With Eric Wedge gone and Bo Porter likely to be soon, the Pirates have narrowed down their list of potential managers to five: Dale Sveum, Jeff Banister, Ken Macha, John Gibbons and Carlos Tosca.
Gut reaction: Gibbons stands out on that list. Sveum is a career coach and minor league manager who, for whatever reason, didn’t seem to be taken at all seriously by the Brewers after his short stint as interim manager at the end of the 2008 season. Macha was far more interesting to them, but they just canned him. Banister is a longtime organizational solider with the Pirates, but if anyone thought of him as serious managerial timbre, wouldn’t he have gotten a look sometime in the last decade or so? Tosca was just hired by the Braves to be Fredi Gonzalez’s bench coach.
I always got the sense that Gibbons was a decent manager — he led the Blue Jays to a rare second place finish in the AL East one year — but there is the question about the multiple run-ins he had with players. On the one hand, that’s not very cool and it speaks to a difficult personality. On the other hand, each of the guys with whom Gibbons locked horns — Ted Lilly, Frank Thomas, Shea Hillenbrand — have had other difficulties and are thought of by at least some folks as difficult guys. Who knows. The team seemed to side with Gibbons on each of those occasions, but then again, the guy in charge of the team at the time — J.P. Ricciardi — has a reputation for being something less than a people person himself.
At the end of the day I keep coming back to the notion that the last thing the Pirates need is yet another amiable organizational guy, so maybe it’s worth taking a gamble on Gibbons. Maybe he can shake some people up. Maybe he’ll do much better setting a disciplined tone for young players like the Pirates have than he did with veterans on the Jays.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.