Finally, On Sunday
For the first time since the beginning of the season, the Baltimore Orioles won on a Sunday when it defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 5-2, in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles had previously lost 15 straight games on Sunday, and no one was more relieved after the rare week-ending triumph than Oriole manager Dave Trembley, who didn’t wait for any reporters’ questions by first declaring, “No questions about Sunday. It’s done, it’s dead, put it to rest.” The skid was the longest by a team on a single day of the week since the Arizona Diamondbacks lost 15 straight Saturday contests in 2004.
Not since George McQuillan of the 1907 Philadelphia Phillies has a major league pitcher began his career with 25 scoreless inningsuntil this past weekend, when Oakland’s Brad Ziegler extended his career-starting scoreless inning streak to 27 and break McQuillan’s modern major league mark. The 28-year old rookie has pitched in 23 games and allowed 16 hits and six walks.
The bad news for pitcher Mike Hampton, who made his first major league start in nearly three years on Saturday, was that neither he or the Atlanta relievers that followed him could hold a 9-3, fifth-inning lead to the Phillies in Philadelphia. The good news, however, is that he left the game without feeling any physical pain, after missing all that time with numerous injuries including two major elbow operations. The 35-year old pitcher, who was paid $30,000,000 by the Braves in 2006-07 without throwing a single pitch at the big league level, allowed six runs on eight hits in four innings against the Phillies, who ultimately won 10-9 to extend Atlanta’s major-league record of consecutive one-run losses on the road to 25.
No Way to Treat a Future Hall of Famer
Greg Maddux’ personal drought continued this past week when he failed to pick up a victory in his 14th consecutive startbreaking a career mark he had previously set in 1990. He left Wednesday’s game at Cincinnati in the sixth inning with a tenuous 3-2 lead over the Reds, and that was gone when reliever Cla Meredith allowed a two-run homer to the first batter he faced, Edwin Encarnacion. Maddux was not charged with the loss, but the bullpen meltdown by his San Diego teammates prevented him from picking up the win. The 42-year old 350-game winnerstillhas not won since eking out a 3-2 win over Colorado on May 10, and has won just one of his last 19 starts overall.
Maybe He's Called A-Rod for a Different Reason
Alex Rodriguez showed aspirations of becoming a screen star this past week by signing with the William Morris Agency, but after this bit of news from England, maybe he should consider a side contract with Vivid Entertainment in the San Fernando Valley.
Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim added three more saves to his league-leading season total of this past week, giving him an astonishing 43 with July not even wrapped up. (Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon is second in the majors with 30.) Rodriguez needs just 14 saves in the final two-plus months to tie the all-time season record of 57 held by Bobby Thigpen, who didn’t log his 43rd save with the 1990 Chicago White Sox until August 24.
Hobbled Gobble: A Royal Pain
Kansas City reliever Jimmy Gobble was placed on the disabled list this past week to not only recover from a strained lower back, but perhaps also to work on bringing more luck to the Royals the next time he takes the mound. Gobble, whose season ERA exploded to 11.31 after allowing ten runs in just one inning of work against Detroit on Monday, has made 31 appearances on the yearthe last 17 of which the Royals have lost. (Gobble was charged with the loss in only two of those games, but with a 15.84 ERA during this stretch, he hasn’t exactly helped, either.)
Ferocious or Feeble?
By Blasting Gobble and the Royals, 19-4, on Monday, the Tigers became the first team since the high-powered 1950 Boston Red Sox (the last major league team to bat over .300) to score 19 or more runs three times in one year. Pretty impressive for a team that has also been shut out ten times so far in 2008.
Wounded of the Week
Ah, Kerry Wood, it had to be you. For the 12th time in his 11-year career, the Chicago Cub fireballer was sent packing to the disabled list, this time with a blister on his right index finger. Wood has not gone injury-free through a whole season since 2003. Also getting laid out on the ouch couch in a relatively quiet week was Chicago third baseman Joe Crede and New York Yankee catcher Jorge Posada.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.
Why We Don't Do Blogs
The story went out this past week of infamous Chicago Cub fan Steve Bartman, who was offered $25,000 to show up to a national card show to autograph just one picture of his bonehead play in the 2003 NLCS at Wrigley Field. (Bartman, who’s been in virtual hiding since “interfering” with Moises Alou, turned down the invitation.)
When Yahoo reported the news on its “Big League Stew” sports blog, the responses from the Internet masses were painfully predictablenot in terms of opinion, but in lack of thought and grace. Here was the first post: “Bartman’s a (profane).” Second post: “Go Red Sox.” Third post: “hahaha.” Some intelligence finally sprung in the fourth listing, a complete sentence posted from a guy using the handle “Butt Pirate” who pinned the true blame of the Cubs’ Game Six, eighth-inning collapse on shortstop Alex Gonzalezwhose ensuing error proved far more crippling to the Cubs than the Bartman moment. But then the mindless minions took back the page, and down the blog the lightheaded commentary continued: “lol he wont come [profane].” “Dat lots.” “I love Bartman!! Go Cards!!” “Bartman sleeps with men.”
TGG has toyed with the idea of including a blog on the Comebacker page, and we like to think we have a more intelligent audience checking in as opposed to the cranks who littered the Bartman blog with smart-ass, grammar-challenged dreck. But it seems that whenever a blog of any sort gets posted on the web, a potentially good debate gets childishly reduced to name-calling and dumb irreverence that would even make Monty Python cringe. It only proves that, perhaps, the general public isn’t ready to make their responses heard, which only hurts the truly thoughtful among us who can post something on a blog that’s insightful and literate.
So we’ll continue without a blog, but that doesn’t mean your voice will be shut out. If you have a response to the Comebacker or anywhere on the TGG site, e-mail here and, if it’s a thought that’s relevant and tasteful enough, we’ll be happy to list it and possibly respond if need be. We want you to be heard, but at the same time we also want to keep from offending the intelligence of our readership.
YouTube Clip of the WeekViewer Discretion Advised
Chances are you saw the video shown everywhere of a vicious brawl that took place at a Class A game in Dayton, Ohio between the Dayton Dragons and Peoria Chiefs that led to the ejection of 15 players and the hospitalization of a fan, hit by a ball thrown from an emotionally charged Julio Castillo of the Chiefs. (All ejected players had to be quickly reinstated when it was determined there wouldn’t be enough players left to finish the game.) While this prolonged, jittery clip doesn’t show Castillo hurtling the ball as he misfired into the standsperhaps that’s why he’s in the minorsit does show him angrily responding to the profane heckling of the fans, and at one point he attempts to re-enter the field with a bat, only to be quickly held back from, apparently, going into the stands. The shorter, widely seen video had no audio, and this is probably why: The fans on this alternative clip are spewing out massive amounts of profanity that’s hard to ignore and sad to hear. Perhaps some of those overheard on this clip were the ones blogging in on the Bartman story.
Lock the Doors, KidsIt's More Class A Ball!
Apparently, attending Class A baseball this past week was not for the faint of heart. Beside the Dayton-Peoria riot, there was a California League game postponed in Visalia when, barely a block away from the ballpark, a policeman was stabbed while attempting to serve an eviction notice, leading to a prolonged standoff.
Elias Sports Bureau Fact of the Week
Trevor Hoffman recorded a one-out save in San Diego’s 9-6 win at Pittsburgh on Saturday, becoming the first pitcher in major league history to record 20 saves in a season 14 times. Lee Smith, whose career save mark was broken by Hoffman in 2006, had co-owned the record with Hoffman at 13.
The Chicago Cubs this past week brought up pitcher Jeff Samardzija, previously best known for being a standout wide receiver for the Notre Dame football team. He bypassed what many believed was a shot at being a first-round NFL draft pick and signed with the Cubs for five years and $10 million. Replacing injured closer Kerry Wood on the roster, Samardzija pitched his first two major league innings on Fridayand promptly blew a save opportunity in the seventh inning when the Florida Marlins erased a slim 2-1 lead given to him by the Cubsbut he otherwise wowed the Wrigley Field crowd with a fastball clocked near 100 MPH. Samardzija next pitched two perfect innings on Sunday, striking out three batters.
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
It’s been a long, long year for the Seattle Mariners, but fans in the Northwest finally have a little something to root for: Mariner second baseman Jose Lopez currently holds the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 14 games. Lopez has been mildly hot during his run, batting .310but that’s saying an awful lot more than most other players on the Seattle roster these days.