Tagged: Alex Rodriguez

An A-bomb! From A-Rod!

Yeah, I happened to be on the go as the Yankees-Blue Jays game began, so
I tuned in on XM Radio and heard John Sterling’s call of #600. I must say, I’m glad that this thing is finally over with–now we can get back to focusing on important stuff. Or should I be unhappy? After all, the grind of this media spectacle seemed to have worn on the Yankees. The facts:

  • When A-Rod hit #599 on July 22, the Yankees led the AL East by 4 games over the Rays. The Rays now lead by one game. Actually, this isn’t quite true. The Yankees’ win on July 22, on a Rays off-day, extended the Yankees’ lead to 3 games. In the next 12 days, the Yanks went 6-6 while the Rays were 10-2. However, the Yankees did have a 4-game lead during that stretch, as the Rays lost on the 23rd while the Yankees won. So the point about the Yankees going from a four-game lead to a one-game deficit during the stretch still technically stands–they just had to expand the lead ever so slightly first.
  • A-Rod himself had been slumping as well, coming into the game 9-for-46 (.196) since hitting #599 and mired in an 0-for-17 slump.

On the plus side, A-Rod’s 600th home run was a 2-run shot in the first inning, which apparently has been a bad omen for the Yankees as of late. Today marks the fourth time in six games that the Yankees have taken a 2-0 lead on a two-run first-inning homer. The previous three all resulted in losses.

One final bit of trivia: Today is also the three-year anniversary of A-Rod’s 500th home run.

You’d think this would be bigger news, but…

After a period of being consigned to the house computer since coming home from college, I finally got my laptop set up with internet access again on Monday, and right away, I was battling with an annoying virus. The anti-virus program kept freezing up before it could finish its task, but the virus seems to have disappeared so I’m not going to keep up the fight. While waiting out the virus scans, however, I happened to check in on the games, and found that ESPN.com had “featured” three games, one of which hadn’t even started and all three of which involved teams from a certain division–the AL East. The Yankees-Indians game was an obvious one, as A-Rod is still sitting on 599. (It’s not his only “X99”, either–he’s got 299 career stolen bases, putting him one away from becoming the 7th member of the 300-300 club. In order by homers, Barry Bonds, 762/514; Willie Mays, 660/338; Andre Dawson, 438/314; Bobby Bonds, 332/461; Reggie Sanders, 305/304; and Steve Finley, 304/320. The all-time stolen base leader, Rickey Henderson, fell just three homers short. I found this out because YES offered “who are the only three players with 400 HR and 300 SB?” as a trivia question on Sunday, the day Dawson was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.) The Red Sox-Angels game, which hadn’t even started, was somewhat of a mystery–maybe it was for Lackey’s return to Anaheim? (Nope, that wasn’t until Tuesday; Monday was Dan Haren’s first start with the Angels. They did the same thing for Cliff Lee’s first start with the Rangers, which also went poorly, though without the injury.) But the Rays-Tigers game…I opened up the box score to find a double-no-hitter in progress in the bottom of the sixth, the second time this year a game had been hitless on both sides that late in the game. (That one got a featured game tag, too, despite neither side getting the no-hitter.) Max Scherzer was unable to hold onto their no-hitter as Matt Joyce hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the sixth (two walks and a catcher’s interference having loaded the bases), but Matt Garza became the fifth pitcher of the year to complete a no-hitter, the first in Rays history. (The next morning, one of the ESPN people cracked that it was the second time this year the Tigers had a no-hitter broken up by a guy named Joyce.) With the Rays joining the Rockies as teams earning their first no-hitters this season, only the Padres and the Mets are without no-hitters in their franchises’ histories. Also, an odd note: the Rays acquired Matt Joyce from the Tigers prior to the 2009 season in a trade for Edwin Jackson. After one year, the Tigers traded Jackson to Arizona for…Max Scherzer, whose no-hitter Joyce broke up. And then Jackson went and no-hit the Rays as a Diamondback earlier this year. (On that note, today’s Phillies-Diamondbacks game matches Jackson against Roy Halladay–no-hitter versus perfect game. Incredible.) With the trading deadline not yet upon us, we stand just two no-hitters shy of tying the modern record for a season–and it would be one away if not for Jim Joyce’s bad call. Bring it on.

Sitting on milestones

As I write this, the Yankees-Royals game has just gone to rain delay with a 1-0 count on Robinson Canó, batting with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. The Yankees lead 4-0, so it’s an official game. A-Rod bats right ahead of Canó in the lineup, and he struck out looking in his last at-bat, still sitting on 599 home runs. Meanwhile, Canó is 2 for 2 so far tonight and has brought his career hits total to 998, meaning it’s entirely possible that the Yankees could see milestones in back-to-back at-bats. Crazy.

Also crazy were yesterday’s games. In the afternoon, the Phillies 1-hit the Cardinals for 11 innings in St. Louis. The only other time a home team was held to one hit in a game of at least 11 innings? The infamous “greatest game ever pitched”–Harvey Haddix’s 12 perfect innings followed by losing the game in the bottom of the thirteenth. The Cards’ lone hit was in the fifth, though, so it wasn’t the longest no-hit bid in the majors yesterday. That belonged to John Lackey, who no-hit the Mariners for 7.2 innings before Josh Bard broke it up with a single. Lackey then left at the end of the eighth, at which point the Red Sox collapsed, allowing five runs (three earned) in a two-error ninth inning to allow the M’s to tie the score at 6-6, the shutout having disappeared long before the no-hitter did (walk, stolen base, advanced to third on groundout, scored on passed ball). Uh…damn, that’s horrible. Due to the “can’t assume the double play” rule, the first of the two runs that scored on the second error of the ninth would not have been unearned due to the “would’ve been the third out” rule, but the second was because the runner only scored due to the overthrow and the third out was made by the next batter…except the first run was unearned because that was the runner who reached on the first error in the first place. Oh, and the Red Sox? Still won the game, in 13 innings. Wow. Just…wow.

WHAT?!

Watching Sunday Night Baseball, and I was about to leave the room to take a shower (man, is it hot here…I’m constantly sweating) when I saw across the bottom line, next to the Oakland logo, “Second perfect game in team history and 19th perfect game in ML history”. The title of this entry was pretty much my reaction. Oakland produced a perfect game? Oakland? I immediately took out my computer, and…naturally, my first reaction was to see if this had screwed over my Baseball Challenge entry in any way, since it’s quite likely that I wouldn’t have taken “facing Oakland” as a huge threat worthy of benching a good hitter. Nope, everything was safe…and then I went over to the scoreboard, to see why I didn’t have anyone from Oakland’s opponent. And the holy s*** factor continued. See, with my beloved Red Sox stuck in fourth place, I don’t want to worry about split loyalties, so as good as they may be, I leave the AL East’s power teams out of my entries…and the A’s were facing the Tampa Bay Rays today. Yeah, the Rays. Best record in baseball Rays. Those guys. The annoying things that won’t go away. For one day, they went away, hard. Also, second time in under a year that they got perfected. They’ve only been involved in three total no-hitters in their short franchise history, the third also being from the losing end…but put it this way: The Devil Rays were around for 10 seasons, finishing in last place in nine of them and fourth in the other, and were only no-hit once, and it wasn’t a perfect game. They changed their name to the Rays, and finished above .500 in both completed years including one league pennant, and in their third year under the new name have gotten off to the best start in the majors…yet in this not-even-a-quarter-of-the-time, as a much better team, have been the victims of two perfect games.

Also of note: This is the shortest time between perfect games in over 125 years. The only time that two perfect games were thrown within a shorter period of time was in June of 1880, when the first and second perfect games in major league history were thrown within a week of one another. Incredible.

The announcers acknowledged the perfect game, and Jon Miller initially referred to it as “a nice Mother’s Day gift for mom,” but his partner (not sure who it is, but it’s apparently a pitcher because Miller asked him about if he ever came close to a perfect game/no-hitter) eventually corrected him–Dallas Braden’s mother has been deceased for some time, a victim of cancer. (Well, one of the partners–Joe Morgan is still there, too.) However, Braden’s grandmother was in attendance at today’s game, so yeah. (She also had some choice comments about A-Rod–apparently Braden was the pitcher involved in A-Rod’s latest on-field faux pas, crossing the mound when returning to first after a foul ball, and this argument’s been going on for awhile.)

Also, follow-up alert: No, the Tigers were not the first team to score only four runs when they hit four home runs. In fact, they’re not even the first team to score only four runs when two players had multi-home run games, which was the case (Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila had the homers for the Tigers). It last happened in 1982, when Cecil Cooper and Robin Yount had two home runs each for the Brewers.

More Sunday Night Baseball: Miller just called J.D. Drew “Steven”. Right family, but…

Retroactive correction: Obviously, looking back at this entry, it’s obvious that the former pitcher in the booth would have been Orel Hershiser.

Yeah, haven’t been updating much lately…

Things have been busy. I mean, I know, there has definitely been some interesting stuff going on in baseball. Dexter Fowler of the Rockies stole five bases in the first four innings of a game. Carl Crawford of the Rays had a total of six steals in a game. The Red Sox just set a new AL record for runs scored before making the first out of an inning in last night’s game against the Indians (12, in the sixth inning, breaking the old record of 11 and tying the major league record), and Manny Ramirez has been suspended for 50 games for taking a female fertility drug that is used by steroid-users to restart their bodies’ testosterone production when coming off a cycle. Speaking of PEDs, A-Rod makes his season debut tonight. Also returning to the majors soon: Dontrelle Willis. And since this blog has been turning into Death Watch for much of the season, let’s give a shout-out to Dom DiMaggio, who died earlier this morning at the age of 92. (Well, at least this time it’s someone who had lived a long, full life, unlike Fidrych in his fifties and Adenhart in his early twenties…) DiMaggio, though not nearly the star that his older brother Joe was, made 7 All-Star teams, and his 34-game hitting streak in 1949 still stands as the Red Sox franchise record. There is also speculation (because there’s always speculation in Major League Baseball, all sorts of “what if?”s) that had DiMaggio not left Game 7 of the 1946 World Series in the eighth inning after injuring his hamstring running the bases (on a base hit that drove in 2 runs to tie the game at 3-3), Enos Slaughter would’ve been unable to score from first base on Harry Walker’s double to center in the ninth inning, fielded by DiMaggio’s replacement, Leon Culberson. Though overshadowed throughout his career by his older brother Joe playing the same position for the Yankees and by his teammate Ted Williams playing next to him in the outfield, Dom DiMaggio was nonetheless a great baseball player.

Spotlight

I think I’m just going to live-blog this, Bill Simmons-style. Probably should’ve started that earlier, actually…

8:05
PM: I tune in as Bernie Williams is getting a huge ovation. Apparently
they’ve been introducing Yankee greats across time, including the
starting lineup from the first game ever played at Yankee Stadium. Now,
Bob Sheppard with the starting lineup. In centerfield, #18, Johnny
Damon. At shortstop, # 2, Derek Jeter. In right field, #53, Bobby
Abreu. At third base, #13, Alex Rodriguez. At first base, #25, Jason
Giambi. In left field, #22, Xavier Nady. At second base, #24, Robinson
Canó. The designated hitter, #55, Hideki Matsui. Catching, #26, Jose
Molina. And pitching, #46, Andy Pettitte.

Okay, now that we can
get out of stuffy serious mode, let’s take a look at the rest of
baseball. As I said, a Yankee loss will give the Red Sox a playoff
spot. For tomorrow, Florida is out of the NL East with a loss or a
Philly win. The Cubs will clinch home field up until the World Series
with a win or Philly loss.

8:13: Special guest to catch the
ceremonial first pitch…okay, it’s Jorge Posada, who’s been on the DL
all year. Nice. Throwing out the first pitch is Julia Ruth Stevens, the
Babe’s daughter.

8:15: There’s going to be a “special postgame
celebration” after the game. If Baltimore wins, there’s also going to
be such a celebration in Boston. The Sox may even be back in town in
time to see it, depending on when their plane left/leaves Toronto.

8:19:
Speaking of Chicago Cubs, it looks like ESPN may have rush-delivered
Lou Piniella to New York. Oh, wait, that’s right, the Cubs have a
four-game series at Shea starting tomorrow. Okay, so that makes a
little more sense, but it still seems like they must have gotten the
team to NYC pretty quickly.

8:25: Jon Miller asks, “Who will hit
the last home run at Yankee Stadium? Jeter? A-Rod?” I hope it’s an
Oriole. Preferably Kevin Millar.

8:26: Joe Morgan says it’s not
a must-win game for the Yankees. He later qualifies it by saying that
they will be eliminated from the playoffs this year. I still disagree.
You don’t eliminate yourself, and you definitely don’t close out your
home ballpark by handing a playoff berth to your most hated rival.

Commercial
break means we can discuss more eliminations and stuff. Okay, actually,
we don’t have any more for tomorrow. We have the Phillies clinching a
playoff berth with two wins and a Milwaukee loss…we probably have
others. The game is coming back. 8:30 PM already, and still no pitches
besides the ceremonial one.

8:31: They’re scrolling Yankee
Stadium history across the bottom of the screen. Gag. Now we’re on
all-time Yankee Stadium leaders. Mickey Mantle leads in Games Played
and Home Runs; Jeter leads in Hits, Gehrig in RBI. Now we’re in
“Events”, such as notable boxing matches and concerts. Concerts! I wonder why I’m doing this.

8:35:
Finally, Pettitte takes the mound, to the tune of “Boys of Summer”.
Miller tells us about “the roll call”, that despicable part of the game
when everyone chants the players’ names until they respond, then
wonders if that tradition will move with them to the new stadium.
Morgan, thankfully, tells him that because of the fans’ fervor, a lot
of things will be moving over.

8:37: Oh, no, they’ve got one
camera on those fans and another on whatever player’s name they’re
calling out. Abreu has to ignore them momentarily to catch a fly ball
from Brian Roberts, then Nick Markakis singles to center on the first
pitch.

8:39: Morgan talks about the roar of the crowd, something
I can appreciate, having once identified a classic game on the radio as
being at Yankee Stadium just from the crowd noise. Mora flies out to
Nady, and Huff grounds out to Jeter.

8:41: Was there a commercial there, or just more Yankee Stadium reminiscing? Chris Waters is pitching for Baltimore.

8:43:
The recorded Bob Sheppard introduction of Derek Jeter. Was too busy
looking up Waters’s numbers to see how Damon got out. Waters debuted
with 8 innings of one-hit, shutout ball, and in his most recent start,
had a complete game shutout.

8:44: Apparently Jeter got an award for breaking Gehrig’s record. Tonight, though, he’s out on strikes.

8:45:
Morgan reminds us that Jeter’s playing hurt tonight. My hands can’t
move quickly enough for this…how does Simmons do this? Another
backwards K, and it’s 1-2-3. You don’t think…Nah, there’s no way that
would happen, right? 😉

8:49: Miller tells us the Orioles have a
potent offense. They also tell us that Pettitte is on a personal 5-game
losing streak. Sounds good to me.

8:50: Hernandez is down on
strikes. For the second time tonight, we’re told that Ruth said he’d
give a year of his life to hit a homer in the first game at Yankee
Stadium, and that he did. Oh, and that was career strikeout #2,000 for
Andy Pettitte.

8:51: Adam Jones triples off the top of the wall
in right. Millar comes up with a chance to drive in the first run in
the last game at Yankee Stadium.

8:52: Pettitte’s considering retirement, apparently. Allegedly. You know how long southerners’ retirements last, though.

8:53: Full count.

8:54:
It’s a walk. Jay Payton comes up and drives in the run with a
broken-bat grounder to short, too slow to turn the double play.

8:56: Juan Castro flies out to Damon.

Okay, so maybe giving a play-by-play is too much. Best to focus on the important stuff, and on Miller’s inane comments.

Wow,
bizarre. In spite of their OT loss to NC State, East Carolina is still
ranked. Oregon was knocked out by Boise State, and with OK State idle,
they were unable to capitalize on the other losers…so Vandy and TCU
are in. To review: there are only 19 teams from BCS conferences in the
AP Top 25. And one of them is Vanderbilt. And one of those non-BCS
teams is all the way up at number 11.

9:04: A-Rod reached on a walk and is at second with two outs. So, yeah, it’s still possible.

9:04: Whoa! Brian Roberts gets a Web Gem for a diving catch. 2 innings done.

9:08:
Yogi and Whitey are in the booth. Miller calls Ford the greatest
pitcher in Yankee history, then asks Yogi to confirm. Yogi, jokester
that he is, says, “He’s okay.” One on, didn’t see how. Roberts then
steals second. Ford gives a story about warming up in the late innings
of Larsen’s perfect game because “Don gets tired in the late innings.”
Still scrolling facts.

9:14: Showing highlights of Jackie
Robinson stealing home in the World Series off of the Ford-Berra
battery, a call they didn’t agree with. Mora drives in Roberts. Ford
relates a story of Phil Rizzuto saying that he could see from shortstop
that Robinson was safe, but years later, they found out that Scooter
wasn’t even playing that game.

9:19: Finally, inning over.

9:23: Matsui gets the first hit for the Yanks, a single. Now showing, the final pitch of Larsen’s perfect game.

9:26: Three-run homer, Johnny Damon. ****.

9:27: Jeter hits one to almost the same spot, but not far enough; running catch, Markakis.

9:33: Has there been a game going on here? Two walks have given them first and second with two outs.

9:36:
Fly ball to left, ends the inning. Whitey told the story of when he
gave up four hits on his first four pitches and Casey Stengel came out
and asked Yogi if Whitey had anything and Yogi responded, “I don’t
know, I haven’t caught anything.”

9:37: There really was only one commercial there, then a return with “New York, New York” playing. I think it was the Sinatra version, but it didn’t really sound like either of the main versions.

9:42: One-out double for Millar.

9:46:
Now talking about 1976, Chris Chambliss’s home run, the Big Red Machine
and Reggie Jackson as a guest star on the telecasts, saying that the
Yankees needed “a big hitter”–and they would acquire Jackson that
offseason. Tie ball game on a two-out RBI single by Roberts. Inning now
over.

9:54: Two-run homer, Jose Molina. Argh.

10:11:
Brief mention of John Sterling. Yes, I’ve more or less lost interest.
Sterling and Michael Kay were apparently the emcees of the pregame
ceremonies. The official closing of the Stadium is in November. Isn’t
that a bit early for an outdoor hockey game?

10:16: Peter Gammons with David Wells and David Cone, talking to them about their perfect games.

10:18:
Pettitte leaves with one on and none out in the sixth. This means he’s
eligible for the win, and not eligible for the loss.

10:20: Jose Veras on to pitch.

10:25:
Sounds like a “Boston Sucks” chant. Also, celebrities in the stands. We
have Val Kilmer, we have Bobby Knight…do we have others?

10:26: Pinch-hitter? Oscar Salazar comes out to pinch-hit for Juan Castro.

10:43:
Now showing: Reggie’s heroics in the ’77 World Series. Oh, he’s in the
booth. You can tell that I’ve lost interest in this game, can’t you?

10:58:
Seventh inning stretch. Ronan Tynan’s there, of course. Also, a couple
more pitching changes. Phil Coke replaced Veras with two out in the
sixth, Lance Cormier replaced Waters with two outs in the bottom of the
sixth, and Joba–the one and only–replaced Coke with one out in the
top of the seventh. When did Joba return and why is he a reliever
again? I take it he’ll also take care of the entire eighth, then hand
it off to Mariano. It’s the only right way.

11:01: Back again.
While we’re thinking of closers (we knew that regardless of score, Mo
would be pitching the ninth), K-Rod had save number 60 yesterday

11:03:
Michael Kay is taking over in the broadcast booth. ESPN normally shuts
out local coverage, so it’s really nice that they’re handing the mic
over to the YES play-by-play man.

11:06: Abreu singles and steals second. A-Rod’s up, 0-for-1 with two walks tonight.

11:07: Abreu to third on the fly out.

11:09: Pitching change. Cormier replaced by Jamie Walker.

11:12:
Pop-up, bad communication, no one catches it, Abreu scores. Dropped by
Brandon Fahey. Wait, when did he enter the game? Brent Gardner
pinch-running for Giambi, Rocky Cherry replacing Walker.

11:14: Oh, right, Castro left the game. Fahey pinch-ran for Salazar and took Castro’s place at shortstop. We’re back.

11:17: GET FAHEY OUT OF THERE!!! He boots the ball, and Gardner, running on the play, makes it to third.

11:19: Sac fly Canó, Nady to second. Gonna take quite the comeback for the O’s to pull this off…

11:20: Pudge pinch-hits for Matsui and grounds out.

11:23:
Defensive changes: Gardner stays in at center, Damon to left, Cody
Ransom comes in to play first base, batting in Nady’s spot.

11:25: Two outs already. Damn, that’s quick.

11:28:
First-pitch flyout for Jose Molina, the first time he’s been out this
game. He’s been declared the Chevrolet Player of the Game, though I’m
hoping that will change.

11:31: Fahey finally catches one, but
collides with Alex Cintrón in the process. Someone rescue this poor
idiot. Cintrón then throws out Jeter for out three. We’re not even
cutting to commercial, instead focusing on the bullpen. Mo throws a
couple more pitches before entering.

11:34: Wow, that was a long
montage of calls. Every no-hitter and perfect game, a few major home
runs…”Enter Sandman”. Payton, Fahey and Roberts due up, but Luke
Scott is in the on-deck circle. So Fahey is given a little mercy, after
all.

11:36: Count is 1-1. Yes, we’ll be going play-by-play for the ninth.

11:37:
Another foul; 1-2. Miller points out that it’s not a save situation,
“not that anybody cares on this night.” Payton grounds out to Jeter.

11:38: Yep, Scott will pinch-hit. Good. Very good.

11:39: Two down. Oh, now this
is cheesy. What do you think this is, an All-Star Game? Jeter leaves
the game, then comes out for a curtain call at the crowd’s request.
Bullsh*t move by Girardi. I hope that the final out, whenever it comes,
goes to shortstop, just to rub it in Girardi’s face.

11:41: Nope; grounder to first ends it. No clinch for the Sox.

11:45: They’ve finished up playing Frankie’s version of “New York, New York”…and started it again.

11:47: Jeter’s got a mic in his hand. Let’s see what he’s got to say.

Eh,
too much to write verbatim. It’s very nice, though, and he did a great
job at quieting down the crowd–although you can still kind of hear the
crowd roar. Big cheers when he calls them “the greatest fans in the
world”. It ends with the organization saluting the fans. Cool, I guess.
Is that even the Stadium PA playing the song this time? Yeah, I think
it is. Of course, it sounds like it’s out of sync with itself. Bad
camera wiring? Is it something recursive, it’s recording itself? Or are
different speakers just playing it at different times?

11:52: Okay, how many times are they going to play that damn song?

12:01 AM: A retrospective of the night.

12:02:
The Yogi Berra commercial…no, wait, it’s different this time. Yogi’s
had a commercial for this final game, but this one is different. Even more
poignant. Oh man…I may be trembling again. Okay, so it’s just an
extended version, here’s the ending I remember. Finally, the full
version…

12:04: SportsCenter begins. This is Passed Ball, signing off.

12:05: Spoke too soon. They’re playing it again!!!

Okay, THIS one would be warranted

Sure, sure, five of those seven runs were allowed by the
starter, but the Mets blew a 7-0 lead, they lost in 13 innings, the tying run
scored with two outs in the ninth…it wasn’t great. After the oft-maligned Aaron
Heilman pitched three shutout innings, Scott Schoeneweis came in for the bottom
of the thirteenth and immediately gave up a triple to Shane Victorino. Mets
manager Jerry Manuel made the logical move here, ordering Schoeneweis to
intentionally walk the next two batters to get to the pitcher’s spot. As the
Mets’ announcers told us, Cole Hamels, their best-hitting pitcher, was already
used the previous time the pitcher’s spot came around, and Kyle Kendrick, their
second-best, was warming up to pitch in case it went to the fourteenth. Brett
Myers, 2-for-44 on the year, came up, and after the announcers discussed the
possibility of a squeeze, they decided that Myers had received orders not to
swing. Uh, was Charlie Manuel watching this year’s All-Star Game? If you
weren’t going to let your pitcher swing anyway, why not just leave Rudy Seanez
out there, save Myers for if the game goes 20-some-odd innings and Kendrick
gets tired? The Mets’ announcers had a bigger concern, namely, why it took
Schoeneweis six pitches to strike out a batter with no intent of taking the
bat off his shoulder.
This, too, was a strategical move, avoiding the
possibility of the 1-2-3 double play. The Phillies won, 8-7, on Chris Coste’s
single, capping off a 4-for-4 night that started with a pinch-hitting
appearance in the eighth inning. Wait, whaddya mean “strategical” isn’t a word!
BOOO!!!!!!!!

 

Yeah, there was a lot of booing where I was last night, the
house at the corner of 161st and River–most of it directed at the
home team’s third baseman, at least in the later innings. Heck, they even booed
him when he made a play. Great game. We were originally going to go into
the city by way of public transit, so I opted to forgo my bright red Red Sox
gear for something more subtle. The t-shirt features a dictionary-style
definition of the word “idiot” with the alternative definition “One who sells
his soul to the evil empire”, a clear reference to former Sox outfielder Johnny
Damon. It looked a particularly apt characterization, as Johnny seemed to be
the only one on the team doing anything on offense, hitting two home
runs in a game in which the Yankees only scored a total of three runs. A-Rod
was particularly atrocious, going 0-for-5 with two GIDP and making the final
out of an inning in four of his five PAs. He also had an error. The Red Sox are
now just 3½ out in the division. Also, they may be getting Mark Kotsay from the
Braves. Kotsay’s current team was only mentioned in that last sentence in order
to provide a segue into the Braves’ stunning come-from-behind win, scoring four
times in the bottom of the ninth to win 10-9. The game had been 3-0 Atlanta at
one point, then 6-3 Florida, and then I think it was tied 6-6 before the
Marlins took their 9-6 lead. I’ll have to double-check that. (Correction–After
6-3 was 6-4, then 8-4, then 8-6 before 9-6.)

 

In other news, Carlos Zambrano broke a record last night. He
picked up a base hit in his thirteenth straight start, surpassing the 12-game
hitting streak by Johnny Sain that had served as the record for a pitcher. An
interesting curiosity. Oh, and the game the Cubs played against the Pirates put
that Braves-Marlins game to shame in lead changes. The Pirates scored the first
three runs, then it went from 3-1 Pittsburgh to 5-3 Chicago in a flash, so
quickly on the out-of-town scoreboard that I assumed a grand slam. It wasn’t; Geovany
Soto had a three-run double, and the other run came…somewhere in that vicinity.
The Pirates closed it to 5-4, then the Cubs scored again to make it 6-4, only
for the Pirates to tie it at 6-6…but then the Cubs took a 7-6 lead, only to
quickly end up down 8-7! Then the Cubs started to get serious. (My dad and I
were on the way home by the time this started, and neither of us were remotely
surprised to hear that Craig Hansen had walked two batters.) It became 9-8,
then 10-8, and then Geo Soto had his second three-run double of the night. The
final score was 14-9 Cubs, with Soto driving in half of his team’s runs.

 

Just another game off the calendar, though, as the Brewers
kept pace in dominating fashion. After eight innings, the lead was a
comfortable 5-0. By the time the Cardinals came to bat in the bottom of the
ninth, though, it was a laugher, as the Brewers put up seven insurance
runs in the top of the inning. The shutout held up for a 12-0 final.

They went around…and around…and around…and around…

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A real football score at Fenway
last night–Papi alone drove in a touchdown in the first inning with a pair of
three-run homers as the Sox took a 10-0 lead after one inning. With run support
like that, you’d think it would be all too easy for Charlie Zink to pick up a
win in his major league debut…and you’d be wrong. After allowing 10 runs (4
earned) in the first, Texas starter Scott Feldman remarkably came back out, got
through the second without allowing a run, and got the first two outs of the
third before being removed for Josh Rupe with the bases loaded. Rupe proceeded
to walk the first two batters he faced to restore the Sox’ ten-run lead at
12-2. Zink recorded his second perfect inning of the night in the fourth, but
things began to unravel in the fifth. One out, 12-6 now, runner on first, and
there’s a fly ball to centerfield, Crisp going back, leaping up, makes the
catch…no, he dropped it! Runners on second and third now. Crisp tries to
convince the umps that he caught the ball and dropped it on the transfer.
Replays do appear to show him attempting to transfer the ball at the time of
the drop, but it wasn’t in his glove for very long, either…perhaps we should
defer to the NFL rulebook. A receiver must retain possession of the ball
throughout the course of going to the ground…yeah, I’m going to have to say no
catch. Call it an E-8…What do you mean it’s a base hit! He “doubled” right into
Crisp’s glove! There’s no way you can rule that a hit…this is bullsh**. Anyway,
that’s the night for Zink, 12-6 as Javier Lopez comes on with one out in the
fifth. Something similar happened with David Pauley’s debut, if I remember
correctly–left with a lead but too early to get the win. Lopez picks up an out
and allows an inherited runner to score on a base hit, and then David Aardsma
comes on. He proceeds to give up a three-run homer to Ian Kinsler, and it’s 12-10 after 4½. Papi leads off the bottom of the fifth and
appears to hit his third home run of the game, a career first, to straightaway
center. Umpires say otherwise, ruling fan interference and sending him back to
second base. No matter as Kevin Youkilis follows with a no-doubt-about-it home
run to make the score 14-10. So, despite the rain that fell in the second
inning, we’ve made it to five, and this game will be official. Are we sure
that’s a good thing, though? Aardsma returns for the sixth, leaving with the
score 14-11 and two runners on base. Sadly, by the rules of the game, he’d be
the one getting the win if this score holds up. Manny Delcarmen fails to make
it so and is charged with a blown save, as the Rangers batter him around to
take a 15-14 lead, and despite a less-than-inspiring performance, Rupe is now
in line for the win. Warner Madrigal, who sounds more like one of my made-up
players in Dream than an actual major leaguer, pitches a hitless sixth,
the only blemish a walk, for his first hold of the year. Delcarmen comes back
out and is charged with another run, leaving with one out and one on in favor
of Hideki Okajima. Okajima loads the bases with a walk and a hit batsman but
manages to keep the score at 16-14, and Jamey Wright gives up an unearned run,
the result of his own error, in the process of picking up a hold in the seventh.
Okajima shuts the Rangers down in the eighth, and on for the next hold is Frank
Francisco. Crisp leads off and makes an out, and Jacoby Ellsbury, a late
scratch from the starting lineup with a bruised tailbone (result of being hit
by a John Danks pitch the previous night) comes in to pinch-hit for Kevin Cash.
He draws a walk, and Drew flies out to right for the second out. Up comes
Dustin Pedroia…long fly ball to left, will it stay fair? Yes! Off the wall for
a double, as Jacoby motors home with the tying run! 16-16 with two outs in the
eighth! Now, in that long first inning, David Ortiz had a pair of three-run
homers. Kevin Youkilis, batting right behind him, had a pair of strikeouts.
First base is open. You know what the smart move is. It’s the wrong one,
though, as Youk hits his second homer of the night, a three-run shot
over the Monster to give the Sox a 19-16 lead. “A good year,” I said, “we won
the World Series.” Now Papelbon comes on, and my father begs him “not to make
this exciting”, something I try in vain to explain to him is impossible. Yes,
it’s a three-run lead in the ninth with the closer on the mound, but the
circumstances that led to it make it impossible for it to be “boring”. Besides,
it’s Papelbon. Watching him work is never “boring”. I would’ve used the word
“tense” rather than “exciting”, because the game has been exciting, and
Papelbon is an exciting player to watch–as are most dominant closers.
Unfortunately, semantics don’t matter when Papelbon isn’t being lights-out. One
double, one error–Youk’s second of the night, at as many positions–and the
tying run is at the plate, 19-17 the score. Have the Sox ever won a game by the
score of 19-18? Well, it didn’t happen here, as Pap finished it out, 19-17 the
final. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, a see-saw game is going on. The Yanks led
first, 1-0, but the Twins took a 2-1 lead, only to see it go to 3-2 Yanks. The
Twins tied it at three, but the Yanks scored next, twice, and then once more to
make it 6-3. By the time the postgame show started on NESN, however, it was
6-6. I later found out that Delmon Young’s home run off of Mariano Rivera was
the first Mo had ever allowed to a Minnesota Twin–in his fourteenth
professional season, all of them in the American League, with two ALDS meetings
with the Twins thrown in for good measure (’03, ’04). A-Rod and Nady homered
in a three-run twelfth, though; 9-6 the final.
Continuing the theme of ways that I’m right and Dad’s wrong, late in the game
he dismissed the idea that anything significant would’ve happened in the Tampa
Bay-Oakland game as of yet. I told him that the A’s had taken a 2-0 lead on a
home run by Bobby Crosby. “Too early to mean anything.” No, the 10-0
first-inning lead the Red Sox had was too early to mean anything; the postgame
update showed the Oakland lead cut to 2-1 in the top of the fourth, but that
eventually became the final as the Rays lose a game that was more fútbol
than football and the Sox get back to within three games. Are those injuries
hurting yet?

 

Zink was sent back to the minors
after the game to make room for the Red Sox’ newest acquisition, pitcher Paul
Byrd, traded from the Native Americans Indians for either cash or a PTBN.
Cleveland fans seemed happy enough to get rid of him, but although his ERA is
around 4.5 and his record is 7-10, he’s 4-0 since the All-Star Break, which is
good enough for me. Besides, we don’t need an ace; we just need someone to fill
in for Wake and/or be better than the struggling Buchholz. I heard that Byrd
will be pitching in Buchholz’s spot in the rotation, but with Zink back at
Pawtucket, you’ve got to figure that Buchholz is just being held back a few
days, till Wake’s next turn in the rotation. On to the constant drama that is
the National League.

 

Two teams with streaks of six
games, both victorious last night. One was the Milwaukee Brewers, extending
their winning streak to seven games with a 5-2 victory over San Diego–oddly
enough, a streak that did begin right after the Parra-Fielder dugout
scuffle. The other was the Cincinnati Reds, Edinson Volquez picking up his
fourteenth win as the Reds handed Jeff Karstens his first NL loss, 5-1 the
final. The win gave the Brewers a four-game lead in the wild card as St. Louis
lost to Florida, 4-3, in a game lengthened by rain delays, and they closed to
just three games behind the Cubs, who got hit even worse by the southeastern
rains, postponed completely in Atlanta. The Braves and Cubs will play a
doubleheader today. Out west, the Dodgers rallied to a walkoff win in the ninth,
4-3 over the Phillies as Andre Ethier drove in Russell Martin with the winning
run, and remained a game behind the Diamondbacks, victorious at Coors by a 4-2
score. Back east, the Mets blew another late-game lead, Ryan Langerhans with a
pinch-hit solo homer, his first long ball of the year, in the seventh to tie
the game at 3-3. But nobody blew a save; starter Johan Santana was still in the
game. He picked up the win when a 1-2 pitch from Saul Rivera was ruled to have
grazed the helmet of Damion Easley, forcing in a run, and Joe Smith and Pedro
Feliciano each pitched scoreless innings to preserve the 4-3 lead, something
the Mets have struggled with in the absence of Billy Wagner. The Mets now stand
at just a game behind the Phillies; Marlins are 1½ back. But the hottest team
in baseball right now (with the possible exception of the Los Angeles Angels of
Anaheim, who never seem to lose) is the Houston Astros, 13-3 since July 27 and
above .500 for the first time since June 11 following a 12-4 win over San Francisco
last night. Don’t look now, but they’re just 8½ behind the Brewers in the wild
card race–a deficit they’ve (almost) covered in much less time than what
they’ve got to work with here. (See: September 2006. Actually, just the second
half of it.) Their pitching might not be what it was then, but I wouldn’t count
them out of it just yet. You don’t mess with Texas.

 

…Say, I wonder if Roger Clemens is
still available to them. Luring him out of retirement worked for them before,
right? (See: 2004 and 2005)

Catch-22

If you took a stone and threw it at a crow, if the crow didn’t die
immediately, it would probably make a noise similar to the one I made
when I heard how many innings the Rockies and Padres played. Rockies 2,
Padres 1 (F/22). F/22. I think that was one of the settings on my
camera for photography class. Wild… Scoreless game into the 14th, in
which each team scored once. The Rockies’ run in that inning came on a
bases-loaded walk. The Padres’ came on a bases-loaded single. Why did
they only score one on that play? Your guess is as good as mine. The
winning run was driven in by 2007 NL Rookie of the Year
Troy Tulowitzki, who doubled after Willy Taveras reached on a two-out
throwing error and went to third on another throwing error on his steal
of second. Speed forces pressure; just ask the Yankees, who for the
second time this year saw their catcher throw the ball into centerfield
attempting to stop Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury reached by way of getting
hit by the pitch in each of his first two plate appearances, and stole
second both times. He was far from the only one to leave the Stadium
sore, though. It was quite a wild night; I’ve never seen so many
ejections. You’re probably scratching your head right now, wondering
what the hell I’m talking about. “The umpires didn’t toss anybody last
night…did they?” Nope. I was in the Bronx last night,
watching the game live, and the security guards had their hands full.
No less than three fights broke out in the stands, one of them just a
few rows ahead of where I was sitting, and before the game even started
the people in our area had to call over the security because some guys
were harassing a 12-year-old girl (which brings up the question, how
the hell do a Mets fan and a Red Sox fan end up producing a Yankee
fan?). Mike Mussina lasted just three innings, as he not only hit
Ellsbury twice, he also gave up two home runs to Manny Ramirez. I
immediately noticed that after Alex Rodriguez passed Red Sox icon Ted
Williams on the all-time home runs list in the first game of the
two-game series, Manny’s first home run of the night put him ahead of a
Yankee icon, Lou Gehrig. Manny’s just 5 away from 500 now.

Under pressure from ESPN’s E-60, Miguel Tejada revealed that he lied
about his age to scouts when he first signed and that he is actually
two years older than his listed age. Tejada claims that he was told
that it would help him to get signed by scouts. Yes, Bobblehead, we
already know that you’re a liar and will do whatever people tell you
will help your career. Anything else you want to admit?

The O’s continue to roll, coming back to tie the game twice, down 2-0
and then later 5-2 after seven and a half. The Birds won it in 10
innings. A different group of Birds lost in 10, as the Brewers erased a
3-0 deficit in the eighth inning and won it with two runs in the top of
the tenth, courtesy of Prince Fielder’s first home run of the year.
Fielder took this long to get his first homer? And yet last night’s
solo shot in the ninth was Melky Cabrera’s third. Go figure.

More on the epic in San Diego: Failing to get the runner in from second
with just one out wasn’t the only way the Pads let this game slip away.
Paul McAnulty led off the bottom of the thirteenth with a double. He
was
trying for a triple. Uh…no. Final note: “Could you repeat that?”
All-Star Yorvit Torrealba caught all 22 innings for the Rockies, while
Josh Bard did the same for the Padres. Also, in addition to the
22-inning game here and the 15-inning Game 163 last year, the Padres
and Rockies had a 14-inning game in their final regular-schedule
regular season matchup of 2007, also a Rockies win. Okay, yeah, that
was kind of obvious; there were no late-season losses for the Rockies. Well, one. Against the Diamondbacks. But that’s it.