Our Olympic Tribute
It goes without saying that most major leaguers are the most famous among their kin. There has been the rare exception along the way, such as 1970s pitcher Randy Moffitt, who had a sister named Billie Jean King who was pretty good at tennis. Or the Cubs’ Pete LaCock, another player from the 1970s who drew fewer stares on the street than his dad, Peter Marshallhost of the popular TV game show Hollywood Squares. Which leads us to Matt Treanor, who even if he was an All-Star catcher instead of a veteran backup with the Florida Marlins would still likely be nestled in the public shadow of his wife: Misty-May Treanor, well recognized across the country (if not the world) as half of the Olympic gold-winning U.S. women’s beach volleyball team.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in the midst of the ultimate feel-good season, but outfielder B.J. Upton has been having a hard time catching up with the vibe. Benched twice over a recent two-week period for a lack of hustle running out a ground ball, Upton was removed from Monday’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim when, as he coasted towards second on what he thought he was an easy double, was unsuspectingly tagged out from behind by Angel first baseman Mark Teixeira. A day later, Upton really felt snakebit in an instance where he did hustle; after beating out a ground ball at first, he hesitated a move toward secondenough to be considered an attempt to commit to second and remain a live runner. Second baseman Howie Kendrick quickly noticed and tagged Upton out; rather than be benched or removed, Upton was defended intensely by Ray manager Joe Maddon, who was ejected for arguing with the umpire.
But Can He Still Pitch?.
Last month it was Mike Hampton, and this past weekend it was Carl Pavano answering the question of “Whatever happened to…” when he took the mound for the first time since early last yearand just the third time since 2005. Pavano went the minimum five innings to be eligible for a win and earned it, as the Yankees held on to beat the Orioles at Baltimore on Saturday, 5-3. It was only the sixth win for Pavano since signing with the Yankees for four years and $40 milliona contract that expires at the end of the year. So, as of right now, that’s $6.66 million per win.
I Finish What I Start
Even though he didn’t start working for the Milwaukee Brewers until July 8, CC Sabathia already leads the NL with five complete games.
By closing out the Oakland A’s in the ninth inning on Saturday, Seattle’s J.J. Putz earned his first save in over two monthsand his first after blowing four straight save opportunities. Wracked by injuries and general ineffectiveness in 2008, Putz has eight saves with seven blown saves with a 4.15 ERA; last year he converted 40 of 42 chances with a 1.38 ERA and was named This Great Game’s AL Pitcher of the Year.
Wounded of the Week
It’s often hard for us to relate to the pain threshold of a pitcher who calmly walks off the mound suddenly unable to throw a pitch, and won’t throw another for 18 months because Tommy John surgery is imminent. But those who witnessed the fate of Kansas City rookie Mitch Maier couldn’t help but share the pain after Cleveland pitcher Zach Jackson drilled him in the face last Wednesday, resulting in multiple facial fractures. Maier, who was hitting a crisp .339 in 19 games before getting nailed, is likely out for the season as a result of his injuries.
Also joining the disabled list is Maier’s Kansas City teammate Alex Gordon (torn quadriceps), Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler (herniaouch), Baltimore closer George Sherrill (shoulder), Detroit closer Todd Jones (shoulder) and two starting pitchers for Oakland: All-Star Justin Duchscherer (hip) and Sean Gallagher (shoulder), who, ironically, was traded from the Cubs for Rich Harden because Harden always seemed to get hurt so often (look where Harden is now, above in our NL Pitcher of the Week selection).
Better One RBI Than Four
Most everyone now knows of the impressive ascension Josh Hamilton has made from Hell to the All-Star Game, but on August 17 he received the ultimate compliment when he became only the fifth player in major league historyand the first in the AL since its inaugural 1901 campaignto be intentionally walked with the bases loaded. It occurred in the ninth inning at Texas with the Rangers trailing Tampa Bay, 7-3; the free pass and gift RBI closed the score to 7-4, put Hamilton on first as the tying runand brought the recently red-hot Marlon Byrd to the plate as the winning run with two out. Tampa manager Joe Maddon’s risk paid off, as Dan Wheeler struck out Byrd to end the game. The other players to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded were Nap Lajoie (1901), Del Bissonette (1928), Bill Nicholson (1944) and Barry Bonds (1998).
Turning the Turnstiles Non-Stop
No ballpark has seen more fans come through the gate in faster time than Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Built in 1992, the ground-breaking facility that introduced the retro movement among ballparks greeted its 50 millionth fan on Tuesday, a young law student who, by being at the right place at the right time, was given $50,000 and two season tickets for five years. An even luckier fan received twice the financial amount over the weekend when the Orioles surpassed 100 million fans since moving to Baltimore 55 years ago. By comparison, the team that the Orioles used to go bythe St. Louis Brownsdrew 15,377,009 in 52 years before departing to Maryland.
Finally Going the Distance
It took nearly two years, but the Florida Marlins finally enjoyed the experience of watching one of their own throw a complete game when Ricky Nolasco went the distance Tuesday at San Francisco, tossing a two-hit shutout against the Giantsa ballclub so bad of late, they’ve even made Mike Hampton like good, twice. Nolasco’s gem ended the Marlins’ 301-game streak without a complete game, a major league record; he had earlier come close on numerous occasions to end the skid, the closest being a 9-3 win at Tampa Bay on June 15 when he came within an out of finishing what he started.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Francisco Rodriguez kept going and going and going this past week as he continued to rumble toward the major league record for saves in one season. On Wednesday he collected his 48th save, breaking the all-time Angel record, and over the weekend he collected saves in back-to-back games to reach 50making him the ninth major leaguer to reach that plateau, and the first since Mariano Rivera in 2004. In fact, Rodriguez has saved more games than the Washington Nationals (46), Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres (48 each) have won. Rodriguez needs just eight saves in the Angels’ final 33 games to break Bobby Thigpen’s 1990 record of 57.
It Could Have Been Worse
Despite taking the beating of the year from the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, the Atlanta Braves are probably happy that the score wasn’t more embarrassing than the final tally of 18-3. The Cardinals left 13 men on base, hit into two double plays and had two runners caught stealing. Infielder Felipe Lopez, who was 2-for-6, left ten men on base all by himself.
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Joe Mauer, the sharp-hitting catcher for the Minnesota Twins, ends this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 16 games. Mauer is hitting .349 during the streak, and his .321 average for the season starts the new week as the highest in the AL. (By the way, our apologies to the Angels' Garret Anderson, who we slighted last week when we named Ty Wigginton for this honoralthough Anderson's active hitting streak was actually longer.)
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.