Andre Ethier is undisputed king of walk-off hits

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As Craig noted in his morning roundup, last night Andre Ethier hit a game-winning grand slam against the Brewers for his 11th walk-off hit since 2008.
Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com’s amazing Play Index, here’s the walk-off leaderboard during that time:

Andre Ethier     11
Kurt Suzuki       5
Miguel Tejada     5
Alfonso Soriano   4
Jorge Cantu       4
Jose Lopez        4
Kevin Youkilis    4
Mark Ellis        4
Prince Fielder    4
Robinson Cano     4



That’s pretty stunning. Ethier has more walk-off hits than any other two players combined since 2008. He had six last season alone, which is more than anyone else has from 2008-2010, and also had three in 2008 with two already this year.
Ethier is a very good player and off to a spectacular start this season, but obviously much of that walk-off success is due to opportunity. Last night, for instance, Ethier came up in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game. He basically had a walk-off hit served to him on a silver platter and, to his credit, took advantage with a grand slam to dead center.
“I don’t know what it is, for some damn reason I keep getting up there in that situation,” Ethier told the Los Angeles Times. “I can’t figure it out. I don’t know who else has that many opportunities to win games like that. The hairs stand up on your neck a little because you can feel the energy, you can feel the excitement in those situations.”
However, he hasn’t been particularly great in “close and late” situations in general since 2008, hitting .279 with a .486 slugging percentage compared to .294 with a .526 slugging percentage overall. All of which, in a way, makes what Ethier has done even more amazing. “I’ve managed some pretty good players, but the opportunities he’s had and as many times as he’s done it, I don’t remember anybody being as heroic as he’s been,” manager Joe Torre said.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.