The ever-wonderful Jayson Stark is at it again. Note that the link goes to ESPN Insider article, so you may not be able to read it.For this reason, and also because I want to comment, I’ll sum up some of the weirdness here.
In this past Thursday’s Phillies-Nationals game, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino of the Phillies and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nats all homered, marking the first time that players whose names begin with the letters U, V, and Z all homered in the same game. That this has never happened before is not exactly surprising. What I want to know is, were all three necessary, or would some combination of two be sufficient? Obviously U and V have homered together before–Utley and Victorino–but none of those three letters is terribly common, and V is probably the most common of the 3. So have there been other times that U and Z have homered in the same game? And if so, was Zimmerman the “Z” involved? With both the Phillies and the Marlins in the same division as the Nats, this seems plausible enough…although I completely forgot about the Upton brothers when listing the active U’s, which changes things completely. Okay, so now the most likely combo for U/Z is B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays–although it’s quite possible this hasn’t happened yet, as both are fairly young and Zobrist didn’t really get regular playing time until just last year. Come to think of it, now that we have a plausible U-Z pair, what’s our V-Z?
Also, and I actually heard about this game while it was happening, there was Thursday’s White Sox-Blue Jays game. Freddy Garcia got knocked around early and only lasted 3+ innings, striking out 3 and being charged with all 7 runs. The first reliever, Randy Williams, struck out 3 over two shaky innings. Sergio Santos came in for the 6th inning and struck out the side, 1-2-3, and J.J. Putz pitched the 7th, allowing a hit but getting all three of his outs by way of the K. Scott Linebrink came in for the 8th, and sure enough, all three outs he recorded were strikeouts (he, too, allowed a hit.) Never before in a 9-inning game have five different pitchers gotten 3 strikeouts for a team. Also, never before has a team gotten their last 9 outs by way of strikeout with 3 pitchers getting 3 each. What makes this even more impressive, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact that the White Sox managed to strike out 15 Blue Jays despite being a losing road team; therefore, it was 15 out of 24 outs, not 15 of 27. Not a bad performance at all, except for the part where they ended up trailing 7-0 after four innings.
Also, Monday’s Royals-Tigers game marked the first time that two Guillens (Carlos of the Tigers and Jose of the Royals) homered in the same game.
More LOL Mets, too. Josh Willingham of the Nationals hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana last Sunday, but it didn’t get ruled home run right away, so people started running like crazy. Adam Dunn, who had been on first when the ball was hit, had to bowl over Mets catcher Rod Barajas in order to score, and when the ball got away, Willingham tried to score as well, creating another home plate collision and initially being ruled out, until replay decided that it was a home run. Why is this in the category of “LOL Mets“? Because they were the home team, which means the home run that almost wasn’t is courtesy of their ballpark. Still, even securely in last place, this year’s Mets have a long way to go to become as LOL-worthy as last year’s were–and most of last night’s biggest weirdness (position players on the mound and pitchers in left field, for example) was courtesy of the Cardinals. Although having a starter with more saves than your closer is, well, kind of silly.
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.)
Sure, sure, five of those seven runs were allowed by the
starter, but the Mets blew a 7-0 lead, they lost in 13 innings, the tying run
scored with two outs in the ninth…it wasn’t great. After the oft-maligned Aaron
Heilman pitched three shutout innings, Scott Schoeneweis came in for the bottom
of the thirteenth and immediately gave up a triple to Shane Victorino. Mets
manager Jerry Manuel made the logical move here, ordering Schoeneweis to
intentionally walk the next two batters to get to the pitcher’s spot. As the
Mets’ announcers told us, Cole Hamels, their best-hitting pitcher, was already
used the previous time the pitcher’s spot came around, and Kyle Kendrick, their
second-best, was warming up to pitch in case it went to the fourteenth. Brett
Myers, 2-for-44 on the year, came up, and after the announcers discussed the
possibility of a squeeze, they decided that Myers had received orders not to
swing. Uh, was Charlie Manuel watching this year’s All-Star Game? If you
weren’t going to let your pitcher swing anyway, why not just leave Rudy Seanez
out there, save Myers for if the game goes 20-some-odd innings and Kendrick
gets tired? The Mets’ announcers had a bigger concern, namely, why it took
Schoeneweis six pitches to strike out a batter with no intent of taking the
bat off his shoulder. This, too, was a strategical move, avoiding the
possibility of the 1-2-3 double play. The Phillies won, 8-7, on Chris Coste’s
single, capping off a 4-for-4 night that started with a pinch-hitting
appearance in the eighth inning. Wait, whaddya mean “strategical” isn’t a word!
Yeah, there was a lot of booing where I was last night, the
house at the corner of 161st and River–most of it directed at the
home team’s third baseman, at least in the later innings. Heck, they even booed
him when he made a play. Great game. We were originally going to go into
the city by way of public transit, so I opted to forgo my bright red Red Sox
gear for something more subtle. The t-shirt features a dictionary-style
definition of the word “idiot” with the alternative definition “One who sells
his soul to the evil empire”, a clear reference to former Sox outfielder Johnny
Damon. It looked a particularly apt characterization, as Johnny seemed to be
the only one on the team doing anything on offense, hitting two home
runs in a game in which the Yankees only scored a total of three runs. A-Rod
was particularly atrocious, going 0-for-5 with two GIDP and making the final
out of an inning in four of his five PAs. He also had an error. The Red Sox are
now just 3½ out in the division. Also, they may be getting Mark Kotsay from the
Braves. Kotsay’s current team was only mentioned in that last sentence in order
to provide a segue into the Braves’ stunning come-from-behind win, scoring four
times in the bottom of the ninth to win 10-9. The game had been 3-0 Atlanta at
one point, then 6-3 Florida, and then I think it was tied 6-6 before the
Marlins took their 9-6 lead. I’ll have to double-check that. (Correction–After
6-3 was 6-4, then 8-4, then 8-6 before 9-6.)
In other news, Carlos Zambrano broke a record last night. He
picked up a base hit in his thirteenth straight start, surpassing the 12-game
hitting streak by Johnny Sain that had served as the record for a pitcher. An
interesting curiosity. Oh, and the game the Cubs played against the Pirates put
that Braves-Marlins game to shame in lead changes. The Pirates scored the first
three runs, then it went from 3-1 Pittsburgh to 5-3 Chicago in a flash, so
quickly on the out-of-town scoreboard that I assumed a grand slam. It wasn’t; Geovany
Soto had a three-run double, and the other run came…somewhere in that vicinity.
The Pirates closed it to 5-4, then the Cubs scored again to make it 6-4, only
for the Pirates to tie it at 6-6…but then the Cubs took a 7-6 lead, only to
quickly end up down 8-7! Then the Cubs started to get serious. (My dad and I
were on the way home by the time this started, and neither of us were remotely
surprised to hear that Craig Hansen had walked two batters.) It became 9-8,
then 10-8, and then Geo Soto had his second three-run double of the night. The
final score was 14-9 Cubs, with Soto driving in half of his team’s runs.
Just another game off the calendar, though, as the Brewers
kept pace in dominating fashion. After eight innings, the lead was a
comfortable 5-0. By the time the Cardinals came to bat in the bottom of the
ninth, though, it was a laugher, as the Brewers put up seven insurance
runs in the top of the inning. The shutout held up for a 12-0 final.
Is it possible to get thrown out of a game that’s already over? It
didn’t quite happen, but all-time ejections leader Bobby Cox was out to
argue as trail runner Gregor Blanco was called out at home plate on
Yunel Escobar’s two-out RBI single in the tenth; had Blanco been safe,
the game would’ve been tied at four, the Phillies having scored twice
in the top of the inning. Shane Victorino drove in the first of the
Phils’ two tenth-inning runs with a triple, scored the other on a Chase
Utley double, and threw Blanco out to save the game. Also in the
Phillies’ area of MLB.com: future “Excuse me?” All-Star Devaris
Strange-Gordon, selected in the fourth round of the draft by the
Dodgers, son of tonight’s winning pitcher, Tom Gordon, much beloved in
Boston (as memorialized in a Stephen King book) for saving 46 games in
1998 and for spectacularly failing to record a single out in the eighth
inning of the fifth game of the 2004 ALCS.
Meanwhile, the Rockies climbed the ladder in the eighth inning, as four
consecutive batters combined for a cycle in ascending order: Ryan
Spilborghs with the single, Todd Helton with the double (driving in
Jonathan Herrera, who had singled ahead of Spilborghs to start the
inning), Garret Atkins tripled to chase Guillermo Mota without a single
out to his credit, and Brad Hawpe greeted Brian Shouse with a home run.
The Rockies run an “E-Mentoring” program, and because tonight’s
featured school, Columbine Elementary, picked Brad Hawpe to homer
tonight and he did, the students get tickets to a September game. Yes,
I was actually listening to the Rockies’ broadcast. I got hungry, okay?
I can choose any game I want to to listen to in the car, and this was more interesting than
Mets-Padres, Cubs-Dodgers, or A’s-Angels. Atkins’s triple tied the game
at 4-4, and Brian Fuentes recorded the save to give the Rox their first
three-game winning streak since mid-May–the first game back from
interleague weekend was the third win in their last one.
In residual Rays-Red Sox news, eight suspensions totalling thirty-eight
games were handed out, led by the three ejected players–7 games for
Crisp, 6 for Shields, and 5 for Gomes. Pitchers Jon Lester and Edwin
Jackson also got five apiece–Lester for hitting a batter after the
warnings had been issued, Jackson for his role in the brawl. Also
ejected for their roles in the brawl were Rays outfielder Carl Crawford
(4 games), Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura, and Red Sox first
baseman Sean Casey (3 games apiece). Ironically, the player initially
responsible for getting these teams riled up got no suspension at
all–Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett, who angered Coco Crisp by blocking
second base on a (successful) stolen base attempt in the sixth inning
of Wednesday’s game. In follow-up action, the Rays ended their
three-game losing streak by following in Cleveland’s footsteps and
pounding the sh*t out of the Rangers, tripling their hosts’ output over
each of the following three stretches: the first seven innings (3-1),
the eighth inning (3-1), and the ninth inning (6-2). The Red Sox didn’t
fare quite so well, as Seattle scored in five different innings en
route to an 8-0 victory; Felix Hernandez has yet to allow a run in two
career starts at Fenway Park, the other start being Daisuke’s first
home start last year, at which point Hernandez stole the show by
carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
Speaking of ejections, I’m now listening to the Cubs-Dodgers game, and
apparently Jeff Kent was ejected. Apparently he was arguing a called
third strike to end the fifth inning. LA leads 2-0 after 5.
And speaking of Cleveland, Paul Byrd recorded his 100th career win as the
Native Americans Indians beat the Detroit Tigers for the 1,000th time in franchise history (opposite 1,022 losses).