And That Happened

Why do we need an All-Star break? I’m not even tired . . .

Tigers 10, Indians 1: I listened to this game on the radio while painting the railing and trim around my front porch with ShysterFather. ShysterFather is great, if for no other reason than he’ll help me paint my porch, but he’s never been a big baseball fan. It took a couple of innings before he realized that it was a Tigers game, and when he did, he said “you can pick up WJR here?” I explained to him that it was the Tribe’s broadcast and that even if it wasn’t, WJR doesn’t carry the Tigers anymore. “Ah.” We painted on. A few minutes later: “Harwell doesn’t do Tigers games anymore.” I think it was a statement and not a question, but I wasn’t completely sure. “No,” I said, “he’s been retired for a few years now. He’s still sharp — did an inning or two at the World Series a couple of years ago, I think — but he’s done.” We painted on, enjoying the game. “George Kell’s dead.” This one I know was a statement because he told me about it when he heard it on the news a few months back. I didn’t have much of a response beyond “yep.” We painted on. Brandon Inge hit his second home run in the 5th and my dad, who I’m certain hasn’t paid any attention to baseball since the mid 80s, said “Man, the Indians are terrible.” This was definitely a statement, and I quote it here for truth.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 2: Between this game and the one above, I’m really missing the old AL East right now. Hows about trading the Rays to the NL for the Brewers, realigning back to two divisions and picking two Wild Card teams? It wouldn’t actually change the playoff picture too much — the Tigers and Rangers would be in a mad dash for the second Wild Card slot right now — but it would restore the aesthetics of it all. As for this game, Brad Bergesen continues his solid ways, leading a team that seems to be trending up past a team that is clearly trending down as the season progresses. Oh, and plate umpire Ron Kulpa suffered a mild concussion after being smacked in the mask by a foul ball. They finished the game with three umps. I wish they would have moved the third base ump to the mound like they did when I played eight year-old minor league or whatever it was.

Cubs 7, Cardinals 3: Zambrano hits a home run and pitches six decent innings to win the game. Phil Rogers demands that he be waived. Kyle Lohse made his first start in over a month, but it didn’t go too well. To make room for him, the Cardinals optioned reliever Blake Hawksworth to Memphis. “Blake Hawksworth?” That doesn’t sound like a ballplayer. It sounds like a guest character from a four-episode arc of “Dynasty” or the male lead in some bodice-ripping romance novel or something. From the back cover: “Cattle baron Blake Hawksworth is used to getting his way. So he is baffled when Annie Jones, a feisty little hellion who steps between him and a bullet in the back, isn’t interested in becoming his latest plaything. If only he knew that Annie is really the Countess of Montevarchi — in disguise and on the run! — and that their fledgling relationship is a scandal-in-the-making!” I know what I’m reading during the All-Star break!

Cardinals 4, Cubs 2: Ryan Ludwick: 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI. Albert Pujols hits in front of Ludwick and went 0-4 with nary a walk. I think he did it on purpose to show Ludwick how it feels to have absolutely no help around him in the lineup. I may be letting my Pujols man-crush cloud my reasoning on this, however.

Red Sox 6, Royals 0: Josh Beckett ties the Royals up in knots (CG SHO 3 H, 7K, 94 pitches) and wins his 100th game. Jason Bay reached base five times without registering an official at bat, drawing three walks and getting plunked twice.

Mets 9, Reds 7: Francoeur went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the win on Saturday, and then went 2-5 yesterday. Probably worth noting that he started pretty darn hot in Atlanta too. In fact, that hot start is the only reason he stuck around as long as he did. So I guess what I’m saying to my Met-fan friends out there is this: hope and pray that Francoeur cools off quickly, because if he doesn’t, Omar won’t non-tender him this winter as nature intended, and then he’ll be your starting right fielder next year. Making like $5 million.

Athletics 7, Rays 3: Andrew Bailey pitches a two-inning save. Now he may not be available for the All-Star Game on Tuesday! Doesn’t Bob Geren know that this time it counts? What will Joe Maddon do without a fresh Andrew Bailey? What if Buehrle, Fuentes, Greinke, Halladay, Hernandez, Jackson, Nathan, Papelbon, Rivera, and Wakefield get into a jam? What then?!!!!

Phillies 5, Pirates 2: Not surprisingly, J.A. Happ (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) is a better fit in the Philly rotation than Chan Ho Park was. Not to take anything away from Happ, but the list of people who would be better fits in the Philly rotation than Chan Ho Park is not limited to Mr. Happ. In fact, even if we limited it to just the H’s the list would quite long, and would include just about everyone except for Stephen Hawking and Corey Haim. And I’m not sure about Hawking.

Twins 13, White Sox 7: Nice day for the Twins, but it’s a negative like this — Joe Mauer, 0-5, 4K — which sticks out the most. In other news, on Saturday night the Twins went throwback with their 1984 jerseys. I think they should go back to those full time when they move into the new park next year. They’re simple, clean and classic looking. My only suggestions are: keep blue caps with the “TC” logo at all times (i.e. no red) and don’t mess at all with solid blue alternates or anything else. Keep it white at home and gray — or even be daring and go powder blue — on the road. The era of the “M” logo and pinstripe should be over the moment the dome is in Minnesota.

Dodgers 7, Brewers 4: Orlando Hudson hit two homers and Clayton Kershaw improved to 4-0 with a 0.76 ERA in his last six starts. Oh, and Manny since his return from suspension: .308/.400/.654. The Dodgers: 6-3.

Angels 5, Yankees 4: New York blew four-run leads on Friday and Saturday. They didn’t really blow this one, they just lost, as John Lackey had one of his better starts of the year (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER). For those of you keeping score at home, the Yanks are now 2-4 against the Angels to go with their 0-8 against Boston.

Marlins 8, Diamondbacks 1: Josh Johnson gets to go to the All-Star Game, but won’t be pitching, as he put up six and two-thirds quality innings yesterday. From the game story: “A woman sitting in the second row near the plate was hit in the face by a Cantu foul ball in the first inning. Her head was wrapped in bandages and she was carried out on a stretcher.” And I hereby renew my call for additional netting for the seats down by the field.

Astros 5, Nationals 0: The Nats couldn’t figure out the enigma that is Brian Moehler (6.1 IP, 7 H, 0 ER) and end the first half with a crisp 26-61 record. I’m more surprised that the Astros are at .500.

Mariners 5, Rangers 3: A Chris Shelton sighting. Called up to the Mariners on Wednesday, the former Ranger and Tiger hit a pinch hit RBI single to put the Ms ahead for good in the seventh.

Rockies 8, Braves 7: Atlanta led 4-0, 5-1, and 7-3 in this game, but lost because when your starting pitcher only gives you four innings, your bullpen is going to get beat up in a place like Coors Field.

Padres 10, Giants 4: Barry Zito — after throwing the game of his Giants’ career last time out — pinches off a 4.1 IP, 10 H, 9 ER performance against the worst offense in the league. Wait, make that the worst offense that had been struggling mightily entering this game, having only score six runs in the previous four games. Bengie Molina was back in the lineup after taking two days off to be with his wife for the birth of his daughter, Jayda, on Saturday. Little Jayda Molina — being a Molina — was signed by the Marlins, who expect her to compete for the starting catcher’s job next spring.

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Comments

  1. Greg Simons said...

    dlf is right that this occured several times in the ‘80s.  Whitey Herzog had (I believe) Jeff Lahti and Ken Daly as his righty-lefty closer combo, so he’d bring one in to face the same-sided batter, stick him in the OF while the other came in to face his same-sided nemesis, then go back to the original pitcher to get the final platoon advantage and, ideally, the save to secure the victory.

  2. Kelly said...

    In the first Cards/Cubs game, the score was 5-3 in the bottom of the 7th. Koyie Hill came up to bat with the bases loaded.  He hit a Buckner grounder to first and the Man Who Taught Everyone How To Play Baseball had it roll between his legs.

    NOW

    I’m a Cubs fan and Pujols is God.  So the only explanation is that he looked over in the Cubs bullpen, saw that Carlos Marmol was warming up in a 2-run (it was 1-run going into the half inning), became so incredibly giddy at his 500 foot homerun that would come after Marmol hit the first two batters of the 8th inning, that he simply forgot to foresee in all his ominpotence the grounder which he needed to field.

    Marmol can do that to a god, I hear.

  3. sansho1 said...

    Since I missed the original discussion, I’ll pipe up here in support of some extra netting at the ballparks.  Injuries from bats and foul balls are fairly rare, but they do happen, and it’s traumatic for the victim and can be for onlookers as well.

    Should people in those seats be paying better attention?  Sure.  But they’re people, so what are you gonna do?

    As to the trial lawyers taking a mile if MLB gives an inch—isn’t that belied by the fact that there’s been some minimal fan protection for a century, and it hasn’t yet metastasized into a bubble enclosure?  If the lawyers were going to work their nefarious deeds in this way, wouldn’t it have happened already?

  4. Jim said...

    I remember a game from about 1970 (give or take a year), in which the Senators were playing the Indians. Whoever was managing Cleveland that year pulled this substitution trick by stashing Sudden Sam McDowell at second base for a batter.  The Senators had a runner at first (if memory serves, it was Frank Howard, but it was a long time ago so I can’t be certain), who had a chance to wipe out McDowell on a hard slide but didn’t.  Imagine the reaction if McDowell had had his knee blown out on that play.

  5. Jason B said...

    I loved the story about your dad, too.  And the Dynasty set-up.  And any mention of “Tiger Beat” dream boat Corey Haim.

    Thanks for giving us a wonderful read every morning, without fail.

  6. lar said...

    This is a fantastic ATH, Craig. I liked the story about your dad, but I think the best was your foray into romance novels. Maybe you should try writing those for a living – it comes so naturally – and then the ShysterWife will let you get the Extra Innings package. For the 25th-man roster names. Or something.

    Oh, and Wooden, thanks for giving everyone the link to my wezen-ball piece. As I was reading about last night’s game, I was thinking “Man, I just wrote about this too!”

  7. Joe said...

    Not an exact parallel:  Earlier this season Javier Lopez allowed four runs with only one out in a blowout loss to the Rays.  After he gave up a double to Iwamura, Francona decided that his team would be better off with his pitcher in right field and his right fielder (Jonathan Van Every) on the mound. JVE gave up a “poetic justice” double to right field to allow Lopez’ final runner to score, but got out of the inning otherwise unscathed.

    I don’t believe Tito ever intended to return Lopez to the mound that night.  I’t probably not a coincidence that Lopez was off the roster two weeks later.

  8. Breaker said...

    Actually Craig, the Twins wear those jerseys every Saturday home game.  It was meant as a farewell to the Dome and just for this season, but there has been a lot of player support for keeping them, and the fans seem to dig them as well.  I’m a fan of the powder blue, too.  Love the throwbacks!

  9. Dennis Koziel said...

    Rather than racial motives, I think the difference in coverage ( and emphasis ) between guys like Bonds and Clemens can be explained by the sportswriters’ and commentators’ image of themselves as protectors of the game. And “Protector of the Game” is a euphamism for not wanting to see Hank Aaron’s record broken.  Just sayin’.

  10. Alex Poterack said...

    The Brewers can only be traded back to the AL if they get rid of the DH.  Anything else would just be upsetting.

  11. timmy said...

    The Braves were only expecting 4-5 innings out of Medlen, and frankly they couldn’t really expect him to be that sharp when he’s only pitched once a week for the last month, and hasn’t been starting.  For a guy that was a hitter as an amateur, and a reliever through most of his pro career, they really need to have him in Gwinnett getting in work if they want him as the “6th starter,” sticking him at the back of the bullpen and never letting him pitch is a waste of a pretty talented young arm, that just needs to get some more experience pitching anywhere.

    Anyways, Bobby pushed all the wrong buttons as usual.  How do you call a guy up to give your bullpen added depth, and then wait to use him when the game’s on the line, instead of letting him remove a couple innings with a big lead, vs. putting in someone for the fourth day in a row.  Moylan recovers from TJ surgery in 11 months to come in and lead the NL in appearances.  Cox must have some kind of reward plan at Dr. Andrews’ office.

    The Braves pissed away all their momentum with that one, anyways.

  12. mike in brooklyn said...

    Francoeur, baby!  YEAH!  Mets in ought-9!!  Let’s go met…oh, forget about it.  I’m so frustrated, I was seeking refuge in sarcasm.  But then I lost my motivation.

    Did you hear the Jets drafted a QB?

  13. Todd said...

    “… I may be letting my Pujols man-crush cloud my reasoning on this, however.”

    No, you’re right. Speaking as someone who watches Pujols on a daily basis, he only goes 0-4 because he wants to.

    But the most interesting part of this game was (with the Cards up 4-2 and the bases loaded with 1 out in the top of the 9th) Lou Piniella moving Sean Marshall (LHP) to LF so that he could bring in Aaron Heilman (RHP) to face Brendan Ryan (RHB), then bring Marshall back to the mound to face Skip Schumaker (LHB) and Colby Rasmus (LHB). Of course, Tony LaRussa pinch hit for Schumaker with Jarrett Hoffpauir (RHB). And of course, having been sent out to LF only to end up facing a righty anyway, Marshall promptly struck out Hoffpauir. Then, just as I was ready to conclude that Piniella’s move was pretty intelligent, and wonder why it didn’t happen more often, Rasmus hit a diving liner to left that, had it happened two batters ago (with Marshall in left), would likely have cleared the bases on account of being misplayed by a pitcher. As it was, the new LF (forget who) made a nice sliding catch, except he trapped the ball. Luckily, the Cards won the game and didn’t have to feel overly robbed (except of the opportunity to see Pujols bat again, as he was left on deck, though, as noted, Pujols would have had to make it 0 for 5 in order to get his point across to Ludwick, which would have further damaged his currently quite good shot at the Triple Crown, so perhaps it was for the best).

    The whole thing was hilarious. This is the kind of thing that makes the NL awesome.

  14. David said...

    The maneuvering in the 8:00 Cardinals at Cubs game was fascinating, but I just can’t really fathom that it’s within the rules.  All three of the announcers seemed flustered and, as bizarre as it was, you’d have expected somebody to cite a precedent, yet I heard none.

    Think of this: if you have two pitchers who are really good in the field, and one is a lefty and the other a righty, then a manager could simply alternate them between, say, LF and P within a game.  It could go on indefinitely in the late innings, correct? 

    I hope somebody that THT or BP or Fangraphs takes it upon themselves to study the rulebook and see whether this is within the rules.  Because if it actually is, then Pinella might have just totally re-shuffled relief pitcher usage patterns in MLB.  (I have to hope for a sabermetrics site because, of course, the corrupt buffoons at ESPN and Yahoo are all but worthless, especially considering they have 100x the resources of any sabermetrics site.  Mostly because they’re too busy writing articles about “steroids” where they lament how tragic it is that they just have to write about steroids because “it just won’t go away”.)

    (On a side note, I can’t help but notice that, while announcers love taking each and every opportunity to disparage Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, or Barry Bonds….they simply loved Rick Ankiel and Ryan Franklin, despite the fact that they’re admitted “steroids” users, as detailed in the Mitchell Report.  I don’t have to point out the difference between the players.)

  15. David said...

    Todd, thanks for the link.  Apparently, the pitching platoon has been done before (according to Pinella). 

    “Piniella said the Cubs have done it before, but they did so before he was the manager. You have to go back to June 13, 1990, in a game against the New York Mets when Les Lancaster pitched the sixth, then was moved to left in the seventh for three batters, then returned to the mound.”

    So, we can comfortably assume that this is within the rules of MLB (not that the rules matter anymore, what with umpires now telling Hall of Fame Yankee shortstops that they can make up their own rules about basestealing).  This simply has to become a common strategy, especially in extra-inning games and games where a bullpen has been depleted from hefty usage in preceding games. 

    Right?  Am I missing something?

  16. smsetnor said...

    I hope you mean that the difference is that Manny, A-Rod and Bonds (Clemens too) are good and get more press than Ankiel and Franklin…

  17. Scarf said...

    I too watched the weird substitutions, all the while thinking “Sweet Lou is doing this just so TLR will collapse while talking to the ump, his brain having shut down from over-analyising the possible matchups”.

    And that play Reed Johnson made to get Rasmus out: Joe Morgan himself said that ball was a trap. Cue comments on every Cards forum about broken watches and extricating one’s head out of one’s buttocks.

  18. David said...

    Smsetnor:

    No, I don’t think that that distinction works all that well.  Franklin’s heading to the All-Star game and Ankiel, based upon my surveying of the sports mediasphere (Retardsphere?), has gotten a hell of a lot of press.  Google “Ankiel” and “steroids” and see how many links you get.  Now try “Manny” and “steroids”.  You see my point?

    What about the new (caucasian) pitcher for the Twins (can’t recall his name now)?  The press in Minnesota has been clamoring for him to take Liriano’s spot permanently.  That’s cool.  But why don’t they hate this man with the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth hatred they claim to have for Rodriguez and Ramirez and Bonds?

    And I did not mention Clemens because the media’s blackout on the utter outrage of the non-prosecution of his flagrant perjury is all too damn revealing.  That says everything, to me.  (Particularly when it’s contrasted with the heavy coverage of the bogus, failed case against Bonds that could only possibly have been pursued for racial reasons – the case was so bad that there’s just no other explanation (excepting the notable possibility that Novitzky did indeed brag about a forthcoming book he would write on the subject as another motive).  But, as a service to THT, I’ll try to steer clear of the Clemens/Bonds dichotomy.)

  19. David said...

    Scarf:

    The Reed Johnson “catch” in the 9th was definitely a bad call (and, personally, I spotted it in real-time even before the replays).  As bad as it was, though, at least it could be argued that the umpires were merely bad at their jobs.  Conversely, an umpire in New York decided to discard MLB rules and substitute his own….literally in the Blue Jays at Yankees game last Monday.  Incompetence is forgivable.  Corruption is not. 

    And yet MLB and the media continue their all-too-revealing silence on the corrupt umpiring, which is very revealing.

    2011 MLB =
    1991 WWF

    Thanks, Bud, and thank you media!

  20. wpcorbett said...

    Piniella’s pitcher switch: dlf is correct. Paul Richards of the ‘51 White Sox was the first manager to do it in modern baseball. With Ted Williams coming up, he sent RHP Harry Dorish to 3b (good bet Williams would not hit it there) and brought in Billy Pierce. Williams popped to SS Chico Carrasquel, who was playing in the second baseman’s normal position, and Dorish went back to the mound. It caused quite a stir at the time. Several old-timers, including Connie Mack, Cy Young and Clark Griffith, were attending the game at Fenway to celebrate the American League’s 50th anniversary, and they said they had never seen such a thing.

    Richards used the ploy three more times over the next three years. And the rule was changed to allow only one such switch in an inning.

  21. dlf said...

    Setting aside the tired old steroids discussion and going back to the use of a pitcher in the outfield …

    It was a strategy used not-infrequently in the 1980s by Whitey Herzog and Davey Johnson.  There was also a briefly famous time it was used by, if I recall correctly, the ChiSox and Paul Richards, back in the 1950s.

    If I recall correctly, the rule book was amended in the 80s to limit the switching back and forth to once per inning so the infinite delay foreseen by David above would be against the rules.

  22. dtro said...

    Pretty sure the pitchers switching from outfield to pitch and so forth was done with Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell in a long extra-inning game for the 85? Mets. They did it for several innings I believe.

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