Tony Kemp put on a Broadway show this weekend in New York.
He doubled his home run total for the year and hit a go-ahead, game-winning, three-run home run Friday night as he continues to play some of the best baseball of his career.
Kemp, the Oakland A’s second baseman, came into June with just one home run. But within the last 20 days, he has hit three. His most recent two happened under the bright lights of New York, and there’s no better feeling than putting on a show there.
It was a 2-2 count in the 6th inning as the Athletics trailed, 3-2. With runners on the corners, Kemp was in the box facing a left-handed pitcher who before this season he had homered off of only once in his career, the last time being in 2019. Well, the next pitch made it the second time he had done it this season alone.
As the ball flew over the right field fence Kemp took a little extra time to admire his work.
That feeling of hitting a home run in front of the Yankees faithful felt so good Kemp had to go for seconds, and he did not even wait a full 24 hours. He was the second hitter of the game for the A’s and he launched a home run just feet from where his Friday night bomb landed.
That’s what makes baseball special. Kemp is listed at 5-foot-6, 160 pounds while the Yankees Black Knight Twin Towers Judge and Giancarlo Stanton stand 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-6, respectively. In all, this weekend, Kemp had two home runs and accounted for two runs and four RBI, while Judge and Stanton combined for no home runs and only two RBI. Judge would even be robbed of a base hit by Kemp on a line out during Saturday’s game.
Kemp has been a solid piece of the Oakland roster this season. There was no guarantee that he would have a starting spot, but he has been making it extremely tough for manager Bob Melvin to not insert his name in the lineup at second base. He is hitting .306 this month with three home runs, four doubles, 15 runs, 12 RBI and 10 walks.
Kemp has one of the best personalities in all of baseball. Just watch how much fun he has during his postgame interviews.
On the season, Kemp is hitting .276 with 25 runs scored, 17 RBI and four home runs. He’ll look to stay locked in when the A’s travel to Arlington, Texas, for a three-game series against the Rangers to start the week.
He’s also an anomaly. At 5 feet 7 inches tall, he doesn’t strike an imposing form when on the mound. Since 2000, he’s one of only six pitchers under 5’10” to even make a start in Major League Baseball.
But every time he takes the ball, you can’t tell him he’s not the biggest, baddest, man in the stadium.
He has no fear; not of opposing lineups, and not of big moments. And right now, he’s entering one of the biggest moments of his career.
The Mets’ pitching staff has been hit hard by injury. Jacob deGrom just returned from the injured list, but New York is currently without fellow Black Aace Taijuan Walker, and Carlos Carrasco, and Jordan Yamamoto. The latest depressing news surrounds Noah Syndergaard, who will be shut down for another six weeks due to right elbow inflammation.
Through all of it, Stroman has taken the hill every fifth day.
Thursday afternoon he pitched six scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies, giving up only three hits as New York scratched out a 1-0 victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Stro picked up his team-leading fourth victory while dropping his earned run average to 2.47.
“I feel like I’ve always taken pride in taking the ball every fifth day and putting my team in a position to win,” he said after the game. “Since we have a lot of the guys on the DL, I just feel like it puts a little more pressure on the guys who are in the rotation to carry their load while those guys are out.”
If deGrom is the unquestioned ace of the Mets’ rotation, Stroman is its glue.
Stroman’s allowed more than two earned runs in only two starts so far, and his 58.1 innings pitched are 13 more than anyone else on the roster.
“We’ve had some absences in our starting rotation, and this guy’s given us length,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas. “For me, what he’s done repeatedly, is that he’s helped our bullpen stay fresh…I think you have to give a lot of credit to him because he’s worked really hard, since last year when he didn’t pitch. He’s worked really hard to get into this position.”
The work is paying off for Stroman and the Mets, who continue to cling to first place in the National League East even with one of the worst offenses in baseball. Until the Mets’ offense can find some consistency and its pitching staff is once again whole, Marcus Stroman can be counted on to hold it down.
If you doubt him, just ask him. He’ll tell you.
“I don’t beg cause cause I’m not a begonia;
I dress warm so that I won’t catch pneumonia;
My rhymes are stronger than ammonia;
I’m a diamond, you’re a cubic zirconia.”
— MC Smooth B, Hip Hip Junkies
Marcus Stroman has always known he was a star. The rest of baseball is finally coming to that realization as well.
Marcus Stroman continued his exceptional pitching on Friday night, but his golden arm was offset by an anemic Mets offense that had gone 20 straight innings without scoring a run before pushing one across the plate in the 6th inning to add some drama to what was an otherwise lifeless game against a decimated Phillies team
A bad night for the Mets as they fall 2-1 in Philly.
Marcus Stroman leaves after 6 with a tight hamstring while offense was 1 for 14 with RISP.
Stroman was pulled after throwing just 64 pitches and trailing 2-1. In addition to his lit pitching, Stroman tried his best to boost a sagging Mets offense by delivering one of the Mets’ three hits for the game, a double down the line.
The Mets eventually scored in the sixth inning and Stroman was pulled from the game with a line of 5 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs and eight K’s. It was another ace-type outing from Stroman who lowered his ERA to 1.86
Look at that filth Stroman was dealing on Friday night. He had dudes looking confused, like when your Grandad tries to decipher Kodak Black lyrics.
Stroman came into the year basically guaranteeing one of the best seasons of his career and he hasn’t disappointed. The diminutive diamond-miner has been in Ebenezer Scrooge on the mound. Friday was no different, as the Long Island product was bringing the Phillies the ruckus, which is why SNY analyst Ron Darling was baffled when Mets manager Luis Rojas took Stro out of the game.
Ron Darling immediately assumed something was wrong because Stroman was rolling and “unless he was hurt it wouldn’t make sense to take him out, especially as well as he pitched,” Darling said. He had electric stuff.”
Stroman left due to a tight hamstring according to sources close to the team
MLbbro.com told you early in the season to keep an eye on the New York Mets rotation and the squad’s melanated mound marauders; Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman. The team from Queens is one of just two MLB rotations with two Black starting pitchers.
(Seattle Mariners pitchers Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn comprise the other Black starter tandem)
On Tuesday, both pitchers carried their whole weight in leading the Mets to a sweep of NL East rival Philadelphia.
It was exactly the kind of performance that Mets brass hoped for when they decided to bring these two potential Black aces into the fold to round out what could eventually be the best pitching staff in baseball.
Both pitchers have basically been lights out. Stroman has a 0.37 ERA and in 12.1 innings pitched he’s given up just 1 run on a homer and eight hits.
He wants all the smoke. At 5-foot-7 he’s a walking billboard for his branded HDMH slogan: “Heart Don’t Measure Height.” Let’s not forget he’s doing all this while fighting social justice causes and responding to idiots all day long on Twitter,
That heart was on full display. After getting his start cut short during a nine-pitch rainout on Sunday, instead of waiting his normal five days to start again, Stroman went Rough Ryder DMX on em’ and came back on one day’s rest to hurl 6 innings of no-run, four-hit ball, in a performance fit for framing.
He was efficient, throwing 86 pitches to lead the Mets to a 4-0 shutout win over the Phillies.
Stroman’s outing followed a spicy effort by Walker, who set the day off like Queen Latifah with the semi-auto, hurling 4.1 innings of 1-run, 3-hit ball with a whopping 8 strikeout. Yeah, he was throwing ched,
This short, but masterful outing follows Walker’s first Citifield start in which he surrendered just two runs in 6 innings. Both of Walker’s efforts ended in a no-decision, but he pitched more than well enough to win.
Walker’s a live arm that the Mets signed to shore up the rotation. At just 28 years of age and having pitched for some pretty average to bad teams in his career, there was much optimism that Walker could really turn up this season on a Mets team that has the pieces to make a lot of noise in the playoffs.
These Black Knights are what we would call X-factors for the Mets this season. How far the Mets advance will strongly depend on the performance of their bros in arms. Both are playing on the best team of their career and if they pitched to their abilities, both could easily have career campaigns. It really comes down to staying healthy.
Walker’s durability is always in question. Entering the season the 6-foot-4 heat hurler had started just 15 MLB games since 2018.
There were skeptics who suggested that Stroman was more bark than bite based on the fact that he hasn’t had a winning record since 2017 and his ERA has fluctuated dramatically. Stroman knew better and entered the season healthy, confident and anxiously waiting for a team to explode on.
The Mets already have a formidable staff with the best pitcher in the game (Jacob DeGrom) leading the way, To have two other pitchers capable of dominating at times comes in handy for the Mets, who currently have two key starters missing. Noah Syndergaard is on the shelf and No. 2 starter Carlos Carrasco is on the IL with a bad hammy.
Give it up for these brothers who continue to dismiss the myth that Black men don’t pitch…anymore.
The Major League Baseball season has completed a week’s worth of games and several MLB Bros are already making major noise. From seemingly earning the keys to the city to being atop the leaderboards in major statistical categories, their impact has been felt.
Here are my #HighFive players through the first week of the 20201 MLB season.
“Real Deal” Akil Baddoo (Tigers)
“BADDOO, BADDOO, BADDOO and one more by BADDOO.”
Akil Baddoo of the Detroit Tigers takes the top spot after one of the best opening weeks we have seen in a long time. It began Sunday, as he hit a home run on the first MLB pitch ever thrown in his direction. The blast did much to relax his mother in the stands, who said she could “finally eat a pretzel” after.
On Monday he hit a grand slam. On Tuesday he came off the pine to smoke a walk-off single to beat the rival Twins. Wednesday, he completed his magical week with an RBI triple and an outfield assist.
Real Deal Akil is the first Tiger’s player with an RBI in each of his first four career games since Ron Cash in 1973. Baddoo has been all over the highlight tapes this season and is giving his entire city life.
Cedric Mullins (Orioles)
“They used to call me Sacrifice Ced…But now they call me Bat Man Mullins”
Cedric Mullins went from being a utility bunt master to a legit all-around hitter and starting centerfielder at the top of the O’s lineup this season.
His .480 batting average places him second in the league. He’s also tied for 2nd in hits with 12, five of which came in a perfect 5-knock day against the Red Sox.
Mullins continued his newfound power stroke, blasting a home run on Wednesday night against the Yankees.
The Baltimore leadoff hitter smashed his first home run of the season in Wednesday’s 4-3 extra-innings game against the Bronx Bombers. Mullins is a huge part of this young team on the rise. Don’t look now, but at 4-2 the Orioles are in sole possession of first place in the AL East
Marcus “HDMH” Stroman (Mets)
“Big Drip In The Big Apple”
The only pitcher in my #HighFive is Marcus Stroman. Stroman’s Mets had an odd beginning to the season as their first series against the rival Nationals was canceled due to a Washington Covid outbreak.
He made his first start of the year Tuesday night against the Phillies and was electrifying as usual, baffling the Phillies with an array of pitches and arm angles and a unique savvy that few pitchers possess.
He threw six innings of three-hit ball, striking out three and giving up only one run on a Didi Gregoris homer. He did this, all the while keeping his swag and his mound strut on 100. Must watch TV.
There will be plenty of eyes on the Mets this season and Stroman, a Long Island product welcomes the bright lights. He is a part of one of the strongest rotations in baseball and will be a key in what will be a tough NL East race.
Remaining healthy, of course, is the key for Stroman and if he can get 30 starts his performance is sure to be at an All-Star level.
Byron Buxton (Twins)
“If it’s up then it’s up then it’s up then it’s Buck”
Byron Buxton missed one game this week due to a non-Covid related illness, but that did not keep him down long as he hit a pinch-hit game-tying home run in the late innings on Tuesday.
He’s batting .357, tied for second in MLB with 3 bombs, and has a hit in every game he has played in.
Injuries have been a problem in the past for Buxton. He’s one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game and is starting to find power at the plate after hitting 13 home runs last season in 39 games. If he can put it all together, Buxton is a dark horse MVP candidate.
Aaron “ALL RISE” Judge
“Only God Can Judge Me”
Aaron Judge rounds out this list and if he can stay healthy I believe he will be at the top of it in no time. Entering last night’s game against the O’s, the New York slugger was batting .364 batting average and 5 RBI’s.
He hit home runs in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday including a three-run 8th-inning homer to break open the game against Baltimore.