Marcus Semien reached base safely in four of his five Game 6 at-bats, knocking in two singles, walking twice and scoring a run in the Rangers 9-2 win over the Astros. Now, just one game stands between him and his first career World Series appearance.
Semien Game 6
Desperation was the word of the day for the Texas Rangers and specifically Marcus Semien who has struggled all postseason long as faced elimination Sunday night. He came into the game with urgency to do whatever it took to get on base safely and showed great patience by drawing a four pitch walk in his first at-bat.
In his final at-bat of the night, Semien would single as the Rangers would end up loading the bases and hitting a grand slam to put a bow on top of their pivotal Game Six win and set their sights on the biggest game of the season and for Semien the biggest of his career.
“This will be my first career Game Seven,” Semien told reporters postgame.
“We had our backs against the wall tonight and I think we should come out with the same mentality.”
Astros could not shut the door
Dusty Baker and his Astros had their chances to knock out the Rangers early in the game but failed to do so despite getting a run on the board in the first inning. He had to pull his starting pitcher after only five innings of work.
In the 8th inning with the bases loaded and two outs, Baker decided to pinch hit Jon Singleton for last season’s World Series MVP with his team down by two runs. Singleton, who was an unsung hero for his walk in Game Five that preceded Altuve’s game-winning home run, had another great at-bat but would end up striking out with a full count.
“He is a really good pitcher with really good stuff,” Singleton told reporters when discussing his final at-bat.
“I fouled off some decent pitches, but ended up chasing a ball up.”
Outfielder Michael Brantley got the start in left field for Houston and would finish 0-for-3 with two walks and added another web gem to his highlight reel with a sliding catch in the top of the eighth.
“We need to turn the page and get ready for tomorrow,” was the message Brantley gave to his teammates ahead of the greatest thing we get in sports, Game Seven.
We will see if these MLBbros can become a part of baseball history Monday night at 7 PM. central.
After almost eight years away from the MLB, including several seasons in the minors and a stint in the Mexican League, Singleton didn’t give up his hope of returning to the big leagues.
Singleton Had Shaky Stint With Brewers
He originally had been called up on June 3rd by the Milwaukee Brewers to help fill a void because some key players were injured. It was his first MLB game since October 2nd, 2015, when he made the start at first base against the Cincinnati Reds and batted sixth. He played in 11 total games for them and ended up going 3-for-29 with two RBI, before being designated for assignment.
That poor start was not enough to discourage him as he kept on fighting, and it was the Houston Astros who gave him his next opportunity. He signed a minor league contract with them on June 24th and ended up playing 33 games for their Triple-A affiliate, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, where he had a .333/.446/.692 slashline, including 12 home runs.
Singleton Gets The Call & Responds
On August 8th, Singleton was called back up to the majors to see if his luck could turn around with the defending champs. His first two games were quiet, but on August 11th against the Anaheim Angels, he finally made some noise.
He ended up going 3-for-4 that day and had two home runs and five RBI. It was his first ever multi-home run game and was the most runs batted in he ever had for a single game as well.
So far with Houston, he’s played a total of five games, where he’s batting .167, with a .318 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage.
The MLB Saga Of John “Smoke” Singleton
Being raised in Long Beach, California, Singleton originally committed to playing baseball for his local college, the Cal State Long Beach Dirtbags. That all changed when he was taken by the Phillies in the eighth round of the 2009 MLB draft.
He ended up being a part of that organization for two years and was then part of a haul of prospects sent to Houston in a blockbuster trade for outfielder Hunter Pence. After the trade and at the end of the 2011 season, Singleton was viewed as the Astros’ top prospect according to Baseball America, as he would get the nod to play in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game.
He would spend the next two and a half seasons in the minors before being placed on the Astros 40-man roster at the end of the 2013 season. On June 2nd, 2014, just a day before he would make his major league debut, he signed a five-year contract worth up to $35 million, with $10 million guaranteed, which was the first contract extension signed by a prospect with no major league experience.
After the 2014 season, Singleton bounced around between the minors and majors, had a few failed drug tests that kept him from playing baseball, and just could overall never find his footing in the bigs.
He’s been given a second chance by the Astros.
With Michael “The Professional” Brantley still hurt, and now Jose Abreu being placed on the 10-day injured list, Singleton doesn’t have a better opportunity to prove himself than now. The question now will be if the 31-year-old can muster up some hits in key moments to help the defending World champs defend the title. If he can, he would be rewriting his career narrative with a perfect ending.
Houston Astros outfielder Jon Singleton was crushing in his return to MLB action. A once highly touted prospect with great power, a 100-game suspension for weed threw him off his MLB path to stardom. Now he’s back.
On Saturday, after eight years away from the big leagues, Milwaukee Brewers’ first baseman Jonathan Singleton got the call that he was waiting for. Not only would Singleton be joining the Brewers’ big league roster in Cincinnati, Ohio, he would be starting and batting sixth.
Jon Singleton has recorded his first hit in the major leagues since 2015. He dealt with numerous marijuana suspensions and is making his return to MLB today pic.twitter.com/pyukbVA2Ae
Singleton went 1-for-4 with a run scored, helping Milwaukee secure a 10-8 victory over the Reds. He spoke before the game about his journey back to The Bigs.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Singleton. “Right now, I really can’t even describe my emotions, my feelings. Definitely grateful. Once I had to step away and consider what life really was and what it meant to me, it helped maybe put things in perspective.”
Weed Is An Expensive Habit
Jonathan Singleton was suspended a total 200 games between 2012 and 2018 for a positive marijuana test, including the 100-game ban in 2018 that saw him released from the league completely. Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, marijuana was grouped with several other hard narcotics and considered a “drug of abuse”, which triggered harsh suspensions.
While his hiatus from the game was certainly self-induced, current legislation around the nation, and within Major League Baseball itself, make his punishment look silly under the current lens. With a new perspective on the opportunity he now has, Singleton is open about his road back.
“It’s definitely rewarding,” he said. “There’s been a lot of hard work that I’ve put in. There’s been a lot of things I’ve done emotionally, physically and spiritually to get to this point. Very, very grateful.”
But before continuing, let’s take a deep dive into Singleton’s journey.
Selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the eighth round of the 2009 Amateur Draft, the California native was one of the top prospects in the draft. Here’s a snippet of what the noted talent evaluators at Perfect Game had to say about a 17-year-old Singleton.
“Jonathan is a very strong, well built left-handed hitter with big time power. He has lift in his swing and the ball fits off his bat like a rocket. He has easy power now, but he is also a very good all around hitter with a good approach at the plate.”
With the Phillies still in win-now mode, Jon was eventually acquired by the Houston Astros in the 2011 Hunter Pence deal. Singleton, who ranked as high as 38th on some Top 100 Prospects list, had the opportunity to become a key piece in the Astros’ rebuild.
In 2012, Singleton tested positive twice for marijuana use and received two 50-game suspensions. Despite the suspensions, the Astros doubled down on their commitment and signed him to a five-year extension worth $10 million in June of 2014.
Now considered by many to be the top first base prospect in baseball, Singleton was ready to be as honest then as he is now.
“At this point, it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict,” he told The Associated Press in 2014. “I don’t openly tell everyone that but it’s pretty apparent to myself. I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that. So I have to work against that.”
Struggles Lead to More Troubles
Once given the opportunity to prove himself on the big stage, Singleton struggled. He slashed 168/.285/.335 in 2014 and would only appear in 19 games during the 2015 season before finding himself back in the minors.
While still attempting to rebuild his reputation and make it back to the majors, Singleton was hit with a 100-game ban for a third failed drug test. The suspension wiped out his 2018 season and Jon would find himself out of the league completely when the Astros released him May 21, 2018. While he was out of baseball, there were major changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that in hindsight would have significantly changed the trajectory of his career.
New Opportunities, New CBA Rules
Under the new CBA, baseball treats marijuana related offenses in the same manner they treat an alcohol related offense. Under these rules, Singleton would not have faced the three suspensions which were on par with that of a steroid user.
Noted baseball journalist Clinton Yates made an excellent point regarding Major League Baseball and their updated drug policy in a 2019 Andscape article.
“Major League Baseball is finally stepping into the modern world by updating the drug policies to be more sensible regarding the rest of America. We’re well beyond the caveman controversy of steroids – we’re talking about things that are not designed to necessarily enhance performance in the same way and are definitely extremely dangerous.”
Three years later, Singleton wound up in Mexico once again attempting to play the game he loves. He hit .321 with 15 homers, 36 RBI, 37 runs, 51 walks and a 1.196 OPS in 46 games in the Mexican league before signing a minor league deal with the Brewers.
After hitting 30 home runs and flashing an .838 OPS over two seasons in Triple A, Singleton was once again on a Major League roster. His hard work has paid off. “It was something that came so unexpectedly at the moment,” he said. “It was definitely a long time coming.”
Hopefully the archaic views that baseball once held on marijuana use won’t ever hinder this incredible talent again. The Brewers can use a guy with some pop and Singleton certainly has that. Seems pretty silly now that he lost his career over something that the government and most law enforcement are more educated about and realize it’s more of a benefit than a detriment to society. Singleton is looking ahead to the possibilities. He’s just 32 years old so these would be his peak years if his journey was derailed, so it’s up to him to make the most of this second chance.