And That Happened

Padres 3, Reds 2: If the recaps suffer a bit today it’s because I was at a bar saying goodbye to a good friend last night (a friend longtime ShysterBall readers will remember, actually). Mark and I used to work at the same law firm together, and once I left at the end of last year he apparently couldn’t go on anymore either, so he issued his resignation and is now moving down to Florida to, hell, I dunno, eat seafood and play shuffleboard and stuff. We had beers last night to celebrate. On the TV over the bar was Mark’s first love — the Redlegs, as he calls them. The sound was down, but that didn’t matter, as Mark did his spot-on Jeff Brantley impersonation all night, going on about Ted DiBiase, UDF ice cream, the Civil War, and whatever else sounded funny in Brantley’s drawl. Only time he broke character was to yell at Dusty Baker for leaving Arroyo in to start the seventh (“quit while you’re ahead, man! He’s gonna explode!”). As soon as he got done yelling Tony Gwynn hit that triple, and Mark yelled some more as Dusty made Arroyo issue an intentional walk and then leave the game. I’m going to miss that guy when he’s gone, and I don’t mean Arroyo.

Rays 6, Yankees 2: The rumor yesterday was that if the Rays dropped all three to the Yankees, Scott Kazmir could be shipped out. That’s kind of a dumb rumor inasmuch as the Rays’ management is a lot smarter than to make decisions based on the outcome of three piddling games. And besides, season stats notwithstanding, Kazmir is still good, as he showed last night, giving up a single run in seven innings. In contrast, CC Sabathia continued his “meh” season with another “meh” performance (5.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R). More bad news: the Yankees learned that Chien-Ming Wang will undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery. Girardi: “Hopefully this is will be the end of the surgeries for him and he’ll have the rest of his career be real healthy.” Yeah, because that’s how it always works.

Nationals 8, Brewers 3: Memo to Milwaukee: a visit from the Nationals is supposed to be a cure-all, not a nightmare. The Brewers were bombed for the second straight night, this time from Nyjer Morgan, Adam Dunn and Cristian Guzman. Dunn’s was a moon-shot, bouncing over the Toyota Tundra and clear the hell out of Miller Park.

Twins 5, White Sox 3: Mark Buehrle followed up his perfecto with perfection through five innings, but then ran into a buzz saw, giving up five runs on five hits in six and a third. With the win, the Twins — who never, ever seem to go away — pull into a tie for second in the Central.

Mets 4, Rockies 0: Drama shmama, the Mets don’t care what’s happening in the front office or in the tabloids, they’ve won four in a row. Mike Pelfrey, who was given up for dead a week ago, pitched shutout baseball into the seventh and the hitters singled and sacrificed their way past Jason Marquis, denying him his 13th win of the year.

Marlins 4, Braves 3: The Braves’ two-headed closer system has worked pretty well all year, but you’re going to have nights when your guy — in this case Rafael Soriano — is going to have wonky control and not get the calls. When that happens, guys wait to tee off on the get-me-over pitches, and that’s what Ross Gload did to end the game.

Rangers 7, Tigers 3: A two-run triple and a sacrifice from Ian Kinsler chased Luke French (really? “Luke French?” I think that name was on my fake I.D. senior year of high school) and led the Rangers to their eighth win in nine games. Kinsler had to leave with a hamstring problem after six innings, but by then the damage was done. Both to the Tigers and his hamstring.

Royals 4, Orioles 3: It’s funny to think that, for about a decade there, this was a the natural preseason prediction for the ALCS matchup. This one ended in the 11th when the Royals manufactured a run on a dribbler single, a stolen base and an RBI single. The dribbler came from Mark Teahen, who topped the ball down the first-base line, which Matt Wieters watched and hoped would roll foul. I can only assume that Lex Luthor had the bottled city of Kandor held hostage at the time, and Wieters was thus coerced into not using his telekinetic powers to will the ball foul or something.

Man, weren’t those Wieters jokes a lot funnier back in April?

Athletics 9, Red Sox 8: Things that don’t happen every day: (1) Jonathan Papelbon blows a save, let alone one of the three-run lead variety; (2) The A’s score nine runs; (3) The A’s get 21 hits; (4) The A’s win. Twenty-one hits! From the A’s! In other news, walking trade chit Clay Buchholz was again largely inefficient, throwing 107 pitches in less than six innings. One wonders if the Sox couldn’t have left him in the minors where he still looked alluring to would-be trade partners rather than expose him so blatantly in the Majors. Not that it’s important, but I recall thinking the same thing when the Madonna Penthouse issue came out back in 1985.

Astros 11, Cubs 6: The ‘Stros lost Roy Oswalt to a back injury, but beat up Ryan Dempster and the back end of the Cubbies’ bullpen to win it. In the fifth inning, Fukudome hit a ball to Astros’ pitcher Jeff Fulchino. The ball bounced inside Fulchino’s jersey and he wasn’t able to find it in time, allowing Fukudome to reach. Then the gang put on a show, with Mike Fontenot performing an off-key rendition of “The Barber of Seville” while Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez fed red hots to a mule, which rampaged through Miss Crabtree’s classroom. Or maybe I daydreamed that.

Angels 7, Indians 6: What? The Angels came from behind to win another game? That’s unpossible! Of course they almost didn’t hold on in this one because their closer, Brian Fuentes, can’t seem to get anyone out these days (0 IP, 2H, 2 R, 2 BB). Before Monday, he hadn’t given up a run since the end of May. Now it two days he’s given up six runs and hasn’t retired a batter.

Cardinals 10, Dodgers 0: They scored ten, but only needed one, because Adam Wainwright was on (8 IP, 8 H, 0 ER). Three losses in a row for L.A.. The game was delayed an hour and a half at the outset due to a threat of rain which never materialized. I can’t recall that happening any time recently. Unless it’s raining you go out and play, don’t you? It’s a rain delay, not a threat of rain delay, right?

Mariners 4, Blue Jays 3: Ichiro with the game-winning hit in the ninth. Talk in the game story of him intentionally flailing at a curve ball right before his hit so as to trick Scott Downs into throwing him another curveball. Um, OK, but if he had that all planned it meant he knew what was coming before the first curveball, and why didn’t he just hit that one? Guess that’s not as good a story. In other news, if Jarrod Washburn is getting traded, he’s leaving Seattle on a high note (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER). Finally, the game story says it’s supposed to be 100 degrees in Seattle today and they have a day game. That’s interesting in a schadenfreude-tastic kind of way (Midwest summers make one jealous of those in the Pacific northwest), but why does that matter for the game? They still got a roof on that ballpark, don’t they?

Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 3: Cole Hamels was dominant, giving up an early home run and then nothin’ else for the rest of the game (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9K). “Hamels is getting there,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s real close.” Close? Jesus, I’d hate to see him once he actually arrives.

Giants 3, Pirates 2: Barry Zito is like a box of chocolates. A lucky box of chocolates at any rate, giving up only one run despite allowing nine hits in less than six innings. The Ryan Garko Era officially begins in San Francisco with an 0-4. Oh, and the Big Unit has learned that he has a torn rotator cuff. He’s on the 60 day DL retroactive to July 5th, and there’s a distinct possibility that he won’t be back at all this year. Which, one doesn’t have to be a genius to surmise, could mean that we’ve seen the last of perhaps the greatest lefthander in the history of baseball.

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  1. Greg Simons said...

    I also would discount the abilities of players from the past a bit because the overall level of competition has increased.  However, I think this argument can be taken too far.  Players of old plunked into current times would be able to take advantage of the same advancements in training, medicine, nutrition, strategy and any “other” enhancements that today’s athletes have.  To me, this means they’d be nearly as dominant now as then.  Otherwise, someone might come to the ridiculous conclusion that Babe Ruth today would be the equivalent of, say, Fernando Tatis.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Totally agree, Greg.  You can take it too far and I don’t want to go down that road.  One reason why I’m more inclined to do it more in RJ’s case, however, is because he is so damn tall, and height is one of those things that has increased over time for reasons related to nutrition and all of that stuff.  Upshot: plunking Lefty Grove into 2009—with appropriate training and equipment—would certainly give you an All-Star/Hall of Fame pitcher.  Plunking RJ back into 1930, however, would give you a freak of nature.

  3. Mike said...

    The “Buzzsaw” that Buehrle ran into was his own bad defense.  Scott Podsednik whiffed on a ball in left with two outs, turning it into an RBI “double” and in the seventh with a man on first and nobody out, Chris Getz inexplicably ran away from an easy ground ball off the bat of lead footed Joe Crede – turning bases empty/2 out into 1st and 3rd/none out.  And the floodgates opened.

    As a Sox fan, I’d be more upset if I expected good defense out of this bunch.

  4. Travis M. Nelson said...

    To back up Matt, yes, technically any runs that score as a result of errors count as unearned runs, even homers. 

    To wit, there was a game in 1997 in which Curt Schilling allowed nine runs, but only one earned, as eight of the runs scored in the 3rd inning, in which Schilling allowed four singles, two doubles, a walk and a HBP, most of them after a couple of errors. 

    The best part was that one of the plays was officially changed from a hit to an error the next day, so his ERA dropped from 3.30 to 2.36 on a day he didn’t even pitch. 

    Here are some examples of games in which no earned runs were counted in spite of the pitcher allowing at least one homer:

  5. Chris Simonds said...

    Matt – Right you are. Should have thought of that myself. However, unlike Craig “I, Robot” “Cmdr. Data” Calcaterra, I do sleep and, even after waking, undergo certain periods of less than optimal functionality. I refer to them as “mornings”.  grin

  6. Travis M. Nelson said...

    Oh, and while CC wasn’t great last night, he deserved better than he got.  Matsui helped kill a rally by getting picked off first.  Damon played a bloop to left lazily and allowed Kapler a double when he should have only gotten to first, and he later scored.  Jeter and A-Rod both made errors, and Tex didn’t get any help on a tough play when CC failed to cover first, though obviously he can only blame himself for that. 

    Nick Swisher is a constant adventure in RF.  He looks like the mentally challenged kid on the playground that you let play out of sympathy, but who’s really got no business out there.  Except if this were a playground, Swisher would spend half his time trying to get the ball out from under a car in the parking lot while the opposing batters circle the bases.  He made two terrible plays, neither of which officially counted as an “error”, and neither did Damon’s. 

    In short, they deserved to lose, but CC wasn’t quite as “meh” as it would seem from the box score.

  7. Jim said...

    “Man, weren’t those Wieters jokes a lot funnier back in April?”

    This might be the time to mention that the man did go 4-5 last night.

    “I also would discount the abilities of players from the past a bit because the overall level of competition has increased.”

    At an old-timers game, somebody asked Luke Appling what he thought his batting average would be if he played today.  “About .250” he replied.  Because the level of competition is so much higher now?  “No, because I’m 75 years old.”

  8. Tim Kelly said...

    I was watching one of those “Live Look-in” type things that the MLB Network does every night when they jumped in on the ninth inning at Fenway.  Game was 9-8, Ellis on 2nd and Rajai Davis at the plate. 

    Ellis took third without a throw (defensive indifference) and Harold Reynolds was all over it, saying that it should be a SB due to the fact that it could make a difference in the game.  Sure enough, Davis then went on to hit a slow grounder to SS that he beat out for an IF hit to tie the game.  Had Ellis not taken third, Green would’ve put the ball in his pocket on the Davis grounder and the Sox might’ve won it on the next batter. 

    Either a) Ellis just caught Papelbon napping and really stole that bag or b) The Red Sox did not value giving up third base in a one-run game in the top of the ninth.  I think it’s got to be “a”…

  9. DN said...

    Ellis stole third base largely because Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell failed to cover the bag. Red Sox catcher George Kottaras came out of his crouch prepared to throw but hesitated when Lowell was nowhere near the bag.

    Of course, I can’t think of a better description of the Red Sox decision to continue to trot the statue of Laddy Libertad out to third base than “defensive indifference.” Depraved defensive indifference, perhaps.

  10. Sara K said...

    “Then the gang put on a show, with Mike Fontenot performing an off-key rendition of “The Barber of Seville” while Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez fed red hots to a mule, which rampaged through Miss Crabtree’s classroom. Or maybe I daydreamed that.”

    That is why we will always need a blogosphere, and may God strike me down were it to be otherwise.

  11. Chris Simonds said...

    A question – How can Hamels have zero earned runs if he gave up a homer?

    And a comment – Los Angeles historically doesn’t get much rain and they’ve been in a drought the last few years as well – maybe they were all terrified – what do gray clouds mean, when they don’t smell like smog? Or maybe they were all deep in prayer….

  12. Steve Watson said...

    Randy’s cool and all, but greater than Warren Spahn, Lefty Grove, Luis Tiant? (O.K., Tiant’s just the homer in me.) I’d put Randy as one of the top five lefties. Maybe like this:

    1) Grove
    2) Spahn and Johnson – toss-up
    4) Hubbell, Carlton, Ford, Koufax – depends what you’re looking for.

  13. Matt Davis said...

    You’re right, Chris – Hamels did give up 1 ER.  However, I believe that any runs scoring with 2 outs in an inning that included an error are considered unearned.  So a pitcher can give up 10 homers but still have 0 ER because the error should have gotten him out of the inning.

  14. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Greg—I don’t sleep. I plug in twice daily to recharge my positronic net.

    Steve—there was a bunch of analysis done on the lefty thing around the time Johnson won his 300th. It was a close case with the same suspects you mentioned, but I was swayed by the argument that went like this:  in every single sport, the baseline of excellence has advanced dramatically since the 1930s, 1950s, etc.  Records in track and all of that stuff.  Though it’s harder to measure in baseball because we’re not talking about timed events, there’s no reason to suspect that the overall level of competition has improved there as well.

    Upshot: though we probably should still compare players to other players within their eras and award people like Grove and Spahan for their dominance, on a head to head level, there’s every reason to think that RJ would have been better than those guys if plunked down into their eras.

    I’m not trying to overstate this—it’s just one angle on the argument to take, and one which I’m currently a fan of.

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