Sure, the Giants’ win over the Reds had an assist from a bad call by an ump, but it still counts as a ninth inning rally. As does the Heath Bell meltdown Aaron described earlier.
But those weren’t the only two. The Rays turned their caps inside out or whatever the hell passes for a rally cap these days and pulled victory from the jaws of defeat in the ninth themselves, beating the Angels 4-3.
The Angels led 3-2 as the bottom of the ninth began. But then B.J. Upton singled and Joe Maddon sent Brandon Allen up to pinch hit for Jose Molina. The result: Ball, ball, strike, strike, BOOM. A 443-foot homer to win the game. Jordan Walden never even recorded an out.
The Angels are now 6-13. They are nine games back of the Rangers, for the largest deficit of any team in baseball.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.