Sports Outside the Beltway

Over managed- Los Angeles Angels beat NY Yankees 4-3 in 11 innings

The blame for last night’s loss falls squarely on Manager Joe Girardi. From AP-

When Derek Jeter led off Game 3 with a homer into the bullpen, this AL Championship Series seemed uncomplicated. Power hitting and steady pitching appeared to be driving New York to the World Series.

About 261 minutes, 14 pitchers, six homers and several big blunders later, a winning hit by a backup catcher left only one thing certain in this cuckoo series: The Los Angeles Angels won’t be trampled by the mighty Yankees.

Jeff Mathis drove home Howie Kendrick with a two-out double in the 11th inning, and the Angels survived a second straight ALCS thriller, beating New York 5-4 Monday to trim the Yankees’ series lead to 2-1.

“There was a lot of great baseball on that field this afternoon,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “There were a lot of twists and turns, and both teams played a terrific game. We just got it done at the end.”

Kendrick, himself a part-time infielder, homered and tripled before singling with two outs in the 11th off rookie Alfredo Aceves. Mathis followed with his drive up against the left-field wall, and Kendrick slid home well ahead of a desperate throw, setting off an on-field celebration of the backups’ bonanza.

Mathis, a .211 hitter in the regular season, came up with his third late-inning, extra-base hit of this outlandish series, just two days after the clubs’ 310-minute, 13-inning icy epic in Game 2.

Besides taking reliever David Robertson out of the game when he was pitching well, Girardi went through seven relievers in four innings. He also made the comical decision to replace outfielder Johnny Damon with DH Jerry Hairston after already taking out starting Designated Hitter Hideki Matsuki. With Damon’s removal, the Yankee pitchers were then required to hit.

I’m sure Yankee fans are howling about all of this right now. They should remember their team is still up 2 games to 1 and are still favored to win this series. If the Yankees win the World Series, the dumb moves of Joe Girardi in last night’s game will be forgiven if not forgotten also.


Tampa Bay Rays trade P Scott Kazmir to the Angels

I thought teams with Pennant hopes made deals to acquire more pitching, not trade it away. From AP-

The Los Angeles Angels, looking to bolster their rotation for the last five weeks of the season and in October, acquired left-hander Scott Kazmir of the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

“This is a surprise. I had heard rumors before, but it’s hard to believe that it is now official,” Kazmir said after Tampa Bay’s 6-2 loss to Detroit. “It’s a disappointment because of all the relationships I’ve built in the organization and the city, but you can’t control the business side of the game.”

The Angels and Rays had extensive conversations before the trade deadline about Kazmir, who is 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA.

Tampa Bay receives two minor leaguers — left-hander Alex Torres and infielder Matt Sweeney — and a player to be named later in the deal.

“We’re very excited about the player that we can’t name yet, but also about the other two,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “The lefty has a great arm, and Sweeney is one of the best hitters in the minors.”

Kazmir leaves Tampa as the franchise all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, and several other pitching categories. Tampa has a record of 69-58 and are still in the playoff hunt for a wild card spot. So why trade Kazmir.

John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times fills us in-

The Rays just got better in 2010. And 2011, for that matter.

And all it may have cost them was a chance for the playoffs in 2009.

That’s pretty much what this Scott Kazmir trade means. By getting out from under Kazmir’s overpriced contract, the Rays will have a better chance to keep the core of their team together in the next couple of seasons, and that, absolutely, is a good thing.

But there’s no way to spin this trade to make you believe the Rays have a better shot at defending their American League pennant today. Not by taking their No. 3 starter out of the rotation. And not by sending him to the team the Rays would most likely face in the first round of the playoffs if they somehow beat the odds and win the AL wild card.

For now, this trade stinks. There’s no other way to paint it. You could say the Rays have Andy Sonnanstine and Wade Davis in Triple A, and so the rotation is not without options. But if those guys were better than Kazmir, they would have already been with the team.

Whatever carpe diem means, this is the opposite.

Other than for financial reasons, the trade makes no sense. I bet there are a lot of irate baseball fans in Tampa right now.


Tampa Bay Rays acquire Reliever Russ Springer

There must be a ‘I need another ancient relief pitcher’ virus going around the offices of MLB teams at this moment. From the St. Petersburg Times-

The Rays had interest in adding veteran Russ Springer to their bullpen anyway. After going through two extra-inning games in four days, they believed it was even more important to make a move.

The 40-year-old right-hander was claimed on waivers from Oakland, with the Rays assuming the nearly $1 million remaining on his $3.3 million contract.


Springer was 0-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 48 games with Oakland but had a 1.61 ERA over 25 games since early June.

The addition of Springer required Tampa to make another personnel move.

The Rays’ decision to designate IF Joe Dillon for assignment to make room for Springer wasn’t cut-and-dried. Ultimately, the Rays decided to go with eight relievers and three bench players in large part because they had played two extra-inning games this week.

Though Dillon rarely got off the bench, Maddon said he didn’t like having to cut him loose. In addition to being a fan of Dillon’s approach to the game, Maddon will have to be especially creative with the way he uses his bench.

That’s an understatement. Only three bench players severely limits a manager’s options. One of those backups has to be a catcher, the most likely player to get injured in any given game. Managers are a cautious lot, and will be cautious in using their only backup catcher. That limits a team’s strategy moves with only three bench players even more.

Springer, like the recently traded David Weathers, has been all over the major leagues for fifteen plus years. He is a decent reliever, but for the reasons I already stated, I don’t understand why Tampa needed this guy.


Rookie Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart dead at 22

He was killed by a drunk driver only hours after he made his MLB debut. The Angels have had their share of tragedies in their almost 50 years as a baseball franchise. Chico Ruiz, Mike Miley, and one other player were killed in 1970′s auto accidents. Lyman Bostock was shot to death, and Donnie Moore committed suicide. Tragic and RIP.


Former MLB Manager Preston Gomez dead at 85

He was the first ever manager of the San Diego Padres. Before that he worked in the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodger organization and had a very brief career as a player. RIP


Former MLB Pitcher Nick Willhite dead at 67

A hard throwing lefty, he was on two world series rosters with the Los Angeles Dodgers but never appeared on the mound. Two interesting notes about his career.

He was sold and repurchased by the LA Dodgers in less than seven months.

More notably, he was traded by the California Angels to the New York Mets in 1967 for Jack Hamilton. This set in motion the beaning of Boston Red Sox slugger Tony Conigliaro later in the season. Jack Hamilton was the pitcher whose pitch helped destroy that promising player’s career. Thought I would share that trivia. RIP Nick.


NY Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez to 3-year deal

I hope this works out better for the Mets than their signing of Pedro Martinez back in 2004. From AP-

Francisco Rodriguez and the New York Mets completed their $37 million, three-year contract Wednesday.

Rodriguez saved 62 games for the Los Angeles Angels this year, five more than the previous big league mark set by Bobby Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox in 1990, and then filed for free agency.


Rodriguez’s agent, Paul Kinzer, had hoped to get a five-year contract, possibly equaling the $15 million average salary Mariano Rivera is earning from the New York Yankees.

But with baseball executives worried about the national recession, Kinzer accepted a more modest deal. The Mets were a natural fit because they were one of the few big-market teams looking for an elite closer this offseason.

Because Johan Santana wears No. 57, Rodriguez will switch to No. 75.

Baseball history has shown few relievers(Mariano Rivera is an obvious exception. On the other hand how many of you remember Mark Davis?) able to stay at the top more than 2-3 years, so I deem this a risky move.


Former MLB Coach Tom Burgess dead at 82

He also played professional hockey and had two brief stints a major league baseball player. RIP.

Tom Burgess, who played briefly in the major leagues before serving as a coach under Joe Torre and Bobby Cox, has died. He was 81.

A member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Burgess died Monday at his Lambeth home after a battle with cancer, Baseball Canada said.

Burgess spent most of his professional playing career in the minors but had two short stints in the big leagues as an outfielder and first baseman. He went 1-for-21 (.048) at the plate with the 1954 St. Louis Cardinals and didn’t get back to the majors until eight years later, when he batted .196 with two homers and 13 RBIs for the 1962 Los Angeles Angels.

After his playing career ended, Burgess managed at many levels for St. Louis, Atlanta, the New York Mets, Texas and Detroit. He was third base coach for the Mets under Joe Frazier and Torre in 1977 and for Atlanta under Cox in 1978.

Burgess also coached and managed for Baseball Canada and Baseball Ontario.

“Tom could not give enough back to baseball,” Tom Valcke, president of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a phone interview Thursday. “He would teach anyone, anytime, everything he knew, as long as they wanted to learn and to work.”

As well as the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Burgess also is a member of the London, Ontario, sports Hall of Fame and the Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame.


Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver cut by dugout bench

Where’s OSHA when you need them? From AP-

There are all kinds of ways to get hurt playing baseball. Just ask Jered Weaver, who proved this week that even the comfort of the dugout bench is no safe refuge from danger.

The Los Angeles Angels right-hander managed to cut the tips of his middle and ring fingers on his pitching hand while pushing himself up off the bench in the visitor’s dugout at Detroit’s Comerica Park on Tuesday night.

The cuts will not require stitches, but Weaver will miss his scheduled turn in the rotation on Friday night and will next pitch against the New York Yankees on Monday. Dustin Moseley, who was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday, will start in place of Weaver against the White Sox on Friday.

Just bizzare. We’ll have to wait some time before knowing if this becomes as infamous as John Smoltz burning himself with an iron or Pascual Perez getting lost on a Atlanta freeway.


Losing no-hitters

Last night you might have heard that Angels pitcher Jered Weaver and Jos̩ Arredondo pitched a no-hitter against the LA Dodgers Рand lost.

Here’s how the run scored:

Weaver (7-8) was victimized by his own fielding error with one out in the fifth inning that allowed Matt Kemp to reach first.

Kemp’s spinning squibber rolled to the right of the mound and Weaver rushed toward first base to grab the ball, but bobbled it. The ruling on whether it was a hit or an error was a close one, since Weaver would have had to field the ball cleanly — and first baseman Casey Kotchman was off the bag. Official scorer Don Hartack ruled it an error.

“I believe if he just picked it up with his bare hand and flipped it, he gets him by a good step and a half,” Hartack said. “So my thinking was, it really wasn’t a bang-bang play. I looked at the replay once and it looked like Kemp was a good seven steps away, so my thinking was Weaver had plenty of time to make the out.”

Kemp completely agreed with the scoring.

“I hit it off the end of the bat and it had a little funky English on it,” he said. “He could have made the play, but he just dropped the ball. It was an error. I mean, if they’d have given me a hit, I’d have been happy. But it was an error by far.”

Kemp stole second and continued to third on catcher Jeff Mathis’ throwing error, then scored on Blake DeWitt’s sacrifice fly.

This was the fifth time in baseball history that a team pitching the no-hitter lost. The complete list:

Allowed 0 Hits, Lost Game
Year Pitcher(s) Team
2008 J. Weaver, J. Arredondo Angels
1992 Matt Young Red Sox
1990 Andy Hawkins Yankees
1967 S. Barber, S. Miller Orioles
1964 Ken Johnson Colt .45′s

Last night’s game does not count as a no-hitter as MLB changed the rules to only count it as no-hitter when the pitcher(s) pitch at least 9 innings and complete the game.

I knew that the Orioles had once lost a no-hitter to the Tigers 2 – 1 but I just saw that the worst such loss was suffered by Andy Hawkins of the Yankees. He lost to the White Sox 4 – 0 on July 1, 1990.

Hawkins suffered the defeat when a two-out fly ball hit by Robin Ventura with the bases loaded was dropped in left field by a Yankee rookie, Jim Leyritz, allowing three runs to score. Ventura scored another run when Jesse Barfield, blinded momentarily by the sun, dropped a fly ball hit to right by Ivan Calderon.

Hawkins wasn’t certain how to separate his emotions afterward. Fans cheered him when the game was over and his teammates applauded him when he entered the clubhouse, but he never allowed himself to smile.

”I’m stunned; I really am,” he said, still standing on the field. ”This is not even close to the way I envisioned a no-hitter would be. You dream of one, but you never think it’s going to be a loss. You think of Stewart and Fernando, coming off the field in jubilation. Not this.”

The next year, Hawkins was a little more philosophical.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.


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