Matt Treanor

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Royals 12, Angels 9 (13 innings): Fernando Rodney blew the save in the bottom of the ninth by allowing two runs. More inexcusable than the runs, however, is that he walked Jeff Francoeur in the process. Actually, he walked the bases loaded before Wilson Betemit doubled in the tying runs. Angels pitchers walked ten Royals in all which should be a felony of some kind. Skip ahead to the 13th inning and Matt Treanor wins it with a walkoff three-run homer. The Royals skip out of the gate with a 3-1 record. The Angels make it nice and clear that, no, they aren’t going to be doing much of anything this year.

Cardinals 2, Padres 0: Wow. After the spring he had, I was a bit worried about Jaime Garcia. Maybe he was actually “just workin’ on some stuff,” because yesterday he was fantastic tossing a four-hit shutout. The game took two hours and three minutes. I like quick games, but man, any shorter and you’re approaching “not getting your money’s worth” territory. Well, Cardinals fans won’t complain.

Rangers 5, Red Sox 1: Boom-boom-boom-boom, homers for Murphy, Kinsler, Napoli and Cruz, as the Red Sox pitching staff completed three straight games of getting shelled. I watched about half of this one on TBS, and I loved how Dennis Eckersley didn’t try to put a shine on it all by saying stuff like “the Red Sox just weren’t making their pitches” or whatever. He just came right out and said stuff like “man, John Lackey sure got shelled on Saturday, they just teed off on him.”  Kind of refreshing to hear commentators talk like you and I would if we were watching the game on the couch. Indeed, I’d love to see a game — just one game, as an experiment — in which the regular broadcasters were replaced by a couple of dudes just talking. As long as they weren’t total Neanderthals it could be fun.

Indians 7, White Sox 1: The Tribe finally figured out a way to silence the Chisox’ bats. Part of it was via the help of a triple play. It came on a diving catch of a pop bunt by Carlos Santana (who was playing first base), who then doubled the runners who were on first and second in a somewhat anti-climactic manner. I always find those plays awkward in that, as opposed to those exciting around-the-horn jobs, you sort of don’t realize that it’s a triple play until after it happened. But still, triple play, dude.

Dodgers, 7, Giants 5: A weekend the Giants would like to forget, partially because of the three losses to the Dodgers, but also because their defense was so ugly that it bodes seriously ill for the future. Seriously, I’m concerned that Aubrey Huff is gonna pull a Bump Baily and just friggin’ die out there in right.

Braves 11, Nationals 2: Jordan Zimmermann did OK in the start, but bad defense and poor relief pitching by the Nats turned this one from a close game to a blowout in the late innings. Three hits, including two doubles, for Martin Prado. Brian McCann had four RBI. Tim Hudson slid into home plate head first while wearing a warmup jacket to score the Braves’ third run, so that was fun.

Tigers 10, Yankees 7: The balls were flying out of Yankee Stadium like crazy. Both Miguel Cabrera and Jorge Posada had two homers, and Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Brennan Boesch each had one as well. Cabrera and Boesch each had 4 RBI, with the latter doing it on a 4 for 4 day. I didn’t see this one, but people were saying during the game that Phil Hughes velocity was pretty bad. Seems that the chatter from spring training may have something to it.

Athletics 7, Mariners 1: Gio Gonzalez picked up where he left off back in Phoenix, hurling seven innings of one-run ball and averting the sweep for the A’s. I’ll risk the ire of Gleeman by noting that Coco Crisp finished a homer short of they cycle. Which isn’t nearly as bad as noting that someone was a triple short of the cycle, but probably deserves some disapprobation. Hideki Matsui’s first hit of the day gave him a combined 2,500 hits between his career in Japan and the majors.

Reds 12, Brewers 3: Ryan Hannigan went 4 for 4 with two homers and the Reds complete the sweep. Cincy banged out 19 hits. They had the best offense in the National League last year. The Brewers had one of the worst pitching staffs. Not much seems to have changed.

Mets 9, Marlins 2: Remember all of that “Javy Vazquez will be way better off back in the National League East” stuff from over the winter? Nah, me neither (2.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 5 BB). The Mets take two of three to open the season, on the road no less. Thanks aplenty goes to R.A. Dickey who struck out seven in six innings.

Orioles 5, Rays 1: It was Zach Britton’s major league debut and he made the most of it, giving up one run on three hits in six innings with six strikeouts as 30 of his friends and family members looked on down in St. Pete. Just par for the course so far for the O’s this year, as they completed the sweep of Tampa Bay, allowing three total runs in the series. Every single time I was asked to opine on the Orioles chances this spring I started off by saying “well, you can never bank on young pitching,” but so far so good.

Pirates 5, Cubs 4: Ouch. Carlos Marmol was staked to a 4-3 lead and couldn’t close the deal, walking a guy and allowing a hit. A sac bunt — which in this case proved essential — moved the runners to second and third and then Pedro Alvarez drove them both in with an infield single. Wait, what? An infield single scored two?  Yep: Starlin Castro’s throw to try to get Alvarez pulled Carlos Pena off the bag and Pirates’ third base coach Nick Leyva didn’t hesitate to send Neil Walker from second and he beat the throw. That’s some sharp damn baseball right there, kids. When you’re the Pirates you got nothin’ to lose. Send the runner all season, Leyva. It won’t always work, but it will always be exciting.

Phillies 7, Astros 3: Roy Oswalt got the win against his old team as the Phillies complete the sweep. Cliff Lee got the win the day before. Halladay on Opening Day: no-decision. Slacker.

Twins 4, Blue Jays 3: Toronto made things dicey for Joe Nathan in the ninth, but the Twins held on to salvage the series. Edwin Encarnacion made two errors and already has three on the year. That should be fun to watch all season.

Diamondbacks vs. Rockies: POSTPONED:  It was in the 80s on Saturday in Denver and then this one was cancelled due to a combination of rain and snow. At least Denver weather isn’t boring. In other news, I had this feeling that if I Googled the term “Rocky Mountain rain” that something would come up. Maybe a deep album track from John Denver. Maybe an obscure brand of small batch whiskey sold primarily at tourist destinations. The actual result: a Rick Derringer album from 2009 that appears on, but which does not, strangely enough, appear on Derringer’s own website. Did Rick Derringer finally create an album so lame that he himself will not own up to its existence?  Oh well. “All American Boy” will always stand out. Seriously: it’s easily a top-10 “put on headphones, sit in a beanbag chair, play air guitar and just groove” kind of record. And it has to be a record, not a CD. Preferably one that older cousin of yours left at the house the last time he visited. You know, the one that went to jail back in ’83? Wonder whatever happened to him.

World Series umpiring crew announced. Hi, Joe West!

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 12: Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Chicago Cubs is ejected from the game in the ninth inning by umpire Joe West #22 at against the St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium on September 12, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crew for the World Series. John Hirschbeck is the crew chief. It’s his fifth World Series assignment, third as a crew chief.

A surprising name on the crew is Joe West. It’ll be his sixth World Series overall, but first since 2012. There had been chatter for several years that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series more often while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umpires. Most assumed West’s absence from the Fall Classic in recent years, despite his seniority, was a function of that. Maybe they’re still making merit a priority and maybe West has just improved? I’ll leave that for you to judge.

Anyway, here is the lineup of umps for Game 1. They will rotate after that, of course. If the series goes six games, Cowboy Joe will be calling the balls and strikes:

Home plate: Larry Vanover
1B: Chris Guccione
2B: John Hirschbeck
3B: Marvin Hudson
LF: Tony Randazzo
RF: Joe West
Replay Official for Games 1-2: Sam Holbrook (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)
Replay Official for Games 3-7: Larry Vanover (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)

World Series Preview: Forget the curses. Buckle up for a close Fall Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 5:  General view of Progressive Field  prior to the start of the Opening day game between the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays at Progressive Field on April 5, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s been a long time since either the Cubs or the Indians have won the World Series. Indeed, the last time either franchise stood as baseball champions, the concept of writing contrived articles trying to contextualize how long it has been since either franchise won the World Series had yet to be invented!

Those were dark times, indeed. It was a time when superstition stood prominent over reason and we were so backwards that we believed in black magic and curses and things. So glad we stand now, at the vanguard of human history, not believing in such nonsense any longer.

OK, I guess a lot of people still like that stuff. We’ll allow it for now, we suppose, and we’ll do our best to bite our tongues when someone who is smart enough to know better decides that curses about goats and 60-year-old trades and comparative anachronism have more to do with who will win the 2016 World Series than the relative merit of a bunch of guys born in the 1980s and 1990s do. Enjoy baseball however you need to.

In the meantime, we’ll be over here thinking about this year’s Fall Classic as a competition between two excellent teams who themselves are not likely thinking about history.

Let’s break ’em down:


The Cubs had the second best offense in the National League, but I prefer not to count the Coors-inflated Rockies’ offense against the Cubs. They scored 4.99 runs a game and hit 199 homers on the year. While that was a nice show of power, their real offensive strength was getting on base, leading the NL in on-base percentage at a .343 clip. The Cubs take their walks and bash the heck out of the ball. Other than the pitcher’s slot and, when he’s starting, the curiously and perpetually-slumping Jason Heyward, there are no easy marks here.

The Indians offense a bit of a different beast. They too were second in their league in run scoring, but were far down on the AL home run list. They were third in average, fourth in OBP and fifth in slugging. It was a pretty balanced attack overall, with good totals in most categories. Their key advantage over the Cubs — and everyone else in baseball for that matter — is on the base paths. The led the AL in stolen bases and had the lowest caught stealing percentage. They likewise shine when it comes to taking the extra base, going first-t0-third and that sort of thing. Not that they’ll have to rely on small ball, however: Cleveland has hit 11 homers in the postseason to the Cubs’ 12.

As is always the case, the DH rule will work to the AL team’s disadvantage. The Indians have the home field advantage but in 2-3 games in Chicago, they will have to sit either Carlos Santana or Mike Napoli while the pitcher bats, playing the other at first base. The Cubs, meanwhile, can add any bat they choose while in Cleveland. Some have suggested that maybe Kyle Schwarber will be that bat. Even if it’s not him, though, the NL team never loses a key player in the AL park.


The Cubs have had the deepest rotation in baseball all season long. Jake Arrieta won the Cy Young last year and Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester will likely both finish in the top three this year. John Lackey has been less-than-stellar this postseason, but he certainly is capable and experienced. The Cubs had the best pitching in the NL this year and it wasn’t particularly close. And that’s before you remember that they have Aroldis Chapman waiting to lock things down late.

As with offense, Cleveland’s pitching is a varied attack. Corey Kluber is an ace and has seemed to find another gear this postseason. Beyond him, however, things get kinda interesting due to injuries and inexperience. Trevor Bauer’s cut finger and the stitches thereon are question marks, but he’s had several days off now and should be OK for Game 2. Josh Tomlin, the Indians’ third starter, has had his moments but he is homer-prone. The X-factor for the Indians may be rookie Ryan Merritt, who was strong in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays. The Cubs aren’t as weak against lefties as a lot of teams, but they are more vulnerable against southpaws than righties, so Meritt’s slow junk which has not been heavily scouted as of yet might give them some trouble.

The real key for the Indians pitching, of course, is the bullpen. Particularly Andrew Miller, who manager Terry Francona has shown he will call on at virtually any time and whom he will ride for a couple of innings even on back-to-back days. With a couple of days off built in for postseason travel and the “there is no tomorrow” vibe of the World Series, look for Tito to call on Miller and closer Cody Allen early and often and look for the Indians pen to shorten games in a manner not seen in baseball for a long, long time. That is, if the Indians can snag early leads. Either way, Cleveland’s bullpen is clearly superior to Chicago’s. They’ve struck out 41 batters in 32.1 innings this postseason, with Miller being damn nigh untouchable.


A lot of the Indians’ improvement this season over last came by virtue of an improvement in their defense. Depending on which measure you use, Cleveland’s D was either excellent or merely good, but they were top five or ten by most metrics. The Cubs, meanwhile, were fantastic with the leather by every measure, leading all of baseball in both defensive efficiency and Defensive Runs Saved. If you’ve been reading this site for a while you know that we’re somewhat skeptical of a lot of defensive stats and aren’t super conversant in others. We do, however, give respectful, holistic nods to what both the stats and they eyeballs tell us and it’s hard to argue that Chicago has not been superior defensively in 2016. Neither team is likely to make major mistakes or blunders, but if one does, it could make a big difference because the odds of both teams showing up with iron gloves are extremely low.


Two of the best in the business go at it in this series. Joe Maddon has gotten more press than Terry Francona over the past couple of years, but Francona has built a Hall of Fame resume leading the Red Sox to two World Series titles and leading the Indians back to the postseason this year. Each are willing to be unconventional at times — Francona’s aggressive use of the pen has been notable this year — and neither shoot themselves in the foot. There are a lot of moving parts to a baseball game and any number of ways a team can win or lose, but it’s not likely that one of these teams prevail because either manager out-managed the other.


There is a consensus that this is the Cubs’ World Series to win. I tend to think they will as I tend to think they’re the better overall team, but it’s by no means a given. Partially because no possible outcome in any World Series is a given in light of the small sample size of games. The 1954 Indians won 111 games in a 154-game season and got swept out of the World Series, after all, and there are countless other examples of favorites losing and putative teams of destiny failing to fulfill theirs.

But it’s also the case that these two teams aren’t as unevenly matched as some have suggested. As we see above, the Cubs have the better offense, but the allegedly small-ball Indians have socked homers this postseason. The Cubs have a clear rotation advantage, but the Tribe’s bullpen has been a total game-changer. The Indians run like mad and could pressure those Cubs starters in ways no one has pressured them thus far in October. Each club has a fantastic manager. Anything can happen in a seven-game series and the Indians seem better prepared to give the Cubs fits than either the Dodgers or the Nationals did in the NL playoffs.

But if I have to pick one, I’ll go with the crowd and pick the Cubs. I think it’ll take everything they have however, and if the Indians do win this thing, it will by no means be an historic upset. For now, though: Cubs win in seven games.