Baseball

Diamond Digest: Baseball’s top story lines this week

Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien swings for a single off Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez in the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. The hit, which was ruled following a replay challenge, broke up a no-hitter.
Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien swings for a single off Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez in the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. The hit, which was ruled following a replay challenge, broke up a no-hitter. The Associated Press

Here are five interesting stories in baseball this week:

No-hitter killed by replay challenge

Marcus Semien broke up Eduardo Rodriguez’s bid for history with an infield single, and the A’s walked off with an improbable 1-0 win in the ninth when Khris Davis doubled off of Boston closer Craig Kimbrel, scoring Danny Valencia from first base on Sunday.

Rodriguez had a no-hitter intact with two outs in the eighth when Semien hit a ground ball back up the middle. Rodriguez knocked it down with his leg but paused to locate it before throwing to first.

Semien was called out at first. But the A’s challenged the call, and rulings came quickly from both the replay crew, which overturned the call after 19 seconds, and the official scorer, who immediately awarded Semien a hit.

De Leon shines in debut

Jose De Leon was feeling calm shortly before his major-league debut until he spotted his brother near the bullpen railing. He reached over and they hugged as De Leon whispered “I did it,” leaving Juan near tears.

De Leon struck out nine in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 7-4 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

“There’s no word to describe that,” he said. “It was amazing to be here for the first time.”

Pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal drove in three runs, including a go-ahead single in the fifth inning, to help the National League West leaders take two of three from the last-place Padres and increase their lead to three games over the Giants.

Miller decent in return to majors

Shelby Miller soaked it all in as he returned to the big leagues, cherishing pitching in front of a sellout crowd in the rival’s home ballpark after more than a month of making adjustments in the minors.

Miller (2-10) was called up from Triple-A Reno and took the loss for Arizona in a 4-2 defeat to the Giants on Wednesday. Pitching in the majors for the first time since July 6 and then being sent down on July 14, the 15-game winner with St. Louis in 2013 allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.

Miller was traded to the Diamondbacks from Atlanta in the offseason and was expected to be the second of a 1-2 pitching punch along with Zack Greinke, who led the majors in ERA last season as a Dodger. However, Miller was continuously roughed up this season and entered Wednesday’s game at AT&T Park with a 2-9 record and 7.14 ERA.

Tebow puts on a show

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow took his first big swings at a baseball career Tuesday, showing off a powerful bat and other developing skills during a workout in front of dozens of major-league scouts and reporters.

The 29-year-old aspiring outfielder and former NFL player went through drills at USC’s Dedeaux Field in Los Angeles for more than an hour, confidently chasing a dream deferred for 12 years. Declaring his football career essentially over, Tebow insists he is serious about becoming more than a baseball curiosity.

Tebow hasn’t played baseball regularly since his junior year at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Fla. He left early to enroll at Florida, beginning a fabled college football career that led to the 2007 Heisman and two national titles for the Gators.

Wild-card race getting wild

Following Sunday’s games, both leagues have at least five teams still in the race for the four wild-card playoff berths.

For the National League’s two spots, the Giants (73-63) lead the way with the St. Louis Cardinals (71-64) sitting 1 1/2 games back. Also in the hunt are the New York Mets (1 behind St. Louis), Pittsburgh (-3 1/2) and Miami (-4). MLB.com predicts that the Giants (90%) and the Cardinals (54%) will keep the top two spots.

In the American League, Boston (76-60) is two games up on Baltimore and Detroit, both 74-62. They’re trailed by Houston (-2), the Yankees (-3 1/2), Kansas City (-4) and Seattle (-5). MLB.com projects the Red Sox (92%) and the Tigers (49%) to make the postseason, with the Orioles (47%) just missing.

Compiled by Noel Harris with information from The Sacramento Bee’s Matthew Kawahara and The Associated Press

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