Just as Roy Oswalt’s 1-1 pitch crossed the plate in the bottom of the fifth of Wednesday’s NLDS Game 4, a squirrel took off through the batter’s box, racing from the Cardinals dugout area across the field into the stands down the third-base line.
And Angel Hernandez was so distracted by the scene that he neglected to notice that Roy Oswalt had fired a strike.
The pitch was allowed to stand, but what was pretty clearly a strike on the inside corner was instead ruled a ball by Hernandez. Oswalt was upset initially because he thought Hernandez had ruled a dead ball; by the time he learned he was behind 2-1 in the count, he was clearly infuriated. After a discussion with Hernandez between the mound and the plate, he turned his head, mouthed “wow” and promptly got Skip Schumaker to hit a flyout to center for the second out of the inning.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.