Interesting start we’ve had to the season. A couple of ninth-inning rallies by home teams, a couple of 11-inning games won by road teams…I caught the end of Diamondbacks-Rockies, because I can’t resist an extra-inning game. Heard the Rockies announcers refer to Ian Kennedy as having a “Vulcan changeup”, which actually makes perfect sense but still sounded hilarious. As usual, I kept a scorecard for the Sox’ opener, ugly as it was. Let’s rate the debuts of their newcomers, huh?
Adrian Gonzalez (2-for-4, 3 RBI): A. Drove in three of the first four runs, played good defense at first, and even his outs weren’t horrible.
Matt Albers (1.0 IP, 0 H, 1 BB): B+: First man out of the pen when Lester couldn’t get through the sixth, he came in with two on and one out and managed to strand all the inherited runners, then got the first out of the seventh. Don and Jerry were saying that he’s a guy who can go multiple innings if needed. Better still, all three outs came on ground balls. I like a guy who can come into a tight spot and induce a double play as well as eat up innings.
Dan Wheeler (0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB): C: Long outs are not inspiring. Wheeler faced only two batters and retired them both, but doesn’t exactly get much confidence.
Dennys Reyes (0.0 IP, 0 H, 1 BB): F: Apparently he’s the new lefty specialist, brought into today’s game to neutralize Josh Hamilton. And neutralize him Reyes did: Hamilton walked on four pitches. S***, I could do that.
Carl Crawford: (0-for-4, 3 K): F-: Apparently, Crawford is horrible against lefties. Have the Red Sox really been without a decent lefty for so many years? Because it seems like he always killed us. Four plate appearances, and no results. A single in any one of them would have gotten him his first RBI in a Sox uniform as Jacoby Ellsbury was in scoring position all four times–even a long fly ball would have done it on the first two, with Jacoby at third with only one out. Nothing. Anyway, Streak for the Cash decided to do a prop on the result of Crawford’s first at-bat–the usual “Hit, Walk, or Strikeout” vs. “Any Other Result”. Not realizing that Crawford was in a bad situation with the matchup with Wilson, I went the optimistic route and chose the former. It was the only at-bat in which Crawford didn’t strike out, instead hitting a weak liner to short. Crawford, you even fail at failing.
7:49 EDT: Okay, not game time quite yet, but it’s definitely time to start the entry. Decided it’s best to time-stamp this one, even though it’s going to be tough to keep it up all night. Especially if this computer starts acting up again the way it had been this weekend. Anyway, I’m happy to see that I might finally be catching on, and we’re off
8:21 EDT: Whoa, still not started. We haven’t even seen President Obama’s first pitch yet!
8:26 EDT: Yeah, inspirational is fun, but this is getting ridiculous!
8:35 EDT: Finally! Barack Obama comes out in his White Sox jacket and throws a strike to Albert Pujols.
8:47 EDT: The NL All-Stars take the field!
8:49 EDT: Ichiro steps up to bat, and the computer starts to freak out. Sigh…
8:50 EDT (I hope): Whoa, really, Derek Jeter’s had a resurgence with the bat? I hadn’t noticed. No, honestly, I hadn’t.
8:52 EDT: Jeter’s been hit, and there are two on with no outs. So much for the mighty Lincecum. Mauer up.
8:53 EDT: …What’s up with Lincecum? He’s not pitching like his usual self. Wait, double play…no, not a double play. Pujols pulled off the bag. Still got Ichiro out.
8:55 EDT: Normally I’d be happy that the AL has the early lead, but that’s not what I predicted! E-3.
???: Yeah, my computer’s clock froze up again, so no more time stamps. Half-inning done, 2-0 AL.
Okay, yeah, we’re only in the first inning and I already want to press mute. FOX, do you actually listen to anything anyone says? Because consensus is that your “B-team” announcers are actually bearable. Hell, even McCarver isn’t a total idiot…Buck brings out the worst in him, and is the truly unbearable one. And FOX feels that Buck is their best broadcaster, even sending him to multiple sports.
Yeah, I had to leave for awhile. We’re now in the bottom of the second, with President Obama in the booth.
Wright breaks up the no-hitter, and Victorino follows it up with another single.
Holy crap it’s tied! Yadi Molina singles to drive in Wright, and Victorino scores on an error. And now Prince Fielder has a pinch-hit ground rule double to give the NL the lead. Whoa.
Ryan Franklin is coming into the game second? Huh? Closers this early?
So far, Franklin’s effective. Teixeira’s up. And now he’s down.
Ah, “Lie To Me” is going to be this year’s over-promoted ASG show. Last year it was Fringe, which I predicted was going to flop miserably, saying nobody wants X-Files knockoffs these days. Shows what I know.
Buehrle nearly hits Pujols, but gets him to ground out 3-1 for the second out. 1-2-3 top of the inning, and the first two–yes, 1-2-3 bottom.
Interview with Buehrle as Haren pitches to the AL All-Stars. Two fly-outs so far. Young singles to extend the inning for Hill.
Greinke comes in and gets Ibanez on one pitch. Ends up being a quick inning.
Billingsley pitches to Crawford, the pinch-hitter. Suzuki up.
9:58 EDT: Hey, my computer caught up to reality! And…we made it through three and a half innings in an hour, when it took an hour just to get from the supposed start time to the end of the top of the first. Ichiro grounds into a fielder’s choice.
10:01 EDT: Stupid facts about Jeter, who also grounds into a fielder’s choice.
10:02 EDT: Mauer’s still in, which is good because he’s the only AL catcher with experience catching a knuckleball.
10:04 EDT: Mauer of Power! Joe Mauer ties it up with an RBI double. Tex’s turn.
10:05 EDT: Pujols makes a beautiful defensive gem to get Tex, 3-1. Tie game after 4-1/2.
10:14 EDT: Hoffman pitching, Miggy T at short. (Speaking of short, did you see him during pregame introductions? Looked like he was sitting down, he was so low to the ground!)
10:16 EDT: Inning over already, double play. Five pitches! All it took! Now I’m watching an extremely bizarre commercial for Taco Bell’s value menu declaring that “silver’s our new green” and “it’s all about the Roosevelts” (dimes). What the hell do they think this is, the Super Bowl?
10:19 EDT: Morneau at first, Zobrist at short, Felix Hernandez pitching, Adam Jones in right, Curtis Granderson in center, and Orlando Hudson pinch-hit for Utley. Yes, it’s finally that time of game. No, wait, Bartlett’s at short. Where’s Zobrist? And wasn’t Bartlett on the DL? Justin Upton pinch-hits for Braun.
10:23 EDT: Oh, I give up. You can figure out who the subs are.
10:26 EDT: Pujols interviewed by Eric Karros. Man, this game’s boring compared to last year…or maybe I’m just not sleep-deprived enough yet.
10:28 EDT: McCarver says that the evening started with “The Man” (Stan Musial), and in the seventh, “El Hombre” leaves. Last night, Pujols said he didn’t want to be called “El Hombre” because regardless of language, the title of “The Man” belongs to Musial. Luckily, McCarver’s Spanish isn’t so great, and he actually called Pujols “El Hambre”, which means “The Hunger”.
10:34 EDT: CARL CRAWFORD!!! Robs Brad Hawpe of a home run!
10:37 EDT: Pap’s making us nervous, but so far, he’s getting the job done.
10:42 EDT: Now in the eighth; Papelbon got the strikeout of McCann to end it. Heath Bell takes over for the man he succeeded as San Diego closer.
10:48 EDT: Adam Jones sac fly gives the AL the lead, scoring Granderson, who tripled.
10:57 EDT (hopefully): Computer’s seizing up again. What a drone. Amazing that there have been that many hits at all. Oh, yes, they just mentioned that the AL has retired 18 NLers in a row, second-longest stretch in ASG history and longest by the AL. And sure enough, Joe F*ck jinxed it, as Adrian Gonzalez walks, followed by Hudson singling. Ryan Howard up to pinch-hit.
11:03 EDT (probably not): Howard strikes out. We’re safe, no thanks to “Would You Please Shut The Buck Up?” there.
11:04 EDT: Absolutely MUST find out what song that Lincoln commercial uses.
11:12 EDT (okay, not really): 1 down for Mo. Hawpe up to bat.
11:14 EDT (or something like that): Tejada flies out to end it. 1-2-3.
11:?? EDT: 2 hours, 31 minutes–or shorter than the pregame cermonies. Geez, shouldn’t All-Star Games be, I don’t know, longer than the average game? Because a 2-1/2 hour game is pretty damn quick these days. This blows. I had more snarky comments about my computer than I did about the game, and I didn’t even get a chance to call Tejada any names! I started to, but then it went from him being the “last hope” to being out before I could get it off. Also, he seems to have shrunk all over so I can’t make any steroids references anymore. (Insert “shrinkage” joke here.)
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.
Another one that was written a bit in advance. I wanted to go with a number that could easily be related to something else, which left the possibilities at seven and ten. At first, it took some stretching to get enough, but soon I found myself having to delete earlier ideas. As the Rays lose their chance at their first franchise no-hitter (solo HR leading off the seventh for Hanley Ramirez), I present to you (with apologies to Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith), “Ten Things I Hate About the Tampa Bay Rays”.
Their ownership is gutless. Folding under pressure to drop the “Devil” from their name. Have some backbone!
The new color scheme. Remind me exactly where on the old unis the word “Devil” appeared? Because I remember already seeing a lot of just plain “Rays” last year. Critics called the new colors “Kansas City lite”, and this seems like a fair assessment, as the Royals put much more life into the color blue. Go back to green, guys!
So, then, what is a “Ray”? Well, if you’re to believe the logo on the front of the jersey and the official press release, they’re now talking about rays of sunshine, which seems awfully lame. However, the old ray still appears on the jersey, and the R in Rays has the same exaggerated tail as the Y in the old Devil Rays logo.
They also still have their old mascot, Raymond, although he never looked much like a devil ray to begin with.
Jonny Gomes needs to be medicated. Heavily.
But this recent brawl between the Sox and Rays is nothing new. Up until a couple of years ago, you could pretty much count on there being an incident of some sort at a Tampa Bay-Boston game, even if it was only by accident. Usually, though, it wasn’t. See: August 29, 2000–a bench-clearing brawl in the first inning and a spoiled no-hitter in the ninth. Pedro’s come so close to no-hitters in every stop he’s made except Los Angeles.
The player who broke up that no-hitter was John Flaherty, who later became a Yankee. Immediately following his stint as a Yankee, he signed as a free agent with the Red Sox as a possible replacement for Doug Mirabelli (who had been traded to San Diego for Mark Loretta), only to retire in spring training to become a broadcaster for the YES Network. Also on the list of Devil Rays-turned-Yankees: Tanyon Sturtze. Oh, wait, his presence on the Yankees was usually good for us–like in the Tek-A-Rod brawl game.
One of those accidents cost us the 2005 AL East title. Matt Clement earned a trip to the All-Star Game for his performance in the first half of his first season in Boston, but was useless for the rest of the life of his contract after being hit in the head by a Carl Crawford line drive. Okay, so maybe that can’t account for him spending most of ’06 and all of ’07 on the DL, but it does explain why he was horrible for the remainder of 2005.
And that long-anticipated bidding war between the Yankees and Red Sox for the services of Carl Crawford, who has been historically brilliant against both of those teams, now looks like it may never happen. Ah, well, at least it’s a legitimate star owning us and not some nobody like whoever the hero of the day is when we face Toronto now (used to be Frank Catalanatto, but he’s with Texas now–and still consistently plays well above his career averages against us).
Wade Boggs tried to convince the Hall of Fame to enshrine him as a Devil Ray–a team that didn’t even exist until his penultimate season. Granted, Boggs wasn’t exactly our favorite person after he bolted for the hated Yankees in search of a ring (and rode around Yankee Stadium on a horse after he got it in 1996), but the Rays have Boggs’s number retired. Yes, he’s originally from the Tampa area; yes, he had his 3,000th hit as a Devil Ray, but he only played there for two years!!! Get real, guys!
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).