It went into the wee, wee hours. There were 40 strikeouts between the two teams. And then it all ended with the Tigers relying on their bullpen and the Mariners relying upon the foot speed of Justin Smoak.
Not exactly a strength against strength situation.
The game-ending play: Smoak on first, Dustin Ackley at the plate facing Joaquin Benoit. Ackley doubles to right field. Smoak is on his horse! His horse suffered shrapnel wounds at the Battle of the Vicksburg and is just barely holding on, but Smoak is on it! Torii Hunter fields the ball, relays to Prince Fielder who relays to Bryan Pena. IT’S GONNA BE CLOSE!
Oh, wait. It wasn’t particularly close at all, but it still was fairly spectacular.
Look, I don’t know why third base coach Jeff Datz sent Smoak. It was really, really late so maybe he was tired. Maybe he thought Smoak had another gear. An old riding lawn mower has another gear of course, and that doesn’t make it fast, but maybe that’s what he was thinking. I’m sure there have been worse sends in the history of the game. None come to mind at the moment, but there had to have been worse sends. They’ve been playing baseball for, like, 150 years. As I sit here now, I’m gonna say that it was the worst send since Walter Donovan made those soldiers go into the cave without Henry Jones’ Grail diary to help navigate the Three Trials.
But don’t get too down about it M’s fans. Here’s Dave Cameron to put it all in perspective for you:
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.
Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.
At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.
However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:
That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.
Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.