Trailing 6-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers rallied for six runs against the White Sox bullpen to send the game into extra innings. They pushed across a bases-loaded run for the walk-off win in the 12th inning, reducing their magic number over the Indians in the AL Central to two.
Tigers starter Rick Porcello was solid through six innings, matching White Sox starter Chris Sale with zero after zero. In the top of the seventh, however, the White Sox pushed across two runs on a Jeff Keppinger double and a Gordon Beckham single. The Sox continued to tack on runs. Paul Konerko put his team up 3-0 in the eighth with an RBI single. In the ninth, Bryan Anderson hit a two-run double to center, and Marcus Semien followed up with an RBI ground-rule double to bring the score to 6-0.
White Sox reliever Nate Jones, who relieved Sale in the bottom of the eighth, took the hill in the bottom of the ninth looking for a quick exit against the division rival Tigers, but the Tiger offense had other ideas. Torii Hunter led off with a triple and promptly scored on Miguel Cabrera’s RBI single to center. Prince Fielder singled to put runners on first and second and no outs for Victor Martinez. Martinez doubled to right, knocking in Cabrera to make it 6-3. With Jones still in the game, Andy Dirks drove a fly ball to right-center for a three-run home run, putting the Tigers within a run at 6-5.
Finally, Jones was replaced with Addison Reed. Unfortunately for the Sox, Reed couldn’t find the strike zone. Omar Infante walked, then advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Reed then walked Alex Avila and Austin Jackson to load the bases. Hunter lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to push across the tying run. Reed then walked Cabrera to re-load the bases before being pulled for lefty Donny Veal. Veal retired Fielder to escape the jam.
In the 12th, walks continued to hurt the White Sox bullpen. Don Kelly, pinch-hitting for Cabrera who left with an injured groin, walked to lead off the inning against Jake Petricka. Fielder grounded out, but moved Kelly to second in the process. Petricka intentionally walked Martinez, then unintentionally walked Dirks. Finally, Infante reached on an infield single to push across Kelly for the walk-off 7-6 victory. Quite an exhilarating final four innings, as you can see in the game graph on FanGraphs.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.
We heard earlier this week that Marlins television analyst Tommy Hutton was let go after 19 seasons on the job. By all accounts, he’s well-liked and respected, so it smelled a little fishy with a team that has owner Jeffrey Loria calling the shots. Well, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was told by a source close to the Marlins that Hutton was let go because he was “too negative.”
Jackson was also able to get in touch with Hutton, who provided some details about how things went down.
“I know there were times I was negative, but I thought those times were called for,” he said. “Ninety percent of what I said was positive. I tried not to be a homer, but you could tell I wanted the Marlins to do well.”
After being told that his salary wasn’t a factor in the decision, Hutton suspected that his candid, blunt analysis might be the impetus for his ouster.
So after learning his fate on Monday, he asked that question – whether they thought he was too negative — to both a Fox producer (at a meeting at Starbucks) and the Marlins’ vice president/communications (by phone).
He said the question was met with silence by both executives.
“I couldn’t get a yes or a no,” he said.
Hutton said there were three incident in recent years where he was told the Marlins were uncomfortable with something he said. He disclosed one example where he was exasperated at the ballpark’s dimensions after former catcher John Buck flew out to the warning track for the final out of a game. He was told by a Marlins vice president after the game that Loria prefer he not talk about the ballpark’s dimensions. Of course, the team is moving in the fences this winter.
To be clear, Hutton said he was told it was a “mutual decision” between the Marlins and FOX to let him go, but Jackson’s source hears that the concern about his “negativity” came from the team.
Hey, do you know the best way to prevent “negative” talk about your team? Fielding a winning baseball team without a dysfunctional ownership and front office. Crazy idea, I know, but it could be cool?