Great piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today by Bernie Miklasz wondering what Albert Pujols really means when he says he wants to wait to sign an extension with St. Louis so he can make sure “he’s playing somewhere that’s competitive.” Bernie’s take: whaddaya mean? What team has been more competitive than St. Louis over the past decade? You got the Yankees, the Red Sox, and that’s kind of it, isn’t it? St. Louis is certainly in the upper tier of competitiveness, so what kind of commitment does Pujols really want?
Miklasz speculates that it may have to do with whether or not the Cardinals will give Jose Oquendo the managers’ job after Tony La Russa retires because (1) they are close; and (2) nobody was cooler in the 1980s than the play-every-position genius that was Jose Oquendo. OK, that last part is more my thinking than Albert’s, but I’m sure he’d agree.
Anyway, if I’m the Cardinals brass, I’m probably a bit peeved by this. Despite living in a small, relatively depressed city, the Cardinals always put a quality product on the field and do way more to keep the mojo flowing than a lot of teams in much bigger cities. They’d never get into a public spat with someone as important as Pujols over this, but you gotta have a lot of chutzpah to suggest that the Cardinals, of all teams, have something to prove in the commitment-to-winning department.
And yes, even someone as otherwise as admirable like Pujols is capable of chutzpah.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.
Pirates first baseman John Jaso hit for the cycle on Wednesday night against the Cubs, becoming the first Pirate to do so since Daryl Ward against the Cardinals on May 26, 2004. Jaso’s cycle is the first to be hit at PNC Park. It’s also the third cycle of the 2016 season, as Jaso joins Freddie Freeman and Rajai Davis.
Jaso singled in the second inning for his first hit. He smashed a three-run homer in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie. He hit an RBI double in the fifth to push the Cubs’ lead to 5-1. Then, in the seventh, Jaso hit an RBI triple to make it an 8-4 game.
Coming into Wednesday night, Jaso was hitting an adequate .259/.342/.384 with six home runs and 35 RBI in 416 plate appearances. He’s been limited mostly to right-handed pitching as the Pirates have used David Freese and Josh Bell at the position as well.