Thursday game notes: wild card hopefuls still streaking
John was at the Stadium tonight for the home sendoff for Mariano. So, a few quick notes on tonight’s abbreviated schedule from your pinch-hitting reporter.
You have to hand it to the AL wild card hopefuls. Down to the last week and all three have gone into refuse-to-lose mode. The Rays and Indians have now both won seven straight and the Rangers have won their last four. But, the playoff chances for Texas have now dipped below 20%, while the Rays and Indians are both north of 80%.
Only 9 games on the sched, but 6 were decided by just one run, including two walk-off wins. More after the jump.
The lead changed hands 4 times before the Angels tied it in the 7th on Mark Trumbo‘s single, his 100th RBI of the season. That set the stage for Jurickson Profar who led off the home 9th with a blast to the short porch in right field. It was the 7th homer of Jurickson’s career, 5 of which have put the Rangers ahead, but this was the first one to also end the game.
Ron Washington sent out closer Joe Nathan to pitch the 9th inning of a tie game, but Mike Scioscia wouldn’t follow suit, leaving Ernesto Frieri in the pen and sending out Michael Kohn instead. Wrong move.
Trumbo is the 3rd Angel to reach 280 RBI in the first 450 games of a career. Quiz: who are the two players ahead of him.
You wouldn’t know it from the final score but the Indians had this game well in hand, taking a 6-1 lead into the home 9th. But, then Chris Perez came in to pitch. Perez had actually been quite sharp with four scoreless appearances before Tuesday’s game with the White Sox. Chris blew that save but was bailed out by Jason Giambi’s walk-off homer. Tonight was worse. Single, triple, ground out, single, fly out, homer added up to 4 runs for Minnesota. With the bases now clear, Terry Francona took the opportunity to bring in Joe Smith for the save. Smith allowed the first two to reach before striking out pinch-hitter Oswaldo Arcia to end the game.
Andrew Albers took the loss for Minnesota to fall to 2-5. At least he had one run to work with tonight – that’s one more than the total run support he had received in his three previous starts.
Tampa Bay completed the sweep as Alex Cobb went 7 strong innings for the visitors. It was Cobb’s 3rd straight start of 7+ innings with two or fewer runs allowed, but his first scoreless start since June 5th. Evan Longoria delivered a two out, two run single in the 8th to give the Rays some breathing room. Mariano then came in to close out the 8th and get the first two outs of the 9th. Joe Girardi took him out at that point to give Rivera center stage one last time in front of the adoring crowd.
The Yankees were just one game back of the second wild card on September 12th. But, when the other contenders shifted into a higher gear, New York had no answer, going 3-9 since that point. It’s actually quite remarkable what the Bombers have accomplished with most of their regulars out for much of the season. Still, they’re an old club with mostly ordinary pitching, especially in the relief corps. Expect a major overhaul this off-season.
The Friars took 3 of 4 from Arizona, winning the finale in walk-off fashion with a nobody out, bases loaded single in the 11th by Alexi Amarista. The bullpens for both teams were outstanding, each notching 6 scoreless frames before Amarista ended things. This was the 15th game this season with 6 relievers on both teams pitching at least one inning and allowing no runs and no hits. For the Padres, it was their first game of the year with 3 relievers pitching at least one inning and allowing no runs, hits or walks.
San Francisco took two of three from LA, with Angel Pagan‘s leadoff homer in the 8th providing the margin of victory.
Paul Konerko homered early and Adam Dunn‘s blast tied tied the game in the 6th. But, the Royals went ahead for good in the 7th with single, bunt, bunt resulting in no outs and a run scored, thanks to a throwing error by Sox catcher Bryan Anderson.
Chicago needs one more win to avoid losing 100. Konerko notched just his 12th homer of the season, but it was the 4th time that he and Dunn have both gone yard. Konerko’s .248/.317/.355 slash, good for just 81 OPS+, doesn’t augur well for a 37 year-old who will be a free agent after this season. Adam Dunn already has two of the top 3 OPS+ seasons with 450 PA and a batting average of .215 or less. If he can shed a point off his average, he’ll have 3 seasons in the top 15.
This game was over early as starter Tyler Cloyd surrendered all of Atlanta’s runs before retiring a batter in the 2nd. It was just the 17th searchable game with a Phillie starter allowing 7+ runs in one inning or less, and the first since Jamie Moyer was pummelled by the Red Sox in 2010. For Cloyd, it was his 4th straight start allowing 5 or more runs. He becomes the 31st starting pitcher since 1901 with 11+ starts and fewer than 60 IP.
Marietta, Georgia native David Hale picked up his first major league win, scattering 7 hits over 6 innings and lowering his ERA to 0.82. For his first two starts, Hale has 14 strikeouts to go with just one walk. That is the highest strikeout total for any Braves pitcher starting a career with two starts of 5+ innings and one walk or less
Milwaukee cooled off the Mets, winners of 5 of 6 going into this tilt. Josh Satin homered in the 9th, knocking the Mets out of the top 5 for the most power-challenged teams of the past 20 seasons. It was Satin’s 3rd homer of the year, reducing to 7 the number of Mets with 2 homers or less in 100+ PAs. Looking on the bright side, 2nd on that list with 9 players was last year’s Red Sox team.
Mark Buehrle completed his 13th straight season of 30 starts and 200 IP. No other pitcher has more than 8 such seasons in the same period.
That’s all, folks.
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