Rangers 11, Indians 9; Rangers 10, Indians 5: Lots of runs, Marlon Byrd went 4 for 4 in the day game, blah, blah, blah, but I wanna talk about something else. As I mentioned before, I’m re-reading Nice Guys Finish Last. I’m being really pokey about it, putting it down, reading other stuff, forgetting it for a week and going back again. It just lends itself to that, ya know? Anyway, a few days ago I read a passage I hadn’t thought anything of the first time I read it — probably because I was a kid — but that I can’t shake. In it, Durocher is lamenting the decline of the playing manager, which is how he began his career. The book was published in 1975, the year Frank Robinson became the Indians’ manager. Take it away, Leo:
I get a kick out of reading how difficult it is going to be for Frank Robinson to manage the Cleveland Indians and also serve as their designated hitter. Since when has swinging a bat every half hour or so become so taxing on the brain? My bet is that Frank’s very presence in the lineup will give the club a shot in the arm. The Cleveland situation was made for Frank Robinson, and Frank Robinson was made for them. A good baseball city, hungry for a winner. A city which has become predominantly black . . . I always said that when it came to naming the first colored manager, Rule #1 would still apply. It was going to be the man who was in the right place at the right time.
A man of his time, I guess, but no less disturbing to see it written like that. Far more disturbing, however, was how Leo used the Robinson bit to note how he thought that Maury Wills would have become the first black manager: “Maury has everything it takes to make a good one,” Durocher writes. Of course, Wills went on to become perhaps the worst manager in the history of baseball with the Mariners a few years later. There’s no point to this other than to say that times and people change, it’s September, and at some point you really have to quit caring about Indians-Rangers games in which no one decides to pitch.
Red Sox 10, Orioles 0: Clay Buchholz seems to be figuring this Major League stuff out (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Two homers for Pedroia. Papi hit a homer too. If he hits one more, he sets the DH record. The next seven games are at home, however, so we’re not likely to see fans holding up asterisk signs for this momentous record. The asterisks would not be for the PED thing, though, because no one really cares about that. They’d be in protest of his status as a full time DH which is an affront to good and true baseball the world over. OK, nowhere in the world but the NL and the Central League, but if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too? Well, would you?!
Cubs 9, Pirates 4: The AP game story referred to the Pirates as “hapless.” I think hap-quotient is a lazy post-hoc rationalization for a team’s performance. There have been plenty of teams that have won a lot of games with very little hap, and vice-versa. The 1988 Braves? Tons of hap. Lost 106 games. The 1970 Orioles, on the other hand, were a great team, but were almost totally hap-free. You can look it up.
Blue Jays 6, Twins 3: Jon Rauch was tagged with a blown save despite entering the game in the sixth inning. If I were him I’d protest that one, because there was no way he was going to finish that game. Charging a guy with a blown save in a game where he’d never otherwise sniff a save is like charging a guy with robbery when he never got anywhere near the safe.
Phillies 5, Nationals 3: You’re not going to believe this, but Brad Lidge almost blew this one in the ninth. Single, ground out, HBP, WP, walk, yanked. The yanking probably came less because he was about to blow the game than it was because the walk was issued to Christian Guzman, who doesn’t exactly feature the base on balls in his arsenal. Raul Ibanez hit his 29th and 30th homers, joining Howard, Utley and Werth with 30+ homers. Back in the 80s Donruss would have made a baseball card with all four of them holding bats out over the words “heavy lumber” or something. Do they still do stuff like that? Is Donruss even around anymore? If not, are my Diamond King puzzles worth anything? How about my Ron Darling “rated rookie”? Why am I going on like Andy Rooney?
Marlins 4, Mets 2: Carlos Beltran returns and goes 1 for 4. It seems like he was lost eight years ago, but it was only June. I had forgotten how great a season he was having too (.335/.423/.527). One can only wonder how 2009 could have gone for this team if they had even a scintilla of luck this year.
Yankees 3, Rays 2: A walkoff Nick Swisher homer wins it for the bombers, his second of the game. This was the Yankees’ 90th win, so they can go 0-22 for the remainder of the season and still finish the year a game better than last year.
Braves 2, Astros 1: Javier Vazquez had a nice game: seven innings of shutout ball with nine Ks while smacking two hits of his own. Otherwise the Braves offense consisted of two solo homers and a single from Martin Prado. With this kind of onslaught, it’s a wonder the Braves didn’t fall out of it long before they did.
Athletics 11, White Sox 3: I haven’t seen this many crooked numbers in an Oakland A’s box score since monsters like John Jaha roamed the Earth.
Royals 7, Tigers 5: Yuniesky Betancourt took a walk for the second night in a row. Next come the Tribulations and the Red Heifer.
Rockies 3, Reds 1: Eric Young Jr. hit his first home run. Nothing makes me feel older than the fact that the son of a guy who played for a 1990s expansion team is now hitting home runs in the majors. Let me guess: Chuck Carr and Pat Rapp’s kids are finishing med school this year?
Cardinals 4, Brewers 3: Fourteen pitchers were used in a 4-3 game. I’d like to think that in using so many guys Ken Macha was just messin’ with La Russa and giving him some of his own business. Either way, someone soon is going to get wise to the fact that walking Pujols, intentionally or otherwise, to get to Matt Holliday — who had the game winning dinger in the ninth with Pujols on base via a free pass — isn’t the smartest move in the world.
Padres 4, Giants 3: Madison Bumgarner — who was born two weeks after I got my driver’s license and thus makes me feel just as old as Eric Young Jr. does — made his debut in place of the aching Tim Lincecum, giving up two runs over five and a third and left the game with the lead. That was against the Padres, though, so that translates into seven or eight runs against a real offense. With this loss and the Rockies’ win, the Giants fall three back in the wild card. They had better rally soon, though, because this is the closest thing we have to a race this year.
Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4: Four RBI singles in the eighth lead big blue to a comeback win. The Dbacks turned five double plays in the game.
Angels 3, Mariners 2: A nice start from Scott Kazmir went unrewarded due to poor run support and another blown save by Brian Fuentes, but Erick Aybar’s two out single in the 10th saved the day. Both of Kazmir’s starts have come against Felix Hernandez. I’m guessing he’s getting tired of that.