The Week That Was in Baseball: August 13-19, 2012
The Sudden, Sad Fall of Melky Cabrera • Blow Up the Red Sox!
Seattle's Perfect King • Johnny Pesky, in Memoriam
Become a fan of This Great Game on Facebook. We’re embracing this opportunity to invite TGG followers and those of baseball in general to share their insights, queries and good knowledge with TGG’s powers-that-be, Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio.
Our goal with this page is to bring value to all who wish to become our fans, even correspondents to our continued mission of providing an enriched and unique perspective to our comprehensive catalog of baseball history, past, present and future.
Want to sound off on current events? Have good trivia you want to share? Roaming about the country on a ballpark tour? Need advice on that baseball book you’re trying to sell? Got something of interest we could share within the main site, such as our Weekly Comebacker? Have any praise or criticisms of TGG? We want to hear from you. It’s your soapbox, too.
|The TGG Midseason Report Card
Our annual look at the best, worst and most unexpected through the first 81 games of the 2012 major league season.
Got Melk? Not Anymore
After an impressive 2011 campaign in Kansas City that suggested he had wised up after several years of overweight underachievement with the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, Cabrera was sent to the Giants one-up in a steal of a deal that sent struggling pitcher Jonathan Sanchez to the Royals. In San Francisco, he only got betterleading the majors in hits while constantly keeping his batting average around the .350 mark. Fans at AT&T Park, starved for good Giant hitting, wildly embraced Cabreramost ingeniously in the group of dudes called the Melkmen who strutted about the ballpark in milkmen garb and exhorting Cabrera on whenever he came to bat. Needless to say, that clanand alas, the lovely spinoff group known as the Melk Ladiesare now in forced retirement.
Although the Giants claimed not to have known about the suspension in advanceCabrera was administered with the fateful test during the All-Star breakyou have to wonder if they knew something we didn’t last week when we reported than the team was willing to offer Cabrera a three-year deal worth $27 million. At the time, that seemed almost insulting given what Cabrera has done this season, but with his suspension lasting the rest of the regular seasonand with free agency loominghe is likely to receive a far less lucrative offer than originally thought.Finally, Cabrera’s positive has led to calls for tougher steroid penalties; Arizona manager Kirk Gibson, for one, believes the first offense should be an entire season, with a lifetime banishment for a second positive. Some current players, growing increasingly weary of the reputation that paints all of baseball with each suspension, may be starting to feel the same way. Union execs, having been obstructionist to some degree in every attempt by baseball to curb PED testing, will chafe at the notionbut when the chorus of disgust within their ranks grows to majority levels, they may have little choice but to bow to tighter sanctions.
The Race to Top .346
The Boston Adveristy Party
Last year, the team imploded under a late-season slide that deprived itself of a postseason spot, leading to the forced departure of popular manager Terry Francona. Then came the juicy bits. Reports surfaced of a clubhouse gone wild, with off-day pitchers feasting on beer, chicken and Xbox while the games went on outside, of coddling ownership placating players whining of excessive travel by giving them a night on a luxury yacht, of Francona’s off-field distractions perhaps reducing focus on the other issues.
Veteran manager Bobby Valentine was brought in to try and right the Red Sox ship, but the Boston star players allegedly saw his hiring more as a threat to their comfy existence than a chance to straighten up and fly right. They responded to his self-promoting personality and occasional condescending by needling him back, and when that didn’t work, they cornered ownership and demanded, through screams and shouts, that something be done about him. So claims Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, who publicized all of the above with a story that jolted Red Sox Nation and exposed the controversy to the general public this past week.
In the story’s aftermath, the main players in this latest dramafirst baseman Adrian Gonzalez and second baseman Dustin Pedroiagave watered-down versions of what happened but didn’t necessarily deny it, only to say that the end game was not to get Valentine fired. Ownership then claimed that it, not the players, initiated the meeting to discuss Valentine. (The New York Daily News later reported that it was disgruntled catcher Kelly Shoppach, recently shipped to the New York Mets, who asked for the meeting; Shoppach denied the claim.)
Nevertheless, it would be stunning to see this same collection of folks embrace each other, learn to just get along and return to championship form. Valentine may be the first casualty, fair or not. Owner John Henry, whose seemingly rudderless leadership through the last few years makes Arliss Howard’s wimpy portrayal of him in Moneyball all the more apt, isn’t selling, so that solution is not an option.Which leaves us with the players. For the sake of the Red Sox’ future, the roster needs to be flushed out, refreshed with focused ballplayers who haven’t spoiled themselves on ego, beer and golf while on the disabled list. Easier said than done: Only slugger David Ortiz and washout pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka are free agents after this season, with Gonzalez, Pedroia, and fast-dissolving pitchers Josh Beckett and John Lackey signed through 2014 or later. It should be imperative for Boston general manager Ben Charrington to keep his cell phone fully juiced during the winter to initiate a host of trade discussions. He’ll need it.
So Long, Johnny
The light-hitting infielder was highly adored by generations of Red Sox fans, and Pesky was all too happy to respond in kind. He bled Red Sox red and navy blue, despite having to finish out his playing days with brief stops in Detroit and Washington. As a 22-year-old rookie, Pesky hit .331 with an AL-high 205 hits in 1942; World War II kept him away from the majors for the next three years, returning in 1946 without having skipped a beat, again leading the league in hits in each of his first two years back and becoming the first playerand the only one, before Ichiro Suzukito begin a major league career with 200-plus hits in each of his first three seasons.
Dubiously, Pesky is best remembered for “hesitating” a relay throw to the plate while aggressive St. Louis hitter Enos Slaughter was sprinting through his famous “Mad Dash” late in the seventh game of the 1946 World Series; Pesky’s throw was late, and Slaughter’s run turned into the Series’ winning tally for the Cardinals. Pesky initially claimed he was stunned to see Slaughter rounding third and admitted making the hesitation, but later backed away from that assessment after watching film of the play.More charmingly, the man who collected a mere 17 homers over 1,270 lifetime games has the right-field foul pole at Fenway Park named after him, an ironic complement given to him by teammate Mel Parnell after watching Pesky hit most of those long flies over towards the short porch by the pole.
The Truth Behind the Turnstiles
Extra Inning, Extra Strikeout
Coors and Giancarlo: A Lethal Mix
Wounded of the Week
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
A Day-by-Day Review of the Week
In the start of another highly anticipated series at New York, the Yankees glide past Texas, 8-2, thanks in large part to the unlikely one-two punch of rookie starting pitcher David Phelps and 39-year-old veteran Derek Lowe, pitching four shutout innings in his Yankee debut after being released by Cleveland to get credit for a save. Nick Swisher’s third-inning grand slam erases an early 2-0 Ranger lead and puts the Yankees ahead to stay.Cole Hamels fires his second straight shutouthis first two since 2009to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 win over the Marlins at Miami. The left-hander is now 13-6 with a 2.91 ERA on the year.
Tuesday, August 14
Hiroki Kuroda takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning and Nick Swisher belts a two-run shot in the same frame to give the Yankees their second straight win over the Rangers, 3-0. Swisher’s homer comes just moments after Ranger reliever Alexi Ogando replaced starting pitcher Mitch Harrison in a scoreless game. Kuroda’s two-hitter is his second shutout of the year.
Miguel Cabrera’s two late-inning insurance RBI hits help Detroit pull away from the Twins at Minnesota, 8-4, and put him over the top as the first major leaguer to reach 100 RBIs on the season. Cabrera has knocked in at least 100 runs in every full season he’s played in dating back to 2004; he’s on pace for a career-high 140.
Jeremy Guthrie, a certifiable bust in Colorado, has for now rediscovered himself in Kansas City. The veteran right-hander runs a streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 15, and the Royals score all of their runs in the fifth inning to defeat the Oakland A’s at Kauffman Stadium, 5-0.
Wednesday, August 15
Another HernandezRoberto Hernandez, the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmonabombs in his season debut for Cleveland, allowing eight runs (five earned) on ten hits through six innings as the Indians lose at Anaheim to the Angels, 8-4.
The Los Angeles Dodgers win their fourth straight game with a 9-3 triumph at Pittsburgh to obtain sole possession of first place in the NL West on the day it’s announced that the Giants’ Melky Cabrera has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season for illegal performance enhancement use. Clayton Kershaw picks up his 11th win on the year while two recent star pick-ups, Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez, contribute with a combined five hits including two doubles.
Thursday, August 16
The Rays bounce back from their perfect game loss the day before, scoring early and often against Angel starter Dan Haren and registering a 7-0 win at Anaheim. David Price becomes the majors’ first 16-game winner of the year and lowers his ERA to 2.39 with seven shutout innings.
On Chipper Jones Bobblehead Night, the 40-year-old Atlanta star belts two homers for his first multi-homer performance in three years, while spot starter Kris Medlen fires his first major league shutout by blanking the visiting San Diego Padres, 6-0, on five hits and no walks.
Friday, August 17
Saturday, August 18
C.J. Wilson becomes the third big-name Angel pitcher in three nights to bomb on the mound, allowing seven runs in four-plus inningsbut this one really hurts, because it turns an early 8-0 Angel lead into an ultimate 10-8 loss to the Rays. Wilson is now winless in his last ten starts, with a 0-5 record and 5.70 ERA during that stretch.White Sox slugger Adam Dunnwho began the week by knocking in his 1,000th career runblasts his 400th lifetime home run in a 9-4 loss at Kansas City and retakes the season lead in homers at 35, a year after collecting only 11 while hitting .159. Next on tap for Dunn: the 2,000-strikeout barrier, for which he’s only 19 shy of.
After suffering a 13-4 pounding at home against Arizona that mathematically ensures a losing season with 41 games still to play, the 39-82 Houston Astros fire manager Brad Mills and two of his coaches.
Sunday, August 19
A Perfect Game in King Felix's Court
Hernandez’s perfecto was also the second thrown at Seattle’s Safeco Field this season, another first; Phil Humber also retired all 27 Mariners he faced earlier in the year for the Chicago White Sox. Hernandez’s victims, the Tampa Bay Rays, have now been on the dark side of three perfect games over just the last four seasons; only the Brooklyn-Los Angeles Dodgers have lost as many, one of their three sufferings in the 1956 World Series by the Yankees’ Don Larsen.Finally, the Venezuelan-born Hernandez becomes only the second foreigner to throw a perfect game, after Nicaragua’s Dennis Martinez in 1988; and it’s also the sixth no-hitter of the year, one shy of the major league record of seven set both in 1990 and 1991.
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
TGG Goes to CafePress
Opinion: The TGG Midseason Report Card
Now Playing at TGG