Sun Mar 13 05:52pm EDT
CLEARWATER, Fla. — What is it with these celebrity doppelgangers infiltrating Major League Baseball? First it was Luis the South American Cab Driver — a dead ringer for Tim Lincecum(notes) — letting the world know he would love to host Timmy (for $1 million) when the World Cup comes to his native Brazil in 2014.
And now, a look-alike for Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman — Brandt from "The Big Lebowski" — apparently is politely stalking Tampa Bay Rays outfielder B.J. Upton(notes), presumably for autograph purposes. He came all the way from Hollywood to Bright House Field, where the Rays were visiting the Phillies, just for Bossman Junior's John Hancock.
Upon closer inspection, you will notice a few things about Mr. Capote's sheet o' Rays.
It's a 2007 Devil Rays sheet, which is neat. Except for two, he's got autographs from everyone on there — including Delmon Young(notes), Scott Kazmir(notes), Rocco Baldelli(notes) and Carl Crawford(notes). That's like the Mt. Rushmore of Devil Rays baseball right there. Upton and right-hander Al Reyes are the only holdouts.
Side note: George Willis Jr. is wearing a wedding ring, which could mean nothing or it could mean he's there for a kid's autograph collection. If this sheet ever goes up on eBay, we'll know it wasn't for the child.
Upton might continue being a tough guy to corral, even for a signature. He's having a good spring, particularly on the bases.
Thu Jan 27 10:08am EST
Baldelli's playing career will always be a "what might have been" story as medical issues limited him to a total of only 135 games over the past four seasons. But he always dealt with his roadblocks in a positive and standup way and he was always quick to lend support to those who were also suffering from mitochondrial disease or channelopathy. For that, he deserves a big BLS head nod and our best wishes in his new position. Rock on, Rocco. The Heater
2. Prepping for a career change? New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman did a three-hour stint as a celebrity bartender in NYC on Wednesday night. No word if anyone took Marc Carig up on his challenge and ordered "a pitcher" from Cashman. MLB (video)
3. Keith Law has released his organizational rankings and his top-three teams are the Royals, Rays and Braves. (I'd list more, but I can't remember my Insider password.) ESPN
6. Andy Dolan has dibs on these new Cubs-themed license plates. @desipiodotcom
7. "Jonathan Papelbon is coming back next year and it very well likely may be the last year for him as a Red Sox. I really hope it's not a season marred in finger-pointing and second-guessing from Red Sox fans as he wraps up a great Red Sox run, but I can almost guarantee it will be." Fire Brand of the AL
8. Holy smokes: Has anyone else noticed that the San Diego Padres uniforms are almost indistinguishable from the Milwaukee Brewers now that the Friars have ditched their khaki-colored road threads for the traditional gray? The Sacrifice Bunt
9. Now that the Padres have honored three different branches with three different style of camouflage, should a nod to the Coast Guard — which has a presence in San Diego — be on the horizon. A loyal Stewie named Jesse Karr thinks so. He's a senior pitcher and captain on the baseball team at the Coast Guard Academy and he sent over a picture of a starting point the Padres could us, if they're interested. Whaddya say, Pads? BLS
Thu Oct 14 12:56pm EDT
As the playoffs wear on, the eliminated teams are entering an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
Meanwhile, the fans of those squads are looking at the prospect of spending the winter with the warm memories of a team that earned a playoff berth but the cold reality of ultimately falling short. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're asking a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their 2010 squads.
Next up among the playoff bounced is our pal Cork Gaines, who runs the always-excellent Rays Index. We're thankful he's safe from the team's upcoming salary purge.
Dear Tampa Bay Rays,
Now that it is over, I can't help but think that you will end up being my big regret — The One That Got Away.
As I write this letter, I decided the best way to get into the right frame of mind was to return to the place where we first met, an empty Tropicana Field. And as I ponder what was and what could have been, I am filled with emotions. Some good. Mostly bad. And all of them make me want to punch Dioner Navarro(notes) in the face. (Don't worry, Navi isn't pregnant in his face).
The realist in me understands that I am just going through the first step in the natural progression of a break-up. In baseball, 29 out of every 30 relationships don't end well. And the bad endings are often so bad, that it is impossible to remember any of the good times. At least at first.
But as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder. And I am sure that at some point in the future, I will have distanced myself from the 2010 Rays enough that I will be able to remember the good and may actually have trouble remembering the bad.
But unfortunately, that is when the pain will really set in. It is then that I will wonder why it had to end the way it did. And I will realize that it was great. And it could have been greater. And I will realize that I may never find another team as great as the 2010 Rays. I will finally realize that despite all the times you left me angry or sad, that you were THE team. And I will spend the rest of my life comparing all future seasons to the 2010 Rays. And I am worried that none will be as great.
The Good Times: There was a lot to love about you:
• Carl Crawford(notes): He may not have had the breakout postseason that he hoped for, but after 1,256 games in a Rays uniform, it seemed like every night he hit a home run, stole four bases, made a diving catch in left-center and performed the Heimlich on some old lady in the front row. And in the end, CC had the best year of his already great career.
• Evan Longoria(notes): Here's the deal. Longoria is the best there is. He wakes up in the morning and pisses excellence. And unlike Crawford, Longoria can't leave us. He is signed through 2016 for about $132 and unlimited groupies per year.
• Rafael Soriano(notes): The fans call him MFIKY which stands for ****** ******* I'll Kill You (I substituted asterisks for letters to protect the kids). And for the first time, I understood what it was like to be a Yankees fan and have a player like Mo Rivera to turn nine-inning games into eight-inning games. Now I don't mean to say Soriano will ever be Rivera, but for this one season, he came close. And it was fun.
• Jeremy Hellickson(notes): The Rays are going to cut payroll next year. Maybe as much as $20 million. Players like Crawford and Soriano will be gone. But the rotation will still be in place. And if the Rays do decide to trade one of their starting pitchers to plug another hole, Hellboy, one of the top prospects in baseball, will be ready to step in. And we already saw late in the season just how great the young gun from Iowa will be.
• The 2010 AL East title: No matter how it ended, we will always love you for giving us the second division title in three years. That is a hell of an accomplishment. Think about that for a second. Two AL East titles in three years. Going toe-to-toe with the Yankees and Red Sox. That is more division titles than the Red Sox have in the last 15 years combined.
The Bad Times: We can live with one ugly loss. Heck, we were Devil Rays fans ... we can live with a LOT of ugly losses. But at times, you made the 2004 Devil Rays look like the 1927 Yankees.
Two no-hitters. How do you let yourselves get no-hit, TWICE? And make that three in a 12-month span. Two of which were perfect games. There were four other games this season in which you didn't have any hits through five innings. We have no idea if that is a record, but for the sake of baseball fans everywhere, we hope nobody else ever has to root for a good team that can raise the sucktitude bar so high, so often.
So in the end, the way you took a dump on the field for five games in the ALDS shouldn't have surprised anybody. Twenty-eight hits in five games. I don't care if Sandy Koufax started all five games, you have to find a way to get more than 28 hits in five games!
It's Not Just You: Sometimes it is the division. It wears a team out. It wears the fans out. Don't get me wrong, winning the AL East brings a level of satisfaction that just doesn't come with winning the AL West or the NL Central. If the Rays were in one of those divisions, they would have been able put the car in neutral at the All-Star break. And it is not just playing the Yankees or the Red Sox. There is also the stress of trying to figure out who to root for when the Yankees play the Red Sox.
In the end, I always end up just hoping that both teams get mauled by grizzly bears. So disappointment is always the outcome.
Shape Up or Ship Out: Joe Maddon, I like you. You're crazy, but I like you.
But I have also long wondered if you and Lou Piniella managed this franchise in the wrong order. That is, your specialty is the maturation of younger players and the growth of the team, while Piniella may have achieved more once the players were ready to compete. And now we are beginning to wonder if you will ever get the Rays over the top.
Ninety percent of the time, you are one of the best managers in baseball. But the other half of the time you manage like you are in a Little League and you want to make sure every kid gets a chance to play. And why are you constantly trying to reinvent the game? You often succeed, but many times you fail. And when you fail, you do it in grandiose fashion.
Hey Joe, remember that time you started Rocco Baldelli(notes) in Game 1 of the ALDS even though he only had 24 at bats all season! He was a minor league instructor when the season started (that sound you just heard was my head hitting the keyboard).
And what about Pat Burrell(notes)? Yes, he was brought in to be the DH. And yes, Don Zimmer is a better defensive outfielder than Burrell. But would it have killed you to send Burrell out to the field every once in a while? Burrell made it clear he wanted to play defense. Maybe you could have given him a glove and told him to go stand in foul territory. But when he went to the Giants and started playing the outfield again, he instantly morphed back into The Bat. You don't think his bat wouldn't have helped against the Rangers?
And why must you tinker soooo much. Don't you think 129 different batting orders in 162 games is a little much? You never met a split or a matchup you didn't like and now I am convinced you would have benched Babe Ruth against a tough lefty.
In the end, you stayed a little longer than you were supposed to, Rays. We probably should have just listened to all the experts and their preseason predictions. We probably should have just called it off after the regular season. Then you got hot and played well. You were a first-place team almost wire-to-wire. But just when you were starting to get interesting you go and lose to a Texas Rangers team that had a smaller payroll than you.
Do you know how much that sucks? Now we can't even play the "payroll card."
And yes, raising that division title banner next spring will be nice. But just remember, the Yankees and Red Sox put their pants on just like the Rays, one leg at a time. Of course after they have their pants on, they win championships.
I'll take you back next year. I always do. But now I'm scarred.
And I will always remember just how great you could have been.
See you next April,
* * *
Follow Cork on Twitter — @RaysIndex
Read Big League Stew's previous Dear John letters here.
Tue Oct 12 03:34pm EDT
In the first two games at Tropicana Field, the Rays couldn't hit, especially in clutch situations.
When the series moved to Arlington, the Rangers' bats went cold.
Both teams seemed to play better on the road, where they could get away from the demands of winning in front of the home crowd.
If Tuesday night's deciding Game 5 follows the same pattern as the rest of the series, the Rays appear to be in trouble. But it's never that simple when the stakes are win or go home, is it?
Keeping that in mind, here are five things worth keeping an eye on as the Rays and Rangers play for a spot in the ALCS against the New York Yankees:
1. Sunlight makes the Rangers paranoid: Do the Rangers really believe they play better at night? If so, they might be overlooking that they won Games 1 and 2 played during the day. (Of course, they were indoors at Tropicana Field, so maybe it just felt like night.)
The earlier start times for Games 3 and 4 in Arlington seemed to have bothered the Rangers, though. Jeff Francoeur(notes) was particularly outspoken about the noon local start for Sunday's Game 4. (Even Rays manager Joe Maddon said it felt like being placed in the "loser's bracket.")
Josh Hamilton(notes) hits better in night games, batting almost 100 points higher (.384 compared to .286). Considering that he played 61 more games at night, however, perhaps it stands to reason his numbers would be better in that situation. He admits that getting a full night of sleep is far more important than playing in sunlight.
2. The Rays are starting virtually the same lineup against Cliff Lee(notes): As the old saying goes, dance with the one that brought you. That's what Maddon seems to believe, as he's going with a mostly right-handed lineup again versus Lee. This would be much the same lineup that managed only one run and six hits against Lee in Game 1.
One key difference could be at designated hitter. Rocco Baldelli(notes) was the DH in Game 1, and hit 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He was then removed from the Rays' playoff roster because of "left leg fatigue," and replaced by Willy Aybar(notes). If Aybar gets the start at DH Tuesday night, he's batting .333 (4-for-12) with two RBIs against Lee. The other choice is Dan Johnson(notes), who hit .353 against left-handed starters this season.
3. Will David Price(notes) learn from his Game 1 mistakes? Price largely lived on his fastball this season. Sticking with two-seam and four-seam fastballs, while throwing fewer sliders and splitters seems to have helped his control.
But in Game 1, relying so much on the fastball got him in trouble. Especially the high fastball. Rangers hitters jumped on it, pounding Price for nine hits.
Matt Garza(notes) and Wade Davis(notes) had much more success by mixing in off-speed pitches so Rangers hitters couldn't sit on the fastball. Will Price try a similar approach in Game 5 or stay with what worked during the regular season?
4. C.J. Wilson(notes) is available to pitch in relief: As well as Lee pitched in Game 1, Wilson may have been even better in Game 2. In just over six innings, he held the Rays to two hits with seven strikeouts. Tampa Bay got only eight hits against Lee and Wilson. So what will the Rays do if they have to face both pitchers in the same game?
Thanks to Monday's off-day in the series, Wilson has had four full days of rest. And with the Rays' lack of success against left-handed pitching in this series, the Rangers probably want to keep using lefties as much as possible.
But Darren Oliver(notes) has already made three appearances in this series, and Derek Holland(notes) pitched four innings in Sunday's Game 4. Both pitchers may be running low on gas. And up until this season, Wilson mostly pitched in relief. He'd be quite a weapon for Ron Washington to pull out of the bullpen, if needed.
5. The Rays have faced do-or-die pressure: Playing in a series-deciding, lose-and-you-go-home final game brings a different kind of pressure. And we know the Rangers have never won a game like that. They've never won a playoff series, period. They'll have to rely upon guys who have had experience with other teams, like Lee and Vladimir Guerrero(notes).
Many of the Rays on this team played a Game 7 in the 2008 ALCS versus the Red Sox. And in addition to dealing with lose-or-go-home pressure, Tampa Bay faced the potential embarrassment of blowing a 3-1 series lead. Succeeding under those circumstances might be the sort of playoff experience that really means something.
Thu Oct 07 01:33pm EDT
No waiting around in case one of them gets injured and needs to be replaced.
No sticking close to provide moral support for the teammates he's grown close with.
INF/DH Willy Aybar(notes), whose exclusion from the roster was a much bigger surprise (as the Rays chose OF/DH Rocco Baldelli(notes) and OF Desmond Jennings(notes)), and four left-off pitchers — RHP Andy Sonnanstine(notes), RHP Lance Cormier(notes) and rookies RHP Jeremy Hellickson(notes) and LHP Jake McGee(notes) — all stayed with the team.
But Navarro, who was sent to the minors for two months and played sparingly after his Sept. 1 recall (10 games, five starts), declined, and seemingly brought his tenure with the Rays to a bad ending. He made $2.1 million this season and will be eligible for arbitration again.
There's no doubt that the 26-year-old Navarro had to be disappointed. After all, he played in every playoff game during the 2008 World Series run. He likely wanted another shot, but his rapidly declining play since that '08 season didn't deserve it. There was probably some pride involved in his departure.
But even though he had no guaranteed financial tie to the team (like others do), it still doesn't make sense that he wouldn't stick around on the chance he'd get an opportunity to play. It's not like it's a possibility that is out of the question, either. The Rays just pulled Baldelli from the roster and replaced him with Willy Aybar.
I mean, wouldn't even a slight prospect of playing time be enough to keep you around?
And let's say you didn't care about your teammates: Wouldn't you still want to keep up the appearance of a good soldier for any future teams that might want to employ you next season?
For Dioner Navarro, the answer to both questions is "apparently not."
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Wed Oct 06 05:02pm EDT
Well, there's a first time for everything and the two midseason acquisitions deserve to share the spotlight after priming the Rangers' offense on Wednesday. Francoeur recorded the first RBI of the 2010 postseason when he singled home Ian Kinsler(notes) in the second inning while Molina went 3-for-4 from the lineup's No. 9 spot. His fourth-inning homer was his first since July 16.
And to think some were worried about his late-season struggles ...
Head hangers: Tampa Bay starter David Price(notes) didn't bring his 2008 ALCS- or 2010 regular-season-type stuff, giving up five runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. In addition to the Bengie and Frenchy damage, Price also surrendered a third-inning homer to Nelson Cruz(notes) (above) and a fifth-inning RBI double to Vladimir Guerrero(notes).
Key play: Lee struck out Baldelli with the bases loaded to escape the bottom of the first inning unscathed. The punchout came just after a K of Pena, kept the Rays off the scoreboard and set the tone for the rest of the day.
Key stat: As Aaron Gleeman notes, Lee's postseason record is now 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA and a 43/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over six starts. Surely those numbers won't be brought up in Lee's free-agent talks this winter.
What they'll be talking about: A lot has been made about the dropoff from Lee and the other Ranger starters. But now that Price has taken his turn and lost, can James Shields(notes) and Matt Garza(notes) experience success against that loaded Texas lineup? Tampa Bay's fate now rests in their arms.
Sun Oct 03 06:58pm EDT
Had the Tampa Bay Rays been so inclined, they could have let a Royals runner freely circle the bases in Sunday's 10th inning — think Joey Turner in "Bad News Bears" — in order to receive a head start in celebrating their second AL East title in three seasons.
But even with the New York Yankees' 8-4 loss to the Red Sox becoming official in Boston, the Rays apparently weren't content to back into the division title and homefield advantage via head-to-head tiebreaker.
From the Associated Press:
"It took a little of the tension off," [Rays manager Joe] Maddon said. "We wanted to win this game. How ‘bout that? Extra innings, on the road, didn't need to win. It tells you something about our ballclub."
The victory allowed the Rays to finish the season with a 96-66 record, one ahead of the Yankees at 95-67. They'll open the ALDS at Tropicana Field against the Texas Rangers while the wild card-winning Yankees will be forced to travel to face the Minnesota Twins in Game 1. If Tampa Bay wins the ALDS, they'll also open the ALCS at home.
Neither team acted like the division title was the top priority down the stretch, and it seemed on Sunday as if the Rays would again act like a toddler in front of lima beans.
In other words, they crossed their arms, shook their heads and refused to open their mouths through eight innings. They trailed the Royals 2-0 heading into the final frame and it appeared as if they'd be forced to accept the AL East even though they were about to lose three of four to the Royals and be the victims of shutouts started by both Bruce Chen(notes) and Sean O'Sullivan(notes).
But Carlos "We wanted to take matters into our own hands" Pena hit a two-run double off Joakim Soria(notes) in the top of the ninth, Rocco Baldelli(notes) scored on an error in the 12th and closer Rafael Soriano(notes) withstood a late rally to notch his 45th save of the season. Save the tiebreaker. Bring on the champagne.
Maybe homefield advantage will matter in the playoffs. Maybe it won't. But when these Rays look back on their careers, I'm guessing they'll be happier seeing two AL East flags on their resumes instead of just one flag paired with a wild-card banner.
I'm also guessing they'll be glad they didn't back into one. After all, if 9=8 in the Rays universe, then 96 > 95 as well. (Yeah, I don't know how that computes either, but let's just go with it.)
Sat Mar 13 08:57pm EST
Pending brain surgery has put the career of Ryan Westmoreland, the top prospect in the Red Sox system, on indefinite hold.
The team announced Saturday that doctors diagnosed a cavernous malformation in Westmoreland's brain, which will be operated on in Phoenix on Tuesday.
Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated broke the news on Twitter.
Westmoreland, who turns 20 in April, left camp in Fort Myers, Fla. on March 4 and was diagnosed the next day in Massachusetts.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, whose team took Westmoreland in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, released a statement:
"The entire Red Sox organization stands in support of Ryan as he courageously deals with this issue," Epstein said. "Ryan is a remarkable kid and a talented player, and we understand that many will be concerned about his health. He is getting the best medical attention the world has to offer, and we will have more information soon.
"Until then, out of respect for Ryan's privacy and at the request of the Westmoreland family, we will not have any further comment."
Baseball America, which ranked Westmoreland the No. 1 prospect in Boston's organization after just one partial season in low Class A ball, also pegs him as the No. 21 overall prospect in the majors. He turned down a full ride at Vanderbilt to sign with the Red Sox.
Brain surgery and its complications can do more than wipe out a baseball career, of course.
Cavernous malformations could lead to seizure or brain hemorrhage, which can be fatal. The Mayo Clinic's Web site says the malformations are "groups of abnormally tiny, and larger, thin-walled blood vessels filled with blood that may slowly seep into surrounding tissue."
Westmoreland has encountered some bad luck with his health before. He missed the end of the '09 season because he broke his clavicle running into the outfield fence chasing a fly ball. At one time a college pitching prospect, he also had surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in 2008.
This ... is not like those medical issues.
Hopefully, "the best medical attention the world has to offer" will be enough. Not only to restore his health, but also his career. After all, baseball is probably what he has dreamed of doing.
His team reached the regional finals of the Little League World Series in 2002 (right). That summer, he was a bat boy for the Devil Rays, where he met a fellow Rhode Islander and someone who became starcrossed with his own health, Rocco Baldelli(notes). Westmoreland has drawn comparisons with him as well, and they've become good friends.
"He's a great player and just an overall wonderful person," Westmoreland said. "The comparisons to him are amazing, us both being from Rhode Island and him being where I want to eventually be. I am honored to even be talked about in the same breath as Rocco."
In his first pro season in 2009, Westmoreland batted .296 with seven home runs, 15 doubles, 38 walks and 19 stolen bases (without getting caught) in 223 at-bats for the Lowell, which plays in the Class A New York-Pennsylvania League.
He hit in his first 25 games and made the league's All-Star team.
Hopefully, there will be more All-Star games in Westmoreland's future.
Mon Jan 18 10:17am EST
1. Johnny Damon(notes) is one of the biggest names left on the free-agent scrap heap, but as Rob Neyer notes, even the teams who are supposedly interested in him have been distancing themselves. Hopefully this Match.com-quality photo (above) will help persuade one of those suitors into giving him a spot on their 2010 squad. SweetSpot
3. If the Tigers had a plan this offseason, Big Al didn't see it. Bless You Boys
4. When it comes to writing about the Cubs, Rob feels handcuffed by all the bad contracts Jim Hendry has passed out the last few years. Goat Riders
BLS Reminder: The BLS Blogbook series starts today. If you haven't submitted your blog's information for inclusion, do so now.
5. First everyone wanted Mark McGwire to confess to steroid use and said that everything would be fine if he did. Then he actually confessed, practically no in the media held up their end of the bargain and now another writer is promising all will be right if the oh-so-eloquent McGwire writes a book about his steroid use. I don't get it either. NY Daily News
7. The Red Sox are playing a huge role in the Martha Coakley-Scott Brown race to replace Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate. Of course they are. Red Sox Monster
8. Ben Nicholson-Smith reviews the fates of all the Type A free agent who turned down arbitration and sees if all their wildest dreams came true. MLB Trade Rumors
11. Joe Aiello continues his series on how he'd change baseball with a few radical proposals for the playoff system. Two wild cards per league, anyone? View From The Bleachers
Mon Aug 03 08:40am EDT
This and every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Today's Roll Call starts in SoFla, where the fiercest Fish landed two late blows to send Chicago's Baby Bears down for the count.
This edition of the Morning Juice is being substitute squeezed by 'Duk. Regular Juicer DB will return on Tuesday.
Game of the Day: Marlins 3, Cubs 2
Walleye walkoff (x 2): Down one run and with only two outs to do something about it, Florida's Marlins sprang into late action against former teammate Kevin Gregg(notes). And, wow, talk about your efficient comebacks. Using two consecutive pitches, Dan Uggla(notes) and Cody Ross(notes) hit back-to-back solo jacks off Chicago closer Kevin Gregg. The dual blasts sent the Marlins into a ceremonial home plate hoedown and and allowed them to take two of three in the weekend series against the Cubs and their visiting horde of fans.
Nobody's fault but mine: If you're keeping score at home, Gregg has blown five saves for the Cubs in 26 chances this season. Sunday's meltdown was his second in as many games, though unilke Saturday's contest, he didn't leave his teammates an opportunity to bail him out. "It was two pitches," Gregg said. "Twenty-five guys put together a great effort and two pitches are why we walk out of here losing." Manager Lou Piniella was as succinct as the efforts of Uggla and Ross: "It wasn't pretty. The thing finished quick."
Not so fast, my friend: Obviously breathing the happy fumes from Landshark Stadium, the Associated Press breathlessly reported that the victory puts the Marlins just five games back of the Phillies in the NL East race. Hey, the big-time addition of Nick Johnson(notes) is sure to get anyone excited, but five games? Wake Meech when that thing gets down to two.
I've been hanging around: With their up and down season, it seems like the Cubs should be at least a handful of games back in the NL Central. But nope, there they are, still just a half game back of St. Louis in the division's crawl for the pennant.
* * *
Royals 4, Rays 1 A no-no for James Shields(notes)? No, no, say the Royals, who incredibly break up Shields' knock-free bid with a two-run rally in the eighth that includes a steal of home by Alex Gordon(notes). Say this for the Kansas City king, though: They sure know how to make an outstanding effort by a pitcher go for naught (see tonight's starter Greinke, Zack).
Indians 11, Tigers 1 Carl Pavano(notes) tosses eight innings of one-run ball which comes about, oh, two days too late when you consider the trading deadline. But wait! There's always the waiver wire! ... Tough times on the road for the Tigers. They're 23-33 away from the Motor City, but return home tonight with Justin Verlander(notes) on the bump.
Red Sox 18, Orioles 10 Goldarnit! A solo shot by Rocco Baldelli(notes) in the top of the ninth prevents me from making the obligatory Patriots-Ravens joke about this high-scoring affair. Hard to say what Boston fans are thinking about this one. On one hand, the offense was firing on all pistons, benefiting from the infusion of Victor Martinez(notes) (5-for-6, 4 RBIs). On the other, the untouchable Clay Buchholz(notes) walked four and gave up seven earned runs in just four innings of work. Anyone in New England wanna go out and do something brash (you know, like maybe make a move for Carl Pavano?)
Yankees 8, White Sox 5 Melky Cabrera(notes) breaks my cycle cherry, legging out a triple in the top of the ninth during the Yanks' sweep-avoiding loss at Chicago's Cominskey Park. He's the first 'Stripe to achieve the feat since Tony Fernandez in 1995 ... Meanwhile, the bill finally comes due for Mark Buehrle(notes), who gives up 12 hits and seven runs in 4.1 innings of work.
D'backs 5, Mets 2 Jon Garland's(notes) good side makes a complete-game appearance and says no dice for the 'Ropolitans, who had come into the game as winners of six of eight during Adam Rubin job fair week.
Nationals 5, Pirates 3 You may have missed the first three games of this momentous series, but not to worry folks. They'll cap it off with game No. 4 tonight.
Rockies 6, Reds 4 Now that I think about it, is there any play in baseball more exciting than the walkoff triple? Dexter Fowler's(notes) three-bagger on Sunday doesn't classify — it came in the top of the 11th off Nick Masset(notes) — but still, give it credit for scoring the Rox their fourth straight win and sending the Reds to their 12th loss in their last 13.
Brewers 6, Padres 1 A standing O, but no traditional playing of Hell's Bells for Trevor Hoffman(notes), who strikes out two in his first San Diego appearance — a non-save opportunity — since being booted by management during the offseason.
Says Tony La Russa: "He's in a funk. He'll fix it."
Angels 13, Twins 4 Who needs Torii and Vlad when you have Kendry Morales(notes) and his two three-run homers? Over his last 17 games, Morales is hitting .368 with nine homers and 24 RBIs. Someone alert Alex Remington!
Rangers 4, Mariners 2 It'd be hard for anyone to keep up with the Halos' torrid pace, but give Texas credit for trying. The Rangers take three of four from Seattle over the weekend and remain only four games out in the AL West. For the wild card-adjusted set, they remain 2.5 behind Boston.
Giants 7, Phillies 3 Big series for the Bay City Rollers, who take three of four from the visiting WFCers. And how 'bout that Barry Zito(notes)? Three runs over six inning ain't exactly Cy Young stuff, but surrendering no walks was enough to down Cole Hamels(notes), who gave up seven runs and lost for his first time since July 1.
Dodgers 9, Braves 1 Nineteen hits put a happy end to a 3-4 road trip for the Boys in Blue, though a cramped hamstring from Chad Billingsley(notes) provides some cause for concern. "It's just a cramp," says Billingsley in his most comforting tone.