How quickly things change in the game of baseball.
Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez kicked off the top of the third inning with a bloop single to right-center field, Carlos Ruiz got hit by a pitch, then a bunt by Roy Halladay that should have been called foul was, for some reason, ruled fair.
An error in the next at-bat by Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff gave Shane Victorino second base and allowed both Ibanez and Ruiz to score. Huff should have had the routine groundball, but it bounced off his glove and traveled into shallow center field. 2-1, Phillies.
The odd half-inning was not over. Placido Polanco nearly got beaned by a high-and-tight fastball from Tim Lincecum, stared Lincecum down for a moment, then roped a single to left-center that gave Victorino an easy path toward home. 3-1, Phillies.
Halladay will take the mound in the bottom of the third inning with a two-run lead and the Giants don’t exactly have an explosive offense. Maybe the Phils can survive this NLCS Game 5 and push the seven-game series back to Philadelphia, just as the Yankees did Wednesday in the ALCS. Or, as so often happens, this matchup that has been billed as a “great pitcher’s duel” could turn into an all-out slugfest.
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.
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 . . .