Sports Outside the Beltway

Balked- Philadelphia beats San Diego 3-2 in 12 innings

The Padres tied the game in the 9th inning. From AP-

(Brian) Lidge was one strike from saving a 2-1 win for Roy Oswalt when he balked with the bases loaded, bringing in Jerry Hairston Jr. with the tying run. Facing Chase Headley, Lidge started his motion and then stopped as he appeared to glance at Hairston at third.

Lidge called his balk “a bizarre thing.”

He said he was moving the ball into his glove to get his grip when the ball hit his glove and started coming out. He looked down while his momentum was taking him forward.

“Basically I had to step off or I would have fallen on my face,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to explain. It happened pretty quick. Suffice it say I wasn’t thrilled about that, and probably in a million more windups, something like that wouldn’t happen. Fortunately, we won the game.”

Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs, who was with the Phillies the last two seasons, led off the ninth with a single. Hairston pinch ran and was sacrificed to second by David Eckstein. Miguel Tejada grounded out, Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked and Lidge hit Ryan Ludwick in the right hand with a pitch to load the bases and bring up Headley, who after the balk grounded out to end the inning.

It was Lidge’s fifth blown save in 22 chances.

Honestly with the bases loaded, two out in the ninth, the only thing the pitcher should be focused on is the batter at the plate. Not the baserunners.


MLB Outfielder Brian Giles retires

This is strange. For the second straight day, a member of a Star Tournament team that I came in 2nd with in 2001, has retired. First Nomar Garciaparra, now Giles. Giles was also a member of a winning tournament team of mine. Actually his two-run 8th inning triple won me Game 7 in that event.

Star Tournament sentimentality aside, Giles was a very good left fielder for over a decade. Just under 1,900 career hits and 300 homeruns. Good luck in retirement Brian.

The battle for the Dodgers’ left-handed pinch-hitting spot was reduced to two players on Thursday after non-roster outfielder Brian Giles, a 15-year veteran and two-time All-Star, retired from baseball.Brian Giles

Giles was with the Padres last season but has not played since June 18. He came to Dodgers camp with doubts as to how the knee would respond, and said the day he reported he would know what he was capable of fairly quickly.

“We went into this with our eyes open to what the challenges were going to be and how difficult it was going to be [for Giles],” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Thursday. “My only regret is that he won’t have a chance to play here. Most of the last 14 years, I’ve watched him do damage to whatever team I was with at the time.”

Giles appeared in two Cactus League games for Los Angeles this spring, both as a designated hitter, going 0-for-4 with a walk.

“The way it felt during the two-week period since I got here, the little bit of testing I did on it, it wasn’t up to my expectations, the way I expect to compete and the things I need to do,” Giles said. “I thought about it last night, talked about it with Ned and my agent. There are no regrets. Obviously, I want to play and feel that I can play but I’m physically not able to do what I expect myself to do.”

After grounding into a force play in the sixth inning Wednesday against Arizona, Giles was lifted for a pinch hitter and jogged off the field, apparently his final act as a major league player.

Giles, a two-time All-Star, is a career .291 hitter with 287 home runs and 1,078 RBI in 1,847 games.


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.


MLB Infielder Mark Loretta announces his retirement

He is taking a job in the front office of the San Diego Padres. From ESPN-

Mark Loretta has announced his retirement as a player and has been hired by the San Diego Padres as special assistant to baseball operations.

Loretta’s playing career spanned 15 big league seasons. He played with the Padres from 2003-05. Loretta most recently was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.


A two-time All-Star, Loretta finished his career with a .295 batting average with a .360 on-base percentage. His best season came in 2004 for the Padres when he set career highs in batting average (.335), homers (16) and RBIs (76).

Loretta originally came up with Milwaukee. He was a good player, more valuable with the bat than with the glove. Last year he had a very poor year by his standards, so it was probably a good time for him to retire.


Colorado Rockies sign C Miguel Olivo

He played for the Kansas City Royals last season. From AP-

The Colorado Rockies and catcher Miguel Olivo agreed to a $2.5 million, one-year contract Monday that includes a club option for 2011.

Olivo will share catching duties with Chris Iannetta. Free agent Yorvit Torrealba wanted to return to the Rockies but the sides couldn’t reach a deal this offseason.

Olivo hit .249 with 23 home runs and 65 RBIs in 114 games for the Kansas City Royals last season, when he served as AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke’s catcher for 31 of his 33 starts. He threw out 18 of 74 base stealers, a 24.3 percent mark that ranked third in the AL.

The well traveled 31-year-old veteran plays good defense and has power which but doesn’t hit for average and has very low on base percentages. I see the one-year signing as a plus for Colorado


Chicago Cubs trade OF Milton Bradley to Seattle

Do not pass Go, and do not collect $200*. From ESPN-

The Mariners and Chicago Cubs have announced a trade that sends outfielder Milton Bradley to Seattle for right-handed pitcher Carlos Silva.

According to sources familiar with the deal, the Mariners will send a total of $9 million to the Cubs in the deal — about $3 million in 2010 and about $6 million in 2011.

That money could allow the Cubs to obtain a center fielder and move Kosuke Fukudome back to right field. They’ve expressed interest in free agents including Marlon Byrd, Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik.

But they’ve also explored potential trades for a center fielder — most prominently, Curtis Granderson, before he was traded to the New York Yankees.

Silva is owed $11.5 million for both 2010 and 2011; in 2012, he is due either a $12 million option or a $2 million buyout. Bradley is owed about $23 million on his deal.


Bradley batted .257 with 12 home runs and 40 runs batted in last season. He has a .277 career batting average, but his time in the majors has been beset by injuries and run-ins with teammates and fans. Through 2009, he’s played for seven teams in nine seasons, with 115 HRs and 439 RBIs.


Silva signed a four-year, $48 million deal with the Mariners after the 2008 season and has been a disappointment in Seattle, going 5-18 the past two seasons. He appeared in eight games last season, going 1-3 with an 8.60 ERA.

For his career, he’s 60-64 with two saves and a 4.72 ERA in 295 appearances with the Phillies, Twins and Mariners.

For whatever it is worth, reports from Venezuela say Silva’s arm is healthy again.

So why would Seattle trade him? Salary perhaps, or concerns about Silva’s arm may still be persisting. I see this trade as two teams wanting to rid themselves of high priced and risky property. Your guess is as good as mine if Chicago or Seattle make good from this deal.


Eight men on- Chicago Cubs tie ML consecutive hit record

The last team to open a game with 8 consecutive hits was the 2000 New York Yankees. From AP-

In the midst of a disappointing season, the Chicago Cubs started a game like no team has in almost two decades.

Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome had two-run hits in a record-tying first inning and the Cubs handed the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates their 11th loss in 12 games, 9-4 on Tuesday night.

The Cubs tied the major league record with eight hits to start the game against the Pirates on Tuesday. They’ve done it before.

Chicago tied a major league record with eight consecutive hits to start the game. The most recent team to do that was the New York Yankees, on Sept. 25, 1990 against the Baltimore Orioles.

With yesterday’s win, the Cubs improved their record to 70-67. They are out of the playoff picture which means it will be at least 65 years between World Series appearances for the franchise.


Colorado Reliever Alan Embree’s right leg broken by line drive

The injury has to be considered career threatening. From AP-

Colorado Rockies left-hander Alan Embree is out for the season after a line drive fractured his right tibia on Friday night.

Embree will have surgery Saturday.

“There will be some type of compression screw put in there,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Atlanta’s Martin Prado hit a 3-2 fastball from Embree back up the middle in the seventh inning Friday night. The ball ricocheted off Embree’s right shin to third baseman Ian Stewart.

“It sounded awful,” Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta said. “I couldn’t even track the ball it was hit so hard. It sounded really bad.”


Embree, who signed as a free agent with the Rockies this past offseason, was 2-2 with a 5.84 ERA in 36 appearances.

Embree is 37-43 lifetime in a career that started in 1992. Other than 4 games he started in 92 for the Cleveland Indians, he’s been exclusively a left handed relief specialist for 10 MLB teams. I have always liked Embree, he was a key part of a winning Star tournament team of mine, but his career looked to be in decline before this injury. If he reestablishes himself as a quality pitcher in 2010, I’ll be greatly surprised.


SF Giant Jonathan Sanchez throws a no-hitter

Only Padre batter reached base in the near perfect game. From AP-

On a night when Jonathan Sanchez was nearly perfect, his father chose the perfect time to show up in San Francisco and cheer him.

The Giants left-hander threw the majors’ first no-hitter of the season Friday night and came within a whisper of a perfect game. The only runner to reach against him in an 8-0 victory over the San Diego Padres came on an error by third baseman Juan Uribe with one out in the eighth.


Sanchez almost lost his no-hit bid in the ninth, but Gold Glove center fielder Aaron Rowand saved the gem with a leaping grab at the center-field fence to rob pinch-hitter Edgar Gonzalez for the second out.

“I was going to go up and over and land on the other side of the fence if I had to, to try to make the catch,” Rowand said.

The 26-year-old Sanchez (3-8) returned to the rotation after a nearly three-week demotion to the bullpen — and only got the call because 303-game winner Randy Johnson went on the disabled list this week with a shoulder injury.

The last Giant to throw a no-hitter was John ‘The Count’ Montefusco in 1976. Does anyone know, without checking the internet, which Giant pitcher threw one immediately before Montefusco? I know the answer because the Giant in question did it against my favorite team, The New York Mets.

Sanchez was brilliant last night, 11 strikeouts and no walks. However, he will more than likely go down as one of the less notable pitchers to throw a no-hitter. Sanchez is 16-24 so far in his MLB career. The answer to my trivia question is below the fold.


NY Met Gary Sheffield hits 500th homer of his career

He became the 25th player in baseball history to reach that milestone. From AP-

Gary Sheffield crossed home plate and thrust his arms in the air after unleashing his 500th homer with another vicious swing, and then the surly slugger was humbled by the site of his new Mets teammates pouring out of the dugout.

Sheffield was greeted with hugs and high fives after becoming the 25th player to reach the milestone with a tying homer in the seventh inning Friday. The party switched focus in the bottom of the ninth when Luis Castillo hit a two-out, run-scoring single to give the Mets a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I was so excited that, you know, when I looked over to the dugout, those were the guys,” said Sheffield, who signed with New York on April 4 after being released by Detroit four days earlier. “I appreciate every one of those guys. They’ve been very special to me.”

Last night’s homer came against the franchise Sheffield started his career with. He was drafted by Milwaukee in 1986.

Should Sheffield be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame one day? Besides his home runs, he has a career .292 batting average but more impressively a .394 career on base percentage. There is no question, Sheffield has been an offensive machine for two decades. The case against his induction is fairly strong. Sheffield has been a defensive liability his entire career, has had behavioral and discipline problems on and off the field, and as a result traveled extensively. Not too many HOFers have played for eight teams in their career.

Tim Kurkjian of ESPN writes-

Sheffield was not named in the Mitchell report, but in his testimony before a grand jury in the BALCO case in 2003, he acknowledged using “the cream” and “the clear,” but said he didn’t know they were steroids at the time. Still, that admission raises questions about steroid use even though he has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. From 1988-98, he had two 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons. From 1999-on, which appears to be the height of the steroid era, he had seven straight years of 25 homers, and six of his eight 100-RBI seasons.

Sheffield’s case is a tricky one. He has always played hard, he has often helped his team win, and he has been a middle-of-the-order hitter in the postseason with three different organizations, including a world championship team (the 1997 Marlins). He is not DiMaggio, obviously. He is not Schmidt, Griffey or Yastrzemski. Despite having similar numbers, he is not even close to being Frank Robinson, all things considered.

The marks against him are noticeable and troublesome, but his numbers — especially 500 home runs — are very impressive. His case is debatable, but I believe he’s a Hall of Famer.

His drug use is another factor to weigh for Sheffield. Should all players caught up in that scandal be excluded from the HOF? I don’t have a vote on who goes to Cooperstown, if I did, I don’t know if I would vote for Sheffield.


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