And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

90 Comments

Mets 7, Dodgers 3: Jordany Valdespin with a walkoff grand slam. See, good things happen when he doesn’t try to bunt.

Reds 1, Cubs 0: Mat Latos tossed seven shutout innings and Broxton and Chapman finished it off. Tough luck for Jeff Samardzija who struck out eight in six innings, but he’s gonna have to get used to tough luck pitching for these Cubs.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: The first extra innings loss for Baltimore in over a year. That covered 17 instances of free baseball. Oh well, luck comes and goes. Well, maybe it wasn’t luck: the winning run came when Jim Johnson walked Maicer Izturis with the bases loaded, but still.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 2: The sweep. Stephen Strasburg had a rough first inning, but then he settled down and kept his team in the game, only to watch as Washington whiffed and ran its way out of a couple of would-be rallies. Strasburg’s record now stands at 1-4.

White Sox 3, Indians 2: Alex Rios hit a two-run homer to help the Chisox earn a split. I’m not sure who let Zach McAllister leave the Columbus, Ohio he and I are so accustomed to, but he walked five and allowed five hits in five and two-thirds innings. Come back home, Zach. We’ll go get some  paella at Barcelona and then some Jeni’s ice cream, maybe, and we’ll never make you lave Franklin County again.

Rockies 6, Braves 5: I left for an early dinner reservation just as Fredi Gonzalez sent Jordan Schafer home on a botched squeeze play while up 5-3 and one out in the ninth. I figure that Gonzalez was tired of seeing the Braves hit the ball all over the ballpark without any of his own input and felt like he had to justify his existence by managing the hell out of that little situation.  If he had let Coors Field’s nature take its course I’m guessing one of the next two batters could have or would have hit the ball in the air to score Schafer anyway, the game wouldn’t have been tied after nine and the Rockies would not have been able to mount this comeback win.  And yes, if you think this is just some long distraction enabling me to overlook the fact that Craig Kimbrel coughed up two runs in the ninth, well, you’re right.

Astros 10, Mariners 3: Baseball has 162 games and rarely does any one game matter or even mean anything all that much. But dudes, you just got scorched by the Astros. Three homers for Houston, who have four wins against Seattle in six meetings this year. They’ve only won seven overall.

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2: Brandon Crawford his a homer in the ninth to tie it, but Arizona won it on a sac fly and is now 5-0 in extra innings games this year. The new Orioles or something.

Red Sox 6, Athletics 5: David Ortiz had two hits and an RBI. Stephen Drew hit an RBI triple. Boston has won nine of 12. Oh, and they sent Alfredo Aceves down to Pawtucket after this one, so it’s like a total exorcism of that 13-0 loss the other night.

Tigers 7, Royals 5: Jose Valverde comes back and gets a save on his first try out. Victor Martinez drove in two. Welcome to 2011.

Rays 3, Yankees 0: Alex Cobb was dominant (8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K), allowing only three singles. Not sure what beat writers do in games like this when there’s really only one thing to talk about. I only have to write, like, three or four sentences. They have a whole story to fill. Maybe they can just CTRL-V “Alex Cobb” over and over again like the restaurant scene in “Being John Malkovich” or something.

Pirates 5, Phillies 3: Roy Halladay allowed only one hit and struck out eight in six innings and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley hit big booming homers. That used to mean an easy Philly win, but we’re a long way from 2010. Brandon Inge came and hit a pinch hit RBI single to tie it in the eighth because of course he did. Then Starling Marte tripled in a run in the ninth as part of a four-run Philly bullpen failure.

Rangers 11, Angels 3: Texas with a nine-run fourth inning put this one away pretty early. Nelson Cruz with a three-run homer. Lance Berkman drove in four. Yu Darvish wins the Run Support Award for the night. The pitchers in the Angels part of the box score look like a list of names from the witness protection program.

Padres 2, Brewers 1: I suppose Milwaukee had to lose eventually. I didn’t think Edinson Volquez would go seven innings without walking anyone eventually, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t.

This Day in Transaction History: Phillies acquire John Kruk from Padres

John Kruk
Bernstein Associates/Getty Images
4 Comments

John Kruk is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball history. Kruk, who is currently a broadcaster for the Phillies, had a 10-year career during which he hit exactly 100 homers, batted exactly .300, and posted an excellent .397 on-base percentage. In baseball history, there are only 32 members of the admittedly arbitrary 100/.300/.395+ club. Kruk is one of only 10 members of the club that played after 1963. The others: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramírez, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Of them, five are Hall of Famers. Trout and Votto will be, and Helton and Ramírez should be.

On this day in 1989, the Phillies made a franchise-altering trade, acquiring Kruk along with infielder Randy Ready from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Chris James. The Padres had just swept the Phillies at home and were hoping to jump into the playoff race. They immediately went into a losing skid, but caught fire at the end of the season, finishing 89-73. However, that wasn’t good enough as the Giants won the NL West with a 92-70 record. James was solid for the Padres, posting a .743 OPS with 11 homers and 46 RBI in 87 games.

Kruk had an interesting but brief major league career with the Padres. His roommate, Roy Plummer, was an armed robber. Kruk was completely unaware of this. In spring training of 1988, the FBI informed Kruk of his roommates’ activities. Kruk feared retribution from Plummer and said that the anxiety affected his baseball performance. In 1988, Kruk batted what was for him a poor .241/.369/.362 with nine homers and 44 RBI over 466 plate appearances.

The Phillies didn’t enjoy immediate success upon Kruk’s arrival in 1989. The club finished the season with a losing record and would do the same in the ensuing three seasons. None of it was Kruk’s fault, though: in aggregate, from 1990-92, he hit .303/.393/.459, earning two All-Star nominations. In this span of time, the only other first basemen to hit above .300 were Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Hal Morris, and Rafael Palmeiro. The Padres had used Kruk both in the corner outfield and at first base, but the Phillies made him a full-time first baseman, which turned out to be a good move.

In 1993, everything came together for the Phillies and Kruk had what was arguably the greatest season of his career. He hit .316, which was actually seven points below his average the previous year, but he drew 111 walks to push his on-base percentage up to .430. Kruk hit third in the lineup, creating plenty of RBI opportunities for Dave Hollins in the clean-up spot, Darren Daulton at No. 5, and the trio of Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain in the No. 6 spot. The Phillies shocked the world in ’93, winning the NL East by three games over the Expos with a 97-65 record. They then dispatched the Braves in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Blue Jays.

Kruk was productive in the NLCS, contributing six hits including a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, four walks, five RBI, and four runs scored. But he turned things up a notch in the World Series, registering multi-hit performances in the first three games. He would finish the World Series with eight hits in 23 at-bats along with seven walks, four RBI, and four runs scored. The World Series was winnable for the Phillies as they lost a barnburner Game 4 15-14, and of course, dropped the deciding Game 6 on a World Series-clinching walk-off three-run home run by Joe Carter off of Mitch Williams.

1994 was tough on Kruk in many ways. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in spring training. Knee issues continued to bother him, and then Major League Baseball had a work stoppage. In an abbreviated season, Kruk hit a still-productive .823 OPS. He became a free agent and, when baseball came back, he signed with the White Sox. In the first inning of a July 30 game against the Orioles in ’95, Kruk singled to left field off of Scott Erickson. He reached first base, bowed to the fans, and walked off the field into retirement. Kruk told the media, “The desire to compete at this level is gone. When that happens, it’s time to go.”

Kruk has spent his post-playing days working in sports media as both a broadcaster (Phillies, ESPN nationally) and as a commentator (The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Baseball Tonight). The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in August 2011. One wonders if Kruk hadn’t been bit by the injury bug, and if there hadn’t been a work stoppage, if he might have been able to accrue some more numbers to have a borderline Hall of Fame case. Regardless, he’ll go down as one of the games’ quietly great hitters.