And That Happened

Yankees 5, Red Sox 2: Brutal weekend for Boston. Dropping four straight to the Yankees is bad enough, but doing it on the heels of dropping two to the Rays is something of a tone-setter. Especially considering how ugly a series this was for them: Thursday and Saturday were pathetic. Friday was a stomach punch. Last night started to unravel with a stomach punch (A-Rod, Damon and Teixeira homers) followed by the bullpen just rolling over in the eighth. The Sox are 6.5 out now. They’re tied with Texas for the wild card and only a game in front of the Rays. To suggest that the next seven games — four at home against first-place Detroit followed by three games in Texas — could make or break their season is not hyperbole. As for the Yankees, there’s no denying it: they’re the best team in baseball, and and it strains credulity to think that anyone can stop them. Oh, and after this weekend is anyone anywhere going to say that A-Rod isn’t clutch now? Wait, it’s A-Rod, so of course they’ll say it. They’ll just be wrong.

Reds 5, Giants 2: Aaron Harang: the best 13-loss pitcher in baseball. The Reds took two of three from the Giants over the weekend, beating Lincecum and Cain. Nice trick. The Rockies and Giants are now tied for the wild card lead. Query: how many of you thought that more than one team from the NL West had a shot at the playoffs before the season began? Of those, how many of you felt that one of them wouldn’t be the Dbacks? Anyone who says that they predicted that the Giants and the Rockies would spend August and September locked in combat over a playoff berth can go take a flying leap, because you’re totally lying.

Braves 8, Dodgers 2: After watching Los Angeles beat the tar out of the Braves last Sunday, it’s really nice (for me anyway) to see them take 3 of 4 from the Dodgers this weekend. Was there a better offseason pickup than Javier Vazquez? He has put together one of the quieter awesome seasons in recent memory (10-7, 2.90 ERA, 171 K, 32 BB, 155 IP). If he had any run support in the middle of the season he would be a Cy Young candidate right now. The Dodgers have lost 10 of 15 and stagger into San Francisco. Winning the West once seemed like a foregone conclusion for Los Angeles. I think they’ll still do it. But they’re only 5.5 up on both the Giants and Rockies now.

Marlins 12, Phillies 3: With the Marlins sweeping Philly and the Braves taking three of four in Los Angeles, we may very well have ourselves a race here in the East now. Heck, the Marlins and Braves’ division deficit is only a game greater than their wild card deficit. Jamie Moyer’s bad day (5 IP, 11 H, 3 ER) will have people saying he should make way for Pedro Martinez in the rotation. My solution: given that Moyer has alternated between good and bad starts for 11 turns now, and given that Pedro is certainly no less fragile than he has ever been, why not just alternate between the two of them whenever the fifth start comes up for the rest of the season? You make one or the other one available to be a long man/mop up guy in low leverage situations when he’s several days out from his next scheduled start. That kind of pen work would be less taxing than a start, but would be enough to (a) keep an old man loose; and (b) rest up more valuable members of the pen. And don’t tell me that Moyer can’t warm up like a reliever anymore. Guy throws 80. It doesn’t take much warming up to do that.

Blue Jays 7, Orioles 3: Steve Simmons of Sun Media wrote this yesterday morning about Roy Halladay: “It’s Halladay’s desire to pitch in the post-season, and if that’s the case he’s going to have to toughen up and get used to being swamped by the media (something he detests) and get used to pitching under pressure (the Blue Jays are 1-7 in his past eight starts).” What Simmons didn’t mention is that the Jays only scored 21 runs for Halladay in those eight starts, and that’s not going to help you no matter how you stack up psychologically, no matter how much guts you have, whether or not you have swagger or any of that garbage. Roy Halladay needed some run support. He got some. He won. It’s pretty simple. Simmons can take his pop psychology elsewhere.

Rangers 7, Angels 0: Derek Holland throws one of the more dominant starts of the year (CG, SHO, 3 H, 8K) against the best offense in baseball, and the Rangers take two of three from the division-leading Angels. The part of me that likes to see my preseason predictions borne out wants to see the Rangers overtake Anaheim, but I don’t really think that’s going to happen. The part of me that likes interesting things to happen in baseball would like much more to see the Rangers overtake the Sox for the wild card lead and hold it for the rest of the season. Given that they’re now tied, such a thing seems eminently doable.

Rockies 11, Cubs 5: Chicago out-hits the Rockies 17-14, but gets killed in the column that matters most, and by that I mean the column that reads “facial hair.” From reader Chris Koz: “I felt you should be alerted to Ryan Spilborghs’ new look. I was watching the Cubs-Rocks game and I’m not really sure what he was going for there . . . gay pirate, maybe? It was kind of a bulldog mustache with chops coming all the way out to the stache, coupled with a vertical stripe on the chin.” I’m not sure if that look has a name, but it certainly has power. In other news, I had mentioned several months ago that my four year-old boy wanted a new baseball cap (he was three when I first mentioned it). I let him look at every Major League cap, and stood ready to let him get any one he wanted (though I was going to veto Boston and New York on general principles). He picked the Cubs, probably because his name starts with a “C”. After many delays, he finally got the cap. He looks pretty spiffy in it. I sit here this morning wondering whether having the cap will turn him into a Cubs fan or whether he views it as nothing more than a cap.

Athletics 6, Royals 3: I grew up during the age of the two-division setup. For 25 seasons — 1969-1993 — the A’s and Royals shared the AL West. In 16 of those 25 years, one or the other won the division. In 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1980, and 1989, the Royals and the A’s finished 1-2 (or 2-1). All through my childhood, then, one of those two teams, or both, represented the class of AL West baseball. I know the A’s are no longer a perennial power and I know it’s been a long time since the Royals have done anything, but something in my baseball DNA still twinges when I think of these franchises. Twinges in such a way as to make me take a little more notice of their futility than that of other bad teams. I think that’s why I tend to pick on the Royals and A’s more than a lot of other bad teams, anyway. Like they deserve my scorn more than, say, the Pirates, because once upon a time in my childhood, they used to be something in ways the Pirates (or whoever) never were. No point to this apart from it being more interesting to think about these teams’ pasts than their presents.

Mariners 11, Rays 2: Scott Kazmir’s nightmare season continues (4.1 IP, 9 H, 7 ER). It was hot here in Columbus yesterday, and for reasons that aren’t really important, I always make a point to listen to Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing Shocking” on the hottest days of the summer. For that reason, when I looked at this box score and saw “D. Navarro” I thought that Dave Navarro was catching for the Rays. That would be cool.

Mets 5, Padres 1: Johan Santana (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER; 2-3, RBI) was one of the few bright spots for a Mets team that dropped the first three of the weekend series to the Padres.

Cardinals 7, Pirates 3: Everything came unraveled for Pittsburgh in the eighth, when Matt Capps gave up a pinch-hit homer to Schumaker and then decided to plunk Pujols, got ejected, and then three more runs scored. Joel Pineiro gave up nine hits, but he doesn’t walk anyone, like ever, so he got away with it.

Tigers 8, Twins 7: Newly acquired starter Jarrod Washburn got beat around for the the second time in two starts since the trade (6 IP, 10 H, 5 ER), but Twins’ starter Scott Baker was beat up worse (4.1 IP. 9 H, 6 ER). Michael Cuddyer had two homers. Curtis Granderson swiped a base and is now in the 20-20 club for the second time. The Twins have lost seven of nine and are now 5.5 back of Detroit.

Nationals 9, Diamondbacks 2: And that’s eight in a row for the Nats. It’s really been the offense doing it for them, as their run totals on this streak are 5-8-6-5-12-7-5-9.

Astros 2, Brewers 0: Wandy Rodriguez continues his fantasticness (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER). Houston is now tied with the Brewers for third in the division, six back of St. Louis, though I don’t think that either they or Milwaukee looks like they have the oomph to hold on and make this a three or four team race.

Indians 8, White Sox 4: Cleveland has won 12 of 18. I guess they should have ejected the core earlier. Jamey Carroll — Jamey Carroll?! — went 2-5 with a double, a homer and three RBI.

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  1. YankeesfanLen said...

    Has anyone noticed that the Yanks are now the ONLY team over .600?  After game 70 we (That’s the Royal We, not the KC kind) were only 6 games over and there has been the biggest incorporation of New York since 1898.
    I detect a trend here, Mets fans who leave ARod alone are welcome to reply.

  2. AnotherTodd said...

    I’m not sure you should go so lightly on the Pirates with your scorn, Craig.  During that same 1969-1993 period, they won the NL East nine times, and they and the Phillies had a run similar to the A’s and Royals, with 15 titles between them during that span.  (Obviously the Phillies have done things since 1993, so I’m not arguing that _they_ deserve scorn, just looking for a team to pair the Pirates with to find the closest comp to the A’s/Royals dominance of the AL West.)

    That the Pirates haven’t won anything since 1992 merits scorn and sadness, based on what once was.

  3. Jason B said...

    “As for the Yankees, there’s no denying it: they’re the best team in baseball, and and it strains credulity to think that anyone can stop them.”

    The first part – agreed.  The second part – *snicker*.  Short series, folks, short series.

  4. Shawn said...

    I wouldn’t worry about the “C” hat, Cub fan thing.  My daughter got a Texas Rangers hat when she was small, because her name starts with a “T,” but never became a Rangers fan.

  5. Bruce said...

    Absolutely true story: I was hiking in Austria near the Slovenian border a few years ago with an Austrian colleague (during a break from a math conference) and I was wearing my Cubs cap. We met a German couple coming in the other direction, and they asked my colleague if the “C” on my cap meant that I was his chauffeur.

  6. mike in brooklyn said...

    That’s it.  I’m done this season.  I know I won’t be able to survive a Yankees-Phillies Series.  I’m watching the soccer channel until football starts.

  7. themarksmith said...

    Now, the Braves have to beat up on the Nationals for two games, which sounds easy, but considering their recent win streak and the Braves inability to beat them anyway, it might be asking too much. Regardless, I’m encouraged with what I’ve seen lately. Pitching well, hitting okay, and playing good defense. Now, can they keep it up or fall back into a 3-game losing streak?

  8. APBA Guy said...

    Of course, the real measure of how low the A’s and Royals have fallen is that BBTN had no coverage of their games and used the time for extra coverage of the Yankees/Boston.

    Which is understandable except for yesterday’s game, which was a 4 HR, 4 SB offensive performance by the A’s coupled with a great start from Brett Anderson again.

    And I thought they would have given at least 15 minutes to the Jason Giambi release.

  9. Todd said...

    The Yankees are 5 games over their Pythagorean record. I know that’s not the argument to end all arguments, but still, it does not strain credulity to suggest that the Rays, Phillies, Dodgers, Angels, or some other team, even, is better then the Yankees.

  10. Chuck said...

    Re the Blue Jays write-up: Steve Simmons is generally considered a laughingstock among Toronto sports writers (and that’s a shallow pool to begin with). He’s the type of guy who would be pilloried on BTF.

  11. Kevin S. said...

    @Todd – The Yankees also spent significant time with CMW on the roster instead of A-Rod, hurting their RD.  Even so, it’s better than any team other than the Dodgers, who play in the Pony League.

  12. Todd said...

    @Kevin – True, but, for example, the Phillies just acquired Cliff Lee. Does he upgrade the Phillies more than A-Rod did the Yankees? Even if he does, is that enough for the Phillies to be the better team? I don’t know, but I think it’s safe to say that Craig doesn’t know definitively that they aren’t better, either. And there are plenty of other teams that have experienced significant roster changes in the last month or two (Cards acquiring Holliday and DeRosa, Dodgers getting Manny back, etc.). Not saying the Yankees aren’t the best team, just that Craig’s claim was far too bold.

  13. The Rabbit said...

    Re: Jamie Moyer – Moyer seems to be more effective with his blazing stuff when he faces younger clubs who haven’t seen fast balls like his since Legion Ball. More experienced players who know his “schtick” are more patient and tee off on his stuff. 
    Although Yogi might say something like: Age and treachery will defeat youth and skill…and vice versa.

  14. Kevin S. said...

    Run Differential, which was your original metric of choice for questioning the Yankees’ supremacy, rates the Yanks as significantly better than the Phillies.  Obviously, Lee hasn’t had the chance to affect Philly’s RD, but I guess my point was that just because the Yankees were outperforming their pythag doesn’t mean they aren’t still better than the rest of the league.

  15. YankeesfanLen said...

    Thanks for the great recap, only thing I think I missed is a cryptic popular culture reference but could tell you were being serious and analytical.
    What does Coke think he’s doing allowing those 2 runs? Where’s the Zero Tolerance?

  16. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Didn’t really have any pop culture in this one, Len. Unless you count the “ejected the core” comment in the Indians recap as being an oblique Star Trek reference. I gave thoughts to stretching that out into a greater Trek analogy, but it didn’t really hold up.

  17. Eric Solomon said...

    Hey Craig – great point about the A’s & Royals.  We’re about the same age and I feel the same way.  As a Yankee fan, it’s hard to see the Royals so low, after all the great battles in the 70s and 80s.

  18. Kevin S. said...

    Fair enough.  I think they are, but I’m a Yankee fan, and despite my best attempts otherwise, I’m still somewhat biased.

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