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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

Jun 20, 2011, 5:38 AM EDT

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Look, I ain’t gonna lie to you. I lost track of baseball for a couple of days. You’ll have that when you visit five distilleries and take in all manner of food, music, and odd, assorted — and a few sordid — people, all in places where the drink menus are longer than most metropolitan telephone directories.

So yes, I still have the recaps from yesterday’s games for you, but since the games didn’t involve charred white oak barrels and nice vanilla/caramel balance at first followed by a nice spicy finish, my mind wandered a bit (a lot) while writing these, so let’s just consider today’s installment a bourbon primer with a baseball chaser, OK?  Thanks for indulging me.

Red Sox 12, Brewers 3: A six run inning — with a Kevin Youkilis three-run bomb — iced this one for Boston before it even got going. Speaking of ice, don’t listen to that whiskey snob you know who says that you should never add ice to your pour. Indeed, most experts will tell you that ice — or a few splashes of water — will bring out some other flavors and aromas in the bourbon that you may not be able to appreciate neat. Just don’t drown it, you know?

Rays 2, Marlins 1: James Shields threw a four-hit complete game with 10Ks. Florida loses its tenth straight, with added disorientation given Edwin Rodriguez’s resignation right before the game. Speaking of disorientation, I found that despite all of the great bourbon I sampled over the weekend, I wasn’t really ever inebriated. There’s always something, be it a well-timed meal or a fairly lengthy drive between destinations — plus the fact that you’re savoring good stuff rather than just glugging down grog — that sort of encourages moderation on this kind of trip. Didn’t really lose a step all weekend, which was not something I expected.

Twins 5, Padres 4: Drew Butera singled in Delmon Young in the bottom of the ninth as the Twins won their seventh straight. Speaking of Old No. 7, Did you know what keeps Jack Daniels from being a bourbon?  It’s dripped through ten feet of packed maple charcoal after the distilling process is over and before it’s put in barrels. And Jack Daniels uses red oak, not white oak.  Subtle differences, but enough to give it a totally different taste profile. I’ve never really cared much for Jack Daniels, and I’m guessing it’s that maple charcoal thing going on.

Reds 2, Blue Jays 1: The Reds had gone 16 innings without scoring, but Miguel Cairo‘s two-run homer in the sixth broke that streak and gave the Reds enough offense to win it. The Blue Jays had owned Bronson Arroyo before yesterday, but he made people forget that. Speaking of owning, the world of Kentucky bourbon is a lot more consolidated than you may think, with any given distillery producing both high end stuff and rotgut. It’s so easy with beers and wines to get prejudiced against various producers who make stuff you don’t like, even when they dress it up with fancy labels, but you gotta let that go with bourbon. Don’t like Jim Beam? Hey, don’t drink it, but don’t let your feelings toward it sour you on their high end Bookers. Don’t like Buffalo Trace? Well, get used to the fact that the best stuff I ever buy — Blanton’s — is made by the same people. It doesn’t take a fundamentally different corporate mindset to make a premium product in the world of whiskey. It only takes the will and some time, because it only takes a few tweaks and some extra space in the rick house to make a super fine product, not some massive change in a company’s priorities.

Mariners 2, Phillies 0: Jason Vargas shuts out the Phillies on three hits.  Speaking of three hits, Woodford Reserve prides itself on triple distilling its hooch, which it does in these three awesome and massive copper pot stills. No one else distills three times. They claim that’s what makes their stuff so special. I don’t know enough about all of that to know if it truly makes a big difference. Why wouldn’t anyone else distill three times if that was a game-changer?  It’s great stuff, though, I can’t deny it. Maybe it’s because they easily have the best employee of any distillery. He’s so dedicated he takes all of his meals on site!

White Sox 8, Diamondbacks 2: Paul Konerko homers for the third straight day as the Snakes drop two of three to the White Sox. Speaking of white, did you know that, when they put it in the barrels after distilling, the whisky is totally clear like water? This is known as “white dog,” or as it’s more commonly known, “white lightning.” Or more commonly know than that, “moonshine.” Yes, the only real difference between illegal, redneck moonshine and smooth, refined sippin’ whiskey is the fact that it’s aged in those charred oak barrels, transforming that color and, of course, adding some mellow woody flavors. Some distilleries — notably Heaven Hill — are starting to bottle the white dog and sell it, presumably cutting it just enough to make it legal. I’m not sure who on Earth would want that. I have in-laws in West Virginia who have procured me real moonshine before. It’s horrifyingly bad, no matter what you do with it.  I’m assuming 90% of the bottled white dog will be sold either (a) to dumb kids who want to pretend to be badasses; or (b) ironically.

Dodgers 1, Astros 0: A Dioner Navarro homer was the only scoring of the game. Speaking of thin lines, when they empty a barrel for bottling following the aging process, you can look at the cross section of the barrel staves and see a thin reddish line an inch or two into the wood. That’s how far the bourbon soaks into the wood during aging, slowly seeping in and out as the heat in the rick house changes and the barrels and their contents expand and contrast.

Tigers 9, Rockies 1: The AP game story (and I presume others who watched the game too) said that Justin Verlander didn’t have his best stuff. Yet he still retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced en route to a complete game, so even his not-so-best stuff is pretty special. Speaking of retired, the retired master distiller of Woodford Reserve has continued to dabble in the business, and his latest creation just came out. It’s called Angel’s Envy, and it’s different than other bourbons in that, after the normal aging, its transferred to port wine barrels for a few months to give it all kinds of weird fruity, chocolatey and other port-esque flavors. I didn’t try any down there, but I bought a bottle because I am intrigued.

Cardinals 5, Royals 4: The win is a win — a walkoff homer by Skip Schumaker — but it’s cold comfort compared to Albert Pujols‘ wrist/shoulder injury, the severity and extent of which we’ll know more about today. Speaking of comfort — or, comfort food anyway — there is no breakfast more fantastic for a day’s worth of imbibing than the stuff you can get at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville. This is what I had on Saturday morning. This is what the missus had. Yeah, we were comforted.

Orioles 7, Nationals 4: The Nats’ eight game winning streak comes to a halt as Chris Jakubauskas pitched five decent innings and got a couple of hits as well to help the Orioles salvage the final game of the series. Speaking of versatility, did you know that Jame Beauregard Beam — who ran Jim Beam when Prohibition hit — managed to continue making money hand over fist running quarries, coal mines and owning orange groves until Prohibition was lifted? Did you also know that it took every ounce of will power I had not to ask the tour guide if, in fact, Beam actually continued to secretly make whiskey, using subterfuge and payoffs to the feds? Because that seems way more likely to me. In fact, at every distillery I went to, they told some tale about how the forefathers survived prohibition, and all I could think was “yeah, they survived it by still making whiskey, dude.”

Athletics 2, Giants 1: Despite staggering into this series, the A’s sweep their cross-bay rivals. Speaking of unexpected, the missus and I sat at the bar at the Brown Hotel for two nights, each night sampling more different bourbons than any sane person should sample, and I’ll be damned if the one I didn’t enjoy the most was a glass of plain old Old Fitz. I ordered it, not because I thought it would be great, but rather, in homage to Hunter S. Thompson, who orders one in the airport bar at the beginning of “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.” And man, I liked it. I really liked it. I’m not sure if that says more about the simple things in life being the best or more about how one’s imagination can fool you into all manner of baloney if you let it. But it was good.

Braves 4, Rangers 2Jason Heyward hit a two-run single and Freddie Freeman had and RBI double.  Speaking of the young doing good things, I think one of the more enlightening things of the past couple of days came while tasting at the lovely Heaven Hill tasting room in Bardstown. The two samples: their Ezra Brooks single barrel and their 18-year-old Elijah Craig. The Brooks was fantastic. Even if you’d never drink a black label Brooks — and I wouldn’t blame you — do try the single barrel, as it may stand as the greatest discovery of the trip for me. In contrast, they talk up the Elijah Craig as something awesome because bourbon is rarely allowed to age for 18 years, and thus it’s supposed to have all kinds of complex things going on with it and blah blah blah. Know what? “Complex” and “bourbon” aren’t necessarily best friends. This isn’t wine or scotch. This is Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. It is America’s official spirit. In keeping with that legal designation — and yes, Congress so designated it once upon a time — a certain immediacy and directness is called for that isn’t quite delivered when we pretend that our bourbon is scotch and that it needs more time in the barrel. It doesn’t. When I want complex I’ll drink something complex, but I no more want an overly-complicated drink when I’m in the mood for bourbon than I want some vaguely European dandy to give me the double talk when I want someone to tell me how it is, get me?

Angels 7, Mets 3: Tyler Chatwood pitched seven scoreless. The Mets’ three runs in the ninth were basically an afterthought. Speaking of afterthoughts, for reasons that are still unclear to me, the missus and I stumbled up Fourth Street from the Brown Hotel to the little roped-off party central area of Louisville called “Fourth Street Live.” What you find there: lots of chain bars and restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe and very corporate feeling Irish Pubs. On Friday night they also happened to have a free concert, featuring some hot country band (as in the genre “hot country”) called Thompson Square. A husband and wife duo that, while catchy enough, pretty much tells you everything that is wrong with hot country. When they had the most fun — and, frankly, when we in the crowd had the most fun — was when they did goofy stuff like covers of New Kids on the Block and Joan Jett which, while cute, belied their true pop influences and showed that the country in their sound was barely skin deep and probably more calculated than anything. I can’t say it wasn’t fun to be out on the street on a nice warm early summer evening, fueled by wonderful brown liquor and enjoying a festive atmosphere, but I can’t say I felt great about it all either. I probably overthink this stuff.

Yankees 10, Cubs 4: Tied 4-4 until the eighth inning when Nick Swisher hit a tie-breaking three-run homer as New York pulled away for an easy win. The crowd at Wrigley was a kind of crazy, with lots of New York fans there chanting for the Yankees and all of the interest in the Bombers playing on the north side leading to a three-day attendance record at Wrigley.  Speaking of outsiders sort of invading, on the way to Woodford Reserve, one passes through the heart of Kentucky horse country, where there sit horse farms with gates that appeared to — and almost certainly did — cost more than my house. On those gates are names like “Dubai Arab Farms” and stuff like that, suggesting how crazy international interest has shaped that business. Go a ways up the road and you can see some of their horses just prancing around the most picturesque pastures you’ve ever seen. Taking this all in, I was struck by the notion that anyone who hopped a fence there and got within 200 yards of one of those horses would likely be shot on site and no jury in that county would convict the shooter.

Indians 5, Pirates 2: Cord Phelps with a dramatic three-run walkoff job in the 11th inning. Speaking of dramatic, the problem you have with anything as old as bourbon making, is that all of the good old stories are sort of lost in the mists of time. At each distillery there is some variation of the story of the founding of bourbon told, be it in an interpretive center or a movie or in a booklet or what have you. Sometimes the reverend Elijah Craig accidentally discovered bourbon making when some barrels were burnt in a fire and he decided to use them anyway. Sometimes it was intentional because he had some harebrained idea. At least three distilleries claim to be the oldest … something, be it “continuously operating” or “currently situated on this site” or “using the same recipe” or whatever in all of America. Unlike the California wine industry, for example, there just isn’t anyone alive anymore who can tell you how stuff really went down. And since 3/4 of all distilleries have someone named “Beam” working for them, there’s even more incentive to lie and fudge and all of that.

I found this troubling for a little while because I really wanted to learn things on my trip, but to be honest, this may be all apart of that “official American spirit” thing. America is kind of full of beans itself (in the best sense of the term), so why shouldn’t one of its signature industries be too?

Hell, baseball is the same way and I love it too, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Jun 20, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    Back in my drinking days I made it a point to buy bottles of various bourbons. I kept the empties on the top of my refrigerator. I had somewhere in the vicinity of 40 different kinds. From cheap to high end my absolute favorite was Makers Mark. When people would come over they would always try to mix their bourbon with a soft drink or something. I never understood that. In my opinion, the only two acceptable ways to swill bourbon is on the rocks or neat.

    • halladaysbicepts - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:52 AM

      I agree. Only real men drink liquor straight-up or on the rocks. Females and girly men drink liquor with a fruit mix or soda.

      I’m personally a shot and beer drinker. It’s the only way to earn your man card.

      • sabosgoggles - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:14 AM

        Please. My wife prefers hers straight, and a good Manhattan is one of the joys of the world.

      • handsfour - Jun 20, 2011 at 1:59 PM

        your “man card”? Good one…
        …oh, you’re probably not joking. wow.

  2. juade - Jun 20, 2011 at 7:25 AM

    Great whiskey commentary Craig. Also, gotta love the fact that Mr. Jack Daniels died from an infection he acquired after kicking his safe too hard when it failed to open for him. And for the public record, a barrel of ‘Single Barrel’ can be yours for $12,000. The plaque on the wall claims that Kevin Spacey had one at his 50th birthday party. Just sayin…

    Good Monday everybody.

  3. drpaisley - Jun 20, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    Did you know what keeps Jack Daniels from being a bourbon?

    You mean besides the fact it’s made in Tennessee?

    Great stuff, Craig. Now you’ve got me wanting to make a trip to Kentucky.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 20, 2011 at 7:54 AM

      You can actually make a bourbon in any state in the U.S. It doesn’t have to come from Kentucky. It merely has to meet the standards of bourbon (corn content; barrel specifications, proof guidelines at the time of barreling and the lack of additives during distillation and aging).

      They actually make bourbon in Colorado and some other places.

  4. jwbiii - Jun 20, 2011 at 8:25 AM

    The “Who Makes America’s Whiskey?” article in the 2010 American Distilling Institute Directory paints a less idyllic picture of the industry.

    Heaven Hill, owned by Diageo, has been marketing white corn liquor for at least 30 years as Georgia Moon. I tried it once. I will not do so again. The faux mason jar packaging was perfect for marinating ceviche, so there’s that.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 20, 2011 at 8:31 AM

      Not trying to paint it as idyllic. It’s very clear when you’re down there that these are big companies each making tons of different labels. I think there’s a bigger distinction in quality, however, between a whiskey maker’s top shelf stuff and their mass-produced stuff than, say, the best Anheuser-Busch beer and Budweiser.

      If you’re going down there to look for some tiny, family-run place that no one has ever heard of, you’re not going to find it no matter how hard they try to sell you on it. And that’s pretty clear with only a little research.

      • jwbiii - Jun 20, 2011 at 8:50 AM

        Fair enough. I guess my point is that while there may be somebody named Beam at every distillery, Jim Beam is owned by the same company that makes Titleist golf balls and Moen plumbing fixtures. And as you say, their top shelf stuff, Maker’s Mark, is pretty darn good.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:00 AM

        Cool. I do think there is a slight distinction to be made in the corporate ownership/brand relationships, though. Some brands like Beam, Booker’s, and Knob Creek are both owned and distilled/bottled by the same place by the same people, aged in the same rick houses, etc., in this case, Jim Beam.

        Others — like Beam and Maker’s Mark or, alternatively, Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve — are owned by the same parent company, but operate fully independent distillation processes, facilities and employees.

        So, if you ask Jim Beam what their top shelf is, they’ll say either Knob Creek or Booker’s, which is the top stuff they produce at their joint. They won’t say Maker’s, because they’re merely corporate cousins. Likewise, Jack Daniels will say that their top stuff is Gentleman Jack, not Woodford (though Woodford is up front in their tour that they’re a corporate cousin of Jack Daniels).

        On the business side this distinction doesn’t matter too much. I think it does make a difference in the whiskeys, though, because they’re using totally different processes, not merely offering variations of a given brand.

      • Old Gator - Jun 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        Real music, or country music?

        When ya leave me, walk backerds, so ah thinks yore comin’ in….

  5. drmonkeyarmy - Jun 20, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    The Phillies need a new left fielder. I’ve long defended Raul, but I just can’t do it anymore. He has to be the worst defensive outfielder in baseball. If he were hitting it would be easier to overlook the fact that he has no range and can’t throw. However, he looks terrible at the plate. I don’t think there is an easy solution, but I can’t stomach another 90 games if this guy. They would probably be better off throwing Francisco out there. Neither can hit, but at least Ben gets on base, is a mediocre outfielder, and is right handed.

    • halladaysbicepts - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:04 AM

      Raul is only a component of the problem. This offense as a whole once again made a mediocre pitcher like Vargas with a high 4 era look like Cy Young with a three hit effort against this bum. Jimmy Rollins was once again a pop-up machine.

      The problem is the weak bench. I’m all for giving guys days off to rest. But when you do so, you show how weak your bench really is. They need a couple of good guys to come off the bench by the trade deadline.

      Not happy that the Phils did not take 2 out of 3 against the Mariners. Not happy at all.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:09 AM

        I actually didn’t mind the outing yesterday. Vargas was hitting all his spots and pitched wonderfully. Sometimes, the opposing pitcher is all over the place and the Phillies can’t capitalize. I don’t think that was the case yesterday.

      • spudchukar - Jun 20, 2011 at 11:11 AM

        Hi Ho, Hi Ho.

    • Jonny 5 - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      Well, I was hoping Podsednik would fill that roll nicely, but he’s been playing poorly in AAA so far. It makes me nuts since he hurt the Phills on many occasions. I’m thinking Philly will look to pick up a RH OF’er.

      • halladaysbicepts - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:18 AM

        They need to find someone who is righthanded that can come off the bench and hit. I can’t take Ben Francisco much longer. Ben Francisco to San Francisco for Pat “The Machine” Burrell?

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:33 AM

        I don’t think Pat will make you much happier there bicepts, he’s not been hitting that great, and from his time in TB as a DH, I’d say sitting him to be a bench player would probably back fire.

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/philadelphia_phillies/index.html

  6. uyf1950 - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Little by little the Yankees team batting average is starting to get to a respectably number at .261 now. Who would have thought that much of the offense and power for yesterdays win would come from Swisher and Gardner. Speaking of Gardner he’s leading the Yankees with a .294 BA. Not bad considering that to start play on May 1st he was batting .188. Now it’s on to the Great American Ball Park and Cincinnati for a 3 game series. With Nova, Gordon and Garcia scheduled to pitch for the Yankees hopefully the Yankees bats remain hot. They may need a lot of runs to take this series.

    • yankeesfanlen - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:38 AM

      Sunday was the only true “Yankees game” that I saw. CC giving up four runs but staying afloat, nibble at the Cubs lead, then powerhit to victory. Only two HRs of the series, I had expected 8-10.
      The only guy I know on the Reds is Joey Votto. They do have other players, I suppose. Ah, three games and we’ll never see them again.

      • roadwearyaaron - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:23 AM

        You’ve never heard of Brandon Philips or Jay Bruce? I recommend checking out the rest of the world once in a while. NYC may have “the universe” but it doesn’t have everything. I’m hopeful that Cueto leaves a lasting impression upon you tonite at least.

      • yankeesfanlen - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:37 AM

        roadweary- just trying to keep the conversation lively. When I start spouting Yankees history, you know I’m serious.

      • yankeesfanlen - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        aaron- just trying to keep the conversation lively. When I start spotuing Yankees history,then you know I’m serious.

      • uyf1950 - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:45 AM

        roadwearyaaron, and just to prove his point yankeesfanlen said it twice.

      • uyf1950 - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:46 AM

        yankeesfanlen, my friend. Keep up the good work.

      • roadwearyaaron - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:49 AM

        Oh, all in good fun from me as well.

      • roadwearyaaron - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:51 AM

        Oh, all in good fun from me as well!

    • proudlycanadian - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:11 AM

      What is the batting average of their first baseman? Is it below the team average?

  7. Jonny 5 - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    You went to Heaven Hill and didn’t bring back any of their finest? Cabin Still Kentucky hooch? LOL! mmm mmm…..

  8. JB (the original) - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Nice writeup on the whisky. I’ve never been a fan of bourbon, but am all over the Irish Whiskys and Scotches and have toured a couple of the distilleries in Ireland. There’s just something about walking into a huge room filled with aging barrels. It is amazing how just slight variations in the process, be it the water, the peat, the wood, change the flavors and character so much. Then there is the Poteen (or Poitin). Essentially, the irish version of moonshine, everyone over there has a “connection” to a supplier. I’ve had some that were mellow (they add plums in one variation to take the edge off), and some that you could fuel fighter jets with. Ahh, good times….

  9. yankeesfanlen - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    BTW, Craig- great Boubon Trail recap. Looked like Kentucky had lots of rain over the weekend. Thought you may have ordered it for a “splash”?

  10. wonkypenguin - Jun 20, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Two things:
    1. I’ve never had bourbon but you make it sound intriguing and I was truly enjoying (and learning from) what you were saying.
    2. It’s really not nice to make me think about drinking at 8:45 on a Monday morning.

  11. cur68 - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    I have little to add about fine bourbon, the National Alcohol of an entire nation. I will say that as a little lad I was taught to make coconut alcohol, or palm wine (tuba) from coconut flowers by my Grandfather (He needed someone small and agile to climb the coconut tree, you see). I have no idea how this compares to bourbon. I’ve had plenty of bourbon, but there was too much time between the tuba and Maker’s to be able to say if it was any good. I recall that it was very sweet.

    As for baseball; the Beaver Boys take 2 of 3 from the Reds, not bad. Now things get interesting. The Braves for the next 3. Not a bunch of pre-schoolers, those lads. A very good record keeps them in the mix in a division run by four guys named Roy, Roy, Cliff & Cole. Shivers. That’s murderer’s row right there, and I’m just glad my boys don’t have to face those dudes.

  12. sabosgoggles - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    “I’m assuming 90% of the bottled white dog will be sold either (a) to dumb kids who want to pretend to be badasses; or (b) ironically.”

    Do yourself a favor and track down a bottle of the Wry Moon white dog by Corsair (from Bowling Green, KY). It’s a really cool flavor, almost peppery, and not that far a stretch for a bourbon-lover.

    And if you think the gates are fancy, you should try to get inside a breeding shed sometime. Hot.

  13. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    This was my single favorite HBT read so far. Thank you, Craig.

    • Old Gator - Jun 20, 2011 at 11:03 AM

      The only thing bourbon is good for is barbecue sauce, and trying to sound as sophisticated as wine snobs.

      It also makes a pretty good marinade for venison, with a few added herbs, spices and a whole raw egg, shell included. The whole thing dissolves in the marinade over a few days.

      But to drink that thinly disguised vapor degreaser straight? Yeccccchhhhhh.

      • Old Gator - Jun 20, 2011 at 11:10 AM

        Oh, yeah – the Feesh. They came home last night with that little black cloud hanging over their plane as though they had lobefinned straight out of a comic book. And you know what? They had.
        Ten straight losses after a single win after eight straight losses. Down a manager and a batting instructor. And about to be managed to the ignominious end of a baseball season’s equivalent to Sendai and Kanto combined by Methuselah and gouts of sidestream smoke. Welcome to Macondo, boys and girls. They don’t call this realismo magico for nothing, although this story currently resembles Pedro Paramo more than it does Cien Años de Soledad.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 20, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        It’s also great to use to clean your wounds in between battles and/ or innings.

  14. spudchukar - Jun 20, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Just when you think you’ve seen it all this happens. Cards take a 4-3 lead into the ninth, and our new Lord and Saviour Fernando Salas comes in (again), to try and nail down another nail biter. I come away from this series, much like the last one in Washington D.C., glad we don’t have to play these guys again. K.C. may be struggling but they sure turned up their game vs. the Cards and it is hard for me to see how they are playing sub-.500 ball. Look for a rebound. Back to the game, Salas enters and immediately encounters a much improved hitter in Alcides Escobar, who they stole in a trade for Greinke, and who can really pick it and has a cannon to boot, back to the game, Escobar fouls off a myriad of pitches barely staying alive, then on pitch 11 Salas challenged him with an inside heater, foolish you say, nah he hasn’t homered in 325 plate appearances, at bats really, and then with one swing of the bat the string is over as Escobar deposits one deep into the bleachers. Homer #1 for the year. So I’m thinking, wow, what else could go wrong, we look like we may have lost Phat Albert for the season and now this. But Salas, in his inimitable way calmly retires the next three and we enter the bottom of the ninth tied. However, we have Descalso, Schumaker and the pitcher’s spot coming up, not too promising. Descalso, a late inning wonder, turns on one and lines it down the right field line, scooting our of the box, he races to second, but Craig’s man Frenchy Francouer barehands the ball and in one spinning motion fires a knee-high strike to second just nabbing Descalso. Worthy effort on Descalso’s part, just bettered by an amazing throw from the right field corner by the Frog. So now up comes Schumaker. Readers of my comments should know by now, he is hardly my favorite. Great guy, well-liked, scrappy. All fine qualities, however he is a converted outfielder, where he was excelled with an arm just below Francouer’s, but as a second-baseman he is below average, and that is generous. His first two years he hit over .300, and while his other numbers are nothing to brag about he was a positive contributor. However, the past two years, since his conversion, he has sucked. Compliment that by the fact that he never walks, never steals, and has no power. He is really good at grounding out to second, maybe trying to see how others handle the position. Back to the game, so in steps Skippy, he takes a pitch and then the miniature lefty, Collins fires one over the heart and Skippy turns on it and deposits it over the fence in deep right center. In seven seasons playing for the Red Birds he has hit 22 homers, in 2116 plate appearances. Yep, about once every 100 times up. A 5-4 win, all three games were 5-4, and we eked out a series win, again claiming first place, and await the Phillies, sans Pujols, but that just makes it more interesting.

  15. APBA Guy - Jun 20, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    The A’s win yesterday was one of those minor miracles that happen occasionally to weak teams. I won’t say Cahill matched Cain. Cain was dominant for 7 innings. But the White Rabbit settled down after the second, and seemed to find the control he’d been missing the last month. Landon Powell’s HR off Affeldt was a no-doubter, up in the outfield stands, presaged by a warning track shot in his first at-bat against Cain. Weeks is thriving in the lead-off spot, but it’s only a matter of time before MLB pitching catches up to his swing. His OBP is only .014 above his BA, so you know he’s seeing a lot of strikes right now as the league tries to figure him out. I imagine we’ll get a good handle on that in Philadelphia starting this Friday.

    So the gold unis are 5-0 and the players are clamoring to take them on the road trip. They’ll need them. It’s hot on the East Coast now, and yesterday’s 74 at the Mausoleum was inadequate preparation for the heat and humidity the A’s will face in NY and Philly.

    Philly had a good warm-up for the A’s with Pineda, the King, and Vargas. Who’d have guessed Vargas would 3-hit them? They must have been in a hurry to catch their plane.

    But first the A’s go to Citi Field and face the Metropolitans, about whom I know less than I do about Craig’s bourbon trail.

    I did look at the breakfast photos, and I approve of big, carb-loaded meals before a serious tasting trip. My girlfriend and I always load up on french toast and eggs benedict on the way to Napa, where no wine is every served in a mason jar. If you want un-aged wine you have to go to a wein stube along the Rhine in early October where you can get ein viertel of neu wein, a libation with miraculous properties and inexpensive at that. Highly recommended, but not to be confused with a cab-based meritage aged in new oak for 2+ years.

    • scatterbrian - Jun 20, 2011 at 2:35 PM

      I’m certainly impressed with Weeks after a dozen games. The lack of walks is troubling, but he also doesn’t swing and miss very often. You have to think Ellis will be sitting more often than not when he gets back. Speculation is that Barton will be sent to AAA when Ellis is ready.

      Anyway, it’s the longest winning streak of the season, only the second sweep, and they have a legit prospect making some noise. Small victories, but yes, we’ll revisit after facing Halladay/Hamels/#5 in Philly.

  16. tribester - Jun 20, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Asdrubal Cabrera continues to be a defensive master with tons of style. It’s a damn shame the All-Star voters can’t see beyond Jeter.

  17. mgflolox - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    Jemile Weeks looks to me like the only guy on the A’s who actually hustles. I think it’s time to pretty much dump everybody except Pennington and Suzuki and see what their minor league prospects can do. The current A’s are such a completely passionless dispirited bunch, that it’s hard to watch. It’s bad enough to be a losing team, but they’re a boring losing team. I’ve certainly seen enough of Barton (AKA Sean Burroughs 2.0) this year. At least they finally cut bait on Kouzmanoff. If these guys really have any talent, it’s time for them to start showing it, or else it’s time to show them the door.

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