A.J. Pierzynski tried to convince ump that this bounced pitch was a strike

Give A.J. Pierzynski credit for trying, at least.

When Atlanta Braves pitcher David Aardsma hopped a ball to the plate in the eighth inning Monday night, Pierzynski turned in one of the most shameless sell jobs you’ll ever see from a catcher. He framed up the pitch like it were a strike, held it there to show the ump and looked at him like, “come on, this is totally a strike.”

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Nevermind that the pitch bounced a few feet before the plate. Nope, A.J. tried to sell this sucker as a strike. Pierzynski is more jokester than bona fide pitch framer — in fact, he ranks as one of the worst catchers in MLB this season  at getting extra strikes, according to Baseball Prospectus — so we’re guessing he found a moment to have fun and went with it.

This wasn’t Pierzynski’s best moment of the night, though. That came when he hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie Atlanta’s game with the San Francisco Giants. The Braves went on to win 9-8 in 12 innings, completing a comeback after being down 6-0. 

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Pierzynski may not have helped his pitcher steal a strike with his frame job, but he helped his team steal a win, and that matters quite a bit more.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Yoenis Cespedes powers red-hot Mets into sole possession of first place

Take a look around the league with Big League Stew’s daily wrap up. We’ll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

When the New York Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes, the expectations were obvious: He’d invigorate the team’s sluggish offense. He’d lead them back to first place. Well, that didn’t take long.

The Mets pounded the Miami Marlins on Monday night, winning 12-1 as Cespedes went 3-for-5 with three doubles and four RBIs. The win put the Mets in sole possession of first place in the NL East, a place they sat earlier in the season.

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It had been six weeks since the Mets had been overthrown by the Washington Nationals. The way their offense was playing — worst in MLB by a number of metrics — it didn’t seem likely that New York would ever be able to take it back. But they swept the Nats over the weekend to tie the division and kept that hot streak going right into Monday to re-claim first place. Manager Terry Collins told Marc Carig of Newsday after the game:

“They’ve earned it. They belong there,” said Collins, whose team showed no signs of a letdown. “And hopefully we stay there for a while … Everybody goes through down times. We went through ours. We held together. And we’re back.”

The Mets’ pitching was solid once again. This time Bartolo Colon tossed eight innings, scattering seven hits and just letting in the one run. They have the third-best team ERA in MLB at 3.24. Here’s one more advantage seemingly in the Mets’ corner. They have the easiest schedule in baseball from here on out.

 

D-BACKS SUBDUE NATS
Now onto the team the Mets will joust with in the standings the next two months. That’s the Nats, of course, and they didn’t have a great time playing the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night. Rookie Zack Godley pitched six shutout innings, giving up only three hits and striking out six. Nick Ahmed, meanwhile, was 4-for-4 at the plate.

[ELSEWHERE: David Price’s first start with Blue Jays was exceptional.]

The Nats were down 6-0 in the ninth and tried to mount a comeback. They scored four and had Jayson Werth up as the tying run. He grounded out, Yunel Escobar fouled out and that was that. Final score: D-backs 6, Nats 4.

GIANTS BLOW SIX-RUN LEAD, LOSE IN EXTRA INNINGS
The San Francisco Giants hit four homers by the fourth inning, holding a 6-0 lead against the Atlanta Braves. Good enough, right? Wrap that baby up, listen to some Outkast at the hotel and come back tomorrow. Wait, not so fast. The Braves weren’t ready to give up.

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Atlanta scored four runs in the sixth inning, tacked on another in the seventh and eventually tied the game when loathed-ex-Giant A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run, two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth. To extra innings, they went. The Giants scored one in the 12th, but the Braves still didn’t submit. Adonis Garcia hit a two-run, walk-off homer to secure the 9-8 win

 

ANGELS SNAP SIX-GAME LOSING STREAK
The Los Angeles Angels had lost six straight games heading into Monday night and the Cleveland Indians looked about ready to make that seven. With reigning Cy Young Corey Kluber on the mound, the Indians jumped out to a 3-0 lead. But the Angels came back, powered by newcomer Conor Gillaspie, who hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning. 

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The Angels eventually won 5-4, as Garrett Richards overcame the early trouble to strikeout 11 in 7.1 innings. He improved to 11-8 on the season.

Want to see more from Monday’s slate of games? Check out our scoreboard.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Bills OL coach Aaron Kromer suspended six games for assault arrest

Buffalo Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer was suspended six games by the team, punishment for an allegedly ugly incident this offseason that led to his arrest.

Kromer was arrested for assault and battery after allegedly confronting a boy about the use of beach chairs and then punching the boy in the face, according to the Walton County (Fla.) Sheriff’s office’s report. The police’s press release also said Kromer told one of the boys that if he reported him to the police, Kromer would “kill his family.”

This wasn’t the first time Kromer was in the news for something negative in the past year. He was in the middle of a Chicago Bears controversy when he was the team’s offensive coordinator, when it was found out that he was the source of an anonymous leak for a report that the Bears had “buyer’s remorse” about quarterback Jay Cutler. He was fired at the end of the season, along with the rest of the coaching staff. He hooked on with the Buffalo Bills as an offensive line coach, then found worse headlines.

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Kromer had been on indefinite leave from the Bills. His suspension will start before Week 1 of the regular season and go through Week 6, but he’ll work during training camp and the preseason. Here’s the statement from Bills managing partner and president Russ Brandon:

“Over the past several weeks the Bills organization has gathered information regarding the incident involving Offensive Line Coach Aaron Kromer.  Today we have concluded our investigation and the Buffalo Bills will suspend Coach Kromer without pay for the first six games of the 2015 NFL regular season.  The suspension will begin on Monday, September 7, 2015 and end with the conclusion of the Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals game on October 18, 2015.

“We worked in conjunction with the NFL on this matter and we are highly supportive of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy that holds all NFL and club employees to a higher standard.

“We look forward to Coach Kromer rejoining the Bills organization at Training Camp.”

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Meet the first place Mets: New York ties Nationals following sweep

Take a look around the league with Big League Stew’s daily wrap up. We’ll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

For the first time in what seems like a long time, the New York Mets are in first place in August. The team moved into a tie with the Washington Nationals after a 5-2 victory Sunday.

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It was an impressive series for New York. The Mets swept Washington, holding the Nationals to just five runs over the three-game series. The series also featured the redemption of Wilmer Flores, who was nearly traded earlier in the week. 

Noah Syndergaard played the hero Sunday. The righty went eight innings, giving up two runs on eight hits. He struck out nine and did not issue any walks during the contest.

Syndergaard was backed by Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda. All three players went yard against Jordan Zimmermann in the third inning, giving the Mets the 5-1 lead. 


Between Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, the Mets should have a formidable rotation if they can make it to a playoff series. 

With the win, the Mets improved to 55-50 on the year.

ETHIER PLAYS THE HERO

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier managed to play the hero Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels. Ethier picked up the game-winning hit during the team’s 5-3 win.

With the game tied 3-3 at end of the ninth, Ethier had to wait until extra innings to strike. He got his first chance in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Ethier stepped to the plate with a man on first and one out during the frame. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Ethier smashed an 82 mph changeup from Drew Rucinski out to right center for the walk-off home run.

While that was the most impressive hit of the game from Ethier, it wasn’t his first home run. Ethier actually gave the Dodgers the lead with a solo home run in the eighth. Overall, it was a pretty great day for the veteran.

With the win, the Dodgers improved to 60-45 on the season.

ATHLETICS WALK IT OFF

The Oakland Athletics pulled off a walk-off win Sunday against the Cleveland Indians. In the 10th inning, Mark Canha played the hero in the 2-1 victory.

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Canha managed to do his damage against Indians closer Cody Allen. With a man on first, Canha stepped to the plate against Allen. 

On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Canha smacked a 93 mph fastball out to left. Sam Fuld was able to score from first on the play, giving Canha the game-winning double. 

Following the game, Canha was part of the usual post walk-off celebration. Turns out, it’s not as glamorous as it looks.


With the win, the Athletics improved to 47-59 on the year.

SEATTLE PULLS IT OFF

The Seattle Mariners pulled off a late win Sunday against the Minnesota Twins. Seattle scored three runs in extras, giving the club the 4-1 win.

The big inning came against the Twins newest reliever Kevin Jepsen. Jepsen walked the first two batters in the 11th inning, opening the door for Seattle.

They would come through. Logan Morrison doubled in one run, giving the Mariners the 2-1 lead. The Mariners weren’t finished, however.

Austin Jackson would add a two-run single later in the frame. With the Mariners up 4-1, Tom Wilhelmsen came on to pick up the save.

He was successful. After giving up a leadoff double, Wilhelmsen managed to pick up the next three outs with ease. 

With the win, Seattle improved to 48-58 on the year.

Want to see more from Sunday’s slate of games? Check out our scoreboard.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Ronda Rousey KOs Bethe Correia in 34 seconds at UFC 190 title bout

Ronda Rousey is quickly becoming one of the most iconic athletes in sports. On a night when many of the biggest superstars from sports and entertainment, including NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, NFL star Aaron Rodgers, and actors Sylvester Stallone and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were tweeting to her to wish her luck, she rose to the occasion yet again.

She needed only 34 seconds this time to retain her women’s bantamweight title over Bethe Correia, but this wasn’t the same old Rousey. 

Her striking, which some said was her weakness, led her to the one-sided victory in the main event of UFC 190 at HSBC Arena Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Rousey’s striking overwhelmed Correia, whose striking had led her to a 9-0 mark entering the bout. But Rousey ripped Correia with clean, hard shots and finished it with a right to the temple. Correia fell on her face as referee John McCarthy quickly stopped it.

It was four seconds longer than the combined time of her two previous wins — 16 seconds over Alexis Davis at UFC 175 and 14 seconds over Cat Zingano at UFC 184 — but in the manner of finish, it was probably her most impressive.

UFC president Dana White wraps the women's bantamweight championship belt around Ronda Rousey's waist. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)Rousey fought Correia at her own game and came out on top.

An emotional Rousey, who said she was angered by Correia’s pre-fight trash talk that she took as shots at her family, dedicated the win to the late professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Piper, who died in his sleep Friday, had given Rousey permission to use his “Rowdy” nickname.

“I hope him and my Dad had a good time watching today,” said Rousey, fighting back tears.

Anyone who loves watching an elite athlete at his or her peak had to have a good time. Rousey is simply one of the greatest athletes in the world and she performs under the pressure like few others.

She has her critics, who mostly show jealousy because of her fame and success, because there is nothing she doesn’t do properly.

Correia had beaten two of Rousey’s teammates, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler, and so Rousey called her out after a 14-second victory over Zingano in Los Angeles in February.

Rousey was angered by a Correia comment in the build-up to the fight in which Correia referenced suicide. Rousey’s father, Ron, committed suicide.

“I will give her a rematch if she doesn’t cry too much.” Correia said.  “She can’t take the pressure. I will give her the chance to get the belt back. Please, don’t kill yourself, don’t commit suicide, because I will give you the rematch.”

Correia said later she didn’t know about Rousey’s father’s suicide, but Ronda Rousey said she didn’t believe that. Rousey said before the fight she wanted to beat Correia so badly that no one else would bring her family into it.

Asked if the win was satisfying, Rousey said, “I hope nobody picks on my family any more when it comes to fights. I hope this was the last time.”

The addition of top-notch striking to the rest of her game makes the most dominant fighter in the world even scarier. She’d shown signs of good hands, most notably in her 2014 victory over Sara McMann at UFC 170 that, by comparison, looks like a marathon at 66 seconds.

But never in a fight did she rely solely on her hands before.

She went for a throw, but Correia fended her off. However, Correia fell and somersaulted backward toward the cage. When she got to her feet, Rousey was there and ripped off a combination. She hurt Correia, who tried to move away. Rousey landed a knee and then a short right to the temple that sent Correia down face first.

It was beating the striker at her own game.

“She can’t say anything about my hands any more, huh?” Rousey said.Ronda Rousey is congratulated by her mother, AnnMaria De Mars, after beating Bethe Correia. (Getty)

Anyone who criticizes her now is only looking for things to rip her about. She’s now beaten all of the fighters in the women’s bantamweight division’s top five, as well as six of the top seven and seven of the top 10.

She’ll next face Miesha Tate, whom she has already submitted twice. The big fight, though, is against Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, a featherweight who thus far hasn’t done anything to prove she can make the bantamweight limit of 135.

Even if Justino makes it, it’s unlikely the result of a fight with Rousey would be much different.

Rousey is just that good.

Her goal is to end her career unbeaten and, looking at the field, it’s hard to bet against her. 

 

 

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