December 9, 2013
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Thursday, September 26, 2013
Tigers 1, Twins 0: The Tigers finally clinch the AL Central. It was a nail-biter, though, as they scored their lone run in the first inning and then held off the Twins all night long. Best part of their celebration? For the second year in a row Max Scherzer rocked the goggles with two different color lenses.
Indians 7, White Sox 2: The Indians keep their foot on the gas, continuing their season-long abuse of the White Sox. They've beat the Pale Hose 14 straight times. Danny Salazar struck out eight dudes in five and a third innings.
Rays 8, Yankees 3: I've often said that you can't count out the Yankees until they are officially dead. Well, now they are officially dead. Phil Hughes failed to get past the fifth inning once again. That makes 14 times for him this year, which ties the single season record since 1969. He's gone after this year. He needs to retreat to some home for shell-shocked pitchers on the west coast. Like maybe Seattle or San Diego.
Rangers 7, Astros 3: The Rangers are still alive, still one back of Cleveland. The competition now gets considerably tougher, however, as they go from hosting the hapless Astros to the far more hapful Angels.
Brewers 4, Braves 0: I held forth on Twitter about this last night. My view: Carlos Gomez's home run trot was pretty punky and low rent, but Brian McCann literally blocking the basepaths and preventing Gomez from crossing the plate was just dumb. This is the second or third time this year the Braves and McCann have taken it upon themselves to be the baseball decorum police, and it's La Russian in its silliness. You know how you deal with a dumb showboat? Ignore him. Point and laugh. Have the scoreboard operator put up the NL standings with the Brewers' place in them bolded. Spare me the macho You Have To Play The Game The Right Way business and lead by example. For what it's worth, Gomez apologized after the game. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see McCann apologize for instigating a benches-clearing situation which could have gotten someone hurt.
Cubs 4, Pirates 2: The Pirates are now three behind St. Louis with three games to go, so this is pretty much all about the Wild Card now.
Cardinals 4, Nationals 1: The sweep. Youth served the Cardinals, as youngsters Shelby Miller, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal combined for the one-run performance.
Mets 1, Reds 0: Daisuke Matsuzaka made 'em look pretty weak, and the Reds dropped two of three to the Mets and now have to sweep Pittsburgh this weekend to host the Wild Card game at Great American Ballpark.
Angels 3, Athletics 1: Jered Weaver pitched seven innings of five-hit ball and Josh Hamilton drove in two. If only this sort of combo happened far more between April and August. Alas. The Angels have taken four of six from the A's in the past week or two and now face the Rangers, whose season they can spoil. Probably worth keeping an eye on these guys next year. Just too much talent to continue to suck like they have.
Red Sox 15, Rockies 5: Todd Helton got a horse, a homer and a double in his final home game for the Rockies, but he also got a pretty darn decisive loss. Will Middlebrooks had two homers -- a grand slam and a three-run shot -- to give him seven RBI.
Marlins 3, Phillies 2: Adeiny Hechavarria drove in three runs, including the go-ahead run in the eighth.
Orioles 9, Blue Jays 5: Four homers for the O's as they continue to play out the string with Adam Jones, Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters on the bench. This win finally assured them of a .500+ record.
Padres 12, Diamondbacks 2 : Twelve runs for the Padres? Wow. After the game Jedd Gyorko said "It's been awhile since we had a game like that." Heck, there are stretches of five or six games combined where they haven't had a performance like that.
Mariners 6, Royals 0: The Royals bow out of the playoff race. On the one hand, if you told me before the season that Kansas City would be in it until just before the last weekend of the year I'd say that the Rpyals had an amazing, expectation-exceeding season. On the other hand, having watched them more closely this year than we normally have watched them, it's hard to escape the feeling that what ultimately did them in was too many stretches on not playing up to potential. Obviously this was still a successful season. But such a weird team. One that can look so good in some stretches and look so bad in others.
Giants 6, Dodgers 4: Likely Barry Zito's last win for the Giants. Seven years in Oakland, seven years in San Francisco. Nice bookends I suppose, with a lot of overpaid performance in the middle, but such is life. He left the game between innings so he didn't get a standing ovation. One wonders what the San Francisco fans would have done if he had been pulled mid-inning. What is the proper response to someone who was around for so much success but, really, didn't contribute too terribly much to it?
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Indians 5, White Sox 4: Unbelievable. Chris Perez blows a save in the top of the ninth and the ancient Jason Giambi picks him and the Indians up in the bottom, smacking a two-run walkoff homer. Still life in that old bat. Still life in the Indians, who remain in Wild Card position.
Rangers 3, Astros 2: Texas keeps pace. Helps that the Rangers are playing a corpse of an Astros team, which has lost 11 in a row. Given what everyone else in the AL is doing right now, the Rangers are the only remaining threat to Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
Cardinals 2, Nationals 0: Close but no cigar for Michael Wacha, who loses a no-hitter with two out in the ninth on a Ryan Zimmerman infield single that went a freaking inch over Wacha's head and just couldn't be put away by Pete Kozma and Matt Adams. A near no-no now, but it's not even certain he'll be in the playoffs rotation for St. Louis.
Pirates 8, Cubs 2: Gerrit Cole pitched six strong and hit an RBI single. Pedro Alvarez drove in three. Pittsburgh keeps pace with St. Louis and remains a game up on Cincy.
Mets 4, Reds 2: Mike Leake had been dominant of late but he came up empty against the Mets, not even making it out of the second inning. He gave up gave up four runs and eight hits in that short time, including a three-run homer to Daniel Murphy. Cincinnati is now three back of the Cardinals and one back of the Pirates.
Braves 3, Brewers 2: An Andrelton Simmons walkoff single helps Atlanta remain two up on the Dodgers and a half game up on the Cardinals for the best record in the NL and a chance to face the Wild Card victor. There isn't a team in the playoff picture who has a more pronounced home/road split than the Braves, so they need to keep their foot on the gas.
Blue Jays 3, Orioles 2: And with that the Orioles are eliminated. Mark DeRosa, of all people, helped twist the knife, hitting the game-tying RBI single in the eighth and the go-ahead RBI in extras.
Phillies 2, Marlins 1: The 100th loss of the year for Miami. Didn't take much in the way of fireworks for the Phillies to hand it to the Marlins, either. Their runs came on a bases-loaded walk and a groundout single.
Rays 7, Yankees 0: It's almost over for the Yankees. Matt Moore shut them out for five innings and the Rays pen took care of the rest. Hiroki Kuroda's second half continues to be decidedly "meh" as he allowed five runs in five and two-thirds.
Tigers 4, Twins 2: The Tigers clinch the playoffs and the magic number for the division title is now one. Doug Fister and Austin Jackson lead the charge.
Rockies 8, Red Sox 3: Charlie Blackmon, Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson went deep off John Lackey. Tyler Chatwood allowed only one run -- unearned -- in seven.
Angels 3, Athletics 0: The Angels' late surge continues, as Jason Vargas throws a four-hit shutout, ending this one in a crisp two hours and 17 minutes. Watch the Angels, who are set up to spoil the Rangers' season in their final series this weekend.
Diamondbacks 2, Padres 1: Didi Gregorius tripled in what would prove to be the winning run in the 12th. Paul Goldschmidt hit his 36th homer. The Padres' only run came on a passed ball. West Coast Baseball.
Mariners 4, Royals 0: That's almost it for the Royals, who are now four back with five to play. James Paxton pitched seven shutout innings and struck out 10. Justin Smoak with a big three-run homer.
Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Hyun-Jin Ryu combined with two relievers for a five-hitter. Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig went deep.
Ten years ago today, veteran slugger Carlos Delgado had the game of his life. On Sept. 25, 2003, Delgado became just the 15th player to hit four home runs in one game.
On that date, Delgado’s Blue Jays were playing out their string of a season in which they had done okay, though they were not going to the playoffs. The Blue Jays were going to host Tampa Bay, the division’s perennial cellar dweller.
Only 13,408 diehard fans came out to the SkyDome that night, but Delgado would provide them with some treats.
The fun began in the bottom of the first. Tampa starting pitcher Jorge Sosa had one out when he allowed a single to DH Frank Catalanotto and then walked a young Vernon Wells. Up came Delgado. After swinging and missing at the first offering, Delgado’s aim was true on the second pitch. Gone. Just like that, Toronto had a 3-0 lead behind Delgado’s three-run homer.
That wasn’t too surprising. Delgado was always a good power hitter, and this was his year to drive in runs. He’d end the season with 145 RBIs, nearly 30 more than anyone else in the American League.
The game trudged on, and little had changed heading into the bottom of the fourth. Toronto now was up 3-1 when Delgado led off the frame for Toronto. For the second time, he took a Sosa pitch deep, and it was 4-1.
This was vintage Delgado. He wasn’t just a slugger, but a streaky slugger. He’d already had four different three-homer games in his career. Hank Aaron, with all his power, had just one. Delgado would end his career with 49 multi-homer games, so he knew how to bunch up his big shots.
Tampa rallied, and in the top of the sixth took a lead, 6-5. The bad news for them was that Delgado was leading off the bottom of the sixth. The Toronto first baseman greeted new Tampa pitcher Joe Kennedy rather rudely, sending one of his pitches into the stands for a game-tying solo home run.
Both teams scored a run in the seventh, and then Tampa Bay scored again in the top of the eighth for an 8-7 lead. But again, the worst possible news greeted them in the bottom of the eighth: Delgado was scheduled to lead off.
Sure enough, Delgado did his magic once again. Facing another new reliever—Lance Carter this time—Delgado made his bit of history by smashing a fourth home run ball of the game. The only good news for Tampa is that Delgado had led off three times, so could only drive in himself. (But it made no difference, as Toronto scored two more runs in the eighth for a 10-8 triumph.)
At the time, it looked like four-homer games were becoming a trend. The year before two players—Mike Cameron and Shawn Green—had done it, so Delgado made three in short order. But it would be nine more years until it happened again, when Josh Hamilton did it in 2012. It hasn’t happened since.
So it really was a great accomplishment by Carlos Delgado, and he achieved it 10 years ago today.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Pirates 2, Cubs 1: And with that the Pirates are going to the playoffs. It's so strange, though, how even though it's the franchise that has lost for the past 20 years -- even though it's just the laundry that has been shut out so long -- that we sort of passively put all that weight on the current members of the Pirates too. Weight that Andrew McCutchen talked about after the game:
"Even though I didn't lose for the last 20 years, they make you feel like you are. You feel like you lost those 20 years"
That's pretty remarkable when you think about it. McCutchen was six years old when Sid Bream slid into home plate in the 1992 NLCS, yet pressure has been put on him simply because he got drafted by the Pirates instead of, say, the Giants. The Reds clinched yesterday too and are back to the playoffs. No one asks, say, Shin-Soo Choo about any weight being removed even though he's just as much of a playoffs newbie as McCutchen is. Oh well.
Reds 3, Mets 2: Like I said, the Reds clinched too, this on a Shin-Soo Choo single in the 10th, but it was a very different scene afterward. No champagne or anything, as they want the division title and seeing the Cardinals beat the Nats a bit after their game ended made that a half game harder to do.
Cardinals 4, Nationals 3: The Nats get eliminated. Proof that you can't just sleepwalk for four and a half months and then step on the gas for a while and expect it all to be OK. Proof that preseason expectations and predictions mean nothing. Proof that when someone -- like a lot of us around here -- adds "on paper" to comments about how good a team looks in March it's probably close to meaningless. Meanwhile the Cardinals are tied with the Braves for the best record in the National League. Whichever of those teams prevails in this regard gets to avoid the Dodgers in the NLDS, so yeah, there are still things to be decided in the NL.
Rays 5, Orioles 4: What an awful day for the Orioles. They lost on a James Loney walkoff homer, get swept in four games and lose Manny Machado and Alexi Casilla to serious injuries. The Rays are a game up on Cleveland for the top Wild Card spot. The O's are all but eliminated.
Twins 4, Tigers 3: The Tigers could've clinched the Central but the wheels fell off late. Lots here that suggests what kind of trouble the Tigers could have in the playoffs. Justin Verlander had a dominant stretch of strikeouts -- he finished with 12 in six innings -- but inefficiency prevented him from going deep into the game. This exposed the Tigers bullpen for too many innings and led Jim Leyland to go to closer Joaquin Benoit for a five-out save, which just wasn't happening. Today is another day to clinch, but I feel like there are reasons to be concerned.
Brewers 5, Braves 0: Atlanta played much like a team that had spent the previous night shooting champagne into each others' faces. Marco Estrada threw seven shutout innings and Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy homered.
Athletics 10, Angels 5: Not all teams that celebrated Sunday looked flat on Monday. Five wins in a row for Oakland, which benefited from Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss homers and RBI from seven different A's.
Rangers 12, Astros 0: Alex Rios hit for the cycle and drove in four runs. Texas is a game behind Cleveland for the final wild card spot. All of their remaining games are at home.
Royals 6, Mariners 5: Alex Gordon keeps the Royals' hopes alive. He gunned down a runner at the plate in extra innings and then scored on Salvador Perez's two-out double in the 12th to put KC ahead for good. The Royals are still a longshot, though. Three back with six to play and, unlike the Rangers, all their remaining games are on the road.
Marlins 4, Phillies 0: This could've been Roy Halladay's final start for the Phillies. And, though he has said he will pitch again next year, the way he looks it could be his final start in major league baseball. He faced only three batters, walking two, and couldn't break 83 on the gun. This is pretty sad to watch.
White Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: Tiger got to hunt, Bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?" Sox got to pitch, Jays have to bat, Jays fans have to ask where their Leafs' schedule's at. Why no, I didn't read Charles J. Shields' quite excellent biography of Kurt Vonnegut over the weekend. Why do you ask?
Padres 4, Diamondbacks 1: My Friday and Monday absences were occasioned by a trip to San Diego for a wedding. While there I got to take in Sunday's game at Petco. And hang out and walk on the beach and eat In-N-Out Burger and good tacos and drink good beer at Karl Strauss and see my brother and enjoy all of the good things Southern California has to offer while avoiding just about all of the bad things it has to offer, mostly because I didn't go up near Los Angeles. Starting about 8 a.m. yesterday, as I was enjoying a wonderful breakfast, I began my usual "wait, why don't I live here again?" musings. I've been back in Ohio for about eight hours now and I'm still musing. Sigh. Oh, Padres beat the D-backs. Apologies for the non-recap of that one. I was busy consulting real estate listings.
25 years ago today was a disappointing day for Blue Jays ace Dave Stieb. Well, there were plenty of good things about it. He got the win, and a starting pitcher always likes that. He got a complete game; pitchers take pride in that. He even got a shutout, and that’s a feather in anyone’s cap.
But if you’re going to pick up a win by throwing a complete game shutout, it’s hard to have it end in a more deflating way than the way it ended for Dave Stieb a quarter-century ago today. You see, he came one out from a no-hitter, and would’ve had it, had it not been for a fluky bad hop.
On Sept. 24, 1988, Stieb led the Toronto Blue Jays against the not-so-mighty Cleveland Indians. Early on, it was clear that Stieb had brought his A game. He set down the side in order in the first and second innings. Though he allowed a one-out walk in the third, that batter was gunned down in a failed steal attempts, and Stieb retired the next batter to end the inning.
In his second time through the order, it was more of the same. In innings four through six, the only batter to reach base came on a walk, and he was rubbed out on the base paths (this time as part of a double play).
People were starting to wonder: Could Stieb do it? Could he throw a no-hitter? Then again, maybe they were wondering if anyone would score, for Indians pitcher Rod Nichols was twirling a gem of his own. It wasn’t a no-hitter, but it was a shutout.
Stieb retired the side in order again in the seventh. He was just six outs away. In the eighth, he hit a batter with two outs, but then retired Terry Francona via fly out. Stieb wouldn’t be able to face the bare minimum 27 batters on the day, but the no-hitter was intact. And Stieb had just one more inning to go.
Even better, in the top of the ninth the Jays finally broke through, turning a pair of singles, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly into a run, for a 1-0 advantage. Now it was all up to Stieb.
First up in the ninth was catcher Andy Allanson. He’s the guy who walked and tried to steal back in the third. This time, Stieb fanned him for his eighth K of the day. Next up came veteran first baseman—and former Jays teammate of Stieb—Willie Upshaw. Pinch-hitting for the shortstop, Upshaw tapped out a routine grounder to second.
Stieb had never thrown a no-hitter. The closest he’d come was earlier this year when he had a complete game one-hitter, but the hit there came in the fourth inning, so there wasn’t much drama to it. Now he was just one out away.
To get that out, he’d need to retire leadoff hitter Julio Franco. Franco took the first pitch for a ball, and then took the next two for called strikes. Apparently, the umpire was calling a wider strike zone than Franco expected, so he began to protect the plate. Franco would play until he was nearly 50 because he was such a good professional hitter, and it showed here. He fouled one off. Then he fouled another off. And a third. Franco was battling. He was going to make Stieb throw him a good pitch. On the seventh pitch, Franco took one that was outside and this time the umpire gave it to him—ball two.
Stieb threw another one—pitch No. 123 of the game—and Franco made contact. This time the ball landed in fair territory—an easy hopper to the second baseman. This was it! All second baseman Manuel Lee had to do was follow the bouncing ball into his glove and Stieb would have it.
The ball bounced on the turf to Lee and then... took an utterly insane hop wildly over Lee’s head. No jump in the world would be high enough to catch it. It was like the ball was suddenly possessed by an evil spirit that hated Stieb. The ball went into the outfield for a single. You couldn’t call it an error—Lee had no play. Apparently, the ball bounced on the seam where the turf meets the dirt at second base and went goofy as a result.
Stieb retired the next batter to preserve the win, but lost the no-hitter. This would become in some ways the signature game for Stieb. He was the guy who kept just missing the no-hitter.
In fact, in his very next start, on Sept. 30, 1988, Stieb took a no-hitter into the ninth, only to allow a single with two outs. At least that time it was a routine single. Incredibly, in his second start in 1989, Stieb had another one-hitter. This time the single came early—in the fifth inning—but Stieb had three one-hitters in four starts.
In August 1989, Stieb was one out from a perfect game, only to allow a double, then a single, losing his perfect game, no-hitter and shutout. (He did get a complete game win, though). Three weeks later Stieb took a no-hitter into the sixth only to have a Robin Yount single ruin it for him. In 15 months, Stieb had five one-hitters, and a two-hitter, with three of those games seeing him come within one out of a no-hitter.
Hellish, isn’t it? The story has a happy ending. The next year, on Sept. 2, 1990, Stieb finally did it: He threw a no-hitter. If anyone ever earned it, it was Dave Stieb. He had plenty of hard luck close calls, but none were harder luck than the one-hitter he threw 25 years ago today.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Thirty years ago today, one of baseball’s great milestones was achieved. Longtime Phillies ace Steve Carlton joined the 300-win club, becoming just the 16th member of the club.
Eleven of the members played the heart of their careers in either the 19th century or the Deadball Era. Walter Johnson became the club’s 10th member in 1920, and Pete Alexander followed him four years later, but after that the club damn near shut its doors to new members.
Lefty Grove recorded his 300th—and final—win in 1941, nearly 20 years after Alexander. It was another two-decade gap until anyone else joined. Then, in the early 1960s, first Warren Spahn then Early Wynn became 300-game winners. And there it stood for a long time. Wynn always said he’d be the last member of the 300-win club, and for 20 years, that was true.
In the 1980s, things finally changed. In 1982, longtime spitballer Gaylord Perry finally replaced Wynn as the last 300-game winner, but it was clear that Perry wouldn’t have that designation for long. The 1982 campaign ended with Steve Carlton at 285 wins. Making it to 300 looked like a lock, as Carlton wasn’t showing much signs of age at all.
37 years old or not, Steve Carlton won his fourth Cy Young Award in 1982, a trophy he earned by leading the in NL numerous categories, including strikeouts (286), innings pitched (295.2), shutouts (6), complete games (19), starts (38), and most pertinently, wins (23).
But in 1983, the wins weren’t coming as easily to Carlton. According to ERA+, he was almost exactly as effective in 1983 as 1982 (a 116 mark in 1983 versus 119 the year before), but he wasn’t getting the same level of run support. The 1982 Phillies averaged nearly 4.5 runs per outing for Carlton, but in 1983 it was down to 3.7.
Carlton spent much of the year with his record around .500. As the second week of September ended, he was 12-15 on the year, with 297 wins. He had just four more starts to go all year, so he was going to have to make them count.
Sure enough, Carlton won his Sept. 14 and Sept. 18 outings. Now he was in striking distance of baseball immortality.
Thus began Sept. 23, 1983. Carlton would pitch for the Phillies in St. Louis, the team he’d come up with—and that had traded him away nearly a dozen years before.
The Cardinals were defending world champions but were having a down season, scraping by just under .500. Typifying their off year, facing off against Carlton was pitcher Joaquin Andujar, who sported a 6-15 record on the season.
The Phillies took an early 1-0 lead in the most fitting way possible, an RBI single by Carlton in the second inning. The Phillies expanded it to 2-0 an inning later, but the Cardinals tied it on a two-run homer by outfielder David Green in the bottom of the fourth.
Any tension was short-lived, as the Phillies immediately leapt on Andujar for three runs in the fifth and added another run in the sixth.
From that point on, it was smooth sailing for Carlton. He allowed a few hits here or there but was never under any real pressure. The biggest hit against him was a leadoff triple by Ozzie Smith in the eighth inning. But Carlton responded by fanning the next two batters and then getting revenge on Green by having him ground out to end the inning.
Carlton lasted into the bottom of the ninth, striking out Ken Oberkfell for the final out. Lefty had done it, he’d won No. 300. Soon he’d be joined by generation-mates Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, and Nolan Ryan. But this day belonged to Steve Carlton, and that day was 30 years ago today.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Orioles 5, Red Sox 3: Chris Davis with a two-run single in the 12th to win the game. Wei-Yin Chen gave up 11 hits but somehow only three runs in five and two-thirds. Baltimore remains one back in the Wild Card. The Sox' magic number for the division remains at three.
Braves 5, Nationals 2: They're pretty much all must-win for Washington right now and the Nats didn't win, even with home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor gifting them runs. Homers from Justin Uggla and Dan Uggla.
Twins 4, White Sox 3: Minnesota avoids the sweep with a good outing from Scott Diamond. His first win in three months.
Marlins 4, Phillies 3: Ed Lucas hit a homer in the 10th to give the Marlins the lead and almost helped woof it away with an error in the bottom of the inning. It ended up being cool, though.
Angels 5, Athletics 4: Josh Hamilton continues to build hope for 2014. He homered to tie it up in the eighth inning and then drove in the go-ahead run in extras. Mike Trout homered too and the Angels have won four of five. A's starter A.J. Griffin on Trout's homer: "He's good at baseball. I was trying to get him to miss it, but he got it." That quite accurately sums up a great deal of baseball I suppose.
Padres 3, Pirates 2: Three straight losses to San Diego puts the Pirates two back in the NL Central. Mark Melancon have up two in the ninth to blow a 2-1 lead. "What a game," San Diego manager Bud Black said afterward. I bet Clint Hurdle was a bit more colorful in his description.
Rays 4, Rangers 3: One of five extra- inning games, here the Rays got a walkoff single from Desmond Jennings in the 12th. The Rangers can get a 2-2 split today. If they do, these two teams will have effectively angered all of the other AL Wild Card contenders who would have benefited from one team sweeping the other or at least winning the series.
Mets 5, Giants 4: The Giants had a 4-0 lead entering the eighth and still had a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Josh Satin raised some eyebrows with a walkoff two-run single to cap a Mets four-run rally. Three RBI for Satin overall.
Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3: This must have been a New York thing, because, like the Mets, the Yankees were down three late and rallied for four. Vernon Wells had a go-ahead two-run double which, according to all the game stories, "kept the Yankees alive." Which I suppose it technically true, but it would be cool to actually see a decent nine innings of baseball from them and maybe a couple of good games in a row before truly declaring them among the playoff living.
Brewers 7, Cubs 0: Sean Halton hit a grand slam. Tyler Thornburg allowed only two hits over six innings. I had half a mind to watch this one in its entirety in order to get a last dose of relatively meaningless baseball before the playoff season started but couldn't bring myself to. Maybe I'll do that with a game or two next week.
Mariners 8, Tigers 0: For whatever else has happened this season for the Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma has been fantastic. Eight shutout innings on four hits here. He is 13-6 with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP for a bad Seattle team.
Cardinals 4, Rockies 3: St. Louis pads its lead. Adam Wainwright won his 17th. Edward Mujica struck out Todd Helton with the bases loaded to end the game.
Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 4: One of many late rallies last night, here the Snakes had a five-run eighth. Paul Goldschmidt homered. He leads the NL with 34, which feels like a 1980s league-leading total. I feel like 39 was always what you needed to lead the league back when Daryl Strawberry roamed the Earth.
Royals 7, Indians 2: A must-win for the Royals and they won, depriving the Indians once again of moving into a Wild Card tie. The Royals now get a head-to-head series against the Rangers this weekend, also full of must-win games.
Reds 6, Astros 5: Texas native Jay Bruce with a two-run double in the 13th. The Reds are probably a Wild Card team but they're only a half-game behind the Pirates for the top seed. I bet they'd rather play at Great American Ballpark in a one-and-done than at PNC.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Rangers 7, Rays 1: The Rangers finally snap the skid. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus homered and drove in three runs each to pull Texas back into a tie with Tampa Bay at the top of the Wild Card standings.
Indians 5, Royals 3: Kansas City took a 3-0 lead into the sixth with the Indians being able to do little if anything against rookie Yordano Ventura. They were able to do much more after it was handed off to the normally reliable K.C. pen, however, scoring five unanswered runs. Not that the pen was used optimally here. At least one of the runs came when Ned Yost stuck with Ventura a bit too long. Others came when the Royals failed to match the leverage of the situation with the talent of the relievers available. Cleveland is a half game back in the Wild Card. Kansas City three and a half.
Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: The O's committed a bunch of errors and Scott Feldman walked six dudes but they somehow figured out how to get to Koji Uehara. Chris Davis hit his 51st homer, giving him sole possession of the Orioles' team record. The Orioles are two back. Despite the loss, the Red Sox' magic number for the AL East is now three thanks to the Rays' loss.
Blue Jays 2, Yankees 0: Four straight losses for the fading Yankees as they were totally stymied by R.A. Dickey. Homers from Colby Rasmus and Rajai Davis were all the Jays got but all the Jays needed.
Cardinals 11, Rockies 4: The Cardinals break the first place tie in the NL Central by tattooing the Rockies. Four hits including a two-run homer for Matt Holliday, who also robbed Todd Helton of extra bases on a play in the field. It was 10-0 before Colorado even put a run on the board.
Padres 5, Pirates 2: San Diego continues to play spoiler, taking its second straight from Pittsburgh. Jed Gyorko had three hits including a three-run homer. His family lives in Morgantown, W. Va., which is about an hour away and many made the trip. I hope they stopped at the Eat 'n Park in Kirwin Heights on the way there. I know people there.
Reds 10, Astros 0: Happy 100th loss, Houston. Mike Leake shut 'em out for eight innings. Jay Bruce drove in five, hitting his 30th homer.
Nationals 6, Braves 5; Nationals 4, Braves 0: Kind of depressing (and surprising) if you're a Braves fan. But the silver lining here is seeing all the Nats fans bringing out their "Natitude!" and "you just gotta believe!" and "no one will want to play us in October!" stuff on Twitter yesterday. I just want to hug them and tell them how great it is to see them again after five and a half months of silence. Don't cancel your dinner reservations for Wild Card night, however, OK?
Phillies 6, Marlins 4: Six effective innings for Roy Halladay and four RBI for Chase Utley. Seems like old times. Well, except for the part where Halladay is a crafty nibbler with an 88 mph. This may very well have been his last start ever for the Phillies at home.
Tigers 6, Mariners 2: Miguel Cabrera hit his 44th homer. It was his first since late August. The Tigers' magic number is Al Kaline. Someone in the comments tell me what's weird about that linked image, BTW. No prizes for a correct answer, but be satisfied that you learned something interesting.
Giants 8, Mets 5: Angel Pagan homered and tripled and drove in three. Walked twice too. Not a bad return to Citi Field for the former Met. Not so great for the former Giants property, Zack Wheeler, who gave up four runs in five innings.
White Sox 4, Twins 3: Effing Quintana ... that creep can roll, man (6 IP, 8 H, 1 ER).
Brewers 4, Cubs 3: Just your run-of-the-mill walkoff suicide squeeze, executed by Logan Schafer. Check out Ron Roenicke after the game, talking up how much of a baller he is to call that squeeze there:
"Bases loaded, it's not ideal. I have to think about it when we have the bases loaded because it's a flip and a force play at home," Roenicke said. "It's so much easier than having to tag at home so most guys won't do it there."
I think we've found Roenicke's new theme music. Also, his official logo.
Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 3: L.A.'s magic number is now two. More important than that given that the playoffs are inevitable? Matt Kemp going 4 for 4 with two doubles and three RBI. If he's a factor in the lineup, the Dodgers are gonna be fierce come October.
Athletics 2, Angels 1: Josh Donaldson's fantastic season continues with a walkoff bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth. I can't remember who said it, but someone I follow on Twitter recently said that Donaldson is the absolute best player in baseball whom you would not recognize if he was standing next to you on the subway.
Twenty years ago today, the Boston Red Sox suffered a loss from hell. It wasn’t the most important or meaningful loss in franchise history. It isn’t up there with the Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone games. But of all the painful losses in meaningless regular-season games, it was among the most horrible.
On Sept. 18, 1993, the Boston Red Sox were in the Bronx to face their hated archrival, the Yankees. Of course a horrible loss had to come against the Yankees. Their rivalry was at a low moment at the time. The Yankees hadn’t been to the postseason in over a decade, and Boston was barely .500, but still, they were rivals.
At any rate, heading into the bottom of the ninth, Boston appeared to have this one well in hand, up 3-1. Relief pitcher Greg Harris looked to put the Yankees away easily, retiring the first pair of batters in the inning.
Sure, blowing a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth when there were two outs and none on would be heartbreaking, but it wouldn’t be anything worth writing about 20 years later. No, this would be an extra-special way to blow a two-run lead in bottom of the ninth with two outs and none on.
It started off badly enough as Harris plunked second baseman Mike Gallego. Eh, it’s no big deal, though. Next up, Yankee manager Buck Showalter called on pinch hitter Mike Stanley to do some damage.
Stanley was a hitter you had to take seriously. He’d end the season batting .305 with 26 homers—nothing to sneeze at it. But Harris wasn’t intimidated. He threw the first pitch past Stanley for strike one.
Next, Harris swung and connected. The ball flew to left, where Mike Greenwell circled under it for an easy, game-ending out. Greenwell kept his eye on it, the ball landed in his glove, and it was over. Out No. 27 to end the game as a Boston victory.
Except for one thing.
Apparently, that last swing—and the entire play coming from it—didn’t count. Just before Harris threw the ball, some jag-off Yankee fan ran onto the field. Third-base umpire Tim Welke had called time, but it was too late for Harris, and Stanley couldn’t take the risk that it was the umpire or someone else yelling time.
But it was the umpire who called for time. The play that ended the game wasn’t a play. It was all nullified.
You can guess what happens next, right? Given new life, Stanley swung at the next pitch and again hit it to Greenwell in left, but it was a clean single. Pinch runner Gerald Williams steamed into second for the Yankees with the potential tying run in Stanley on first.
Up next was former Red Sox great and future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. Harris had Boggs at a 2-2 count, putting the Yankees down to their last strike. Then Boggs fouled off a pair before doing what he did what he did best, hit a single.
It was actually an infield single to second, a rarity for the speed-challenged Boggs, but it was enough to score Williams. Now the game was 3-2 and the tying run was in scoring position. This was rapidly turning into a nightmare for Boston.
Batter up, left fielder Dion James. And a battle ensued. Harris soon had James down in the count 1-2, again putting the Yankees down to their last strike. James fouled the next pitch off to stay at 1-2. He then took the next pair for balls, giving him a foul count. The seventh pitch he fouled off, keeping his hopes alive. Finally, on the eighth pitch, James won the fight by drawing ball four.
Harris must have felt mentally tested on the mound. He’d thrown 16 pitches since getting the apparent last out of the game. Seven of those pitches came with the Yankees down to their last strike. But three straight batters had reached against him, and now the bases were loaded with the tying run 90 feet from the plate and the winning run for the Yankees in scoring position. A single was all the Yankees needed.
And that’s exactly what the Yankees got. With longtime franchise stalwart Don Mattingly at the plate, Harris threw one more pitch. Mattingly ripped it into right field, and two runs came around to score.
The Yankees had won, 4-3. And they owed it all to everyone’s least favorite creature, a drunken jerk who ran on the field.
Yeah, that was a mighty rough loss for Boston, and it was 20 years ago today.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Rays 6, Rangers 2: A homer and three RBI for Wil Myers as the Rays send the Rangers spiraling ever further into despair. Because the Indians lost too, the Rangers didn't fall out of the Wild Card slot, but they did fall out of the top spot, meaning that they're now closer to falling out of the playoff picture than Tampa Bay is for now. The Orioles are two games back while the Yankees and Royals are both 2 1/2 games back.
Phillies 12, Marlins 2: Cliff Lee has correctly determined that the best way to win with the Phillies is to go all Baseball Bugs on the opposition. Fourteen strikeouts and four RBI by virtue of a bases-loaded two-run single, an RBI triple, and another RBI single. That has to be some sort of combined awesomeness high water mark for a pitcher this season and maybe in several years. Oh, and Lee passed the 200-inning and 200-strikeout marks for the year too.
Padres 2, Pirates 0: Andrew Cashner with a one-hitter. It was a Maddux too, completed in fewer than 100 pitches. No walks. seven strikeouts. Simply dominant.
Rockies 6, Cardinals 2: But thankfully for the one-hit Pirates, the Cardinals lost too, keeping them tied with the Cardinals. Or maybe it was "thankfully for the Cardinals, the Pirates were one-hit." I suppose you can take your pick. Anyway, Charlie Blackmon had three hits and drove in three runs for the Rockies.
White Sox 12, Twins 1: A seven-run first inning for Chicago killed every incentive for folks back in Minnesota to watch. Assuming they had that incentive in the first place. Erik Johnson pitched six scoreless innings and got his first major league win.
Brewers 6, Cubs 1: Three hits including a two-run homer for Caleb Gindl. Wily Peralta allowed only an unearned run in six innings while allowing five hits and striking out seven.
Tigers 4, Mariners 2: Rick Porcello struck out 10 and won his 13th. At one point during this game the camera focused on Raul Ibanez. The girlfriend: "Hhe looks like an old man." Me: "Well, he is." A few minutes later I got up off the couch, making all kinds of pained noises and walking funny and hunched because I painted a room on Sunday and by last night I was stiff all over. Meanwhile, Ibanez was running his butt off around third base and scoring a run. Old is relative.
Royals 7, Indians 1: The Indians lost a chance to slide into Wild Card position. Of course, given what Texas is doing lately -- and given that the Royals are the Indians' toughest opponents for the remainder of the year -- they have time.
Reds 6, Astros 1: Johnny Cueto is back and he pitched five scoreless innings. Next outing will be a bigger test, though, as he will presumably face major league hitters. Zack Cozart homered and drove in four.
Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 1: The Dodgers continue their late-season slide. They're lucky to have all kinds of sliding room -- win the next two against these D-backs and they clinch -- but they don't look like the juggernaut of summer. Paul Goldschmidt with another homer.
Angels 12, Athletics 1: Jarrod Parker's unbeaten streak ends as he takes his first loss since May 22. C.J. Wilson won his 17th and he himself is now unbeaten in his last 13 starts. Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo each hit homers in the eighth.
Braves vs. Nationals: POSTPONED: I guess there's just a meanness in this world.