And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Tigers 5, White Sox 3; Twins 13, Royals 4: 162 games and nothing
is decided. Before Saturday night the Twins hadn’t smelled first place
since May. They were seven games out in early September. Now it all
comes down to Tuesday. I love me these 163-game seasons we’ve been
having the past couple of years, but then again, it hasn’t been my team
in the nerve racking playoff game. Moment of shallowness: does the fact
that Jason Kubel and Delmon Young came up bigger than Mauer did over
the weekend somehow cost Joe MVP votes? Obviously that shouldn’t be the
case — and really, the stathead paranoia that Mauer won’t win the MVP
is getting pretty tired by now — but if I let my imagination run wild,
I can feature someone thinking “you know, in the end, Mauer needed
help!”

Yankees 10, Rays 2: The fact that Alex Rodriguez’s 2 HR, 7 RBI
inning put him exactly on 30 homers and exactly on 100 RBI will cause
someone somewhere to count it against him as some personal
stats-inspired performance. Really, unless he bats .500/.750/1.750 in
the playoffs, there will be a hatchet job article about me-first A-Rod
referencing this game before spring training starts.

Dodgers 5, Rockies 3: Vicente Padilla shuts down a skeleton-crew
Rockies lineup in a meaningless game. And as per his tradition in
meaningless season finales, Joe Torre let the players take over. He
chose Brad Ausmus as manager, named Mark Loretta bench coach, Jim Thome
was the hitting coach and Jeff Weaver was the bullpen coach. I suppose
he could have given those responsibilities to more boring guys if he
tried, but the Dodgers probably would have had to make some roster
moves first. I know P.R. considerations wouldn’t let him name Manny
manager for a day, but a boy can dream, can’t he? Ausmus on his future
as a manager: “There are times when I think I’d like to do it, and
there’s times when I think I’d like to walk away from a baseball
stadium and never come back. But those are usually the days when I’m 0
for 4 with three strikeouts.” So what he’s saying is that the days he
wants to walk away and never come back far outnumber the “I want to be
a manager” days.

Mariners 4, Rangers 3: Griffey singled in his last at bat, cried
a bit, tipped his cap and was carried off the field on his teammates’
shoulders to wild ovations from the Seattle crowd. I don’t believe in
fate or magic or most other metaphysical baloney, but I’m going to go
out on a limb and suggest that the universe was telling you something,
Junior. There’s no way you’ll ever have a better way to go out and you
have absolutely zero to prove. So, unless the idea of retirement is
positively poison to you, call a press conference, fly back to Seattle
next opening day for the number retirement, and take your well-earned
place in Valhalla.

And yes, that advice for Griffey is 100% calculated to make life easier
for me to deal with the end of his career. He probably does not — and
probably should not — give a crap.

Giants 4, Padres 3: Not that anyone listens to me when it comes
to end-of-career advice anyway. The other day I thought that the Unit
should take the weekend off, having his career end at his home park
with a high five, a victory, and the cheer of hometown fans. Instead he
pitches an inning on the road, blows a lead and has his bacon saved by
Jeremy Affeldt, Brian Wilson and Pablo Sandoval. Oh well, everything
ends badly, or else it would never end.

Angels 5, Athletics 3: Has a team ever bounced back from as
horrible an April as the Angels? We can’t know because the reasons for
the horribleness are partially unquantifiable, but hats off to Anaheim
for a great season regardless. I have no rooting interests in this
year’s playoffs, and when that happens I tend to adopt a team. The
Yankees and Red Sox are never going to be that team because they don’t
need me and I don’t much like them. I have some historical issues with
the Twins, and even if I didn’t, if they pull it out on Tuesday, their
bandwagon is going to be pretty full. The Tigers are an old flame, but
I can’t see myself getting involved with someone who doesn’t have their
stuff together. The Phillies are my team’s division rival, and I can’t
bring myself to root for them at any time before the World Series, and
maybe not at all. The Cardinals and Dodgers made that list of teams to whom I could conceivably sell my allegiance and I am an NL guy at heart, but the Angels are at least shaping up to be the team I’d like to see come out of the AL.

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 2: The regular season ends for Chicago. And the what-in-tarnation-are-we-going-to-do-about-Milton Bradley season begins.

Brewers 9, Cardinals 7: The stumble-to-the-finish-line Cardinals
are set to face the stumble-to-the-finish-line Dodgers. It’s been
nearly 20 years since I took a physics class, so someone is going to
have to tell me what it is that happens when an eminently resistible
force meets a totally movable object.

Phillies 7, Marlins 6: I’m not going to say that Philadelphia
was thinking more about Colorado than Florida in this game, but they
used eight pitchers and thirteen position players, none of whom were
named Howard, Rollins or Utley. For what it’s worth, Hanley Ramirez
wins the batting title, though that was decided a while ago.

Red Sox 12, Indians 7: Clay Buchholz gives up 13 runs in eight
innings over his last two starts. In light of that, if you’re the
Angels, you gotta be thinking “split at home, and we’re sitting
pretty.” Game story: “Jason Bay did not make an error this season,
becoming the fourth qualifying Red Sox outfielder with a 1.000 fielding
percentage.” If Jason Bay finishing with a 1.000 fielding percentage
does not make every last person finally reject fielding percentage as a
legitimate measure of defensive prowess, nothing will.

Nationals 2, Braves 1: What an up and down year for the Braves.
At least they enter an offseason with the good kinds of question marks
(which of the six good starters we have will we keep? When will we call
up our stud corner outfielder?) instead of the bad ones (is this the
year Francoeur figures it out? Can anyone besides Chipper hit the
ball?).

Reds 6, Pirates 4: The Pirates got shut out 17 times this sason. But you probably didn’t need me to tell you that it wasn’t their year.

Mets 4, Astros 0: Mercifully, 2009 ends for the Mets. Even more
mercifully, no one threw their back out or pulled their hamstring while
cleaning out their locker.

Orioles 5, Blue Jays 4: For finishing the season with four straight wins and for avoiding 100 losses, the Orioles don’t
get a “Homicide” quote: “You better calm yourself down before I haul
off and smack you upside your wide, wide head. We killed your husband.
And I ain’t your maid anymore b*tch. I’m your sister in crime!” I
apologize if you haven’t seen that movie. I apologize even more if you
have.

An so our revels now are ended. I and the other guys will certainly be recapping game 163 between the
Twins and Tigers and the playoff games too, but on some level, it’s just
not the same. The playoffs bring a bothersome importance to everything.
The kid of importance that saps this unimportant little daily recap feature of all
of its fun.

Beginnings are nice. We get them every April. Endings are glorious.
We’ll have one in a few weeks. Personally, however, I prefer the
middles. A full slate of near-meaningless late-July Wednesday night
games. The day-in-day out of it all. Broadcasts without extreme
closeups and storylines. People doing things both heroic and
ignominious every night that are basically forgotten by noon the next
day because, hell, there’s another ballgame in a few hours.

The
playoffs are great in their own way, but nothing beats everyday
baseball, and I am once again sad to see it go.

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
4 Comments

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.