And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Adrian Beltre home run.jpgRed Sox 11, Rays 3: I’m going to imagine the next Shaughnessy column: “Theo Epstein and his calculator cavalry wowed all the stat-butts eating Fruit Rollups in their step-dad’s carports by selling them on ‘run prevention.’  Well, from where I’m sitting, scoring 11 runs against the best team in baseball is not ‘run prevention.’ And what’s with Adrian Beltre going 4 for 6 with two homers, a triple and six RBI?  I thought he was there for his glove? Note to Theo: call me when you stick with a plan, because from where I’m sitting you’re just making this up as you go along.”

Mets 5, Phillies 0: The Phillies get shut out for the second game in a row, this time courtesy of Hisanori Takahashi and a trio of relievers. Word is that Charlie Manuel held a closed door meeting after the game. According to Shane Victorino,  Cholly simply told his team to “play with some intensity . . . no reaming. No yelling at anybody.” Good thing too, because if he did people would start filling up his comments section calling him a hater for doubting the Phillies’ greatness.  Oh, and don’t look now, Philly, ’cause something might be gainin’ on ya. As in, the whole NL East, which is within 3 games of y’all.

Yankees 1, Twins 0; Yankees 3, Twins 2: Yeah, I know the first one was technically yesterday’s game but it’s not like I’m going to go update the Wednesday ATH, so let’s just pretend that this was a doubleheader.  In game one Jeter hit a dinger that held up and threw in one of those patented jump-throw things he doesn’t need to do.  Andy Pettitte pitched a gem in the second one, getting the win when Nick Swisher hit the daylights out of one out to right field in the top of the ninth.  Mariano saved both of them because he’s less man than machine.

Reds 4, Pirates 0:  The Pittsburgh Pirates: when you absolutely positively have to get a shutout.  Seventh one against them this year. Three of them courtesy of the Reds. Last night it was Arroyo for seven and two-thirds.

Braves 7, Marlins 3: Tommy Hanson walked five dudes, but otherwise bounced back from his worst start as a major leaguer to allow two runs on four hits.  The Marlins had a 2-1 lead until the Bravos exploded for six runs in the seventh.

Angels 6, Blue Jays 5: If Bobby Abreu hadn’t made an error in the top of the ninth, the Angels wouldn’t have had to bat in the bottom of the ninth.  Yet if the Angels didn’t bat in the bottom of the ninth, he wouldn’t have had a chance to hit his game-winning single.  There are monks who spend their whole lives on mountaintops in silent contemplation and intense prayer trying to figure this kind of crap out, you know. That’s why baseball friggin’ rocks.

Athletics 6, Orioles 1: Brian Matusz allowed six earned runs in five innings. Adam Rosales was 3 for 4 with a homer and 4 RBI. From the game story: “The Orioles gave away Nolan Reimold bobbleheads to fans entering the ballpark, even though
Reimold was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on May 12.” That’s the saddest thing that has happened at Camden Yards since Robin Williams’ wife got shot down in the “Bop Gun” episode of “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

Astros 5, Brewers 0: Roy Oswalt: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9K and absolutely no reason to be toiling for this Astros team anymore.

Mariners 5, Tigers 4: A big two-run homer from Mike Sweeney followed by a two-run single from Josh Wilson gives the M’s a come-from-behind victory.

Royals 5, Rangers 2: Luke Hochevar allowed only two runs on six hits, striking out four and walking
none in eight innings.  We’ve seen flashes like this from him before. Here’s hoping he’s finally putting it together.

White Sox 5, Indians 4: Bobby Jenks allowed
three runs to score and had two runners sitting on base with nobody out.  But then Manny Acta decided that merry-go-round was spinning too fast and ordered a bunt which (a) gave the Sox something they hadn’t been able to get yet (i.e. an out); and (b) took the bat out of Shin-Soo Choo’s hands due to him being intentionally walked to fill the now-open first base. Jenks then struck out
Austin Kearns and got Russell Branyan to fly out and that was that.  Gee, if only they had one more out to play with, I’m sure they could have gotten the tying run home from third and lived to play on!  Sadly, there was absolutely nothing whatsoever that could have been done about it, what with the Moral imperative to bunt and all.

Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 3: Ubaldo does it again: eight innings of shutout ball, lowering his ERA to 0.88.  Just ridiculous.

Nationals 7, Giants 3: We’ve secretly replaced the fine pitching performance Tim Lincecum usually serves with Folger’s Crystals (4.2 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 5BB).

Padres 2, Cardinals 1: You wanna know how you do it? Here’s how, they score zero runs, you score one. They score one run in 13 innings, you score two! That’s the San Diego way!

Dodgers 8, Cubs 5: The game was delayed for 18 minutes in top of the fourth inning after a
nearby fire caused the lights to go out at Wrigley Field. This trick is known in the Cubs’ organization as “pulling a Mrs. O’Leary with a Vicki Lawrence twist” but it didn’t work this time.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.