June 2010

Triples should come in three’s. Twins outfielder Denard Span tied a modern major league record last night with three triples during an 11-4 rout of the Tigers.

Span led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored, single in his second at-bat and then hit back-to-back triples in the fourth and fifth innings, knocking in five runs on those two hits. He walked in his last at-bat in the seventh, finishing the night a nice 4-for-4 with five RBI and two runs scored. Span now has 24 triples in his young, three-year career, averaging one three-bagger about every 13 games.

Using Baseball-Reference’s Play Index, I pulled up the list that Span matched last night with three triples in a single game as you can see below. Span became the 29th player to accomplish the feat since 1920. Rafael Furcal was the last player to do it back in 2002. As you can see from the list, there are significant players that pulled three triples off: Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Charlie Gehringer. I’m certainly not implying that’s where Span is headed at all, but that’s pretty good company nonetheless.

One interesting thing to note from the list is that Span and Shawon Dunston are the only two players to drive in five runs in these games. Also, the longtime Baltimore Oriole Al Bumbry is the only player to hit three triples as the DH position. Interesting stuff.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB Pos. Summary
1 Denard Span 2010-06-29 MIN DET W 11-4 5 4 2 4 0 3 0 5 1 CF
2 Rafael Furcal 2002-04-21 ATL FLA W 4-2 5 5 3 3 0 3 0 0 0 SS
3 Lance Johnson 1995-09-23 CHW MIN W 14-4 6 6 4 6 0 3 0 4 0 CF
4 Herm Winningham 1990-08-15 CIN STL W 3-1 6 6 2 4 1 3 0 1 0 CF
5 Shawon Dunston 1990-07-28 CHC MON W 10-7 5 5 2 3 0 3 0 5 0 SS
6 Craig Reynolds 1981-05-16 HOU CHC W 6-1 5 5 1 4 0 3 0 4 0 SS
7 Doug Flynn 1980-08-05 NYM MON L 5-11 5 5 3 3 0 3 0 0 0 2B
8 Ken Landreaux 1980-07-03 MIN TEX W 10-3 5 5 2 3 0 3 0 1 0 CF
9 Al Bumbry 1973-09-22 BAL MIL W 7-1 5 5 2 3 0 3 0 1 0 DH
10 Bert Campaneris 1967-08-29 KCA CLE L 8-9 6 6 3 3 0 3 0 2 0 SS
11 Ernie Banks 1966-06-11 CHC HOU W 8-2 5 5 1 3 0 3 0 3 0 1B
12 Willie Mays 1960-09-15 SFG PHI W 8-6 6 6 2 5 0 3 0 2 0 CF
13 Roberto Clemente 1958-09-08 PIT CIN W 4-1 4 4 1 3 0 3 0 1 0 RF
14 Danny O’Connell 1956-06-13 MLN PHI W 8-6 5 4 2 3 0 3 0 1 1 2B
15 Carlos Bernier 1953-05-02 PIT CIN W 12-4 5 5 3 4 0 3 0 3 0 CF
16 Ben Chapman 1939-07-03 CLE DET W 4-2 4 3 1 3 0 3 0 0 1 CF
17 Joe DiMaggio 1938-08-27 (1) NYY CLE W 8-7 5 4 1 3 0 3 0 3 1 CF
18 Joe Kuhel 1937-05-13 WSH CHW W 10-2 5 5 3 4 0 3 0 3 0 1B
19 Charlie Gehringer 1929-08-05 DET WSH L 5-21 5 5 2 3 0 3 0 2 0 2B
20 Lance Richbourg 1929-07-31 (1) BSN CHC W 7-1 5 5 4 3 0 3 0 0 0 RF
21 Earle Combs 1927-09-22 NYY DET W 8-7 5 4 2 3 0 3 0 0 1 CF
22 Les Bell 1926-09-22 STL BRO W 15-7 5 5 3 4 1 3 0 2 0 3B
23 Jackie Tavener 1925-09-12 (1) DET CLE L 1-4 5 5 0 3 0 3 0 1 0 SS
24 Jim Bottomley 1923-05-15 STL BSN W 10-5 5 4 2 3 0 3 0 2 1 1B
25 Baby Doll Jacobson 1922-09-09 SLB DET W 16-0 5 5 2 4 0 3 0 4 0 CF
Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB Pos. Summary
26 Charlie Hollocher 1922-08-13 CHC STL W 16-5 6 5 1 3 0 3 0 3 0 SS
27 Ray Powell 1921-09-27 (1) BSN BRO W 8-5 5 5 2 4 0 3 0 4 0 CF
28 Joe Judge 1921-08-09 WSH SLB L 6-8 9 7 1 3 0 3 0 2 1 1B
29 Ross Youngs 1920-05-11 NYG CIN L 4-9 4 4 2 3 0 3 0 2 0 RF
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/30/2010.

With South Carolina defeating UCLA 2-1 Tuesday night for their first national title ever in baseball, it came with an unfortunate end of an era. The College World Series has been played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska since 1950. The College World Series and the name Rosenblatt is synonymous throughout the years in college baseball. But Tuesday night’s game between South Carolina and UCLA was the last game ever played at that grand ballpark.

Despite many efforts to save Rosenblatt, including promotional videos from Kevin Costnar, the CWS will move to a new ballpark in downtown Omaha next summer. I’m sure it will have fantastic features and amenities along with a new corporate name, but who cares? All of that is exactly what’s wrong with today’s game and today in general, but that’s an argument for another day. I’m focusing on the tradition of Rosenblatt Stadium in this post.

This morning I read a post on Yahoo’s Big League Stew on the closing of Rosenblatt that stated:

The ‘Blatt is one of the ultimate you-had-to-be-here-to-appreciate-it sporting venues. And admit it: Most baseball fans never made the trip.

Well, I can say with great pride that I was fortunate enough to make the trip at least once with a couple of crazy co-workers while I was working for a minor league baseball team in 2007. The trip began like all the great ones do—with a spontaneous idea. By lunch time, the plans were beginning to materialize and by sundown, we were on our way west out of Michigan and on the road to Omaha. We only saw one game, the first game of the Oregon State-North Carolina championship series, but it was enough for us. Making the trip even for one day was worth it to be able to say we were there for an event like the CWS.

Dusk at Rosenblatt

Rosenblatt Stadium is one of the great baseball experiences not only on the college level but in the game anywhere…period. It was tradition, old school and an experience that you just don’t see anywhere else these days, which is all the more sad that it’s going away.

The ballpark is located in a unique way on a hill smack dab in the middle of residential neighborhoods. Houses across the street give up their lawns for memorabilia sales, bars pop up on sidewalks in makeshift tents and true fans of the game fill the streets everywhere. Sure, the downtown ballpark will offer numerous chain restaurants and bars at every corner, but it will never be the same as the diamond on the hill.

It was fitting that the last game at The ‘Blatt came down in dramatic fashion with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 11th inning. A bittersweet ending in the story of Rosenblatt Stadium.

I guess I should find some solace in the fact that the CWS will remain in the city of Omaha at least for years to come, but it will be hard to watch in a new ballpark and not Rosenblatt. I’m glad that I had the chance to live the Rosenblatt tradition, and even as brief as the trip I made was, it’s an experience I will never forget.

Goodbye, Rosenblatt.

Can’t we all just get along?
Two dugout blowups between teammates in one week? Maybe it’s the summer heat picking up, but it sure seems some personalities are clashing in some clubhouses. I guarantee this stuff happens more often behind close doors, but the worse for a team is when it erupts right out in the public’s eye during a game. The most recent one with the Rays on Sunday was reasonable, at least I could see where Evan Longoria was coming from when he confronted BJ Upton about jogging to a gap shot that ended up being a triple. Upton probably didn’t like to be told he wasn’t hustling by another teammate in front of everyone and he lost it.

The other incident with the Cubs happened because Carlos Zambrano is an idiot. He’s no stranger to dugout temper tantrums and he went off for no apparent reason last Friday on Derek Lee while rearranging a couple of things in the dugout as usual. The Longoria-Upton thing will blow over as both have talked to the media and stated they are cool with each other. Zambrano’s situation is more complicated as the Cubs finally decided to not put up with his childish tactics and have placed him on the restricted list until at least the All-Star break. He will also undergo a treatment program to basically find out what in the hell is wrong with him.

The Five-Run System
I stumbled upon a very intriguing post this weekend regarding the Braves ridiculous 31-0 stat when scoring five runs or more this year (actually now 32-0 after their defeat of Strasburg on Monday). The article compares what the Braves are doing this year to similar surprise teams over the years that many people didn’t think were that good, but they somehow managed to win about 90 percent of their five-run games and win the World Series. Are the Braves the next in line for that? Jason Heyward heading to the DL isn’t a very good sign for Atlanta though. Anyway, it’s worth the read.

Enjoying retirement
Former longtime reliever Scott Eyre retired this past offseason, and he seems to be enjoying every minute of his post career. I came across this during the Giants-Dodgers broadcast last night. Scott and his wife decided to buy a massive RV and pack the kids and the dogs up for a summer trip across the country, Canada and back. They’ve obviously never done a summer vacation considering Scott’s 13-year career. They also have a blog running to update everyone on their adventures. A lot of players struggle to find meaning once their playing days are over, but it seems Scott and his family are taking the time to enjoy what’s important in life. I love cross-country travel stories, so I find this story fascinating. Enjoy the open road, Eyre family.

D-Backs throw game away
There are times when teams throw games away late, and then there are times when teams literally throw games away. The Diamondbacks handed one to the Cardinals last night in which two errors in the ninth did them in. One of them included a horrendous throw from Aaron Heilman to third base, and then Adam LaRoche decided to bounce one over the catcher’s head on a throw home to end the game when two runs scored. Check out the highlights, it’s brutal.

Poor Joel Zumaya
Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya is no stranger to bizarre injuries (Guitar Hero, boxes), but Monday night’s horrific injury after throwing a 99MPH heater did not look good at all. Zumaya’s arm went pop in Target Field last night against the Twins in one of the most painful pitcher arm injuries I can remember seeing live. Catcher Gerald Laird said he heard a “pop” and even though no word has been given on what exactly happened, I think it’s safe to say Zumaya is done for the year. And just like that the Tigers are in need of a setup man once again.

Batted Ball Play
Leave it to the Pirates to find every way to lose a game. With Pedro Alvarez on first with two outs in a 3-2 deficit against Oakland Sunday, Jose Tabata ripped a pitch into right field…well he would have had the ball not hit Alvarez on the foot as he took off to second. In case you aren’t familiar with the batted ball play, the runner is out and the play is recorded as a hit. So game over on a hit. It’s one of the only ways a team can lose in which their final at-bat goes down as a hit.

As the A’s announcer said directly after the game: “If that doesn’t say it all for the Pittsburgh Pirates, I don’t know what does.”

OK, I’ll give prior warning that this post is going to be a bit of a rant.

I’m absolutely sick of Sunday lineups throughout the league. I understand that Sunday day games are a good chance to rest an older player or your starting catcher, but when did it become the norm to sit four or five starters for your scrubs on the bench? I apparently missed the day when this was deemed okay. Why is it always Sunday too? The majority of teams play day games on Thursday too, but you don’t see B-lineups then.

Take Atlanta’s lineup on Sunday, and I’m not just picking on the Braves because every team is pretty much guilty of this. But Brooks Conrad bats second and plays third instead of Chipper Jones, Eric Hinske is batting third and Greg Blanco is in center. Look at the Phillies lineup, the bottom of the order today was horrendous. I could complain about the Pirates being really guilty of this Sunday rule, but you could argue that their lineup looks like a B-lineup every game and not just on Sundays.

Cal Ripken Jr. used to play everyday…actually a lot of players used to and some still do. Albert Pujols rarely misses a game…maybe that’s just one thing that makes him great. What do you think Ripken would have said if someone asked him to sit a Sunday out? He would have laughed in their face.

Maybe I’m just old school, but it’s baseball—you are supposed to play everyday. Sure, players get banged up and will sit out now and then, but it’s increasingly becoming a cop-out for Sunday games to feature a lineup of bench players, and it pisses me off. Sundays are a great day to sit down on your couch or head down to the ballpark and watch afternoon summer baseball the way it’s meant to be, but these shitty lineups every week continues to bring my enthusiasm down on Sunday.

So Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson threw a no-hitter the other night against the Rays. Yes, the Rays were no hit…AGAIN. I missed the game, most people missed the game and I haven’t heard much since it so it doesn’t seem like very many people care. Maybe that’s because Jackson’s no-no included a ridiculous eight walks. Not to take anything away from Jackson’s performance because it was a no-hitter and the only person who beat him on the field was himself with the walks, but I can’t be all that impressed by someone who walks eight. Walks are kryptonite to the pitcher and exactly what you don’t want to do when you have a lead, yet he walked eight. The only two pitchers to walk more batters in no-hit games was AJ Burnett, who walked nine in 2001, and Jim Maloney, who walked 10 batters in a 10-inning no-hitter in 1965.

The most impressive thing to me about his feat was the 149 pitches he threw in the game. That’s obviously the most this year and will stay that way. Actually, it’s the most pitches thrown in a game since Livan Hernandez tossed 149 in 2005. That’s just insane as he dialed up the old days of pitching.

As far as no-hitters go, Jackson’s 149 pitches are the most by any no-hitter thrown in years that pitch counts were tracked. Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax threw the next most with 138 pitches in their no-hitters.

Jackson’s no-hitter is the 65th this season. OK, not quite but seriously what’s next in this season of pitching?

Don’t look now, but the Baltimore Orioles finally have 20 wins in 2010! With an 11-5 victory over the Marlins last night, the Orioles reach the 20-win mark on June 25. That’s pretty awful, but how bad is it exactly?

Well in the past 22 years (minus the ’95 season due to the season starting later thanks to the strike), the only team to win their 20th game later than June 25 were the Detroit Tigers in 2003 when they were 18-58 on that date. They ended up finishing a putrid 43-119 before reaching the World Series three years later. The Orioles were also 20-54 on June 25 back in 1988.

That’s epically bad. It’s so bad that the Pirates can’t even top this one through the past 16 losing seasons. Obviously the O’s have been a complete mess this year from starting pitching and bullpen to shoddy defense and inconsistent hitting. Their 20th win last night was just the fifth win in their last 26 games. Ouch. They have a long way to go, but they have to start stringing some wins together to avoid one of the worst records ever.

Interesting finish to some late night Wednesday action. Vin Scully’s quote tonight was spot on. What a bizarre finish to the Dodgers-Angels game. Thanks to my current work schedule and west coast baseball, I found myself randomly watching the final two innings of the battle of LA on my Extra Innings package. It turned out to end on a timing play that you don’t see very often.

With the Dodgers trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Angels closer Brian Fuentes came on for the save. Matt Kemp led off the inning by reaching first on an E6. Ronnie Belliard singled and Casey Blake struck out. This is where things went down hill for the Dodgers. With runners on first and second with one out, Kemp lost his head and was picked off second base. That can never happen when you have the tying run in scoring position. Inexcusable.

The Dodgers still seemed to be okay though after Russell Martin walked. Jamey Carroll pinch-hit and hit a bloop single into left field. Reed Johnson, running for Ronnie Belliard easily rounded third and was on his way to score when Martin was thrown out at second base after rounding the base too far. Martin’s out was recorded while Johnson was about 10 feet from scoring at home plate thus being a timing play. Martin’s out is the third out, Johnson’s run does not count and somehow Fuentes picks up the save. And of course Martin throws his helmet down arguing the call at second base and is tossed from the game though said game already ended so I’m not sure what he’s being tossed from.

I haven’t seen a timing play that close end a game before. Apparently neither had Scully, who said, “What a bizarre finish…even for the Dodgers.”

It’s also one of those rare cases where the game ends on a hit, but the team batting loses. That also can happen on the batted ball play when a hit ball strikes a base runner, which is recorded as a hit, but the base runner is out.

I’m still wondering what Kemp was thinking and what Martin was doing flying past second base, but what a finish in LA! Yep, I love baseball.

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