Sports Outside the Beltway

Oakland blasts Angels, Scott Kazmir, 15-1

Kazmir has a 6.92 this season. Ouch. From AP-

The Oakland Athletics have had few nights like this in a first half of the season where scoring runs consistently has been difficult.

Few pitchers have ever had the kind of night Scott Kazmir endured for the Los Angeles Angels.

Rajai Davis capped Oakland’s biggest inning of the season with a grand slam and the Athletics handed Kazmir the worst pounding ever for an Angels pitcher in a 15-1 victory over Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Kazmir (7-9) allowed eight runs in the third inning and five more in the fifth, capped by back-to-back homers by Coco Crisp and Daric Barton.

“Today is a tough one to swallow,” Kazmir said. “I can’t have too much confidence after a game like this.”

The 13 runs are the most allowed by an Angels pitcher, topping the 11 Scott Schoeneweis gave up against Baltimore on May 23, 2001. It was the most in the majors since St. Louis’ Jason Marquis allowed 13 to the Chicago White Sox on June 21, 2006.

I wonder why Angels Manager Mike Sciossia left Kazmir out there so long. Was the team’s bullpen overworked and in need of a rest? Most ML teams carry a 12-man pitching staff today and other than overwork I wouldn’t know why a manager wouldn’t throw his worst pitcher(A mop up man out there) to finish up. That was the practice of ML managers when staffs were only 9 or 10 pitchers in size. A pitcher who gets hit that hard is likely to feel less confident about himself, and with Kazmir already struggling before last night, that has be considered a certainty.


LA Angel 1B Kendry Morales out for the year with a fractured leg

He was leading the team in homeruns before getting hurt. From ESPN-

Los Angeles Angels first baseman Kendry Morales had surgery on his broken left ankle Thursday, and afterward the team said Morales was expected to miss the rest of the season.

Doctors had originally said Morales could begin bearing weight on his left leg within four to six weeks of the surgery and might be able to return in September. The surgery was delayed for 12 days by swelling in the area of the fractured fibula.

Morales broke his leg celebrating his game-winning grand slam May 29. He was batting .290 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs when he was injured.

It was a fluke accident. Now MLB needs a rule to prevent these things from happening again. More beneath the fold.


Former Cy Young winner Mike Cuellar dead at 72

I remember Cuellar very well. He was the ace of the 1969 Baltimore Orioles pitching staff that faced off in Games 1* and 5 against my favorite team, the New York Mets. Do I really have to recall what happened in that World Series?Mike Cuellar

Cuellar was dominating then. A left-handed screwball pitcher. He was tougher on righty batters than lefties, or at least Cuellar was in 1969. Cuellar was a mainstay of the Orioles pitching staffs from 1969 to 1974. He ended his Baltimore career with subpar years in 75 and 76 and apparently complained to manager Earl Weaver. Weaver replied “I gave Mike Cuellar more chances than my first wife.” Cuellar was a very good pitcher(but not strong enough for the who ended his career in 1977 with the California Angels and tallied 185 career victories. RIP.

*- Cuellar made his first WS appearance in 1969. He was on the roster(along with NY Met Ron Taylor who also pitched in Game 1) of the 1964 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Cuellar didn’t appear in the post season that year.

Mike Cuellar, a crafty left-hander from Cuba whose darting screwball made him a World Series champion and Cy Young Award winner with the Baltimore Orioles, died Friday. He was 72.

The Orioles confirmed Cuellar’s death, but did not release other details. According to The Baltimore Sun, Cuellar died of stomach cancer at Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida.

Cuellar made his major league debut in 1959 and bounced around Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston for almost a decade before a trade sent him to Baltimore. Wearing the black-and-orange bird logo, he blossomed as part of one of the most imposing pitching staffs in baseball history — in 1971, he was among the Orioles’ four 20-game winners.

A four-time All-Star, Cuellar was 185-130 overall with a 3.14 ERA. He was voted into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame.

“He sure was an ace,” Hall of Fame teammate Brooks Robinson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday night. “He had a way of making good hitters look bad, making them take funny swings.”

Cuellar joined the Orioles in 1969, and that year became the first Baltimore pitcher to win the AL Cy Young Award, sharing the honor with Detroit’s Denny McLain.

Cuellar went 23-11 with five shutouts that season, including a game in which he held Minnesota hitless until Cesar Tovar’s soft, leadoff single in the ninth inning.

Cuellar helped pitch Baltimore to three straight World Series appearances from 1969 to 1971. He finished off that run by teaming with Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson to become the only staff other than the 1920 Chicago White Sox with a quartet of 20-game winners.


Former MLB Outfielder Willie Davis dead at 69

Willie Davis was an excellent defensive center fielder and a very good player overall but this was obscured by a variety of reasons.

The three errors he made in one inning of a 1966 World Series game
That he played his prime years in a pitcher’s era(the late 1960′s
That Davis made his living trying to hit in Dodger’s Stadium, one of the toughest hitter’s parks in baseball during his time.

Davis still amassed very good numbers. 2561 career hits, .279 career batting average, and more. I grew up watching and remember Davis very well. Thanks for the memories Willie and RIP.Willie Davis

Known as “Three Dog” for his ability to often hit triples and because he wore number three on his uniform for most of his career, Davis played on the Dodgers’ World Series championship teams in 1963 and 1965.

Davis set a Dodgers team record in 1969 with a 31-game hitting streak and remains the franchise’s all-time leader in hits, extra-base hits, at-bats, runs, triples and total bases.

“He was beloved by generations of Dodger fans and remains one of the most talented players ever to wear the Dodger uniform,” Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said in a statement.

“Having spent time with him over the past six years, I know how proud he was to have been a Dodger. He will surely be missed and our sincere thoughts are with his children during this difficult time.”

Davis was found dead in his California home on Tuesday by a neighbor who often brought him breakfast, Burbank police told Reuters. There were no signs of foul play and police said they expect Davis died of natural causes.

Davis spent his first 14 seasons with Los Angeles from 1960 to 1973 before going on to play for Montreal, Texas, St. Louis, San Diego and California.

During his career, Davis won three Gold Glove Awards, led the league in triples twice, and stole 20 or more bases in 11 consecutive years.


Former MLB Outfielder Curt Motton dead at 69

I remember Motton but not due to my watching him play. For one thing he was an American Leaguer and I was a NY Met fan. Sometimes I watched the Yankees on WPIX, but not all that often and Motton was a utility player who didn’t play all that much. His most prolific year was 1968 when he had 218 at-bats.

Why I recall Motton is because at Christmas in 1970 or 1971, I got a game called ‘Gil Hodges Pennant Fever‘. For a few years I played many games, mostly with the 69 NY Mets which GHPF attempted to recreate, but sometimes with the Baltimore Orioles. I used Motton as my primary pinch hitter and still remember that 35 plus years later. RIP.

Former Baltimore Orioles outfield Curt Motton has died after a long battle with stomach cancer.

Motton died Thursday at his Parkton home. He was 69.

Motton played for the Orioles from 1967-71, when he was traded to Milwaukee. He returned to Baltimore in 1973, and finished his playing career in 1974.

Motton also served as a bench coach for the team in 1991.


Los Angeles Angels announcer Rory Markas dead at 54

He also used to do Milwaukee Brewer, Los Angeles Clippers, and USC Trojan broadcasts. RIP.

Los Angeles Angels broadcaster Rory Markas has died. He was 54.

Markas was found dead at his home in Palmdale, Calif., on Monday and the cause of death was not immediately available, Angels spokesman Tim Mead said Tuesday. Markas had surgery for a blood clot on his brain in late 2008.

Markas was with the Angels for eight seasons. Many remember his call in the 2002 World Series when center fielder Darin Erstad was about to make the final out: “Erstad says he’s got it! Erstad makes the catch! The Anaheim Angels are the champions of baseball!”

Markas also did broadcasts for the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Clippers, USC men’s basketball and Pacific Coast League baseball. He had been a sports reporter for KNX Radio and a sports anchor for KTTV.

During Markas’ six seasons with the PCL, he spent three years doing radio broadcasts for the Salt Lake City Gulls and three for the Vancouver Canadians.

“The entire Trojan family is shocked and saddened to learn of this sad news about Rory,” USC athletic director Mike Garrett said in a statement released by the school. “We held him and the outstanding broadcasting work he did for us in the highest regard. He was a consummate professional and a well-loved individual. He’ll be a very difficult person to replace. We want to extend our support and condolences to his family.”

“Rory was one of the great professionals in the business,” said Jim Hefner, who worked with Markas as the analyst on USC radio broadcasts, in the USC statement. “But more importantly, he was one of the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever been around. I’m sure that everyone who worked with him will truly miss him. He was one of a kind.”

He was honored with two Associated Press Sportscasting awards and received the 2008 Radio Play-by-Play Award from the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


New York Mets sign Pitcher Kelvim Escobar

The right handed pitcher only appeared in one MLB game during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. From AP-

The New York Mets have signed right-hander Kelvim Escobar to a one-year contract.

The team announced the deal on Monday. He was expected to get $1.25 million.

Escobar, an 18-game winner in 2007, missed nearly all of the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels because of shoulder trouble. If healthy, he would likely work out of the bullpen for the Mets, who are looking for setup help for All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Signing a pitcher with Escobar’s health history is always risky. Since it’s only a one-year low priced contract, I think the gamble the Mets are taking is worth a shot.


Los Angeles Angels sign reliever Fernando Rodney

From AP-

Reliever Fernando Rodney signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels yesterday.

The 32-year-old right-hander spent his first seven major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers, including the last two years as their closer. He converted 37 of 38 save opportunities last season, pitching a career-best 75[0xb7] innings.

Rodney is a very good relief pitcher. In light of his talent and the terms of their contract with him, I see this as a very low risk move for the Angels.


Texas Rangers sign P Darren Oliver

This will be his third stint with the team. From the Dallas Morning News- Darren Oliver

The agreement between Darren Oliver and the Rangers is now official. He will receive $3 million in base salary this season with a vesting option worth $3.25 million. The option would vest if Oliver appears in 59 games in 2010. He has averaged 58 games a season over the last three years. If the option is not picked up, Oliver would receive a $500,000 buyout, guaranteeing him at least $3.5 million.

Oliver is a good acquisition in my opinion. Originally a starting pitcher, he has been a reliever of late. And not a left handed specialist, Oliver has been tough on right handed hitters during his career. The last two years of which was spent with the Los Angeles Angels where he went 12-2 with an ERA under 2.85.

A little known fact about Oliver is that he swings a pretty good bat. He has a .221 lifetime batting average. Of course in the Designated Hitter ruled American League Oliver is unlikely to be called upon to hit.

Note- I’ve always liked Oliver. Partly due to the fact he was a pitcher on my first ever Star Tournament Championship team back in October 2000.


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