A potential ninth-inning rally for the Rays was sabotaged in Thursday’s game against the Orioles when Evan Longoria was ruled to have passed Ben Zobrist on the basepaths on what otherwise would have been a double.
Down 6-2, the Rays had runners on first and second with none out and Longoria up. Longoria hit a long fly to left-center that barely escaped Adam Jones and Nate McLouth and rolled all of the way back into center field. Zobrist, who was on first, was unsure if it would be caught and headed back to first base to tag up. After the ball got away, Zobrist and Longoria were practically side-by-side running towards second, though Zobrist did get there first.
It appeared the end result of the play was an RBI double, with Longoria on second, Zobrist on third and Sean Rodriguez having scored. However, the umpires then called Longoria out for having overtaken Zobrist.
Whether Longoria in fact did that was never quite clear. From the Rays’ camera behind the action, it didn’t look like Longoria ever truly overtook him, but the angle wasn’t very good. It was also unclear how any of the umpires made the call when all seemed focused on the ball in the outfield. Regardless, it wasn’t the best of ideas for Longoria to try to keep pace with him.
After the play, Orioles closer Jim Johnson retired two of the next three batters to end the game at 6-3.
In what one can only hope is a temporary setback for Brian Roberts’ comeback bid, the Orioles second baseman left Thursday’s game in the ninth inning with a right hamstring injury.
Roberts said he felt a pop in his hamstring before diving headfirst into second base in the game against the Rays. He didn’t put any weight on the leg as he was aided off the field.
Roberts was 1-for-4 today and 5-for-12 on the young season. He was hurt on his first steal attempt of the year.
Assuming that Roberts lands on the disabled list, the Orioles will probably go to Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla at second base. They do have top prospect Jonathan Schoop available, but it’s doubtful they’d turn to him so soon. They actually have him slated to play shortstop this year after he spent most of last season at second base.
After Carlos Marmol’s shaky showing got him pulled from a save chance on Opening Day, the Cubs reiterated that he was still their closer.
Marmol, though, wasted no time in putting that to the test. Handed another 3-0 lead on Wednesday — thanks to a Nate Schierholtz homer providing two insurance runs in the top of the ninth — Marmol gave up a single, a walk and back-to-back RBI singles before finishing off the Pirates.
Manager Dale Sveum used both James Russell and Kyuji Fujikawa in relief of Marmol to close out a 3-1 game Monday, but the two fallbacks had already worked today, giving Marmol more rope than he likely otherwise would have received. Sveum did get Hisanori Takahashi up after the first run scored, but he stuck with Marmol after a visit to the mound from Chris Bosio.
Marmol escaped the jam by striking out Pedro Alvarez and inducing a double-play ball from Neil Walker. Both at-bats were pretty awful. Alvarez fanned on three pitches, the last being a slider in the dirt. Walker reached for a fastball that was outside and a bit high and, instead of going with it, tried to pull it. The result was an easy 4-6-3.
The problem for Marmol right now is that his slider isn’t diving like it once did. As a two-pitch pitcher with no command, he’s always relied on getting swings and misses on his slider. And right now, the pitch often isn’t tempting enough to chase. The Cubs can’t keep turning late leads over to him while he looks like this. Walker’s grounder may have bought Marmol a little more time to figure things out, but it’s obvious that Fujikawa is the guy the Cubs should be turning to in the ninth.
No one told Josh Collmenter and Mitchell Boggs that it’s too early in the season for games to be lasting past 3 a.m.
It took nearly 5 1/2 hours, but the Diamondbacks edged the Cardinals 10-9 in 16 innings Wednesday to claim two out of three in the opening series in Arizona. Cliff Pennington singled in Jason Kubel against a fatigued Fernando Salas to end it.
Salas was working into a third inning for just the third time in his career. The winning pitcher for Arizona, Josh Collmenter, pitched five innings out of the pen.
The Cardinals were ahead four times in the game, but never could make a lead stick. They were up 4-1 in the fifth, 7-5 in the sixth, 8-7 in the eighth and 9-8 in the 12th. Trevor Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs both took blown saves for the club. Boggs, who is acting closer with Jason Motte sidelined, blew his chance in the 12th.
Gerardo Parra, Martin Prado, Paul Goldschmidt and Pennington all had three hits apiece for the Diamondbacks. Parra, Martin Prado and Goldschmidt homered.
The Cardinals got a scare in the contest when Allen Craig, making his first outfield start of the year, injured a knee in a wall collision in right, but he was able to stay in. He finished the game back at first base.
Daniel Descalso had four hits for the Cardinals.
While the offense was very good, the obvious key for the Diamondbacks tonight was that they were never forced to turn to Heath Bell out of the pen. Collmenter was able to go five innings after throwing as many as four in a game this spring. Bell would have followed him to the mound, but the Diamondbacks wanted to stay away from him after he gave up two homers, retired just one of the six batters he faced and ruined a perfectly good relationship on Tuesday.
Tim Lincecum’s awful spring, in which he gave up 18 runs in 15 1/3 innings, only added to the Giants’ doubts about what they’d get from their two-time Cy Young winner this season. They’re probably no closer to figuring it out after Lincecum walked seven yet still defeated the Dodgers on Wednesday.
Lincecum surrendered just two runs in five innings, and both were unearned. The first came on a passed ball from Hector Sanchez. The second came on a sac fly following an error from Buster Posey at first base. Meanwhile, the Giants offense came through with five runs off Josh Beckett in the 5-3 victory.
The Lincecum-Sanchez pairing was a constant in the second half of last year, and while that wasn’t supposed to carry over in 2013, it was a convenient option tonight with normal first baseman Brandon Belt ailing. If the Giants decide that Lincecum and Sanchez need to stick together, then Belt could see time in left field to make room for Posey at first base.
Lincecum’s performance tonight made him the first pitcher since old Giants teammate Jonathan Sanchez to walk seven and allow no earned runs in a start. Sanchez did it against the Naitonals on April 30, 2011 when he allowed just one hit in five innings. Prior to that, Edwin Jackson walked eight in his no-hitter for the Diamondbacks on June 25, 2010.
Lincecum matched his career high for walks, which he established against the same Dodgers team just last September (again in a victory). His walk rate increased for the third straight year last season (90 BB in 186 IP).