No No, Edwin!.
The season isn’t halfway over, and already the majors have logged more no-hitters than any season going back to 1991. This year’s fourth no-noand certainly the most unusual onetook place this past Friday when Arizona’s Edwin Jackson, back in Tampa Bay to face his former team, forged his way to a no-hitter despite walking eight batters (seven in the first three innings alone) and throwing 149 pitches, the most in a major league game since 2005. Jackson’s eight walks were one shy of the record for a no-hitter, as A.J. Burnett allowed nine passes while not allowing a hit as a member of the Florida Marlins in 2001. It was the second no-hitter in Arizona franchise history (Randy Johnson threw a perfect game for the Diamondbacks in 2004) and the first ever thrown at St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field. Another record to ponder: The most no-hitters (excepting no-no’s thrown with multiple pitchers) in the majors in one season is six.
Doesn't Look a Bit Like Toronto
The Toronto Blue Jays had their first official sellout of the year on Friday nightin Philadelphia. The three-game interleague series between the Jays and Phillies, originally scheduled in Toronto, had to be moved because of its very close proximity to the G20 Summit that predictably attracted a horde of security officials and violent anarchists. So the Phillies played the away team at homebatting first in their road uniforms in their own home park. The first game of the series, which could have been former Toronto pitcher Roy Halladay’s homecoming, was nothing more than a staycation in the park, as Halladay and the Phillies rolled over the Blue Jays, 9-0. Although it was mostly Phillie fans filing through the turnstiles for the series, the three-day head count of 130,000 will go towards the Blue Jays’ home attendance; we assume will the profits will go into the Toronto bank account as well.
Not Your Father's Orioles
In town to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their championship season, the 1970 Baltimore Orioles took a look at the state of the 2010 Orioles (23-52) and obviously didn’t like what they saw. Former outfielder Paul Blair was the most outspoken in criticizing the current state of the Orioles, saying there is a lack of leadership and “no structure” in the front office. Hall-of-Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson harped on the team’s incessant revolving door of managers and general managers, and feisty former manager Earl Weaver believes the current problems in Baltimore go back to the collapse of the team’s scouting system. The elders weren’t the only ones bitching about the present; current-day outfielder Nick Markakis asked for, and got, a dinner with owner Peter Angelos this past week to prod him on what needs to be done to take a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 1997 to get back on track.
Merry "Strasmas," Card Collectors
Remember last week when we told of a signed Stephen Strasburg rookie baseball card that sold for $16,000? That’s nothing compared to what was happening on eBay this past weekend. Apparently another one-of-a-kind card with Strasburg’s signature was up for grabs on eBaywith the high bid listed at an astounding $501,000. That price still pales to the highest-priced baseball card currently out therea 100-year old Honus Wagner card that last sold for $2.8 millionbut it’s an impressive value given to a guy with two career major league wins. (The bidding for the Strasburg card is to end on Monday.)
League vs. League
The National League did its best early on to stay neck-and-neck with the American League in the battle for interleague supremacy, but AL teams staged a 50-34 record against the NL this past week and shot ahead of the senior circuit for the season with a 93-75 mark in head-to-head competition. The AL is looking to hold a winning interleague record against the NL for the seventh consecutive season.
From Rags to Riches
Two years ago, Dioner Navarro was an All-Star catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting near .300 and playing stellar defense behind the plate as a crucial cog for the out-of-nowhere 2008 AL champions. This past week, the 26-year old Venezuelan native was sent to the minors as his hitting continued to flatten out just above the .200 mark. Manager Joe Maddon praised Navarro’s continued defense, but with John Jaso hitting the ball and reaching base with much better ease, the move to Triple-A was deemed necessary.
Just Don't Run Onto the Freeway While Picking Up the Trash
The 17-year old who made national news when he was zapped by a Taser gun at a Philadelphia Phillie game on May 3 was given six months of probation and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service for running on the field at Citizens Bank Park.
Strap Yourselves In, Folks
The Florida Marlins gave a minor league contract to Armando Benitez, the former closer who pretty much wore out his welcome everywhere he’s playedon and off the field. According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Florida team president David Samson said that the Marlins aren’t afraid to try new things, such as last week’s dubious vuvuzela giveaway. Given Benitez’s track record, Marlin fans should be very, very afraid of the thought of him putting a Florida uniform on (he previously had two, relatively happy stints with the Marlins, in 2004 and 2007).
Since throwing his perfect game for the Oakland A’s on May 9, Dallas Braden has been perfectly winless, going 0-5 with a 4.31 ERA in eight starts. He has received only 13 runs of support in those eight games, all lost by Oakland.
Wounded of the Week
It was an especially painful week for the Boston Red Sox, who couldn’t seem to get past a single day without placing one of their players on the disabled list. The most crippling news came when red-hot second baseman Dustin Pedroia, just a day after a 5-for-5 night with three home runs at Colorado, fouled a pitch off his left foot during Boston’s 5-4 loss at San Francisco; a day later, it was discovered that the foot was broken. On Saturday, starting pitcher Clay Buchholz hyperextended his knee while running to second base, and on Sunday catcher Victor Martinez discovered he had a broken left thumb. At upload time, the Red Sox were mulling over whether to have Buchholz and Martinez join Pedroia on the shelf.
Also making the Ouch Couch this week was Pittsburgh starting pitcher Zach Duke (elbow) and Seattle DH/first baseman/cheerleader Mike Sweeney (back).
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League vs. League, Epilogue
Interleague play concluded for the 2010 season this past weekand once again, the American League reigned supreme over the National League with a 134-118 record. It’s the seventh straight year that the AL has performed over the .500 mark against the Senior Circuit; the silver lining for the NL is that the count was the closest since 2004, when the AL edged out the NL by a 126-125 margin. So perhaps that’s considered progress toward a better 2011.
Wrestlin' Away in Wrigleyville
The comedy sitcom known as the interleague rivalry between the Cubs and White Sox went back on air this past weekend at U.S. Cellular Field, with a storyline Chicago fans found to be either painful or funny (if you’re a Cub fan, it was likely the former). Temperamental Cub pitcher Carlos Zambrano, recently inserted back into the rotation, had a rough first inning in which he gave up four White Sox runs that he blamed on the players behind him; when the inning ended, he stormed into the dugout and let his teammates know about it, saving much of his venom for first baseman Derrek Lee. When Lee barked back, Zambrano confronted him and the two had to be separated. Zambrano was immediately and indefinitely suspended by the teamand then made good on a postgame dinner commitment with opposing White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen (against the Cubs’ wishes), who told Zambrano to “take (the situation) like a man.”
It Ain't Durocher vs. MacPhail, But It's Close
The marquee interleague weekend matchup in Los Angeles between the Dodgers and the New York Yankees became the first get-together of the two teams since the estrangement of current Dodger manager Joe Torre and Yankee brass back in 2007and the tell-all book Torre later released in which he praised some of his former teammates while slamming others. Naturally, events on the field before the games were heeded just as much by reporters as those during, and all eyes were on Torre and Alex Rodriguez, who Torre seemed to single out with venomous glee in his book. While numerous Yankees still within the good graces of Torre hugged and smiled with their former manager, Rodriguez sauntered to the outfield and didn’t return to the infield until Torre had left. Rodriguez certainly felt the satisfaction of saying hello to Torre in a different way; in the series’ first game on Friday, he scored the tying run in the second inning and hit a sixth-inning solo home run that would ultimately serve as the game-winner in a 2-1 Yankee victory.
The Jamie Moyer Record of the Week
Philadelphia’s ageless starting pitcher Jamie Moyer, 47 years young, dazzled anew this past week with two strong outings, but also gave up two home runs to break the all-time record for the most long balls given up by a pitcher at 506. The mark previously belonged to the late former Phillie, Robin Roberts.
Texas rookie pitcher Alexi Ogando became only the third player in modern major league history (or since 1900) to be credited with a victory in each of his first three appearances in the majors as a reliever when he was declared the winning pitcher in the Rangers’ 13-3 rout of Pittsburgh on Wednesday at Arlington. A shot for a fourth was denied when he pitched a scoreless inning two days later in Texas’ 7-4 loss to Houston.
The Pitching Coach, the Hookers and the World Series Ring
It appears that World Series rings are only missing one thing these days: GPS. Two rings for the 2009 New York Yankees, each valued at $10,000, were stolen in separate incidents over the last month. Tom Kackley, a clubhouse manager for the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate in Trenton, New Jersey, lost his after leaving it for a week in a locked drawer; the other belonged to an unidentified pitching coach for the Staten Island Yankees whenget thishe had it swiped by two hookers he had met at a hotel in Tampa. (Tip for those wearing such pricey bling: When paying for sex, leave it on.) There’s enough to shake our heads at here, but our main question is: How did these two guys end up with these rings in the first place?
Just Thought You'd Like to Know
Seattle’s Milton Bradley against his former team, the Chicago Cubs, this past week: 0-for-7 with two walks and three strikeouts.
This is not good news for those lobbying to see more African-Americans in the majors: The percentage of black players among the teams participating at the College World Series in Omaha is 2%.
Cincinnati reliever Arthur Rhodes allowed a run in his second appearance of the year in early April; 33 appearances later, he hasn’t allowed another. That leaves the southpaw four shy of tying the major league record, shared by Mike Myers and Mark Guthrie. It also shows that the 40-year old has aged like fine wine throughout his career. In the first ten years of Rhodes’ career, largely spent in Baltimore when the Orioles were actually good, his ERA was 4.80; in the ten years sincea stretch that began with the 116-46 Seattle Mariners of 2001it’s 2.84. This year, the lone run allowed by Rhodes has kept him from a perfect ERAit’s still a fantastic 0.28as he does what aging left-handed relievers are supposed to do: Get in, face one or two left-handed batters, and get out (although right-handed hitters are having just as hard a time hitting him when they do get the chance).
This Week's Challenger to Ted Williams
Rhodes isn’t the only one riding an impressive streak for the Reds. First baseman Joey Votto has reached base in 35 straight games, the longest such run in the majors this year; he’s gone hitless in nine of those games, but nevertheless reached base via a walk or by getting hit by a pitch when he hasn’t poked out a hit. Strangely, Votto’s on-base percentage has risen only from .397 to .410 during his streakwhich still isn’t even halfway home to the all-time record of 84 straight games, set by Ted Williams in 1949.
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
After weeks and weeks of major leaguers struggling to string together a hitting streak longer than 15 games, we finally have not one but two guys who end this past week with a run of 21 straight games with at least one hit. Texas’ Josh Hamilton continued his red-hot hitting, batting roughly .500 during his 21-game streak; matching him in consistency (if not in all-out destructive force) is Kansas City’s Jose Guillen, who’s hitting .378 during his run, but with only one home run.
Coming Soon to TGG
The latest installment of They Were There, with Ed Attanasio’s interview with former speed burner Maury Wills; from the Opinion section, our annual midseason report card on who's hot and who's not so far in 2010; and improvements to the Comebacker Index pages, which will now include captioned details of what has appeared in our weekly news and notes dating back to 2007.