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Giants’ Brandon Belt Grinds Out 21-Pitch At-Bat To Set Major League Record

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12 minutes and 45 seconds. That’s how long San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was at-bat for in the top of the first inning on Sunday as he made history.

Belt, facing Los Angeles Angels rookie right-hander Jaime Barria (in his second career game), fouled off 11 consecutive pitches (16 overall) before lining out to right field on the 21st pitch of the at-bat to set a Major League record.

This is must-see stuff:

The previous record was 20 pitches set in 1998 when Ricky Gutierrez and Bartolo Colon went head-to-head with Colon winning the battle.

In Belt’s next at-bat in the third, he singled on the eighth pitch off Noe Ramirez. In his third at-bat in the fifth, he took right-hander Blake Parker way out of the yard on the ninth pitch:

Belt went 3 for 5 overall with two runs in what was his fourth straight game with a home run.

The last Giant to hit a homer in four straight games was Hunter Pence in 2013.

“I wasn’t going to give it up and [Barrias] wasn’t either,” said Belt. “It made for a good battle. If it helped get me a little bit locked in for later in the game, it was worth it.”

Current Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora weighed in on Twitter:

Cora worked an 18-pitch at-bat in 2004 as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which resulted in a home run off Chicago Cubs righty Matt Clement.

Needless to say, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was impressed by Belt’s battle.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. That was really amazing what happened there, on both sides, Belt and the pitcher to keep throwing strikes too and end up winning [the battle]. No question that played a part in his early exit because he had good stuff.”

Belt’s five plate appearances saw him take 40 pitches as 38 of them were in his first three trips.

American League

2018 ALCS: Astros Aiming To Repeat, Red Sox Looking For Revenge

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NBC.

This year’s American League Championship Series won’t be an unfamiliar scenario for baseball fans, because it’s a rematch of last year’s American League Division Series. Defending World Champion Houston will square off with Boston for the second consecutive postseason, this time with one more game and a lot more at stake. Houston wants a second consecutive pennant, Boston wants second blood.

The Astros defeated the Red Sox three games to one in one half of last season’s ALDS. The Red Sox were on the cusp on forcing a decisive Game 5, but questionable managerial decisions from ex-skipper John Farrell ultimately led to the team’s demise. The Astros then defeated the Yankees and then Los Angeles (both in thrilling seven game series) to bring the Commissioner’s Trophy to Texas for the first time ever.

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Postseason homer machine George Springer will look to send his team to another Fall Classic (The Houston Chronicle).

Both teams have different looks this time around in converse ways. Houston traded for superstar RHP Gerrit Cole last offseason while Boston signed slugging free agent OF/DH JD Martinez. What’s interesting is that both moves paid massive dividends. Aside Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton, Cole helped make the Astros’ starting rotation the unquestioned best in the game. Martinez, on the other hand, rejuvenated the Red Sox’ previously dormant offense and made it a force to be reckoned with again, coming within inches of the Triple Crown in the process.

What’s even more interesting is the new dynamic the rematch presents. As previously mentioned, the Sox parted ways with John Farrell last fall after his controversial pitching decisions killed the team’s rally and got them bounced from the ALDS for the second straight year. Who did they hire almost immediately after?  Houston Bench Coach Alex Cora, who resigned from AJ Hinch’s staff after Game 7.  Though there doesn’t appear to be any hard feelings on Houston’s side, it’s safe to bet that it will still serve as motivation.

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Red Sox rookie manager Alex Cora finds himself opposite the team he helped lead win it all last season (The Boston Globe).

Boston’s motivation is quite simple, don’t lose to the same team two years in a row. To do this, the team will have to find a way to topple that lethal trio of Verlander, Keuchel and Cole, but also to shut down Houston’s relentless offense, led in the ALDS by Alex Bregman and George Springer. Though he was injured for a majority of the year, Jose Altuve still goes without saying as well.

Don’t get it wrong, though. The Red Sox are no slouches, featuring two MVP front runners in Martinez and Mookie Betts alongside Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts. Chris Sale anchors a rotation that fared quite well against the Yankees in the LDS (with the obvious exception of David Price). Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello were all excellent vs. New York’s powerful core, Cora will be hoping they can replicate that success. He has announced that Price will start Game 2 despite yet another disaster in ALDS Game 2, the reasoning behind this decision is anyone’s guess.

Game 1 is Saturday at 8:09 PM ET on TBS from Fenway Park. Each team will lead off with its ace, Verlander vs. Sale. Don’t miss it!

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American League

Orioles Part Ways with Buck Showalter

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The Baltimore Orioles will be in search for a new manager as Buck Showalter will not return to his manager post in 2019 following a 9 year run with the organization, according to ESPN.

Showalter, 62, was at the helm for a nightmare 2018 that saw the team trade Mann Machado as they decided to start a massive youth movement, and the O’s went 47-115 to became just the fifth major league team since 1900 to lose 115 games or more in a season.

“Mr. Angelos’ family has been great to me and mine,” Showalter said on Sunday regarding the pending decision of owner Peter Angelos . “So whatever direction they decide to go, I’m at peace with it.”

“It’s about winning the game,” Showalter said at the conclusion of the season. “That’s one of the things I really feel like we need to get back to, the expectations of winning. That’s part of it. You’ve got to have expectations of winning, regardless of if you’re whatever they call it nowadays — building. I don’t believe in rebuild, the word rebuild. The first thing you have to accomplish, and one of the things I tried to do when I got here, is to raise the expectations of winning.”

Per the report, Showalter received official word in a meeting with brothers John and Lou Angelos on Wednesday morning.

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American League

White Sox Outright Dustin Garneau

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The Chicago White Sox have outrighted catcher Dustin Garneau to Triple-A Charlotte, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Daryl Van Schouwen.

With the move the White Sox created an open spot on their 40-man roster.

Garneau posted a dreadful .194/.269/.321 over 280 plate appearances at the major league level, a far drop off from his production at the Triple-A level this season, where he posted a .252/.340/.468 line to go along with seven homeruns.

 

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