And That Happened

Yankees 13, Red Sox 6: Lord, deliver us from Red Sox-Yankees baseball, because this game was positively interminable. And while we’re petitioning the Lord here, let us ask Him to prevail upon one John Smoltz (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER) to hang up his spikes, because this is just way too painful for a fan of 22 years to witness. And what’s with you, Joba? What happened to that fast-working, strike-throwing ace we saw four or five days ago? Seven walks? 108 pitches in five innings? Is there some NESN/YES deal in place none of us are aware of that pays everyone by the hour?

Phillies 3, Rockies 1: I can’t tell you how thrilled we NL East fans are that the Phillies got Cliff Lee. Truly, we’re so, so happy for Philadelphia. The figurative cherry on top of our giant ice cream sundae of misery went seven innings, giving up one run and striking out nine.

Angels 9, White Sox 5: Jon Danks gave up seven runs on nine hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. “I got my butt kicked, that’s all you can say.” Well in that case, let’s move on.

Rangers 6, Athletics 4: I gotta start reading more prospect books and stuff in the spring. Even though I’ve noted Tommy Hunter’s existence this season — even wrote about him once — I see “T. Hunter” in the box score and my first thought is “When did Torii Hunter get traded to Texas and why is he pitching?” My second thought is “I wonder if Tab Hunter is still alive?” He was in “Damn Yankees,” you know, so there’s a baseball connection. So I went and checked Wikipedia. Yep, still kickin’ at 78. And though I knew Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins were both gay, I had no idea that they were a thing for a while. Too bad it didn’t work out for those two. Tony Perkins played Jimmy Piersall once, you know. Basically everything’s about baseball. Oh, Tommy/Torii/Tab pitched well (7 P, 3 H, 2 ER).

Nationals 12, Marlins 8: The Fish blow a 6-0 lead and wind up getting slaughtered — and swept — by Washington. Ryan Zimmerman walked, hit two singles, a triple, a homer and had three RBIs. Elijah Dukes was 3-4 with four RBI.

Tigers 7, Orioles 3: Alex Avila — the son of the Tigers’ assistant GM — made his major league debut and hit a two-out RBI double in the third inning. The only thing worse than working with the boss’ kid is when the boss’ kid actually knows what he’s doing so you can’t claim to have been given the shaft. Game story: “Porcello (10-7) became just the second pitcher in franchise history with double digits in wins at the age of 20 or younger, joining Dave Rozema, who had 11 victories before his 21st birthday.” Of course Rozema never won double digits again after his 15-win, 16-CG, age-20 season in 1977. Thanks, Ralph Houk!

Indians 2, Twins 1: That’s three earned runs in 11 innings pitched since returning to the bigs for Fausto Carmona. That’s deceiving, though, because he’s only struck out three guys, walked seven and has given up ten hits in those innings. Oh, and his season ERA is now at 6.66, so like that whole Satan/Goethe/Faust/Fausto thing that everyone always talks about is just underscored now. Wait, you mean I’m the only one who brings that up? Moving right along . . . If I were a betting man, I’d bet that 2007 was just one of those magical one-off years for Carmona, and that he’ll never touch that level again. How many personnel decisions did Mark Shapiro make based on the opposite assumption?

Dodgers 5, Braves 4: Three-run walkoff homer for Andre Ethier. I didn’t see it, so let’s hear from tHeMARksMiTh, who did:

It was signed, sealed, and delivered with Soriano coming in for the ninth, and though it was only a two-run lead, it felt like it was five. But he just didn’t have his command, and two pitches before Ethier hit that home run I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with Soriano tonight, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

God damn it that one hurt.

Royals 8, Mariners 2: Bruce Chen wins the “scattered” award for the night, by allowing ten hits in 6.2 innings yet only giving up two runs.

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 6: Wow, when the Pirates lose in extra innings, they lose big. Even Dan Haren had an RBI in the 12th., and he thought he had the night off. Pirate reliever Steven Jackson gave up five runs on four hits in 12th, and was demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis right after the game.

Padres 8, Mets 3: New York has lost six in a row in Petco Park. Strange place to be having trouble. The Padres extended Bud Black’s contract through 2010 after the game.

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  1. MooseinOhio said...

    End Project Smoltz now and let Michael Bowden, Kason Gabbard or Junichi Tazawa have a chance at winning a game – they could not do any worse. 

    It is sad to see such a great career end with such poor pitching perfomances and in a strange uniform.  This dismal season will not impact his HoF credentials but has tarnessed the image somewhat.

    As for the length of games I would love MLB to put players on ‘the clock’ as the PGA Tour occassionally does with golfers who are slow playing.  Umpires have the ability to push the pace of the game and I would love MLB to begin enforcing rules regarding slow play.  Watching last night’s game was like a slow death as it was very evident the Sox were going to lose but the agonizing pace of the game made it feel like two loses.

  2. Detroit Michael said...

    Can we really blame Ralph Houk for Dave Rozema never winning 10 or more games again?  Looks like his strikeout rates were always pedestrian (especially during years in which he was exclusively a starter) and that he had some lousy offensive run rupport probably.  Rozema’s short career also was aided by his “kung fu kick” injury during a brawl plus there were whispers about possible recreational drug use, a common malady among the young and suddenly wealthy in that time period.

    218 IP as a 20-year-old seems like a lot, admittedly, but blaming Houk seems a bit misplaced.

  3. John Willumsen said...

    Whenever the Yankees and Red Sox play it’s like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Not in the whole being born an old man and aging backwards thing. In the whole, man I came into this excited about seeing it but good gravy can’t it please be over?

    Around the bottom 7th inning, with the Yankees up by 9 runs the always down-home-country-style Paul O’Neill playfully talked about the idea of having a ten run mercy rule in baseball. He said the fans would be going crazy right then trying to will the Yankees on to one more run, he kind of trailed off before adding essentially “you know, because it would embarrass the other team.” I’m pretty sure what he was thinking was, “because even the people who paid good money to come here and see this game now just really want to go home.”

    It was really just an ugly affair. One of those games that makes you feel antsy while you watch it. And of course, because it’s the Yanks-Sox, the game couldn’t be totally devoid of controversy, with Yankee rookie Mark Melancon throwing above the head of the lilliputian Dustin Pedroia (who had earlier indulged in a New Yankee Stadium special HR) and then plunking him in the upper shoulder. Pedroia understandably took offense and informed Mr. Melancon that he did not appreciate such tomfoolery in no uncertain term. In fairness to Melancon though, you can hardly take the throwing above his head bit as evidence of intent. The are up to two feet above Pedroia’s head is still in the strike zone for most batters, after all.

  4. Kelly said...

    I tried to watch the Yankees/Red Sox game and I found myself legitimately trying to come up with motivators to move it along.  I thought of games we played when I was 10 where we just agreed whomever was ahead after ___ hours won. 

    But then there’d be stalling, the logical side of my brain thought.  They would just slow the game down to the point that people would start to wander off to watch Mets/Padres games to RELIEVE boredom…..

    WAIT! my logical brain said. THAT WOULD BE ABOUT THE SAME SPEED!  LET’S DO IT!

  5. Adam said...

    As a Yankee fan, I guess this one was ugly even for me. Although after losing 8 in a row, it was ugly in that “I’ve never gone to bed with an ugly girl, I’ve just woken up with them” sort of way.

  6. Joe said...

    MooseinOhio said…
    “End Project Smoltz now and let Michael Bowden, Kason Gabbard or Junichi Tazawa have a chance at winning a game – they could not do any worse.” 

    I saw Kason Gabbard pitch in Portland (AA) a few weeks ago and – yes, he could definitely do worse than John Smoltz.  Bowden sure, Tazawa maybe, but Gabbard won’t be on a major league mound any time soon.

  7. Joe said...

    MooseinOhio said…
    “End Project Smoltz now and let Michael Bowden, Kason Gabbard or Junichi Tazawa have a chance at winning a game – they could not do any worse.” 

    I saw Kason Gabbard pitch in Portland (AA) a few weeks ago and – yes, he could definitely do worse than John Smoltz.  Bowden sure, Tazawa maybe, but Gabbard won’t be on a major league mound any time soon.

  8. MooseinOhio said...

    Joe – Didn’t realize Gabbard has dropped off so badly after having been traded to Texas, he pitched decently well for the Sox several years ago.  Boston has to have a few minor league pitchers, other than Bowden, that can give them a greater chance than Smoltz. 

    Assuming you live in the Portland areas – I played some legion ball at Hadlock Field well before it became the ballpark it is today.  I always enjoy visiting my folks and getting to a SeaDogs game.

  9. Joe said...

    Gabbard has no velocity (mid 80’s, tops) and no command.  He says his arm is healthy, but he’s got nothing. 

    The game I saw he was brutal.  10 batters: 4 BB, 2 HBP, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 K.  39 pitches, nine for strikes.  The guy who struck out put together perhaps the worst-executed PA in the history of AA, swinging at curveballs in the dirt after the first three guys reached via BB or HBP.

    Yes, I live up the coast a bit.  Hadlock is wonderful.  I go to 15-20 games a year.

  10. dlreed52 said...

    I see nothing wrong with the strategies the Yankees and Red Sox employ: working long counts is an effective way to wear down pitchers and force the opposition manager to wave in middle relievers who, as a group, are less talented than starters.  The key issue, it seems to me, is how to speed up overall play without damaging the game’s aesthetics.  Does anyone have any thoughts on how to accomplish this? Certainly the concept isn’t inconceivable since the “long-count” strategy was employed with devastating effect by Joe McCarthy and his Bronx juggernaut of the late thirties and early forties, a time when games had to work within the constraints of daylight ball. 

    As for John Smoltz, I disagree with MooseinOhio only in his suggestion that the erstwhile Atlanta ace has tarnished his image somewhat.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to extend one’s career; in fact, I think the effort Smoltz has put into his rehabilitation and conditioning is commendable.  That having been said, however, he now needs to turn his attention in another direction—with the emphasis on “now.”  If he wants a spot on a big league roster, it should be as a coach….

  11. MooseinOhio said...

    dlreed52 – Long counts do make the game somewhat longer but you’re right they are an important strategic element of the game for a variety of reason.  Hitter constantly stepping out of the box, pitchers taking what seems like forever to prepare to pitch and other time wasters is what I am concerned about. 

    The pace that Mark Buerhle pitches at may be too fast for all pitchers but getting closer to his rate would be helpful in moving the games along.  Telling the Nomars of the world to get back into the box is fully acceptable to me as the glove tugging antics are a bit much.

    As for Smoltz – tarnish may have been too harsh of a word but I hate seeing him look like a shell of his former self and wish I never had the image of him in a Sox unifrom looking so dejected.  I suspect that he will quietly walk away from the game, head to the golf course and prepare to take on the Senior PGATour in eight years.  I think his competitive nature will be well fed in such an endeavor and from what I read it is a very realistic possibility.

  12. dlreed52 said...

    MooseinOhio, we are in complete agreement. 

    I remember reading about a strategy Ted Williams used to employ and being puzzled by it.  He wrote of being aware that a sudden change in the intensity of the light—a cloud passing before the sun perhaps—would cause his pupils to dilate and that this might affect his vision.  When such an instance occurred, he would pretend to have something in his eye and ask the umpire for time, stepping out of the box until the cloud passed and his eyes readjusted.

    This struck me as odd until I realized that when Williams played, batters were not allowed to step out of the box and perform their various rituals a la Mike Hargrove, Rickey Henderson, Carlton Fisk, the aforementioned Nomar, and many others.  They were expected to get in there and hit.  Now they don’t even get into the box until the last strains of their theme music has died away….

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