Matthews: Twins Deliver Hitting Help For Wings

posted by Bob Matthews - 

TWINS DELIVER HITTING HELP TO THE RED WINGS...

CHRIS CARTER AND NICK GORDON TWO BIG BOOSTER SHOTS

The Rochester Red Wings (21-18 record) entered Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss at Lehigh Valley with the 14-team International League’s best pitching staff (3.01 ERA, including 2.21 ERA for the bullpen) -- and the league’s most feeble batting attack (14th in runs, slugging and OPS: on-base percentage + slugging percentage).

Several proven Triple-A hitters are off to slow starts.

The parent Minnesota Twins came to the rescue big-time on Tuesday. Top prospect shortstop Nick Gordon already has arrived and slugger Chris Carter is on the way.

Gordon, 22, was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 June amateur draft.  He had a solid season at Double-A Chattanooga last season (.270, 9 HRs, 66 RBI, 13 stolen bases in 122 games) and followed it up an impressing showing for Minnesota in spring training.

Surprisingly, the Twins assigned Gordon back to Double-A instead of to Rochester to work on his fielding.

Gordon was hitting .333 for the Lookouts (54-for-162), with 22 runs, 10 doubles, 3 triples, 5 RBI and 85 total bases (second in the Southern League, with 11 walks and 27 strikeouts, 7 stolen bases and a .525 slugging percentage (third in the SL) in 29 games.

Carter led the National League with 41 HRs in 2016 with Milwaukee. I wonder if the Red Wings ever had a player who joined the team after leading a major league in HRs.

Carter is a certified slugger/whiffer at the highest level:

2013 with Houston – 29 HRs, 82 RBI, 212 strikeouts, .223 BA in 506 official at-bats

2014 with Houston – 37 HRs, 88 RBI, 182 strikeouts, .227 BA in 507 official ABs

2015 with Houston – 24 HRs, 64 RBI, 151 strikeouts, .199 BA in 391 official ABs

2016 with Milwaukee – 41 HRs, 94 RBI, 206 strikeouts, .222 BA in 549 official ABs

2017 with the Yankees – 8 HRs, 26 RBI, 76 strikeouts, .201 BA in 184 official ABs.

The Los Angeles Angels signed Carter to a minor-league contract for 2018. The Twins acquired him via trade on Thursday and assigned him to Rochester, possibly signaling a move involving Kennys Vargas, off to a slow start with the Red Wings.

Carter, 31, was having a productive season for Salt Lake Bees (Pacific Coast League). In 38 games, he was batting .255 (37-for-168), with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 13 HRs (tied for second in the PCL) and a league-leading 43 RBI and a healthy .933 OPS. He had 16 walks and 49 strikeouts.

MINOR SETBACK FOR GOLDEN STATE? GREAT NIGHT FOR THE NBA

Houston Rockets 95, Golden State 92.

The NBA needed that.

By far the most predictable playoffs of North America’s four major sports finally had a shocking upset in an important game Tuesday night at Golden State.

The Warriors coming off a 31-point home romp over Houston in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, were upset Wednesday night to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.

Golden State led early 12-0 and at that point most people had to be expecting another romp. The Warriors led by 10 entering the fourth quarter but suddenly went ice cold. They had their worst-shooting quarter of the season (3-for-18 from the field) and were outscored 25-12 in their lowest-scoring quarter in the playoffs in the shot-clock era.

My hunch is that this was a brief detour in Golden State’s drive to a third NBA championship in the last four years, but it suddenly seems plausible that the Warriors are vulnerable and no sure-thing.

Game 5 will be in Houston Thursday night. Every NBA fan in the world who has access to a TV set figures to be tuned in – and even a lot of non-NBA fans. The Rockets are 1-point favorites.

Game will be at Golden State Saturday night. The Warriors are early 1-point favored (they were favored by 8 points Tuesday night).

Game 7 would be Monday, May 28, in Houston.

Golden State played Tuesday night without veteran Andre Iguodala, who was resting a sore knee. He figures to return to the starting lineup Thursday night. The Warriors figure to improve on their 9-for-27 from three-point range in Game 4.

Tuesday night was especially big for Houston stars James Harden and Chris Paul. They’re genuine superstars with spotty playoff careers. They both played very well in the Game 4 upset victory.

It was a shocking defeat for the Warriors, probably more to the stunned home fans than to the players. Golden State had won 16 straight home playoff games since the loss to Cleveland in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals. Those victories were by 12-29-12-11-2-36-22-19-9-21-15-8-22-5-9-31 points.

After Tuesday night’s victory, Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, who had called his players “soft” after the 126-85 loss in Game 3, hailed their defensive effort in Game 4 “against the best offensive team ever.” He used only seven players in the upset victory.

The fresh odds to win the NBA championship: Goldfen State -175 (bet $175 to win $100)...Houston +225 (bet $100 to win $225)...Cleveland +775 (bet $100 to won $775)...Boston +1600 (bet $100 to win $1,600).

IS LeBRON JAMES THE FRONTRUNNER FOR MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR?

Michael Jordon has been selected Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year three times – in 1991, 1992 and 1993.

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James is making a strong did to join Jordan as a three-time winner of the award. James won in 2013 and 2016.

The only other NBA players to be voted AP Male Athlete of the Year were Larry Bird and Stephen Curry.

The AP Male and Female Athletes of the Year began in 1931. It took a long time for an NBA player win the award (Bird in 1985).

The only multiple Male Athletes of the Year have been: 4 times – Tiger Woods (1997, 1999, 2000, 2006) and Lance Armstrong (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005)...3 times – Michael Jordan (1991, 1992, 1993)...2 times – Don Budge (1937, 1938); Byron Nelson (1944, 1945); Sandy Koufax (1965, 1966); Carl Lewis (1983, 1984); Joe Montana (1989, 1990); LeBron James (2013, 2016).

CAN THE YANKEES KEEP UP THIS HOME-RUN PACE?

The New York Yankees lost 6-4 at the Texas Rangers Tuesday night and were “held” to three home runs (by Gleyber Torres, Austin Romine and Miguel Andujar). The Yankees have slammed 17 HRs in their last 4 games.

Entering Wednesday night in Texas, the Yankees have a Major League Baseball-leading 75 HRs in 46 games. They’re on pace to hit 264 HRs this season.

The all-time top five team-HR seasons in MLB history:

264 by the 1997 Seattle Mariners

257 by the 1996 Baltimore Orioles

257 by the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays

249 by the 200 Houston Astros

245 by the 2012 New York Yankees.

SHORT SHOTS

ESPN Insider asked its correspondents to select the “way-too-early” 2018 MVPs of the teams they cover. The results included running back LeSean McCoy for the Buffalo Bills (who else?) and quarterback Tyrod Taylor of the Cleveland Browns.

I imagine Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane are hoping that departed offensive left guard Richie Incognito will not be joining an AFC East rival -- the New England or the New York Jets. I’m pretty sure a second stint with the Miami Dolphins is out of the picture.

Former Rochester slugger/whiffer Adam Brett Walker III (27 HRs and 202 strikeouts in 478 official at-bats with the 2016 Red Wings) has resurfaced with the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent American Association. In his first three games, he was 2-for-11) .182) with a double and 5 Ks.

Updating two crazy MLB trends: Entering Wednesday, the American League West is 56-64 (-8) at home and 70-47 (+23) on the road...The National League is 40-21 versus the American League. The AL has won the NL interleague series each of the past 14 seasons.

Carol Mann, the LPGA legend who died Sunday at age 77, was honored in Rochester March 21, 2008, as the PGA America’s First Lady of Golf for lifetime achievement. The ceremony was in conjunction with the 69th Senior PGA Championship. She was a great ambassador for the sport and a leading advocate for Title IX, boosting women’s rights in sports.

19-year-old phenom Vladimir Guerrero was 2-for-4 Tuesday night for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Double-A Eastern League to boost his batting average to .423 (66-for-156). It sure would be a treat for Rochester baseball fans if the Toronto Blue Jays promoted Guerrero to the Buffalo in time for the six-game Bisons at Red Wings series starting Friday night.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, May 23

Morgan Pressel (30)...Bray Wyatt (31)...Jordan Zimmerman (32)...Brian Campbell (39)...Jay Feely (42)...Rene Ingoglia (46)...Gary Roberts (52)...James Hasty (53)...Dave Babyych (57)...Buck Showalter (62)...Pete LoPresti (64)...Marvin Hagler (66)...John Newcombe (74)...Rod Thorn (77). Jewel (44), Drew Carey (60), Mitch Albom (60) and Joan Collins (85) are invited to the birthday party.

Thursday, May 24

Nelson Agholor (25)...Chad Green (27)...Cody Eakin (27)...Joey Lagano (28)...Mattias Eckholm (28)...Tracy McGrady (39)...Brad Penny (40)...Bartolo Colon (45)...Ricky Craven (52)...Pat Verbeek (54)...Joe Dumars (55)...Rich Rodriguez (55)...Pete Metzelaars (58)...Derrick Gaffney (63)...Mitch Kupchak (64)...JoAnn Washam (68). John C. Reilly (53), Priscilla Presley (73), Patti LaBelle (74), Bob Dylan (77) and Tommy Chong (80) are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

May 23

145 years ago (1873), Survivor won the first Preakness Stakes...96 years ago (1922), Harry Greb handed Gene Tunney the only loss of his boxing career...77 years ago (1941), Joe Louis beat Buddy Baer via DQ in the seventh round for the heavyweight boxing title...36 years ago (1982), Pittsford product Cathy Morse won the LPGA Plymouth Charity Golf Classic.

May 24

88 years ago (1930), Babe Ruth hit home runs in both games of a doubleheader, giving him nine HRs for the week...83 years ago (1935), Cincinnati beat visiting Philadelphia 2-1 in Major League Baseball’s first night game...54 years ago (1964), a soccer stampede killed 300 in a stadium in Lima, Peru...51 years ago (1967), the AFL granted a franchise to the Cincinnati Bengals...34 years ago (1984), the Detroit Tigers won an AL-record 17th straight road game...31 years ago (1987), 47-year-old Al Unser won his fourth Indianapolis 500...28 years ago (1990), the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup 4-1 over the Boston Bruins.

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