Angels DH Raul Ibanez joined the 2,000-hit club in a big way in Saturday night’s game against the Mets. With closer Jose Valverde on the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning to protect a 6-3 Mets lead, the Angels mounted a two-out rally. David Freese singled, then Erick Aybar walked to bring up the 41-year-old Ibanez. Ibanez took a ball, then took Valverde deep to right-field for a game-tying three-run home run to tie the game at six apiece.
In case you think the scene sounds familiar, you’re right. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS, Valverde (then with the Tigers) served up a game-tying two-run home run to Ibanez (then with the Yankees) to tie the game at four-all. History seems to have repeated itself.
With nine more runs batted in, Ibanez will become the 88th player in baseball history with 2,000 hits, 300 home runs, and 1,200 RBI in his career.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.
The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.