Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Orioles 6, Blue Jays 5 (F/10): Try Not to Blow Another Save On The Way to the Team Bus, Bullpen

Kevin Gregg: still loathsome.
First, the good (don't worry, this won't take long): Brett Lawrie continues to absolutely rake his first time around the league, last night adding a three-run homer to his completely awesome line so far (.329/.380/.682, 6 HR, 4 2B, 4 3B) in the second inning. And then much, much later -- in the ninth, in fact, when the utterly loathsome Kevin Gregg took the hill for the O's -- Dewayne Wise went into crafty veteran mode and stole third when the base was left undefended after a bunt attempt. Yeah, a bunt attempt: there was no bunt, but everybody charged, and nobody covered third, and Dewayne Wise dared to be great. Have I mentioned Kevin Gregg threw five straight balls to dudes clearly trying to bunt? Totally happened. Anyway, the Blue Jays, trailing by one at the time, only managed to plate the tying run before E5, who looked totally lost up there, grounded out to end the inning. 

After Casey Janssen pitched a solid bottom of the ninth, Kelly Johnson led off the tenth with a triple, and came home on a wild pitch, you would think everything would be cool, right? Run Janssen back out there, and seal the deal, n'est-ce pas? But no. Instead, we were treated to one of these:

The only difference here is that rather than Cito, the man we must blame is acting manager Dan Wakamatsu, subbing for the pneumoniac John Farrell. But yeah, Brian Tallet. So that was that, Orioles 6, Blue Jays 5, walk-off win. "I know they had to take Brian Tallet, but to use him," my wife trailed off from the other room as she overheard this nonsense. 

This is easily the worst Toronto bullpen I have ever seen, and I hate it. Everybody but Casey Janssen should be catapulted. I miss Jason Frasor and Scott Downs. That is what I have been reduced to, my friends: missing Jason Frasor and Scott Downs.



The Giants DFA'd Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand today, which is layman's terms means they've been "future endeavored".

I don't really know how to process this. On one hand, I'm over the moon that the Giants were finally able to realize 1. these are sub-replacement-level performers and 2. they actually understand what "sunk cost" means. BOTH of these revelations are ENORMOUS leaps forward from the status quo that Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy have maintained for the duration of their respective tenures.

On the other hand, the Tejada move comes a couple months too late, and the Rowand move comes about a season too late. These were bad, bad baseball players, and they spent the bulk of the season hitting in the number one and number two spots of lineups, day in and day out. These moves today are akin to Sonny Corleone getting shot two less times at that toll booth.

But enough of this naysaying! The Giants are eating Rowand's contract for next year! That's something the entire Giants fanbase has clamored for this entire season and never honestly expected it to happen. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Giants Go Ahead and Pack it in for the Season

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 29: Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants gives the ball to manager Bruce Bochy #16 against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning during an MLB baseball game at AT&T Park August 29, 2011 in San Francisco, California. ...
Shed a tear for this beautiful man.

About 30 minutes before game time last night, I suddenly realized, "Oh yeah, I need to do a write-up about Monday's game." Then it dawned on me that I'd have to write about Tim Lincecum having perhaps the worst start of his career while the Giants were two-hit by a less-than-replacement pitcher with an ERA of over 6.00. So I went back to whatever I was doing instead (nothing).

Last night, the Giants unloaded the big guns for two entire runs. Sadly, the Cubs scored five. The Giants actually had ten hits, but on three (THREE!) separate occasions, Carlos Beltran stranded them to end the inning. Carlos Beltran doesn't want to be on this team, and that kind of hurts, but you can't really blame him. He thought he was going to the playoffs. Shame about that.

The Diamondbacks are six games in first place, and have a three game series with the Giants this weekend. It's not quite the end of the road for the Giants just yet, but it likely will be come Monday. Sometime between Saturday night and the beginning of the game yesterday, I resigned myself to acknowledging that the Giants aren't going to make the playoffs, and that it's been one hell of a season, and that I still love these guys and stranger things have happened, and that 2012 can only get better by default. It helped last night's game go down a lot smoother. I'll still be watching, cheering, recapping, tweeting, and grumbling about things, but the sense of "WE CAN DO THIS" is winding down. They can't do this, actually. Not these guys. The Diamondbacks are unstoppable, or at least they're unstoppable until the first round of playoffs, when they get unscrupulously manhandled by the Braves, Brewers, or Phillies.

Next year, fellas. Next year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I'm confused by the apple. How does an apple poop? Unless it's meant to convey a food high in fiber which helps you poop, in which case it throws into question the other pictures. Is that why that kid looks so mad? Because someone is going to eat him so they can poop? Or is it just because he's constipated? There are so many questions. I guess that horse is about to poop, but again, the apple's presence suggests we should be eating more horse's asses which is . . . wait, is this furry propaganda of some sort? Meanwhile, the duck abides. Anyway, uh, go Tigers.

Blue Jays 7, Rays 3: This Is So Much More Like It, You Have No Idea

You got stuck in a rundown, and you can't get out of it.
Nobody knows exactly what hitting coach Dwayne Murphy said in the team meeting yesterday in which he is thought to have implored everyone to stop yapping at the umpires, except of course for me, with a big assist from both Imagination and the viewless wings of Poesy: "OK then (Jose Bautista), so everybody (Jose Bautista), I am going to keep this short (Jose Bautista), but (Jose Bautista) let's all just agree to lay off the umps (Jose Bautista), because it's getting out of hand (Jose Bautista), and we're getting the kind of reputation that's hard to shake (Jose Bautista), and the bottom line (Jose Bautista) is that it's not doing us any favours (Jose Bautista), so let's just cut it out. Jose Bautista." This issue had been troubling me, and so I am very glad that this has been dealt with.

I am equally glad that the Blue Jays avoided the four-game sweep last night by hitting everything. Ricky Romero once again looked slightly below his usual top-notch self: three runs over six is far from poor, but four walks to go along with six hits (including two Johnny Damon dingers, no less) and only two strikeouts is subprime Romering. But who cares? Every Blue Jay in the lineup last night had a hit, except for Dewayne Wise (did I mention Colby Rasmus is on the DL, and that that sucks?), but let's be reasonable in our expectations re: Dewayne Wise. It was just straight-up mashing of the best kind: Jose Bautista's thirty-eighth home run; Adam Lind's twenty-third; Kelly Johnson's three hits, including a triple; J. P. Arencibia's three hits, including a double, a triple, and a stolen base. All these things occurred, and owned. 

And the bullpen! Nobody would tell you the Blue Jays bullpen is anything but a butt, and so we should really show warmth and appreciation in the direction of Litsch, Janssen, and Francisco for allowing but one hit in three innings of relief last night, because it would have been depressing as hell to have blown that one, and don't act like it couldn't happen, because that sort of thing is happening on the reg/is killing me. Ricky Ro' is now a pretty choice 13-9 with a 2.84 ERA and four complete games (two shutouts). I know the advanced stats prefer Brandon "I'd rather look at the nerd stats" Morrow this year, bless his heart, and I am not a PITCHER WINZ guy by any stretch, but I just feel a whole lot better with Romero on the hill, friends, what can I tell you. The man is a bulldog out there, A Bulldog.   

In short, bring on the O's.

Hey also: I am not here to tell anybody how they would best enjoy the game of baseball, but let me say, you can do a whole lot worse than getting rid of all of your cable, giving our evil overlords at MLB twenty dollars to get access to every game on the radio (blackout free!), spending twenty minutes a day watching the luxurious and non-YankeeSox-centric game recaps at (blackout free!), and checking in on whatever the MLB.TV free game of the day is (pending blackouts). It is seriously incredible how much baseball there is out there, and the kind of access we have to it. Being a baseball fan in 2011 is roughly a zillion times better than it was to be a baseball fan, say, twenty-five years ago. Let us not loose site of this (unless you really liked the Expos, I guess, in which case I would forgive you for loosing sight of this). Sometimes I think that the only thing about baseball that might not be as awesome as it was when I was a kid is baseball cards, but then you see something like the 2011 Topps Prince Fielder, and wonder if any baseball card has ever captured l'essence of its subject better:

Fattest vegan alive, friends; act surprised.
But then you remember, oh yeah right, his 2010 Topps:

Really, this got him beaned? Really? 
Anyway. Baseball. Let's hear it for it. 


Monday, August 29, 2011

Rays 12, Blue Jays 0: I don't approve of spankings.

Touch 'em all, damn near everybody; touch 'em all.
Just the worst kind of awful. Even before the thoroughly horrible six-run, bat-around ninth, this game was the least good thing. The Blue Jays struck out eighteen times yesterday and managed but five hits -- two by Brett Lawrie, and actually one must acknowledge Mike McCoy's improbable three walks somewhere, so why not right here -- and clearly pitching was an issue. Brandon Morrow gave up three home runs. Out of the 'pen, Rommie Lewis and Carreno were largely blameless, but Wilfredo Ledezma gave up six runs in a single inning of work and got DFA'd for I believe the second time. With this fourth straight loss, the Blue Jays are now below .500 for the first time in over a month, and I hate it.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Giants Manage to Split Series with Remorseless Astros

San Francisco Giants' Jeff Keppinger, center, celebrates with Orlando Cabrera (43) and teammates after hitting the game winning single to score Mark DeRosa against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Saturday,...
Great bunch of guys. Shame about the season.

I was able to attend Saturday night's game at AT&T Park, which held all sorts of adventures relating to Tim Lincecum bobblehead day, then became largely uneventful for two hours while the Giants attempted to not get one-hit by the Astros, and culminated with a very exciting walk-off win, perhaps the Giants' last of the season. Eric Surkamp made his major-league pitching debut, fresh up from AA Richmond, and had a shaky but solid start -- quite possibly the best performance from a 5th Giants starter this season.

For a few brief hours after the game on Saturday night, it felt like the first-half 2011 Giants. The insane magic of close games in front of a rabid AT&T crowd. A new contribution from a different player each night. An interchangeable array of improbably good pitching and timely, necessary hits. Then Sunday arrived, and the Giants attempted to not get no-hit by the Astros before blowing a late lead and not holding two extra-innings tie scores.

This team can't hit. The bullpen is gutted. The starting pitchers are fatigued from knowing they'll have to throw a shutout or they're going to lose. The Diamondbacks refuse to lose. The Giants are four games out of first place and their offense isn't waking up. It doesn't show any sign of waking up. They're still fighting their hearts out, but even with a month left, the writing appears to be on the wall. Every day it looks just a little bit more that it's the D-Backs' year.

72-59, 73-59, 73-60

Whoa, I got kinda behind there in a hurry. Forgiv-a-ness PLEASE. I'll make it up by writing a ridiculous post at some point about what Justin Verlander means to the Tigers and to fans like me. Well, maybe not just like me because, well . . . come on, but still. But still!

Rays 6, Blue Jays 5: And Yet There Was Much to Like

This close to a triple play!
Maybe it was the lawn-mowing-perfect-summer-Saturdayness of it all, but I enjoyed the heck out of yesterday's long, lazy game. Which is saying something, because Shawn Camp and Jesse Litsch combined to ruin Louis Perez's solid start with a three-run seventh (curse you, B. J. Upton) and the Blue Jays' comeback ultimately fell a run short. And actually, this one-run loss came on a day when Jose Bautista totally misread an Adam Lind drive off the wall in the first. There can be absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind (least of all Bautista's) that he should have scored on that play, but he didn't, and yet here I am, utterly undespondent. I just really like that Eric Thames went 2-4 with a home run late (after a nine-pitch at bat!); that E5 homered and walked; and that J. P. Arencibia doubled and threw out three baserunners (and nearly picked a dude off first, which is arguably the ultimate form of catcher awesomeness). Even Bautista, while not at his best, doubled, walked, and threw a guy out at third, you know? Just all kind of cool things happening yesterday, even if the end result isn't what I might have had in mind. 

Hey, did you hear that A. J. Burnett allowed six straight extra base hits the other day? Isn't that awesome? I can't think of a single baseball player that, broadly speaking, I don't want to do well, beyond a simple "I hope they do not do well against the Blue Jays" -- it's just not how I enjoy the game, and I'm not suggesting this is better or worse than a legitimately hate-filled approach, which is a totally viable way to enjoy sports, obviously -- except for maybe A. J. Burnett. And so his recent struggles have, well, they haven't made me glad, exactly, but I have certainly chuckled. Not chuckling: A. J. Burnett.

A. J. Burnett, shown here not chuckling.
The struggles of A. J. Burnett make up for things like the Yankees hitting three grand slams in a single game against Oakland this week (they batted sixteen times with the bases loaded, which is maybe the even crazier stat). 

Finally, how did I not mention previously that the Arizona Diamondbacks this week fielded an infield that was identical to a 2007 Blue Jays infield, and that according to Retrosheet, that has probably never happened before? McDonald, Hill, Roberts, Overbay. That is nutty! 

Actually finally, here is a neat picture where you can see the field reflected in Tim Tschida's mask. Neat!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rays 6, Blue Jays 1: Jose Baustista Finally Gets Run

That girl in the middle is aghast. She is awesome.
James Shields went the distance, besting twenty-one-year-old Henderson Alvarez, who allowed four runs over six. But the real highlight last night (aside from the five dingers, and I know we all enjoy dingers) was Jose Bautista finally getting tossed after his third strikeout of the night (video here). I say "finally" because Bautista is a fiery dude, and talks to/at the umpires kind of a lot. Bautista obviously has a first-rate eye and uncommon plate discipline, and honestly, when he takes close pitches and they're called strikes, he's usually right that they were pretty funny looking strikes. But he's really got to lay off the umps, not because I object to baseball players arguing with umpires or anything (I am not made of stone), but because it's not doing him any favours, right? Nobody likes to be shown up, and I've got to think Bautista is starting to get a reputation. For awesomeness, obviously, but also for yapping. 


Friday, August 26, 2011


I couldn't find a picture of Ajax being fisted, which would have summed up the game perfectly, and which I was SURE was included as a scene in The Iliad - maybe it was just my copy, which was translated by Larry Flynt - and so I was forced to just go with a picture of this majestic and regal tiger instead. Oh well. Such is life.

Royals 9, Blue Jays 6: Toronto Drops Series to Kansas City Juggernaut

If you are wondering whether or not this dropped pop up led to runs, know that it totally, totally did.
Not great. The Blue Jays came back from a 4-3 west coast road trip -- which, given the way the Blue Jays play out west, is an unassailable triumph -- only to lose two out of three to the perennially, deservedly lowly Kansas City Royals, a team which I have not yet forgiven for 1985, when they had the audacity to come back against an obviously superior Blue Jays team in the American League Championship Series and deprive Toronto's best-ever baseball team the championship it so richly totally didn't deserve because it couldn't beat Kansas City in the ALCS. I was six.

Rather than focus on the negative coming out of last night's s-show, however, I would like to take a moment to point out that J. P. Arencibia hit his twentieth home run of the season, tying John Buck's all-time team-high mark for catchers, leaving him only four behind Eric Hinske (lol)'s Blue Jays rookie record of twenty four. Should we also note that Jose Bautista went 2-3 with a double and two walks, and at this point should pretty clearly win the AL MVP this year and actually might because of Ellsbury/Pedroia/Gonzalez vote splitting? Let us also note that E5, who has been absolutely tearing it up in the second half, is having the weirdest year ever: how is it even possible to hit 13 HR and 31 2B and only have 42 RBI? That is legitimately shocking. I was no less shocked when it was demonstrated at Drunk Jays Fans (which has been so much better this season than last, you have no idea) that E5 is basically the fourth-best DH in the league, and the three guys who are better cost a comparative fortune. He is an enigma, this E5.

But the final word today goes to Brett Cecil, whose countenance here speaks to last night's awfulness.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blue Jays 4, Royals 3: Brett Lawrie Homers and Triples; Jose Bautista Homers and Owns

Call it two.
It's probably crazy to like anything from last night's Blue Jays win over the Royals more than the Brett Lawrie solo shot in the seventh that put Toronto in front for good, but here I am thinking about Jose Bautista's two-run homer in the fourth more than anything else. Luke Hochevar started the inning by plunking Yunel Escobar, who got a little heated up about it. Escobar was probably in the wrong: there really isn't any reason to think there was anything intentional about what had just happened. But Escobar didn't like it. And so after Jose Bautista ripped a ball off the facing of the third deck in left, Bautista lingered for a moment at the plate, staring at Hochevar, and, indeed into the very souls of the haters. It was clearly an act of backing his dude up, even if his dude was wrong and is, to many (though not to me), quite unlikable. Jose Bautista is the best, man. Not unlike Eli, he did it.

Also it is worth noting that this was the first time Ricky Romero wasn't awesome in like six weeks. I'm going to let it slide.


Attn: Phillies

I don't care if you win the World Series.  I don't care if you win the next ten World Series.  Because on one day in August, you let this man, THIS HEAD CASE, THIS FRUSTRATING HAND LICKER who need 46 PITCHES to get out of the second inning beat you.  THIS PERSON, who WILLINGLY POSED for THIS PICTURE beat you. 

And that is a stink that's going to linger.  


You're goddamn right we will.

TIM LINCECUM, Giants Win 2-1

Good eye, ump. (h/t @8thInnWeirdness)

Tim Lincecum is an unstoppable beast. If he was on the Phillies or the Yankees or the Brewers or the Astros, or any other team with an unstoppable offense, he'd be 32-1. He does everything amazingly, even with a...let's say..."questionable" strike zone, as seen above. He'll give you 8 innings and less than two earned runs, all you have to do is give him two to three runs. Sometimes, he'll even bust out his own RBI single that ends up making the difference in the game. Tonight was pretty special.

Carlos Beltran had two hits, including his first home run as a Giant. That was pretty cool. And even though Brandon Belt made a huge baserunning error that culminated in an inning-ending double play, he had three hits, including a triple, and a stolen base. Good thing he was batting seventh! Note to Bruce Bochy: don't bat your hottest, best, and most patient hitter seventh. It's sort of an "unwritten rule."

A series split with the Padres to stay two games back. I'll take it. The Astros come to town tomorrow for a four-game series, and hopefully they won't walk all over the Giants QUITE so much this time around.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Royals 6, Blue Jays 4: But I'm Not Trying to Hear That Right Now

Patience, my pets. Patience.
When I turned the game on last night, the Blue Jays were down 6-0. Brandon Morrow was out of the game, and Bruce Chen yeah Bruce Chen was totally carving up the Blue Jays lineup. I turned it off, thinking I had all the Blue Jays news I needed. Not so! Much to my surprise -- to everyone's surprise, I think -- the Blue Jays shipped Aaron Hill and John McDonald to Arizona in exchange for Kelly Johnson. The way the story goes, the Diamondbacks came calling for Johnny Mac, looking for his smooth-as-silk glove work no doubt, and Alex Anthopolous was pretty much like, " . . . so I heard you liked underperforming second basemen?" and Kevin Towers was like "not really, we've got one of those already" and then AA was like "Aaron Hill is the underperforming second baseman you are looking for, not Kelly Johnson" and Kevin Towers was like "Aaron Hill is the underperforming second baseman we are looking for, not Kelly Johnson," and the deal was done. I don't know anyone who has taken any pleasure at all in the lingering demise of Aaron Hill, who used to be straight-up awesome, but now can't hit a thing, and, what's more, isn't fielding the position well at all, as in, the guy isn't getting the ball out of his glove on double plays. It's awful, and makes me feel bad. Kelly Johnson is also bad, but better, and John McDonald has already indicated he wants to come back in the offseason. Here's how Eric Seidman summarized the deal at Fangraphs:

On the surface, this deal seems completely about the 2011 season, and under that guise it makes very little sense for the Diamondbacks. They downgraded at second base in a more significant way than they upgraded at shortstop, and potentially lost out on better compensation picks in the process. This is a head-scratcher.

I'm with Eric Seidman on this one. This is not a major deal in any way for either team, but I can't see how this makes any sense for Arizona, and I say that as a guy under no illusions on the subject of Kelly Johnson. In a minor way, Alex Anthopolous has totally done it again. The only thing that concerns me is how Jerry Howarth is handling all of this. That guy loves John McDonald like . . . like I don't even know, man. He just loves that guy.



Giants Don't Get No-Hit, Lose 7-5

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 23:  Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants argues with first base umpire Rob Drake after Drake called Orlando Hudson #1 of the San Diego Padres safe at first base in the second inning at AT&T Park on August 23, 2011 in San...
Ump: "Hey, maybe you should learn to win, asshole."

The Giants have a terrible call go against them, Matt Cain gives up his first home run in 80+ innings, and after that, it's academic.

For the first five innings or so, it looked like the Giants were going to get no-hit at home against the noxious Mat Latos, so it's a great thing that didn't happen. The whole first half of this game was one of the Giants' patented "find new ways to lose/squander every available opportunity" games. Aaron Rowand grounding out to kill a bases-loaded situation where Latos had just walked three Giants in a row. Three massive, ridiculous Giants errors. Aaron Rowand hitting an infield popup with a runner on third and one out, which would have brought the Giants within one run. The Giants wasting leadoff runner chances. Going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Aaron Rowand swinging at pitches that bounce in the other batter's box. Hmmm...I'm seeing a common theme here.

Oh yeah: Aaron Rowand started against a right-hander because Nate Schierholtz is injured. Yep. Also, Carlos Beltran was activated today, but didn't start, because he can probably only bat left-handed and refuses to bat righty-on-righty. Beltran did show up for a pinch-hit appearance with a couple of runners on, and promptly popped up to the infield.

Late in the game, the Giants scratched and clawed to tie it up, which is the most that they've looked like the first-half Giants since...well...the first half. Ramon Ramirez promptly coughed up a double, a nearly-disastrous sac bunt, a single, a wild pitch, and another single to lose the lead and the game in the top of the ninth. But the Giants were out of this game in the top of the first inning when they fell behind 1-0 and everyone in the park knew it but them. It's heartening to see that they didn't just roll over. Maybe if they hadn't had those three errors! Maybe if that blown call hadn't gone in favor of the Padres! Maybe if Miguel Tejada's pinch-hit liner in the eighth hadn't been right at the third baseman's glove! Maybe if Aaron Rowand wasn't completely worthless! Sometimes it's just bad luck I guess. It's really hard to tell when the Giants are a hard-luck team, or just a bad team. Pretty much indistinguishable at this point. The rallying cry from the Giants community is "They're bad, but they're not THIS bad." That's...that's not a good rallying cry.

The Giants fell to two games back today, because the Diamondbacks were able to snap their losing skid against an inferior team. Say, that sounds like something that the Giants should try! Whoops!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


The 2011 New York Mets Summarized In One Paragraph

"Judge Jed S. Rakoff’s barb in court late Friday afternoon -- when he thanked the lawyers involved in the suit against Fred Wilpon for giving him tons of paperwork because “otherwise I would have had to watch a Mets game, which would have been a very painful process” -- quickly filtered back to the team’s clubhouse at Citi Field. In fact, at least two people in uniform expressed somewhere between disbelief and disgust, not taking too kindly to the quip at their expense."

After crossing Item # 392 - "Zing the owners of a Major League Baseball franchise" off his bucket list, Jed Rakoff moved onto Item #393 - "Clone a theme park's worth of extinct dinosaurs from DNA extracted from fossilized mosquitoes."  

From Grant Brisbee to Carson Cistulli to Me to You, Dearest Baseball Feeler

Is that a bat in your stance or . . .
Over at NotGraphs, FanGraphs aesthete-in-chief Carson Cistulli links to a piece by Grant Brisbee in which many animated .gifs are used to demonstrate how baseball is awesome, and I urge you to go see. "Five Different Things Baseball Players Can Do With Their Bats" is the finest thing to emerge from the baseball internet in literally days. The above image is not from the piece itself, but is instead just Aaron Rowand doing that thing he does, which calls to (my) mind that thing that Reed Johnson does, where he steps out between pitches, sets the head of the bat in the ground, the knob resting atop his cup (you heard me), whilst he adjusts his batting gloves. I have always thought of this position as the tripod; only now does it occur to me that it could also be described as the reed johnson, if you follow me. That I can find no images demonstrating this position is even more disappointing to me than it is to you, so don't start.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Blue Jays 1, Athletics 0: Yussssssssss

Goodness me it is another dinger
Although I loathe Gregg Zaun as an analyst/commentator/smug bro, I shared his pre-game reservations about Luis Perez getting the start in the Blue Jays' series finale against the A's yesterday. Perez had been that rarest of birds: a Blue Jay who was reliable out of the bullpen. We don't have guys like that. Let's just . . . let's just go with that. Why push it? Obviously anybody who can be a starter should be, as there is vastly more value there, and I totally get that, but I, like Gregg Zaun, was like oh man this could be rough today. It was, however, not! Perez allowed but a lone hit, and worked out of a bases-loaded jam, and Casey Janssen, who should pretty clearly be the closer, didn't allow a hit in his three innings of relief. Blue Jays bats didn't do a whole heck of a lot better through the first six, though, with only two hits and no runs to show for them, but in the top of the seventh Jose Bautista hit is MLB-leading 36th home run of the season, no big deal. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Bautisa tripled, too, which was immaterial in the outcome of the game and so can only be read as a direct response to the continued, senseless hateration on the part of the haters, in my view.

What it do, Butters. What. It do. 
This is his "OH-it-is-another-dinger" face
The men of the hour . . . too sweet to be sour? Yes. Exactly that sweet.
That is how you end your west-coast swing, friends. On to Kansas City, where Romero and Morrow and maybe even Cecil will cut a swathe through that "lineup." (I hope.) 

Finally, I would like to note the extent to which Jerry Howarth had no time for Gregg Zaun's inanity  yesterday, and cut him dead in the middle innings. Here is what happened (quoted from memory, and you know how that goes, but still):

JH: Jammed on that pitch.
GZ: You know what I say, Jerry. It must have been jam, because jelly don't break no bats.
JH: I have heard you say that before, yes.
GZ: (chuckling) And does it make any more sense to you now?
JH: In Milwaukee today . . .

Jerry Howarth is a cool, cool killer. His pleasantness and good-natured love of the game of baseball can make you loose sight of that sometimes. And then he murders you, live on air. Yes sir. Let's admire this one


Sunday, August 21, 2011



Brandon Belt Can't Do It By Himself: Giants Win 6-4 in 11

HOUSTON - AUGUST 21:  PItcher Dan Runzler #45 of the San Francisco Giants leaves the game as manger Bruce Bochy #16 takes the ball in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 21, 2011 in Houston, Texas.
Bochy showed remarkable restraint not striking Runzler dead right there.

For once, the Giants almost lost a game due more to terrible starting pitching and worse luck than a completely anemic offense. After taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning behind a Brandon Belt home run, pinch-starter Dan "Herp de Derp What's a Strike Zone" Runzler gave up four runs in the third inning, then got yanked. It was real bad. The only thing worse was the Giants' luck. Baserunning gaffes, screaming line drives belted directly into Astros gloves, errant pickoff throws that bounce directly back to the second baseman, a wandering strike zone, Giants leadoff hitter reaching base in seven straight innings with no runs scored, and on and on.

It was only a monstrous home run by a Pablo Sandoval (who, until that point, had been 0-for-5 on that day) that allowed the Giants and their poor shellshocked bullpen a way-too-hard-fought win and, for the first time in seemingly forever, brought them within a game and a half of the Diamondbacks. It shouldn't have been like this. They shouldn't have been avoiding an Astros sweep today. An eleventh-inning win over the Houston Astros should not feel like a victory over the 1927 Mecha-Yankees. But such is the state of the team at this point. The Giants take the day off tomorrow to watch the D-Backs rough up the Marlins, then return home for six games against the Padres and Astros. If they take two of those six games, I'll weep fat tears of unimaginable joy.

Belt had four hits today, so it's a good thing he was sent down to Fresno all those times. Really took him to another level.

Athletics 5, Blue Jays 1: More Humiliating Than The Score Would Suggest

Add a little zest to your home-run trot with a vibrant yellow!
The A's took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when guy who exists only to field the ball John MacDonald booted a sure-fire double play ball. Young Henderson Alvarez totally kept them in it through his six innings of work, only to see the bullpen (Jessie Litsch and the improbably named Rommie Lewis) give up three runs in the bottom of the eighth, just in time to make the ninth inning pretty much meaningless. I hated this game.

Other reasons for hate: Adam Lind left the game after being hit on the wrist by a pitch, and Jose Bautista was a late scratch with neck stiffness (from watching his major-league-best 35 home runs leave the yard? arguably, yes). 

Anyway. One more game in Oakland and then it is off to Kansas City. Everything will be cool in Kansas City.


Giants Are a Bag of Butts, Lose 7-5

HOUSTON, TX- AUGUST 20: Jimmy Paredez #38 of the San Francisco Giants picks up his broken bat after he was thrown out, while pitcher Jordan Lyles #41 the Houston Astros walks off the field in the first inning on August 20, 2011 at Minute Maid Park in Houston,...
"What the dicks is this thing for?"

The first Astros batter of the game, the amazingly awesome Jose Altuve, hit his first career home run, a stand-up inside-the-park job, and it was game over from there on out. To the Giants' credit, they did not get shut out...a rare feat these days. In fact, they scored nearly three runs above what their second-half total has been thus far. The downside is that they have now used up all their runs for the coming homestand, which features another FOUR GAMES against these titans of offense, these unstoppable mashers, the Houston Astros. Also, Brandon Belt went 0-for-4, so we're never going to see him again.

Jonathan Sanchez is unable to start tomorrow's game, so the Giants will be getting swept behind the fearsome arm of whoever-the-hell, and we can put 2011 to bed. The Giants manage to keep pace with the Arizona Diamondbacks by no fault of their own, and it's clear that the NL West is full of despair and ruination and not a whole lot of good baseball. Just kidding, the Diamondbacks are a pretty solid team this year and only getting better in the future, and that is just the worst thing to realize late at night.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Athletics 2, Blue Jays 0: Curse you, Rich Harden

Call it two.
So, not only are the Blue Jays very considerately doing most of their run-scoring on this west-coast road trip before I turn in for the night, they have also taken to doing their significant non scoring early, too. Last night, for instance, they loaded the bases in the first with nobody out, but left the bases full on strikeouts by Lind, Encarnacion and Rasmus. Josh Willingham hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning, and that was it. Brett Cecil only allowed those two runs in his seven innings, and Rich Harden gave up no runs on just two hits in his seven. Didn't miss a thing! 

I must note however that my two-day tolerance of Gregg Zaun has ended. He's awful. The whole problem here is that Pat Tabler, who along with Buck Martinez makes up the Blue Jays' horrible TV commentary duo, doesn't make all the road trips, which means sometimes Alan Ashby goes off radio duty and does TV, TV that is still unworkable because of Buck Martinez swallowing his tongue on every home run call and reading promos in a way that suggests he is sounding out a foreign language. So the TV is still a dud, and then you get Gregg Zaun telling aimless, self-indulgent stories on the radio, and all of a sudden you might as well be following along on Gameday. It's brutal.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Giants Get Dominated by Worst Team in Major League Baseball, Lose 6-0

Yep. (tippin' mad hats to Bay City Ball)

Three more Giants turned up injured today. That's not a joke.

The Giants keep finding new ways to lose. Aubrey Huff tried to score in a scoreless game, ending an inning and killing a rally. The Giants give up three runs after having two outs on a couple of spectacular errors by Mark "Hey I'm Starting at Third Base I Guess" De Rosa and Aubrey "Herp Derp Whoops M'Glove" Huff.

I knew the Giants were losing today when I saw their HILARIOUS lineup. The Diamondbacks were likely to lose today in Atlanta, and this was a huge punt of a lineup. Hey man, it's really rough when you have to write nine guys into a lineup and only have ten healthy players. I mean, what kind of idiot would put Brandon Belt in a lineup, am I right?

I have been saying it for days, but the Giants are going to lose this series. They may take one of three, but I highly doubt it. I've never seen a team look so thoroughly defeated as the Giants do right now, and there's no way in hell I blame them. Imagine you have a box of 25 adorable puppies, and your job is to make sure that nothing bad happens to the puppies. But every day, when you get to work, between 2 and 10 of the puppies have set themselves on fire. You'd go crazy by like day three.

Watching a Giants game is exactly like staring at a smoldering pile of puppy corpses. That wounds the soul after a while.


Please to Enjoy Today's Episode of The Dugout

San Francisco Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez, bottom, is checked on by center fielder Aaron Rowand after being injured fielding a base hit by Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips in the fifth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Friday, June 10,...

Hey all, I've written an epic episode of The Dugout and Part One is up today over at With Leather!

Take some time to Facebook or Tweet this thing, because that would be awesome.

Blue Jays 7, Athletics 0: You know what, I think I like this west-coast road trip.

Three-hitter. No big deal.
Not only are the Blue Jays winning out west, they're scoring most of their runs before I go to bed, which is simply outstanding. Last night, to go along with Ricky Romero's three-hitter (9 IP, 2 BB, 6 K; no big deal), Lawrie singled in a Rasmus double, E5 singled in a Bautista double, and Rasmus hit a two-run shot all before bedtime. It was exquisite. Also I have heard and read reports that further runs were later scored! 


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tim Lincecum Has the Nerve to Allow One Run, Giants Lose 1-0

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 18:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants sits in the dugout between innings against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.

You would think I wouldn't have to keep writing permutations of that headline, but here we are. Not a lot to say about this one, but that's what happens when
1) You're facing a LHP that lefties are hitting over .400 against so you put every available right-hander in your lineup.
2) The Number 2 and Number 6 spots in your lineup are filled by Orlando Cabrera and Miguel Tejada.
3) The rest of your lineup has Aaron Rowand, Aubrey Huff, and Chris Stewart.
4) You pinch-hit Mark De Rosa over Brandon "I Killed Bruce Bochy's Dog While I Was Nailing His Daughter and Looking at Called Strike Three" Belt.

The Diamondbacks were losing, but now they're in a rain delay. Will the game get called? Will the Diamondbacks pull off another come-from-behind win? Who gives a crap, the Giants have a series in Houston to lose.

Blue Jays 5, Mariners 1: Sorry Brandon Morrow hit you in the face, Caspar Wells.

His face. 
Brandon Morrow almost certainly didn't mean to do it. He was just busy allowing only three hits while striking out twelve in six innings, and one kind of got away from him. At 97 MPH. Entirely his fault. Entirely. 

What more is there to say, aside from how it is awesome that E5 continues to tear it up, that Colby Rasmus hit one out, and that maybe Adam Lind is back to being a guy who can make teams pay for shamefully pitching around Jose Bautista? Well, there is this, too: over at Notgraphs, Navin Vaswani gets all worked up about the Blue Jays, and about Canadian fans traveling to Seattle, and how everything is either awesome or could someday be awesome. I like the spirit in which that piece is written. I also like that it includes the following .gif of Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista:

There is a very real chance that what we are seeing there is the least cool thing, and yet who can resist it? 


Giants Win Nailbiting Blowout, 7-5

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy sits in the dugout during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011, at Turner Field in Atlanta.
"Mmmmm...gritty...grizzled gamer...oh yeah, that's the stuff."

Amazingly, the Giants scored a bunch of runs. Mostly on sacrifice flies, but hey, horribly cursed offenses can't be choosers. Matt Cain pitched 8 brilliant innings with one unearned run, 9 strikeouts, and one walk. Then Bruce Bochy stuck in Dan Runzler, the one and only young guy that he's ever had faith in, and the Braves promptly scored four runs and brought the tying run to the plate.

Bruce Bochy is a quandary that's been dredged through a batter of a head-scratchers, dipped in "what is this i don't even" sauce, and then wrapped in bacon. Brandon Belt went 0-for-3 with a walk today, and he's almost definitely sitting out tomorrow's game. Bochy has been confirmed as hating an at-bat he feels is "too passive." Belt looked at six pitches in his third plate appearance, and the last two could have/should have been called balls. They weren't. That doesn't matter to Bruce Bochy. He probably turned to Ron Wotus and said, "Why isn't this asshole hacking at everything? That's what the bat's for. Swinging at everything." In Bochy's mind, the game they play isn't "base"ball, it's "swingball."

And Bochy probably gave Belt the stink-eye pretty good, because in Belt's next plate appearance, where he could have picked up a sacrifice fly for a run, he swung at the first pitch and popped it up just past the infield. You could almost hear Bochy yelling, "Too aggressive, you idiot!" And so it goes for anyone under 35 in a Bruce Bochy lineup. He doesn't believe in career minor league numbers. He doesn't understand how small sample sizes work. He doesn't understand the benefits of OBP over batting average and RBI. The only things he believes in are "the hot hand" and "swinging the bat well" and "knows how to win ballgames" and "been there before" and "he wears his hat like a pro" and a million other intangibles that mean nothing to anyone but him and, presumably, Brian Sabean.

So I've never understood why, given how Bochy has historically treated young players, he's brought Runzler in so many times in a non-mop-up capacity. Maybe Runzler forged a birth certificate and convinced Bochy he was born in 1968.

But anyway, a win paired with a Diamondbacks loss. I'll take it. Matt Cain is amazing. Tim Lincecum pitches tomorrow. I hear he's pretty good, too. Hammerin' Mike Fontenot was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles today, so with all the injuries we can keep our fingers crossed for the glorious return of Number Three Hitter Mike Fontenot.

I'm ready for Houston, how about you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Justin Verlander expressed in his purest physical form

Blue Jays 13, Mariners 7: The Raveled Sleeve of Care

damn it is #35 haters
Such is my shaken/shook state that even after a six-run, bat-around first inning last night, I still had serious doubts. Half an inning later, it was 6-3, and it felt like we were already losing. Had I not then gone immediately to bed, and stayed up for the Mariners' next three-run inning to pull even, I don't know man, I don't even know. Fortunately, the Blue Jays kept hitting, and between Hill homering, Lawrie going 3-4, and Jose Bautista going 2-2 with a HR and three walks, everything was, in the end, cool. Pretty unassailable work from the 'pen last night, too, with Perez and Camp allowing only one run in  six innings of work (wow, six innings out of the bullpen, ye gods that's hideous). The bullpen is much changed these days, too, with Jon Rauch on the DL and Trevor Miller, uh, gone forever. 

Hey also, Alan Ashby is doing TV this road trip, so it's Howarth and Zaun on the radio, and while I am still far, far, far from a fan of Gregg Zaun, he's clearly getting better. Like, when he is on I am not necessarily overcome by hate or anything anymore. As much.