Tagged: Joba Chamberlain

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
Can贸. 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? 馃槈

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 Can贸, 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 Cintr贸n in the process. Someone rescue this poor
idiot. Cintr贸n 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!!!

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Team of destiny?

By now you’ve no doubt noticed that the Tampa Bay Rays have
already equaled last year’s win total and stand just four wins shy of their
franchise record with 41 games remaining. (And this after a loss, too.) XM’s
Baseball This Morning provided a nice list of parallels between the ’08 Rays
and the ’69 Miracle Mets. First off: The ’08 Rays have a 24-year-old ace in
Scott Kazmir. The ’69 Mets had a 24-year-old ace, Tom Seaver. The ’67 Mets were
61-101, ditto the ’06 Devil Rays. The Mets’ manager in 1969 was Gil Hodges, who
has three letters in his first name and six in his last name, just like current
Rays manager Joe Maddon. What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing, of course,
but the Rays are a very good team without a doubt. Remains to be seen if
they can get past the Angels in the playoffs, assuming that that’s who they
play. The Red Sox’ traditional postseason dominance of the Angels can only go
so far, and with Boston’s horrible road record, I’m not so confident in their
chances as a wild card team–especially not against a team with the road record
to nullify their home field advantage when they do have. Modified predictions
for ALDS: Angels sweep Red Sox, Rays beat White Sox in 4.

 

Raul Iba帽ez set a new Seattle record for RBIs in an inning
with 6 in the seventh inning against Minnesota, part of a ten-run offensive by
the Mariners that inning. Iba帽ez’s grand slam proved key to the Mariners’
comeback win. Also hitting a grand slam yesterday was Marlon Byrd of the Texas
Rangers, after the Yankees rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the
ninth, providing a 9-5 walkoff win in the regulation nine. Oakland lost their
seventh game in a row and is just 2-14 since the All-Star Break. Furthermore,
they had been playing only .500 ball leading into the break and are 9-23 since
their high-water mark of nine games over .500 on June 28th. The
Angels won last night on a bases-loaded walk, the same method Tampa Bay used to
win the previous day by an equal 6-5 score.

 

Milwaukee continues to reel, falling for the seventh time in
their last nine games as they were shut down by a Cincinnati team that was
coming off of a sweep at the hands of the league-worst Washington Nationals.
The game was more notable for the fight that transpired in the dugout between
Prince Fielder and Manny Parra. The Cubs also lost, 2-0 in a rain-shortened
game against the scorching Houston Astros (7-1 over their last eight), so
Milwaukee remains five games back, now just half a game up on the idle Cards in
the wild card race.

 

Yeah, yeah, I did it again. Two days worth of writing for
this entry. Tampa Bay got that win, passing last year’s mark with 40 games to
go. Also, I feel a lot better about the Red Sox now. They continue to get
production up and down the lineup, as Youk had his fourth straight game with an
XBH, Pedroia’s now got the longest road hitting streak by a Red Sox since 1913,
Lowrie continued his hot streak with another triple and more RBIs, Bay went 4
for 5, and even Jacoby got into the act, with two hits and two stolen bases–the
first steals in over a month. I really love this team. Where else do you see
the number four starter win Pitcher of the Month? Oh, right, Cleveland
(actually, that was the number 5, at least when it happened, back in April. 15
wins and an All-Star start can change that designation quickly). With win 15 on
Monday night, Lee leads the AL and was briefly tied for the major league lead,
but NL leader Brandon Webb picked up his 16th last night to retake
sole possession of the overall lead. Many happy returns, with Mike Hampton
picking up his first win since 2005, Chris Carpenter making his first home
start since Opening Day 2007 in an eventual 11-inning Cardinal win, and Francisco
Fausto Carmona returning for the Indians, though I’ve already mentioned that
the Indians didn’t win last night, being the Rays’ opponents. (Another
reference to XM Radio on the morning commute there. Really blew that one.)
Interesting play in last night’s Red Sox-Royals game. One of Jason Bay’s four
hits had just barely enough distance and height to clear the wall if
uncontested, but of course, it was contested. Royals centerfielder Mitch
Maier managed to get a glove on it but couldn’t make the catch, instead weakly
knocking the ball away. The ball continued to roll on top of the outfield
wall
for 10-20 seconds before left fielder Ross Gload batted it down and
threw in, limiting Bay to a double. Nevertheless, it was a wholly inexplicable
turn of events. Chris Waters had a phenomenal debut, shutting out the Angels
for eight innings, and the Tigers continued to struggle as they continued to
have trouble closing out games, blowing a 6-1 lead at the halfway point with a
run allowed in the bottom of the fifth, two more in the sixth and one each in
the seventh and eighth and wasting a two-run top of the 14th by
allowing four runs in the bottom of the inning, the last three on a Nick
Swisher home run.

 

Put it off another day…I really, REALLY despise the Tampa
Bay Rays. I wasn’t really paying that much attention to yesterday’s afternoon
games while they were in progress, but I knew that there were some going on,
including Rays-Indians. No sooner do I find the game on my radio… “WAAAAAAAAY
BACK!!! THIS GAME IS TIED!!!” I’m not going to do the whole quote, but yeah. I
then found out that the first two batters of the inning doubled. Disgusting…and
it only got worse. The infield single was disappointing, the four-pitch walk
was horrifying, and the three-run homer was, by that point, almost
predictable–I say almost because I was actually expecting the following batter
to get a grand slam instead. I’m watching the very beginning of SportsCenter
right now, and baseball is nowhere in sight–Brett Favre got traded, and the
entire rundown of seven topics is Favre-related. (I think it froze up again, though,
because this isn’t the top one any more. It may not even be one of the seven,
which would be really disturbing.) More media circus here in Jersey, too–the
Jets ended up winning out over the Buccaneers. (That’s a bit of a shame,
really; not only do I hate both “New York” football teams, Brett Favre would
probably be an upgrade for the Bucs–who do they have, Jeff Garcia? Garcia was
good for us when McNabb went down in ’06, but I’d rather have Favre
there–remember, the Bucs are in the same division as the Carolina Panthers,
whose ’09 first-round draft pick the Eagles picked up in a draft-day trade. So
improving the Bucs helps my favorite team.) Oh, wait, I was wrong about it
freezing up; we’ve returned from the first break and four of the seven are still
on the rundown. The end of SportsCenter was also all Favre…which detracts from
a different kind of Buc. I swear, good accomplishments on bad teams get
no attention at all–the next five on the rundown are “Indians-Rays”, “Walk-off
HR”, “Yankees-Rangers”, “Joba Chamberlain”, and “Red Sox-Royals”. In a way, it
makes sense–the Rays are a division leader and had an incredible comeback win,
the Yankees are in the same division and have a major starter who will be
missing some time, and the Sox are also in that division and leading the wild
card. Unfortunately, after that, it’s even more football coverage–about to fill
up the rundown again. Okay, so what’s the rule–you have to carry the
no-hitter into the ninth to get mentioned by the halfway point? Remember last
week’s entry, when John Lackey’s 8鈪 no-hit innings against the Red Sox got the
top story on SC (and brought the rest of the AL East to the top), even with
plenty of Favre news to go around, and Doug Davis, his cancer-survivor status
and his 7鈪 perfect innings couldn’t get in until after the second
commercial break? Guess what–it happened again, except this time it doesn’t
seem like this one will beat the third break. Eight NFL pieces in this
block, followed by…the NL East: Padres-Mets, then Marlins-Phillies. Hello? 7鈪
perfect innings!!!
This time the Diamondbacks were on the other side of the
ball, unable to get a baserunner until there were two outs in the eighth. Two
more pieces appear on the rundown, and they’re Tigers-White Sox and
Twins-Mariners. We’ve hit the third commercial break, and they’ve told us to
stick around for highlights of the Cubs’ eight-run third against the
Astros–they often tell us to “stick around” for something that we’ll still be
“sticking around” for at the next commercial break, like yesterday with
the surreal play from the Red Sox-Royals game. We’re back, and the next one is,
rather cryptically, “Images”. I’m guessing it’s more Brett Favre. The clock by
the rundown says 11:37, and I might be wrong about the “Images” because the
next one is Dodgers-Cardinals. Will this be it? NO! The next one is
Astros-Cubs, so the following one should be Brewers-Reds…and it is…PGA
Championship. Man, and I was sure that they were going for the NL
Central thing. They go for the second-in-the-West Dodgers versus
second-in-the-wild-card, third-in-the Central Cards, and then follow up with
the Central’s leader…and doesn’t go to the Brew Crew next? Bad editing,
guys…Twins-M’s took us into the fourth commercial, and “End of an Era” followed
“PGA Championship”, followed by even more Favre. I am not going to
finish this entry until SportsCenter gets to the biggest accomplishment of the
night…I mean, you’ve got this 25-year-old, recently acquired…Ah, there’s
“Images”. Image of the week–Manny arriving in LA, Favre arriving and leaving
Green Bay, Carl Edwards celebrating a win, or US cyclists wearing black masks
in Beijing. Manny won out in the poll. “Headlines” and “Legends” follow
“Favre’s Best”…wait…at 11:47, “Headlines” could be that bit I saw…IT IS! The
next one after “Legends” is “Long, Strange Trip”, which was the final
segment–and, yep, there’s “Top Stories” again. Oh, look, “Favre’s Best” is the
daily top 10–they’re taking all of them from Favre’s career highlights instead
of the day’s plays. So, we’ve now got SportsCenter all wrapped up, and so many
games left uncovered. Brewers-Reds, A’s-Jays, Orioles-Angels, Braves-Giants,
Nats-Rockies (okay, that one got rained out; doubleheader today), and, of
course…Pirates-Diamondbacks. If a large-market team kept an opponent of the
bases–or was kept off the bases–for so much as six innings complete,
it’d probably be the top story. Jeff Karstens retires the first twenty-three
Diamondbacks he faces, and it doesn’t get on SportsCenter at all. Come on, near
perfect game? Against a division leader? Still a complete-game shutout–unlike
the Lackey game, which wasn’t a shutout, or the Davis game, which wasn’t a complete game?
Opposing a sure-fire Hall of Famer–“the ugly guy”, as my mom calls him. (Randy
Johnson may not be pretty, but he throws a mean fastball.) ESPN, you disgust
me.

Blowouts and big thrills

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.

The woeful state of the American League

If it wasn’t such a pressing issue that the AL is horrible this year,
the title of this entry would probably be a reference to the scorching
start that Jay Bruce has had in the major leagues. Thought I should
mention him before things get depressing.

I am one hundred percent certain that a team that doesn’t deserve to
make the postseason will make it anyway. Why should that be so? They
give out four postseason berths per league. The AL doesn’t have
four worthy teams. Before the season started, I wouldn’t have been
surprised to hear that Ozzie Guillen was in a state of constant
foul-mouthed frustration by the time Memorial Day came around. However,
that’s because the place that I expected them to be trying to hold off
the Twins for was fourth, not first. Okay, maybe third–Royals, White
Sox, no difference to me. The Royals have shown their true colors once
more, as evidenced by their recent twelve-game losing streak, but the
Indians and Tigers…well, the Indians at least still have a chance. If
everyone gets healthy, they could become a worthy fourth. The West, on
the other hand, has already been won…almost. Seattle, my preseason
pick to edge out Los Angeles for the division, is mired in last place,
the worst record in the American League. The rebuilding Athletics won’t
hold up long, which leaves the Angels’ only threat…Texas. I’d say
that this was crazy, but they’ve got the offense to do it…and their
pitching has improved…and in this season, anything is
possible. The AL East champion and the wild card are playing each other
right now, though I’m not sure which one is which. This is because the
Central is clearly no threat, with only one decent team that happens to
be in third place right now, and, well…Texas. This is also because
the Orioles have taken to their “rebuilding” tag much more readily than
Minnesota or Oakland. The Yankees, whose starting pitching was expected
to be a question mark at best, has been infinitely worse. The highly
hyped first start by Joba Chamberlain (They held out until June. Guess
I was wrong about them making the desperation move by the end of May)
was nothing short of…well, it wasn’t abominable. He only gave up two
runs, one of them both unearned and scored after he left. The problem?
That was in the third inning. In the first, he walked the leadoff
batter, who then ended up on third following a balk and a passed ball
and scored on a groundout, the second out. The passed ball, though not
Joba’s fault, did not make the run unearned, as he then proceeded to
give up a single and walk the bases loaded. He was then pulled after a
one-out walk, and the runner on first then stole second and went to
third on a throwing error by the catcher on the steal, scoring on a
groundout. No hits followed and the bases weren’t loaded, so that was
unearned…but two-and-a-third innings? Toronto has the potential to be
decent if they ever get healthy, but they haven’t had a healthy team in
Toronto since the nineties. I think that both of these teams can make
it through the LDS round to face each other. The Rays match up well
with the Angels, I think, and if they face the Central champion
instead, it means that they’re the AL East champion and have home field
advantage throughout the AL playoffs. Boston, like Tampa Bay, is all
but unbeatable at home and is good enough to handle the Angels–aren’t
they always good enough to handle the Angels in October? However, if
home-field advantage runs out when the ALCS is over, I have my doubts
that even those two titans could take the NL champion in the World
Series. Chicago or Arizona, I think? While as a Red Sox fan I of course
want Boston to repeat, I think the funniest possible scenario would be
the Cubs finally making it back to the World Series and losing to the
Tampa Bay Rays. You know, it’s theoretically possible for the Cubs to
go all the way to the World Series and play a trio of teams with less
combined seasons in the majors than the length of time since the Cubs
last played in the World Series. It wouldn’t happen as the standings
are now, but it wasn’t long ago that the Marlins were the ones in line
to play the Cubs in round one (instead of the Phillies)…actually, the
problem is that the Marlins were almost destined to fall, and it would
have to be a trio of teams that were founded in the LCS era. Extend it
to the length of time since they last won a World Series, though, and
you could get away with Mets–>D-Backs–>Rays (still unlikely, I
think, but it could happen–especially because I’m not convinced the
Cardinals will hold up as the wild card). Actually, come to think of
it, you wouldn’t be off by much with Mets–>D-Backs–>Angels. Now
that’s funny.