Sat May 25 09:11pm EDT
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The San Francisco Giants have turned late inning comebacks and walkoff victories into an art form.
On Saturday, they may have delivered their most creative masterpiece to date.
With the game tied at four in the tenth, Troy Tulowitzki gave the Colorado Rockies the lead with a long home run into the left field bleachers off Sergio Romo. I mean he crushed it, and he may have enjoyed it a little bit as he pointed into his own dugout all the way up the first base line.
Unfortunately for Tulo, though, he didn't get to enjoy it for very long.
In the bottom half, San Francisco turned things right around against Rafael Betancourt. It started with a leadoff walk to Brandon Crawford. Then Guillermo Quiroz was used to sacrifice him into scoring position, but that ended up not mattering a single bit. Switch-hitting Angel Pagan had bigger, much more spectacular plans than tying the game with a single.
Instead, Pagan wanted to make a little history, so that's what he did by smoking a ball off the right center field wall that could not have caromed any more perfectly for San Francisco had they drawn it up. Once it scooted past right fielder Michael Cuddyer and made it's way through AT&T Park's triple's alley, the roar of the crowd grew in anticipation. Crawford could have crawled home from second, they knew they'd at least drawn even. But what about Pagan? Would third base coach Tim Flannery dare send him?
Sat May 25 04:34pm EDT
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A wild Friday night in Major League Baseball wouldn’t have been complete without an appearance from Heath Bell. Right on cue, the newly anointed Arizona Diamondbacks closer delivered a moment that managed to stand out amongst the weirdness as he finished out his old team, the San Diego Padres.
Naturally, the play happened in the ninth inning. With one out, Padres outfielder Will Venable dragged a bunt that slowly bounced into no man’s land between the pitcher’s mound, first base, and the second baseman’s position. You know what that play usually looks like. Three fielders converging on the ball looking like they’ve never prepared for the scenario a single time in their professional career.
Sometimes you’ll see a second baseman bail the team out with a nifty glove flip (only if the first baseman reads it correctly). Other times you’ll see the pitcher scoop it up and run to the bag himself. But most of the time it’s a frustrating base hit.
I’m not completely sure what Heath Bell was trying to do on his attempt to field the ball from his pitching position. Maybe he initially thought he’d scoop it up and somehow win the footrace with the speedy Venable. If so, he was sadly mistaken, because the result was an awkward and fruitless belly flop dive that we’re surprised didn’t knock the wind out of him.
Sat May 25 02:16pm EDT
The wind can do some tricky things with a baseball when it decides to gust at just the right (or wrong) time. For a good example, check out this crazy play in Friday night's Phillies-Nationals game at Nationals Park in Washington.
It happened in the fifth inning with Adam LaRoche at the plate. LaRoche absolutely crushed the ball to straightaway center field, but the strong breeze ended up catching it and pushing it more towards right center. This wreaked all sorts of havoc for Phillies center fielder Ben Revere, who ended up overcompensating towards right and overrunning the ball. He then leaped awkwardly and watched as it hit three feet to his left.
Here's how Revere himself described the play courtesy of MLB.com's Todd Zolecki:
"It tipped my glove," Revere said. "Because I was playing a couple steps in, the ball kind of got ahead of me. I'm pretty sure I make that play next time. I thought because the wind was blowing to right, that ball kind of went backward."
All things considered, Revere didn't miss making the play by a whole lot. However, the same can't be said for Nationals play-by-play man Bob Carpenter, who mistakenly went into his home run call before quickly realizing the ball was still in play.
Sat May 25 12:21pm EDT
Earlier in the week our own Dave Brown took a very close look at Alex Sanabia's apparent spitball against the Philadelphia Phillies. We're talking frame-by-frame, undeniable visual evidence that Sanabia did indeed hock a Rob Dribble right there in plain view of pretty much everybody.
In fact, the Miami Marlins right-hander was so indiscreet — yet somewhat slick, as well — with his actions that it almost seemed like he didn't realize he was doing anything wrong.
Well, guess what? It turns out Sanabia really didn't realize he was doing anything wrong. Or at least that's what he claimed in an Associated Press article on Friday.
Sanabia said Friday he spit on a baseball earlier in the week to get a better grip, not to get more movement on his pitches. He also repeated he didn't know it was illegal.
"I didn't know. I was in my zone and just grooving. It's something you live and learn from. I didn't mean anything bad by it or I didn't mean to do anything more," Sanabia said. "It's something that showed up that way and people all of a sudden just create their own perception of."
I don't think it was necessary to create our own perception. We all know what we saw and what it meant.
Sanabia later added:
"I don't know what they expect from spitting on it," Sanabia said. "My intention wasn't to be like `Let's get more movement.' My intention was I need more grip."
Sanabia was asked if he had done this before and said he hadn't, instead licking his fingers. The reason he chose to spit directly on the ball was because it was "super slick."
At this moment we're not aware of any punishment for Sanabia from Major League Baseball, so it appears they bought his explanation or just didn't bother looking into it too deeply.
Hard to say, but based on Sanabia's own admission and the fact he's drawn so much attention over the incident, odds are he won't be taking that chance again regardless of his intentions So as manager Mike Redmond said, this appears to be case closed. Let's move on to the next controversy.
Big BLS H/N: Hardball Talk
Indianapolis 500 video from Yahoo! Sports:
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Joe Mauer spoils Anibal Sanchez's no-hit bid in the ninth
• Yankees' Curtis Granderson heading back to DL
• Terry Francona in playful wrestling match with Red Sox announcer
Sat May 25 11:43am EDT
Anytime umpire Angel Hernandez and Chicago White Sox broadcast Ken "Hawk" Harrelson are in the same building, there's a chance for fireworks. We certainly got those on Friday night as the struggling umpire (to put it lightly) blew yet another game-altering call that would have given the Chicago White Sox a victory one inning earlier than they would officially earn it.
The call came in the bottom of the tenth inning. Alex Rios hit a tailor made 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. However, things became complicated for the Miami Marlins when shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria double-clutched just slightly getting the ball out of his glove. This slowed down the relay process just enough that Rios was able to beat the throw at first by a step, which in turn means the winning run should have scored from third. However, Hernandez ruled Rios out, and then Hawk went off the deep end.
What you heard here was just Hawk's immediate reaction. That alone would not top some of his famous outbursts and rants against umpires from the past, but his comments after the commercial where he tells Hernandez to start flipping a coin on his calls gave it an extra point or two.
Sat May 25 06:38am EDT
Poor Don Orsillo. All he wanted to do was get a word with former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, who now holds the same position with the Cleveland Indians, prior to the their game at Fenway Park on Friday night. Unfortunately, it didn't quite go as planned, because Francona decided to go all "hockey enforcer" on the NESN play-by-play broadcaster.
What followed was a pretty one-sided wrestling match in the visitor's dugout that may have necessitated a wardrobe change and makeup touch up for Orsillo.
He did not fare well — at all. And we have his NESN colleague, Jenny Dell, to thank for the entertaining footage.
Sat May 25 06:18am EDT
Weird baseball reached a whole new level on Friday night in Seattle.
To be completely honest with you, I'd like to say what happened was worthy of consideration for the worst call we'll see all season. As you know, that would be saying a lot when you consider the botched home run call in Cleveland (that Angel Hernandez himself admitted was blown), among other inexplicable rulings and misapplications. But I think the call itself might be offset by just how plain strange the entire play was.
Here's the set up: Rangers lead the Mariners 2-1 in the second inning. Seattle has runners at first and second with nobody out when rookie Jesus Sucre raps one on the ground to Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. Moreland then throws to Elvis Andrus to get the middle runner. There's one out. Andrus returns fire in the direction of the first base bag where Moreland and pitcher Justin Grimm are converging to receive the throw.
Typically, when two defenders arrive at a base simultaneously the result is somewhere between comical and disastrous. In this case, though, we end up in a whole different category thanks to first base umpire Jeff Nelson.
Moreland was actually back at the base and in position to receive the throw. However, Grimm, who was not on the bag and never did get to the bag, stuck his glove in front to intercept it. At this point, Sucre is a good step and a half short of the base, making it an easy out call if Moreland catches it. But again, the ball is picked off by Grimm, so Sucre beats it out easily.
Sat May 25 03:27am EDT
The Juice returns for season No. 6! It's almost eligible for free-agency! Stop by daily for news from the action, along with great photos, stats, video highlights and more.
Anibal Sanchez's bid for his second career no-hitter fell just two outs short on Friday night. After retiring Jamey Carroll on a somewhat questionable strike three call to begin the ninth inning, Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer laced a 1-1 pitch right back up the middle for a clean single, which keeps Sanchez from joining Justin Verlander, Mark Buehrle and Roy Halladay as the only active pitchers with multiple no-hitters. At least temporarily. The way he's throwing this season, another bid is probably around the corner.
''It's not that I go to the mound and want to do something special, it's just that I want to go nine innings, go deeper, get a good command, get a good game,'' Sanchez said. ''When I come to the eighth inning, I think about it. But when I come to the ninth inning, it's really tough with those guys.''
Much like his Friday night start back on April 26 when he struck out 17 Atlanta Braves, Sanchez had everything working against Minnesota. That was especially true during a stretch from the second inning to the seventh inning where he retired 18 straight batters. He ended up going the distance for his fourth career one-hitter, striking out 12. The outing required 130 pitches, which is sure to make a few fans uneasy, but he's been no worse for the wear after throwing 122 in the April start.
As for how Mauer felt about his latest history-breaking hit, which by the way is his third career ninth inning knock to break up a no-no attempt.
''He's nasty, and he had everything working tonight,'' Mauer said. ''Obviously, you know exactly what is happening, and you don't want to get no-hit. I'm just up there trying to put the bat on the ball. He threw me a really good cutter and I was just able to square it up.''
Sat May 25 12:49am EDT
As the old, unfortunately fitting cliche goes, Curtis Granderson and the New York Yankees can't catch a break when it comes to injuries this season.
In Granderson's case, that's because he's found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time on two different occasions, and has been unable to avoid the two stray pitches that immediately sent him to the x-ray table.
The first came on Feb, 24 when Granderson was struck on the right forearm by Toronto Blue Jays hurler J.A. Happ. That ended up costing him all of spring training and the first 38 games of the regular season before his return on May 14. Now, just ten short days later, Granderson is headed right back to the disabled list after being hit on the left hand by Cesar Ramos during Friday night's 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Much like the first injury, it was a pitch from a left-hander that rode in on the lefty swinging Granderson. He committed early, and got clipped right on the bottom side of the hand before he could pull back. The result this time was a broken knuckle on his left pinkie finger that will cost him at least four weeks. That's the early estimation anyway, and that doesn't seem all that likely to come down.
Fri May 24 06:51pm EDT
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You've gone to the driving range before. But have you ever gone to the driving range the way Toronto Blue Jays sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion recently went to the driving range?
In this newest video offering from the MLB Fan Cave, the two ball-crushing Blue Jays visited Chelsea Piers driving range in New York City, with their bats at their side. And they did some driving all right — walloping baseballs while people next to them sliced at golf balls. They were knocking balls 400-plus feet off underhand tosses. Then they tried to play a game of accuracy, seeing who could be first to hit a golf cart. Watch the video to see who won.
Makes you want to play a game of baseball-golf now, huh? Us too. That might not be a real thing, but it should be. Until it becomes one, here are a couple amateur baseball-golf mash-ups for you to enjoy.