Kimbrel Unit malfunctions, Cards beat Braves in 10

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Someone had better perform a level 2 diagnostic on the Kimbrel Unit’s positronic net, because the results it achieved last night were well outside normal operating parameters.

The Braves were up 3-1 on the Cards heading into the bottom of the ninth last night when Craig Kimbrel, perhaps the most automatic thing in baseball this year, was called into the game to close it out.  Things didn’t go according to plan, however. This is what happened:

  • Skip Schumaker singled;
  • Rafael Furcal walked;
  • Ryan Theriot walked; and then
  • Albert Pujols singled in two runs.

Two of these hitters didn’t have much business touching Kimbrel, but that’s baseball for you. As for Pujols, I officially join all of those crazy Brewers fans who hate Albert Pujols. You were right all along, people.

OK, that’s not fair, he was just being himself. But I’m watchin’ you, Albert. Watchin’ you real close.

Anyway, with the game tied they headed to the 10th because that’s what the rules say you have to do. After the Braves went down 1-2-3, Fredi Gonzalez called on Scott Linebrink, because the rule book also says that you can’t use your best available pitcher on the road in a tie game. And that’s a rule backed by science and geometric logic. Linebrink gave up singles to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, a sac bunt moved them up to second and third and then Nick Punto — the most dangerous man in baseball — hit a sac fly to center, scoring Holliday. Ballgame.

So, here we are: The Braves have a 6.5 game lead on the Cardinals in the wild card with 18 games to play for the Cards and 17 for the Braves.  I am not sweating yet. Not really. Like I said yesterday: if the Cardinals sweep, I sweat. If they don’t, the worst case is that the Braves keep that 6.5 game lead leaving St. Louis with 16/15 to play.  I think that’s insurmountable. At least I’m pretty sure it is.

It is, right? Please?

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.