A bust for two years, Juan Uribe plays the hero now

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There was a great case for the Dodgers releasing Juan Uribe last winter.

Fresh off a 24-homer campaign for the world champion Giants, Uribe was given a three-year, $21 million deal as a free agent after the 2010 season. It was a move widely panned at the time, and it worked out even worse than anyone could have imagined, with Uribe hitting .204-4-28 in 270 at-bats in 2011 and .191-2-17 in 162 at-bats in 2012.

Things got so bad last year that Uribe appeared in one game and had one plate appearance over the final five weeks of the season. He was healthy and on the active roster the whole time, but the Dodgers refused to use him. His received one start after July 23, that coming on Aug. 14. All signs pointed to him being released over the winter. The Dodgers had Hanley Ramirez starting at shortstop and Luis Cruz penciled in at third, with Jerry Hairston Jr., Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto also on guaranteed deals as utilitymen. Of course, Uribe was making more than any of them except Ramirez, but that still didn’t figure to save him.

But, oddly, the DFA or release never came, and while the Dodgers would have been more than happy to trade him, he was back in spring training with the team. Ramirez’s injury opened up an infield spot, allowing all of the veteran backups to make the squad. Uribe still didn’t play a lot — he made three starts in the first two weeks and totaled 32 at-bats in April — but he contributed in his limited action and overtook Cruz, eventually settling in as the Dodgers’ primary third baseman and still keeping that role after Michael Young was acquired. After a strong finish that saw him collect five of his 12 homers in September, Uribe started all four games in the ALDS against the Braves. He homered Sunday in the Game 3 victory and then, after failing to get a sac bunt down, delivered the big blast on Monday, a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth that gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead they’d make stand up.

It’s a pretty amazing turnaround and still not his first. When he originally signed with the Giants, he was forced to take a minor league deal after hitting just seven homers for the White Sox the year before. Consistency obviously isn’t a strength. His four career-high OPSs came in 2001, 2004, 2009 and this year, for four different teams (he started off with the Rockies). The only one of those teams that never gave up on him was the Giants, unless you want to count the Dodgers, too. After all, here he is. Next stop: the NLCS.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 24, Phillies 4; Phillies 9, Mets 6: At least in a doubleheader you have the chance to shake off the first game if it doesn’t go your way. And boy howdy did the first game not go Philly’s way. In that one the Mets hung a 10-spot in the fifth inning and scored 24 runs on 25 hits. Only 11 of those runs were earned. It was an ugly, ugly game with two position players pitching including one, Scott Kingery, who was just lobbing in slow, fat pitches that didn’t even register on the radar gun. The only saving grave for the Phillies was that the game was “broadcast” on Facebook and no one watches those. If you want a full writeup of the carnage Bill, a Phillies fan, had to do it last night.

In the nightcap Philly righted the ship, with Zach Eflin pitching into the seventh and Phillies batters jumping on Steven Matz early. Rhys Hoskins hit a three-run homer and Kingery hit a solo shot that went out a bit faster than his fastballs came in in the first game.

Rangers 8, Angels 6: Neither of these teams are going to be playing six weeks from now, but they’ll always have this weird, kind of disjointed bases-loaded 5-4 triple-play to remember. It was an historical one too as it was the majors’ first triple play without retiring the batter in over 106 years:

Jurickson Profar, who started the triple play and was its MVP, at least if triple plays can have MVPs, also homered, as did Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo.

Rays 3, Yankees 1: Tampa Bay just has New York’s number I guess. Blake Snell returned to toss two-hit shutout ball for five innings and the Yankees would only manage a Giancarlo Stanton RBI double the rest of the way. Masahiro Tanaka was scoreless in innings 2-6, but unfortunately he started in inning 1, allowing two runs. Maybe the Yankees should try using a Rays-style opener for him?

Cubs 1, Pirates 0: Jon Lester hasn’t had a great second half — or last part of the first half — but he looked like the Lester of April and May last night, twirling six shutout frames, striking out eight and not walking anyone. Ivan Nova came close to matching him, but surrendered an Ian Happ solo homer in the fourth for the game’s only scoring. Chicago increased its lead in the NL Central to three and a half games over the idle Brewers. Pittsburgh lost its fourth straight to fall to .500.

Nationals 5, Cardinals 4Bryce Harper had three hits and drove in three runs to help the Nats snap its four-game losing streak and send the Cardinals to a loss for the first time in nine games. The most exciting thing here: the Nats taking a one-run lead into the ninth inning. Somehow Koda Glover held it. I mean, sure, he put two men on with two outs before closing it out, but what is life if it is not at least a little interesting?

Rockies 5, Braves 3: Atlanta could not close out its lead, however. In front 3-2 heading into the ninth, Trevor Story, the leadoff hitter that inning, reached via a Dansby Swanson error, Brad Brach — pitching in that situation because the Braves’ bullpen is sort of a mess right now — walked Gerardo Parra to move Story to second and then he came in on a Ryan McMahon pinch-hit RBI single to tie things up. Two batters later David Dahl — who had homered earlier — then came to the plate and knocked in both Parra and McMahon to give the Rockies a two-run lead that would hold up. The Rockies have won five of six. The only good news for the Braves was that Ronald Acuña played, singling in his first at bat and finishing 1-for-4.

Twins 15, Tigers 8: Logan Forsythe had five hits and Jorge Polanco drove in four runs for the Twins, three of which came on a three-run homer. There were lots of homers here, in fact, with the teams combining for seven round-trippers. The Twins must’ve left the air conditioner blowing out for the whole game. [*Editor whispers*]. Sorry, still not over the 1987 ALCS. I’m gonna accuse the Twins of somehow figuring out how to pull that crap in their new park too.

Royals 6, Blue Jays 2: For the third straight game a rain delay stopped the beginning of a game in this series, this time by over two hours. The Royals earned the series split, however, thanks to a single RBI from six different batters, including a Lucas Duda homer, and Royals relievers Brian FlynnKevin McCarthyBrandon Maurer and Wily Peralta shut down Toronto on three hits over the final five innings.

Diamondbacks 5, Padres 1: If you placed money on “Some time in 2018 Clay Buchholz will pitch a complete game, allowing only one run on five hits, getting the win for a playoff contending team” before the season began you would’ve been arrested for suspected time-traveling and/or placed in a rubber room so you could not do any harm to others or to yourself. Yet it happened. He got five runs of support in the first inning, thanks in part to a David Peralta three-run homer, and other than allowing a Hunter Renfroe solo shot in the eighth, he was lights-out. Not too bad for a guy everyone thought was burnt toast not too long ago.