The Weekly Comebacker: The baseball week in review
The Week That Was in Baseball: October 15-21, 2012
How the Giants & Tigers Got to the World Series Hot & Cold Players Vs. One Team
Can't Timmy & Buster Just Get Along? The Trading of a Manager

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.

Singin' in the Rain
Neither history nor pouring rain nor aggressive Matt Holliday slides into Marco Scutaro could stop the San Francisco Giants from the unlikely accomplishment of coming back from two games down—again—to topple the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven-game NLCS and tuck away their second National League flag in two years.

The Giants played comeback baseball for the second straight series, having fought back from a 2-0 deficit in the NLDS with three straight wins at Cincinnati to clinch that first-round series over the Reds; down 3-1 with against the Cardinals, the Giants got the performance of Barry Zito’s life in Game Five when the 34-year-old southpaw, much maligned through the course of an underperforming, well-paid tenure in San Francisco, tossed 7.2 shutout innings at St. Louis to bring the series back west for two home games. From there, superb starting pitching from Ryan Vogelsong (Game Six) and Matt Cain (Game Seven), timely early-inning hitting and dreadful Cardinal defense paved the way for the Giants to finish the comeback with, respectively, 6-1 and 9-0 wins over the final two games to advance.

Having ducked spotty area showers through eight innings, Game Seven took a direct hit from a downpour in the ninth—but as Fox’s Tim McCarver mentioned, not even a monsoon was going to force umpires to send the tarps out with the game so close to ending. All too poetically, Holliday—the man so verbally bullied by Giant fans for flattening Scutaro in Game Two attempting to break up a double play—popped the final out to the rebounded Giant second baseman, who fought a muddy infield and thousands of falling raindrops coming down with the ball to close the series.

Scutaro was named the series MVP for knocking out 14 hits, tying an all-time postseason series record—a performance all the more eye-opening given that, at first, he didn’t look like he’d bounce back from Holliday’s crunching blow the way Buster Posey never got up after getting railroaded by Florida’s Scott Cousins early in 2011. Meanwhile, Holliday hit a weak .200 with five hits (all singles), played shaky defense in left field (a persistent problem for Holliday in his postseason career) and endured payback by getting hit by Cain midway through Game Seven after the Giants had coasted out to 7-0 advantage.

These Things Even Out Over Time
The Giants had gone winless in five previous Game Sevens throughout their long history before Monday’s blowout clincher over the Cardinals—who had previously held the best such record among all major league teams, at 11-4, and had won their last six Game Sevens.

A Historic Habit
The Giants became only the second team, after the 1985 Kansas City Royals, to win six straight games when faced with elimination.

Grow Up, Timmy
Tim Lincecum threw eight excellent innings in the Game Five clincher of the 2010 World Series with Buster Posey as his battery mate; he has thrown four scoreless innings out of the bullpen in the first two playoff series this year with Posey also been behind the dish. So why does he keep insisting on wanting back-up Hector Sanchez to be his catcher? Word has it that Lincecum and Posey are not getting along, in large part because Lincecum doesn’t like the way Posey calls his pitches. But with Sanchez catching this year, Lincecum easily endured his worst season—and fared no better in his Game Four start at St. Louis when he gave up four runs on six hits and three walks over 4.2 innings.

When Sanchez catches, Posey moves to first where his defense is standard, all while benching regular first sacker Brandon Belt—who not only can field his position with excellence, but is emerging into a solid hitter. Barry Zito likes Sanchez too, but deferred to have Posey behind the plate for his sensational Game Five effort against the Cardinals; Lincecum needs to do likewise and let the likely NL MVP take his rightful place in the squat when pitching if the Giants are to have a chance against the Detroit Tigers.

The Consolation Prize
The Cardinals have won as many postseason games (41) over the last ten years as the Yankees (40).

Gee, And Those First Three Innings Looked So Good
Cardinal starting pitcher Lance Lynn pitched three hitless innings in each of his two starts against the Giants. But in two fourth innings, he got thumped for a total of eight runs (four unearned, thanks to his own error) on nine hits while getting only four batters out.

We've Never Seen That, Either
What might have been a routine grounder hit by Hunter Pence in the decisive five-run third inning of Game Seven became a three-run double when rookie St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma moved to his right—while the ball was knuckling past him to his left. Compounding the moment, outfielder Jon Jay couldn’t handle the apparently-still lively Pence grounder in left-center field, allowing a third run to score on the bases-loaded hit.

Mr. Brock, is That You?
Some 20 miles south of St. Louis on Friday, a man walked into a bank in Arnold, Missouri, robbed the joint, and walked out yelling, “Go Cards!”

Those Weren't Impostors—They Really Were the Yankees
Were the Detroit Tigers that good in the ALCS—or were the New York Yankees that bad? Based on all the postmortem talk, you certainly think it was the latter.

The Tigers wrapped up an impressive four-game sweep of the Bronx Bombers for their 11th American League pennant with tremendous ease. Some will say that when Derek Jeter, the heart and soul of the Yankees, broke his ankle in Game One, his team’s World Series hopes were carried off the field with him.

But give the Tigers credit. That they easily deconstructed the team with the AL’s best record, the majors’ second highest run total and the highest number of home runs throughout all of baseball was staggering. Detroit never trailed at any time in the entire series; only four other teams had managed to pull that off in a best-of-seven series, most recently by the Boston Red Sox against St. Louis in the 2004 World Series.

Starting pitching was sensational, running up a streak of 37 straight innings without allowing an earned run—a major league postseason record; ace Justin Verlander, making his only ALCS appearance in Game Three, allowed a ninth-inning run to the Yankees to end a 23-inning scoreless streak that tied a team record set back in 2006 by Kenny Rogers.

A Team Full of Mr. Mays
Everywhere you looked, the Yankee offense stunk. Its .157 batting average against the Tigers was the lowest in franchise history for a postseason series; its .188 average combined between the ALCS and their five-game ALDS victory over Baltimore was the lowest ever by any major league team playing at least seven playoff games in one year. Against the Tigers, the Yankees scored in just three of 39 innings; Alex Rodriguez continued his descent from the top of the hill by going 1-for-9—manager Joe Girardi couldn’t even bear to have him hit against Verlander in Game Three, benching him entirely; Eric Chavez, his replacement at third, was hitless in eight trips; and sparkplug slugger Curtis Granderson couldn’t turn the Yankee engine over with an 0-for-11 performance. Even Robinson Cano, the one Yankee star playing at the prime of his career, was a certified bust—managing a single in 18 at-bats that ended an all-time postseason stretch of 29 at-bats without a hit.

Forget Bonds' Record—Go for Wilt Chamberlain's Instead
When you can’t get on base, swing for the chicks instead. After being pinch-hit for in the ninth inning of ALCS Game One, Alex Rodriguez was more focused on getting phone numbers from a few women sitting behind the Yankee dugout than his team’s four-run rally that tied the game, according to the New York Post. Witnesses say Rodriguez flirted with and got phone numbers from two female fans with a baseball he lobbed at them. It if makes the puritans among our readers feel any better, Rodriguez reportedly stopped the foreplay when Derek Jeter broke his ankle on the field.

There's Still Merit for the GW-RBI
Delmon Young won the ALCS MVP by knocking in the winning run in each of the Tigers’ four wins over the Yankees.

And the Meek Nearly Inherited October
Had the Cardinals prevailed and met the Tigers in the World Series, it would have been a matchup pairing the teams with the worst regular season records among the ten postseason participants.

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

Who Owned Who?
Whether by luck, circumstance or just pure will, some players couldn’t help but own certain teams when they came face-to-face with them during the regular season—while others were out and out owned by other teams. We looked at the players who especially excelled—or crashed and burned—against a single team during the 2012 season.

Mike Trout (Angels) owned the Rangers. The slam-dunk AL Rookie of the Year and (maybe) MVP was never busier than against Texas, hitting .338 with two doubles, three triples, six home runs, 16 walks and seven steals in 74 at-bats.

Eric Hosmer (Royals) owned by the Tigers. A sophomore bust, Hosmer was simply DOA against Detroit, collecting a mere five hits (four singles and a double) in 51 at-bats with just two RBIs.

Chris Davis (Orioles) owned the Blue Jays. No player hit more home runs this season against a single team than Davis, who knocked nine out of the park against Toronto; three of them came in one game on August 24 at Camden Yards.

Cliff Pennington (A’s) owned by the Royals. A bad hitter (.215) in general this season, Pennington saved his worst for Kansas City, notching a single hit in 26 at-bats with seven strikeouts.

Adam LaRoche (Nationals) owned the Cubs. And boy did he ever, collecting hits in 14 of 27 officials trips to the plate against Chicago—with seven of those knocks sent over the fence to help set a personal best of 33.

Brendan Ryan (Mariners) owned by the Angels. Ryan (.194, three homers in 141 games) was one of baseball’s worst hitters this year, but he positively stunk against the Angels, going 4-for-44 with 15 strikeouts.

Alex Rios (White Sox) owned the Twins. In the midst of an up year, the notoriously up-and-down hitter was sky-high against Minnesota, hitting .418 in 67 at-bats with eight homers, 22 RBIs and 23 runs scored.

Jason Bay (Mets) owned by the Nationals. Actually, the free-agent bust has been owned by a lot of teams since coming to Flushing, but he was particularly off his game against Washington with three hits and 14 strikeouts in 43 at-bats.

Ryan Braun (Brewers) owned the Phillies. With the reigning MVP putting up another year’s worth of powerful numbers, someone was going to have to bear the heavier brunt in giving them up. That someone was Philadelphia, for whom Braun smacked six homers and three doubles among 14 hits in just 27 at-bats.

Billy Butler (Royals) owned by the Blue Jays. You’d think a naturally gifted hitter like Butler (.300 career average) would never slump against anyone, but a beat-up, rotten bunch of Toronto pitchers somehow found him to be no problem; he managed just one hit in 28 at-bats against the Jays.

Jered Weaver (Angels) owned the A’s. The Angels couldn’t catch Oakland in the AL West, but they won’t blame the AL Cy Young Award candidate. Weaver started four games against the A’s and went 3-0 with just a single earned run allowed in 30.2 innings.

Justin Masterson (Indians) owned by the A’s. Maybe the Angels (and the Rangers, for that matter) should blame Masterson instead. The Cleveland righty lost all three of his assignments against Oakland, allowing 19 runs on 23 hits in 14.2 innings.

David Price (Rays) owned the Orioles. Like Weaver above, another Cy Guy did all he could to forge his team past an eventual playoff opponent. Price was 2-0 in three starts against Baltimore, with just one run on 13 hits given up in 22.1 innings.

Aaron Cook (Red Sox) owned by the Orioles. Obviously not to be confused with Price, Cook—a former Colorado Rockie—fared far worse against the Orioles; his 0-3 record and 11.93 ERA in four starts made him feel like he was the lead in a Groundhog’s Day set around a bad funk at Coors Field.

R.A. Dickey (Mets) owned the Marlins. The likely NL Cy Young recipient won more games against Miami than any pitcher against any team this season, going 5-0 in six starts with a solid 1.80 ERA.

Johan Santana (Mets) owned by the Braves. While Dickey shined, teammate (and former Cy winner) Santana floundered—the no-hitter notwithstanding—and he was particularly shamed by the Braves, who roughed him up over three starts with a 0-3 record and 12.79 ERA.

Fernando Rodney (Rays) owned the Yankees. In an incredible year, the Tampa Bay closer was never better than against the Bronx Bombers, closing out seven games and winning another two while allowing just four hits and a walk (with 11 K’s) in 9.2 scoreless innings.

Paul Maholm (Cubs/Braves) owned by the Brewers. Three starts, three losses and an 11.68 ERA against Milwaukee; against the rest of baseball, Maholm was 13-8 with a 3.11 ERA. Go figure.

Greg Holland (Royals) owned the White Sox. The emerging closer was busy and efficient against the Pale Hose, saving six games and winning three in 12 appearances with a 1.50 ERA.

Adam Ottavino (Rockies) owned by the Padres. It didn’t matter if it was a hitter’s paradise (Colorado’s Coors Field) or a pitcher’s paradise (San Diego’s Petco Park), Ottavino was equally bad in both parks over six relief appearances against the Padres, allowing 15 runs on 17 hits in 7.1 innings.

They're Back!
Baseball’s first official awards of the year were announced this past week with Comeback Player of the Year honors going to San Francisco catcher Buster Posey and Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney. Posey, the likely NL MVP and league batting champion, was just happy to get a full year in after losing two-thirds of the 2011 season to a broken ankle from a brutal home plate collision. Rodney, a set-up man last year for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who struggled with a 4.50 ERA, was simply phenomenal for the Tampa Bay Rays—saving 48 of 50 opportunities while piecing together a superb 0.60 ERA that’s the lowest ever recorded by a closer with over 50 innings. Will the Rays pick up his $2.5 million option for 2013? They’d be insane not to.

Hey Skip, You've Been Traded!
One of a major league manager’s more unenviable jobs is to notify his players that they’ve been released or traded. So imagine Toronto manager John Farrell’s surprise when the tables were turned on him this past week, notified by the Blue Jays that he’d been traded to the Boston Red Sox. Actually, Farrell’s probably happy with the new assignment: Taking over for the tortured Bobby Valentine in Boston, where he served as the Red Sox’ pitching coach from 2007-10, in a deal that sent infielder Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays. The Toronto Star’s Cathal Kelly showed no love for Farrell (and perhaps the manager’s position in general) by declaring the trade the most one-sided in Blue Jay history: “This is a win for Toronto because there is no baseball world in which a manager is worth a player.”

Farewell to the King of the Patient Eddies
Chances are, if you played big league ball in the 1950s and your first name was Eddie, you were drawing a ton of walks for your team. There was Eddie Stanky, Eddie Joost—and Eddie Yost, who died this past week just days after turning 86. In 18 big major league seasons, walks seemed to be Yost’s passion; he led the American League six different times (topping out at 151 in 1956) and finished his career with 1,614, which ranks 11th all-time. Yost only hit .254, but the preponderance of walks lifted that to a .394 on-base percentage. He scored over 100 runs in five campaigns, hit 139 homers among 1,863 hits and, although he played almost his entire playing career with a perennial loser in the Washington Senators, he earned a World Series ring with the 1969 New York Mets as their base coach.

TGG Goes to CafePress
We’ve always gotten raves for how we look at This Great Game, and now you can own a piece of the brand. We’ve opened a page at the popular CafePress site, with apparel, mugs, clocks and other items dressed in the TGG brand now available. We don’t just throw the logo and be done with it, adding in some fun baseball trivia. We even have a boy brief for the ladies that says on the backside: “If baseball is on your mind at this point, we’re just what you need.” Now you can show the world that you’re a baseball expert...and you’ll look good, too. Check it out now!

Now Playing at TGG
In Ed Attanasio's newest addition to TGG's They Were There section, Chuck Stevens talks about being the first major leaguer to get a hit off of Satchel Paige, his life and times living in Hollywood as a Pacific Coast League player, and his role in establishing the Professional Baseball Players' Association, which helps former ballplayers in need.

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.