Caleb Gilbert came in to handle the load from there

LSU’s starter, Eric Walker, had apparently weathered soreness in his pitching arm during a pre-tournament simulation game, but decided to march on regardless. He lasted just two innings Monday, taking the mound in the top of the third but immediately calling out a trainer after his warmup throws. Walker looked disgusted leaving the hill, and rightfully so: He’d given up just a single run in the first and downed the side in order in the second.

Pitcher No. 1 was done. Two innings pitched, two hits, one earned run, and seven batters faced.

Caleb Gilbert came in to handle the load from there, and he fared rather well to begin. He struck out two Beaver batters, surrendered a walk, then forced a groundout. His stuff was really cooking until the fifth inning, when Oregon State completely derailed his otherwise serviceable outing. The damn fifth.

With Faedo still dealing and riding the bump, Florida coasted through the the seventh, taking on no water despite a tentative TCU threat in the sixth. That trend continued in the next frame, as Faedo burned down the first three Frogs batters to stay scoreless on the night.

Haylen Green started the bottom of the seventh for the Horned Frogs, and he retired the side, despite a bizarre fielding error by his first baseman in foul territory. On Florida’s side, Faedo got the ax after seven complete and was spelled by flamethrower Michael Byrne.

Byrne cleaned out the bottom of the eighth, then allowed a double in the bottom of the ninth but threw his way out of the jam to land the Gators their first win of the CWS. Florida thus advances into the winners bracket, after getting bounced in two consecutive losses from Omaha last year.

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Change out of your Mike Trout jersey and Miguel Cabrera will give you free stuff

What happens when Miguel Cabrera sees a kid in a Mike Trout jersey asking him for attention and maybe a baseball? Scoffing, mostly. What happens when that same kid changes into a Miguel Cabrera jersey and then tries again, though?

Well, then Miguel Cabrera gives that kid a baseball bat.

This was a slick move, but it’s not as if this young fan had a second jersey around just waiting for the moment where a Tigers player was in front of him. Nah, he borrowed his buddy’s Cabrera jersey, and apparently earlier during the game, they scored six baseballs from Angels players thanks to the Trout jersey.

The full story is over at Cut4 (also where the above gif comes from), including additional photos of this sneaky, sneaky children and their pile of baseballs.

As if the Braves needed more talent in their farm system, they got their man at No. 5, and they’ll throw him on top of their vaunted and intimidating pile of prospects. The Braves didn’t necessarily need a fast riser, considering how loaded they are at almost every position throughout the organization, but this is a pick that could bear fruit sooner than expected.

If not, if the development path is more typical, the Braves should still be thrilled. The tools alone justify the top-five pick.

The Braves have also enjoyed 17 seasons of starting-level shortstoppery over the last two decades, but they didn’t have the same one-superstar hegemony of the Yankees. They enjoyed a sampler platter, with fine seasons from Rafael Furcal, Walt Weiss, Yunel Escobar, Edgar Renteria, and Jeff Blauser. They also got two stellar defensive seasons from one or both Alex Gonzalezes, though those are extremely dWAR-heavy, if you’re inclined to dismiss those numbers.

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LSU and Florida State offered us perhaps the sickest college baseball game of the year over the weekend

That ended Florida’s batting in the first, and it wouldn’t be the game’s first close call at second. It also set off a cascade of controversy that would return in the eighth inning, when an LSU runner was called out at second on a call that should have probably gone the other way.

Two innings later, LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson completely lost his head for the second time this CWS and failed to cleanly transfer the ball from his glove to his hand on a routine grounder. This led to a three-run third inning for Florida.

LSU and Florida State offered us perhaps the sickest college baseball game of the year over the weekend, with the Tigers eventually prevailing, 5-4, in a wild, error-filled affair. LSU then got thoroughly worked over by Oregon State on Monday, needing eight pitchers just to get out of a 13-1 loss. That assuredly got the Tigers worked up, and they came to fight on Wednesday, sending Florida State home in a 7-4 win.

The ‘Noles and Tigers met back up for an elimination game Wednesday, and LSU flamethrower Jared Poche took the hill for the Tigers on four days of rest. He and FSU starter Cole Sands combined to down each side in order in the first, then big bat Greg Deichmann broke through into right for a sliding two-base pop in the top of the second. Zach Watson followed that up with a rip into right center, and the Tigers were in business with men at the corners.

Watson didn’t stay put, though, as he stole second on a throw from Seminole catcher Cal Raleigh that nearly sailed into center field. On the very next pitch, third baseman Josh Smith slapped a line into right, scoring Deichmann, and suddenly the FSU bullpen came alive. Sands wouldn’t survive the inning, and Andrew Karp spelled him.

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It’s that geological grind that’s so tough.

He led the league twice in home runs, which isn’t a lot for the 600-homer club. Thome did it once, and Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa also did it twice. The rest of the club (Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey, Jr., Babe Ruth) led their respective leagues at least four times each.

It’s that geological grind that’s so tough. Pujols has 14 different seasons with 30 homers or more (one behind Aaron and Rodriguez … for now). His story of 600 homers is a story of incredible skill, health, and a gradual decline. The other possible story is that of incredible skill, an unfathomable peak, and just enough health to accumulate the stats. Once he missed the four-season stretch of 60 homers, he had to chip away.

And, again, this isn’t including the players who are still in their mid-20s. Justin Bour is a beastly fellow at the moment, but, fine, he’s developing. Aaron Hicks was always a top prospect, even if this is getting a little freaky. The Rays acquired Corey Dickerson for a reason, so it’s not like his success should be that surprising. Chris Taylor was overlooked in the minors, perhaps, where he generally found success.

Start with Zack Cozart. He was a poor man’s Brandon Crawford for years, and that was fine. He was valuable defensively and hit just enough. Now, at the age of 31, he’s hitting .351 and slugging .623. Just for good measure, he’s six walks away from his career high. Now instead of a poor man’s Crawford, he’s a rich man’s Carlos Correa.

SABERMETRICIAN: Actually, it’s all about the launch angles. See, last year Cozart’s …
That’s not the point. He’s Zack Cozart. He’s 31. There are rules.

For five seasons, Marwin Gonzalez was a nice utility infielder. His career line was .257/.298/.389. He was a known quantity. That’s the key phrase with a lot of these players. Known quantity.

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host Southern Miss found itself in trouble early against Illinois-Chicago

In the nightcap, Florida and TCU met for a much ballyhooed rematch of Sunday’s opening night bout that left the Horned Frogs with their first loss of the bracket round. Florida’s pitching staff is masterful, and though they may score the most runs in this tournament field, they’re also not going to allow them, and the Gators have allowed just a single run in the CWS to this point, quite obviously the lowest runs-against rate of the group.

Florida pitcher Jackson Kowar and TCU man Mitchell Traver held each other’s opposite bats hitless through the first two frames, then Kowar surrendered a single to right and a strong double to left to plate the Frogs’ first run of the night.

A wild pitch moved TCU leadoff man Austen Wade over to third, and the buildup was on with two outs. Wade then scored on a strong Zach Humphreys double to left center, which has received a remarkable number of hits and homers, considering the wind blows in from that area of the park at TD Ameritrade. Never mind, though, since the wind blew out all day on Friday.

In the Hattiesburg regional, host Southern Miss found itself in trouble early against Illinois-Chicago, who’s playing in its first college baseball tournament in nine years. The Flames led 6-0 after the top of the fifth, but the Golden Eagles chipped away over the course of the next two innings, plating three then four runners in the sixth and seventh.

The most dramatic moment of the day’s action took place in the Fayetteville regional’s opener between Missouri State and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys carried a tenuous 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth with shutdown closer Trey Cobb on the hill. Missouri State’s slugging shortstop, Jeremy Eierman, then stepped to the plate with a man on first and two outs and ripped a bomb over the right field wall.

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Cubs’ White House visit is a political statement whether Joe Maddon agrees or not

The Cubs have already visited the White House after winning the 2016 World Series. They visited the previous President, Barack Obama, who was not only a sports fan but also had Chicago ties that had a little something to do with how unusually quickly the customary championship trip occurred. Now, the Cubs are getting a second, less formal White House visit to see Donald Trump, and Joe Maddon immediately went on the defensive to claim that this is not a political statement.

Due to some atrocious weather in Fort Worth and Hattiesburg over the weekend, a handful of games were pushed to Monday of this week. As of Monday morning, in fact, three teams yet survived in Fort Worth: Dallas Baptist, Virginia, and hosts TCU were still duking it out for the rights to a super regional berth, with only TCU the sixth overall national seed having no losses.

In the Houston regional, Texas A&M got 8 1/3 innings from starter Stephen Kolek to shut down hosts Houston, 4-3. Mop-up man Cason Sherrod faced just one batter and stone-colded him to send the Aggies through to the super regional round. This is just filthy.

In the Lubbock regional, Sam Houston State went on a tear to win their way into the super regional, thanks to 4 2/3 innings of work by middle reliever Riley Cooper. Starter Seth Ballew got into trouble early and lasted just two innings, but the pen came in behind him to finish the job. Let’s all admire closer Nick Mikolajchak’s leaping celebration on the final strikeout.

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Jose Iglesias flips while tagging White Sox opponent, takes umpire with him

The third inning of the Chicago White Sox-Detroit Tigers game on Sunday afternoon looked like a scene from an action movie as a stolen base attempt sent Jose Iglesias flying into the air where he collided with an umpire. It all happens so quick!

The Astros are currently in first place by a million games, but this is also a fine chance to add to a young, stacked organization and, oh, man, I can’t do this anymore.

We go every year for our anniversary. Can’t do August because that’s when her work starts up with a vengeance. Can’t go in July because of the All-Star Game and trade deadline for me. So we go in June. This year would be a couple weeks earlier than normal, but why would that make a difference?

Because of the draft, you idiot. There’s a baseball draft. The internet wants instant draft grades for some reason, even though they’re completely pointless, and I’m paid to write the baseball things that the internet wants. That’s my one-sentence job description, and by leaving before the draft, I’m screwing it all up.

The Royals’ system has been thinned out over the last few years, both because of win-now trades and sketchy drafting, and this is the highest they’ve picked since taking Hunter Dozier in 2013. They really can’t screw this one up, which is a tough thing to write about the 14th pick, considering there are more likely to be misses than hits in the middle of the draft.

The talent is there, but all of the other expected concerns are there, too. If the Royals can smooth out some of the rough edges, and if they can eliminate the larger questions about durability, this pick has a definite chance to work out.

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