Tagged: Prince Fielder

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.)

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 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
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 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)

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 Ibañez 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. Ibañez’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 8⅓ 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 7⅔ 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? 7⅔
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.

This game is so unpredictable

Been in a bit of an odd zone lately, so I haven’t been paying much
attention to the past couple of days’ events. Another manager was
fired, this time in Seattle–less than a year after becoming the
manager following the abrupt resignation of the previous one. Seattle’s
GM has also been fired.

Hey, do you remember the first game of the 2004 ALCS? No, not the start
of the Boston comeback. In Game 1, Mike Mussina had a perfect game
through 6-1/3 innings, and yet the Sox still came just shy of tying the
game at 8-8 when a two-out hit by Ortiz just missed clearing the wall,
Ortiz representing the tying run. This rally started in the seventh
inning. Well, today, the Brewers managed to one-up the Yankees in terms
of going from no-hitter threat to barely hanging on. Like the Yankees
in that game (and every other Yankee win of that series), the Brewers
scored in the first inning, leading 2-0. They tallied another run in
the second and got a three-run homer from Russell Branyan with none out
in the third. When the game became official after 4-1/2, Dave Bush had
yet to allow a baserunner, and Prince Fielder hit his second career
inside-the-park home run (both against AL teams) to make it 7-0. By the
time five innings were done, the Brewers had equaled the 8-0 lead that
the Yankees had when Mussina’s perfecto was broken. Indeed, it wouldn’t
be long before Bush’s perfect game ended, as he walked the first batter
he faced in the sixth. Twice the Brewers tried to turn two, and twice
they were only able to get the lead runner, but another groundout would
follow, the ninth of the game to go along with eight in the air and one
strikeout to that point. The seventh proved to be another 1-2-3
inning–just six outs away! The no-hitter ended when Lyle Overbay led
off the top of the eighth with a triple; a second hit would soon follow
as Alex Rios drove him in with a single. However, no more hits would
follow that inning, though a hit batsman and a groundout would put
runners at second and third when the inning ended. With neither a
no-hitter nor a shutout on the line, Bush would not be called upon to
pitch the ninth, and Tim Dillard got two quick outs following a leadoff
single by Matt Stairs. 26 Toronto batters down, and the Brewers lead by
7. How could this possibly go wrong? If you’ve been counting your
batters properly, you’d know that five outs+two batters left on in the
eighth+one batter on base now means that eight batters have come up
since Overbay tripled and he is therefore due up again. This time, he
hit a home run. Rios followed with his second single of the game, and
Dillard left the game after walking Gregg Zaun on five pitches. Like
Zaun, David Eckstein, the first batter faced by David Riske, worked the
count to 3-0 before walking on five pitches, and with the bases now
loaded, Joe Inglett cut the deficit to a single run with a grand slam.
(One question: Who is Joe Inglett? Answer: The guy who pinch-hit for
the starter when he left the game in the sixth) Though with the tying
run on deck,
the Brewers technically had a save situation when Inglett came up to
the plate, they waited until after the slam to bring in closer Salomon
Torres to face the pitcher’s spot. Rod Barajas came up as a
pinch-hitter for B.J. Ryan (oddly, reliever Brian Tallet had been
allowed to strike out to end the eighth with two runners in scoring
position) and extended the inning with an infield single, leaving in
favor of pinch-runner John McDonald. Stairs then struck out swinging to
end the threat, but for coming within six outs of a no-hitter with
eight runs behind you and ending up stranding the tying run on first,
the Brewers take home the prize for most pathetic near-choke
nevertheless.

Previous astonishing near-chokes include the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals,
who with just twelve days left in the regular season had a 7-game lead
over Cincinnati in their division. They then proceeded to lose seven
straight, four of those losses coming against then-third-place Houston,
8.5 back at the time. While I believe those four were actually games
2-5 of the losing streak, it just so happens that on the same day as
St. Louis started their losing streak, Houston began a winning streak
that would run to nine games, at the end of which they would be
just a half game back with three to play–St. Louis lost the day after
ending their 7-game skid. The Reds hadn’t been much worse, remaining in
the hunt and as well, and with two days remaining, all three were still
in it–the Astros 1.5 back, the Reds 2.5 back (the Cards had only
played 159 games and would need to make up a rainout with San Francisco
if it proved relevant to the playoff race). The Reds would lose the
next day to fall out of it, but Houston and St. Louis both won, and
while St. Louis did lose on the final day of the regular season,
Houston did as well, leaving the Cards’ lead at 1.5 and making the San
Francisco rainout irrelevant. Interestingly enough, had San Francisco
had to play that game and had lost, there would’ve been a three-way tie
for third in the NL West–a division that had ended with a tie for
first, as well, allowable because both teams went to the playoffs.

In other news, Chicago of the AL allowed six runs to Pittsburgh in the
top of the second and then matched that total in the bottom of the
inning. Last year, the White Sox scored eight runs in the top of the
second inning in a game against the Yankees and saw the Bombers respond
with an equal tally in the bottom of that inning.

Catch-22

If you took a stone and threw it at a crow, if the crow didn’t die
immediately, it would probably make a noise similar to the one I made
when I heard how many innings the Rockies and Padres played. Rockies 2,
Padres 1 (F/22). F/22. I think that was one of the settings on my
camera for photography class. Wild… Scoreless game into the 14th, in
which each team scored once. The Rockies’ run in that inning came on a
bases-loaded walk. The Padres’ came on a bases-loaded single. Why did
they only score one on that play? Your guess is as good as mine. The
winning run was driven in by 2007 NL Rookie of the Year
Troy Tulowitzki, who doubled after Willy Taveras reached on a two-out
throwing error and went to third on another throwing error on his steal
of second. Speed forces pressure; just ask the Yankees, who for the
second time this year saw their catcher throw the ball into centerfield
attempting to stop Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury reached by way of getting
hit by the pitch in each of his first two plate appearances, and stole
second both times. He was far from the only one to leave the Stadium
sore, though. It was quite a wild night; I’ve never seen so many
ejections. You’re probably scratching your head right now, wondering
what the hell I’m talking about. “The umpires didn’t toss anybody last
night…did they?” Nope. I was in the Bronx last night,
watching the game live, and the security guards had their hands full.
No less than three fights broke out in the stands, one of them just a
few rows ahead of where I was sitting, and before the game even started
the people in our area had to call over the security because some guys
were harassing a 12-year-old girl (which brings up the question, how
the hell do a Mets fan and a Red Sox fan end up producing a Yankee
fan?). Mike Mussina lasted just three innings, as he not only hit
Ellsbury twice, he also gave up two home runs to Manny Ramirez. I
immediately noticed that after Alex Rodriguez passed Red Sox icon Ted
Williams on the all-time home runs list in the first game of the
two-game series, Manny’s first home run of the night put him ahead of a
Yankee icon, Lou Gehrig. Manny’s just 5 away from 500 now.

Under pressure from ESPN’s E-60, Miguel Tejada revealed that he lied
about his age to scouts when he first signed and that he is actually
two years older than his listed age. Tejada claims that he was told
that it would help him to get signed by scouts. Yes, Bobblehead, we
already know that you’re a liar and will do whatever people tell you
will help your career. Anything else you want to admit?

The O’s continue to roll, coming back to tie the game twice, down 2-0
and then later 5-2 after seven and a half. The Birds won it in 10
innings. A different group of Birds lost in 10, as the Brewers erased a
3-0 deficit in the eighth inning and won it with two runs in the top of
the tenth, courtesy of Prince Fielder’s first home run of the year.
Fielder took this long to get his first homer? And yet last night’s
solo shot in the ninth was Melky Cabrera’s third. Go figure.

More on the epic in San Diego: Failing to get the runner in from second
with just one out wasn’t the only way the Pads let this game slip away.
Paul McAnulty led off the bottom of the thirteenth with a double. He
was
trying for a triple. Uh…no. Final note: “Could you repeat that?”
All-Star Yorvit Torrealba caught all 22 innings for the Rockies, while
Josh Bard did the same for the Padres. Also, in addition to the
22-inning game here and the 15-inning Game 163 last year, the Padres
and Rockies had a 14-inning game in their final regular-schedule
regular season matchup of 2007, also a Rockies win. Okay, yeah, that
was kind of obvious; there were no late-season losses for the Rockies. Well, one. Against the Diamondbacks. But that’s it.