The Week That Was in Baseball: August 11-17, 2008
Can Instant Replay Please Wait? The End of the Line for Barry Bonds
Four Consecutive Home Runs, Four Doubles in a Game, Four Wild Pitches in an Inning


Distant Replay?
Commissioner Bud Selig says that instant replay for baseball could be implemented soon, before the end of the regular season. We have a problem with that. Although video reviews will help aid umpires make the right call on whether a ball is fair, foul, a home run or not, we think the policy should wait until the beginning of a new season to be put into place. It wouldn’t be fair to the teams who may have been robbed earlier in the year because bad calls could not be overturned by replay. MLB has rules in the books prohibiting teams from moving the fences after the season has begun, and although instant replay is more about getting the call right as opposed to a team creating an environmental advantage, we still believe that once a season begins, everything should be cemented into place for the balance of the year. Wait ‘til next year, Bud; then, we’ll be all for it.

Ziegler's Zeroes, Epilogue
Well, we knew Brad Ziegler wasn’t going 0.00 forever. The rookie Oakland reliever finally surrendered his first career earned run when Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton doubled in Akinori Iwamura in the ninth inning on Thursday, ending Ziegler’s major-league record streak of consecutive scoreless innings to start a career at 39.1. Along the way, Ziegler broke the franchise mark previously held by Mike Torrez, and officially tied the major league mark for relievers held by Al Benton of the 1949 Cleveland Indians—although MLB posted the record as 39 innings flat. What happened to that extra third of an inning.

The Uniform May Change, But...
The Los Angeles Dodgers headed onto the field Monday night against Philadelphia, but the first pitch was held up because no one was stationed in left field…where Manny Ramirez was supposed to be. Ramirez eventually showed up, and later explained that he interpreted manager Joe Torre’s long-distance sign language that he was done for the evening after connecting on an eighth-inning single. Ramirez went into the clubhouse and was going to the bathroom when told he was needed to play the outfield in the ninth. The Dodgers survived a ninth-inning Phillie rally and won, 8-6, with Ramirez going 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBIs.

A Minimalist Rally
The Houston Astros struck gold in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s matchup with the San Francisco Giants when they scored six runs on two singles, four walks, three hit batsmen and two sacrifice flies. Most of the damage was delivered by Giant starter Barry Zito, who had cruised through the first five innings before falling apart in the sixth. Reliever Billy Sadler did no better, hitting the first two batters he faced. The three hit batsmen combined in one inning tied a major league record; Giant TV commentator and former pitcher Mike Krukow responded, “I’ve never seen an inning like this…at any level.” The Astros won the game, 6-2.

Chasing Thigpen
Francisco Rodriguez has one record almost out of the way. With Saturday’s save at Cleveland, the Los Angeles of Anaheim closer tied a franchise record with 47, leaving him ten shy of the major league mark established in 1990 by Bobby Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox. Rodriguez’s week wasn’t all peaches and cream. On Wednesday, he blew his fifth save opportunity of the year against Seattle and took exception to it; walking off the mound after being removed by Angel manager Mike Scioscia, he yelled some choice words at umpire Gerry Davis for his disagreeable strike zone and got ejected for it.

Elias Sports Bureau Fact of the Week
For the seventh time in major league history—and the third in just the last year-plus—a starting pitcher has given up ten or more runs without recording more than three outs. Brian Bannister of the Kansas City Royals was the latest victim, getting pounded by the Yankees during Sunday's 15-6 loss at New York. Bannister allowed ten runs in an inning-plus, not getting anyone out in the second before being removed. Earlier this year, Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo suffered the same fate in a 14-1 loss to Toronto, and Jason Jennings was similarly shelled in a 2007 game while pitching for Houston.

And Speaking of Bad Outings...
Houston's Brandon Backe, who we named as our NL Worst Pitcher of the Week last week when he gave up 11 runs at Chicago, allowed another 11 runs in his Saturday start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was saved from a dishonorable repeat this week when, in between those two wretched starts, he pitched seven solid innings on Monday against San Francisco for a 3-1 victory.

Wounded of the Week
The parade of baseball’s wounded included some returning marchers this week, predictably those who make a living pitching. San Diego’s Chris Young, Los Angeles’ Brad Penny and St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter all went back on the shelf this week, as did Atlanta’s Tom Glavine—who made his first appearance Wednesday after a two-month absence, got promptly shelled by the Cubs, and is back on the DL with a persistent elbow problem that may require Tommy John surgery that may bring the 42-year old 305-game winner to consider retirement. 

Also making the ouch couch this week is the Dodgers’ Andruw Jones, whose ailing left knee now gives him something of an excuse to explain the $18 million man’s absolutely wretched 2008 performance to date (.161 average, three homers and 14 RBIs in 74 games). Finally, there’s Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer, who can’t seem to get a break—except for the one on his left foot while on a minor-league rehab assignment recovering from a finger injury. He’s expected to miss another month.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.


Bonds Voyage, Barry.
Even though the front-running Tampa Bay Rays recently lost two of their best hitters to injury—Carl Crawford, likely for the season, and Evan Longoria for three weeks—they’re resisting whatever temptation they may have of signing Barry Bonds. Time is running out for the 44-year old disputed home run king, who now hasn’t played in almost a year, to get in some action for 2008; he would need several weeks at a minimum to be game-ready to make a major league roster, and even then he would likely have less than a month to contribute. For the Rays, signing Bonds makes no sense; part of the reason for their stunning success is that the clubhouse is one in the wake of the purging of malcontents Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes. Bonds would certainly bring some of that unwanted stress back, which is in large part why he remains unsigned, despite all the claims of blackballing that his agent Jeff Borris is contending. With a court date for Bonds’ perjury trial looming at the start of 2009 Spring Training, it’s looking all but certain that Bonds has played his last game.

These Batches of Fours Happen in Threes
The Chicago White Sox tied a major league record on Thursday when four consecutive hitters—Jim Thome, Eric Konerko, Alexei Ramirez and Juan Uribe—hit home runs as part of a six-run, sixth-inning outburst against the Kansas City Royals en route to a 9-2 victory at U.S. Cellular Field. Though it’s only the sixth time that four players have gone deep in as many at-bats, it’s the third time it’s happened in as many years—the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off the feat against San Diego in 2006, and last year the Boston Red Sox hammered four straight in a Sunday night game against the New York Yankees. Ironically, the other three such instances all took place in close proximity to one another, between 1961-64. 

Taking One For the Team...Every Day
Not even Ron Hunt, a victim of 50 pitches thrown at him in 1971, can lay claim to this one. Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox was hit by a pitch in six consecutive games, the last being Thursday’s 9-2 win over the Royals. (Quentin was not one of the four White Sox to homer consecutively in that game). Quentin had to wait to make it six when Josh Beckett’s delivery off his arm on Monday kept him out of the lineup for the next two days. No player has been nailed in six straight games since 1920. Overall, Quentin has been hit 20 times in 2008—and perhaps not coincidentally, he leads the AL in homers with 34.

Cycling Hard, This Time
Mark Kotsay became only the second player in Atlanta Brave history—and the fifth Brave going back to 1900—to hit for the cycle when he singled, doubled, tripled and homered against the Cubs in an 11-7 loss on Thursday. It would have been his second career cycle, but while playing for San Diego in 2001, he held up at second on what would have been an easy triple because he didn’t want to anger the Montreal Expos late in a 20-7 Padre rout. As a result of that, the Padres remain one of three teams—the relatively infant Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins being the other two—who have never had a player hit for the cycle. (By comparison, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had the most players, at 22, to hit for the cycle since 1900.)

Double Trouble
Alex Rios of the Toronto Blue Jays joined a long list of players to collect four doubles in one game when he accomplished the feat at Boston during Sunday's 15-4 rout of the Red Sox. Matt Murton of the Cubs was the last player to notch four two-baggers in a contest on August 3, 2006.

R.A., As in Reckless Athlete
Seattle knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey also tied a major league record on Sunday at Minnesota, but not one he'll likely open up to his grandkids about one day. The 34-year old Nashville native threw four wild pitches during the fifth inning of the Mariners 11-8 loss against the Twins, and might have been charged with a fifth—but the official scorer ruled another getaway pitch as a passed ball. Only four other major leaguers have tossed four pitches wildly in an inning, most recently by Philadelphia's Ryan Madson on July 25, 2006.

Where is Respect When You Need It?
It had to be a first, and it was: On Sunday at Oakland, three players each with 500 career home runs—Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome of the Chicago White Sox, and Frank Thomas of the A's—were all pinch-hit for in the same game.

The Giant Killer
Mike Hampton has just one question right now: When do the Giants show up on the schedule again? The 35-year old southpaw pitched six strong innings on Saturday to not only win his second game of the year against San Francisco, but his second win overall in 2008. Hampton is 0-1 with an 11.08 ERA in his three other starts for Atlanta since ending an injury-riddled absence of nearly three years from the majors.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
The aformentioned Ty Wigginton (NL Hitter of the Week, above) ends the past week with the majors' longest active hitting streak, at 14 games.

This Week's Challenger to Themselves
The Florida Marlins continued to show that they are second to none in keeping their starting pitchers from finishing what they began. With Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs at Miami, the Marlins extended to 300 games a major-league record streak of consecutive games without a starting pitcher going the distance. The last time a Florida pitcher threw a complete game was on September 16, 2006, when Anibal Sanchez tossed a no-hitter against Arizona.