Jim Tracy didn’t mince words about the Ubaldo Jimenez-Troy Tulowitzki thing from yesterday:
“It’s the most gutless act I have seen in 35 years of professional baseball. I have lost all respect for him. To do something like that and walk down off the mound, and if there’s any suggestion whatsoever that the ball got away, I don’t want to hear any of that (expletive). He intentionally threw at him. He should be suspended. I am going to be very disappointed if he doesn’t get suspended. He deserves to be”
I don’t know about “gutless” — a lot of behavior people call cowardly actually takes a lot of dumbass and misguided bravado of a sort — but this is low rent. But it’s not unprecedented or anything. Guys settle scores like this — including ones based on pissy little media wars — all the time. I think the gold standard for this may be Jose Mesa drilling Omar Vizquel every single time he faced him for years following Vizquel slamming Mesa for blowing the 1997 World Series in his autobiography.
Anyway, even if I disapprove of Jimenez’s stunt — throwing at guys intentionally is the worst — I think the most gutless part of it was the standard “the ball got away from me” stuff after the game. They all say that because it helps form the basis of their appeal after they get disciplined, but gosh, at least give a no comment here. Everyone knows what was going on.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.