I had all kinds of fun yesterday watching that gonzo Angels-Tigers game. But really, no one distinguished themselves once it got all ugly. For those who missed it:
- Magglio Ordonez may or may not have shown up Jered Weaver by posing for a home run after he hit it. I actually buy Ordonez’s argument that he was merely watching to see if it went foul — that was my thought as I watched it live — but Weaver obviously felt differently.
- Carlos Guillen then really did pose (and preen and strut and generally act like an ass) after his home run off Weaver.
- Weaver then did the absolutely inexcusable in throwing the next pitch at Alex Avila’s head. Really, no excuse whatsoever. You could end a guy’s career with that kind of crap. Or worse. If I was in charge I’d suspend Weaver 20 games for that.
- Erik Aybar bunted in an effort to break up Verlander’s no-hitter. This is a fun one. On the one hand, yes, it’s an alleged violation of the unwritten rules to do this. And maybe I agree if it’s a 9-0 game, but this was a close game and Aybar came around to score, so no worries. Except, isn’t it possible that the play can both be defensible against charges of an unwritten rule violation but also be kind of a dick move? I bet the Angels wanted to mess with Verlander and get a guy on base and were content to do both at the same time. So while I don’t care if he bunted, let’s not pretend that it was a purely tactical move.
- Oh, and Aybar’s “reached on an error” should have been a single. Only a hometown official scorer gives Verlander a throwing error in that situation. Didn’t matter given that the no-hitter was broken up on a clean single, but it’s still worth noting.
- And of course Aybar threw an elbow at Verlander as he crossed home plate.
Add in all of the in-game and post-game beefing from these guys — I counted at least three F-bombs yelled from players during the game — and we have a game in which everyone came off badly.
The worst thing of all, though? These two teams don’t play each other again until next year. Sigh.
Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.
While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.
The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.
Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.