A little change up for the blog today. I couldn’t help myself after watching the third game of the Red Sox vs. Angels last night. Baseball has a funny universal thing about it. Take this series for instance. The first game was intense.. a playoff feel to it without question. Game 2.. the intensity level rises.
The incredible controversy over the Nick Green at bat. “What was the count on Green? 3-4?” Mike Scioscia and the rest of the Angels were crying (I thought there was no crying in baseball?) over the balls and strikes.
Game 3… what could it possibly bring to the table that would raise the intensity? How about the Baseball Gods!
What a prime example of the wild and whacky game of baseball. The ultimate drama. You couldn’t script this any better if you were the greatest playwright in the Universe!
With the lingering issues of balls and strikes in everybody’s mind, the two teams set their aces in motion… Santana vs. Beckett. Strike throwing machines.
And did they ever deliver.
Two stellar performances.. each worthy of a W. Funny thing about baseball; there’s only room for one W in each game. This one was hand delivered by the Baseball Gods themselves.
Well, that………. And….. some good ol’ fashion baseball from one of the true masters of strategy in the chess game of baseball (More on that later).
There was definitely noshortage of whining on questionable strike calls in this game. Plenty. In fact, there were a number of them. Most notably the called strike three to Mike Lowell in the 7th. Pretty much.. THE PERFECT PITCH (take note if you’re a pitcher)!!
David Oritz was also a victim of the K’s being hand delivered by the Angels.
But.. let’s not forget this blog is about HITTING.. and although it wasn’t easy for anybody at the plate (having to fight the fantastic dealing by the aces AND the questionable zone from good ol’ Mr. BLUE)… One guy came through like a glowing Angel!
Howie Kendrick! His opposite field bomb opened up the scoring and it looked good for the Angels to finally get off the snide in Fenway. Uhhh.. have we forgotten the drama.. ?
This is a scratch your eyes out kind of team… these Red Sox… and they pulled out the heart of the Angels again taking a lead with two huge HRs by Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Bay. Getting late into the game the Red Sox had the lead 3-2.
Ah… but that heart was still beating.
(this heart courtesy of Jane Heller’s blog!)
Onward to the Angels 7th where Yesterday’s Hitter Howie Kendrick impacts the game again! His seemingly harmless single starts an Angels uprising. Eventually, Scioscia ball gets Hendrick to 3rd with two outs and Chone Figgins at the plate with a 1-2 count.
Enter the Baseball Gods…
Wednesday’s game surrounded the “check/nocheck” swing of potential strike 3 on Nick Green. What happens in the heat of the 3rd game? Beckett deals a low slider.. Figgins checks his swing… strike 3!
But NOOOO! the ball is loose and who comes trotting in to knot the game at 3? Our guy.. Howie Kendrick.
But… that’s not all folks! In the bottom of that inning Mike Lowell has issues with a called strike! Real issues!… Maybe with merit.. maybe without…the pitch was pretty close to perfect. (Did I Say Perfect?! ) It was.
The coup de grace comes in the 9th when the strategy of a National League catcher who lives by the simple basics of the game proves his small ball theory… works!
The big aces are gone.. . it’s time for the saviors.. enter Billy Wagner who promptly walks leadoff hitter Juan Rivera on 5 pitches. Uh Oh. Wrong thing to do with Scioscia. What does he do? What any NL Skipper would do. He bunts him over! He doesn’t just bunt him over. He has a pinch hitter enter the game to execute the vital chess move. Reggie Willits. Perfectly done!
Guess who comes to the plate? You guessed it Yesterday’s Hitter!
The torch was passed to the man of the hour with full and comlete confidence the strategy would work.
Did I mention anything about Baseball Gods? You have to believe that was the case when Kendrick’s little duck snort blooper barely fluttered over the outstretched glove of Pedroia to bring in the winning run. Talk about guided by an Angel.
Oops.. .go back. Another carefully thought out piece of the chess game was put in play prior to Kendrick’s magical blooper. A Pinch Runner! Scioscia pulled all the tricks, including bunting again to try to tack on some more runs in the 9th.. it didn’t cash in.. but showed the simple basics of the game are powerful little pawns in baseballs’s version of chess.
Howie Kendrick was without question the annointed carrier of the message from the Baseball Gods. His line: 3-4 2RBIs 2Runs.
Congratulations Howie.. You’re Yesterday’s Hitter!
Fire it Up! There’s a couple of teams that have definitely decided that the ’09 season is NOT over.. at least in their minds. Take the Twins for example:
They puttered away several chances as the Tigers took a siesta, failing to gain much ground while Detroit went on a 5 game skid. Well, don’t look now but the Twinkies have racked up 3 games in a row and are sniffing at the tail of the Tigers. Nick Punto provided the spark going 3 for 4 with a couple of ribeyes. They still trail Detroit by 4 1/2 games with only 17 to play. But, here’s the kicker… 7 of those are head to head. Who’s got the most fight in them down the stretch? My money’s on the Twins.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s looking like the Rangers have packed it in. They were so close and really had a shot at both the Wild Card and the AL West.. but… no. Last night they got drubbed again by the last place A’s behind Rajai Davis. This is happening in TEXAS. Not good for Rangers fans.
Davis has been raking lately since his insertion as a regular player. He had a very complete hitters line on Tuesday – going 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs, a walk, a run scored and a steal to boot. Very nice Rajai, but you are a long way from YH. : )
Speaking of firing it up. How about that Battle in the Bronx?
The Yankees may be 40 games over .500 but you’d never know it. This team plays with fire no matter what. Not good for the rest of the league. They had their heels cooled a little by Doc on the mound and Travis Snider at the dish.
Travis cracked two Home Runs yesterday and knocked in 3 RBIs as the Blue Jays made the Bronx faithful a little bluer on the way home. Nice job Travis. In a limited time he has put up 8HRs and 20 RBIs.. maybe this time he’ll stick with the parent club.
Here’s a couple of guys that are no stranger to the Yesterday’s Hitter title. Big Papi and New Papi : )
David Ortiz became the all time leader in Home Runs as a Designated Hitter with his 270th smash in that role. He surpassed another Big fella.. Big Frank Thomas (who probably should still be playing somewhere). Does anybody recall the horrific start this guy had at the beginning of the year? Didn’t think so. Suddenly the Halos look a bit vulnerable to the East.
And the other Papi? Well, just pencil this guy in everyday for the rest of the year. What a roll he’s on. Derrek Lee went 2-2 yesterday and knocked in 3 RBIs to give him 101 for the season. He’s a pillar in the middle of the lineup.
From the old guard to the new… Remember all the hype that surrounded Matt Wieters’ call up? There have been some rumblings that maybe he just isn’t all that was expected. I respectfully disagree. I think the numbers he’s put up are pretty darn good; .272 6HR 32RBI Yesterday he was popping the ball all over the park as he posted a 3 for 5 night with a career high 5 RBIs. I really like his sweet swing, and he does it from both sides of the plate.
Next up are the real contenders. Who is this guy? I thought Jerry West was Mr. Clutch!
But.. no, Andre the Giant is an absolute highlight reel this season. He has 6 Walk off game winners and 4 of those are Home Runs. Last night was no different. He smashed the very first pitch he saw in the 13th inning to give the Dodgers a much needed come from behind win over Pittsburgh. What a shot! What a shot in the arm for LA… they stretch out their lead over the slipping Rocks to 5 Games. Watch this bomb!
As great as that was there’s always something to say about perfection. The Braves have been perfect for the past 5 games and are one of those teams that have decided that ’09 is still the present and they are not giving up without a fight. Enter Adam LaRoche – Yesterday’s Hitter!
Adam LaRoche’s 2009 Stats
All Adam did was go a perfect 4 for 4 with 2 Home Runs and 3 RBIs on the night. If the Braves keep reeling off wins there could be a little more excitment in the Wild Card between 4 teams (add the Fish and the Braves) instead of just 2. A Bronx brawl if you will : )
Say what you will about Oritiz’s struggles at the beginning of the year, after last night it’s looking more and more like Big Papi time. With newcomer Victor Martinez exhorting him with every at-bat, Ortiz came through with his first multi-homer game of the year. He hit a solo shot in the 2nd and capped it with a Walk Off liner to right that snuck inside the Pesky Pole. It marked the 10th time in his career Ortiz has ended a game with a Home Run. 9 of those have been with Boston, breaking the franchise record set by the great Jimmie Foxx! Watch the drama by clicking Here!!
Honorable mention: Andre Ethier, Ryan Howard, Bengie Molina