I think I’m just going to live-blog this, Bill Simmons-style. Probably should’ve started that earlier, actually…
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
Canó. 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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? 😉
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
9:54: Two-run homer, Jose Molina. Argh.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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 Canó, 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.
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.
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 Cintrón in the process. Someone rescue this poor
idiot. Cintrón 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
11:36: Count is 1-1. Yes, we’ll be going play-by-play for the ninth.
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.
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.
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
12:04: SportsCenter begins. This is Passed Ball, signing off.
12:05: Spoke too soon. They’re playing it again!!!
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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
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)
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
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.