December 4, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Tigers 6, Royals 3: Before the season began I said something to the effect of "if I had to bet the lives of my children on the outcome of any division, it would be the Tigers winning the AL Central." I repeated that line on the radio a bunch of times. I was sweating it until game 160, but Mookie and Carlo: you're safe now. Daddy won't have to give you to the evil gamblers.
White Sox 11, Indians 0: I imagine the beating that Chicago administered to Cleveland felt good for a while, but the Tigers win over the Royals sealed their fate. Hector Santiago shut out the Tribe for seven and Dayan Viciedo drove in five, but it's all over now, baby blue.
Pirates 2, Braves 1; Phillies 2, Nationals 0: That's about as happy as you'll ever see a team after they get shut out. The Nats don't care, they still won the division. And they partied like rock stars, too. In some way this is the best reasonable outcome for Atlanta. The Braves' chance at winning the East was tiny, and by losing on Monday instead of, say, Wednesday, they can be sure to rest the pen and whoever else needs it for the Wild Card game on Friday.
Athletics 4, Rangers 3: The A's clinch a playoff spot and with that eliminate the Rays and Angels. Oh, and they move to within one game of the Rangers for the AL West. Because they're already going to the playoffs, no one seems to be talking about The Rangers woofing the division away. They've been in first place since April 9, and had a lead in the division as big as six games as late as Aug. 23.
Yankees 10, Red Sox 2; Rays 5, Orioles 3: Baltimore falls a game back after getting beaten by the surging yet, unfortunately for them, now-dead Rays. Meanwhile, the Yankees beat the walking dead Red Sox who possibly had two major leaguers in that lineup last night. In other news, Fernando Rodney was a bit shaky, but he got out of trouble to get his 47th save in 39 chances and lowered his ERA to 0.61. Which is nutzoid.
Cardinals 4, Reds 2: Dodgers 3, Giants 2: The Cardinals clinch at least a tie for the second Wild Card. They're winners of 11 of their last 14. Meanwhile, the Dodgers do what they can to stay alive, winning their sixth straight. They need to make it eight, however, and hope for two straight Cardinals losses in order to force a tie for the Wild Card. Elian Herrera hit a walkoff single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.
Angels 8, Mariners 4: The A's win eliminates the Angels, so Mike Trout's 4 for 5, double, triple and three RBI apparently means nothing now. At least that's what people tell me.
Marlins 3, Mets 2: The Mets went up 2-0, but Giancarlo Stanton started the comeback with a homer and his mates completed it. Easy to forget in the hot mess that is the end of the Marlins season, but a 22 year-old just hit his 37th homer.
Blue Jays 6, Twins 5: In May, extra innings between teams like this is referred to as "free baseball." On Oct. 1, it's referred to as "excessive." Anthony Gose singled home the winning run in the 10th inning in front of the smallest Rogers Centre crowd of the season.
Astros 3, Cubs 0: Welcome to the 100-loss club for the first time since 1966, Chicago!
Brewers 5, Padres 3: Ryan Braun doubled and went 2 for 4. A couple of big games and I think it's still possible for him to finish with an OPS over 1.000. Which would be handy for those who want to argue about how boned he was in the MVP voting this year.
Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 5: Even more free baseball. This one went to the 13th tied at three. Colorado scored four in the top of the 13th, Arizona scored two and that was that. The Rockies' win ensures that they won't lose 100. Which is something, I guess.
40 years ago today, Mickey Lolich came through with one of the greatest clutch pitching performances in Detroit Tigers history.
Oct. 2, 1972 began the last series of the baseball season. 1972 was a strange season, due to a brief players strike at the outset of the year, all teams lost a handful of games. When the baseball lords decided to just cancel the lost contests instead of making them up, that meant that the final standings for any of the division races could end with teams a half-game ahead or behind.
In fact, that was the situation in the AL Central. The Tigers began the day in second place with an 84-69 record, just a half-game behind of the front running 84-68 Boston Red Sox. And wouldn’t you know it – the season ended with Detroit hosting Boston.
Really, it was simple. Whoever won the series won the division. That made the first game that much more important. If you win it, you put all the pressure on the other squad to win out, while giving yourself a little room for error. That pressure was especially acute on Detroit as they after all began the games trailing.
For the big game, Detroit went with their big guy, ace pitcher Mickey Lolich. Four years earlier he’d won three games in the 1968 World Series, including a Game Seven victory on short rest while against Bob Gibson. He could handle a big game for the Tigers. Then again, just four days ago he’d pitched a whopping 12 innings in a complete game loss. Would he still be tired?
Lolich looked a little shaky in the first, letting two of the first three batters he face reach base. Then he fanned two in a row to end the inning. And then he fanned another pair in the second inning. Meanwhile, Detroit staked him to a 1-0 lead.
The third was Lolich’s danger spot. After fanning the leadoff hitter (already his fifth K of the day), Lolich ran into trouble. Tommy Harper and Luis Aparicio smacked consecutive singles against him, and then longtime star Carl Yastrzemski smashed a line drive to center for extra bases. Smith came around to score, 1-1. Aparicio blew past third on his way home, but the relay throw got to the plate and Aparicio thought better of it and retreated back to third.
And here is where Lolich caught a nice break for himself. Yaz apparently saw the speedy Aparicio go for home but missed him turning around. Not only was Aparicio headed to third – but so was Yaz. Both men ended up on third, and the ump gave Aparicio possession of the bag and called Yaz out. The score was still 1-1 and now there were two outs. True, the go-ahead run was on third and the dangerous Reggie Smith at the plate, but Lolich fanned him for his sixth strikeout victim of the day.
In the fourth Lolich allowed a single and walk, but also racked up another three strikeouts to snuff out any rally. That’s nine Ks in four innings. He had another strikeout in the fifth and two more in the sixth. He let guys on base in almost every inning, but they never had any chances to advance with all the guys going down swinging.
More importantly, Detroit’s hitters came to life, giving Lolich the lead once again. That’s all he needed. After the third inning scare, no Boston player made it to second base until the ninth, and that would-be run died at second.
When it was all said and done Lolich was not perfect—he’d surrendered six hits while issuing five walks and hitting two batters—but he’d also fanned 15 batters while allowing just one run. It was only the fourth time in franchise history a Tiger pitcher struck out at least 15 men in one game – and Lolich pitched three of those games. No other Tiger would fan this many batters in one game until Max Scherzer fanned 15 in seven innings earlier this year.
Detroit won, 4-1 behind Lolich’s gutsy effort. The Tigers won the next day to clinch the division. Lolich’s big game was vital for Detroit’s postseason hopes, and that big game was 40 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball items today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim through things.
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