December 6, 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, August 30, 2013
Tigers 7, Athletics 6: Torii Hunter walks off the Tigers, who came back from a 6-1 deficit. A 6-3 deficit in the ninth. All while losing Miguel Cabrera mid-game. Now, starting pitching, please stop requiring Tigers bats to bail you out all the time.
Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: Baltimore avoids the sweep and pulls to within three and a half of the wild card. Chris Tillman with his 15th win. Out of context quote from Buck Showalter after the game: "September's an eternity." Going down to the art house tonight to see some experimental French film in which people struggle with the meaninglessness of existence and the knowledge of their own mortality. It features Buck Showalter uttering that line at the end of scene breaks. He's in black and white. Everyone else is in color. He's also wearing sad clown makeup. You have to see the whole thing to understand.
Mariners 3, Astros 2: Talk about struggling with the meaninglessness of existence. That's the very essence of an August 29 Mariners-Astros game, yes? Maybe there's hope for Seattle in this existential struggle now that its six-game skid is over. Franklin Guitierrez had three hits including a two-run homer. Afterward Eric Wedge wondered what might have been had Gutierrez been around all year. This is the story of Gutierrez's entire career, of course. Which means that Wedge here is essentially -- and futilely -- bargaining with the very idea of inevitability. I think that one opens tomorrow, though, so I have to go to the theater again rather than catch it as a twin bill with Showalter's thing.
Braves 3, Indians 1: The sweep. Kris Medlen tossed seven shutout innings. I feel like every good pitching performance for the past week has been "seven shutout innings for ____." Which, fine, I like good pitching. I just need someone to mix in an eight shutout innings or a three-inning, eight-run meltdown complete with a manager having an outburst to the press afterward. Brian McCann hit a three-run homer. Justin Upton left the game after being hit on the hand. Good thing his brother plays on the same team and can provide a compatible donor hand if necessary.
Brewers 4, Pirates 0: Yovani Gallardo had [all together now] seven shutout innings. Seven shutout innings is the new black.
Angels 2, Rays 0: Oh, look: Jason Vargas had seven shutout innings. See what I mean? Tampa Bay has lost four of five, and the Angels have won five of six. Problem is the team losing these games is in the wild card race.
Mets 11, Phillies 3: Carlos Torres takes Matt Harvey's slot in the rotation and does just fine. Ethan Martin takes his usual slot and gets hammered. Daniel Murphy had four hits. Anthony Recker hit a two-run homer.
Nationals 9, Marlins 0: Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond each had three-run homers and Gio Gonzalez threw seven shutout innings. Eight of nine wins for the Nats, who are now six and a half back of the second wild card. It's still a tough task -- even if the Reds go .500 the rest of the way and the D-backs fall off the map Washington has to go 22-7 -- but this is a nice little surge.
Royals 3, Twins 1: Five in a row for the Royals, who have been so very hot and cold this season. That puts them six back of the A's. Problem is, there are three teams ahead of the Royals who are also chasing Oakland.
25 years ago today, one of the most incredible achievements in baseball history began.
On Aug. 30, 2013, Orel Hershiser began his record 59 scoreless inning streak. That streak broke the old record of 58 scoreless innings held by Don Drysdale.
While records are broken every year, Drysdale’s mark looked like one of the least likely ones to fall. For one thing, Drysdale broke a half-century old record when he had his streak. Well, sometimes a record falls by the bunches, but not in this case. No one in the 1970s or 1980s had seriously threatened his mark. Drysdale had the advantage of having his best year in 1968, the year of the pitcher, the season when run scoring was at it’s lowest mark since the Deadball Era.
By 1988, scoring was higher. It wasn’t incredibly high, but it was normal, which put it far higher than the 1968 NL.
Hershiser was a star pitcher, though. He emerged in 1985, posting a 19-3 record and a 2.03 ERA. Though he had a middling 1986 as his arm acclimated to the big league workload, in 1987 he led the league in innings while posting a 3.06 ERA.
So far, 1988 had been another nice year for Hershiser. On Aug. 19, he’s thrown a complete game shutout, dropping his ERA under 3.00, and though he’d lost his following start on Aug. 24, that had more to do with poor run support than anything Hershiser himself did. He surrendered just two runs in a tough luck 2-1 loss to the Mets.
In today’s game against the Expos, things got off to a nice start with LA taking an early 3-0 lead. The big blow came from the bat of Hershiser himself, a two-run double in the second inning.
That lead was enough, and it allowed Hershiser to overcome his one problem frame. In the fifth, with one out and a runner on third, Tim Raines bopped a double to left that let a run in. Moment later, Raines scored on a single by teammate Dave Martinez. Well, sort of.
Martinez singles and Raines rounded third to score, but the Dodgers might’ve had him at the plate had it not been an error by the relay man. As it happens, the relay man was Hershiser himself. OK, the Dodgers still had a 4-2 lead, and that ended up being the final score.
In the last four innings, Hershiser allowed two walks and a scratch single, and no one advanced beyond first base. It wasn’t anything worth paying attention to—and wouldn’t be, if it wasn’t for the fact that Hershiser then went the next 55 innings without allowing a run. Hershiser’s streak was a magnificent achievement, and it was an achievement that began 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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Thursday, August 29, 2013
Athletics 14, Tigers 4: We had this game on for a bit, got bored and decided to watch some random stuff we had recorded. When the show ended we went back to the game to see the A's up 14-1. Allison lets out a big "oh for f***'s sake!" and quickly turns on the "Awesom-O" episode of "South Park." So what I'm saying is, she salvaged the evening for herself a little bit. Brandon Moss with two homers. Brett Anderson comes back and gets a save because he pitched three innings, coming in to protect a 13-run lead. Saves are the best, you guys.
Dodgers 4, Cubs 0: The story here is all Puig-Puig-Puig, but the better story is Ricky Nolasco, who tossed eight shutout innings while striking out 11. He has given up just four runs over his last 25.1 innings, spanning four starts. He's 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA since the break. Kershaw, Greinke, Nolasco is no one you want to see in games 1-3 of the NLDS.
Rangers 12, Mariners 4: You're not gonna see Felix Hernandex give up nine runs (eight earned) in three innings while allowing 11 hits very often. Even the best ones have their bad days.
Nationals 4, Marlins 3: The Nats are playing their best ball of the season, having won seven of eight. Do they have a shot at the wild card? Maybe. Seven games is hard to make up -- and they'd have to jump over the D-backs too -- but their schedule is insanely weak right now. They are in a stretch where they've beaten the Cubs, Royals and Marlins. Then, in order, they have series against the Mets-Phillies-Marlins-Mets-Phillies. After that they still have yet ANOTHER series against the Marlins and one head-to-head against the D-backs. It's doable.
Red Sox 4, Orioles 3: A pinch-hit bloop single in the bottom of the eighth by Mike Carp gave the Sox the winning margin. Victorino got another RBI. Chris Davis hit his 47th homer.
Pirates 7, Brewers 1: Welcome to the club, Marlon Byrd. The Pirates' newest player hits a three-run homer. Give him a second t-shirt night.
Blue Jays 7, Yankees 2: The Jays leapt out to a seven-run lead after three with help from an Edwin Encarnacion homer and a passed ball/throwing error combo by Yankees catcher Chris Stewart. Hiroki Kuroda was the best starter the Yankees had going for most of the year but now he's lost four of five. Mark Reynolds got an emergency start at second base and managed to not make any errors. I haven't seen game highlights yet, but given how these things usually go, the guy we all mocked when he was penciled in at second probably probably had three web gems or whatever.
Braves 3, Indians 2: A walkoff single for Chris Johnson and a nice night from leadoff man Jordan Schafer (3 for 4, BB, 2 RBI) who singled and stole second to set up Johnson's heroics. Cleveland is now four back in the wild card race.
Phillies 6, Mets 2: Cole Hamels in a helped-his-own-cause special. Seven strong innings and a two-run single for the Phillies starter. Daisuke Matsuzaka was in vintage Dice-K form: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 4 ER, 5K and contributed greatly to the game's three and a half hour running time.
Rays 4, Angels 1: With a losing streak afoot and the Rays coming off a dispiriting late-inning loss, Chris Archer played stopper. He allowed one run in seven innings while the offense scored on singles, sacrifices and an error.
Reds 10, Cardinals 0: Brandon Philips started the day with a rather unfortunate rant at a reporter who criticized his on-base skills. He then managed to get on base twice which totally killed all the snark I had saved up for him. Oh well. The Reds romp behind Jay Bruce's five-RBI night and Homer Bailey's solid outing.
White Sox 6, Astros 1: Chris Sale's fantastic year continues. He struck out 12 in eight innings and allowed just the one run. Avisail Garcia launched a three-run homer.
Rockies 5, Giants 4: Jhoulys Chacin pitched six and two-thirds no-hit innings and struck out nine. It coulda been a no-decision, what with the Giants staging a rally in the eighth, but it fell just short.
Royals 8, Twins 1: Two homers for Sal Perez. Danny Duffy comes up and takes over Wade Davis' rotation spot and showed just why he was the better choice, throwing six and two-thirds shutout innings while striking out seven.
Padres 5, Diamondbacks 1: Three driven in for Will Venable, including a two-run homer to help the Padres avoid the sweep.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Braves 2, Indians 0: Tom Glavine with eight shutout innings and David Justice with a big homer. Wait, sorry. Having flashbacks. The real amazing thing here is that if you would have told me before the season that the Braves would have a game in late August where Elliot Johnson got a start and tripled in the Braves' only runs -- and one of those runners was Joey Terdoslavich -- I would have assumed that they were 12 games out of a playoff slot.
Red Sox 13, Orioles 2: Two homers for Shane Victorino in this laugher. You know, when Victorino was signed many -- including yours truly -- mocked the signing. Not so much because of the player himself, but because of the multi-year deal coming off of the season he had and what many suspected was the beginning of a steep decline. The jury is still out on whether Victorino will be worth his contract over its entire course, but there is no denying the fact that he has been a great pickup for Boston this year, contributing on both offense and defense and looking, at the moment, as one of the best free agent signings of the winter.
Mets 5, Phillies 0: Jon Niese was like a one-man army, like Charlton Heston in Omega Man. You ever see it? Beauty. A three-hit shutout, a three-RBI double and a run scored on a hustle play, blowing through the third base coach's stop sign. Teammates? Who needs teammates?
Yankees 7, Blue Jays 1: Four RBIs on two homers for Alfonso Soriano, including his 400th career shot. Pettitte tossed seven shutout innings. Robinson Cano was hit on the hand in a manner that often leads to broken bones but thank goodness for the Yankees he suffered only a contusion.
Nationals 2, Marlins 1: Three hits for Ian Desmond. Five effective innings for Ross Ohlendorf and his old-timey windup. The pen took it from there.
Brewers 7, Pirates 6: Aramis Ramirez had a mini-Soriano night. Instead of 400, he hit his 350th career homer. Drove in four as well. Three straight losses for the Pirates.
Athletics 6, Tigers 3: Pretty spiffy when you can pitch five innings and get credited with a complete game, but Tommy Milone did it. Brandon Moss had a two-run homer off Justin Verlander in this rain-shortened game.
Angels 6, Rays 5: Another four-RBI night for someone, this time Erick Aybar. Jose Molina had three hits and three RBIs. The Angels were down four entering the seventh and rallied. Fernando Rodney blew yet another save. Just a bullpen disaster for the Rays.
Cardinals 6, Reds 1: We might be looking at the best team in baseball here. I mean, if the Cardinals were ever going to let up, it was going to be when Yadier Molina was out. They bent a bit then but didn't break and now they're running over everyone. The seventh straight game in which Matt Holliday had an RBI. Six wins in seven for the Cards, including two straight from the Reds. Cardinals moved one and a half games ahead of Pittsburgh and four and a half up on Cincinnati.
White Sox 4, Astros 3: Three hits for Jordan Danks. The Chisox's ninth win in 11 games.
Giants 5, Rockies 3: Hunter Pence hit a homer over the left field bleachers, measured at 457 feet but thought by some to be much farther. Pablo Sandoval hit a homer right after that and Brandon Belt had four hits. Yusmeiro Petit got the win. His first in four years.
Royals 6, Twins 1: Solid outing for James Shields. Alex Gordon had three RBIs as Kansas City scored five runs in the eighth inning.
Diamondbacks 10, Padres 9: Not exactly a pitching duel. Aaron Hill hit a walkoff single in the 10th.
Rangers 4, Mariners 3: Not a walkoff balk as the losers were playing at home, but the winning run did score on a Danny Farquhar balk in the 10th inning which, you know, dramatic. CB Bucknor called it. He's one of the worst and if anyone is gonna launch an ump show it's him, but Farquhar admitted after the game he gave "the slightest flinch." Well, OK, if you're not gonna fight the battle we won't either.
Cubs 3, Dodgers 2: Travis Wood outpitched Clayton Kershaw. This is not a typo. Wood allowed one unearned run in seven innings, Kershaw allowed one unearned and one earned in five and two-thirds. With the way Kershaw has been going lately that's, like, putting up a five-spot against mere mortals.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Cardinals 8, Reds 6: Down 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Allen Craig launched his first career grand slam to rally the Redbirds. Matt Holliday had a three-run homer. The win puts the Cards a half game ahead of the Pirates in the Central. Cincinnati is three and a half back.
Dodgers 6, Cubs 2: Zack Greinke blanked Chicago into the ninth and retired the first two batters but then a double, a hit-by-pitch and a double ended his night one out shy of the shutout. Still, not too shabby. He added an RBI and raised his average to .340.
Royals 11, Rays 1: A makeup of a May Snowpocalypse game. This one, in contrast, featured a 93-degree starting temperature and Kansas City late August steam. Joe Maddon was ejected in the fourth for arguing balls and strikes, his team already down 5-0. I would bet my first born that 85 percent of his reason for doing that was to be "forced" into the air-conditioned clubhouse. This move is known in baseball circles as a "Bobby Cox Special." Or at least it should be, because he pulled that one all the time.
Blue Jays 5, Yankees 2: Tallying up the future Hall of Famers' nights: A-Rod hit his 650th homer, Jeter came back with an 0 for 3 night and Ichiro had a rare outfield error which led to a big inning for Toronto. Well, A-Rod probably won't make the Hall of Fame but it's not my fault that the voters are dumb. Jose Reyes walked and scored in the third and doubled and scored in the fifth. This was the Jays' first win over New York after losing 10 straight.
Phillies 2, Mets 1: Cliff Lee outdueled Zack Wheeler, throwing eight innings of one-run ball while striking out seven. It was his first win since early July. Not that that's his fault. Still can't get much run support.
Rockies 6, Giants 1: Juan Nicasio threw six shutout innings and added an RBI single and Todd Helton homered. Helton is three hits shy of 2,500 for his career.
Athletics 8, Tigers 6: Oakland kept getting a two-run lead only to see the Tigers tie it. So then the A's changed things up by upping it to a four-run lead, which was too much for Detroit to overcome. Coco Crisp was 3 for 6 with a homer and a couple driven in. Miguel Cabrera hit his 43rd homer and drove in his 130th. His average actually went down a point to .359. Which—and I know this sounds kind of crazy—sounds higher than .360. Like, when I was a kid and I'd see an average in the .350s on baseball cards it seemed really high while something in the .360s seemed like—something else. Maybe because things start to seem unreal and comic-booky in the .360s? Maybe even numbers like sixes don't have some visceral effect that odd numbers like fives? But it's sort of like seeing a big loud muscle car pull up to a red light next to a finely-tuned sports car. You know the sports car is the superior machine, but the loud engine on the muscle car is more impressive on some weird level.
Um, sorry. I don't know where that came from.
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 1: Brandon McCarthy got his first win since May, allowing only an unearned run in seven innings on five hits. Paul Goldschmidt tripled in a run and knocked in another on a fielder's choice.
Astros 10, White Sox 8: Chris Carter had two homers and drove in four. Jordan Lyles—normally a starter—got the save. Houston had a five-run lead at one point an lost it before powering back for the win. And I do mean powering: the Astros hit five homers in all.
Rangers 8, Mariners 3: A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer and Alex Rios had two hits and drove in two. This box score also reminded me that Rios plays for the Rangers now. Every year there are one or two dudes who got dealt at the deadline who I totally forget got dealt. Rios is one this year.