Monthly archives: August 2008
Washington walks into the light
According to my math, the Washington Nationals today became the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention.
With the Phillies and Mets wins today, the two teams have 75 and 76 wins respectively. The two teams play each other three times so both of them could max out at 77 wins, which is the maximum number of wins for Washington. (A 2-1 series win for the Phils)
However, even if the Phillies and Mets finished at 77 wins, the Marlins would have to win at least nine games (they have three against NY and six against Philadelphia). The Marlins have 69 wins now and then they would win 78 games and take the division!
The Unsinkable Mariners and Nats?
Seattle showed the tenacity of a cockroach by refusing to be eliminated from the playoffs today.
The Mariners beat Cleveland 6-4 today with Roy Corcoran retiring Ryan Garko on a game-ending 1-6-4-3 DP with the bases loaded.
Meanwhile in Boston, the Red Sox kept the Ms alive with a 4-2 loss to the White Sox. The Red Sox had the tying runs at second and third with two outs, but Dustin Pedroia flied out.
And in DC, the Nats, one loss away from elimination, trailed Atlanta 4-3 in the 8th. But Aaron Boone hit a 3-run homer to spark a come back and the Nats won 8-4.
But, according to the math scribbled on the back of a receipt for some grossly overpriced coffee at the Denver Airport, the Nats will be dead if the Phillies hold on to their lead against the Cubs.
But I will soon be entering the cone of silence that is a commercial airplane.
They're too tough, they wouldn't fall
The Washington Nationals continue to do their impression of Captain Jacoby, the master of the "La Paloma." They've been shot and mortally wounded and yet they stay alive.
The Nats will try to stave off elimination tonight at home against Atlanta. One loss and they're finally done. But I hope they at least manage to get the Maltese Falcon to Sam Spade.
Odalis Perez pitches for the Nats to save their season against Jorge Campillo.
Some people live for pennant races. Others just live to watch teams get mathematically eliminated.
UPDATE - The Brewers won their 78th game tonight to eliminate the Nats from wild card contention.
However, the Nats held on to win 7-3 tonight against Atlanta to keep their faint NL East hopes alive.
They would need:
UPDATE 2 - Saturday night, the Nats stayed alive with a 9-8 win over the Braves.
The Marlins beat the Mets 4-3 and the Phillies beat the Cubs 5-2.
So... The Nats can get no better than a tie for first. The Phillies would have to sweep the Mets in New York, but win no other games. The Mets would have to win two of their remaining four games with the Marlins, but no others. The Marlins would win eight games (six against the Phillies and two against the Mets, but no others) and the Braves would have to win no more than 3 of 6 against Houston and Atlanta, but win all other games. The Nats cannot lose again.
Time is getting short for America's Team. There could be other permutations that would keep the Nats alive, but I like the multiteam tie.
In a far simpler scenario, Seattle will be eliminated with a loss to Cleveland or a Boston win.
Washington and Seattle down to just the wild card or nothing
Both Seattle and Washington were eliminated from winning their respective divisions today.
For the Mariners, it's fairly straightforward math as Seattle has 83 losses and the Angels have 80 wins. Once losses + wins = 163, you're done. Wild card leader Boston has just 77 wins, so the M's could sneak in there.
For the Nats, they were eliminated from the division (I believe) because third place Florida won. I've gone through several scenarios and it looks like there is no way for one of the top 3 teams in the NL East to NOT win more than 77 games this year.
The Nats have an extremely faint pulse for the wild card according to my math, which is too long and messy to show.
And likely wrong.
Washington and Seattle refuse to go gently into that good night
(I will rate this PG-13)
The Angels beat Oakland tonight 5-1, but Seattle beat Minnesota 3-1, so the Mariners faint hopes of winning the AL West are still alive. And the Mariners still will hold on in the wild card race for a couple more days.
In the rather complicated math of the NL East, Washington, with 85 losses, stubbornly refuses to go down peacefully. The Nats will be eliminated from the wild card with another Milwaukee win and from the NL East race, I think, with a loss to the Dodgers Wednesday. But I could be wrong about that. The Marlins might need to win a game too.
I'll be in the Happiest Place on Earth, Michigan, for the next few days, so updates may be irregular until Sunday. On Saturday I will be seeing the beginning of the Rich Rodriguez Era in Ann Arbor. Look for my brother, his son, and me in the crowd! I'll be in a blue shirt and wearing a Team South Africa cap.
Let's go to the video! On Thursday
Major League Baseball will institute a limited use of instant replay to decide whether or not a potential home run is fair or foul or if a fan interfered or even if the ball actually went out of the park, starting on Thursday.
Lighting up the radar gun too soon?
Ember Nickel passes on the story of Jericho Scott, the 9-year old from New Haven, who can hit 40 mph on the radar gun.
However for a 9-year old that's a bit too fast for anyone to catch up with, so Jericho has been asked to either play in the field or pitch against older kids.
If you read the whole article, it looks like the real problem in the whole story may be, could be, possibly be, THE ADULTS.
However, I would say that a game of baseball among 9-year olds where no one can make contact is not a lot of fun.
HOF Veterans Committee picks 10 nominees
The always popular Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee announced its 10 nominees from its Historical Overview panel. These players all played in the 1942 season or earlier.
The nominees are: Bucky Walters, Joe Gordon, Allie Reynolds, Wes Ferrell, Carl Mays, Mickey Vernon, Bill Dahlen, Sherry Magee, and Deacon White.
There will be another 10 nominees who played from 1943 on announced later.
The election will take place on December 8.
Before we were so rudely interrupted...
That game is finally going to be finished today at 3:05 pm PT, 119 days after it started. Although the game will be played in Baltimore, the Orioles will be the "road" team and bat first until the game's conclusion.
The two pitchers who were in the game at the time of the suspension, Scott Linebrink of Chicago and George Sherrill of Baltimore, are both on the disabled list now.
Either team can use anybody on its present 25-man roster to play in the game, unless that player had already been removed from the game. The Orioles will need a new shortstop as the one in the game at the suspension, Brandon Fahey, is in the minors. Adam Jones was in center field for Baltimore, but he is also on the DL.
The White Sox could go with the players who were in the game back on April 28 as none of the those nine players are ineligible.
When the suspended game is completed, the regularly scheduled game between the Orioles and White Sox will be played. It will start at 4:05 PT or about 30 minutes after the suspsended game is completed.
The Orioles also have two doubleheaders to play in September. One on September 6 against Oakland that was set up so the Orioles wouldn't conflict with a Baltimore Ravens game. The other will be against Tampa Bay on September 23 to make up a rainout from all the way back on April 3.
Mariners primed to be the first to go .... or not
After yesterday's action, it's Seattle which has the first chance to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
The Mariners are 48-82 (maximum 80 wins) and the Angels are presently 79-50. If the Mariners lost at home to Minnesota Monday night and the Angels beat Oakland in Anaheim, it will be time to write -30- for the Mariners.
Washington can't be eliminated Monday because the Nats don't play. The Nats will be eliminated with any combination of wins and losses by the Mets and Nats that add up to two. Washington has 85 losses and the Mets have but 72 wins. However, the Mets (72 wins), Phillies (71 wins), and Marlins (67 wins) have enough games against each other that one of them would have to wind up with enough wins to eliminate the Nats.
So.... it will be Dallas Braden going for Oakland against Jered Weaver of the Angels at 7:05 pm and Francisco Liriano of the Twins going up against Miguel Batista of Seattle at 7:10 pm.
If the Mariners don't get it done Monday, then on Tuesday the Nats will be at home to face the Dodgers while the Mets and Phillies play each other in the Keystone State.
UPDATE - The Mariners won't be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss tonight and a win by the Angels. They would still have a remote chance at catching Boston for the wild card.
Griddle playoff death watch update
The race to be the first team eliminated is coming down to the wire.
Seattle is at 47-82 and a combination of Mariners losses or Angels (78-50) wins that add up to three will make the Mariners regret killing that albatross.
Washington is 46-84 and will be impeached and removed from playoff contention with a combination of Nats losses and Mets (72-58) wins that add up to three. The Nats situation is more precarious than the arithmetic would indicate because the NL East is a closer race and the Mets, Phillies (70 wins), and Marlins (66 wins) all play games against each other in the closing weeks.
Moving on from Beijing to Williamsport
The championship game of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA is set for Sunday. It will be a matchup between the team from Matamoros, Mexico (which beat a team from Tokyo 5-4 to win its bracket) and a team from Waipahu, Hawai'i (which beat Lake Charles, Louisiana 7-5).
The kids from Waipahu are about 4800 miles from home while the kids from Matamoros are only about 1580 miles from home.
The last Hawaiian team to win the LLWS was from Ewa Beach in 2005. The last team from Mexico to win the LLWS was the squad from Guadalupe back in 1997.
Dae Han Min-Gook for the gold in baseball
Korea took the gold in the Olympic baseball tournament with a 3-2 win over Cuba in Beijing this morning (Saturday night in Beijing).
Seungyeop Lee hit a 2-run homer and Yongkyu Lee had an RBI double in the seventh to account for all the scoring.
Cuba loaded the bases in the ninth and Korean catcher Min-Ho Kang was ejected after arguing a base on balls call in the same inning.
But with the bases loaded and Yuliesky Gourriel up, Taehyon Chong induced a game-ending 6-4-3 DP.
Korea went undefeated in the tournament, finishing 8-0, including two wins each over Japan and Cuba as well as one over the USA.
USA baseball goes out with a bronze
The US Olympic baseball team won the bronze medal Saturday morning (Friday night where I am) with an 8-4 win over Japan.
Japan took a 1-0 lead in the first on a solo homer by Masahiro Araki against Brett Anderson, but Matt LaPorta tied up the game with a solo homer in the bottom of the second.
Norichika Aoki hit a 3-run homer in the top of the third to give Japan a 4-1 lead, but the USA tied it up with a 3-run homer of its own from Matt Brown. G.G. Sato misplayed a fly ball to left field to set up the American rally.
The USA scored the winning runs in the fifth against Kenshin Kawakami. Brown doubled and Nate Schierholtz walked. One out later, Taylor Teagarden doubled in two runs and Jason Donald hit a 2-run homer off the foul pole in left field to give the USA an 8-4 lead.
Anderson and Kevin Jepsen combined for the win. The USA had won a bronze medal before in baseball, back in the 1996 games in Atlanta.
The gold medal match will start at 3 am PT and is supposed to be on TV. Korea will go for its first ever baseball gold medal against defending champion Cuba. Korea has not lost a game in the tournament.
It will be known as 'The Day of Lot of Hits'
The Cardinals demolished the Braves in St. Louis tonight by an 18-3 margin. The Cardinals had 26 hits, including four each by Yadier Molina and Cesar Izturis.
The last team to get at least 26 hits in a game was Texas, which picked up 29 hits in its 30-3 whipping of the Orioles on this same date last year.
Joel Pineiro got a save as he pitched the last 3 innings of the game. The 15 run margin for the save was the biggest for a Cardinals pitcher since the save rule was instituted in 1969. The previous best was a 12-run margin saved by Dan Quisenberry back on July 6, 1989 in a 14-2 Cardinals win over the Dodgers.
Korea and Cuba to play for gold in Olympic baseball
Korea scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to break a 2-2 tie against Japan and move on to the gold medal game Saturday against either the USA or Cuba.
Seungyeop Lee hit a 3-run homer in the eighth off of Hitoki Iwase (who has lost three games in the tournament) to keep Korea perfect in what is likely the final Olympic baseball tournament.
Cuba pulled away late from the USA to advance to the gold medal game with a 10-2 win.
Japan and the USA will play for the bronze medal at 7:30 pm PT and Cuba and Korea will play for gold at 3 am PT Saturday.
Olympic baseball semifinals scheduled for tonight
At 7:30 pm PT (10:30 am Beijing time on Friday), the first semifinal of the Olympic baseball tournament is scheduled to start and it will match up #1 Korea (7-0) and #4 Japan (4-3).
The starting pitchers for this affair are cloaked in secrecy. Tsuyoshi Wada started in Japan's 9-7 loss to Korea on Saturday and struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings. Korea started Kwanghyun Kim against Japan. Here's a boxscore of their previous matchup. Korea won 9-7.
#2 Cuba (6-1) and #3 USA (5-2) will meet at 3 am PT Friday morning (6 pm Beijing) and that game should see veteran Norge Luis Vera square off against San Diego State prodigy Stephen Strasburg. Cuba beat the USA 5-4 in 11 innings in their previous matchup. Jayson Nix and Matt LaPorta should be able to play in the game.
Barry Newman of the Wall Street Journal reports that watching Olympic baseball has been anything but fun.
Who will be the first to go?
For me the most exciting race in baseball is the race to see which team will be the first to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Last year, Tampa Bay was the first team eliminated and that was on September 8. The White Sox followed on September 9. Both teams are enjoying 2008 more than 2007.
This year, it appears to be a two-team race between Seattle and Washington.
After their 15-3 loss to the White Sox today, the Mariners are at a robust 46-80 (.365) and trail the Angels by 31 games in the standings. And the Mariners have but 36 games left to play. The Mariners don't have much in the way of wild card hopes either as they are 27 games behind Boston.
Seattle's losses plus the Angels win equals 156 (80 + 76), a number dangerously close to 163, which is not a number you want to see.
But don't count out the Nats. Coming into tonight's game against Washington, the Nats have lost 11 straight and are 44-82 (.349). They trail the first place Mets by 25 games and the wild card is even further out of reach as the Brewers are presently 3 games better than the Mets.
The Nats upcoming schedule is not favorable. After they finish up their series in Philadelphia, they travel to Chicago. Then they come back home to play the Dodgers for three, before they get something of a break when the Braves come to DC on August 29.
The Mariners, on the other hand, are going home to host Oakland for four games. The A's have been dismal since the break and their best pitcher, Justin Duchscherer, is hurt now. However, the rules of baseball mandate that somebody has to win one of these upcoming four games at Safeco.
On the brighter side, some teams control their own destiny, at least in the sense of making the playoffs. (I was raised Catholic, not Calvinist.) They are Tampa Bay, Boston, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, Philadelphia, Florida, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee (wild card only), St. Louis (wild card only), Arizona, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Angels and Cubs could conceivably make the playoffs without winning another game the whole season.
For more on this, visit the friendly RIOT number site.
Olympic medal round matchups set
Pool play finished in the Olympic baseball tournament and the semifinals are set and they will be geographically aligned: Korea vs. Japan and USA vs. Cuba.
The morning games were both blowouts and shortened by the mercy rule.
Cuba needed only seven innings to polish off China, 17-1 and Korea used just eight to beat the Netherlands 10-0.
Korea finished pool play at 7-0 and Cuba was second at 6-1.
In the evening, both games went to the weird tiebreaker.
In a game played for pride, Taiwan needed 12 innings to beat Canada 6-5. Both Taiwan and Canada finished at 2-5.
And in the only game that would decide playoff seeding, the USA prevailed over Japan 4-2 in 11 innings. Both teams had just two hits through the first 10 innings.
In the 11th inning tiebreaker, USA manager Davey Johnson decided to play for the big inning instead of a bunt and got four runs out of it. Japan answered back with two and had the bases loaded with two outs, but Casey Weathers got pinch hitter Shinnosuke Abe to foul out to end the game.
The USA finished 5-2 and Japan was 4-3.
Cuba and the USA will square off Thursday night at 7:30 pm PT. Korea and Japan will play Friday morning at 4 am PT.
Taiwan and Canada tied for fifth at 2-5, but Taiwan will get fifth place honors because of its head-to-head win. The Netherlands and China were both 1-6 and the Dutch get seventh place as their only win was over China.
Irabu arrested after legendary bender
Former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was arrested in Osaka, Japan after allegedly getting into a fight with a bartender after his credit card was refused.
The wire service report says that Irabu drank 20 mugs of beer before leaving.
And apparently, Irabu had another credit card.
20 mugs of beer? If those mugs were Imperial pints and held 20 ounces each, that would be 400 fluid ounces of beer, which is over three gallons of beer.
Even if the mugs held 12 ounces, that would be 240 fluid onces. Which is about a pint short of two gallons.
Korea takes command of Olympic baseball on Day 6
The last two unbeaten teams in the Olympic basebal tournament, Korea and Cuba, faced off Tuesday morning in Beijing and the Koreans came out on top 7-4.
The AP story says that Korea will be first or second depending upon the result of its last game, although I'm not sure how Cuba can pass up Korea if the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition and there is only one game left for both teams.
Regardless, Korea's last game in pool play is against the Netherlands tomorrow and the Dutch lost their fifth game, getting shut out by Canada 4-0. The Dutch are mathematically eliminated at 1-5 and the Canadians are on life support at 2-4.
The USA edged Taiwan 4-2 to advance to the medal round. John Gall had a solo home run in the sixth and Dexter Fowler had an orange alert (home run).
Japan moved on to the medal round with a 10-0 win over China that was shortened by the mercy rule.
The USA will play Japan in the final game in pool play to decide third place as both teams are 4-2. The winner of the game will likely draw Cuba and the loser will face Korea.
Team USA manager Davey Johnson has announced San Diego State star Stephen Strasburg as his starting pitcher for the semifinal game.
Spanning the globe for more international baseball
The Little League World Series has begun in Williamsport, PA and the highlight of the tournament so far has been Jesus Sauceda's performance for Matamoros, Mexico Sunday. The 13-year old threw a perfect game and struck out all 12 batters he faced in a mercy rule shortened 12-0 win over Emilia, Italy.
Over in Japan, Osaka Toin tied an 88-year old record for most runs scored in the Japanese National High School Championships at historic Koshien Stadium. Osaka Toin beat Tokoha Gakuen Kikugawa of Shizuoka Prefecture 17-0 to claim the title.
Bob Dylan on the upcoming Angels-Rays series
Let's hope that everyone in Florida is safe in the coming days.
Olympic Baseball Day 5 wrapup
In the first game of the day, Japan beat Canada 1-0. Atsunori Inaba hit a solo home run in the fifth for the only run of the game. Yoshihisa Naruse, Kyuji Fujikawa, and Koji Uehara combined on a 2-hit shout. Japan is 3-2 in the tournament and almost assured of a spot in the medal round. Canada fell to 1-4 will be eliminated if the USA beats China later in the day.
Korea scored 7 runs in the first against Taiwan and held on for a 9-8 win. Korea has moved on to the next round.
Cuba needed only 8 innings to polish off the Netherlands, 14-3.
The USA beat China 9-1 in a contentious game. Matt LaPorta bowled over Chinese catcher Wei Wang while scoring the USA's fourth run, knocking out Wang with a knee injury.
In the sixth, Nate Schierholtz knocked over China's backup catcher, Yang Yang, in a similar play, although Yang was able to return, but China's manager Jim Lefebvre was ejected for complaining about the USA's penchant for trying to kill his catchers. LaPorta also got a pitch to the helmet, knocking him out of the game, courtesy of
China's only run came on a 9th inning home run by Yang off of Blaine Neal.
Cuba and Korea have advance to the medal round and play later tonight (7:30 pm PT, but 10:30 am in Beijing on Tuesday) to decide first place in pool play. Japan and the USA are 3-2. Taiwan, China, the Netherlands, and Canada are all 1-4. If the USA beats Taiwan tonight, the Americans will advance to the next round. Japan will advance with a win over China tonight.
Olympic Baseball Day 2 revisited and looking forward
Back on Friday, China and Korea played six innings of scoreless ball before rain stopped their game. The game was suspended and resumed Sunday.
And there wasn't much scoring in part two of the game. The two teams remained scoreless until the 11th inning when the crazy Olympic tiebreaker rule came into play.
China was up first with runners on first and second and manager Jim Lefebvre ordered a sacrifice to move the runners over. Fei Feng was up next for China and flied out to center that should have been deep enough to score the runner on third, Lingfen Sun. But Sun didn't tag up after the catch and instead was doubled off to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 11th, Seungyuop Lee hit a one-out single to score Jongwook Lee for the game-winning run.
Korea is now tied with Cuba atop the standings at 4-0. Japan and the USA are 2-2. Canada, the Netherlands, China, and Taiwan are 1-3.
The top four teams advance. Korea and Cuba will likely both advance (one of them has to). Japan plays Canada, China, and the USA. The USA will play China and Taiwan in addition to Japan.
Of the 1-3 teams, Canada is the only one with a good shot of making it into the top four. Canada would need to win its final three games, against Japan, the Netherlands, and Taiwan to move on.
China and the Netherlands likely don't have the talent to win three in a row. Taiwan has to bounce back from its shocking loss to China and then a 1-0 loss to Cuba. The Taiwanese player who flunked a drug test said he was taking fertility drugs.
The first tiebreaker for seeding is head-to-head record and the second is average number of runs given up per inning played on defense.
Olympic Baseball Day 4
It was a slightly less contentious day of baseball in Beijing and about all we know is that Cuba and Korea are very likely to move on to the medal round and the last two slots are up for grabs.
The USA was trailing Canada 4-0 after four innings, but the Americans scored twice in the fifth, one of the runs coming on a Brian Barden homer. Barden tied the game on an RBI double in the seventh and Terry Tiffee put the USA ahead for good with a double off of Rheal Cormier in the eighth. Brian Duensing was the winner and Chris Reitsma took the loss in the 5-4 USA win. The USA is 2-2 and Canada is 1-3.
Cuba had just five hits against Taiwan. However, Frederich Cepeda homered in the seventh and Cuba won 1-0 to stay perfect at 4-0. Taiwan fell to 1-3.
China's dramatic win the day before against Taiwan to spill over to their next game against the Netherlands. The Dutch won their first game of the tournament, beating the host Chinese 6-4. The Netherlands is 1-3 and China is 1-2.
Korea scored three runs in the top of the ninth to break a 2-2 tie and held on for a 5-3 win over archrival Japan. Korea is now 3-0 and Japan is 2-2.
Korea and China will finish up their suspended game (0-0 in the sixth) on Sunday while the other teams are off.
Standings: Cuba 4-0, Korea 3-0, USA and Japan 2-2, China 1-2, Taiwan and Canada and Netherlands 1-3.
Olympic Baseball Day 3
Day 3 of the Olympic baseball featured Cold War politics, crazy rules, and a wild comeback.
The first game of the day was between China and Taiwan (or as they say in the Olympics "Chinese Taipei.")
Taiwan led 2-0 heading to the bottom of the eighth when China scored three runs to take a 3-2 edge. Taiwan tied it up with a run in the ninth and then it was time for free baseball. And not just free baseball, but free baseball with weird rules.
That's because the game went to an 11th inning when teams get to start the inning with runners on first and second. However, neither team scored in the 11th. So they tried it again in the 12th and Taiwan scored four times to take a 7-3 lead.
But in one of the biggest surprises in Olympic baseball's short history, China scored five times in the 12th to win the game 8-7. The people of Taiwan are, to put it mildly, not happy. This was China's first ever win over Taiwan on the international stage in baseball. China is 1-1 in the tournament and Taiwan is 1-2.
About the same time, the USA and Cuba were playing and that game looked to be in Cuba's hands as they took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth on a homer on an Alfredo Despaigne homer. However, Jayson Nix homered in the bottom of the eighth to tie it up.
And this one went to 11 innings and the freaky rules came into play. Cuba started the 11th with its #8 and #9 hitters on base and its leadoff man up. Cuba opted to sacrifice both runners over and then got them both home to take a 5-4.
Team USA manager opted to put the #9 and #1 hitters on base and start the 11th with his #2 hitter, Nix. Nix tried to sacrifice, but Pedro Lazo's pitch tipped off his bat and right into his eye, knocking him down and out of the Olympic tournament.
Johnson thought that the play was deliberate.
When I watched the play, I would have to side with the Cubans. Nix just couldn't bunt a ball tailing in on him and it bounced the wrong way.
Terry Tiffee drove in one run with a sacrifice fly, but Matt Brown fouled out to end the game. Cuba is 3-0 and the USA is 1-2.
(Interestingly that although baseball adopted a weird tiebreaker, Olympic tennis does not use a tiebreaker in an ultimate [third] set and James Blake lost in the semifinals to Fernando Gonzalez, 4-6, 7-5, 11-9.)
In the evening games, Japan had little trouble with the Netherlands, winning 6-0. The Dutch have yet to score a run in Beijing and are 0-3. Japan is 2-1.
Finally, Korea had just three hits against Canada, but one of them was a third inning homer by Keunwoo Jeong, and that was enough for pitcher Hyunjin Ryu to make stand up for a 1-0 win. Korea is 2-0 and Canada is 1-2.
Now we know how many hits it takes to ...
Get me to mention Albert Hall.
Mark Kotsay of the Braves hit for the cycle tonight in the Braves' 11-7 loss to the Cubs.
Albert Hall had been the last Brave to hit for the cycle and that was back on September 23, 1987 against Houston.
Ziegler's scoreless streak ends at 39 innings ... or so
Oakland pitcher Brad Ziegler gave up the first run of his career in the ninth inning of today's game at Oakland between the Rays and A's. (You don't have to call them Ray A!)
That ended Ziegler's streak at 39 innings. Or perhaps 39 1/3 innings. It depends who you ask, but according to the practice of the Elias Sports Bureau, a pitcher doesn't get credit for a partial scoreless inning unless he only appeared in a fractional part of an inning, i.e. coming in or departing with one or two outs.
The ruling by Elias' Dark Lord of All Statistics, Seymour Siwoff, came up in 1988 when Orel Hershiser broke Don Drysdale's scoreless inning streak of 58 innings.
Here is how Ross Newhan of the Los Angeles Times reported the situation back on September 27, 1988. My source for the story did not include the fractions because the database didn't seem to like them, so I included them in brackets.
Olympic Baseball Day 2
Four games were played, but only three of them had a decision.
Rain hampered play for the early games. The USA beat the Netherlands 7-0 in a game called by rain in the ninth although the Dutch had the bases loaded against Blaine Neal.
Stephen Strasburg allowed just one hit and struck out 11 in 7 innings of work. The USA is 1-1 and the Dutch are 0-2.
A Dutch protest of the umpires decision to call the game was denied.
China and Korea got six innings with no runs scoring and that game was suspended. It will be concluded on Sunday, which was a scheduled off day.
Canada gave Cuba a go, but still fell short by a 7-6 margin. The Cubans got a pair of 2-run homers in the sixth from Alfredo Despaigne and Alexander Malleta. Cuba is 2-0 and Canada is 1-1.
Japan and Taiwan are both 1-1 after a 6-1 win by Japan. The Japanese scored four times in the top of the ninth to break open a close game.
So after two days, Cuba is the only 2-0 team; Korea is 1-0; USA, Japan, Cuba, and Canada are 1-1; China is 0-1.
142 and 1
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox was ejected from a game for the 142nd time in his career this afternoon in Georgia when Joe West ran him in the fifth inning of the first game of today's doubleheader between the Braves and Cubs.
Cox was arguing with West about when the lights should be turned on at Turner Field.
In the ninth innings, 27-year old rookie Francisely Bueno was ejected in his first major league appearance after throwing a pitch at Alfonso Soriano's head.
Just 141 more to go for Mr. Bueno.
Day 1 of Olympic baseball
The Olympic baseball tournament began Tuesday evening (on the West Coast of the U.S.) with a 5-0 win by Taiwan over the Netherlands. Taiwan was not affected much by the loss of infielder Tai-shan Chang, who failed a pre-tournament drug test.
The host team China lost to Canada 10-0 in a game shortened to 8 innings by the mercy rule.
The USA rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth on a Mike Hessman homer and a Matt Brown 2-run single, but South Korea answered with a 2-run rally of its own to win 8-7. Jong-wook Lee had the game-winning sacrifice fly.
And the final game of the day matched up co-favorites Cuba and Japan, a rematch of the 2006 World Baseball Classic Final. Cuba won this one, 4-2. Cuba scored all of its runs against Japanese starter Yu Darvish in the first five innings. Norge Luis Vera and Pedro Luis Lazo combined for the win and save for Cuba.
Coming up next: USA vs Netherlands, China vs South Korea, Canada vs Cuba, Taiwan vs Japan.
All eight teams play each other in a round robin format. The top four play knockout games to determine the medalists.
I miss 'In play, out(s)'
The play-by-play for Olympic baseball games has a bit to be desired. It's written in reverse order to start out with. And then there's "Place at Bat." I assume that means someone has come up to bat. This is from NBCOlympics.com
Here's the first inning of the recently completed Netherlands-Taiwan game. Taiwan won 5-0.
20+ hits just don't go as far as they used to (Recurring feature!)
The St. Louis Cardinals lost at Pittsburgh on July 12 12-11 in 10 innings on a 2-run game-ending homer by Jason Michaels. The Cardinals lost despite piling up 22 hits.
The Cardinals became the fourth team this season to lose a game while getting 20 or more hits, and the third one this month. The Rangers lost to the Angels on July 10 with 20 hits, the Marlins lost with 22 hits to the Rockies on July 4, and the Reds lost to the Padres on May 25.
The only season in the B-R Play Index (1956 on) where four teams lost games with 20+ hits was in 2002.
Will the last player to leave Cleveland please turn off the light?
Paul Byrd is headed to Boston for a player to be named later.
Scouts caught up in Federal gambling probe
According to an ESPN.com report, one scout has been fired and "seven or eight" others face disciplinary action in conjunction with a Federal probe.
Heart and Soul, Canadian style
Steve Simmons of the Edmonton Sun writes about the "heart of Canadian baseball?"
Russell Martin? Rich Harden? Larry Walker? Ferguson Jenkins? Jeff Heath? Reggie Cleveland? Eric Gagne? Claude Raymond?
Nope, it's Stubby Clapp of the Canadian Olympic team.
The Olympic baseball team starts Tuesday night at 7:30 pm PT with a game between the Netherlands and Taiwan. Canada takes on China at 8:30 pm PT. The USA's first game will be Wednesday at 3 am PT against Korea.
I will not be awake for the Team USA game. At least I hope not.
Saturday night on my trip to My Nation's Capital (your nation's capital may vary, check with your local government authority), I took a side trip over to Baltimore to go see the Orioles take on the Texas Rangers in one of those games that already had the air of "playing out the string."
I ventured out with commenter Sam DC (who graciously allowed to crash at his home) along with his two sons and we met up with Friend of the Griddle Josh Mosby (more memberships will be available during my next pledge week), who lives in Catonsville.
70 and more
The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Seattle Mariners, 8-7 in 11 innings in Seattle Saturday night.
This was win #70 for the Rays, tying a franchise high. It's safe to assume that Tampa Bay will reach a new high this season. The Rays have been the most interesting story in MLB this year in my book. And perhaps even the Dark Lords of Bristol will acknowledge it one day.
What's the connection?
Reporting from Your Nation's Capital
That is unless you are one of those people who lives in Canada, Mexico, or some other miscellaneous country.
It's a beautiful Friday morning here in DC and I've got culture and history to absorb. I hope nobody moved the Spirit of St. Louis since I was last here.
Note to Bronx Banter readers: the last time I was in DC, it was Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
I don't believe it was a determining factor in the outcome of that game.
Karl Kuehl, 1937-2008
Karl Kuehl, who managed the Montreal Expos for the first four months of the 1976 season and most recently a scout for Oakland, passed away Wednesday in Scottsdale, Arizona at the age of 70 of pulmonary fibrosis.
According to the AP obituary on Kuehl, he was named player/manager of a minor league team at age 21.
Karstens joins rare company in Bucs history
Jeff Karstens, who almost threw a perfect game today at Chase Field, and settled for a 2-hit, 2-0 shutout win, has started his Pirates career with 15 straight scoreless innings.
That is the longest such streak for a pitcher joining the Pirates since Jeff Robinson tossed 15 2/3 scoreless innings for the Bucs when he joined them from Texas back from June 13 through June 27, 1992.
There were two Jeff Robinsons in the majors in 1992. And both were pitchers and both were from California. To prevent further confusion, neither of them pitched in the majors after 1992.
Jason Bay on Tuesday night in Kansas City.
Casey Blake on July 29 in Los Angeles.
Kevin Youkilis on July 4 in New York.
Nietzsche comes to Cincinnati
In the game preview on CBS Sportsline for today's Brewers-Reds game, Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey (0-5, 7.55 ERA) is described this way:
Waters hope quick start doesn't lead to bad finish
28-year old rookie Chris Waters of the Baltimore Orioles made his major league debut Tuesday night in Anaheim against the Angels.
Waters gave up just one hit in eight innings of work, a second inning single by Vladimir Guerrero. He struck out three and walked three. George Sherrill pitched the ninth to save the 3-0 win for the Orioles.
Since 1956, just six pitchers have made their major league debut by pitching at least 8 innings and giving up only one hit.
Starting with the oldest:
A young Dominican named Juan Marichal gave up an 8th inning single to Clay Dalrymple of the Phillies and nothing else. Marichal went the distance in a 2-0 shutout on July 19, 1960. Marichal would toss 52 shutouts in his Hall of Fame career.
California Angels lefty Rudy May pitched 9 innings and gave up just one hit to the Detroit Tigers on April 18, 1965. Pinch hitter Jake Wood doubled in the 8th and would score the tying run on an error by Bobby Knoop. The Tigers won in 13 innings at Anaheim by a 4-1 margin.
On April 14, 1967, Billy Rohr of the Red Sox came within one out of a no-hitter before Elston Howard singled to right. The Red Sox won the game 3-0. Rohr would win only three games in his major league career.
Jimmy Jones was the third pick in the 1982 Amateur Draft (Shawon Dunston was #1 and Augie Schmidt was #2) by the San Diego Padres. Jones made his major league debut on September 21, 1986 against the Astros in Houston. The only hit Jones gave up was a third inning triple by Astros pitcher Bob Knepper (he actually hit two in his career.) Jones pitched in parts of eight seasons for the Padres, Yankees, and Astros and was 43-39 with a 4.46 ERA.
On September 18, 1988, Bob Milacki of the Orioles pitched eight shutout innings at Tiger Stadium and gave up only a third inning double to Tom Brookens. Tom Niedenfuer pitched the ninth inning to get the save as Baltimore won 2-0.
Finally, on July 28, 1997, Steve Woodard of the Brewers bested Toronto and Roger Clemens 1-0 in the first game of a doubleheader at County Stadium. Otis Nixon led off with a double for the only game. Mike Fetters pitched the ninth to save a 1-0 win. Woodard pitched until 2003 with a 32-36 record and a 4.94 ERA.
Quick news of the day
And I'm sure all the fans stayed until the end
Today marks the 7th anniversary of the greatest comeback (in terms of runs made up) in major league history. Back on this day in 2001, the Cleveland Indians overcame a 14-2 deficit in the bottom of the 5th inning to defeat Seattle 15-14 at Jacobs Field.
The game was nationally televised and was the ESPN Sunday Night game. The Mariners were on their way to winning 116 games, but this was one game that eluded them.
Seattle hit Cleveland starter Dave Burba hard, scoring seven runs in two innings. Reliever Mike Bacsik gave up another seven runs in six innings of work in his major league debut.
Cleveland started its comeback in the 7th. Russell Branyan hit a leadoff homer against Mariners starter Aaron Sele. With two outs, the Indians loaded the bases and John Halama came out of the pen to relieve. Jolbert Cabrera, who had come in to give Roberto Alomar a rest, singled in two to make it 14-5 after 7 innings.
Jim Thome led off the 8th with a home run and it was 14-6. Branyan was hit by a pitch and Marty Cordova homered and it was now 14-8. Singles by Einar Diaz and Kenny Lofton drove Halama out of the game and Norm Charlton relieved. Omar Vizquel doubled off of Charlton to make it 14-9, but the Indians threat died when Lofton was out at the plate trying to score on a pitch in the dirt and Cabrera struck out.
All Cleveland needed to do now was make up five runs in one inning. No problem.
Ed Taubensee, who had replaced Juan Gonzalez at DH, led off with a single. Thome flied out and Branyan struck out and the Mariners were one out away. But Cordova kept the game alive with a double, sending Taubensee to third.
Seattle manager Lou Piniella opted now for Jeff Nelson to face the loveable Wil Cordero. Cordero walked to load the bases. Diaz followed with a single to drive in two to make it 14-11.
Piniella was now in a thoroughly foul mood and he called on his closer Kazuhiro Sasaki. Sasaki was a closer who needed a lot of time to warm up and it's quite possible that Sasaki just wasn't ready because he was generally awful. Lofton greeted Sasaki with a single to load the bases. And then Vizquel cleared the bases and tied the game with a triple. Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 10th, the Indians got two runners on with two outs against Arthur Rhodes and Piniella then made another change, switching right fielder Charles Gipson to left to trade places with Al Martin. I think Piniella had heard from Martin that he could throw a baseball 550 feet on the fly at a speed of 87 mph. Rhodes got Cordero to strike out.
The Mariners didn't score in the top of the 11th (Seattle had just three hits after the fifth inning) and Jose Paniagua was the next man out of the Seattle pen.
Paniagua retired Diaz to start the inning, but quickly got into trouble as Lofton and Vizquel singled to put runners at first and third with one out. Cabrera put an end to the game with a single to score Lofton and send what was left of an announced crowd of 42,494 home seeing something that happened since 1925. The game ended about 15 minutes past midnight, just in time for the fans to enjoy all the famous late night dining that Cleveland has to offer.
The last team that had blown a 12-run lead had been the 1925 Indians who led the A's 15-3 in the seventh inning before giving up a run in the bottom of the seventh and then 13 in the eighth. That was on June 15, 1925.
The Detroit Tigers are the other team that has come back from 12 down and they did so at home against the White Sox on June 18, 1911, who overcame a 13-1 deficit in the fifth to pull out a 16-15 win.
The NL record for biggest deficit overcome is 11 and it's been done three times, most recently on July 18, 1994 by the Astros against the Cardinals.
Raul Ibanez almost becomes as famous as Fernando Tatis
Seattle's Raul Ibanez hit a grand slam home run in the bottom of the seventh inning at Safeco Field off of Minnesota's Glenn Perkins. That made the score 6-5.
The Mariners then kept scoring. And getting on base. And with two outs, Willie Bloomquist drew a walk off of Matt Guerrier to load the bases. And who was coming up, none other than Ibanez.
But Fernando Tatis' place in history remained secure as Ibanez could manage nothing more than a 2-RBI single.
Ibanez's 6 RBI inning tied an AL record held by 10 others and most recently done by Bobby Abreu of the Yankees on September 12, 2006 against Tampa Bay. Abreu had a 3-run homer and 3-run double in the first inning.
Serving up slams daily
On Sunday, Edwar Ramirez of the Yankees gave up a grand slam homer to Mark Teixeira of the Angels, although the Yankees would win the game 14-9.
Tonight, Damaso Marte of the Yankees gave up a game-ending grand slam homer to Marlon Byrd of the Rangers that gave Texas a 9-5 win.
That was the first time since August 31 and September 1, 1990 when Yankee pitchers gave up slams in consecutive games.
I warn Yankee fans that the boxscore for the September 1 game is not for the squeamish.
Dave Anderson has seen the NL West and he's afraid
Dave Anderson of the New York Times has seen a horrific vision of the Division Series and he thinks that there could be a team with a losing record making the playoffs. This horrific possiblity must not stand!
Anderson proposes that if a division winner not have a winning record, then a second wild card team be accepted.
I can think of a lot of horrible things that could happen in baseball. I think a team winning a division with a record below .500 is not one of them.
For starters, what if it's your favorite team that has the losing record and wins the division? What are you rooting for down the stretch? Is there something so much more magical about team winning 81 games than 80?
In 1973, the Mets won the NL East with an 82-79 record? There were no calls in the New York Times to ask for the NL East champ to be removed from the playoffs if no team in the division had a winning record (which was the case as late as September 21, 1973).
I still think the chances of the NL West champ having a losing record are pretty slim mainly because Arizona and Los Angeles get to play lots of games down the stretch against the likes of San Francisco and San Diego (and Colorado to a lesser extent).
Anderson brings up the example of the 1994 season ending with the Rangers atop the AL West at 52-62. The Rangers poor record that year wasn't helped by the team losing 9 of 11 games before the Great Unpleasantness began.
The 2005 Padres had to win the final game of the season at home against the Dodgers to avoid finishing at .500.
But remember the hard and fast rule of writers like Anderson: New York teams with bad records winning pennants (1973 Mets and 2000 Yankees) are gutty underdogs, but teams like the 2006 Cardinals or the 1988 Dodgers are just flukes and not worthy of mention.
And Anderson does like to point out that when there were no divisions, there was no danger of the pennant winner not having a losing record.
Amazing things those kids do with math today.
Skip Caray: 1939-2008
Longtime Atlanta Braves broadcaster Skip Caray, son of Harry Caray and father of TBS announcer Chip Caray, passed away in his sleep today in the Atlanta area at the age of 68.
Caray had suffered from numerous ailments in the past several years, many of them related to diabetes and he had to curtail his schedule to just covering home games. Caray had worked for the Braves since 1976 and was the radio announcer who called the final out of the team's 1995 World Series win.
Reds do soul searching
Before the Reds went out and saw the Nationals complete their series sweep against them, the men from Cincinnati held a players-only meeting.
It is not known if the Reds discussed that they would be better off with different players. Such as good ones.
Where am I?
The rule change that never was ... thankfully
In the LA Times Daily Mirror blog, the front page of the paper from 50 years ago is displayed.
One of the articles shown on one of the subsequent pages has the headline:
Major Managers Blast Proposed Rule Change
I couldn't read it off the image on the Times website, so I pulled it up on my computer using my magical librarian tricks. The rule change, proposed by AL President Will Harridge upon the advice of Lew Fonseca, would have allowed a team to have a player re-enter a game (unless he was ejected or removed for some other rules infraction) after sitting out one complete inning.
Casey Stengel's quote: "There's nothing wrong with the way the game is played. All baseball needs is more good ballplayers. If they want to make a change, why don't they outlaw the curve ball. That would make everyone happier."
The mind reels at the length of a Cardinals game if Tony La Russa were allowed to take out and bring back players like it was a Little League game.
He's so tough that he only goes on the DL nearly every year
The Phillies have placed reliever Rudy Seanez on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation, which he suffered while trying to tag Washington's Lasting Milledge Thursday. Seanez missed the tag and fell to the ground and hit the ground with his shoulder.
From checking newspaper databases and looking at his record in Baseballreference.com, I believe that Seanez has been on the disabled list every year in his career except last year. Apparently, Seanez is telling somebody that he's been hurt.
In his 17 years in the majors, Seanez has pitched for Cleveland, San Diego, the Dodgers, Atlanta, San Diego (again), Atlanta (again), Texas, Boston, Florida, Kansas City, San Diego (again), Boston (again), San Diego (never say never again), the Dodgers (once more!), and now with Philadelphia.
Rangers 'solve' pitching problems in one fell swoop
Shortly after Texas beat Toronto in Arlington tonight, 9-8, Rangers GM Jon Daniels fired pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Dom Chiti. Andy Hawkins and Jim Colborn were named as replacements. (Colborn will be the bullpen coach for those scoring at home.)
I was happy with the results of the game. I got a win from Texas "closer" C.J. Wilson for my fantasy team. Wilson also gave up two runs in one inning of work and has an ERA of 5.28.
I am not in first place in my fantasy league.
Fidel Castro condemns Edmonton after Cuban players defect there
I really have nothing to add except I find it very funny that Fidel Castro has now added Edmonton to his list of things he's mad about it.
And the mayor of Edmonton has offered to show Castro all that his city has to offer. For free!
I fear now that the mayor of Cleveland is going to invite me back. Frank Jackson, if you're reading this, and I know you are, you can just use the e-mail link on the side.
Twins finally come to their senses
The Minnesota Twins have recalled pitcher Francisco Liriano and designated for assignment pitcher Livan Hernandez. In an accompanying move, the Twins also recalled first baseman Randy Ruiz and sent outfielder Craig Monroe packing.
Hernandez had given up 199 hits in 139 2/3 IP this season and had struck out all of 54 batters. Hernandez's second to last game for the Twins was typical: a 12-hit complete game!
Liriano was rocked in three starts early in the year for the Twins (11.32 ERA), but he's gone 10-2 with a 3.28 ERA at AAA Rochester.
Walking before midnight
Back on this day in 1941, Lefty Gomez of the Yankees set a major league record by tossing a complete game shutout while walking 11. The Yankees beat the St. Louis Browns on a Ladies Day at Yankee Stadium by a 9-0 score.
The Browns also had give hits against Gomez and reached on a Phil Rizzuto error. But two double plays and an epic of day of not hitting with runners on base doomed the Browns. St. Louis left 15 runners on base in the game.
Joe DiMaggio's second long hitting streak of 1941 reached 15 games on this day. DiMaggio would get a single in the next game and his streak ended up being 72 out of 73 games.
Gomez was not exactly a control pitcher and he topped triple digits in walks in four seasons and was at 99 in another year.
The Ladies Day crowd drew a whopping 8730 fans to Yankee Stadium, 2872 identified in the box score as actual ladies.
A place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, but he has to keep his watch on Pacific Time.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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