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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pickoff Moves

Obliteration: Rangers 12, Angels 1

John Lackey got shattered in this one, the worst outing of his professional career, but it's hardly surprising; among teams he has pitched 50 or more innings in his career, he sports a 10-10 and a 5.73 ERA against the Rangers. The second-worst team is of course the Boston Red Sox (3-6, 5.54 ERA), and now that the AL East was decided with the Yankees' 19-8 pounding of Boston, the Angels will face the Red Sox on Wednesday. As the the Rays lost 6-4 to Detroit, the Angels clinched home field advantage throughout the postseason — assuming they make it out of the first round — but they will have to wait for win number 100.

The game had a couple good moments, though. After it became obvious the Angels weren't going to win this one, Mike Scioscia replaced all the starters, among whom Reggie Willits got the call to center field. He made a spectacular catch at the angle in dead center to rob Nelson Cruz of a home run. And Shane Loux and Jason Bulger actually pitched well against a potent offense, allowing only two runs the rest of the way.

But other than that and the regularly scheduled fireworks, there was little to cheer for. The crowd was in a surly mood, booing Lackey off the mound when Scioscia finally yanked him in the third. The Angels' recent history of getting knocked out in the first round by Boston weighed heavy on everyone's mind, and to see Lackey whipped badly was a dreadful omen. Looking at his 2008 game log, Lackey has thrown 120 pitches or more twice this year, and one of those times it took him three games to recover his form to at least a quality start (June 29 against the Dodgers, followed by two rough starts and a quality start, finally, on July 18 against the Red Sox). Let's hope three time's the charm this time, too.

Yahoo boxAngels recap

Dodgers Collapse Late: Giants 6, Dodgers 5 (10 Innings)

I was at the Angels game so I didn't pay much attention to this one, especially with all the crazy position switches, which had me furiously scribbling on my scorecard. Thanks to the late start, by the time we got out the Dodgers were leading 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, but between another defensive miscue by Russell Martin (a sailed throw on Eugenio Velez's stolen base) and Juan Pierre's noodle arm (Steve Holm's sac fly would not have gotten a run home on any competent outfielder, something I saw on the subsequent replay), Broxton just couldn't quite recover. Those watching the game also claim that Scott McLean's one-out walk should have been a strikeout thanks to an inconsistent strike zone from home plate umpire Bill Welke; I would argue that giving up a walk to a quadruple-A hitter like McLean in a 13-pitch at-bat is cause enough for doubt.

For those watching all the way through, the story apparently was about the use of instant replay that ended up with Benjie Molina getting a home run where before there was none. That brought up an odd scenario where Bochy had assumed the initial call was correct, and pinch-ran for Molina:

In the sixth, Molina lined the first pitch from Scott Proctor to the roof in right and the ball ricocheted onto the grass below. Molina stayed at first and Emmanuel Burriss rushed out to pinch run before anybody could stop him, while Bochy hustled out to argue. After a brief discussion, the umpiring crew headed to the replay booth in the hidden umpire room behind home plate.

After about two minutes, they returned and crew chief Tim Welke signaled the home run—the second time since baseball began using instant replay that an on-field call was overturned. Dodgers manager Joe Torre came out for an explanation.


“We conferred and decided to use the replay. We took a look and the ball clearly hit the green part of the wall, which is part of the ground rules that a ball hitting any part of the green thing it’s a home run,” Welke said. “Bochy wanted to reinsert Molina into the game but he doesn’t get another bite at that. We know the rules. Once a pinch-runner touches a base he’s in the game whether he’s put in or not. Bochy wanted to protest the game. You can’t go back and revisit history.

“We informed the official scorer that the game was being protested. In retrospect, he should have come out and discussed it before the pinch-runner. There is a rule that covers pinch-runners and that’s the one we went by. … The system worked and we got it right.”

So oddly enough, Molina didn't score on his own home run. Had it stood, Russell Martin's pinch-hit, two-run ninth inning homer would have served only to tie the game. Update: As pointed out in the comments, the run scored was given to the pinch runner, Burriss.

Yahoo boxDodgers recap

Other Races

How To Behave When You Clinch But Don't Win?

Something else that Manny can teach the Dodger kids: how to handle a clinch that happens because of your pursuer's loss.
"Do we pop the bottles before or after the game?" Ethier asked with a grin. "I guess we'll wait until after the game, because nobody wants to see a bunch of drunk guys out there."

It was understandable if many of the Dodgers did not know how to act. They have rarely been down this road. It is their first playoff appearance since 2004, and they have won one playoff game since winning the World Series 20 years ago.

Or perhaps the Dodgers were simply taking a cue from their newest leader, the what-me-worry Ramírez.

Ramírez found out he would be back in the playoffs as he was riding the elevator at Dodger Stadium with his teammate Pablo Ozuna. Asked what he had said at the time, Ramírez - wearing shorts and flip-flops and pulling a rolling suitcase - shrugged and replied, "Nothing."

Man Accused Of Posing As Dodger

Maybe he should have learned how to fire a throw into center field, too.

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"So oddly enough, Molina didn't score on his own home run. Had it stood, Russell Martin's pinch-hit, two-run ninth inning homer would have served only to tie the game. "

Not sure what you mean here. Molina didn't score on the HR, but the pinch runner did, so the Giants weren't deprived of any runs.
Still, there was something just... WRONG... about a batter who hits a legal homer NOT scoring his own run in the box score.

It somehow makes the box score not as... "neat" (in the organized sense) to me. Maybe this is just mild OCD, but is anyone else bothered by the idea that, at some point in the future, someone attempting to decode what happened in this game would have to know that an EXTREMELY UNUSUAL situation occured?

I guess if a batter hits a home run, but is called out for passing the runner in front of him, he gets "credit" for the HR, but not the R. Correct? Any other circumstances that come to mind where a batter can get credit for a home run, but not a run?

The unwieldy potential box score notation "Replaced by PR during Instant Replay Review" is yet another on a long list of reasons why I consider Commissioner Bud Selig to be Satan...or at least, one of his minions.

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