…Well this is awkward. In my last entry, I mentioned that my father grew up a Yankee fan, and I was going to put an explanation of what happened at the end of my next entry, since it didn’t seem right to interject any sort of negativity into such a poignant entry, but there was the obvious disconnect between the young Yankee fan I described and the man who raised his son to root for the Red Sox. It was just supposed to be a footnote… Anyway, what happened was, Dad went to college in the Boston area, and it was while he was there that George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees. This did not sit well with my father, and so he switched sides. It is, then, ironic that before anything worth writing about happened on the field (except for Big Papi winning the Home Run Derby, the first time a Red Sox won it), Steinbrenner passed on at the age of 80 after suffering a heart attack. Um…yeah, I can’t really get emotional about this one. I’m never happy about anyone dying, but I can’t really get all teary about this one like I have in the past. Well…goodbye, George.
Interesting week in baseball; I think the “three-ring circus” metaphor applies. The third ring: Mark Buehrle. Coming off of a perfect game (and 28 consecutive batters retired dating back to the final one of his previous start), Buehrle retired the first 17 batters he faced to break the record of 41 straight shared by former San Francisco Giant Jim Barr and current Buehrle teammate Bobby Jenks before giving up a two-out walk. One batter later, he lost the no-hitter, and one batter after that, he lost the shutout and the Sox’ recently-earned 1-0 lead. He then proceeded to retire only one of the five batters he faced in the seventh inning and got charged with 5 runs, the last scoring as an inherited runner after he’d been relieved, and the loss. When it’s over, it’s really over. The second ring: trades. The Pirates continue to sell, sending Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to the Mariners for Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Clement, and three minor leaguers, then swapping Freddy Sanchez straight-up for a minor leaguer from the Giants, and finally shipping John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for three minor leaguers. Weirdest of all, they sent a Double-A pitcher to Toronto for future considerations. The Mariners, however, are not quite so sure they are buyers, sending Jarrod Washburn to Detroit for
two minor league pitchers a minor leaguer and a rookie pitcher–but then again, Washburn’s trade value is at its peak, as he’s having a career year. The Dodgers acquire George Sherrill from the O’s for two minor leaguers and send Claudio Vargas to the Brewers for one minor leaguer, while Oakland also continues to sell, sending Orlando Cabrera to the Twins for a minor leaguer. The big deal, of course, is Cliff Lee being sent to the Phillies along with Ben Francisco in exchange for four minor leaguers. And the center ring: PEDs. Two more of the 104 names from 2003 leak out–then-teammates Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Papi releases a statement that he was “blindsided” and that he’ll find out what it is he’s been accused of taking, and when he does, he’ll share it with the team and the public, saying he wants to be open and not make excuses. Um…right. Sounds kind of like an excuse to me. Other members of the 2003 Red Sox weighed in as well. Nomar Garciaparra, in Boston as a member of the visiting A’s, dropped the bombshell that because players were led to believe there would be no names attached to the tests, only numbers, some players opted to not take the test and just be put down as positive so as to drive up the number towards the mandatory 5% because they wanted testing. Excuse me for a moment, news just broke that Victor Martinez has been traded to the Boston Red Sox for Justin Masterson and two Single-A pitchers. Back to the PED issue, Garciaparra also said that one team, the Chicago White Sox, he thinks there were like 7 or 8 guys who did that. Meanwhile, completely unprompted, Bronson Arroyo said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if he was one of the 104, saying that he took the steroid precursor androstenedione (which wasn’t banned at the time) but stopped after he’d heard rumors that due to lax production standards, some of it might be laced with steroids, as well as taking amphetamines, which were not banned until 2006. This is what is generally known as “damage control”–preemptive action in case something unsavory comes out. Arroyo spent most of the 2003 season with the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket (where he pitched a perfect game) rather than with the major league club, so this all definitely seems suspect, and introducing the idea of the then-legal andro that may have been tainted, well, it’s creating an excuse before there’s even anything to be making an excuse for! And yet, it’s still the first time I can remember a player admitting using anything without being prompted by a news story about their drug use breaking since Jose Canseco himself. Speaking of Canseco, he now says that a member of the Hall of Fame used, but refuses to say who it is. Trying to drum up publicity for a third book, perhaps?
Update: Red Sox making trade moves again! I had a feeling when the Red Sox got Adam LaRoche that he might not be staying in Boston long, and sure enough, rumor has it that he’ll be heading back to his former team, the Atlanta Braves, straight-up for Casey Kotchman.
Another Update: Scott Rolen from Blue Jays to Reds; no details yet. Wait, first detail is that Rolen has to waive a no-trade clause in order to make it happen.
Next update: Joe Beimel from Nats to Rockies for two minor leaguers; Jerry Hairston Jr. from Reds to Yankees for a minor leaguer. Also missed from previous days: Josh Anderson from Tigers to Royals for cash; Brian Anderson for Mark Kotsay straight-up; Ryan Garko from Indians to Giants for a minor leaguer.
Post-deadline news break number 1: Nick Johnson goes from Washington to Florida for a minor-league LHP.
Post-deadline news break number 2: Jake Peavy will be going to the White Sox, after all. Chicago tried to make this deal before and failed to convince Peavy to waive his no-trade clause, but this time, he apparently decided to relent. Clayton Richard, who was supposed to start for the White Sox tonight, was among the group that Chicago sent to San Diego, along with three minor leaguers, two of which have major league experience. Also, details are coming in on the Rolen deal, and Edwin Encarnacion is among the players Toronto will receive in return. Sounds like the trades have returned to the center ring, after all, even with Halladay still a Blue Jay.
Earlier this season, in preparation for a trip to Tampa, I wrote an entry called “Ten Things I Hate About the Tampa Bay Rays”. And yet, a week or so ago, I realized–I just can’t hate these guys. Maybe it’s because we were catching them, and they were in a down stretch, but I just couldn’t get up the venom for them. Still can’t, even though they did their typical late-inning comeback thing again. Well, “comeback” might not be a great word, since it was a 2-1 game and the tying run came just one inning after the Sox took the 1-0 lead. Still another walkoff win. If they keep this up, the term “Metrodome special” will be replaced with “(insert name of Rays’ new stadium) special” when the Metrodome closes down. If things go south with the Red Sox, I think I will be rooting for the Rays, after all. Besides, how can you hate a team whose manager gets a mohawk as a sign of unity with his players? Joe Maddon is an interesting character, to say the least, but we’ve known that since we saw the shift he employed against Big Papi. Papi memorably responded to the exaggerated shift with a bunt base hit down the third base line. The funny thing is, if Papi had any speed to speak of, he’d be able to get a double by bunting on that shift. That’s how ridiculous the shift is.
Interesting stats abound. Yesterday’s Sox-Rangers game did tie an AL record for combined runs in a game. Youk’s home run was the third to break a tie in which each team had scored at least 16 runs, but the first in regulation–another 16-16 tie had been broken up by a homer in the fifteenth inning of a game, and a 22-22 tie was broken up in this manner by one of baseball’s top home run hitters, Mike Schmidt, in a tenth inning. This is the fourth time a team has scored 17 runs and lost–and the second time this season (Rockies 18, Marlins 17, on the 4th of July). David Ortiz’s 6-RBI first only tied the single-inning record…for August 2008. (Raul Ibanez, August fourth against the Twins) Although they did trail later in the game, the Sox managed to avoid joining the list of teams that scored ten or more runs in the first inning of a game that they lost, a list that stands at two–the 1989 Pirates, in an infamous game in Philadelphia noted for Pirates broadcaster Jim Rooker saying, “If we lose this game, I’ll walk back to Pittsburgh”, and the 2006 Royals, 15-13 losers to Cleveland in ten innings. The starting pitcher for Cleveland? Paul Byrd, acquired by the Red Sox just yesterday. Scott Feldman was the fourth pitcher to allow 10 runs in the first inning of a game since 1900. He was also the fourth to do so since 2006. Feldman became just the second starter to allow twelve runs in a game and not get charged with a loss. The other one had an 11-0 lead in the seventh inning and got the complete-game victory in a 16-12 win, the first game of a doubleheader. Two other pitchers besides Zink received ten runs of support in the first innings of their major league debuts, including one in 1895 who received 12 runs of support–and picked up his only career win as a result. For the fourth time in major league history, a starter picked up his first major league win with the help of at least three rookies but no veterans. That starter was Gio Gonzalez. One of the three that preceded him was also named Gio–Giovani Carrera, 1995 Blue Jays. One of the three rookies that followed was Brad Ziegler, who extends his record career-beginning scoreless innings streak to 38. Think there’s enough time left in the season for him to make a run at the overall record? Would the baseball world even accept it if the shutout innings record were broken by a reliever?
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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
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)