December 7, 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!
And here's the full roster.
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Monday, July 08, 2013
Orioles 2, Yankees 1: Even Superman gets beat up once in a while. Adam Jones handed Mariano Rivera his second blown save of the year and the first blown save in Yankee Stadium in a dog's age when he smacked a two-run homer in the ninth.
Speaking of Superman, I finally got around to seeing "Man of Steel" yesterday. It was OK, and the whole creation story was handled well I think, but man, the whole second half is problematic. I don't think I'm giving anything away here because it's a standard Superman trope, but please tell me how Superman's long-held weakness/motivation of "protecting the precious human beings he's adopted" becomes such a motivator/game changer in the climax of his battle with General Zod after he's just spent the previous hour literally knocking down dozens and dozens of skyscrapers. I mean it: the damage he and the bad guys do to Metropolis during the battle is like 100 9/11s and he doesn't friggin' blink, but one family of three is in harm's way at the end and THAT'S what sets him over the edge? It was a pretty movie and I think the actors were great and all of that, but at some point the filmmakers got carried away in portraying Superman-scale damage to a city simply because they had the special effects skills to do so without once thinking about or dealing with the consequences of the human damage and what it would mean for any of the characters involved.
OK, back to baseball.
Mariners 3, Reds 1: Joe Saunders pitched seven strong innings and Nick Franklin and Justin Smoak each homered. The M's took two of three from the Rangers and then two of three from the Reds. Not a bad little road trip.
Nationals 11, Padres 7: Ryan Zimmerman hit a grand slam. Bryce Harper had three hits and two stolen bases. The Nats sweep the reeling Pads, who have lost nine straight. Washington is now four back of the Braves and finally -- finally -- looking like it's making a move.
Indians 9, Tigers 6: Michael Brantley had two homers and five RBIs. In other news, I went to Cleveland for the game on Saturday and was gobsmacked at how many Tigers fans invaded the city. Back in the mid-to-late '90s I went to Tiger Stadium a couple of times when the Indians were there and was gobsmacked at how many Indians fans had invaded Detroit. Guess these things go in cycles. Also fun: for Saturday's game Carlos Carrasco was called up from Columbus, pitched awfully, and was sent back down on Sunday. I wish the Tribe had given us a heads up about all of that. We totally would have let him road trip back and forth with us.
Phillies 7, Braves 3: Domonic Brown with a triple and a homer and two RBI. The Phillies took two of three from a Braves team that looks like a last place team on the road.
Blue Jays 11, Twins 5: Rajai Davis hit a three-run homer and Jose Reyes and Colby Rasmus each homered too. Todd Redmond allowed one hit over five innings. If the Jays could play the Twins all the time they'd be a playoff team.
Mets 2, Brewers 1: Juan Francisco had two throwing errors which led to two unearned runs by the Mets. It's almost like maybe he shouldn't be playing first base.
Rays 3, White Sox 1: David Price tossed a complete game, allowing one run on eight hits (the official scorer has deemed the term "scattered" appropriate for those eight hits) as Tampa Bay sweeps Chicago. That's four in a row overall for the Rays, who are now tied for second in the East, 4.5 back of the Sox.
Cardinals 3, Marlins 2: Lance Lynn outdueled (also an official scorers designation) Jose Fernandez and the Cardinals climbed back into a tie with the Pirates at the top of the Central. Lynn earned it, striking out Giancarlo Stanton all three times he faced him.
Athletics 10, Royals 4: Josh Reddick homered and drove in four and Jed Lowrie had three hits and a homer. Eric Sogard homered too, his first since April 2012. Jesse Chavez got a four-inning save, which is weird.
Cubs 4, Pirates 3: Dioner Navarro with a walkoff sac fly in the 11th. Which isn't quite as dramatic as a walkoff anything else, but 'twas enough. 'Twill serve.
Rangers 5, Astros 4: Joakim Soria pitched for the first time since 2011. He was one of five Rangers relievers who combined for five shutout innings to save the bacon of starter Justin Grimm. A.J. Pierzynski had a two-run bomb.
Dodgers 4, Giants 1: Tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth with three men on, A.J. Ellis hit a bases-clearing double off Sergio Romo. Clayton Kershaw allowed one run over eight innings. Chad Gaudin nearly matched him, allowing one run in seven.
Angels 3, Red Sox 0: The Angels have won 10 of 12 after Jered Weaver tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off. Homers for Mike Trout and Hank Conger.
Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 1: Patrick Corbin was stuck on nine wins for seven straight starts but finally got his 10th after fanning 10 Rockies and allowing one run on three hits over eight innings. Five wins in a row for the D-backs helps solidify their hold on the otherwise shaky NL West.
Tonight, Nationals pitcher Dan Haren comes off the DL—just in time for him to try to claim a bit of baseball history for himself.
If things go according to schedule, Haren will start in the first game of this week’s Nationals-Phillies series, and if Haren picks up the “W” he will become the 13th pitcher in baseball history to beat all 30 franchises. Right now, he’s at 29 down, Philadelphia to go.
Currently, only these 12 men have entered this club: Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, Terry Mulholland, Curt Schilling, Woody Williams, Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito, Javier Vazquez, Vicente Padilla, Derek Lowe, and A.J. Burnett.
It’s no guarantee. He has faced the Phillies six times so far in his career—including twice earlier this year—and has lost three and won none. We’ll see if the law of averages will finally be on his side today.
If you’re curious, here’s when he picked up his first win against the other 29 teams (broken up into groups of five to make it easier to follow along):
WSN 7/30/03 (back when they were still the Expos)
Haren had two starts against the Phillies in 2003, another pair in 2009, and the rest this year. Will he do it? Tune in tonight and find out.
Ninety years ago today, a baseball milestone was reached for the first time. It was on July 8, 1923 that Walter Johnson became the first pitcher to strike out his 3,000th batter.
The best strikeout pitcher of his generation, Johnson entered the game with 2,996 Ks in 4,904.1 innings pitched. Against the White Sox, Johnson would fan four in eight innings to get to the big round number of 3,000.
Strikeouts were rarer then than now. In 1923, Johnson would lead the American League in strikeouts with just 130. In fact, no AL pitcher had fanned 200 in a season since 1916, when Johnson did it, with 228. No American Leaguer would do it again until Lefty Grove in 1930, and after that not until Bob Feller in 1938.
But Johnson didn’t pitch in the 1930s. He pitched in the 1910s, when strikeouts were more common. From 1910-16, he fanned more than 200 batters each year, including a pair of seasons over 300. He dominated the strikeout list, leading the league 12 times. Nolan Ryan led the league in Ks only 11 times.
When Johnson topped 3,000 Ks, only five other pitchers were even over 2,000: Cy Young, Tim Keefe, Christy Mathewson, Rube Waddell and Eddie Plank.
By 1960, only seven more pitchers had joined the 2,000 K club (Grove, Fller, Pete Alexander, Early Wynn, Bobo Newsom, Warren Spahn, and Dazzy Vance,) and none of them were over 2,300 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Johnson stood over 3,500 strikeouts. A generation had passed and no one had even remotely threatened to join him in the rarefied air.
Things finally began to shift in the 1960s. Strikeout rates rose across baseball, and a crop of young pitchers emerged. When Jim Bunning retired in 1971, he passed Cy Young for second place on the all-time strikeout list, though he fell short of 3,000, with 2,855.
It took over a half-century, but eventually Walter Johnson finally had company in the 3,000 K club, as Bob Gibson joined him on July 17, 1974. Once the dam had been breached, a generation of World War II babies and baby boomers flooded in. A decade after Gibson, there were seven more members of the club: Gaylord Perry, Ryan, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Fergie Jenkins, Don Sutton and Phil Niekro. In fact, in 1983, Perry, Ryan and Carlton all passed up Johnson for first place all time.
But all that lay in the future. It’s a testament to Johnson’s dominance as a strikeout artist that it took a half-century for any other pitcher to join him with 3,000 Ks. Sure, the lower overall strikeout rate in the opening decades of the lively ball era played a key role as well, but the man topped the league in strikeouts more than anyone else ever. Making it to 3,000 Ks is quite the milestone in any era—and Johnson was the first to do it, 90 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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