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And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

Oct 4, 2010, 5:00 AM EDT

The Giants win the West, the Braves take the wild card and the Padres go home. As do 21 other teams on what was the final day of the 2010 regular season.

Braves 8, Phillies 7; Giants 3, Padres 0: You gotta feel bad for San Diego. They played above their heads all year. You also gotta feel bad for the people who were wishing for the awesome three-way tie that would have occurred had the Padres won yesterday. Braves and Giants fans are pretty darn pleased, though. 

For their part, the Braves made it way more interesting than it needed to be, frittering away an 8-2 lead in the seventh and making it into an 8-7 nail-biter in which Billy Wagner needed to throw 37 pitches — his highest total of the season — to secure the four-out save. After the game, the Braves let fans stay in the ballpark to (a) watch REO Speedwagon in concert; and (b) watch the Padres-Giants game on the big screen. It was a rough last few days for Atlanta, but they rode the storm out and now it’s time for them to fly. To San Francisco.

The Padres had all kinds of trouble scoring runs as the season wound down, and it continued until their final game. Jonathan Sanchez shut them out for five innings and five relievers pitched in to finish the job. One of them was Brian Wilson who, with that Just For Men beard, that lame haircut, his unbuttoned jersey and his orange shoes is easily the schmuckiest looking pitcher in baseball these days. I will enjoy despising him during the NLDS. Even though his home run likely sealed his Rookie of the Year award, thereby preventing Jason Heyward from winning it, I can’t hate Buster Posey. That guy is awesome, and I look forward to seeing the guy the Giants didn’t think was ready for the majors back in April lead them into the playoffs in October.

At about this time someone, somewhere, is thinking that the wild card made this a pretty interesting weekend. Query: wouldn’t it have been more interesting if four teams in three games — the Padres, Giants, Yankees and Rays — were all playing for their playoff lives yesterday instead of three teams in two games?  Just sayin!

Rays 3, Royals 2: Thanks to the Yankees’ loss it was official before this game was over, but the Rays are your AL East champs for 2010. That’s two division titles in three years, by they way. I remind you in case you’re the type that will yell (again) about how baseball needs a salary cap and realignment and all that jazz when the Yankees sign some 30+ year-old player this winter.

Red Sox 8, Yankees 4: It’s not often you see the Yankees fade late, but a 29-30 record since August 1st constitutes a fade. Still, I’m not too worried about them. Muscle memory has to come into play when it comes to the postseason with these guys, right? They go on to play Minnesota in the first round.

Blue Jays 2, Twins 1: And as you can see, the Twins aren’t exactly finishing the season on a high note themselves. The Jays hit two more dingers in this one, upping their season total to 257. That’s tied for the third most in MLB history.

Astros 4, Cubs 0: And on the last day of the season the Astros edge out the Cubs for fourth place. I’m guessing this will lead to a lot of people overrating Houston heading into next season.

Cardinals 6, Rockies 1: At various times this season both the Cardinals (April-May) and the Rockies (early-to-mid September) seemed like two of the stronger teams in baseball, destined for playoff glory. Fitting they end the season playing one-another. Jeff Suppan with six shutout innings. Where the hell did that come from? The Rockies finished 1-13. Where the hell did that come? It’s going to be a long winter in Denver and St. Louis.

Marlins 5, Pirates 2: And with this loss the Pirates tie the 1963 Mets for the worst road record in baseball history. Sweet. John Russell is probably going to get fired. Which is sweet for him too, but only in the way that a mercy killing can be sweet under the right circumstances.

White Sox 6, Indians 5: I once saw the Indians play the White Sox to close out the season on October 3rd. It was in 1993. In that game Ozzie Guillen went 0 for 1 with a walk and a sacrifice.  A young Albert Belle sealed the AL RBI title. Bob Hope sang “Thanks for the Memories” while standing on home plate of Municipal Stadium. I keyed a car in the parking lot because it parked with its bumper touching that of my midnight blue 1987 Chevy Cavalier RS, which was something You Just Did Not Do, because that car was awesome. In other words, not much has changed in 17 years.

Reds 3, Brewers 2: Jay Bruce enters the playoffs hot, smacking his fourth homer in a week. This was probably Ken Macha’s last game at the helm of the Brew Crew.
 
Tigers 4, Orioles 2: A .500 season for the Tigers. It seems like a million years ago, but they were in first place and ten games over .500 for a brief spell back in July. Baseball seasons are long and there’s absolutely nowhere to hide.

Nationals 2, Mets 1: It’s hard to think of two teams who needed their seasons to end more than the Nats and Mets did, so of course they played fourteen innings. And it’s hard to think of a more fitting way for the Mets season to end than having Oliver Perez walk in the losing run.

Angels 6, Rangers 2: Peter Bourjous hit a homer. He strikes me as the guy who’s going to get a whole bunch of feature stories written about him next spring but who won’t live up to the hype. That homer notwithstanding, I just don’t have faith in the bat. Josh Hamilton finishes at .359 after a one for four. Texas goes on to St. Pete to play the Rays.

Athletics 4, Mariners 3: The A’s finish at .500. As I’ve been saying it for a while now, but they probably have the biggest offseason ahead of them out of everyone. If they load up with some bats, they’re the favorites in the AL West next year. If they don’t, forget it.

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1: Joe Torre wins what will, in all likelihood, be his last major league game as a manager. It’s been a pretty uninspiring year for Torre and the Dodgers, but that will all wash away soon and we’ll remember that Bobby Cox wasn’t the only managerial titan leaving the stage in 2010.

And with that, the regular season ends.

Yes, we have a month’s worth of playoffs ahead of us and that’s wonderful, but the last normal day of the season is always bittersweet to me. Why? Because I enjoy dog day baseball way more than postseason baseball. I get
antsy when games start to truly matter, even if my team isn’t involved. I prefer games after which you can
turn off the TV and not think much about them because, hey, there will be another one tomorrow night.

To me, baseball is about hot nights. Baseball is about low leverage. Baseball is wonderful because it’s there every day.  Don’t get me wrong — the postseason is great — but it’s different, and in some important ways it lacks the stuff I love the most about the game.

And That Happened was launched in order to try and capture the “none of this really matters in and of itself, but taken together it means everything” nature of the regular season. So, even if I continue to recap last night’s games during the postseason, what I enjoy most about the feature is over until April. I mean, you guys are all going to watch all the games now, so me coming up with some factoid or bit of snark like I do about a near-meaningless Marlins-Nationals matchup in August that none of us watched won’t make much sense.  But that’s OK, I guess.

For those of you whose teams are marching on: good luck. For those of you whose teams are done for the year, I offer you the most beautiful thing a Commissioner of Baseball ever said:

It’s designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything is new again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains comes, it stops, and leaves you to face the fall alone.

Thank all of you for showing up each morning to read my little riffs. Let us now put on our jackets and plunge into the playoffs and beyond.

  1. okr1st - Oct 4, 2010 at 6:07 AM

    No. Thank you, Craig!

  2. ralf80 - Oct 4, 2010 at 7:28 AM

    Craig, I agree with you completely. Playoff baseball is thrilling, but the real magic, for me, is when the air is humid, the All-Star Game is still fresh in kids’ minds, the away team is down by four in the sixth inning on getaway day. There are enough empty seats to be noticeable but not embarrassing. A 30-something middle reliever is throwing 88 mph to a utility infielder who will never be on anyone’s fantasy team. Listening to the radio, the count goes from 1-0 to 3-2 but you don’t know how because the announcers are talking about off-day golf plans, and who can blame them? The road team will put together a rally, but not a comeback, and they’ll hit the showers and do it all over again in a new town on Friday. This is the baseball that so many people call boring, but for many of us, it’s baseball at its best.
    I’ll watch the ridiculous earflap caps and listen to Joe Buck make a fool of himself, but it will be almost like watching an entirely different sport. A baseball game, for me, is truly magical when it lets me feel like I’m the only one obsessing over every mundane detail.

  3. Kiwicricket - Oct 4, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    Allow me to elaborate a touch more on Ollie’s effort on Sunday….The previous game the Mets actually used RA Dickey to avoid using Ollie in such a role. He got the season ending opportunity in the 14th on Sunday instead. After celebrating striking out the first hitter(literally a fist pump) he hit’s the next guy, then walks the next 3 batters. All while sporting shaven lines in the back edges of his head. O for Owesome.

  4. Route36West - Oct 4, 2010 at 7:41 AM

    what u only come out of hiding and do 1 of these after the braves win? Where were you when the Phils were whooping up on the braves fri. and sat.

  5. PestiEsti - Oct 4, 2010 at 7:42 AM

    If we didn’t have the wild card, I assume we would also have the old two division structure, too. That means the Reds would also have been in the NL West mix. They would have needed a win yesterday and a Padres win to force a three-way tie. (Atlanta also used to be in the pre-wild card NL West, making it a hypothetical four-way tie. However, in this alternate history, I assume that Milwaukee would have still switched leagues, meaning that Atlanta probably would have moved to the NL East to make room for the Brewers in the NL West.)

  6. dlf - Oct 4, 2010 at 8:03 AM

    Taking the weekend off … if you paid attention all season, Calcaterra only writes during the weekdays. Perhaps a little thinking and a touch of reading would help before you spout off.

  7. dlf - Oct 4, 2010 at 8:13 AM

    Thanks for the updates Craig. I’ve enjoyed them all season, perhaps more this year than any other as I spent a good part of the season living about 10,000 miles away from the ball games trying to follow the contest via game cast. Your irreverent and yet informative updates made me feel like I wasn’t missing the ebbs and flows of the season.
    And I agree with the post-script above. It isn’t the pagentry of the opening day crowd or the over the top excitement of October games, but rather the gentle pacing of the game, sitting in the bleachers with a beer, catching up with friends old and new while at the park, debating irrelevant tidbits – should he hit and run, is this pitcher done, was Luzinski a worse fielder than Dunn is, is Pavano’s ‘stache better than Yosemite Sam Hubbard’s old beard – is what first drew me in and keeps me coming back. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll watch the post season as I always do. But the slow, quiet, almost irrelevant summer game is the hidden beauty of the game and what I love.

  8. Jeremy - Oct 4, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    Route36West: You must be new here. Craig doesn’t work weekends. And on weekdays he regularly puts up agonized posts about the Braves’ recent play.

  9. Jonny5 - Oct 4, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    I love it all. I guess that’s why I’ll hang on the fence at little league for an entire game just watching . Or take the family to a Riversharks game which happens to be one of the most beautiful ballparks around . http://www.riversharks.com/campbellsfield.cfm
    Maybe that’s why I’ll watch every single playoff game now and jump up and down and wake up “the others” in my home (they are those who don’t stay up to watch). I am a person who looks forward to the playoffs only when my team is in it. Am compelled to watch even if they aren’t. I mean, there will be no more baseball before too long…. beggars can’t be choosers can they? I guess it is sad in a way to see the season come to an end, but as long as my Phills are in it, I’m going to be loving it while it’s here, and hating it if it goes bad for them. Sure, I may be a bit of a fanboy, but aren’t we all? At least a little bit?

  10. The Steve Jeltz Experiment - Oct 4, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    Thanks for another great season of ATH. As if on cue, it started raining and got a lot colder last night. And while my team’s back in the postseason tournament, it wasn’t long ago that this morning dawned with the expectation that I would be reading stories about “What Will The Phillies Do Next Year” and waiting for that magical day in February when pitchers and catchers report and hope exists for every team. Reading this post brings forth a sense of sadness, but it also makes me look forward to the first ATH of 2011.
    Baseball is and always will be best on a warm summer night, with a slightly cooling breeze, girls in tank tops in the stands, and a cold beer in my hand. The fact that the game actually keep me from paying attention to the other stuff tells you that it’s a great game. The fact that it’s paced in a way that allows me to take in the other stuff makes it even better. And for all of you who haven’t had the experience, I got to take my three year old to her first game this year, at Nats Park. Seeing baseball through the eyes of a kid again, especially when it’s your kid — there aren’t words to describe it.

  11. ebraves - Oct 4, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    Craig,
    Thanks for the time you put into these posts every day. It was my first season reading these, and it was the first thing I did when waking up.
    Thanks again.
    Go Braves!

  12. Jonny5 - Oct 4, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Wow, yeah ,that’s right, this is the last ATH of the regular season!! Craig got me all sentimental with his blubbering love letter to the sport…. Thanks Craig. Anyway, I was actually hoping the Braves would be able to hold that lead yeasterday. And my Wife, who was pushing her luck, by actually rooting for the Braves under my roof, in the sanctity of our home!! With all this “Just let Bobby get his last regular season game in as a win” Bill Wagner’s retiring too??” The Braves better win for these guys” Blah, blah, blah… She was just saying what I was thinking afterall.. The Phills did not need another win, and at the beginning of the game, I see Hamels relieved by,” what? who? Oswalt? Now, how is that fair? ” I could totally picture Braves fans rolling their eyes and saying, ohhh welps with a look of disgust. But Oswalt wasn’t built to pitch from the pen, and apparently either is Joe Blanton. Welcome to the playoffs Braves and Braves fans, it’s about damn time isn’t it?

  13. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 4, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    Blanton wasn’t built to pitch from anywhere. Glad we won’t be seeing him for a while and when we do, it will be for one game when we are hopefully up 3-0 or 2-1. The main reason I was rooting for the Braves was so that we can all watch Billy Wagner once again choke in the playoffs. It will be a wonderful thing to watch. I hate “Big Mouth” Billy Wagner.

  14. Jon - Oct 4, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Thanks Craig, this was good stuff. My morning coffee just isnt going to be the same until april

  15. Bill@TDS - Oct 4, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    but that will all wash away soon and we’ll remember that Bobby Cox [and Lou Piniella] w[ere]n’t the only managerial titan[s] leaving the stage in 2010.

  16. RichardInBigD - Oct 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    My sentiments exactly, Craig. And for me, the deep depression that follows the final out of my team’s season (Mets for the first 30 years of my life, Rangers since ’90) usually sticks around until Thanksgiving, when I am reminded that there are other things in life besides baseball (although they are not as important as baseball). For the great majority of those years, given who my teams have been, this would have been the starting point of my autumnal funk. But alas! The Rangers second season starts Wednesday, and I hope I’ll be seeing you in Arlington in a few weeks!

  17. Jonny5 - Oct 4, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    Joe Blanton Wpct. .600 = he knows how to win games
    Roy Oswalt Wpct. .500 = he just doesn’t know how to win games
    Blanton just knows how to win!!!
    LOL!!

  18. birdmancometh - Oct 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Go away man. Nobody wants to listen to that crap.

  19. birdmancometh - Oct 4, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    Does anybody like this guy? I can’t wait until the Phillies start losing 100 games every year again. How old is Utley again? Really? Crap, oh well, guess it will be a few more years.

  20. Utley's hair - Oct 4, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Danys Baez ia also not built to pitch from the pen…or mound, for that matter.

  21. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 4, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    Baez is the worst. Thank God he won’t be on the playoff roster.

  22. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 4, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    Heavy B is so bad, but you know what…I bet he actually pitches pretty solid in game 4 of the NLCS. He’ll go 3 or 4 with 1 earned run, then the Uncle will leave him in one hitter too long and he’ll give up a 3 run bomb. Fortunately, the Phillies will already be up 7-1 so it won’t hurt that much…LOL.

  23. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 4, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    No, Billy Wagner was a dick when he pitched here. Nobody in the clubhouse liked him. He badmouthed the team to the media, and it was roundly applauded when he left the organization.

  24. froggy - Oct 4, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    ralf,
    very well said.

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