Ronald Acuna Jr. Leads Atlanta Braves to Historic Homer-Heavy Win Against Pittsburgh Pirates 

It’s one for the history books for Ronald Acuna Jr. and his Atlanta Braves teammates…

The 23-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder hit a grand slam in the second inning off Tyler Anderson, pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza added another slam in the eighth against position player Wilmer Difo and the Braves homered seven times in a 20-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Austin Riley homered twice for his first multi-homer game, and Ozzie AlbiesMarcell Ozuna and Dansby Swanson also went deep for the Braves, who became the first team in major league history to have seven or more homers in a game that included two slams, according to STATS.

This was the sixth seven-homer game in Braves history, and the 20 runs were the most a team has scored in a game this season.

“It was awesome,” Riley said. “Just seemed like everything clicked offensively. I think it really goes to show what this team is capable of doing. I know things might not seem like they’re clicking right now on a daily basis, but it’s there, and it’s a matter of time.”

Acuna had five RBIs and gave Atlanta a 5-0 lead with his 14th homer, which tied him with the Los Angeles Angels‘ Shohei Ohtani for the major league lead. Acuna’s first slam came against Pittsburgh’s Alex McRae on June 10, 2019.

Difo, a 29-year-old middle infielder in his seventh major league season, relieved to start the bottom of the eighth with the Pirates trailing 12-0.

Pitching to catcher Jacob Stallings, Difo threw at up to 88 mph, and Adrianza homered on a first-pitch 80 mph offering. Difo allowed three walks and six hits in his one inning, giving up run-scoring singles to Kevan Smith and Guillermo Heredia, Ozuna’s RBI double and Riley’s sacrifice fly. Difo left with a 72.00 career ERA.

“I think Stallings summed it up best,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said with a laugh. “Difo didn’t have his best stuff tonight, and they capitalized on it.”

Albies and Riley homered back-to-back in the fifth for a 9-0 lead, and Riley and Swanson hit consecutive homers in the seventh against Chasen Shreve.

“We’ve been struggling to score runs and get hits, so that was good to see,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There were some good at-bats, going the other way, it was a good night. And the way Ian backed up his last start with how he threw tonight was really good.”

Tyler Anderson (3-4) gave up nine runs, 10 hits — seven for extra bases — and two walks in five innings. The Pirates had won five of his previous six starts.

Pittsburgh tied a 20-1 loss to Brooklyn on August 1, 1890, and a 25-6 loss to Brooklyn on May 20, 1896, for its third-largest margin of defeat, behind a 27-5 loss at Cincinnati on September 12, 1883, and a 20-0 loss to Milwaukee on April 22, 2010.

Shelton said it will be easy to move on from such a lopsided loss.

“It’s actually easier to move on from a game like this because the games that are 4-1, 4-3, there’s situations you look back and think this couldn’t have been different,” he said. “Tonight we just got beat. You just move on from it and come back tomorrow.”

Jesse Chavez Signs Minor League Deal with the Los Angeles Angels

Jesse Chavez is springing into action…

The 37-year-old Latino veteran right-hander has re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels on a minor league deal.

Jesse Chavez

Chavez will join the Angels’ spring training camp in Tempe, Arizona, after he clears their intake protocols, according to the team.

Chavez appeared in 38 games for the Angels in 2017, making 21 starts. He left for the Texas Rangers as a free agent after one season, and he excelled after being traded in July 2018 to the Chicago Cubs, where he was managed by current Angels skipper Joe Maddon.

Chavez spent the past two seasons back with the Rangers, struggling last season with a 6.88 ERA in 18 appearances.

With experience as a starter, long reliever and late-inning reliever, Chavez could provide versatility for the Angels, whose long-struggling pitching staff can use all the depth it can get.

Chavez is a native of the Los Angeles area, graduating from high school in Fontana before pitching in junior college in Riverside. He has also pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Francisco Liriano & Toronto Blue Jays Agree to Minor League Deal

Francisco Liriano is flying high…

The 37-year-old Dominican veteran professional baseball relief pitcher, a left-hander, has agreed to a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays that includes an invitation to spring training.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano didn’t pitch in the MLB during the pandemic-altered 2020 season. He was in camp with the Philadelphia Phillies on a minor league deal when the Phillies released him in July before Opening Day.

He went 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019, striking out 63 and walking 35 in 70 innings.

Liriano, an MLB All-Star as a rookie with the Minnesota Twins in 2006, is 112-114 with a 4.15 ERA in 300 starts and 119 relief outings over 14 major league seasons with the Twins, Chicago White Sox, Pirates, Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers.

He pitched for Toronto in 2016 and 2017 before getting traded to Houston for outfielders Teoscar Hernández and Nori Aoki.

Liriano won a World Series ring with the 2017 Astros, making five short relief appearances during the postseason that year.

Joe Martinez Joins Major League Baseball’s Senior Leadership Team

Joe Martinez is heading to the big league’s offices…

The 37-year-old Latino former baseball pitcher has been hired Monday by Major League Baseball.

Joe Martinez

Martinez will step into the role of senior director of on-field strategy.

Martinez will report to vice president of baseball economics Reed MacPhail.

Martinez, who turns 38 on February 26, will coordinate the management of experimental rule and equipment changes, support the competition committee and be a liaison to on-field personnel.

He pitched at Boston College and was 4-3 with a 5.82 ERA in four seasons with San Francisco Giants (2009-10), Pittsburgh Pirates (2010), Arizona Diamondbacks (2012) and Cleveland Indians (2013). He spent five years in mergers and acquisitions group at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Arizona Diamondbacks Trade Starling Marte to the Miami Marlins

Starling Marte is headed to the Sunshine State…

The 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has been traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Miami Marlins, according to ESPN.

Starling Marte

In exchange for Marte, an MLB All-Star in 2016, the Marlins will send Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia and a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks, according to sources.

Meanwhile, the Marlins sent outfielder Jonathan Villar to the Toronto Blue Jays, reports ESPN.

Marte is hitting .311 with 23 runs scored this season. He has a $12.5 million option on his contract for next year.

It has been a tumultuous and difficult year for Marte. His wife, Noelia, died of a heart attack in May.

That followed his trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Diamondbacks in January, after he had spent his entire eight-year career with the Pirates.

Marte has a career .288 batting average with 110 homers, 434 RBIs and 244 steals. He had career highs last season with 23 homers and 82 RBIs.

Marte won Gold Gloves in 2015 and ’16.

He reached the All-Star Game in 2016 but also served an 80-game suspension in 2017 after testing positive for steroids.

Nick Gonzales: The Top Latino Pick in This Year’s MLB Draft

Life’s the Pitts for Nick Gonzales

The 21-year-old Latino baseball shortstop and second baseman for the New Mexico State Aggies was the No. 7 pick during the 2020 MLB draft.

Nick Gonzales

Gonzalez, the first Latino pick in this year’s draft, was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates

“It’s just awesome,” Gonzales said. “I can’t explain it. This is something that I’ve put a lot of work into and I’m super fortunate it came.”

As a freshman at New Mexico State in 2018, Gonzales hit .347/.425/.596 with nine home runs and 36 RBI over 57 games. As a sophomore in 2019, he led the nation with a .432 batting average.He finished the season hitting .432/.532/.773 with 16 home runs and 80 RBI. 

After the season, he played collegiate summer baseball for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League, where was named the MVP of the league.

Gonzales entered his junior year in 2020 as a top prospect for the 2020 Major League Baseball draft.

The 5-foot-11-inch Gonzales, an NCAA batting champion and unanimous All-American, will reportedly earn  $5,432,400.

Francisco Liriano Signs Minor League Contract with the Philadelphia Phillies

Francisco Liriano isn’t leaving The Keystone State… 

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed the 36-year-old Dominican professional baseball left-handed pitcher to a minor league contracts with invitations to attend major league spring training.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano was 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirateslast season. Liriano is 112-114 with a 4.15 ERA and has averaged 9.01 strikeouts per nine innings over 419 career games.

During his career, he has played for the Minnesota TwinsChicago White Sox, the PiratesToronto Blue JaysHouston Astrosand Detroit Tigers.

Liriano was an MLB All-Star in 2006, and is a two-time winner of the MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Ivan Nova Headed to the Detroit Tigers

Ivan Nova is roarin’ to go…

The Detroit Tigers announced Monday that they’ve agreed to a deal with the 34-year-old professional baseball pitcher.

Ivan Nova

To make room for Nova on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated left-hander Matt Hall for assignment.

Nova made a major-league-leading 34 starts for the Chicago White Sox last season, going 11-12 with a 4.72 ERA in 187 innings. The right-hander had 114 strikeouts, posting his worst strikeout rate (5.49/9 IP) since 2014.

He did pitch two complete games, including a four-hitter in a 9-1 victory against the Miami Marlins on July 22, bringing his career total to 10.

Nova’s curveball has long been his most effective pitch, but it wasn’t working for him in 2019, with a lower spin rate than he had in 2015-17, missing fewer bats and getting hit harder, so he used it less often.

He was acquired by Chicago from the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 2018 season for minor league pitcher Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in international signing bonus pool allocation. 

Nova has made 223 big league starts, producing a 4.32 ERA with 954 strikeouts in 1,328⅔ innings.

Signed by the New York Yankees as an international free agent in 2004, Nova made his big league debut six years later and was with the Yankees until 2016, when he was traded to Pittsburgh for two minor leaguers. He finished that season a combined 12-8 with a 4.17 ERA for the Yankees and Pirates.

In 2015, Nova went 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA over 17 starts in his return from Tommy John surgery.

Pete Alonso Sets New York Mets Single-Season Home Run Record

Pete Alonso has reached anothermilestone in his young Major League Baseball career…

The 24-year-old part-Spanish American New York Mets first baseman, the odds-on favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year, set the single-season franchise record by hitting his 42nd home run on Tuesday.

Alonso took an outside fastball from Chicago Cubs starter Yu Darvish deep to right field to lead off the fourth inning. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Alonso is the first rookie to set the franchise mark for his team since Johnny Rizzo did it for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1938.

“As soon as that ball came off my bat, I knew right away,” Alonso said after the game. “I mean it’s become a dream come true so far this year and I just feel really blessed.”

Alonso received a curtain call for his record-setting blast, which gave the Mets a 1-0 lead.

The previous franchise mark of 41 home runs was set by Todd Hundleyin 1996 and matched by Carlos Beltranin 2006.

“It’s a pleasure to have a fine young player like Pete Alonso break my record,” Beltran said in a statement. “I have not met Pete personally, but people have told me he plays the game with passion and doesn’t give up on any at-bat. He has had great success in his first year. Again, my congrats, Pete.”

Hundley also praised Alonso.

“To me, he’s more than a power hitter, he’s a pure hitter,” Hundley said in a statement. “I have seen five or six of his games and he keeps getting better and better. He has just had a tremendous year. Congrats, Pete, you deserve all the records you have broken.”

Alonso’s homer was his lone hit in four at-bats, and the Cubs rallied to win 5-2.

Earlier this month, Alonso set the National League rookie record for homers in a season, previously set by Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgersin 2017. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees holds the major league record for home runs in a season by a rookie with 52 in 2017.

“It’s crazy to think the small selection of people that get to actually play in the big leagues and the even smaller selection of people that get to those milestones and it’s mind-boggling,” Alonso said. “I just wanna keep being Pete Alonso and just stay true to who I am and stay true to who I am not just as a person but as a player.”

Albert Pujols Sets MLB Record for Career Hits by a Foreign-Born Player

Albert Pujolsis making Major League Baseballhistory…

The 39-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, a first baseman and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels, had two hits and three RBIs during Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, setting the MLB record for career hits by a foreign-born player.

Albert Pujols

“I mean, what more can we say? He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game, one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “And he’s going to pass some other names I’m sure that are very well known and have plaques hanging in Cooperstown.”

Pujols had an RBI single in the 4th inning. His 3,167th hit moved him past fellow Dominican Republic native Adrian Beltre (3,166) and into sole possession of 15th place for career hits.

“He just keeps doing what he does,” said Dillon Peters, who allowed two runs in six innings while striking out six after an erratic start. “Everybody here looks up to him, and it’s just awesome to watch him chase his dream and chase all the milestones he’s already overcome. And there’s going to be more to come.”

Pujols drove in Los Angeles’ first run with his record-setting single, helping spark the struggling Angels to their fifth win in the past 18 games. 

“Forget about the record. It’s my job to come here every night and try to help this ball club to win when I can,” Pujols said. “With my defense or with my offense when I get that opportunity, and that’s what I did tonight. It was an effort where everybody contributed.”