Joe Blanton pulled early in Phillies’ loss; Austin Kearns is missing in action during Yankees playoff run

Major League Baseball

Joe Blanton; Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky Wednesday playoff highlights and the latest links from around Bluegrass state baseball:

  • Franklin Simpson High School alum and former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton surrendered three runs in four and two-third innings for the Phillies and was pulled while his team held a 4-3 lead. The Giants rallied against the Phillies’ bullpen and ended up with a 6-5 win.
  • Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan of the writes Phillies manager Charlie Manuel’s mistake wasn’t “putting his faith in Joe Blanton for Game 4. It was losing faith in Blanton too early.
  • Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports Manuel’s quick hook of Blanton added to the NLCS drama.
  • In the ALCS Lexington native Austin Kearns still hasn’t appeared in a game for the New York Yankees, who trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series to the Texas Rangers.
  • Dave Sheinin of The Washington Post asks, “Why is Kearns on the playoff roster if the Yankees won’t use him?”

MLB Final Four: Who are you rooting for?

Major League Baseball

Joe Blanton; UK Athletics Wallpaper

The Major League Baseball league championship series were set Tuesday evening when the Texas Rangers eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays. The New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants join the Rangers in the MLB final four, leaving Kentuckians with a mixed rooting interest. The Cincinnati Reds were the obvious choice for most Kentuckians, but their quick NLDS exist left fans unfulfilled.

The Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and Rays also had plenty of Kentucky connections, but the remaining four teams are a mixed bag when it comes to Bluegrass State ties. If you are looking for a Kentucky rooting interest, you can probably eliminate the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants. Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton did spend 11 games with the Louisville Bats in 2007 on a rehab assignment and Louisville native Todd Wellemeyer will likely receive a playoff share from the Giants despite being released earlier this season, but neither team boasts a strong Bluegrass State connection.

Austin Kearns; Photo by Scott Ableman via Flickr

That leaves us with the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. Lexington native Austin Kearns was on the Yankees NLDS roster, but didn’t appear in the team’s three-game sweep of the Twins. Franklin-Simpson High School alum and former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton didn’t appear in the Phillies three-game sweep of the Reds but is the likely choice for the game four start in the NLCS.

Kearns is probably Kentucky’s sentimental favorite. The Lafayette High School alum was drafted by the hometown Reds and spent parts of five seasons in Cincinnati. Kearns still hasn’t appeared in a postseason game, but should get that chance in the ALCS. Blanton already played a key role with the game-four win in the Phillies 2008 World Series championship.

BluGrass Baseball’s first inclination is to support Kearns, but something just doesn’t seem right about rooting for the Yankees. We wouldn’t blame you for picking either Kearns or Blanton, but here’s hoping for a key showdown between the two one-time Lexingtonians during game four of the World Series.

Reds, former Bats swept by Phillies; Conrad has terrible game; Rauch, Twins eliminated by Kearns, Yankees

Major League Baseball

Homer Bailey; Picture from Wikimedia Commons

Bluegrass state highlights from weekend playoff action and latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • The Cincinnati Reds short playoff appearance came to an end with a 2-0 loss to the Phillies on Sunday. Former Louisville Bats pitchers Homer Bailey, Bill Bray and Aroldis Chapman, all of whom pitched for Louisville in 2010, combined for three and one-third scoreless innings in the game three loss.
  • Former Lexington Legend Brooks Conrad had a miserable game for the Atlanta Braves with three errors. Conrad’s final error in the ninth inning let in the winning run in the Giants’ 3-2 loss. Braves left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters struck out the side in a scoreless inning but did surrender two hits.
  • Former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch and the Minnesota Twins were eliminated from the playoffs with a 6-1 loss to the Yankees on Saturday. Lexington native and Yankees outfielder Austin Kearns did not appear in the series, which New York swept in three games.

Venters, Rauch have perfect outings in losses; Mesaraco, Sappelt among Southern League top prospects

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Colling Cowgill; Photo: UK Athletics

Kentucky highlights from Thursday playoff action and the latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Atlanta Braves left-handed reliever Jonny Venters, born in Pikeville, pitched a perfect one and two-thirds innings while striking out two in the team’s 1-0 loss to San Francisco.
  • Former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch retired both batters he faced in the Twins’ 5-2 loss to the Yankees. Lexington native Austin Kearns did not appear in the game for the Yankees.
  • In Baseball America‘s top 20 Southern League prospect rankings, Ian Gordon ranks Louisville Bats catcher Devin Mesaraco No. 7 and Bats outfielder Dave Sappelt No. 15.
  • In the accompanying online chat Gordon wrote of former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill: “He’s got that Sheffield-like barrel wrap and high finish, and he basically has CF skills out there in left. He does struggle with good fastballs, though, and might be the kind of guy who turns out to have Triple-A batting tools.” (subscription required)
  • Western Kentucky University has announced its fall practice schedule.
  • Michael Grant of The Courier-Journal reports Bats manager Rick Sweet has still not heard from the Reds if he will be back in Louisville in 2011.
  • John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports 2010 Bats left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman could have a similar impact on this season’s playoffs as Francisco Rodriguez had for the Angels during his rookie season in 2002.

Zobrist, Rauch, Wood excel on first day of playoffs

Major League Baseball

Ben Zobrist; Photo by Keith Allison via Flickr

Kentucky highlights from Wednesday playoff action and the latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch pitched a perfect inning for the Twins in the team’s 6-4 loss to the Yankees. Lexington native Austin Kearns didn’t appear in the game for New York.
  • Former Lexington Legends utility man Ben Zobrist plated the Rays only run in the team’s 5-1 loss to the Rangers with a solo home run. Zobrist finished the game 2-4 with a home run and double.
  • While the story of the Reds/Phillies game is undoubtedly Roy Halladay’s no-hitter, 2010 Louisville Bats left-handed pitcher Travis Wood did pitch three and one-third scoreless innings of relief for the Reds. Wood struck out three while surrendering one hit and one walk.
  • Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader profiles Baseball Hall of Fame Chairwoman Jane Forbes Clark, who is competing in the World Equestrian Games.

Kentuckians in MLB Playoffs

Major League Baseball

The playoffs are officially underway with the Texas Rangers up 4-0 on Tampa Bay at the time of this posting. The playoffs aren’t without plenty of Kentucky connections as every team except the Giants has a player with Bluegrass State connections. Check out the list of Kentucky natives and former minor league players participating in the playoffs below:

Cincinnati Reds (NL Central)

  • Edison Volquez — Louisville Bats (2010)*
  • Johnny Cueto — Louisville Bats (2007)
  • Aroldis Chapman — Louisville Bats (2010)
  • Logan Ondrusek — Louisville Bats (2008, 09, 10)
  • Bill Bray — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09, 10)
  • Homer Bailey — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09, 10)
  • Travis Wood — Louisville Bats (2009, 2010)
  • Joey Votto — Louisville Bats (2007)
  • Jay Bruce — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09)
  • Drew Stubbs — Louisville Bats (2008, 09)
  • Jonny Gomes — Louisville Bats (2009)
  • Ryan Hanigan — Louisville Bats (2003, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10)
  • Chris Heisey — Louisville Bats (2009)
  • Paul Janish — Louisville Bats (2007, 08)
  • Juan Francisco — Louisville Bats (2009, 10)

Philadelphia Phillies (NL East)

  • Joe Blanton — Franklin-Simpson HS (UK)

Atlanta Braves (NL Wild Card)

  • Jonny Venters — Born in Pikeville, Ky. (HS in Florida)
  • Brooks Conrad — Lexington Legends (2003)

Minnesota Twins (AL Central)

  • Jon Rauch — Oldham Co. High School (Morehead St.)

New York Yankees (AL Wild Card)

  • Austin Kearns — Lafayette High School

Tampa Bay Rays (AL East)

  • Ben Zobrist — Lexington Legends (2005)

Texas Rangers (AL West)

  • Josh Hamilton — Louisville Bats (2007)*

*– Volquez and Hamilton both played for Louisville only during rehab assignments.

Mesoraco, Kipnis ranked among Carolina League top prospects; Webb could be done with Diamondbacks

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Jason Kipnis; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Lacy Lusk of Baseball America ranks Louisville Bats catcher Devin Mesoraco No. 5 and one-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis No. 10 on the magazine’s top 20 Carolina League prospects list.
  • Steve Gilbert of MLB.com speculates Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb has likely thrown his last pitch in a Diamondbacks uniform.
  • Brian Costello of The New York Post reports Lexington native Austin Kearns is one of just two New York Yankees newcomers with no postseason experience.
  • Fox 19 reports on a Northern Kentucky University study that revealed just 15 percent of Cincinnatians believed the Reds would make the playoffs prior to the 2010 season.

Venters, Braves clinch WC; Revere to AFL instead of Twins postseason roster; Rauch’s knee feeling better

Major League Baseball

Ben Revere; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters, born in Pikeville, and the Atlanta Braves clinched the NL Wild Card with an 8-7 win over Philadelphia. Former Lexington Legends infielder Brooks Conrad was 2-4 with two RBI and a run scored for the Braves in the win.
  • The New York Yankees suffered an 8-4 loss to Boston in their final game meaning after the Rays won, Lexington native Austin Kearns and the Yankees will enter the playoffs as the AL Wild Card winner.
  • Kelly Thesier of MLB.com reports former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch said his knee feels better but the team still won’t know if he can play in the ALDS until he throws a bullpen session.
  • Thesier also notes Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere is no longer in the running for a playoff bench spot with the Twins and will instead play in the Arizona Fall League. If a Twins outfielder is hurt in the ALDS the team could still bring Revere back for subsequent playoff rounds.

Reds win NL central on walk-off HR; Kearns, Yankees clinch playoff spot; Revere could be on Twins postseason roster

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Jay Bruce; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Links from around Kentucky baseball fans as Reds fans come back down from last night’s euphoria:

  • The Cincinnati Reds clinched the NL Central on a walkoff home run from former Louisville Bats outfielder Jay Bruce. The Reds currently have 24 former Bats on their active roster. Six former Bats played in the division clinching win, and 2010 Bats left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman got the win.
  • Lexington native Austin Kearns and the New York Yankees clinched an AL playoff spot with a 6-1 win over the Blue Jays. The Yankees remain one-half game back of the Rays in the AL East.
  • Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, born in Louisville, tallied his 100th RBI of the season after slugging his 32nd home run in a 3-2 loss to Atlanta.
  • Eric Nelson of WCCO reports Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere is grateful for his chance to play for the Twins this season.
  • Aaron Gleeman of the Minnesota Post reports, despite being called up on Sept. 1 Revere is still in the running for the final bench spot on the Twins playoff roster thanks to some disabled list roster maneuvering.
  • Sam Schreiber of WAVE reports former University of Louisville baseball player Isaiah Howes has made his first public comments since shooting former UofL football player Daniel Covington.
  • David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News projects former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton would start game four of the NLCS and World Series if the Phillies were to advance that far.

Thomas Royse ranked among Pioneer League top prospects; Joe Blanton, Phillies clinch playoff spot

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Christian Friedrich; Photo by Matt McGee via Flickr

Latest notes and links from around Kentucky baseball to get you through the final Monday of the MLB regular season:

  • In his top 20 Pioneer League prospect rankings, Matt Eddy of Baseball America ranks former UofL right-handed pitcher Thomas Royse the No. 19 prospect in the league.
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports former EKU left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich is will spend the offseason in Tempe, Ariz., working out in preparation for Rockies Spring Training.
  • Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton and the Philadelphia Phillies clinched a playoff spot Sunday. The Phillies can clinch the NL East with a win today.
  • The Cincinnati Reds magic number to clinch the NL Central is one after a win Sunday.
  • Lexington native Austin Kearns and the New York Yankees have magic number of one to clinch an AL playoff spot.