The only downside to Dallas Braden’s perfect game yesterday is that we narrowly missed out on a chance to have him once again bring the 209 noise about respect and the unwritten rules and all of that jive.
The scene: fifth inning, nobody out, Evan Longoria at the plate. He attempts to reach on a drag bunt. Bunt goes foul, life goes on, Longoria ends up going down on strikes.
Braden kept his cool about it, but I can’t help but think that he was seething inside about someone trying to break up his no-no with a bunt. Not doing that sort of thing is one of the unwritten rules, you know.
Just ask Bob Brenly. He was the Diamondbacks manager back in 2001 when Curt Schilling had a perfect game going against the Padres in the eighth inning. Padres catcher Ben Davis laid down — or rather, popped up — one of the uglier bunts you’ll ever see, but the ball managed to elude second baseman Jay Bell just long enough for Davis to reach. The Diamondbacks freaked out, with Brenly calling the move “chicken” after the game and saying “Ben
Davis is young and has a lot to learn. That was just uncalled for.”
That set off a nice little controversy about whether it’s kosher to break up a no-hitter with a bunt. My memory has it that Brenly’s position was a minority one and that at the time most people were of the view that an opposing team can and should do everything in its power to win the game. That game was 2-0 at the time and the Padres and Diamondbacks were tied for first place, so I was totally cool with the bunt attempt.
I haven’t seen anyone complaining about Longoria’s attempt yesterday, but it was 4-0 at the time, which I suppose makes it a tad less defensible. Of course, it was also earlier in the game, so that makes it a tad more defensible.
My guess is that even hardcore unwritten rules guys would have a tough time criticizing Longoria’s bunt attempt. But the day is still young and, to my knowledge, no one has thrust a microphone into Bob Brenly’s face about it yet.
In the end, the Mets’ march into the playoffs played out just how they imagined: three innings of a Bartolo Colon perfecto, four combined innings of one-run ball from five different relievers, a James Loney home run. Well, maybe it looked a little different when they drew it up.
Colon guided the Mets through five innings for his 15th win of the year, striking out six and giving up a two-run homer in the fifth. Behind him, the Mets combined for five runs off of RBI base hits from T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes, finding an edge with Loney’s go-ahead homer in the sixth and a bonus RBI single from Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth inning. Despite a pair of well-placed home runs by Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf, the Phillies found themselves in scoring position just twice and were unable to close the two-run gap to tie the game.
The Mets’ 5-3 win over the Phillies clinched their spot in the postseason, sans tiebreaker. They also secured home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild card game, during which they’ll face either the Cardinals or the Giants. On Friday, the wild card winner will advance to the Division Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
As MLB.com’s Jeff Passan and Joe Trezza simultaneously pointed out, it will be an unconventional playoff run for the Mets, who approach October without Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Neil Walker, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, or Ben Zobrist. Now, if ever, seems like an appropriate time for some champagne.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.