And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Tigers 7, Mariners 6: A game-winning RBI single for Clete Thomas
in the ninth got Jarrod Washburn off the hook after yet another dismal
post-trade performance. Thomas had hit a walk-off homer earlier this
season, and after game said this: “It’s not as good as the homer, but
any walk-off is awesome.” Yeah, just ask Ray Chapman. Sorry. Too soon?

Braves 3, Mets 2: Johan Santana falls to 0-7 against Atlanta. He
gave up nine hits and only struck out two in seven innings. Kenshin
Kawakami pitched well, but man, that’s not much of a Mets lineup he
faced.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 2: Russell Martin has been a millstone for the
Dodgers this year, but his sixth inning grand slam broke the tie and
effectively won the game for big blue. Lots of fun game story stuff:
“The Dodgers improved to 1,015-1,014 all-time against the Cubs.” I
think it would be hilarious if either Piniella or Torre used that as a
motivator in a pre-game speech, totally deadpanning how serious they
were about wanting to leave this series with the all-time lead. Also:
“Penny Marshall was a pregame dugout visitor with Dodgers manager Joe
Torre.” What is this, 1983? We’re reporting Penny Marshall sightings?
Has anyone seen Anson Williams lately? Finally: “Chicago native Jim
Belushi got booed when he was spotted wearing a Cubs cap.” You sure it
was the Cubs hat that set off the booing? It’s Jim Belushi. He’d
probably be booed even if he was riding piggy back on Sandy Koufax
while singing “Hail to the Dodgers.” (note to self: write a song called
“Hail to the Dodgers”).

Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 1: J.D. Drew was 4 for 4 with two homers
and three RBI. Best error of the year so far: Jason Bay is on first
base. Catcher Rod Barajas throws the ball back to Brett Cecil after a
pitch, who drops it. Because no pitcher would ever, ever want to throw
a dirty and possibly scuffed ball, he asks for a new ball from home
plate umpire Greg Gibson. He gets it, and throws the old ball into the
third base dugout. Except he didn’t call time out, which allowed Bay to
move to third on the play. Bay later scored on a single. Heh.

Phillies 12, Diamondbacks 3: Homers from Ryan Howard and Jayson
Werth and eight good innings from Joe Blanton turn this one into a
laugher (Ho-ho-ho, hee-hee-hee, ha-ha-ha . . . see how they smile like
pigs in a sty . . .).

Reds 2, Giants 1: Just-called-up Drew Stubbs hit a walkoff homer
in the tenth to win it. Man, one wonders what would have happened this
year if he had been called up sooner.

Indians 11, Angels 3: Just-called-up Matt LaPorta hit a two-run
double in the sixth that chased John Lackey and busted the game wide
open. Man, one wonders what would have happened this year if he had
been called up sooner.

Astros 4, Marlins 1: Wandy Rodriguez only gave up the one run —
unearned — in eight innings, and added an RBI double in the fifth. The
loss combined with the Braves’ win pulls the Marlins down into a tie
for second in the East with Atlanta, though being 6.5 back makes it all
rather academic. They’re both still four back in the wild card.



Orioles 8, Rays 7: Brian Roberts hit a grand slam and Nolan
Reimold added a three-run shot. Brian Matusz only lastes five and a
third, but he struck out 7 and didn’t walk anybody.

Rockies 4, Nationals 1: Fifth inning, two men on for Colorado,
and Garrett Mock appears to strike out Carlos Gonzalez on a
swing-and-miss. THe Nats walk to the dugout, but then Rockies manager
Jim Tracy comes out to argue that the ball had been tipped, the umps
agree and Gonzalez resumes his at-bat, who proceeds to hit an RBI
double. When was the last time a manager actually got an ump to change
his mind like this? Does Tracy possess the power to perform the Jedi
mind trick?

Cardinals 5, Padres 1: It’s no reason for concern, but Albert
Pujols is 4 for his last 24 with only two extra base hits. Thankfully,
however, he’s getting some help from his teammates these days and the
Cards really didn’t need him against the Pads last night. Joel Pineiro
was strong once again, and Brendan Ryan hit a grand slam. This quote
from Pineiro is troubling, however: “The big grand slam by Ryno kind of
gave me a little bit of extra breathing room to settle down and go out
there and work.” Cardinals players are allowed to be nicknamed “Ryno?”
What if Carlos Zambrano started calling himself Old Hoot and Geovany
Soto started being referred to as “The Man?”

Rangers 11, Twins 1: Marlon Byrd had two homers and had a slick
diving catch in left. Nelson Cruz returned from the DL with a homer of
his own. Cruz’s replacement, Julio Borbon, went 3-for-5 with three RBI,
and is hitting .536 (15-for-28) in seven starts since being called up.
Someone had better check and see if Neftali Feliz is OK, though, as he
only struck out one dude in 1.2 innings instead of the three or four
we’ve come to expect.

Jeremy Giambi vs. David Ortiz

jeremy-giambi
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The 2002 Red Sox won 93 games, only to finish 10 games behind the Yankees in the AL West and six back of the lone wild card. They named Theo Epstein the GM that November and allowed him to begin reshaping the team, then led by Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez.

The Red Sox didn’t make any big splashes that winter. Their biggest free agent signing was Ramiro Mendoza, who got $6.5 million for two years. They also signed Mike Timlin and Bill Mueller (who played behind Shea Hillenbrand at third initially). They traded for Todd Walker. They stole Bronson Arroyo off waivers.

What Epstein did totally overhaul was a first base-DH situation that held the team back the previous season. 2002 trade deadline pickup Cliff Floyd exited in free agency, as did disappointments Tony Clark and Jose Offerman.

Brought in was a three-headed monster of underappreciated, high-OBP, Moneyball-type players. First, the Red Sox traded Josh Hancock to the Phillies for Jeremy Giambi, who had just hit .244/.435/.538 in 156 at-bats after coming over from the A’s at midseason. He hit .272/.402/.475 in 684 at-bats total between 2001 and 2002, and he looked like he was still very much in his prime at age 28.

The day after the Giambi trade, the Twins made the move to release David Ortiz. No one pounced, though, and Ortiz remained unsigned for a month before joining the Boston on a one-year, $1.25 million contract. Ortiz, who was entering his age-27 season, hit .272/.339/.500 in 412 at-bats for the Twins in 2002.

While that was going on, the Red Sox were working to bring in Kevin Millar for first base. Millar hit .306/.366/.509 in 438 at-bats for the Marlins in 2002 and was even better the previous season, but he was a poor outfielder and third baseman and the team already had Derrek Lee at first base. So, the Marlins, rather than trade Millar for a player, sold him to Japan for some much-preferred cash. Millar, not realizing that he was a desired commodity around the league, went along with the plan. That’s when the Red Sox broke an unwritten rule and claimed Millar off waivers. It turned into a long ordeal, but the Red Sox were finally able to land Millar in February by buying him from the Marlins.

I remember at the time being most excited about the Giambi acquisition. He couldn’t play defense and he had gotten himself exiled by the A’s for some transgression the previous year, but he looked like an awesome offensive force with his terrific power and ridiculous walk rate. Ortiz was certainly worth taking the chance on, too, but I thought Giambi would be better and leave Ortiz with little to do.

Indeed, Giambi started over Ortiz on Opening Day. However, both got off to lousy starts and Giambi’s playing time quickly diminished. Giambi finished April at .125/.288/.292 in 60 plate appearances, starting only once in the final week of the month. Ortiz came in at .212/.311/.346 in 61 plate appearances.

Both players found their strokes at the beginning of May. For Giambi, though, it amounted to all of about two weeks of success. He peaked with an .828 OPS on May 16. Ortiz’s build was slower, but it lasted. He had a .942 OPS in May, a .961 OPS in June, a .987 OPS in July and a 1.097 OPS in August before plummeting all of the way to .977 in September. He finished 5th in the AL MVP balloting despite playing about half the time the first two months.

Giambi, finding himself more starved for at-bats after Ortiz heated up, landed on the DL in late June with a bad shoulder. At the time, it looked like it might have been a made-up injury to get him playing time in the minors for a spell. It wasn’t. He returned a few weeks later, but he still wasn’t right. He made his last appearance on Aug. 1, going 0-for-3 against the Orioles. He landed back on the DL and then underwent surgery to repair damage in his labrum and rotator cuff.

As it turned out, Giambi never played in the majors again. As he was trying to come back from the shoulder surgery the next spring, he developed back problems. He played in 17 minor league games with the Dodgers in 2004 and nine with the White Sox in 2005. That was it for him, and he was done at 30 years old. In early 2005, he admitted to using BALCO-provided steroids and said that he regretted it. The strength training likely played roles in both his emergence and his downfall, given the breakdown of his body.

Things worked out a little differently for Ortiz…

Ortiz through 2002 (age 26): .266/.348/.461, 108 OPS+ in 1,693 PA
Giambi through 2002 (age 27): .269/.381/.437, 114 OPS+ in 1,549 PA

Ortiz after 2002: .290/.386/.570, 148 OPS+ in 8,387 PA
Giambi after 2002: .197/.342/.354, 81 OPS+ in 156 PA

And those 2003 Red Sox? Well, they won 95 games, which was good enough for the wild card this time. Still, they lost to the Yankees in seven games in the ALCS. They were still one year away.

Jose Fernandez’s high school jersey was returned

MIAMI, FL - JULY 09:  Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Marlins Park on July 9, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Yesterday it was reported that someone stole Jose Fernandez’s high school jersey, which had been hanging in the Alsonso High School dugout in Tampa for a vigil. That was pretty vile stuff indeed.

Thankfully, however, someone’s conscience got the best of them: the jersey has been returned. School officials say that a family found a large envelope outside of the high school with the words “Jose’s jersey” written on it. They took the envelope into to the school this morning and the jersey was found inside.

Bad form taking it, whoever you are, but in most cases it’s never too late to make a better decision and fix your mistakes.