Tagged: Mariano Rivera

Game time!

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.)

500 and 1

The always spectacular Mariano Rivera recorded his 500th save last night against the Mets, but perhaps of greater note was that he recorded his first career RBI. After coming in to get the final out of the eighth, he came up to bat with the bases loaded and 2 outs, taking 2 balls and a strike, swinging at strike 2, then fouling off a 2-2 pitch before taking two more balls to draw the walk off of K-Rod to drive in Melky Cabrera. As a rule, Red Sox fans like me aren’t quick to praise a Yankee, but Mariano is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, no questions asked. He’s probably the best closer ever.

Elsewhere, the Rockies refuse to go away. After losing 2 games to the Angels to constitute their first series lost since losing the first three games of a four-game series at Houston June 1-4 (the win in the finale of that series constituted the start of their 11-game winning streak), they returned to sweep the A’s and are now 20-3 since June 4th, going from 2nd-worst in the majors to tied for tenth-best (with the Brewers). They’re still a half game out in the NL Wild Card, behind the Giants, but just 7.5 behind the suddenly failing Dodgers. Wait, are they failing? Their season high in games over .500 was under a week ago (although they’re 1-4 since then). The Giants are in second at 7 back, but they had never fallen further than 9.5 back at any time, anyway (two occasions, the latter of which was, incidentally, just before the Rockies’ hot streak started.) So, yeah…since June 4th (inclusive), the Dodgers are 11-10, the Giants 15-9, and the Rockies 20-3. Looks like the Dodgers are going to have to be more than just average if they want to hang onto their lead. If memory serves me correctly, the infamous Red Sox “collapse” of 1978 also had the leading team playing around .500 ball over the span of their collapse. The Rockies and Dodgers start a 3-game series in LA tonight.

Also tonight: The Rays and Jays meet for the first time this year. Quirky.

The AL won the interleague series again, 137-114 (one make-up game remains, between the Cubs and White Sox)

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!!!

They went around…and around…and around…and around…

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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 4陆. 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 f煤tbol
than football and the Sox get back to within three games. Are those injuries
hurting yet?

 

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 1陆 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 8陆 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)

Deadline collection

“I was upset they threw him out of the game because he’s really good hittin’. He’s a cute little fella. He doesn’t throw that hard and doesn’t have very good stuff. It’s probably a good thing they threw him out, because it probably would have been (hit to) Monument Park. I love facing him. He doesn’t have many out pitches. He should be fortunate he is in the big leagues”–The always-quotable Kevin Millar on Edwar Ramirez after yesterday’s game, a 13-3 Yankee win. I was spot on about Millar yesterday–he really does do his best work against the Yankees, with six of his sixteen homers this year coming against them. The Yankees remained busy, trading Kyle Farnsworth to Detroit for Pudge Rodriguez and also dealing LaTroy Hawkins to Houston for a minor leaguer. The addition of Pudge brings them one step closer to having a full set of wild-card era rings on one team. Of the thirteen seasons since the wild card era began, the Yanks now have members of eight championship teams–’96 (Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte), ’98, ’99, ’00 (the three from ’96 plus Posada), ’02 (Jose Molina), ’03 (Pudge), ’04 (Damon), and ’05 (Marte). Okay, sure, they sort of already had ’03 with Pavano…I’ll admit it, I got confused at first as to which Marlins team Pudge had been on, thought he’d been on the ’97 one. Still, I doubt there’s any other team with championship rings from as many different years. Wait…actually, the Red Sox come close. In addition to the numerous members of the ’04 and ’07 championship teams still with the team, they have rings from 1992 (Timlin), ’93 (also Timlin), ’01 (Schilling), ’03 (Beckett and Lowell)…no, that’s still one short. Blame it on those Yankee teams, whose few remaining active players are mostly still Yankees. Anyway, while Manny hasn’t been traded yet, Ken Griffey Jr. is headed for Chicago, off to join the division-leading White Sox. And suddenly, they don’t look so out of place in the big dance.

Also, echoing a sentiment expressed by Baseball This Morning host Mark Patrick, Manny held up a sign yesterday that read “I’m going to Green Bay for Brett Favre straight-up”. Think Manny’s an XM listener?

So hot, it can only be summer

Which two likely future Hall of Famers made their major league debuts
in the same game? The date was  April 3, 1989 (literally a
lifetime ago for me, give or take a few days), and the Seattle Mariners
were starting their season off in Oakland. The visiting M’s had a pair
of rookies in the lineup that day: Ken Griffey Jr., slugger supreme, in
centerfield. and defensive whiz (and a fairly good singles hitter to
boot) Omar Vizquel at shortstop. Griffey hit his 600th career home run
in the first inning of yesterday’s 9-4 win over the Marlins, a game in
which the Reds had a homer in each of the first three innings. Paul
Bako, who homered in the second, added a second home run in the ninth.
He wasn’t the only player with two home runs on the day, as Evan
Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays punctuated his return to Southern
California with a pair of jacks against the team he grew up rooting
for, the California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Griffey became just the sixth player in major league history to hit 600
home runs. The one hit also temporarily broke a tie with the
aforementioned Vizquel for 68th on the all-time hits list. Like I said,
both of them are pretty good hitters. Did you know that Vizquel at one
point looked like he could tie the single-game hits record? August 31, 2004,
when the Indians visited the Yankees. As the visiting Tribe pounded the
host Yankees, Vizquel already had two singles, a double, three RBIs,
and two runs scored by the end of the third inning, and would add
another run scored and RBI as he started off the game 6-for-6, four
singles and two doubles. However, he flied out in the ninth inning, his
seventh at-bat, and had to settle for a 6-for-7–one hit shy of the
record for a nine-inning game.

(Cue up music: “Walk Like an Egyptian”) You know that a bad pun is coming, right? Yes, Miguel Cairo–incidentally,
the Yankees’ second baseman for all nine innings of that game mentioned
earlier–had the first bases-loaded extra-inning suicide squeeze by a
visiting player since 1976, providing the winning run in the tenth
inning for the Mariners at the Rogers Centre. (Statistics courtesy of
XM’s “Baseball This Morning”) Extra-inning bases-loaded squeeze plays
are rare in any event–when Melvin Mora sealed the Red Sox’ AL East
championship with a two-out 10th-inning bases-loaded bunt base hit to
beat the Yankees following a ninth-inning that saw the Yanks blow a
three-run lead when Mariano Rivera gave up a two-out, bases-loaded
triple to Jay Payton, on September 28th of last season, it was the first extra-innings bases-loaded bunt
in three years–but with the uncertainty that being a visiting team in
extra innings can produce, it’s even rarer for a visitor to squeeze.

An addition, courtesy of an article on ESPN.com about why “home field advantage” appears to be at an all-time high:

“I have always thought,” said White Sox GM Kenny Williams, “that
outside of Boston, New York and Minnesota — yes, Minnesota, due to the
House of Horror Dome — there are no great advantages for home teams in
baseball.”

Yes, “House of Horror Dome” is inside the quotation marks. Have the
White Sox ever been this entertaining? And so far, it’s just been
manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Kenny Williams. Imagine how much fun
they’ll be if A.J. Pierzynski makes a return to form.