JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your MLB highlights for games played on Saturday (7/3/2011), plus an update on each player mentioned:
- Minnesota Twins 3B Danny Valencia had the go-ahead hit in a come-from-behind, 9-7 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, going 2/4 with a double and two RBIs. The Brewers had led the Twins by as much as 5 runs early in the game. But when Valencia hit a bases-loaded single in the 7th inning and Twins LF Mark Kotsay misplayed the ball (see video), Valencia landed on third base and all three runners scored, putting the Twins ahead 9-7. Coincidentally, Kotsay was filling in for Brewers LF Ryan Braun, who was out with a strained left calf. Player update: Valencia, who finished 3rd in the 2010 A.L. Rookie of the Year contest while batting .311, has struggled both at the plate (he is hitting .225) and in the field (3 more errors so far) in his sophomore season. Through 293 at-bats, the 26-year-old Miami native has matched many of the offensive stats he had in 299 at-bats last year, including runs, triples, HRs, RBIs, and walks. But he has hit 37 percent fewer singles (down from 67 to 42), and 22 percent fewer doubles (down from 18 to 14).
- Valencia wasn’t the only Jewish ballplayer to put his team ahead Saturday. Boston Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis made the Houston Astros regret their decision to intentionally walk Boston 1B Adrian Gonzalez in the top of the 9th inning when he drew a bases-loaded walk (see video), leading the Sox to a 2-1 win. For the day, Youk went 1/4 with a single and scored a run on an errant throw, possibly reinjuring his sore right ankle (see video). Player update: Youkilis, coming off a year in which he missed one-third of all games with injuries, is hitting just .271, his lowest average since his rookie year in 2004 (.260), and is hitting into too many double plays. But there are many positive notes. Because he is drawing walks at a personal-record pace, his on-base percentage (.392, 7th in A.L.) is on par with his career average. Youk’s 57 RBIs are 6th in the A.L. And his after hitting just .218 in April, he hit .293 in May and .289 in June. One lingering concern is the gap between his batting average this season at Fenway Park (.370) and everywhere else (.185).
- Batting leadoff, Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler had a stellar day on offense, notching 2 singles, a walk, and 2 stolen bases, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a 6-4 loss to the Florida Marlins. Kinsler also made this acrobatic catch and tag to nix Marlins RF Mike Stanton’s steal attempt. Player update: After an injury-plagued 2010 season in which he played only 103 games, Kinsler has recovered some of the HR power (12 HRs in 303 at-bats) and base-stealing skill (18 SBs, 8th-best in the A.L.) he displayed in his breakout 2009 season, when he became the second Jewish player in history to record at least 30 HRs and 30 SBs in a single season. He hit 2 HRs on 6/29/2011 — the eighth 2-HR game of his career but the first since 8/27/2009 — and has 4 in his past 10 games. And although he is hitting a career-low .241 (vs. a career average of .276), he is striking out less than ever and is poised to crush his personal walks record. As a result, Kinsler’s on-base percentage this season (.359) is on par with his career average (.356).
- In his worst start of the season, Washington Nationals P Jason Marquis gave up 6 earned runs and 8 hits over just 1-and-a-third innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates cruised to a 10-2 victory. The loss dropped his record to 7-3 and plumped his ERA to 4.11. Player update: Despite Saturday’s game, Marquis is enjoying his best season since 2004, when he went 15-7 with the St. Cardinals, and a remarkable turnaround from his injury-plagued 2010 season, when he went 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA before succumbing to elbow surgery. The 32-year-old Manhasset, N.Y., native is walking fewer batters than ever before; striking out twice as many batters as he walks, which is well above his career average; and has given up a career-low 7 HRs so far. But it’s somewhat concerning that opposing batters are hitting a robust .294 against him.
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