The Orioles sweeping the Sox is not "humiliating," so just cut it out


Matsusaka hangs head in shame.jpgI’m not gonna say that the Red Sox’ sweep at the hands of the Orioles wasn’t six kinds of bad for Boston because it was, but the level of fretting I’ve read about it since yesterday is getting out of hand. Take this post from WEEI’s Alex Speier. If you didn’t know any better you’d think that the Sox were swept by someone from the Carolina League or something.

Baltimore is described as “the lowly Orioles,” and “easy marks” who everyone thought would provide “three easy wins.”  The article laments the fact that the Red Sox could not “manhandle” or “annihilate” an Orioles team that is on par with a “brutally bad” Royals team from 2006. The sweep is referred to as “an alarming turn of events” and “a humiliating series of games” which provides a “dark commentary” on
the Red Sox’ season.

I’m not trying to pick on Speier here — his is merely representative
of any number of articles I’ve seen and, rhetoric aside, his analysis is spot-on — but isn’t this laying it on a bit thick? Is it not possible that Baltimore isn’t as bad a team as their record thus far indicates and that Boston isn’t as good as their preseason press assumed?

More generally it’s worth noting that this is baseball, and no one “manhandles” or “annihilates” anyone in this game. Even the best teams you tend to see in any given year win less than two out of every three games, and every World Series champ in living memory has dropped a series on the road to a division rival.

Which, by the way, is one of the reasons baseball is cool. Football has popularized the “any given Sunday” thing, but every year there’s a team or two in the NFL that buzzes through the season and for whom a single loss to a lesser team truly does represent some “dark commentary.” It’s in baseball where anything cab happen on a given night — or three given nights in a row — and often does.

Because of this it makes little sense to characterize this weekend’s series in the way I’m seeing it characterized.  A characterization, I may add, that is profoundly disrespectful to an Orioles team that, though it has struggled early, possesses a great deal of talent.

ALDS, Game 2: Astros vs. Royals lineups

Johnny Cueto Royals
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Here are the Astros and Royals lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Kansas City:

2B Jose Altuve
RF George Springer
SS Carlos Correa
LF Colby Rasmus
DH Evan Gattis
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Chris Carter
C Jason Castro
CF Jake Marisnick

SP Scott Kazmir

Carlos Gomez remains out of the lineup with an intercostal injury, so Marisnick makes another start in center field after going 2-for-4 with standout defense in Game 1.

SS Alcides Escobar
2B Ben Zobrist
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
3B Mike Moustakas
C Salvador Perez
LF Alex Gordon
RF Alex Rios

SP Johnny Cueto

Royals manager Ned Yost sticks with the same lineup as Game 1, which isn’t surprising given that he trotted out the same lineup for basically the entire postseason run last year. Cueto gets the ball after Yost chose Yordano Ventura for Game 1 duties.

Mariners fire manager Lloyd McClendon

Lloyd McClendon

Most new general managers like to bring in their own manager and Jerry Dipoto is no different. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that Dipoto has decided to fire manager Lloyd McClendon, who was brought in by Seattle’s old front office regime two offseasons ago and has a 163-161 record.

McClendon is under contract for 2016 and met with Dipoto this week, saying all the right things afterward about wanting to remain on the job and work together. Ultimately, though, McClendon has never drawn particularly positive reviews as a manager and Dipoto no doubt has some specific favorites in mind to replace him. Divish names Tim Bogar, currently a special assistant with the Angels after being brought into that role by Dipoto, as a “favorite” for the job.

Divish notes that Dipoto may have been even more inclined than most new GMs to bring in his own guy to manage because reportedly losing a power struggle against Mike Scioscia led to his departure from the Angels earlier this season. In seven total seasons as a big-league manager McClendon has a .451 winning percentage and zero playoff appearances.

ALDS, Game 2: Rangers vs. Blue Jays lineups


Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Toronto:

CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mitch Moreland
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
2B Rougned Odor
C Chris Gimenez
3B Hanser Alberto

SP Cole Hamels

Adrian Beltre is out of the starting lineup after leaving Game 1 with what appeared to be a significant back injury, leaving Hanser Alberto to fill in at third base. With a right-hander on the mound Mike Napoli goes to the bench and Mitch Moreland starts at first base, and manager Jeff Banister also switched up the batting order a bit without Beltre in the No. 3 spot. Robinson Chirinos homered in Game 1, but he takes a seat in Game 2 so that Chris Gimenez can catch Cole Hamels.

LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Chris Colabello
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar

SP Marcus Stroman

Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista are both in the starting lineup after leaving Game 1 with injuries, which is particularly good news in Donaldson’s case because he suffered a potentially serious head injury sliding into second base. Toronto’s only change from Game 1 is subbing Chris Colabello for Justin Smoak at first base with a left-hander on the mound. There’s right-handed power all over the place, so Hamels’ changeup may be the key to the entire game.