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!
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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.