Game notes from Saturday: All hands on deck!
The weekend started wild and woolly — very, very wild….
Red Sox 7, @Blue Jays 6 – Arizona staged the promotion Friday, but lately every game is “Zombie Day” at Rogers Centre. Brandon Morrow did not allow a hit, but he bit off his own leg and wrote his epitaph with four straight passes after two outs in the 3rd, his eight walks on the day matching the number of outs recorded. A.J. Pierzynski greeted Chad Jenkins with his eighth career slam, on a fastball right down Broadway, to wipe out the remains of Toronto’s 3-0 lead. When Jenkins tried his breaking stuff, Will Middlebrooks found it just as amiable, and Boston was on top, 6-3.
Clay Buchholz teetered in the 1st, three runs in with just one out, seeming headed for another blowup in his rocky opening month. But the rally put wind in his sails, and he lasted seven with nothing further. In the 8th, Toronto stirred at last, touching Junichi Tazawa for his first runs of the year. But Chris Capuano and Koji Uehara stemmed the tide to keep the lead at two. The lefty got a strikeout with men at the corners and one away; then, after Jose Reyes worked a 10-pitch walk, the closer made his first pre-9th appearance this year and jammed Melky Cabrera for a soft fly out. The Jays made Uehara work right to the end, cutting the lead on Jose Bautista’s leadoff homer and bringing Edwin Encarnacion to bat with the tying run on second, but his first-pitch rope to center stayed in Jackie Bradley’s range.
- Uehara had eight saves of 4+ outs last season, counting postseason.
- Morrow escaped the 1st and 2nd with DPs after walking a pair in each, including The Great Unwalkable Pierzynski. Three other starts since 1914 featured 8+ walks and no hits in 3 IP or less. Those three pitchers’ combined career record was 13-42, with four total wins after those wild outings.
@Nationals 4, Padres 0 – Tanner Roark rolled over the first 16 Padres, and finished off a 3-hit shutout by fanning Jedd Gyorko. Roark had five strikeouts and nine grounders before Rene Rivera’s looper just barely found the grass in center, the second ball to escape the infield. He gave up singles in the 7th and 9th, and an 8th-inning walk, erased by DP on the next pitch. First-pitch strikes to 23 of 31 batters enabled him to go the route on just 105 tosses. Roark worked with a lead after the 1st, when Washington reached Andrew Cashner for 3 runs on 4 hits, the biggest being Ian Desmond’s double, first of his three hits.
Roark’s first shutout — first time past 7 IP — was his second straight scoreless outing, and fourth in 10 career starts (2.26 ERA). A 25th-round pick in 2008, he was sent to Washington by Texas in a 2010 deadline deal for Cristian Guzman, who went 7 for 46 down the stretch and never played again.
- That’s 12 straight quality starts against the Pads, and 20 in 25 games. They’ve taken their low-scoring act on the road so far, averaging 2.2 R/G.
- This, I just don’t get: Down three runs in the 6th, one out and man on first, SD pitcher Andrew Cashner sacrificed. Cashner’s 15 for 62 since 2013, with a homer, and 24 for 110 as a professional (.218). Up next is slapper Everth Cabrera, a career .206 hitter with 2 outs/RISP, .174 with a man on second only. Washington botched the bunt play, but the inning died anyway.
@Yankees 4, Angels 3 – David Robertson steered a one-run lead past the heart of LA’s order, preserving the first career win for Dellin Betances and turning J.R. Murphy’s first career round-tripper into a game-winner. The backup catcher had three RBI in just his ninth start, with another tiebreaking hit in New York’s 3-run 2nd that saw a HBP, a walk and a balk by Hector Santiago.
That flurry wiped away Mike Trout’s 1st-inning homer, the fifth such among his six big flies this year. LA tied it back with two runs keyed by Howie Kendrick’s takeout slide at second, causing Brian Roberts’s relay to sail into the dugout. Betances relieved Vidal Nuno in the 5th, after a one-out walk to Trout, and he retired Pujols for the first of his six outs, and first of three times Albert would go down in a key spot. Shawn Kelley came on in the 7th to face Trout with a man aboard, but he walked him on four pitches, then fell behind 2-and-0 before inducing Albert’s flyout and whiffing Kendrick to end the threat. Trout singled in the 9th and stole second, but Robertson got the same two batters by the same means to close it out.
- I love that Trout is batting 2nd, but the .305 OBP by their leadoff men so far (and .237 by #9) have limited his ribby chances. He reached four times today, but the only run resulting was the homer.
My two cents: Kendrick’s slide was illegal, and the batter should have been called out:
“Rule 6.05. A batter is out when–
“(m) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:
“Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.”
There was no legitimate purpose in Kendrick’s approach. He didn’t start his slide until he was almost at the bag, and his slide inevitably carried him well past the bag to wipe out Roberts, who had taken the precaution of stepping back from the bag after making the force.
There used to be a standard known as the McRae Rule — I don’t know if it was ever written, but it was widely known and enforced — that said a takeout slide was illegal if the runner couldn’t reach the base from where he wound up. The clip we have has no replay, but I think Kendrick not only wound up unable to reach the bag, but also raised up at the finish to further impede Roberts. By not making that call to protect a keystone man who properly records the force and then uses the bag as buffer from the runner, MLB in effect encourages the “neighborhood play,” wherein the fielder vacates the base before he actually has the ball. MLB has gone so far as to declare that play immune to video review; but there should be at least as much emphasis on preventing illegal takeout slides, to promote honest double plays.
@Brewers 5, Cubs 3 – When you’re hot, you’re hot. A freak accident knocked out shortstop Jean Segura before he even came to bat. But his replacement, Jeff Bianchi — 3 for 17 this year, .224 career – got key hits in his first two trips, including a 2-out, 2-run single for a 3-0 Brewers lead. (Latest report I’ve found says no fracture, no concussion for Segura.)
Milwaukee’s going so well, they almost nursed Marco Estrada through 8 innings. It’s just the second time in 58 career starts that he’s gotten any outs beyond the 7th. Two homers but no walks off Estrada, whose stats since 2012 look kind of like one Fergie Jenkins season — 298 IP, 289 Ks, 64 walks, 42 HRs.
- I’ve found three other years that the Brewers ever held a lead as big as their current 5.5-game bulge: 2011, +10.5 games; 2007, +8.5; and 1982, +6.5. I checked all their years with 80+ wins, plus those that started well and faded. The ’87 club got off 13-0 and 20-3, but the Yanks also started hot, and Milwaukee peaked at +5 games.
- Curse of the Cake? Chicago’s dropped four straight starting with the Wrigley celebration. But no, I’m forgetting Occam’s Razor – supernatural involvement’s hardly needed to explain this phenomenon.
- I don’t mean to jump on Ryan Braun just because of past misdeeds. I’m sure he feels awful about hitting Segura, and I’m sure I don’t know the dugout customs. But is it smart to swing a weighted bat on the dugout steps? And the timing seems odd. Leadoff man Carlos Gomez was still in the on-deck circle. Braun’s due up third. Is that normal, for a third hitter to start his warm-up swings while number one hasn’t even started for the plate?
Twins 5, @Tigers 3 – Detroit’s just not equipped for six-plus innings from the ‘pen, not with Drew Smyly now in the rotation. They took a 2-0 lead in their first raps, but a blister forced out Anibal Sanchez mid-batter in the 3rd. Jose Ortega kept the Twins at double zeroes on the board through four, but three walks around a bungled bunt sent him packing in the 5th. Phil Joke walked in the tying run with four straight misses, then fell behind 3-and-1 before Trevor Plouffe gave Minny the lead with their first hit. Phil finally slithered out of that mess, despite re-loading with another walk, and Detroit got Miggy to the bat with bases full in the 8th. But his hard grounder went straight to Plouffe, who stepped on third and then completed the DP to end the threat. The sides swapped solos for the 5-3 final, with Josmil Pinto’s 5th reaching far-off lands.
- Action at that “home run porch” is picking up, and more of it is to the home folks’ liking. The Twins were out-homered by 316-235 in the first four years at Target Field, but lead by 11-7 through 11 home games this year.
- How many bad decisions have we seen on bunts already? You’re at home, Bryan Holaday, ahead by two in the 5th. Your bullpen’s prone to big innings, and in case you hadn’t noticed all the pitches you were lunging for, your guy’s begun to walk the ballpark. The potential gain from nipping the lead runner in that spot is nothing to the cost of not accepting a free out.
@Braves 4, Reds 1 — Three homers scored Atlanta’s four, and 8 innings of two-hit, one-run ball by David Hale gave them five starters with ERA 2.31 or lower in at least 4 starts. The Braves are just about where they were at this time last year (15-8), only more so (16-7): terrific pitching, offense entirely reliant on the long ball, but nothing says that can’t keep working.
- Unreal: A 1.65 ERA for Atlanta’s starters. The club’s live-ball bests in that split were 2.92 in 1968, and 2.95 in 1992 — the year before they signed Greg Maddux.
- 16 of 23 Atlanta starts have let in one run or less.
- 153 IP, 110 hits, 43 walks, 135 Ks. With just one of their top five starters back from last year. Unreal.
- Go figure: Atlanta’s let in 4 runs or more just seven times so far, and four of those were by the Mets.
Marlins 7, @Mets 6 (10 inn.) – Jenrry Mejia’s cutter movement ran out in the 6th, and New York’s luck soon followed, ending their three-win streak. Jarrod Saltalamacchia won it in the 10th with a homer off Kyle Farnsworth’s straight-line fastball, but the game turned long before. Mejia threw a modest 69 pitches through five, with trouble only in the 2nd, but his stuff faded abruptly, and Miami sensed it. They ripped five hits, all on the first pitch, scoring five to flip a 5-1 deficit. Giancarlo powered one to right for two runs, and with two aboard, Lucas Duda snagged Garrett Jones’s rope to first, but came up just short diving at a double play. Those inches were magnified when a pair of 2-out hits brought 3 more runs. The Mets pulled level with a gift run in their half (2-out walk, passed ball, error), but they got no hits the rest of the way, not even off their favorite closer.
- Who says Jose’s the only Abreu long-ball threat? Bobby smoked a 2-run, 2-out no-doubter in the 1st, his first as a Met and 913th extra-base hit, momentarily tying Alfonso Soriano at #60 on the all-time list.
- Three straight wins at home ain’t much, but it’s one shy of New York’s high in the last three-plus seasons.
Pirates 6, @Cardinals 1 — The Bucs bunched six of their seven hits into a pair of rallies, while the Cards’ offensive drought stretched to seven straight games with 3 runs or less and 10 without a homer. Francisco Liriano left early with the chills, but five relievers kept the Cards on ice over the last 7 innings.
- The 10-game tater famine matches St. Loo’s longest since an 11-game stretch in 1997, whose end coincided with a certain redhead’s first Redbirds trot.
- St. Louis knew they were losing power by replacing Carlos Beltran and David Freese with Peter Bourjos and Kolten Wong, but they expected to recoup some of that loss with speed. But you know the story: “Can’t steal first base.” The two new regulars have combined for a .260 OBP, 4 steals and 11 runs, and the team’s OBP has dropped from 1st to 7th. Worse, the team’s baserunning value is down, by every measure — extra bases taken, scoring as a percentage of times on base, and baserunning WAR.
- Forgot today’s winning pitcher Stolmy Pimentel in yesterday’s list of unique first names.
@Giants 5, Cleveland 3 — Tim Lincecum was on the ropes all day, but Cleveland couldn’t land the knockout blow, and that came back to haunt them. Three runs were all they made from 11 baserunners in Lincecum’s 4.2 innings, as Juan Gutierrez punched out Yan Gomes to end the 5th with three aboard. It still might have been enough for Zach McAllister to notch his fourth straight win, as he set down 12 straight after a leadoff double. But in the 5th, every San Fran grounder found a hole, four singles adding up to four runs and the lead. Four Giants relievers held Cleveland hitless down the stretch, trimming that bullpen’s marks to 2.07 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and .215 BA.
- Cleveland’s RISP average fell to .220, and their long-ball drought reached 5 games.
@Orioles 3, Royals 2 (10 inn.) — Danny Duffy posed a triple threat to KC; unfortunately, he pitches for them. Entering in the 10th, Duffy first hit Jonathan Schoop with an 0-and-2 pitch. Then he fielded David Lough’s grounder and threw wildly to second for an error. Jemile Weeks laid down a sac bunt, and Duffy threw that one away, too. That was all for Danny, but it was plenty. Louis Coleman got a strikeout, then tried to back-door Nick Markakis for another. But Nick was in protection mode, and ball helps those who help themselves: his defensive poke landed inches fair, plating Baltimore’s first run since the 1st inning. Zach Britton got the victory for one big out, fanning Jarrod Dyson to end the top-10th with the lead run on second.
- Duffy’s year was going great before tonight, with four scoreless stints of long relief in his first try at working from the ‘pen. In 35 prior games, he had never made an error. At least he still has a perfect ERA.
@Astros 7, Athletics 6 – Houston went ahead by four in the home 8th, starting with four straight hits off Sean Doolittle, but you just knew it would go to the wire. Brandon Moss (not plunked even once this game) hit a 3-run HR with no outs, and Nick Punto followed with a single. But he would get no farther, as Raul Valdes came on to fan the last two A’s for his first save since 2010.
- Timing is everything: Houston lost the battle of hits (11-8), walks (3-2), doubles (2-1), steals (1-0), and hits with RISP (4-2). There were no errors or hit batsmen. Both sides got 3 runs on HRs, and both lost two runners on the bases. But Houston packed four singles into that 8th inning, and they got two run-scoring groundouts.
- Yasiel Who?
Phillies 6, @D-backs 5 — Stomach-punch. ‘Zona built a 5-0 lead against Cliff Lee, bidding for their 4th straight win, then crumbled down the stretch. The host bats went quiet after Cody Ross’s second scoring hit, in the 3rd, but Bronson Arroyo kept the Phils at bay through six. Tony Gwynn, Jr.’s pinch-double was the fulcrum for Philly’s 2-run 7th that chased Arroyo, just the second time they’d reached as far as second base. A leadoff double in the home half ended in frustration, as Cody Ross lined out with bases loaded.
The 8th began with Ryan Howard’s pop to third, but Martin Prado dropped it for his 6th error, and then the carousel began. Chooch Ruiz’s third hit scored one, and left the sacks full for pinch-hitter Cody Asche, who tied it with a double past Paul Goldschmidt’s dive. Finally, center fielder A.J. Pollock, playing too deep for punchless Ben Revere, broke too late on the inevitable blooper, and came up just short.
Arizona’s last gasp began with Prado’s single, and Jonathan Papelbon’s next pitch sailed way inside and skipped off Ruiz’s glove. Chooch scampered after it and fired to second, where Prado arrived just under Utley’s tag, safe! But his awkward, twisting slide left Prado unable to control the endgame; he fought to keep in contact with the bag, but he slipped for just an instant, and Utley got him, on review. The overturn sucked the last breath from the Snakes, as Goldschmidt watched strike three before Miguel Montero popped harmlessly to left.
So, Vin Scully’s doing background jazz while I write, and one of his myriad little filler stories brings me up short: The expression “in the hole,” says Vin — as in, “Ruth is on deck, Gehrig’s in the hole” — is actually a misappropriation of a boating term, “in the hold,” i.e., the cargo hold, below deck.
I’d never really wondered where “in the hole” came from, but this makes perfect sense, and Wikipedia concurs: “Probably derived from boating, where it was originally ‘in the hold,’ the place prior to being ‘on deck.’”
Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary gives final confirmation, but also more intrigue: “the nautical ‘hold’ … according to Joanna Carver Colcord … was originally ‘hole’ and became ‘hold’ through what she terms ‘a mistaken etymology.’ Baseball turned it back to ‘hole,’ although the common nautical pronunciation of ‘hold’ is ‘hole.’”
Everybody got that? I may have lost count along the way, but this could be the first known case where four wrongs make a right. A boatwright, that is.
But after this discovery, I might just switch to using, “he’s on double-deck.”
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