Sorry, I just always wanted to say that.
But they did, and now we’re on to a Rangers-Giants World Series. It will be the fourth time in 90 years that two teams who have never won the World Series (at least in their current cities) have faced one another in the Fall Classic. 2002, 1992 and 1920 were the others (thanks Crank!). It will also guarantee our sixth straight year with a different champion in baseball and our ninth different champion in ten years. But, yeah, baseball has a parity problem.
As for the game: maybe the most exciting poorly-played game I’ve ever seen. Not terribly poorly, mind you. But there were so, so many runners left on base. So many missed opportunities. So many big name players who didn’t come up big. Mostly in the red pinstripes. Frequently Ryan Howard, it must be said. OK, maybe that’s not poor play, but the nervous edge I had about me all game was borne almost totally from the suspense of “when are one of these teams going to do something?!”
Finally it was Juan Uribe who broke through with an eighth inning home run. Not a rocket — indeed, a home run that would have been a fly out in many parks — but ’twas enough. ‘Twould serve.
At that point the excitement only ratcheted up even more. Tim Lincecum’s relief appearance in the eighth, in particular. I didn’t like the move on an objective level. He had thrown nearly 100 pitches 48 hours prior, and even if it was his day to throw between starts, there’s a difference between a bullpen side session and six outs from the World Series. Still, I desperately wanted the move to work because, hey, The Freak coming up big there would have been high drama. He didn’t, allowing two singles before giving way to Brian Wilson, but it was enough to pique our interest even more.
Wilson held. He bent in the ninth, allowing three men to reach — one being erased on a fielder’s choice — but locked down the pennant by retiring Ryan Howard looking. Which — with all due respect for the big man’s skills — was quite appropriate given how his postseason has gone.
The Giants win the pennant. They go home to a heroes’ welcome in San Francisco and a few days off before facing Texas in the World Series starting on Wednesday. Fantastic.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.