And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 1, Braves 0: All I can say at this point is woe be unto whoever has to face Hamels, Halladay and Oswalt in the playoffs. I suppose it still could be the Braves in the NLCS, but I’d just not prefer to think about that at the moment. A day off and six games against the Nationals and Marlins sounds just lovely right now.

Oh, and yesterday I mentioned things that will prey on my mind all winter. Here’s another one: The Phillies added Roy Oswalt at the trading deadline. The Braves added Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel, and then lost Chipper Jones. That’s an even exchange.

Padres 3, Dodgers 1: And the NL West see-saw continues, with the Padres back in first place. Miguel Tejada smacked his 300th homer. It feels like whoever gets to play the Dodgers last will win this thing, because they haven’t put up a fight in weeks, it seems.

Cubs 2, Giants 0: The Cubs have won seven of eight. Mike Quade: you’re passing the audition. The Giants win games nicely. But when they lose, boy do they lose. Four of their last five losses were shutouts.

Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 4: Colorado continues to fail to take care of business, and now find themselves three games back of San Diego. This one was particularly rough: Ubaldo Jimenez was staked to a 4-0 lead before he threw his first pitch. He couldn’t make it past the fourth, giving up five runs on six hits. Jim Tracy said he’s “mentally out of whack.” Maybe he’s just tired.

Rays 7, Yankees 2: After a rain delay knocked out AJ Burnett, Joe Girardi felt like the best way to win this one was to send out Royce Ring, Dustin Moseley, Chad Gaudin and Jonathan Albaladejo — four guys who are highly unlikely to find themselves on the postseason roster. Whatever, Joe.

Twins 5, Indians 1: I’m not going to say that the Indians have packed it in for the season, but when you get beat this badly by a bunch of hungover second stringers, you may not exactly have your head and heart in the game.

Marlins 7, Mets 5: Florida jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first and then held on. Jon Niese was all over the place for the Mets.

Red Sox 6, Orioles 1: A three-run homer and four RBI for Big Papi and a strong outing from John Lackey snap the Sox’ skid. And hey: a scoreless ninth for Papelbon. Miracle of miracles.

Pirates 11, Cardinals 6: Since taking over first place in that kicky and fighty series with the Reds in August, the Cardinals are 3-20 against teams with losing records. That’s absolutely astonishing. And if they lose four more games than they win before the season is out, they too will have a losing record. Which is even more astonishing given the talent on this team.

Brewers 13, Reds 1: Given that the Cards’ loss brought the Reds’ magic number down to three, this shellacking probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. And there’s a bright side: seven or eight innings during which the outcome was not in doubt almost certainly gave Jeff Brantley ample time to talk about ice cream sundaes, barbecue, chilli dogs, professional wrestling and all of that stuff that makes me simultaneously love and loathe him as a radio guy. Just wish I had thought to tune in.

Mariners 6, Blue Jays 3: Jose Lopez went off for three homers, which is more air support than most Mariners starters get in a month.  From the game notes: “Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield and bench coach Nick Leyva
said they will apply to replace the departing Cito Gaston as Toronto manager.”  I like the use of the word “apply.” I picture the job vacancy being posted on the bulletin board above the coffee pot in the break room. I also picture a couple of bitter lifers in a table in the corner grumbling about how “they only post that internally because they have to. It’s all politics, man.”

Tigers 4, Royals 2: Miguel Cabrera got a leadoff single one inning. It was his only hit of the game. He had no other big moments or any RBIs. After the game, Johnny Damon said “Without him, we are probably in the cellar in our division. That’s how good he is.”  Somebody got the talking points!

White Sox 4, Athletics 3: Hey, the Sox won a game! They were down 3-1 in the eighth when Juan Pierre stole home to make it 3-2. Then a walk, a fielder’s choice, a single, a single and a double made it 4-3. Nice comeback for a team that has looked beat for the past two weeks.

Nationals 4, Astros 3: The game story makes an early, prominent mention of the fact that the Nats drew only 12,000 or so for this game.  I’m reading that 70s baseball book, and there is constant mention of teams — even good teams or teams with rich histories and deep fan bases — drawing pathetically by today’s standards. Things like the Yankees getting 19,000 on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium and stuff like that. The Nats’ 12,000 and change was roughly what the Cubs drew on average for the entire 1974, 1975 and 1976 seasons in Wrigley. Just a totally different era.

Rangers 2, Angels 1: Jeff Francoeur: secret weapon. He can take a hit-by-pitch. He can score on a passed ball in extra innings. He can find so many ways to beat you.  OK, not fair: he did hit a double to get into position to score on that passed ball.  The Rangers magic number is four heading into a four game series with Oakland, so this could all be done Friday night if everything breaks right.

Edwin Encarnacion: “I think [the Blue Jays] got too hasty in making their decision.”

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.

Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:

“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’

Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.

Sammy Sosa compares himself to Jesus Christ

Sammy Sosa
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I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.

The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.

Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.

Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:

It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”

At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.

I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .