The ever-wonderful Jayson Stark is at it again. Note that the link goes to ESPN Insider article, so you may not be able to read it.For this reason, and also because I want to comment, I’ll sum up some of the weirdness here.
In this past Thursday’s Phillies-Nationals game, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino of the Phillies and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nats all homered, marking the first time that players whose names begin with the letters U, V, and Z all homered in the same game. That this has never happened before is not exactly surprising. What I want to know is, were all three necessary, or would some combination of two be sufficient? Obviously U and V have homered together before–Utley and Victorino–but none of those three letters is terribly common, and V is probably the most common of the 3. So have there been other times that U and Z have homered in the same game? And if so, was Zimmerman the “Z” involved? With both the Phillies and the Marlins in the same division as the Nats, this seems plausible enough…although I completely forgot about the Upton brothers when listing the active U’s, which changes things completely. Okay, so now the most likely combo for U/Z is B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays–although it’s quite possible this hasn’t happened yet, as both are fairly young and Zobrist didn’t really get regular playing time until just last year. Come to think of it, now that we have a plausible U-Z pair, what’s our V-Z?
Also, and I actually heard about this game while it was happening, there was Thursday’s White Sox-Blue Jays game. Freddy Garcia got knocked around early and only lasted 3+ innings, striking out 3 and being charged with all 7 runs. The first reliever, Randy Williams, struck out 3 over two shaky innings. Sergio Santos came in for the 6th inning and struck out the side, 1-2-3, and J.J. Putz pitched the 7th, allowing a hit but getting all three of his outs by way of the K. Scott Linebrink came in for the 8th, and sure enough, all three outs he recorded were strikeouts (he, too, allowed a hit.) Never before in a 9-inning game have five different pitchers gotten 3 strikeouts for a team. Also, never before has a team gotten their last 9 outs by way of strikeout with 3 pitchers getting 3 each. What makes this even more impressive, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact that the White Sox managed to strike out 15 Blue Jays despite being a losing road team; therefore, it was 15 out of 24 outs, not 15 of 27. Not a bad performance at all, except for the part where they ended up trailing 7-0 after four innings.
Also, Monday’s Royals-Tigers game marked the first time that two Guillens (Carlos of the Tigers and Jose of the Royals) homered in the same game.
More LOL Mets, too. Josh Willingham of the Nationals hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana last Sunday, but it didn’t get ruled home run right away, so people started running like crazy. Adam Dunn, who had been on first when the ball was hit, had to bowl over Mets catcher Rod Barajas in order to score, and when the ball got away, Willingham tried to score as well, creating another home plate collision and initially being ruled out, until replay decided that it was a home run. Why is this in the category of “LOL Mets“? Because they were the home team, which means the home run that almost wasn’t is courtesy of their ballpark. Still, even securely in last place, this year’s Mets have a long way to go to become as LOL-worthy as last year’s were–and most of last night’s biggest weirdness (position players on the mound and pitchers in left field, for example) was courtesy of the Cardinals. Although having a starter with more saves than your closer is, well, kind of silly.
The blowouts detailed in the entry for yesterday continued in yesterday’s games. The Yankees revenged Tuesday’s loss with a 10-0 victory over the Pirates, Joba Chamberlain picking up his first win as a starter, while Tampa Bay scored 10 runs in a single inning, which I can only explain by copying over ESPN.com’s play-by-play. What exactly is a “fielder’s choice to center”, anyway, and how does an error by the shortstop end up being described as “to center” when the pitcher was batting? (Was that where the ball ended up after the shortstop’s throw?)
|Tampa Bay – Top of 5th||SCORE|
|Ryan Tucker pitching for Florida||TAM||FLA|
|C Crawford homered to right.||5||0|
|B Upton walked.||5||0|
|E Hinske doubled to deep right, B Upton scored.||6||0|
|E De La Cruz relieved R Tucker.||6||0|
|E Longoria homered to left, E Hinske scored.||8||0|
|D Navarro walked.||8||0|
|G Gross walked, D Navarro to second.||8||0|
|B Zobrist singled to right, D Navarro to third, G Gross to second.||8||0|
|J Shields grounded into fielder’s choice to center, D Navarro and G Gross scored on error by shortstop H Ramirez, B Zobrist safe at third on error by shortstop H Ramirez.||10||0|
|A Iwamura doubled to deep left, B Zobrist scored, J Shields to third.||11||0|
|L Kensing relieved E De La Cruz.||11||0|
|C Crawford grounded out to second, J Shields scored, A Iwamura to third.||12||0|
|B Upton singled to left center, A Iwamura scored.||13||0|
|E Hinske fouled out to third.||13||0|
|B Upton to second on wild pitch by L Kensing.||13||0|
|E Longoria singled to shallow right center, B Upton scored.||14||0|
|D Navarro struck out swinging.||14||0|
The Rays committed four errors in the game, but only one was in an inning in which they allowed a run, and they won by a score of 15-3. As mentioned before, today’s Rays-Marlins game saw the visitors attempting to pick up their first franchise no-hitter, and they came darn close, a one-out walk in the fourth (erased on a double play) and a leadoff homer in the seventh the only two blemishes on an otherwise perfect game for Matt Garza; 6-1 the final. Three of Wednesday’s games were considerably more exciting down the stretch, however. The Nationals took a 4-2 lead in the sixth, only to see the Angels tie it up in the eighth, then won 5-4 in a walkoff in nine. Cincy and Toronto were tied after nine, the visiting Reds winning 6-5 in the tenth. And in Detroit, the visiting Cardinals quickly got off to a 2-0 lead, then re-took the lead with a run in the top of the third after Detroit scored twice in the second. Another run in the fourth would extend the lead to 4-2, and they scored again in the top of the fifth to tie it after the Tigers scored three in the bottom of the fourth. The Cards took a 6-5 lead in the seventh, only to see the Tigers tie that same inning, then went on top 7-6 in the eighth, again seeing it disappear in the bottom of the frame. The Tigers won 8-7 in a ninth-inning walkoff. The excitement would only continue in this afternoon’s game, where no team led for more than half an inning at a time. The Tigers started the scoring with a run in the bottom of the sixth, only to see the Cards respond in the top of the seventh. The Cards then took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, and the Tigers answered to send it into extras, where they would have a walk-off of the most literal sense in the tenth, Clete Thomas drawing the bases-loaded walk after Carlos Guillen had been intentionally walked with one out and Curtis Granderson on second and Miguel Cabrera had been intentionally walked with two outs and Granderson now at third on a fly out. Intentional walks with two outs can come back to haunt you–just ask the Chicago Cubs, who intentionally walked Nick Markakis with two outs in the third inning of a scoreless game this afternoon to load the bases for Kevin Millar. Millar drew a walk to drive in the first run (on a full-count pitch that looked to me to be right down the pipe), Aubrey Huff followed up with a two-run double, and Jay Payton followed that with a two-run single that would be all the offense the Orioles would need; they scored six more times in later innings to win 11-4.