And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Marcus Thames celebrate.jpgYankees 11, Red Sox 9: Papelplosion.  The Yankees blew a 6-1 lead and found themselves down 9-7 nearly four hours and eight and a third innings into it when A-Rod hit a two-run homer to tie it and Marcus Thames hit a two-run homer to win it. Papelbon had a day off on Sunday, but one can’t help but wonder if that 2+ inning outing on Saturday night was still lingering in that right arm of his.

Rays 4, Indians 3: The game ended on a squeeze play in the 11th, which is pretty sweet. I didn’t see any of this, but I did watch their AAA teams play each other down in Columbus, with the Clippers beating the Durham Bulls 5-1 on the strength of a grand slam and a solo shot off the bat of Carlos Santana. That there is a young man who probably needs to be in the major leagues right now.  If you’re curious, here’s a picture of Columbus, Ohio’s Huntington Park with my bald head and sideburns, stage right, taken by Will.  Not bad for an iPhone.

Phillies 12, Pirates 2: I watched that Clippers-Bulls game with Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll, who was in town for Will Carrolly things. During the game I was complaining about Nate McLouth and made some reference to the trade with the Pirates that brought him to Atlanta in exchange for Charlie Morton. Will says something to the effect of “Morton throws hard.”  The score of this one flashed up on the out of town scoreboard. Then Will, after taking a thoughtful pull of his beer, says “didn’t say he threw well. Just hard.”

Padres 3, Giants 1: I guess the Padres just have the Giants’ number. That’s seven in a row this season for San Diego against the Giants.  Random game story factoid of the night: “Bruce Bochy, who still has an offseason home in suburban Poway, was
bummed because he might have to have his 16-year-old Labrador
euthanized.”

Diamondbacks 5, Marlins 1: Edwin Jackson is always good for pulling some otherworldly performance out of his back pocket amidst a string of terrible starts and last night was a fine example: eight shutout innings of 12-strikeout ball. Add Hanley Ramirez getting benched for not hustling after a ball he kicked out into the outfield and you have a night the Marlins would prefer to forget.

Reds 6, Brewers 3: Johnny Cueto follows up his one hitter with seven innings of one-run baseball (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 7K). From the game story: “A fan wearing a Reds batting helmet and a red shirt with a “1” on the
front danced in the second row behind the dugout when the team took the
field for warmups, yelling: “First place! First place! First place!” The
scoreboard made a point of emphasis to show the division standings,
drawing cheers.”  Glad to see Cincy acting like they’ve been there before. Sheesh.

Twins 8, Blue Jays 3: Justin Morneau went 3 for 4 with two homers a walk and four RBIs. Morneau is having an absolutely sick season, by the way. .375/.491/.710 with 11 homers and 29 RBI, which puts him on pace to [quickly figuring] . . . be totally awesome.

Mets 3, Braves 2: If you tell me that (a) the Mets are in town; and (b) Derek Lowe actually pitched OK, I would have bet between 50 and 75 dollars that the Braves would have won, but alas it was not to be. Mike Pelfrey had a good night and either bad luck or bad baserunning by the Braves got him out of a couple of jams that should have been more trouble than they were.

Rangers 4, Angels 3: Scott Kazmir gave up four runs and nine hits in seven innings in what was probably his best outing of the
season, even if it was in a losing cause. This was the first time these two teams have faced each other all year, which is rather astounding to me.

Cardinals 6, Nationals 2: The fact that the Cardinals scored four runs in the first inning probably means that Albert Pujols is going to be batting cleanup for the foreseeable future.

Royals 4, Orioles 3: An ugly game between bad teams in horrible weather. Ned Yost: “We have played the last three, four nights in muddy weather and it’s
been sloppy out there. I’m coming to find out we’re pretty
good mudders.”  I hear his mother was a mudder. Yeah, this baby loves the slop, loves it, eats it up. Eats the slop. Born
in the slop. His father was a mudder too.
 
Cubs 4, Rockies 2: A walkoff two-run homer for Aramis Ramirez in the bottom of the 11th.  Welcome to the party, pal.

Dodgers 6, Astros 2: John Ely has faced 84 guys in a row without walking anyone. Last night he threw first pitch strikes to 20 of the 25 guys he faced. Pitching coaches all over baseball are walking around their clubhouses today saying “why can’t you be more like Johnny?”

Athletics 8, Mariners 4: Gio Gonzalez on the Athletics breaking their five-game losing streak: “Sometimes I psych myself out. I didn’t even realize we
were in such a long losing streak.”  He later failed to add: “It feels ‘out there.’ A major rush.  I mean it doesn’t just feel ‘out there’ but it feels out there.”

White Sox vs. Tigers: Postponed:

Let the rain kiss
you.

Let the rain beat
upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you
a lullaby.

The rain makes still
pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes
running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a
little sleep-song on our roof at night–

And I love the rain.

— Langston Hughes, a man who, for all his talents, obviously wasn’t a big baseball fan.

La Russa steps down as White Sox manager over heart issue

tony la russa
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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CHICAGO — Tony La Russa stepped down as manager of the Chicago White Sox on Monday because of a heart issue, ending a disappointing two-year run in the same spot where the Hall of Famer got his first job as a big league skipper.

La Russa, a three-time World Series champion who turns 78 on Tuesday, missed the final 34 games with the underachieving White Sox. He left the team on Aug. 30 and doctors ultimately told him to stay out of the dugout.

La Russa has a pacemaker implanted in February and doctors later found another heart problem that he has not detailed.

“It has become obvious that the length of the treatment and recovery process for this second health issue makes it impossible for me to be the White Sox manager in 2023,” he said in a statement. “The timing of this announcement now enables the front office to include filling the manager position with their other offseason priorities.”

Chicago began the season with World Series aspirations but was plagued by injuries and inconsistent play. It was 79-80 heading into Monday night’s game against Minnesota.

“Our team’s record this season is the final reality. It is an unacceptable disappointment. There were some pluses, but too many minuses,” La Russa said. “I was hired to provide positive, difference-making leadership and support. Our record is proof. I did not do my job.”

Bench coach Miguel Cairo took over after La Russa stepped away. The White Sox showed a spark right after the change, winning 10 of 14. But they dropped eight straight in late September, dashing their playoff hopes.

La Russa, who is close friends with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, was a surprise hire in October 2020, and he directed the team to the AL Central title last year.

But the White Sox sputtered throughout much of 2022, and there were chants of “Fire Tony! Fire Tony!” at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“At no time have I been disappointed or upset with White Sox fans, including those who at times chanted `Fire Tony,”‘ La Russa said. “They come to games with passion for our team and a strong desire to win. Loud and excited when we win, they rightly are upset when we play poorly.”

All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson and sluggers Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert missed significant time because of injuries. Catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Yoan Moncada also had health issues, and they underperformed when they were on the field.

There were embarrassing breakdowns, too, like when the White Sox ran themselves into the first 8-5 triple play in major league history during a loss to Minnesota on July 4.

La Russa continued to be a lightning rod for fans who weren’t thrilled with his hiring in the first place. His lineups came under question as did his decisions in games.

Some fans chanted for La Russa’s dismissal following a strange call for an intentional walk to to the Dodgers’ Trea Turner despite a 1-2 count on June 9. Bennett Sousa had just bounced an 0-2 slider, allowing the runner to advance from first to second.

With the base open, La Russa chose to walk Turner even though there were two strikes. It backfired when Max Muncy smacked a three-run homer, propelling Los Angeles to an 11-9 victory.

Another moment that raised eyebrows happened early in the 2021 season.

During a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati, La Russa was unaware of a rule that would have allowed him to use Jose Abreu as the automatic runner at second base rather than closer Liam Hendriks in the 10th inning.

With a 2,900-2,514 record over 35 years with Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis, La Russa trails only Connie Mack on baseball’s career wins list. He moved past John McGraw last season.

But there were big questions about whether La Russa was the right person for the job when the White Sox hired him to replace Rick Renteria. He hadn’t filled out a lineup card since 2011, when St. Louis beat Texas in the World Series. There were doubts about how someone known more for his scowl than smile would mesh with a fun-loving team that had just delivered the White Sox’s first playoff appearance since 2008.

Then, shortly after his hiring, news surfaced of an arrest on misdemeanor DUI charges.

La Russa blew out a tire on the Lexus he was driving in a collision with a curb that February in Arizona, after going to dinner with friends. The case was filed on Oct. 28, one day before the White Sox announced La Russa’s hiring.

He ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving and was sentenced to one day of home detention, a fine of nearly $1,400 and 20 hours of community service.

La Russa also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Florida in 2007 after police found him asleep and smelling of alcohol inside his running sport-utility vehicle at a stoplight.

La Russa captured championships with Oakland in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011. The former big league infielder and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to win the World Series in the American and National leagues.

He got his first major league managing job at age 34 when the White Sox promoted him from Triple-A to replace the fired Don Kessinger during the 1979 season. He took over that August and led them to a 522-510 record over parts of eight seasons.

The 1983 team won 99 games on the way to the AL West championship – Chicago’s first playoff appearance since the 1959 Go-Go White Sox won the pennant. But La Russa was fired in 1986 by then-general manager Ken Harrelson after the White Sox got off to a 26-38 start, a move Reinsdorf long regretted.