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Monday, August 24, 2009
And That HappenedPhillies 9, Mets 7: Unassisted triple plays are cool and all, but they're really more about luck than anything else, aren't they? You hit the ball to just the wrong place at just the wrong time and bam-bam-bam it's over. Oftentimes the middle infielder who turns the thing isn't even 100% sure he's done it until he looks around a bit, tags a guy he forced out just to be sure, etc., because it's really more a matter of reflex than anything else. It's sort of like most inside the park home runs (like the one Angel Pagan hit earlier in this game): happenstance or maybe a bad play on the part of the opposition makes it possible. So, even though I'd love to rag on Jeff Francoeur for hitting into one of these things or praise Eric Bruntlett for turning it, blame and credit has to go to chance more than anyone.
Cardinals 5, Padres 2: Before people start talking about how wrong the Sox were to release Smoltz, or how much worse the NL is than the AL, or how the release motivates Smoltz or any of that, let us just remember that yesterday's strong performance (5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 9K) came against the worst offense in baseball, playing in the friendliest pitchers' park in baseball.
Cubs 3, Dodgers 1: The Cubs salvage one, as Jake Fox goes 4 for 4 with a homer and two RBI. Game story: "[Ryan Dempster] credited his breakfast of 'pancakes and a little bowl of whip-your-butt cereal' for his solid outing." I can only assume he got the cereal from this chick. UPDATE: Sadly, the nice lady in Los Angeles who advertised her butt-whipping services has taken her ad down. Still, it's L.A., so if you're interested in getting "the Ryan Demptser treatment," I'm sure there are still many places you can find such a service.
Yankees 8, Red Sox 4: Three game series between the Sox and Yanks: 58 runs scored, game times of 3:57, 3:17, 3:13, and not one single extra inning. Watching the Yankees play the Red Sox is like watching WAC football from the 1980s. If the AL East is the best baseball has to offer, baseball can friggin' keep it.
Athletics 9, Tigers 4: Jack Cust hit two homers, Landon Powell hit one, and Brett Tomko of all people continues to pitch like an ace. The win brings him to 98-101 for his career. For purely subjective reasons -- including the fact that Tomko is my age and the fact that I have a soft spot for journeyman swingmen, I'd like to see him even up that record before the end of the season.
Orioles 5, White Sox 4: Mark Buehrle has had one decent start since his perfect game (which the Sox lost, but that's neither here nor there). Beat up again yesterday for five runs on eleven hits in five and a third, one wonders what the heck has happened to the guy. He's not walking a ton of guys. He's just getting pounded. As for the Sox, they just played six against the Royals and Orioles at home, and they split those. You'd think that a playoff team wins four or five against those teams. If they finish one or two behind the Tigers, that little stretch may look pretty big in hindsight.
Rangers 4, Rays 0: Scott Feldman was on (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 11K). Chip Caray and Buck Martinez weren't, however, so instead of this game, I watched . . .
Indians 6, Mariners 1: The Tribe beat up on Felix Hernandez, chasing him in the four-run sixth inning and Fausto Carmona (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 8K) looked better than than I've seen him since 2007. Jhonny Peralta iht an RBI single, ohmered, and reahced on error and came ohme to score.
Rockies 4, Giants 2: Jiminez beats Lincecum, and the Rockies have extended their wild card lead over the Giants by taking two of three thus far in the series. This is a wraparound, though, so the Giants have a shot to get back where they were on Friday morning with a win tonight.
Twins 10, Royals 3: Mike Cuddyer homered twice. Kyle Farnsworth, the man whose presence in the pen required that Alex Gordon be sent down to Omaha -- gave up five runs on five hits in one inning of work.
Reds 4, Pirates 1: With this won the Reds are now .005 points ahead of the Pirates in the Central! This one is going down to the wire, folks! Pirates starter Kevin Hart: "I don't think you're going to win a lot of games at this level throwing the ball like I did today." He's right. And just imagine how bad a day it would have been for him at the Major League level.
Nationals 8, Brewers 3: I mock the Reds and Pirates, but the Brewers are closer to them in the standings than they are to the Cardinals. As for the Nats, a win tomorrow in the finale of this series and they'll be at .500 since the break. Not bad for a team that has rarely looked as bad this season as their record indicates.
Blue Jays 8, Angels 3: I think the Jays, at least when Halladay doesn't start, are like the AL's version of the Astros for me in that I can rarely find anything on interest in their box scores. Something fun from the AP story, though, was the fact that Vladimir Guerrero fouled off a pitch that bounced in the dirt in the ninth. He's Vlad, though, and that's just what he does.
Braves 7, Marlins 5: Brian McCann provided the bookends to the scoring in this one with a three run homer in the first and a two-run single in the eighth which proved to be the game winner.
Diamondbacks 7, Astros 5: Arizona halts a seven game losing streak. The Dbacks drew five walks, which was a big deal, because before those, not a single player on the team had walked since last Monday.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:02am
I only noticed “iht”, and thought it was a casual typo but I re-read the recap and only then got the Peralta reference. Nice little laugh to end my long day. Sorry if I’m ruining the intentional subtleness there but that was good.
Posted 08/24 at 02:28 AM
I agree that one start, especially against the Padres in Petco, does not prove anything, but it also doesn’t change the fact that the Sawx were wrong to release Smoltz, and the Cards will reap the rewards.
Posted 08/24 at 06:15 AM
Michael Caragliano said...
The embedded Brave hits into an unassisted triple play, but I guess it didn’t kill the rally, technically. Go ahead, you’re entitled- laugh it up, fuzzball. The only way the Mets season hits a strata of rock-bottom lower than this is if emergency starter Aaron Heilman tosss a perfect game next weekend.
Posted 08/24 at 06:30 AM
I watched that Rangers-Rays game for a while. Caray and Martinez really were terrible. Ugh.
Posted 08/24 at 07:37 AM
Greg Simons said...
I considered many of the same qualifiers you cited, Craig, but, as a Cardinals fan, I’m just happy Smoltz pitched well and the Redbirds won. I certainly don’t expect a similar performance next time.
Posted 08/24 at 08:50 AM
As I was watching the Sox last night I was wondering what happened to the drag bunt. Ellsbury would have had a greater chance of getting on base trying to reincarnate Mickey Rivers than looking almost feeble against Sabathia’s curve ball.
Posted 08/24 at 09:13 AM
When I left on vacation, the Cubs were in it and the Twins were toast.
Cubs are dead in the water and the Twins, through the Tigers’ and White Sox’s inability to do anything, are still hanging around.
And the Vikings have Brett Favre.
It was an interesting week in Minnesota.
Posted 08/24 at 09:33 AM
You commented on Michael Cuddyer hitting two home runs, but neglected to mention that he hit them both in the same inning????
Posted 08/24 at 09:56 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Huh. I hadn’t even realized he did that, ecp. On that game I mostly just scanned the box score and didn’t pay super close attention to when the homers were hit.
Posted 08/24 at 09:58 AM
Man, I was expecting at least some kind of reference to Francoeur being the ultimate out machine here. I guess that horse has long since been beaten to death.
Posted 08/24 at 10:06 AM
Sara K said...
It’s clear what has happened here…signing with the Cardinals activated the power stored within Smoltz’s facial hair.
Posted 08/24 at 10:43 AM
Alex Poterack said...
Although it’s true that unassisted triple plays are almost entirely a matter of luck, it should be pointed out that there is one man who deserves a large amount of blame for the one the Mets hit into: Jerry Manuel. If he didn’t send the runners in the 9th, Bruntlett wouldn’t have even been able to catch Francoeur’s liner, let alone get three outs out of it.
Posted 08/24 at 12:04 PM
Jack Marshall said...
8 miserable starts from an over-40 pitcher coming off an injury and the Red Sox were “wrong to release Smoltz”? That has to be the worst Monday morning quarterbacking I’ve read in a long, long time. They should have released him sooner. Based on the data they had, cutting him was the only rational decision. What Smoltz does from here on is irrelevant; decisions cannot be judged on subsequent unpredictable events.
Posted 08/24 at 12:05 PM
@ Jack Marshall- except that Smoltz’s peripherals were quite good. He was striking people out and wasn’t walking them. He had an xFIP of 4.39. He was getting insanely unlucky at stranding runners, to the tune of a 56.9 LOB%. His HR/FB rate was also abnormally high at 16.5%, as was his BABIP (I don’t know what it was with the Red Sox alone, but including his start with the Cards it’s .389). This was all covered at THT before the Cards even signed him: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/smoltz-dfad/
All the signs were there, if only the Red Sox were interested in looking at them. That they did not reflects very badly on their supposedly sabremetrically adept management.
Posted 08/24 at 01:10 PM
Jack Marshall said...
A good example of how sabermetrics can blind some people to reality. I went to two of Smoltz’s games and watched the rest: he was getting clobbered. Many of the outs he did get were clocked. How many pitchers get a 9th start after pitching to an 8 ERA for the first eight? How many of those were over 40, coming back from surgery, and pitching with a team that had any other options? If Smoltz had gotten another start, there would have been pitchforks and torches on Yawkey Way.
Posted 08/24 at 01:27 PM
Kevin S. said...
Weird, people were saying the exact same thing about Ricky Nolasco the first half of this year. Did he find some secret sauce in Nawlins? Or did his luck just revert?
Posted 08/24 at 01:35 PM
Exactly. A pitcher will look like they are getting clobbered when they have poor luck over a bad stretch of starts.
Posted 08/24 at 01:42 PM
Kevin S. said...
MGL goes into even more depth on it.
Posted 08/24 at 02:00 PM
Awesome, I was looking for that article, but I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it or who wrote it.
Posted 08/24 at 02:06 PM
Kevin S. said...
I grabbed it out of the comments section for the Fangraphs piece you linked.
Posted 08/24 at 02:10 PM