December 11, 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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Friday, June 21, 2013
Mets 4, Braves 3: Good news: two solo homers for David Wright and five scoreless innings from the bullpen. Bad news: The reason the pen was needed for five innings is that Jon Neise had to leave the game with shoulder problems. Braves news: ugh, you guys have looked positively crappy of late.
Tigers 4, Red Sox 3: Down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Jhonny Peralta hit a walkoff homer. Tigers players were then dispatched to the Red Sox clubhouse to teach Boston players how to cope with their bullpen failing them, seeing as they have so much experience in that area. It's kind of like an Alanon mentor thing.
Nationals 5, Rockies 1: Roy Oswalt returns. Roy Oswalt strikes out 11 batters in five innings. Roy Oswalt also gives up four runs on nine hits, including an Ian Desmond homer and a two-run triple to Adam LaRoche. Which I have to go and see video of now, because Adam LaRoche is the slowest dude in baseball. I'm assuming the center fielder was eaten by a lion or a bear or something as he was going to field the ball and the other two outfielders stopped to render assistance, followed by a mourning period. When that was over and they had distributed the center fielder's belongings to his friends and family and had taken a long road trip to clear their own heads and reflect on the loss of their teammate, one of them probably picked up the ball and threw it to third where they still probably just missed nailing LaRoche.
Pirates 5, Reds 3: A homer, double and single for Pedro Alvarez, who drove in all five Pirates runs. And there was a HBP in this game --- Andrew McCutchen hit by Homer Bailey. A batter has been plunked in each of the 10 games Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have played.
Twins 8, White Sox 4: The sweep. John Danks gave up four homers as part of a 12-hit, six run outing. Sheesh.
Rangers 4, Athletics 3: The Rangers take three of four from the A's and pull to within a game in the west. This one ended with Josh Donaldson getting nailed at the plate on what would have been the game-tying run.
Astros 7, Brewers 4: Carlos Pena has a been veteran presence, a good mentor and, given his poor .223/.332/.383 line, not much else for the Astros. Last night he provided something else, however, smacking a three-run walkoff homer in the 10th.
Cardinals 6, Cubs 1: Lance Lynn wins his 10th game of the year, allowing one run over six innings. Matt Holliday homered and had an RBI single.
Rays 8, Yankees 3: Two homers for Evan Longoria and three driven in overall to put him above 500 RBI for his career. The Yankees have lost seven of nine.
Padres 6, Dodgers 3: Pedro Ciriaco homered, tripled and drove in three. Yasiel Puig homered again, but at this point I presume he's always gonna get his and that was more or less the only bright spot for L.A.
Marlins 2, Giants 1: Marcell Ozuna came in as a pinch hitter and smacked a two-run single to bring the Fish back from behind. Tom Koehler got his first career win and was given a beer shower after the game. He said "I smell like a bar ... Other than the day I met my wife, this is probably the happiest moment of my life." So ... wedding was third?
Angels 10, Mariners 9: The Mariners jumped out to a 7-0 lead and had Felix Hernandez on the hill. I guess Hernandez doesn't know what to do with that kind of run support because he ended up surrendering seven runs of his own on 12 hits in five innings as the Angels bullpen allowed only two runs in seven innings of their own after Tommy Hanson got knocked out of the box. Three RBI for Mark Trumbo.
What do you suppose the coolest way to end a game is? It’s got to be something dramatic—something that leaves you wondering what will happen until the last pitch.
When you get down to it, there’s nothing more dramatic than a team winning a walk-off winner in the bottom of the ninth. Yes, a game-ending strikeout is nice too, but nothing really sticks in the memory like a walk-off hit. Look at the most memorable games in history—most of them are remembered because they ended in walk-off fashion.
The best kind of walk-off hit is the walk-off home run. There is nothing quite so dramatic as the home run. It’s the biggest hit of them all. Again, if you think of the most famous games in history, you’ll think of a lot of walk-off home runs—the Carlton Fisk game, the Kirk Gibson game, the David Freeze game, etc.
Taking it still further, the best kind of walk-off home run is the walk-off grand slam. Hey, bigger is better and there is nothing bigger than a swing that scores four.
But if it’s going to be walk-off grand slam, it better be one hit with the team trailing by three runs. A walk-off slam in a tie game or with a team trailing by just a run is overkill. The closer the score, the less needed the big blast.
Since we’re going all out for drama, the walk-off slam should come with two outs. That way if it’s a fly ball, it ends the game with the home team losing. That really helps amp up the drama.
Last but not least, if you want to really, fully maximize the drama, the two-out, walk-off grand slam with the team trailing by three runs should come on a full count. Of course. That’s the way Hollywood would write it up, right?
So that would be the coolest and most dramatic way to end a game—a team down to its last out —to its last strike even with the bases loaded, trailing by three with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth—and then batter lifts one over the fence for a sudden, shocking, game-ending walk-off grand slam. That’s as awesome as it gets. That’s the ultimate walk-off grand slam.
And it doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen—and it happened to Alan Trammell and the Detroit Tigers 25 years ago today.
On June 21, 1988, the Tigers hosted the visiting New York Yankees. (As it happens, they were both vying for control of the AL East at the time, too. As if this game needed any more drama).
For most of the day, there was no suspense whatsoever. New York jumped on Detroit starter Jack Morris for one run in the first and four more in the second. Detroit couldn’t counter at all. They knocked out New York’s starter (a very young Al Leiter) in the fourth, but not because they scored on him, but because he got hit by a comebacker up the middle. Detroit finally scored one run in the sixth, but the Yankees added another run in the top of the ninth.
Heading into the final frame, the game appeared safely locked away with New York up, 6-1.
The Tigers began the final frame with a lead off single and then a walk. That drove reliever Neil Allen from the game. In came New York relief ace Dave Righetti. He let the first batter single to load the bases, but then got a line out and strikeout. The bases were still loaded and Detroit hadn’t scored—and now they were down to their last out.
But then Righetti ran into some trouble. He fell behind start Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker, and ended up walking him on six pitches, forcing in a run. Next up was veteran batter Luis Salazar, and Righetti walked him as well. Now it was 6-3 Yankees with the bases still loaded.
Up came the would-be winning run—Alan Trammell of course. And out went Righetti. You walk in back-to-back runs, and Yankee manager Billy Martin makes you take a run to the showers. In came reliever Cecilio Guante. Though he wouldn’t have much of a career, 1988 would be his best season, with a 2.82 ERA.
We know how this turned out. Trammell worked the count full and then connected for the shot that send the 26,535 fans into hysteria. The Tigers had done it! Six runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the win!
Detroit entered the day with a half-game lead over New York, and now extended it to a game and a half. Had the Yankees held on, they would’ve taken first place.
That’s key, because it means Trammell’s shot essentially ended the career of New York Yankee manager Billy Martin. The Yankees lost the next game 3-2 in 10 innings to Detroit, and George Steinbrenner, for the fifth time, fired Martin. He never managed again. So this wasn’t just an incredibly cool victory, it also hastened the end of the most stormy manager in recent decades. It was quite a game – and it happened 25 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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