Promising New Bucs… The perennially struggling Pittsburgh Pirates made a number of changes to their roster Wednesday, apparently in an effort to increase their chances of vaulting into, say, fourth place in the NL Central. Two players added were Brad Lincoln (the fourth overall pick in the ’06 draft), who made his major league pitching debut, and Jose Tabata, an outfielder. Tabata batted first and had two hits in four at-bats, and Lincoln started. Alas, despite at least one observation that the Bucs’ outfield corps “has gotten much more promising in the last year” and Lincoln’s two hits and an RBI, Pittsburgh lost, 7-5. Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman banged an RBI single off reliever D.J. Carrasco’s shin in the 7th that ended up in right field.
Ouch. It’s been that way for the Pirates for almost twenty years now. Tabata had been hitting .308 at Triple A Indianapolis and had 25 stolen bases for the Indians. Lincoln gave up five runs and seven hits in six frames.
Told you… Angel outfielder Kendry Morales was finally scheduled for surgery to repair his broken left ankle this past Thursday. This was twelve days after he broke a bone in “a failed home plate celebration” May 29th following his game-winning homer against Seattle. Readers of your humble correspondent’s baseball roundup June 1st will recall the prediction that Morales’ being placed on the fifteen-day DL was probably short by at least fifteen days. Better make that 45 days short…no, wait – this just in: Morales is done for the season.
Surgeons had been waiting for Morales” swelling to subside before operating.
Premiere Matchup… Thursday night’s game between the Phillies and Marlins seemed to be a pitching fan’s dream, a do-over of Roy Halladay’s perfect game May 29th – Halladay v. Josh (New Halladay) Johnson. Lost in the excitement about Halladay’s mastery that night was the fact that Johnson had held the Fightin’s to one unearned run. Both teams Thursday were 4-6 in their last ten games, with the Fish holding down last place in the leap-frog NL East, and the Phillies struggling to escape the quicksand of a month-long offensive outage. Both pitchers’ ERA’s were under 2.11. So naturally, these aces came out and moderately stunk up the first inning. Halladay surrendered a run on hard-hit singles by Chris Coghlan and Gaby Sanchez, a walk to Hanley Ramirez, and a sac fly by Jorge Cantu; Johnson walked Chase Utley and gave up a bloop double to Ryan Howard. Florida’s flamethrower, however, escaped without the Phils scoring.
Then both pitchers settled in, and the game began to resemble a mid-60’s battle between Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale. There were fine fielding plays by Halladay and Dan Uggla, but so little offense that nine Marlins and eleven Phillies had been retired in a row (well, two rows) as the seventh inning began. In Florida’s eighth, the Phillies’ network cut away briefly to the Build-a-Bear stand, allegedly a fan favorite. The stuffed bears seemed about as lively as both teams’ offenses.
Trailing 1-0, Halladay left the game for a pinch-hitter in the eighth. He had lowered his ERA by .07 to 1.96. His reliever, Danys Baez then fought through a twelve-pitch at-bat against Uggla…and lost. The second sacker for the Fish homered to right. Johnson’s reliever, Leo Nunez, gave up a double to Placido Polanco in the last half-inning, but then struck out Howard to preserve the game for New Halladay. To an extent, Florida’s big right-hander (who regularly hit 97 mph mid-game) had paid Doc Halladay back for his perfect game. And his ERA dropped .19 to 1.91.
A fellow Fightin’ fan who was working sent a text for an update after the game; I replied. His reply message provided a perfect coda for the news that Philadelphia had already matched their 2009 total for shutout losses (seven), but I can’t reproduce it here: The term needs too many asterisks.
Fun in Chicago… The White Sox and Cubs opened their annual six-game series yesterday (the Pale Hose won, 10-5) under the new title sponsor sponsorship of…well, you guess which company would be the absolutely worse corporate choice…DING! DING! DING! Correct! British Petroleum. Not especially known for their booing prowess, North Side fans and others at Wrigley let their displeasure be known when the BP Cup was presented before the game. The Cup, an inanimate object, did not react.
And finally… some good news behind an unfortunate incident: the three-year-old girl whose skull was fractured Monday during Dodgers batting practice has been released from an LA hospital following surgery. Janelle Briseno went home Thursday. Catcher Russell Martin, who had authored the unlucky line drive that hit her, had offered to cover the child’s medical expenses.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, 52 baseball fans have been killed by batted balls since 1887. The only MLB spectator killed by a struck ball is thought to have been fourteen year-old Alan Fish, who died in May, 1970, after being hit by a line drive off the bat of Dodger Manny Mota. Mota, who held the MLB record for pinch hits for 22 years, is unfortunately remembered by many more for that incident than for his specialized skill.
Associated Press. “Shot off shin gives Nationals a win.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 10 June 2010: C12.
Calcaterra, Craig. “Three year-old girl injured during batting practice at Dodger Stadium.” nbcsports.com. 8 June 2010.
Cohen, David, and Al Campbell. “High & Outside: Coming and going” and “Noteworthy.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 10 June 2010: C12, and 11 June 2010: D6, respectively.
“Florida at Philadelphia.” Major League Baseball. CSN, Philadelphia. 10 June 2010.
“Manny Mota – BR Bullpen.” baseball-reference.com. 11 June 2010.
McKee, Don. “Low & Outside: Injury report” and “Noteworthy.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 10 June 2010: C12, and 11 June 2010: D7, respectively.
“Nats win even without Strasburg.” Philadelphia Daily News 10 June 2010: 68.
“Phillies vs. Marlins.” Philadelphia Daily News 10 June 2010: 70.
Spiecczny, Sandy. “High & Outside: Boooooooooooo!” The Philadelphia Inquirer 12 June 2010: E4.