Kudos to Dusty Baker for using his best relief pitcher in the eighth inning. But, sadly, it did not work last night as the previously invincible Aroldis Chapman proved, um, vinceable, giving up a lead and paving the way for the Tigers 7-6 victory in Cincinnati last night.
The first two hitters reached against Logan Ondrusek in the eighth inning, so Dusty called on Chapman with nobody out. It went like so:
- Brendan Boesch singled to right;
- Matt Young was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run;
- Austin Jackson hit a ground rule double, scoring two more;
- Quintin Berry walked;
- Chapman threw a wild pitch and a fourth run scored.
Chapman settled down after that, retiring Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young, but the lead and the game was gone by that point.
No one is perfect. And the fact that Dusty felt he had to go to Chapman in that situation probably speaks of his confidence in the rest of his pen every bit as much as it speaks to the coolness of using your best reliever in a tough spot. But no, it was not Chapman’s finest hour last night.
Last week as the Manny Machado trade drama was playing out, I and a lot of other people suspected as early as Monday and into Tuesday morning that the Orioles already had a deal in place for Machado and that they were just keeping it under wraps in order to get through the All-Star break (a) without any awkwardness; and (b) with the Orioles still having an All-Star representative. It would be Wednesday morning before the Orioles would make it official.
Turns out we were wrong. Machado was actually traded before Monday morning. Basically anyway, with the Orioles going so far as to pull him out of last Sunday’s game early because of it. And, of course, they lied about it. From Bob Nightengale of USA Today who spoke with Machado following his debut weekend with the Dodgers:
It was a week ago Sunday when Machado homered for the 24th time this season, the Orioles playing the final game of the first half against the Texas Rangers, when he was removed after the fourth inning after a 26-minute rain delay.
The Orioles told reporters after the game it was simply for precaution, making sure Machado didn’t get hurt playing on a wet field.
They may have fibbed to everyone else, but they told Machado the truth.
“That’s when they had told me I had been traded,’’ Machado said. “They said they pretty much had a deal done. They just wanted to wait until after the break to get all of the medical stuff done.
That didn’t stop all of the usual rumor-mongering reporters from tweeting stuff about this or that team “being in the race” or “taking the lead” or three or four teams in the “debry” or “sweepstakes” as it entered “the home stretch.” A bunch of track announcers calling a race that wasn’t even being run.
In the final analysis this is all benign. Teams lie about stuff all the time and a day or two in either direction made no difference to anyone involved. Still, it says a lot about how the trade rumor business works.