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And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

Apr 9, 2010, 5:46 AM EST

Vernon Wells homer.jpgBlue Jays 3, Rangers 1: On the scale of unexpected and dramatic comebacks, Vernon Wells starting the season with four homers in three games falls somewhere south of Bruce Wayne donning the cape and cowl after a decade in retirement in The Dark Knight Returns, but somewhere north of Steely Dan releasing “Two Against Nature” in 2000. On a related note, Ricky [Romero] had the Rangers’ number all night, allowing only one run in seven innings. Cito Gaston probably didn’t have to call nobody else, but he used Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor anyway.

Athletics 6, Mariners 2: Hot start for Oakland, as they take three of four from M’s.  Six innings of shutout ball for Brett Anderson, four RBI for Daric Barton and, as Matthew pointed out last night, some interesting defensive choices for the Mariners in the eighth inning all contributed to the win. Only thing I don’t get about that play is that since the catcher used his mask to scoop up the ball, why were Travis Buck and Cliff Pennington only awarded one base each? Rule 7.05(b) clearly states that baserunners in such instances are to be awarded three bases. Anyone have any ideas?

Reds 2, Cardinals 1: Pretty much covered this one as it ended yesterday afternoon. But since then I’ve been provided a verbatim transcript of the meeting which took place just prior to Jonny Gomes’ walkoff home run.

Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue calls for an offspeed pitch. Jason Motte shakes him off:

LaRue: Why you shaking me off?
Motte: I wanta throw the heater to announce my presence with authority.
LaRue: “To announce your f—— presence with authority”?  This guy’s a first ball fastball hitter.  He’s looking for heat.
Motte:  But he ain’t seen my heat.
LaRue: [sighs, then smirks] Awright, meat, give him your heat.

Fin

Nationals 6, Phillies 5:  A Willie Harris home run off Kyle Kendrick put the Nats up 5-2 in the fourth inning, but Philly came back to tie it up with two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. But then new arrival Nelson Figueroa came in and gave up a walk and then a bloop RBI double that proved to be the difference in the Nats’ victory.  “Quail ball,” Charlie Manuel antiquatedly called it, doing absolutely nothing to disprove my hypothesis that Manuel was sent to our time from 1946 in some time-travel experiment connected to Operation Paper Clip or something. I love Charlie, but you gotta admit, the guy’s a living Burma Shave add.

Cubs 2, Braves 0: Randy Wells and four relievers shut the Braves out, allowing three hits to Martin Prado and two to Troy Glaus, but utterly flummoxing everyone else. At least until the ninth when Eric Hinske almost, but not quite, hit a walkoff three run homer. But you know they say about where close counts. Tommy Hanson wasn’t terrible for Atlanta, but the two hits he gave up in the early going were both the kind that went over the fence. Jason Heyward went 0 for 4 and looked like some young kid or something striking out on three pitches from Carlos Marmol in the ninth. Such is the way of the world when you’re 20.  Chipper Jones strained his oblique and will miss 2-3 days. Such is the way of the world when you’re Chipper Jones.

Dodgers 10, Pirates 2: In that stupid T.J. Simers article that suckered me yesterday, Simers wrote that Ronnie Belliard was “hired by the Dodgers to laugh at Manny’s jokes, allow Manny to ignore
his other teammates and talk trash about reporters in Spanish so the
reporters won’t know what he’s saying.”  He is apparently also there to go 3-5 with a double, triple, homer and four RBI when he’s spelling Casey Blake at third. Every Dodgers position player — five of whom were second stringers — got a hit. The first five guys in the lineup each had multiple hits.

Orioles 5, Rays 4: Brian Matusz’s targeting systems were malfunctioning (five walks) but he muddled through on manual and got the win.  Rays’ starter Jeff Niemann left the game in the second when a comebacker caught his shoulder. Matt Wieters is hitting .500 through his first three games. 

Tigers 7, Royals 3: Dontrelle Willis is back (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4K). Spectacular? No. But we’ll all settle for competent. Fellow former Marlin Miquel Cabrera was more than competent, going 4 for 5 with a three-run homer and an RBI single. Alberto Callaspo stranded nine runners all by himself in this one, hitting into two double plays and striking out with two men on in his first three at bats and then grounding out with the bases loaded in the eighth.

Marlins 3, Mets 1: Nice outing for Jonathon Neise (6 IP, 8H, 3 ER) but Nate Robertson was better (5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER).

Twins 10, Angels 1: A big question for the Twins this season was how to work Jim Thome, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young through two positions and still give everyone at bats. No worries: just beat the tar out of someone and they all get a chance: Kubel got the start in left and had an RBI single, Thome DH’d and went 2-4 with a three-run homer and Young subbed in for Kubel late and hit a three-run homer of his own. Problem solved!  As for the Angels, their two main offseaon additions — Joel Piniero and Fernando Rodney — combined to give up seven runs in seven innings. So there’s that.

Indians 5, White Sox 3: Good win for the Indians and all, and it’s nice that they’re 2-1, but as I heard someone say yesterday, when you have to say “the season’s only three games old, but . . .” it’s probably the kind of thing that you shouldn’t be saying anyway due to the meaninglessness of it all.

  1. Charles Gates - Apr 9, 2010 at 8:24 AM

    Craig, how did you handle watching Mike Gonzalez last year? He’s probably the most inefficient pitcher this side of the Mississippi. His stanky leg initiated motion threw 26 pitches in the 9th last night, of which 12 were strikes. 2 walks and one hit, intermingled with 2 strike outs, loaded the bases before a fairly hard hit ball to Markakis ended the threat, yielding him the all important S.
    On a side note, the O’s announcers were saying things about Matusz (you transposed the U and the S up top) like, ‘If Jim Palmer were here (Palmer is the normal color guy, but was home due to some laryngitis, though I bet Ol’ Gator would blame it on Vibro vulnificus), he’d say ‘You learn more about a young pitcher on days like this, where he battles through it without his best stuff, than you do when he pitches seven shutout innings.” I’d have to say there’s at least some truth to that statement.

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 9, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    I never found Gonzalez all that frustrating. I haven’t looked it up, but me recollection of him in Atlanta was that he was fairly efficient. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but he never bothered me in that regard. Not sure what his problem has been these first couple of outings.
    I forget his name, but the O’s pinch-commenter was a beat writer. And I think he’s right about young pitchers struggling. The first time I ever saw Sidney Ponson pitch for the Orioles he had a good game and I remember telling someone next to me in the bar I was at watching the game that I thought he was going to be pretty good. Then you see how the guy deals with adversity . . .
    “in Heineken”

  3. Moses Green - Apr 9, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    So we have Charles here paraphrasing an imitation of Jim Palmer, while name-checking the Old Gator. Here is an example of meta (cubed) commentary that makes Circling My Hard Balls the greatest corporate baseball blog in the history of corporate baseball blogs. Well, that and ATH. And the Gator. Whenever you can start a sentence to your baby sister “So I was having this debate the other day on the comment board of a baseball blog on the relative merits of the works of Thomas Pynchon …” or “This fella on my new favorite baseball blog related a great Jorge Luis Borges story the other day…” well that’s really very confusing to a lot of people. In a good way.

  4. Charles Gates - Apr 9, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Thanks. But if you YouTube the video for Stanky Leg, I’m pretty sure I’ll lose all of the internet points I may have just won. I’d paste the link here, but I think that would qualify as blog pollution.

  5. Edward Jensen - Apr 9, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Craig,
    Yet another reference to the Simers’ article? What happened to funny Craig? The problem is not Simers. The problem is you. You did not read the article. You did not do your job, yet for the second day, you’re still whining.
    Let’s clean this up a little. You can’t have it both ways.

  6. Ace - Apr 9, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    Oh no, there was a Pynchon debate and I missed it?! Let’s get that going again.
    .
    Yankees fans are so uneducated, they probably thought Vineland was Pynchon’s finest novel. (Go Sox!!!)

  7. Jick - Apr 9, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Vineland wasn’t bad at all. I once heard it described as 1984 meets The Big Lebowski, and even if the second half wasn’t as funny as the first, I can dig it.
    Against the Day, though, that’s one I would have liked better if I’d hated it. Instead it was merely okay, and if I’m reading a >1000 page book I need it to provoke a bigger reaction, even a negative one.

  8. Jimmy P - Apr 9, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    In the Sox-Indians game, you could have seen Juan Pierre as the DH. That’s pretty special.

  9. Ace - Apr 9, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    You’re right, Vineland certainly isn’t terrible. We’re talking about Pynchon here, and even his worst is still pretty damn excellent. I just don’t think it comes anywhere near Gravity’s Rainbow or Mason & Dixon (my personal favorite). M&D seems to be severely underrated; it has all the zany humor, paranoid conspiracies, and historical arcana we’ve come to love and expect from Pynchon, plus a genuinely moving human story (which is very rare for him). And I’m totally with you on Against the Day. “Meh” is not what you want to feel after 1000 pages. Definitely had its moments though, and I did love the Chums of Chance. All that stilted and corny wild west dialogue, not so much.

  10. APBA Guy - Apr 9, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    Amateurs. Compare and contrast “Le Rouge et le Noir” with “Splendeurs et Miseres de Courtesans.” At least we can discuss some writers with insight into the human condition, not merely some self-conscious, grasping literary excess. And maybe we should take it over to Buster’s blog anyway, for some snark-filled refereeing.
    Aside from that, the beloved A’s are 3-1. Of course, this is the AL equivalent of the Gigantes being 3-0, in that the opponent has more to do with the record than the winning team.
    While I take great pleasure in watching the A’s win, it’s hard to imagine this continuing except that they play the Mariners again next week. We will get a better read this weekend against the Angels, another AL West team with questions to answer. Is it possible the AL West will have 4 teams finish below .500?
    The rumors are swirling that Boston will make a grab for Kurt Suzuki and move V Mart to DH and 1B. After watching the catching in the Boston/Yankees games I can believe that the Red Sox will need a defensive upgrade. Kurt certainly got practice in the Seattle series, as the Mariners were relentless in running attempts when they did get men on base. Too bad they couldn’t hit when the runners reached scoring position.
    If Boston pulls off that trade I wonder how Billy Beane will try to spin it?
    “We couldn’t afford Suzuki. He’s making $ 10k above minimum.” or
    “We got 3 prospects from Boston who we’ll trade away just as they are about to blossom for 3 more prospects.”
    Not that I miss Dana Eveland or Greg Smith, but I do miss Carlos Gonzalez.

  11. Moses Green - Apr 9, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Salman Rushdie gave Vineland a warm review, saying it didn’t deserve all of the criticisms hurled its way. It certainly has its fair share of Nixonian paranoia and Brock Vond is a worth villain.
    Basically I’ll take Pynchon’s worst against most writers’ best.

  12. Ace - Apr 9, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Oh, you’re going to drag the French realists into this now? I’ll take good old American post-modern meta-fiction over French realism any day. Balzac wrote what, 100 novels? And forgive me if I’m overlooking something, becasue I haven’t read them all, but did Balzac even once get around to writing a really awesome octopus fight scene? Did Pere Goriot ever take a mind-altering, phantasmagoric journey down a toilet bowl? I thought not.

  13. Old Gator - Apr 9, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Sorry Mo, gotta disagree. That paperweight was a premier example of laboring mightily to birth a mouse. Pynchon’s worst – Vineland – is as bad as any worst book by anyone. It’s right down there with Lotte in Weimar, Pierre or the Ambiguities and all of James Fenimore Cooper besides Last of the Mohicans. I’ll take Luthor, Dr. Doom or Braniac over Brock Vond any day. And what made it even worse was how long Pynchon made us wait for that pile of sludge (although in all fairness he did give us Professor Irwin Corey at the National Book Award dinner during that interregnum). Mason and Dixon was a mighty act of redemption, though. I often read it as a double feature with The Sot Weed Factor. I think Salman Rushdie should just concentrate on finishing his own next opus, Buddha, You Fat Bastard, and male it available on Kindle as soon as he can.
    .
    Heading out to the Feesh home opener. Rain is predicted. Figures, don’t it?

  14. Old Gator - Apr 9, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    Sorry Mo, gotta disagree. That paperweight was a premier example of laboring mightily to birth a mouse. Pynchon’s worst – Vineland – is as bad as any worst book by anyone. It’s right down there with Lotte in Weimar, Pierre or the Ambiguities, Lucy Gayheart and all of James Fenimore Cooper besides Last of the Mohicans. I’ll take Luthor, Dr. Doom or Braniac over Brock Vond any day. And what made it even worse was how long Pynchon made us wait for that pile of sludge (although in all fairness he did give us Professor Irwin Corey at the National Book Award dinner during that interregnum). Mason and Dixon was a mighty act of redemption, though. I often read it as a double feature with The Sot Weed Factor. I think Salman Rushdie should just concentrate on finishing his own next opus, Buddha, You Fat Bastard, and make it available on Kindle as soon as he can.
    .
    Heading out to the Feesh home opener. Rain is predicted. Figures, don’t it?

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