Tagged: Miguel Cabrera

The Retirement of Divinity and the Perfect Imperfection

Ken Griffey Jr. picked the wrong night to retire. On any other night, his retirement would be a huge story, but it got overshadowed by the drama in Detroit. Give Jim Joyce credit, however–he handled himself gracefully, admitted that he messed up when he saw the replay, and didn’t throw anyone out of the game (I was really thinking that Miguel Cabrera was going to get ejected after the botched play with the way he was jawing at Joyce.) Credit Armando Galarraga as well–he didn’t get angry once, even though he had a perfect game stolen from him. It’s unfortunate what happened, but it’s also a shining example of good sportsmanship on all fronts. Joyce is behind the plate for this afternoon’s Tigers-Indians game, although he was offered the chance to take the game off, and Galarraga came out to give him the lineup card. Wouldn’t you know it, the first out of the game was a close play at first.

Also, about that close play…my first instinct, even before seeing the safe call, was “oh no, I think he (Galarraga) missed the bag!” They’re considering overturning the call and awarding him the perfect game, but I can’t help but wonder if, failing an intervention by Commissioner Selig, the official scorer might not be willing to reclassify the play as an E-1, resulting in a non-perfect no-hitter. I really think it would be justifiable.

On a more positive (?) note, Joycegate or Perfectgate or whatever they’re going to call this may be the impetus needed to get the use of instant replay in Major League Baseball expanded. This morning on SportsCenter, a call for this was made by someone who knows from bad calls first-hand–Don Denkinger, the infamous first-base umpire in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, whose blown call leading off the bottom of the ninth sparked a two-run rally as the Royals came back to win the game and the Series in 7 games. Joyce, who has been umpiring since 1989 and was named the second-best umpire in MLB in Sports Illustrated polls in 2003 and 2006, worked with Denkinger. Joyce was…well, his postgame speech was as profane as an Ozzie Guillen tirade, but it was all self-loathing, and he admitted his mistake. He knew as soon as he saw the replay that he blew it. Finally, when he went to apologize to Galarraga personally, Galarraga replied, without a hint of irony, “Nobody’s perfect.” That was perfect.

UPDATE: WABC’s Warner Wolf brought up another point regarding the play. Umpires are trained to watch for the foot and listen for the ball. In addition to the overwhelming crowd noise at what appeared to be the 27th out of a perfect game, Galarraga snowconed it. If Joyce was doing his job right, he’d have never actually seen the glove–and thus, would have had reason to believe that Donald beat the ball, especially since Galarraga supposedly adjusted the ball after making the play. If Joyce looked up and saw Galarraga adjust the ball and mistook it for the ball just arriving, it’s only natural that he’d make the wrong call. This is why instant replay is needed.

WHAT?!

Watching Sunday Night Baseball, and I was about to leave the room to take a shower (man, is it hot here…I’m constantly sweating) when I saw across the bottom line, next to the Oakland logo, “Second perfect game in team history and 19th perfect game in ML history”. The title of this entry was pretty much my reaction. Oakland produced a perfect game? Oakland? I immediately took out my computer, and…naturally, my first reaction was to see if this had screwed over my Baseball Challenge entry in any way, since it’s quite likely that I wouldn’t have taken “facing Oakland” as a huge threat worthy of benching a good hitter. Nope, everything was safe…and then I went over to the scoreboard, to see why I didn’t have anyone from Oakland’s opponent. And the holy s*** factor continued. See, with my beloved Red Sox stuck in fourth place, I don’t want to worry about split loyalties, so as good as they may be, I leave the AL East’s power teams out of my entries…and the A’s were facing the Tampa Bay Rays today. Yeah, the Rays. Best record in baseball Rays. Those guys. The annoying things that won’t go away. For one day, they went away, hard. Also, second time in under a year that they got perfected. They’ve only been involved in three total no-hitters in their short franchise history, the third also being from the losing end…but put it this way: The Devil Rays were around for 10 seasons, finishing in last place in nine of them and fourth in the other, and were only no-hit once, and it wasn’t a perfect game. They changed their name to the Rays, and finished above .500 in both completed years including one league pennant, and in their third year under the new name have gotten off to the best start in the majors…yet in this not-even-a-quarter-of-the-time, as a much better team, have been the victims of two perfect games.

Also of note: This is the shortest time between perfect games in over 125 years. The only time that two perfect games were thrown within a shorter period of time was in June of 1880, when the first and second perfect games in major league history were thrown within a week of one another. Incredible.

The announcers acknowledged the perfect game, and Jon Miller initially referred to it as “a nice Mother’s Day gift for mom,” but his partner (not sure who it is, but it’s apparently a pitcher because Miller asked him about if he ever came close to a perfect game/no-hitter) eventually corrected him–Dallas Braden’s mother has been deceased for some time, a victim of cancer. (Well, one of the partners–Joe Morgan is still there, too.) However, Braden’s grandmother was in attendance at today’s game, so yeah. (She also had some choice comments about A-Rod–apparently Braden was the pitcher involved in A-Rod’s latest on-field faux pas, crossing the mound when returning to first after a foul ball, and this argument’s been going on for awhile.)

Also, follow-up alert: No, the Tigers were not the first team to score only four runs when they hit four home runs. In fact, they’re not even the first team to score only four runs when two players had multi-home run games, which was the case (Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila had the homers for the Tigers). It last happened in 1982, when Cecil Cooper and Robin Yount had two home runs each for the Brewers.

More Sunday Night Baseball: Miller just called J.D. Drew “Steven”. Right family, but…

Retroactive correction: Obviously, looking back at this entry, it’s obvious that the former pitcher in the booth would have been Orel Hershiser.

Rock Chalk Rayhawk

12-year-old, punished for ‘Rayhawk’ haircut, gets a big surprise

Wow. This is awesome. Again, cements the Rays’ status as a “cool” team (even if it is that stupid Jonny Gomes, bleah!), but more importantly, it allows me to make fun of stupid school administrators. Making fun of stupid school administrators is a lot of fun, albeit extremely easy. On the baseball side of things, BJ Upton and Evan Longoria have five home runs apiece in the postseason. The record for a single postseason is 7, by BALCO Barry in 2002. With his fifth of the postseason tonight, Evan Longoria sets a new rookie record for postseason home runs, one better than Miguel Cabrera in 2003.

When Upton hit his fifth home run of the postseason in Game 3, he set a new record for youngest player to hit five home runs in a postseason, previously held by Albert Pujols. This is what’s known as a “one-day record”, as Evan Longoria is younger still. Another record that lasted precisely one day: Longest postseason game by time, which was actually set twice in the same day–once early in the morning, when Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS ended at 5:02, and then late that night, when Game 5 ended at 5:49. Neither was a record for innings, which shows the increased level of commercialization that evolved after 1986 (Mets-Astros, 16 innings.) Also proof of increased commercialization? When the Astros and Braves broke the innings record with 18 innings in the ’05 NLDS, they only just barely broke the time record, 5:50. Why so close to the 14-inning game in length? LDS on ESPN vs. LCS on FOX. Purists, express your disgust.

Purists, root for the Dodgers these next two games. If the NLCS reaches a seventh game, Derek Lowe will start Game 7, making him the first pitcher to make three starts in a postseason series since…well, I don’t know who was the last to do it, but it probably wasn’t in my lifetime. Of course, since Lowe was the winner of the 2004 ALCS game 7, they’ll probably bring up the same fact that they mentioned when 2004 NLCS game winner Jeff Suppan started Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS–that only the legendary Bob Gibson has won two deciding Game 7s in his career (1964 WS and 1967 WS–and he started a third one afterwards, in the ’68 WS!). This is still the case, as while the Cards won Game 7 in ’06, Suppan got a no-decision. (Thank Endy Chavez for that. And thank Yadier Molina for the Cards winning it anyway.)

I love this game

Been awhile since I last updated–I’ve kind of been
procrastinating the typing up of my handwritten All-Star Game Journal. A
warning for when I do get it up: I start getting really strange when I’m
staying up late. I got an early start this morning, which means classic games
on XM. This morning’s classic was from April 27, 2003. I know this to be the
date because the out-of-town scores happened to mention that Kevin
Millwood had no-hit the Giants. When you can share an afternoon with a no-hitter,
and a no-hitter with only one run of support at that, and still make it as a
classic game, you know it’s a good day in baseball. From what I had heard when
I joined the game in progress, St. Louis had led 6-1 before the Marlins tied it
up in a five-run ninth backed by homers by Ramon Castro, Luis Castillo and Mike
Lowell. One thing I found especially curious, listening to the late innings of
this game, was that the Cards repeatedly issued intentional walks to Lowell in
order to get to Derrek Lee, twice with two outs already just in the innings I
heard. Maybe by now that would once more be a good strategy, but there were a
few years there that hardly anyone warranted getting an intentional pass to get
to D-Lee, certainly not Mike Lowell. Fernando Viña had the game-winning RBI
single for the Cardinals in the 20th inning…to end the game
1-for-10. -_-‘ Yeah…it’s that kind of game. Last night’s action was interesting
in its own right. While there weren’t any 20-inning games, there was a
ten-inning game, and it wasn’t tied up when the ninth inning began. I know this
because I saw a bit of the ninth when I first woke up, replayed on ESPN–it was
the Brewers-Cardinals game that they’d happened to choose for Monday Night
Baseball. I could’ve sworn it was the Brewers that had trailed 3-2, but the
wrap-ups on XM’s Baseball This Morning, while not mentioning that it had become
tied in the ninth, did say that Rickie Weeks had a 3-run homer “earlier in the
game”, so I guess it must’ve been the Cards. I don’t know; my TV was flickering
this morning, the result of a power surge last night that knocked out the power
in my town for a few hours, so I didn’t stick around to watch for very long.
Milwaukee ended up winning 6-3, Bill Hall with a solo homer to start the three-run
tenth. Ten is also the number of runs the Rockies scored, on twenty hits…in a
not-so-close loss. The Dodgers had 8 runs on the board before the host Rockies
even came to bat and won 16-10. Ten, too, is the number of runs the Tigers
scored…in the eighth inning. Miguel Cabrera was 5-for-6 with 6 RBI in the
Tigers’ 19-4 victory over the Royals. Boston finally won another road game, but
the Rays and Yanks likewise won, so the Sox remain 1½ back in the division,
three ahead of the Yankees. They did, however, increase their lead in the wild
card race, as the Bombers’ 12-4 victory was over Minnesota, now two back in the
wild card race and still just half a game behind the White Sox, who fell to the
killer bat of Josh Hamilton and the rest of the Texas Rangers. This win moves
the Rangers into second place in the AL West, half a game better than Tampa’s
victim, the A’s, but still 8½ games behind the division-leading Angels, losers
last night but still the only team with 60 wins and the only team with less
than 40 losses (which, if you’re keeping count, means their closer’s save total
exceeds their team’s loss total.) Back to the NL side, Rich Harden pitched a
great game for the Cubs but fell to 0-1 in the National League as the North
Siders were shut out 2-0 by Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. With
the NL East co-leading Phillies and Mets both idle last night, the Marlins had
a chance to make it a three-way tie with a win over the Braves, but couldn’t do
it, managing just two singles and a walk in a 4-0 defeat. Freddy Sanchez hit an
inside-the-park home run as the Pirates beat the Astros 9-3 to snap a five-game
losing streak.

 

So I ended up not posting the same day I originally wrote
this…again. Means time for more updates…Colorado scored ten again, but
this time, it was more than enough for a blowout win over the Dodgers. The Reds
won in eleven innings, while in St. Louis, we had a truly great radio call.
“It’s interesting how deep Ankiel is playing Hall…and he should be as [Hall]
hits it over his head into the bleachers for a home run; man he really destroys
us.” Just like that. No change in voice tone, as Bill Hall’s two-out solo homer
in the ninth inning gave the Brewers a 4-3 victory; the Crew now leads St.
Louis by one game in the wild card race and is just a game behind the Cubs, who
lost 9-2 to the now sole NL West-leading D-Backs. The tie atop the NL East was
also broken, obviously, as the Phillies scored six runs in the ninth to beat
the Mets 8-6. The Marlins also stayed just a game back with a 4-0 win over the
Braves; Chipper Jones accounted for the Braves’ only hit of the game. In other
Diamondbacks news, 6’10” Randy Johnson is no longer the tallest pitcher on
his team, as they acquired 6’11” Jon Rauch from the Nationals in exchange
for a minor-league infielder. Also in the transaction news: Houston acquired
Randy Wolf from San Diego. This baffles many, as Houston doesn’t seem to be in
contention (they lost to Pittsburgh again last night), but with the deadline
still over a week away, they could get two starts out of him and still be able
to deal him away. If there’s a contending team out there rumored to want Wolf
that has something the Astros want, this could’ve been a very shrewd move. The
White Sox increased their lead in the division with a win over Texas, as the
Twins lost to the Yankees. The Red Sox, winners again over Seattle, now lead
both the Twins and Yankees by three games for the wild card and trail the Rays
by just half a game, as Oakland retook second place in the West with an 8-1 win
over Tampa Bay.

 

Why do I even bother? It’s been nearly a week now, and still
no official updates from me. More interesting trades made, as the Dodgers pick
up Casey Blake from the Indians (good move) and the Yanks get Xavier Nady and
Damaso Marte from the Pirates (even better move). Still, yesterday was a prime
example of how stats can be misleading. Yesterday’s SportsCenter stated,
truthfully, that the Yankees had won all four of the starts that Sidney Ponson
had made for them. However, what wasn’t told there was that he generally left
those starts in the sixth inning or so and in one of them gave up seven earned
runs in five-plus innings. (Remember that game I was telling you about when I
was in Tampa watching the Boston bullpen implode against the Rays while the
Yankees seemed to have more runs each time their game passed by on the
out-of-town scoreboard? That would be the one.) Boston starter Jon Lester, on
the other hand, had given up just 5 earned runs in 23⅔ innings over his last
three starts, including a complete-game shutout at Yankee Stadium. Naturally,
the Sox pounded Sir Sidney and the Knights of the Buffet Table to the tune of a
9-2 win. The following divisions have seen a tie for first place (give or take
a couple of percentage points) within the past week: AL East, NL East, NL
Central, NL West. (The following division can’t possibly see a tie for first
until the second week of August and probably won’t see one ever again this
season: AL West.) Yes, the Brewers finally caught the Cubs, entering yesterday’s
action in a dead heat. The Brewers lost again, giving the Cubs a one-game lead,
but the two teams start a four-game series tonight in Milwaukee. Should be
exciting. Scheduled matchups: Lilly vs. Sabathia, Zambrano vs. Sheets, Dempster
vs. Parra, Harden vs. Bush. But seriously, the Angels’ AL West dominance is
sick. Their lead over second-place Texas is more than the other five division
leaders’ leads over the second place teams combined. Actually, if you
add up the games behind for the other five second-place teams (Boston 1,
Minnesota 2.5, Philadelphia 1, Milwaukee 1, Los Angeles 1), you could add in
the deficit for one of the two eastern divisions’ third place teams (New York 3
or Florida 2) and still come up with something below the 10.5 games that Los
Angeles of Anaheim leads their division by. The Angels have been the rare team
that does truly well on the road, fully five games better than any other team
(14 games over .500, with second-best St. Louis a mere 4 games over .500 on the
road)–and that’s even with a road loss yesterday. (St. Louis also suffered a
road loss, though.) Actually, that road loss is notable not because it’s rare
that they lose on the road, but because of who the home team was. Prior to
their win over the Angels yesterday, the Orioles had not won on a Sunday since
April 6, the first Sunday of the season.

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.