Well, the race for the final All-Star spots is on, and Joey Votto is most deservedly leading the charge in the NL, while in the AL…Nick Swisher got off to the early lead but has since ceded it to Kevin Youkilis. Now, as a Red Sox fan, you’d think I’d be pulling for Youkilis, right? Nope. Here’s why. Overall, Michael Young has 5 career All-Star game appearances, with a respectable .333 batting average and .891 OPS, and 3 RBI. As those box scores indicated, however, those were not just any RBI–the first two came with two outs in the top of the ninth and the AL trailing by 1 run, resulting in the AL winning again, and the third came in the bottom of the 15th, again providing the winning run.
Anyway, the Rockies had a wild finish last night. 9 runs in the bottom of the ninth, the final three on a home run by Seth Smith, in a 12-9 victory over St. Louis. Smith was 3-for-4 with two walks. The lone out? A liner to first for the first out of the ninth inning. How amazing is that? Making an out and having a hit in the same inning isn’t that rare, but having the game-winning hit in the same inning as your only out…Also interesting to look at from this game: St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin was brought in after the Rockies scored their first run of the inning, cutting the Cards’ lead to 9-4, with runners on first and second. See anything odd about that? Yep, that’s right; it’s a non-save situation. With a 5-run lead, it’s only a save situation if the bases are loaded–La Russa brought in his closer one batter earlier than the custom, evidently trying to nip the rally in the bud. If the Rockies’ rally had come up just a little bit short and Franklin had been denied the save… (Also, the first batter Franklin faced was Chris Iannetta, who was batting just .208 and slugging .403 entering the at-bat. Iannetta had 1 career at-bat against Franklin, a double. Iannetta promptly homered to cut the deficit to 9-7, which is about the point where you’d normally be going to your closer…who was already in the game.)
Meanwhile, props to Johan Santana. After going 1-3 with three no-decisions, all Mets losses, in his previous 7 starts, Santana put together the type of dominant start baseball fans are used to seeing from him, a 3-hit shutout. His last complete game, also a 3-hit shutout, came in his final start of the 2008 season. As for the winning run? That would be a solo homer from none other than Johan Santana, his first career dinger, in the third inning. The Mets would tack on two more for a 3-0 win, but Santana is clearly the story here.
No live blog, but I’ll still check in repeatedly. Jacoby’s still awesome, with a double in the first inning (and he has his own blog!), but the game’s scoreless in the bottom of the first, two on, two out. In ESPN news, the Phillies helped me get my winning streak in Streak for the Ca$h up to six, but then the Dodgers upset the Cubs and it blew up. Still, the upside of that is that I can pick the Red Sox without fear, since I wasn’t really confident enough to risk the streak on them.
2nd inning passed quickly. Lowrie now up to lead off top third…and hit by the 0-2, Varitek coming up.
1-0 Angels. 2 outs top fifth Ellsbury on first…again. ELLSBURY YOU ROCK!
But not as much as Jason Bay. 2 run homer puts the Sox on top.
I am seriously starting to hate TBS’s new postseason theme song.
Following Ellsbury’s awesome catch, Youk made a great play to throw out Vladi Guerrero getting greedy on the basepaths.
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?
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
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)
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.
Note: This was originally written to run yesterday. The appropriate changes have been made.
Been a few days since I updated, so in backlogged news, let me congratulate the Kansas City Royals on their remarkable comeback against the Giants, trailing 10-3 in the middle of the fifth, and also congratulate King Felix on his grand slam, the first by an American League pitcher since the DH rule was implemented. The M’s were brilliant again Tuesday night, crushing the Mets 11-0. The other New York team didn’t fare much better, losing 12-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, two late runs making the final margin only remotely respectable. Now, for an instant classic. Like most Red Sox games as of late, it began with a rain delay. When things resumed, it was time for the festivities, for June 24, 2008 was designated as Jerry Remy day, celebrating twenty years of the Remdawg in the NESN booth. Remy made all the right moves, making a plug for Jim Rice to be inducted into Cooperstown next year, and received a shiny new Ford Mustang. The game started out on the right foot, as Justin Masterson set the D-Backs down in order in the top of the first and Dustin Pedroia homered into the Monster seats to give the Sox the 1-0 lead after one, but Masterson didn’t have it and gave it back before getting a single out, falling behind 4-1 after a three-run homer by Chad Tracy in the bottom of the third–Tracy also had the RBI in the second. As the game wore on, numerous guests visited Don and Remy in the booth, and Tom Werner and John Henry had a humorous list of “Top Ten Reasons why we had Jerry Remy Day”. The number one reason was “we wanted to have something with Jerry’s name on it that he wasn’t selling on his website.” I could probably recall most of the others for you, but that’s not the point, and I’m sure NESN.com probably has it archived anyway. Anyway, comedian Lenny Clarke arrived in the top of the eighth, and after directing more on-field traffic than Julian Tavarez, he left by imploring the Sox to score some runs, a tough task seeing as how they’d only had two hits since the three in the first inning. They listened. Julio Lugo led off with a single, Jacoby Ellsbury followed in kind, and after Diamondbacks starter Doug Davis was pulled (if Lester was starting for the Sox, it would’ve set a new record for most cancer survivors on a single pitching mound), Dustin Pedroia lined one just over the glove of Orlando Hudson to drive in the second run of the game. J.D. Drew, no longer the hottest thing in all of baseball, struck out, and Manny hit a sharp grounder to third, too tricky a hop to turn a double play–second and third, two outs, Mike Lowell coming to the plate. The Diamondbacks stuck with the reliever they had out there, Chad Qualls. The graphic appeared on screen that Mike was 1 for 1 off of Qualls in his career and that that hit was an RBI double, and I remarked that a double would be fine right now. A minute or so later, I was pleading with a ball to keep heading back, back, and it did, bouncing off the Wall for a two-run double. Am I good at this or what? Jason Varitek, who ended the longest hitless streak of his career with a double in Monday’s game, followed with a single to give the Sox a 5-4 lead, and as the unexpected starting first baseman, Brandon Moss, came to the plate, the cameras showed Kevin Youkilis in the dugout seemingly trying to convince his manager and bench coach that he could go in for defensive purposes for the ninth. (In a bizarre fluke, Youk was hit in the eye by a ball that took a bad bounce during between-inning warmups in Monday’s game and had to be removed, and Moss made a crucial mistake in the seventh inning of that game, repeatedly bobbling a ball hit to him with runners at second and third and one out until the only play he had was to tag the batter-runner–so no error was charged, but the run scored, leading to the Diamondbacks’ 2-1 win. Presumably Sean Casey is serving his suspension from the Rays brawl.) Moss singled to extend the inning and chased Qualls from the game, and Coco Crisp became the ninth Sox batter of the inning. Reliever Tony Peña induced a fly-out. Despite having a black eye and being bothered by wateriness that kept him out of the starting lineup, Youkilis came on for the ninth, and although he again walked a batter, Pap nailed down the save this time. Four runs in the eighth inning to win by a score of 5-4, on Jerry Remy Day–this, in my opinion, is an instant classic. The oodles of special guests, the exciting matter in which they won, and the fact that on a day honoring the Sox’ former second baseman, Dustin Pedroia homered and had the first RBI of the Sox’ rally with a single, makes this a NESN classic, a near shoo-in for the All-Star Break marathon of first-half games. Let’s see, they need three games for that marathon…I’m thinking Lester’s no-hitter, this game, and…hmm…oh, right, of course; Manny’s 500th home run game. It’s a shame that those games are blocked out in my market.
Final note: While both New York teams were embarrassed immensely, neither was the most lopsided defeat of the day. Cincinnati lost to Toronto by the score of 14-1. Also embarrassing: The Marlins’ eighth-inning collapse. After scoring in the bottom of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie, giving Scott Olsen, who’d been pinch-hit for, a chance to pick up his first win since May 9, they found themselves with the bases loaded and no one out. A beautiful play allowed them to get the first out 5-2, and after an at-bat so long I was able to see an entire half-inning of the Sox game before it ended, they got the second out 3-2, preserving the lead that was also 3-2. Then they walked in the tying run, following another half-inning of the Sox game. Then they walked in the go-ahead run. Then in the ninth, they found themselves with a runner at third, two outs, and Carl Crawford up, and they intentionally walked him to get to Longoria, only to end up walking him as well to load the bases. What followed was a two-run single, important because the game that had at one point seemed so far ahead of the Sox game was still going on when the latter had ended, Troy Percival having already allowed one run in with runners at first and third and two outs. The bases would be loaded by a walk to Dan Uggla after I’d begun watching, but that’s all that would happen as the Rays won 6-4 to remain just one game behind the Red Sox.
Wow. Some game the Yanks had today, eh? Johnny Damon had a career day
today–yes, even better than the day that he was just a homer away from
the cycle by the end of the first inning—
going 6-for-6 and driving in
the game-winning run in the Yankees’ 12-11 victory over Kansas City.
The Yanks faced a 2-0 deficit before they even came to bat and trailed
5-1 after 3 innings, but battled back to tie it in the fourth and take
a 6-5 lead in the fifth. Kansas City took a 10-6 lead into the
seventh-inning stretch, but pairs of runs in the seventh and eighth had
the game again tied before KC scored once in the top of the ninth,
setting the stage for the tense Yankee win. Jose Guillen drove in seven
of the Royals’ eleven runs with two-out homers in the first and seventh
innings, the latter a grand slam, along with an RBI single in the
third. The Sox weren’t hurting for runs either, as Manny homered in the
first to tie Eddie Murray on the all-time home runs list, J.D. Drew
came a double shy of the cycle, and Lowell and Youk doubled
back-to-back to drive in four insurance runs in the eighth in an 11-3
win most notable for the fact that at one point both teams had
knuckleballers on the mound: Tim Wakefield for the Sox and R.A. Dickey
for the Mariners.