Nelson Velázquez (KC): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Nelson Velázquez (KC): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Nelson Velázquez made the Chicago Cubs Opening Day roster this season but was quickly relegated to AAA Iowa in mid-April. He earned a second stanza in the majors in late April, but it only lasted a couple weeks as the Cubs optioned him again. With Cody Bellinger, Christopher Morel, Seiya Suzuki, and Ian Happ manning the outfield at Wrigley, there wasn’t much space for Velazquez to grow. In July, his fate would change.
A one-for-one deal between the Chicago Cubs and the Kansas City Royals sent Velazquez to the American League Central, or at least it would eventually. Velazquez arrived in Omaha, Nebraska and suited up for the AAA Stormchasers but it was just 10 days before he was called up to join the Royals. Since joining the big league club, Velazquez has done nothing but hit. And hit HARD. In 35 games with the Royals, Velazquez has hit 14 home runs and driven in 27 RBI with a 29.9% hard contact rate and a 21.3% barrel rate, driving the Kansas City offense that has now won eight of its last nine games.
On Sunday at Minute Maid Park, Velazquez blasted two home runs, both of them going the opposite way to lead the Royals to a 6-5 victory and a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros. He led off the second inning with a solo shot, taking a 2-2 slider deep to right-center field. In the third inning, Velazquez hammered a fastball the other way for a solo shot, going back-to-back with Salvador Perez to extend the Kansas City lead. With just a handful of games remaining, Velazquez has just a few more opportunities to prove his worth to the Royals and earn an everyday spot in their lineup next season.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday
Jon Berti (MIA): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Berti had four home runs entering Sunday. Against the Brewers, Berti matched half his season production with a pair of bombs. He crushed a slider to straightaway center 428 feet for a solo shot in the second inning. In the fifth inning, he battled through a 13-pitch at-bat before hammering a fastball to right-center for a two-run home run, his second of the day. More known for his speed than his power, Berti has started four of the Marlins’ last five games in the middle infield and could be a big piece of their final playoff push.
Ryan Jeffers (MIN): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Jeffers finished with a pair of extra-base hits as the Twins earned a comeback victory over the Angels on Sunday, 9-3. Trailing, 3-2, in the sixth, Jeffers launched a ball deep off the center field wall that kicked away from the Angels center fielder for an RBI triple to tie the game. After a rain delay, Jeffers stepped to the plate in the seventh and lifted a 387-foot shot to left-center for a two-run home run to extend the Twins lead to 9-3. Jeffers has outplayed fellow Minnesota backstop Cristian Vasquez this season and should be the Twins’ number one heading into the playoffs.
Isaac Paredes (TB): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Paredes had a multi-hit day for the Rays, but it wasn’t enough as Tampa Bay fell to Toronto, 9-5. Paredes gave the Rays an early lead with an RBI single in the first inning, depositing a changeup into right field to make it 1-0. In the seventh, Paredes took a first-pitch curveball deep to left for a two-run shot, cutting the Blue Jays’ lead to just one run, but it was as close as the Rays would draw as they fell, losing another game on the AL East-leading Orioles.
Leody Taveras (TEX): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Known more for his speed, Taveras flashed some home run power on Sunday, taking Brian Woo deep on a 2-2 changeup for a two-run home run. He added a single in the eighth inning as the Rangers earned an important 9-8 victory over the Mariners, extending their lead in the AL West to 2.5 games over the Astros.
LaMonte Wade Jr. (SF): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Wade provided all the offense the Giants could muster on Sunday night against the Dodgers, taking Lance Lynn deep for a two-run shot in the fifth inning. Wade launched a fastball to deep right-center field, tying the game 2-2 in the fifth inning. The home run marked Wade’s 17th long ball of the season, one shy of tying his career high set in 2021.
Evan Carter (TEX): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Have the Rangers finally found a center fielder? It seems like the center field abyss in Arlington has been roamed by more Rangers than the Wild West since the days of yonder year when Josh Hamilton called it his home. Carter has certainly made an impression since being called up a few weeks ago, batting .318 with four home runs and three stolen bases in just 15 games. Carter blasted his fourth career home run in the sixth inning, taking a belt-high fastball deep to right to extend the Rangers’ lead and provide the eventual game-winning run. With three home runs in his last four games, Carter may have made enough of an impression to stick around a while.
Wilyer Abreu (BOS): 1-3, HR, R, RBI.
Abreu gave the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the second inning, yanking a fastball down the right-field line and out. Abreu’s second home run of the season traveled 392 feet with an exit velocity of 101.7 mph. The game was called after six innings as inclement weather swept through the Boston area.