And That Happened

Angels 4, Royals 3: Torii Hunter’s catch in the ninth was sick. After the game, Hunter said that it was his second best of all time, with number one being the one in the 2002 All-Star game where he robbed Barry Bonds of a homer. But unlike the 2002 All-Star game, someone won this game, and it was the Angels, who have taken 10 of 13 and now stand poised to take over first place by, oh, Tuesday or so.

Tigers 5, Indians 3: I was listening to this one on the radio as I worked out in the yard, and it was really nice until the color guy followed up a Jhonny Peralta hit with the classic “two of his last three hits have gone to the opposite field, and that’s a really good sign for him,” shtick. Dear Lord there is nothing I hate more than that opposite field rebop. If a guy is struggling, “he has to take what the pitcher is giving him” and hit it to the opposite field. When he does, it’s a “good sign.” If you took that line of commentary away from the broadcast teams, the broadcasts would have about 50% less verbiage. Probably worth noting that just about every announcer who trots out this line is some former slap hitter from back when slap hitters used to hold on to jobs on Major League rosters, but these days, just about everyone can jerk the damn ball to left field, and they probably should be. Peralta himself is someone who is at his most useful when he’s hitting 25 homers a year rather than trying to poke it the other way. Yeah, a hit’s a hit, but if you really want a good sign from him, shouldn’t that sign be him turning on a ball with authority? Anyway, that’s what I was thinking as I was spreading the mulch. Well, that and wondering why Kelly Shoppach was first-pitch swinging in the ninth when Fernando Rodney had no clue where the ball was going.

Cubs 4, Brewers 2: The Cubbies salvage one on an otherwise horrific weekend in Milwaukee. Carlos Marmol gave up a double, balked the runner to third, and then threw a wild pitch to let him score. Still, based on how things have been going lately, that’s some solid relief work for Chicago. Ryan Freel pinch-hit in the ninth and singled but was picked off second base. His injury in Baltimore came on a pickoff throw to second base. What’s he doing down at second base that’s drawing all this attention? Wouldn’t he be better off staying a step or two closer to the bag?

Mariners 5, Twins 3: Nick Blackburn shut out the Mariners for seven innings, giving up only five hits and a walk while striking out six. Then he left and they played the eighth, and that’s when things got ugly. Griffey hit a two run homer that inning, and according to the game story, it went “through a hole in a banner advertising a $25,000 giveaway for such a feat.” Hit bull, win steak?

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 0: The Jays have won seven of ten and have the best record in the junior circuit. They’ve been getting lots of great performances this year from pitchers you’ve never heard of, this time Brett Cecil (8 IP 5, H, 0 ER, 6K). It’s getting the the point where they could run your aunt Tilly out to the hill and get a quality start out of her. Same goes for anyone who faces the A’s, actually.

Astros 12, Padres 5: Miguel Tejada (3-5, 4 RBI), Carlos Lee (3-4, 4 RBI) and Ivan Rodriguez (4-4, 2 RBI) all had big days. Then they went home, watched Matlock and fell asleep in a chair.

Mets 8, Pirates 4: Meanwhile, the Mets can’t seem to lose. Ian Snell thought the Mets had the Pirates’ signs: “”They hit some good pitches. I found out later they had our signs . . . That’s baseball — there’s nothing wrong with it.” Well, unless Pirates’ shortstop Brian Bixler was tipping them while dating Madonna and searching for father figures, I suppose.

Giants 7, Dodgers 5: L.A. drops two of three to San Francisco after losing to the Nats on Thursday. It’s not Juan Pierre’s fault, though, as he’s 9-17 with three doubles, four RBI and a couple of walks since taking over left field for Manny. A combined 0-16 with five strikeouts from Matt Kemp, James Loney and Andre Either really helped do the Dodgers in in this one.

Rockies 3, Marlins 2: The win was nice, but Troy Tulowitzki “tweaked” his left quadriceps in the sixth inning. That’s the same muscle that cost him a big chunk of last season. I enjoyed watching Tulowitzki play so much in 2007, so here’s hoping he doesn’t turn into one of those guys who break out of the gates and then are never the same again.

Diamondbacks 10, Nationals 8: Ryan Zimmerman went 3 for 5 with a home run to extend his hitting streak to 28 games, but it wasn’t enough as Arizona banged out 17 hits to give A.J. Hinch his first win as the Dbacks’ manager. First win as any kind of manager, actually.

Rangers 7, White Sox 1: Vicente Padilla (7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER) posted his second good start in a row, and Hank Blalock hit two homers. The White Sox aren’t scoring any runs lately, and now they go to face the Indians, who haven’t scored any either, so it should be a riveting series, with lots of advice about how guys should be trying to hit the ball the other way.

Yankees 5, Orioles 3: Johnny Damon’s homer in the seventh gets Joba off the hook, as the Yankees win for just the second time in eight games.

Cardinals 8, Reds 7: Micah Owings smacked a two-out pinch-hit homer in the ninth to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Unfortunately, Edinson Volquez, who got the start, pitched like Micah Owings, necessitating the rally in the first place. Home runs all over the place in this one, which is kind of what really sucks about Great American Ballpark. Just too many dingers. It feels like Arena Football there sometimes, and it really messes with a baseball fan’s chi when there’s really never a possibility of a nice, purifying pitchers’ duel going down. By the way, I switched to this one on the radio when the Indians-Tigers game ended. Got to it just in time to hear Jeff Brantley going on about how Daniel Herrera “shouldn’t have come into the game trying to strike out Chris Duncan. Instead, he should have been trying to get ahead of the hitter, and then gone for the strikeout.” If you have any clue what the hell that’s supposed to mean, please let me know, because I have no idea.

Braves 4, Phillies 2: It was the Casey Kotchman show, as he goes 3-5 with two doubles and three RBI. Fittingly, this weekend’s return of Brian McCann is met with an injury to Chipper Jones.

Red Sox 4, Rays 3: Papelbon let two reach with a one run lead in the ninth and then fanned Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford. Sorry for the comparison Sox fans, but as a Braves guy, this gave me flashbacks to John Rocker’s glory days. He used to do that kind of thing twice a week.

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  1. David Souter said...

    Small correx: Marmol’s wild pitch allowed the runner on first to go to second, but didn’t allow Braun to score from third; he didn’t allow a run at all.

  2. Preston said...

    Beanster, I think you have something of a point, but there are a couple reasons why you would expect fewer runs after the 6th.  First of all, if the home team is winning, they wouldn’t bat in the 9th, so the number of innings played is actually fewer after the sixth (this is not made up for by extra innings – the O’s have played 3 extra innings and 18 non-extra innings games won by the home team).  Secondly, and more significantly, the average reliever has a better ERA than a starter, because it’s easier to be effective for one inning than for six or seven.

  3. Grant said...

    Brett Cecil was a high-round (2nd, I believe) draft pick very recently, so I suspect many have heard of him. He was the closer at Maryland and the Jays turned him back into a started and he went and became a stud. He should be around for a while.

    (I know you were just being snarky, but since he’s a UMD guy I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Cecil)

  4. Pete Toms said...

    Grant, I’ll nitpick, Cecil was a supp 1st rounder.  IIRC, the Jays broadcasters mentioned he was the 38th pick.  Romero and Janssen are due back soon, both to make starts in AA this week.

  5. Brian said...

    RE: Brantley.  The best example of him having to shove his foot in his mouth came last year, I believe, when he was going on and on about Edwin Encarnacion not being a clutch player when he came to the plate in the bottom of the 9th with a chance to win the game.  Of course, Encarnacion hit a game-winning homerun.  What a moron.

  6. Adam said...

    I know Joe Morgan is widely criticized (often justifiably) but he made the same case last night talking about David Ortiz; that it was wildly overrated for Papi to “go the other way”.  Morgan’s point being he’s not being paid to slap singles to left (or go homerless for 300 abs or wherever he’s at right now)…

  7. Daniel said...

    That Torii Hunter catch was amazing.  I know he’s not the CF he still gets credit for being, range-wise, but he still gets great jumps on balls and is one heck of an athlete.

    So is this the end of the dark days for the Angels (Lackey and Santana both potentially back this week) or the beginning of the end for the Royals?

    Or a bit of both?

  8. Daniel said...

    Oh and as for your rant on Peralta – I think what announcers are saying has some merit.  It depends on the hitter, of course, but most good hitters are able to drive the ball to all fields.  When guys struggle, a lot of the time it’s because they’re trying to hit it too hard, pulling off of everything.  This leaves them susceptible to breaking stuff and causes a lot of weak groundballs to the pull side.

    When hitters are able to drive balls that get deeper in the zone, it indicates that they are being patient and seeing the ball well.

    I’m no scout or anything, and I’m sure it’s much more complicated than that, but I would think that for a lot of hitters, hitting line drives to the opposite field is a good sign.

  9. David said...

    Joe Morgan also made a case last night for Papelbon pitching around Carl Crawford to go after Evan Longoria in a bases loaded situation.

  10. Wade said...

    Two great catches this weekend Torii’s catch yesterday and Granderson’s catch on Friday.  I thought Grandy had a slightly better catch but Torii definitely outdid him on the post-catch celebration.  What was Grandy thinking not skipping, fist-pumping and chest-thumping?

  11. Daniel said...

    Oh cmon, Wade.  Are you one of those people who thinks athletes should be serious all the time?  I don’t like show-boating, but can you blame a guy for being excited when he just saved the game with an incredible catch?

    As long as no one is showing anybody else up or celebrating mediocrity, then let them show some emotion.

  12. John said...

    On Peralta, you would be right with anyone else…  but his best power is to right center. I have no love for slap hits the other way, but he’s at his best when he’s driving the ball the other way. When he gets pull happy, he rolls over on everything.


    He’s essentially a bigger, bulkier, far less talented version of Derek Jeter.

    That said, I have no idea if he was driving the ball the other way or just getting lucky. And I piy you having to listen to Cleveland radio. I really do.

  13. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    No, Craig the Papelbon-Rocker comparison is fair: Both hard throwers, both 6’4”, both rednecks, both have a face made for radio…

  14. Beanster said...

    AP story on Yanks-O’s had this to say about the O’s pen:

    “Much of the blame lies on the bullpen. The Orioles have outscored the opposition 79-59 in the first three innings this season but have been outscored 57-35 after the sixth inning.”

    It would seem that if a team’s hitters are scoring less than half the runs in the last 3 innings than in the first 3, you shouldn’t be blaming a bullpen which (from these numbers at least) is doing no worse than the starters.

  15. Wade said...

    Some exitement and emotion is fine.  I mentioned it because I had just watched both plays and that was the most striking difference.  Granderson’s catch had more drama and yet he had the more subdued reaction.

  16. Brandon Isleib said...

    I think what Brantley was trying to say was that you don’t go into the at-bat with a plan of “I’ll get a strikeout,” but you go in with the idea of making your pitches which, if done correctly, may in fact lead to a strikeout or at least should lead to some form of out.  The difference between throwing and pitching or something like that.

    Of course, when the way Brantley said it vomited a sentence with the first half directly contradicting the second half, don’t be surprised if people point and laugh.

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