And That Happened

Tigers 4, Royals 3:

The crowd began to rise, and clap, waiting for Michigan’s most iconic sports broadcaster to walk out to home plate to say good-bye. Slowly, the applause floated out onto the field, peaking as Harwell strode out from the tunnel behind home plate, walked past the gates and out onto the grass.

He thrust his arms into the sky as the noise washed over him. Standing before a solitary microphone with no one on the diamond but the umpires, the old voice of the Tigers raised his arms once more and quieted the crowd . . .

. . . “You Tiger fans are the greatest fans of them all,” he finished. “Thank you for your support, your loyalty and your love.”

Then he strolled back off the field. His ears filled with chanting:

“Ernie! Ernie! Ernie!”

Rockies 4, Giants 3: I’ll leave this one to Neyer, who got to watch this one from the press box: “. . . in the Hierarchy of Horribles, if you’re a Giants fan, losing to Jorge de la Rosa — being practically shut out by Jorge de la Rosa, then coming oh so close in the ninth inning — and having to play that schedule, and having a lineup full of struggling hitters … well, that’s gotta be pretty close to the top.”

Orioles 4, Rays 2: Losing all of these games isn’t ugly enough for you Rays fans? How about a nice shouting match between your left fielder and DH in the clubhouse before the game? And lo, Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, making it clear now that the last four months have merely been a test of our faith. I never doubted you, Matt! And I’d like to remind you, that as a trusted Internet personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in your underground sugar caves.

Athletics 4, Rangers 0: This is the way the Rangers’ playoff hopes end. This is the way the Rangers’ playoff hopes end. This is the way the Rangers’ playoff hopes end. Not with a bang but a whimper (sorry, T.S.).

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 4: One HBP — Shawn Camp on Melky Cano — but everyone kept their powder dry. Francisco Cervelli — who probably isn’t in this game if Posada didn’t get suspended — hit the game winning RBI in the ninth.

Phillies 6, Nationals 1: Ryan Howard stole second base on the front end of a double steal in which Chase Utley stole home. As for Howard: Whoa. Nice wheels, big guy. As for Utley: There should probably be some sort of fielder’s choice kind of scoring decision for that kind of thing, because that’s just really not a steal of home as far as I’m concerned. Jayson Werth hit a grand slam. The Phillies actually allowed a run.

Dodgers 3, Pirates 1: Man, Pittsburgh will cure what ailes you, won’t they? Ronnie Belliard was 3 for 3 with a homer and two runs scored for cryin’ out loud. A Wednesday day-game sellout for L.A. FYI: it wasn’t the Pirates that spiked the fan interest.

Red Sox 9, Angels 8: The Angels led by one entering the ninth. Boston loads the bases and Nick Green comes in to pinch hit for Casey Kotchman. Fuentes gets two strikes on him, and then Green checks his swing on what would have been strike three. At least the umps say he did — Mike Scioscia disagreed. Fuentes and Green battle until the count is full. The payoff: low, ball four, tying run walks in. Adam Kilgore at the Globe said “If it really was low, it was low by half a millimeter. Scioscia is enraged.” Alex Gonzalez comes up, hits a bloop single to win the game.

Reds 6, Astros 5: How on Earth can you give up eleven hits, five of which were home runs, and not lose the game? Ask Justin Lehr. I imagine he’d start by telling you to only walk one dude. His next idea would be to tell you to make sure you’ve got a good bullpen like the Reds have so they can bail your tater givin’ up butt with four innings of shutout relief. Hal McCoy was honored before the game, which was a nice move by the Reds.

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 5: Luis Durango, who was making his first big league start, hit an infield single to lead off the 10th inning, then stole second, and then beat the throw home on a single to win it. In other news, “Luis Durango” is a fabulous ballplayer name.

Brewers 9, Cubs 5: Alcides Escobar went 4 for 5 with three RBI. Brewers fans may want to turn their attention to the Packers these days, but watching this guy come up and work to figure it out is the kind of thing that they should really take the time to savor in the waning days of 2009.

Marlins 5, Cardinals 2: Josh Johnson gave up nine hits but allowed just one run and struck out nine in six innings. The Marlins somehow continue to hang around, sitting four back of Colorado.

Twins 7, Indians 3: The Twins win, they’re four and a half back, and they face a Tigers team this weekend that can be had. Really early in the season I talked about how the Twins always seem to hang around. This is what I meant.

Mariners 4, White Sox 1: Mike Carp hit his first major league home run. Then: “When the game ended, Carp was given a beer shower and had an ice cream pie shoved in his face by a couple of the veterans.” Ice cream? Original, I guess. Question: why is that there are always pie plates hanging around major league clubhouses? Are they seriously making pie part of the standard post game spread? These are the kind of things that keep me up all night obsessing.

Braves 6, Mets 5: The Braves come from behind and win the game on a Daniel “I have no business playing any defensive position” Murphy error in the ninth. That’s six straight. Derek Lowe left the game with a blister on his finger after playing the 18th take of “Helter Skelter.”

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  1. JE said...

    For an Angels team that is supposedly loaded with players who approach the game the right way—I know this because ESPN announcers swear by it—Juan Rivera’s lack of effort on Victor Martinez’s fly ball was nearly as big a culprit as the blown strike calls.

  2. Ben2009 said...

    Daniel said, “Green should have been called out a few pitches earlier on a check swing where he went around.”

    Daniel is quite correct.  Green clearly went around.  Any doubts were resolved by the look of agony and angusih on Green’s face as he checked the swing – he knew damn well he went around.  But he was saved by the 1B ump, and then saved by the HP ump, and then the Sox won.

    I have no rooting interest here except to be in favor of hig drama, which last night was.  But the Angels got hosed.

  3. lar said...

    A slight correction, Ben:

    “But he was saved by the 1B ump, and then saved by the HP ump, and then he was saved by Juan Rivera’s utter lack of effort or desire on a flyball that very possibly could’ve been caught and then the Sox won.”

    Besides that, Craig, I love the references today. I’m not sure you’ve reached Kent Brockman level of fame, though. I think you need to keep striving for that one…

  4. Brett said...

    So the AP guy got his lead wrong in the Marlins – Cardinals game, and it’s been an interesting lesson in Internet journalism for me to see how far and wide the mistake has been repeated.

    Yesterday the AP story (since been corrected) claimed: “Johnson struck out nine in six effective innings to lead the Florida Marlins to a 5-2 victory over the Cardinals.”  The problem is that he only struck out 5 (according to every box score and play-by-play I’ve been able to find).

    But then my fantasy baseball service boldly plagiarized it an hour later, barely changing the sentence (saying “Josh Johnson struck out nine in six effective innings to help the Marlins beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 on Wednesday.”)  And I was amused that you used the same 9K figure… near as I can tell the only place it appeared organically was the first erroneous AP report, but it’s since shown up in a lot of different places.

    I almost wonder if it’s the AP’s version of a mapmaker putting fake roads in their maps!

  5. Jason said...

    To Daniel:
    Re-watch the Aybar play: he never had control of the ball, and the check swing was an either-or play.  Stop blaming the umps for those two, please. 
    I’ll give you the horrible “ball 4” call however, but in return you have to admit that Rivera bailed on that Gonzalez hit.

  6. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Nice catch, Brett.  I admit, when I can’t think of anything to say about a game I’ll tend to parrot the AP game story summary of the best pitcher’s performance or something.

    Nice red dye test on behalf of the AP, even if it’s unintentional.

  7. Daniel said...

    Jason – Aybar lost control of the ball when he reached in with his hand.  There was no bobble.  It entered his glove and only fell out when he pulled the glove back to make the throw to first.  It was clearly a transfer call.

    The check swing was borderline but replays showed that he went.  Green himself grimaced because he KNEW he had gone around.

    Yeah, Rivera should have gone after that ball harder.  But given that the Angels had won the game TWICE before that play, it’s irrelevant.

  8. Larry said...

    To Jason and Daniel:
    Jason is right about the Aybar play and the check swing; and beyond that, re-watch the top of the ninth where Daniel Bard didn’t get that low strike call about 4-6 times. How is an ump going to end the game on a call he wouldn’t make on the opposing pitcher?

    At some point, it began to seem to me that Scioscia stopped doing his team any favors with the incessant barking at the ump. By arguing every close strike and screaming at every close call, he is basically telling his team that the players have nothing to do with the outcome of the game and that it is all in the hands of the umps. It may be why Rivera did such a half-baked job of chasing down Gonzalez’s bloop.

  9. Jeff Polman said...

    I saw the Sawx game too, and yeah, Green should’ve been toast on three pitches like he normally is, but the Halos have this habit of playing their unfundamental worst against Boston, and they never should have been in that position in the 9th anyway.  The Sox scored five runs earlier on an inning of squandered infield play, and despite his save total, Fuentes looks about as confident out there as a 5th grader with A.D.D. at a spelling bee.

  10. Howell said...

    To Daniel: Actually it isn’t irrelevant because the Angels in fact had not won the game at all. I know this b/c the Red Sox won. If the Highlander franchise has taught me anything, it that, “There can be only one.”

  11. Daniel said...

    If you get strike three on a batter with two outs in the ninth, doesn’t that mean you win the game?  Every time but last night.

    On the Aybar play – when shortstops are coming across the bag to make a transfer on the double play, they almost never completely close their glove on the ball.  They take the ball into their glove and immediately move it back toward their hand for purposes of getting a fast relay to first base.  This doesn’t mean he didn’t have control and it certainly doesn’t mean that it wasn’t lost on the transfer.  The ball was in his glove and dropped out when he went to grab it.  It was a bad call.

  12. Howell said...

    Please show me where Nick Green was ever given strike three by an Ump of the game*. My point was that he can’t use the non-call as an excuse not to hustle.

    *of course he should have been, but that doesn’t mean he was.

  13. Jason B said...

    “If you get strike three on a batter with two outs in the ninth, doesn’t that mean you win the game?” 

    Yes.  I believe Green had but two.  If he had made it all the way to three, I believe the game would have ended at that point.

    Just because you or the Angels *want* a call to be a strike doesn’t necessarily make it so. So Rivera and the rest of the team had best exert some effort to…you know…actually *get* that third out, even if they “really should have had” three of five or eleventy-seven already.

  14. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    De La Rosa leads MLB in wins since June with 15… or so I heard this AM.  So is losing to DLR, who also has a 1-something ERA against the Giants such a surprise?

  15. Nate said...

    I didn’t watch the game, but Fuentes might want to challenge a guy like Green with the bases loaded rather than nibbling.

  16. Sam said...

    So I check my listing yesterday afternoon and see to my suprise that I get to watch my Rockies on a national telecast. Living in San Diego I do get to catch them at least when they play the Padres, but that means I have to watch the Padres who vary from feisty to bad, but mostly bad. So I click over to ESPN around 715 with beer in hand ready to enjoy my team, only to faced with the Red Sox and Angels still in the 5th or 6th inning, I mean the game had been going on for 3 hours at that point couldn’t have been the top of the 8th at least. Final game time for the Sox-Halos, 4 hours 7 minutes bleh. So I watch the end of the game because despite the tediousness of watching the Red Sox it was a interesting game. Finaly it ends and we get to the Rockies Giants tilt a little around 830 PST, game is in the 5th inning, great I missed half of it. Then much to my dismay I hear Chris Berman and Rick Sutclife talking, great not only did I miss half the game I wanted to see I get to listen to two idiots for the next hour and half. Boy did those two live up to that idiot title, so much worthles banter and inane commentary. I enjoyed watching Jorge cruise, and the excitement at the end, well difficult, did make it a pretty fun game that ended in just a hair under 3 hours I want to say. Give me NL west baseball over AL east baseball any time.

  17. YankeesfanLen said...

    It’s fun to quibble all day about Angels and Sawx- someone lost, leading to better HFA, and someone won, not really going beyond WC, are they?  Sure we had some trouble against the foreigners Tuesday, but our #3 catcher and #2 CFer can take care of them with some 8th inning help from our old friend from overseas.

  18. Pete Toms said...

    Why was Rivera in LF with a 2 run lead after 8 1/2 anyway?  How bout, Matthews or Willits or Pettit??  Nothing game anyway, hi lites were fun though.

  19. MooseinOhio said...

    I am not looking forward to staying up late watching the Angels-Sox ALDS and will be taking half-day at work after night games in Anaheim.  The games may not be as long as the Sox-Yanks but they will be close.  No offense to Rangers fans in my presumption of the Sox winning the WC but I cannot imagine a scenario in which the Rangers overtake Boston.

    As for the Angels getting hosed – I do think the Sox were given a gift win but I suspect that it just balances out a game earlier in the season in which the Sox got hosed.  I got to spend some time with a PGA Tour player and in asking how he dealt with all the bad bounces he got that day (he had two putts lip out that cost him a chance at a win).  He calmly told me that in the big picture he had as many good breaks as he had bad and that you need to find your peace with them if you want to have long-term success. 

    Granted it may be hard to find that peace in the moment and maybe Scioscia’s barking will get him some makeup calls in another game.  To me, Riveria’s lack of effort is a bigger concern for Scioscia than getting hosed by the umps in one game.

  20. The Rabbit said...

    Pete beat me to the point re: Juan Rivera.
    Rivera was out with hamstring problems not very long ago.  He DH’d when both Hunter and Vlad were on the DL.
    You would think that Scioscia would make the defensive substitution.
    No way to know if it was a complete lack of effort or the millisecond thought “Oooh, if I dive, this is really going to hurt and I’m done for the season”?

  21. Mark said...

    The Sox got a couple of gift *calls*, but they *won* becuase the Angels couldn’t close the door in the 9th. After 2 outs, Fuentes gave up 2 BB and 3 singles, including making the strange choice (as someone above mentioned) to nibble on Green after blowing strikes 1 & 2 past him. the Angels can whine about the calls all they want, but they lost because they couldn’t get the 3rd out.

  22. Joe said...

    I’d like to see one data point on a drop like Aybar’s that resulted in an out call.  Just one.

    Whether or not he was in the process of transferring is irrelevant.  The question is, did he ever have control of the ball?  He did not.

  23. Steve A said...

    I get an MLB update text from Verizon once a day.  They take the first line of a baseball-related story from sources around the country and use that for the update.  Today’s was a slight variation on the AP story on the Marlins/Cards game and Josh Johnson’s 9K performance, sourced to the AP.

    Also, on the Red Sox/Angels game, bad umpiring is bad umpiring regardless of the situation and the relative play of the teams involved.

  24. Curious said...

    Forgive me if I’ve missed it, but is there any current pitch/fx analysis of umpire accuracy calling balls and strikes?

    Or is it being suppressed by those it might embarrass?

    Last night was hardly the first time a Red Sox game has been influenced, one way or the other, by bad calls.

    Hopefully MooseinOhio has it right and the good breaks and bad breaks balance out over 162 games, but given that we have the data, wouldn’t it be good to have statistical confirmation of that?

  25. Guy K said...

    Juan Rivera’s lack of effort on Alex Gonzalez’ game-winning hit was notable, and the silence from the ESPN crew in the booth was deafening. Rivera has got to lay out for that ball, no? As it was, it fell 2 feet in front of him.

  26. frank said...

    don’t forget: the Angels scored 3 runs with 2 outs after a passed ball strike three in the 6th inning.

    the baseball gods work in mysterious ways

  27. Daniel said...

    Craig, I’ve been around for all the Angels’ losses against Boston in the playoffs, even 1986.  And yeah, the sting of those have worn off, so this is probably just heat of the moment type reaction.  I have never felt more frustrated after an Angels game.  I literally yelled at the television on ball four, waking my kids up.

    The Angels blew that game in a lot of different ways, but that only makes it worse considering they actually won the game – twice.  Green should have been called out a few pitches earlier on a check swing where he went around.  The Sox had scored a couple runs earlier after a botched call where Aybar lost the ball on a glove to hand transfer at second base that the umpire missed.  And then to miss that strike…I’m still livid.

  28. dtro said...

    I actually think Daniel Murphy plays a pretty credible first base. You should change his name to Daniel “I have no business as a Major League starter because I can’t hit” Murphy.

  29. Fritz said...

    Just to quell your obession – they don’t use pie plates for the shaving cream and/or ice cream pies. They just fill up a towel with the cream and shove it in their faces. It’s not the traditional pie plate so you don’t have to wonder where they’re stored in the clubhouse.

  30. bensdad said...

    Sure the Phillies gave up a run, in the 9th inning off the dregs of the bullpen – with a six run lead against the NAt’s, Charlie Manuel would have to be a doddering fool to do anything different…..on second thought, ignore this post.

  31. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Thanks, Fritz. I had this mental image of a whole table full of pies just sitting there, not unlike those seen in old Three Stooges shorts. The ones that always just so happen to be set up at parties full of old dowagers and plutocrats upon which the boys stumble.

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