What we're watching – Joba takes on the Halos

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– A pair of surging seven-game winners will face off with the White Sox
in Minnesota tonight. John Danks has pitched seven scoreless innings in
back-to-back victories and has a 1.51 ERA over his last five starts.
Nick Blackburn is coming off his third complete game of the season, a
6-2 win over the Tigers. He was on the mound when the Twins walloped
the White Sox 20-1 on May 21. Since that date, he’s 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA
in eight starts.

– Tim Lincecum fall apart a bit after six no-hit innings on
Thursday, so perhaps Dan Haren is still a candidate to start for the
Nationals League in the All-Star Game. A stellar outing tonight against
the Marlins wouldn’t hurt his chances, and the Diamondbacks could
certainly use the strong effort after their pen gave up 14 runs in
Thursday’s loss. A win could be tough to come by, though, as Ricky
Nolasco has been on fire for Florida. He’s won each of his last four
starts, and he has a 1.54 ERA and a 45/7 K/BB ratio in six starts since
returning from the minors.

Game of the Night

N.Y. Yankees vs. L.A. Angels – Joba Chamberlain may not have given
up more than three earned runs in any of his last 11 starts, but he was
still lit up last time out, when he surrendered eight runs — three
earned — in 3 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays. He’s pitched seven
innings just twice all year, and his average against is up to .273
because of the 18 hits he’s given up in nine innings his last two times
out. Fortunately, he won’t have to face the Angels’ best player this
season or the team’s best player over the last several years after both
Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero landed on the DL on Friday. Joe
Saunders, who has also struggled of late, will get the ball for
Anaheim. He’s given up 13 earned runs over nine innings in his last two
starts, taking his ERA from 3.66 to 4.44.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.