Ah, now this is the type of night Passed Ball likes to see. Let’s start in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates faced the Brewers, who had won 17 straight against them. Leading 7-2, the Bucs oddly allow reliever Jeff Karstens to bat in the eighth inning (wait, the Pirates moved him to the bullpen? Are they assuming that this was a fluke?) This is important because in his last appearance against the Brewers, Karstens hit Ryan Braun with a pitch–and the Brewers got their revenge, plunking him to start a bench-clearing brawl. Karstens and the Pirates would have the last laugh, however, as the former came around to score to extend the lead to 8-2 and the Bucs broke the losing streak with an 8-5 win. On to our nation’s capital, where it was the same old story–Washington loses again, 6-2 to the Mets, dropping to 26-66. They’re 54 losses away from tying the major league record with 70 games left to play. Just saying. Anyway, a real wild one in Oakland, where the visiting Twins got off to a 12-2 lead after 2.5 innings. Let it be noted that heavy early scoring doesn’t always lead to victory–just ask the Rangers, who in 2006 were 0-2 when scoring their tenth run of the game in the third inning. (If memory serves me correctly, they didn’t actually lead by ten in either of those games, leading 10-1 in the first of those two and 12-4 in the second). Sure enough, the A’s roared back to get within 12-7 after 4 innings, taking a 14-13 lead with a 7-run 7th and holding on with a disputed third out call in the top of the ninth. (Justin Morneau was quite clearly safe with the tying run, but replays are not allowed on those types of calls, so the Twins were robbed.) The Rays almost put on a smaller rally, after the White Sox had a 4-1 lead after 3. Bobby Jenks, summoned in the ninth to protect a 4-3 lead, was less than perfect. After striking out the first two batters he faced, he gave up a walk, a single, and another walk and went to a 3-ball count on Jason Bartlett before finally striking him out to end the threat. All I can say, Bobby, is what is the deal with that beard??? Seriously, does he bleach it or something? Back to the National League, where aside from the Nationals, the NL East had a stellar night, the Braves scoring heavily in the late innings to top the Giants 11-3, the Phillies applying steady pressure in a 10-1 thrashing of the Cubs, and the Marlins nipping the Padres 3-2. Of note is that Giants loss, for it opens the door for…the Colorado Rockies! The Rockies, who had bottomed out at 20-32 following a June 3 loss to Houston and had a worse record than any team other than the Nationals, climbed to 51-42 with their 10-6 win over Arizona yesterday, giving them the lead in the NL Wild Card race. From second-worst in the majors to second-place in the division (and with a better record than one of the other two division leaders, at that) in just 47 days, a 31-10 run. This is much greater than their late run in 2007. This is incredible. And with more than two months remaining in the season, they have a chance to even take the division, now sitting just 8 back of the dominant Dodgers, winners again last night thanks to homers by Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier. The LA area’s other team got rained out in Kansas City; Angels and Royals will play a doubleheader today.
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.)
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.