays. It was his only appearance for the weekend. Danny Valencia did not play in that one, but he was 1-for-3 in each of the next two contests (with a walk on Sunday), both losses. His triple on Saturday was one of only three hits for the O’s in a 5-1 downer.

Alex Bregman was 2-for-15 with three runs scored, two walks, and his 18th double as the Houston Astros (35-20, first in AL Central) lost two of the last three of a four-game set against the host Cleveland Indians.

Joc Pederson entered Friday’s game for the LA Dodgers (24-28, fourth in NL West) against the visiting San Diego Padres as a defensive replacement in a 4-1 win. On Saturday, he was 1-for-4 with an RBI and his third outfield assist in 10 games (see below) in a 7-5 loss. In Sunday’s 4-1 win, Pederson went 0-for-1 after coming in as a defensive replacement.

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On Saturday, Pederson earned his third assist in last 10 games

Ian Kinsler’s struggles continue. He was a combined 0-for-10 as the LA Angels (29-24, third in AL West) dropped two of three from the host NY Yankees.

Finally, from John Harper’s Saturday column in the New York Daily News:


Remember Team Israel from the 2017 World Baseball Classic, a group that earned national attention by making it out of the qualifying stages and, as the 41st ranked team in the world, stunned the likes of Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Netherlands to advance out of the round-robin round of the tournament?

A documentary was made of the team’s journey entitled, “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel.” The award-winning doc makes its New York City debut on Tuesday at the JCC Manhattan. reporter Jonathan Mayo hatched the idea for the film about a group of Jewish major leaguers traveling to Israel to discover their roots. Except it became more than that when the team outplayed expectations.

“When we first began the project,” Mayo said. “we really thought it was going to be about all these Jewish baseball players exploring what it means to be Jewish by exploring Israel. While that’s obviously still a large theme in the movie, their run in the WBC made it much more about baseball and their Cinderella Story than any of us could have ever imagined.”

Former Met Ike Davis, who starred on Team Israel, will be among the players on hand at the screening in Manhattan.

Ron Kaplan (@RonKaplanNJ) hosts Kaplan’s Korner, a blog about Jews and sports. He is the author of three books, including The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games and Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War.

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