Wish I could’ve wrapped it all up in that other entry, but that final condition kept me from talking about a few of the most important teams. Thursday brought drama, as the Rockies rallied from a 5-4 deficit after 10½ to win 6-5 in 11 innings, and the Diamondbacks recreated the Mother’s Day Miracle with six ninth-inning runs to beat the Brewers, 6-5. (D-Backs, Brewers and Rockies were all in that minority unrepresented.) The Rox did it again Friday night, winning in walkoff fashion after trailing by a different score at the end of almost every inning–5-1 after one, 7-3 after two, 7-4 after three, 13-5 after four, 13-9 after five, 13-12 after six, 17-16 after seven and again after eight before taking their first lead of the game with none out in the bottom of the ninth, an 18-17 victory over the Marlins. It’s not a Coors Field record for combined runs in a game–CIN 24, COL 12 back in 1996, or was it ’97?–but it is a record for largest deficit overcome by the Rockies to win a game, the nine runs that they trailed by after 3½ one more than the eight-run deficits they’d overcome against the Padres on two separate occasions. Kevin Youkilis had a bizarre triple, the ball caroming off the end of Johnny Damon’s glove and bouncing multiple times on the top of the wall before coming to rest there, only to eventually fall back to the field of play due to the shaking of the Stadium. MLB vice president of umpiring Mike Port believes that it would’ve been a home run if it had stayed on the wall because it’d broken the front plane, but it would be discussed in upcoming days. Also, Joe Borowski, namesake of the “Borowski save”, has been released by the
Native Americans Indians. Reid Brignac debuted in place of the injured Jason Bartlett, one of the few good things to come out of that nightmarish seventh, and contributed with sparkling defense, turning a tough double play after a bobble by Aki Iwamura resulted in him receiving the feed just seconds before David DeJesus of the Royals came barreling in on him. He went 0-for-3 but scored the tenth run of the Rays’ 11-2 victory after reaching base on an eighth-inning walk.
Not quite Yankee Stadium, but Tropicana Field was plenty nasty. I’m pretty sure that Red Sox fans were in the minority. Nobody seemed to be able to pitch in game 1, least of all Chris Smith. We kept waiting for Casey to come in to pinch-hit, and he never did. The fact that the Rays get their last suspended player back tomorrow really irks me, but on the bright side, Iwamura’s return means I don’t have to hear Willy Aybar’s intro music three times a game. (Speaking of intro music, can anyone give me a title and artist for the song that plays at the Trop when Dioner Navarro comes up to bat? It’d be much appreciated.) Last time, Pap said that this wasn’t over. I hope Jason Bartlett leads off the bottom of the ninth tomorrow. After the game, we got absolutely soaked trudging back to our car. We’ll show up earlier tomorrow, and I may be making a sign. (Note at publishing time: I didn’t.) Also, I managed to hear the three-beat prompt without chanting “Yankees Suck”, something I’d never been able to do. I chanted “Tampa Sucks” instead. The new evil empire, indeed. In other news, on Saturday, a no-hitter wasn’t pitched, Jered Weaver going six no-hit innings before departing for a pinch-hitter and Jose Arredondo following up with two perfect innings of relief as the Angels lost 1-0 at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers’ lone run scored in the fifth inning when Weaver made an error to allow a Matt Kemp to reach and his catcher threw the ball away attempting to throw out Kemp stealing second, putting him in place to score on a sac fly. Also losing 1-0 were the A’s, despite seven hits and a two-hit complete game effort by Justin Duchscherer. Marlins backup catcher Matt Treanor made the top spot on that day’s SportsCenter with a barehanded catch of Brandon Webb’s bunt attempt followed by a throw to second base to turn a double play.
Is it possible to get thrown out of a game that’s already over? It
didn’t quite happen, but all-time ejections leader Bobby Cox was out to
argue as trail runner Gregor Blanco was called out at home plate on
Yunel Escobar’s two-out RBI single in the tenth; had Blanco been safe,
the game would’ve been tied at four, the Phillies having scored twice
in the top of the inning. Shane Victorino drove in the first of the
Phils’ two tenth-inning runs with a triple, scored the other on a Chase
Utley double, and threw Blanco out to save the game. Also in the
Phillies’ area of MLB.com: future “Excuse me?” All-Star Devaris
Strange-Gordon, selected in the fourth round of the draft by the
Dodgers, son of tonight’s winning pitcher, Tom Gordon, much beloved in
Boston (as memorialized in a Stephen King book) for saving 46 games in
1998 and for spectacularly failing to record a single out in the eighth
inning of the fifth game of the 2004 ALCS.
Meanwhile, the Rockies climbed the ladder in the eighth inning, as four
consecutive batters combined for a cycle in ascending order: Ryan
Spilborghs with the single, Todd Helton with the double (driving in
Jonathan Herrera, who had singled ahead of Spilborghs to start the
inning), Garret Atkins tripled to chase Guillermo Mota without a single
out to his credit, and Brad Hawpe greeted Brian Shouse with a home run.
The Rockies run an “E-Mentoring” program, and because tonight’s
featured school, Columbine Elementary, picked Brad Hawpe to homer
tonight and he did, the students get tickets to a September game. Yes,
I was actually listening to the Rockies’ broadcast. I got hungry, okay?
I can choose any game I want to to listen to in the car, and this was more interesting than
Mets-Padres, Cubs-Dodgers, or A’s-Angels. Atkins’s triple tied the game
at 4-4, and Brian Fuentes recorded the save to give the Rox their first
three-game winning streak since mid-May–the first game back from
interleague weekend was the third win in their last one.
In residual Rays-Red Sox news, eight suspensions totalling thirty-eight
games were handed out, led by the three ejected players–7 games for
Crisp, 6 for Shields, and 5 for Gomes. Pitchers Jon Lester and Edwin
Jackson also got five apiece–Lester for hitting a batter after the
warnings had been issued, Jackson for his role in the brawl. Also
ejected for their roles in the brawl were Rays outfielder Carl Crawford
(4 games), Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura, and Red Sox first
baseman Sean Casey (3 games apiece). Ironically, the player initially
responsible for getting these teams riled up got no suspension at
all–Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett, who angered Coco Crisp by blocking
second base on a (successful) stolen base attempt in the sixth inning
of Wednesday’s game. In follow-up action, the Rays ended their
three-game losing streak by following in Cleveland’s footsteps and
pounding the sh*t out of the Rangers, tripling their hosts’ output over
each of the following three stretches: the first seven innings (3-1),
the eighth inning (3-1), and the ninth inning (6-2). The Red Sox didn’t
fare quite so well, as Seattle scored in five different innings en
route to an 8-0 victory; Felix Hernandez has yet to allow a run in two
career starts at Fenway Park, the other start being Daisuke’s first
home start last year, at which point Hernandez stole the show by
carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
Speaking of ejections, I’m now listening to the Cubs-Dodgers game, and
apparently Jeff Kent was ejected. Apparently he was arguing a called
third strike to end the fifth inning. LA leads 2-0 after 5.
And speaking of Cleveland, Paul Byrd recorded his 100th career win as the
Native Americans Indians beat the Detroit Tigers for the 1,000th time in franchise history (opposite 1,022 losses).
You knew it was only a matter of time now that they’re both contenders.
The Rays and Red Sox went at it today, rekindling an ongoing blood feud
from years past. In yesterday’s game, Coco Crisp felt that Tampa SS
Jason Bartlett blocked the bag with his leg on Crisp’s steal in the
sixth inning, and retaliated by sliding into second hard in the eighth,
hitting Akinori Iwamura in the process. In today’s game, Coco charged
the mound after being hit by a pitch from starter James Shields in the
second inning, getting in a few glancing blows before being restrained
by Rays catcher Dioner Navarro, who tackled him. In the ensuing
benches-clearing brawl, Rays DH Jonny Gomes then jumped on top of Crisp
and Navarro and threw a few punches at Crisp, which was sufficient to
get Gomes ejected in addition to Crisp and Shields. Gomes was suspended
at the start of the season as the result of a brawl in a spring training
game with the Yankees under similar circumstances. Four days after Rays
prospect Eliot Johnson barrelled into Yankees catching prospect
Francisco Cervelli at home plate, Shelley Duncan slid into second base
with spikes high after alluding to possible retaliation before the
game, spiking Iwamura in the thigh, and Gomes charged in from his place
in right field, ramming into Duncan. Now, there are two possibilities.
One is that Gomes is just volatile (you can make your own assumptions
as to why this might be). The other is that he’s unusually protective
of his second baseman…Iwamura was also hit by a pitch in the game, as
were Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia. Youkilis, who
entered the game after Jacoby Ellsbury left with a wrist injury in the
fourth inning, also got into a shouting match in the dugout with
teammate Manny Ramirez, the starting DH on this night; Manny also had
to leave the game in the seventh, appearing to have his knee buckle
during an at-bat in which he would eventually walk. Manny also hit his
503rd career home run in the game. Chris Carter made his major league
debut pinch-running for the ejected Crisp in the second, scoring on
Dustin Pedroia’s sac fly, and went 2 for 3.
Native Americans Indians and Rangers combined for
sixty-five runs over the first three games of their series in Texas.
Generally, we call that bad pitching, but these are two highly
offensive-minded teams and Texas is a hitter’s ballpark, so we’ll let
it slide. Wait…Cleveland’s not an offensive-minded club! And yet they
won two of the first three, a real surprise considering the fact that
they’re poorly suited to the slugfest, their best slugger is on the DL,
and road teams have just been generally bad this year. Go figure.