And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Giants 15, Brewers 2: Observations regarding this bloodbath: (1) Brian Sabean spent the first month of the season talking about how Buster Posey wasn’t ready for the bigs yet. Yeah: 4 for 4, 2 HR, 6 RBI; (2) Lost in the carnage is the fact that Tim Lincecum pitched a whale of a game: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 10K; (3) As has become habit, I spent a third of my latest HBT Extra segment slamming something (i.e. the Giants’ lack of offense), only to have those criticisms contradicted by pesky fact in short order; and (4) it’s sad to see Trevor Hoffman used as a mopup man.

Reds 3, Mets 1: Bronson Arroyo — or, as I shall henceforth call him, Captain America — shuts down the Mets over eight innings. Brandon Phillips had a homer and an RBI double and flashed some nice leather for the Redlegs. He also was interviewed by NBC’s own Tiffany Simons the other day. In recent weeks she’s interviewed Evan Longoria, Jose Reyes, Kevin Youkilis and now Phillips. They all had really excellent games within 24 hours of the interview going down. Coincidence? Before you answer, know that she interviews me every week and I keep shuffling through life as though someone has cauterized my synapses and wrapped my hands in thick bandages, so maybe her powers only work on mega-athletes.

Marlins 4, Dodgers 0: Josh Johnson was, once again, spectacular, shutting out the Dodgers over eight innings and striking out eight. His ERA, by the way, is 1.70 — way lower than Ubaldo Jimenez’s — but he’s getting about a fraction of the press Jimenez continues to get.

Tigers 4, Orioles 2: You’re saving your really good lies for some smarter cop, is that it?
I’m just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait until the real guy gets
here. Wait until that big guy comes back. I’m probably just his
secretary. I’m just Montel Williams. You want to talk to Larry King.
I’ve been in murder police for ten years. If you’re going to lie to me,
you lie to me with respect. What is it? Is it my shoes? Is it my
haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don’t you ever lie to me like
I’m Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams!

Sorry. Once a year I crack at the sameness of Baltimore Orioles recaps and feel the need to go all Detective Munch on them. I wish you didn’t have to see that, but I can’t control it. There are days I wish I could be transported back to 1970 and I could write glowing praise about the latest Orioles victory, but that ain’t gonna happen.  As it is, the Orioles aren’t good enough for that and, sadly, they’re not interesting enough for me to even mock like I sometimes do to the Pirates or the Nats in recent years.  They’re just depressing team that makes me reach back 16 or 17 years for TV quotes to dull the pain.

Braves 7, Phillies 5: A couple of bombs from Martin Prado + a three-run double in the course of a six run inning for Brian McCann = the Phillies in a flat spin. Pfun Pfact, courtesy of Mac Thomason: Phillies starter Jamie Moyer made his major league debut when Braves starter Kris Medlen was nine months
old.

Nationals 7, Padres 6: Adam Dunn slams three home runs. The Donkey is on pace for yet another damn spectacular season and yet the first thing out of most people’s mouths when they talk about him is how he strikes out all the time.

Rays 6, Red Sox 4: The Rays sweep the Bosox behind David Price, who picked up his 12th win. Weirdness alert: Joe Maddon had Matt Garza close the game. No real explanation in the game story I read other than he only threw three innings in his last outing. Of course, he threw 84 pitches in those three innings, so it’s not like he was totally fresh.  Whatever. If Casey Stengel could use Whitey Ford in relief I suppose Joe Maddon can use Matt Garza there once in a while.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 5: Jose Bautista hit an inside the park homer which (altogether now!) was the result of poor defense.  Delmon Young hit a homer in the losing effort. You know, between Garza being relegated to the bullpen in Tampa and Young hitting bombs and being talked about as an All-Star, can we now say that the Twins won that trade?

No, of course we can’t, but I did want to see who was paying attention.

Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 3: This, from the game story, is a rather startling stat: Arizona had 10+ strikeouts for the
fifth straight game. The AP writer calls it Arizona’s “whiff-a-palooza,” which I rather like.

Royals 7, Mariners 3: Down by a run in the eighth, no outs, runners on first and second, Ned Yost ordered Alberto Callaspo to bunt. He couldn’t get the bunt down, however, so with the count 3-2 he swung away and hit a three-run homer. There’s a lesson in there that I’m guessing Ned Yost will never learn.

Rockies 8, Cardinals 7: It’s probably time to start worrying, Cardinals fans. For the second straight night St. Louis blows a lead late. This one wasn’t as dramatic — what could be? — but the Cards had a 5-0 lead in the fifth and a 7-4 lead in the seventh, but once again the pen couldn’t seal the deal.

Yankees 6, Athletics 2: The A’s simply didn’t show up for this series. They even made A.J. Burnett look good last night (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER).

White Sox 5, Angels 2: The Sox have now passed Minnesota and sit in second place, a mere game behind the Tigers.

Astros 6, Pirates 3: Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman hit homers. This is not a repeat from Tuesday night. Astros’ starter Brian Moehler had to leave the game with a groin injury. No matter how many times I write the words “groin injury” — which I estimate has been 1,952 times since I began blogging — it still makes me wince.

Rangers 4, Indians 3: Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogo stick! Would the AP writer stop obsessing on Josh Hamilton’s “home hitting streak?”  Quick — how many of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 games were home games? If you can’t answer that without looking it up, this little statoid is meaningless drivel.  In other news, Michael Young is one of the guys in the “final vote” thing for the All-Star Game. According to the game writeup “the Rangers have enlisted Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten” in the effort “with Witten encouraging
fans to vote online for Young.” Does this really motivate anyone? I mean, I know people get Cowboys crazy down there, but if a Cowboy asked you to jump off a bridge would the Metroplex do it?  Wait, don’t answer that.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.