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September 6, 2017

What You Need to Know

Free Baseball is Expensive

by Nicolas Stellini


The Tuesday Takeaway

Do you understand how long 19 innings are? Think about it. Nineteen innings. That’s two games’ worth of innings, plus another six outs. That’s a lot of baseball. Too much baseball.

As I sit here, bleary-eyed and slowly drifting off into the doldrums of delirium, I could tell you about the 19 innings played by the Red Sox and Blue Jays on Tuesday night. I could tell you about how the game dragged on and on with no end in sight, like a Pedro Baez appearance on an endless loop. I could tell you about the hours of futility and how the crack of the bat, when it was actually heard, rang out through a progressively emptier Fenway Park as the night wore on.

Maybe Josh Donaldson had the right idea. Maybe he just wanted to sleep, damn it.

More power to him. Free baseball is never free. There is a real human cost to it, a slow, painful melting of the mind that can leave a lasting scar. The longer a baseball game extends past the ninth inning, the more the game becomes tedium of the highest order. Free baseball is never free. It’s paid for in pain and exhaustion and a fierce lack of reason.

A certain desperation arises. Just let it end, please. Let it end. Your pillow is calling you. Nineteen blasted, horrible, God-forsaken innings.

The Red Sox won, technically. If there can be a winner of such an abominable affair.

Quick Hits From Tuesday

Justin Verlander pitched last night. He did not pitch for the Tigers.

The Astros’ road uniforms are not terribly different from those of the Tigers, so the visual shock wasn’t overwhelming. Yet that wasn’t an old English D on Verlander’s cap, but an H, and he wasn’t pitching to James McCann or John Hicks. A Verlander trade had been something of an inevitability, but it’s still a strange time we live in.

He didn’t pitch an overwhelming, lights-out game. He threw six quality innings, enough to give his new club a win. It’s why they traded for him. Justin Verlander did his job. For the first time ever, he did it for someone besides Detroit. What a time to be alive.

***

Baseball is better when Manny Machado is hitting the snot out of the baseball. His glove pretty much never slumps, but Machado’s first-half offensive woes stunk. Superstars make baseball what it is, and Machado is among the brightest of those stars. It’s safe to say that his return to mashing is quite welcome.

This time he mashed against the Yankees. Machado launched homers 30 and 31 on Tuesday, including one off Dellin Betances for the win.

The Orioles likely aren’t going anywhere. But damn if they aren’t a much more fun team when Manny is being Manny.

***

The Diamondbacks haven’t trailed for 98 innings. They’ve won 12 straight games. They just took the season series from the god-like Dodgers, who have suddenly lost 10 of their last 11 in large part due to Arizona.

They, uh, might be good.

There’s no way that Arizona is going to catch the Dodgers in the NL West. That ship has largely sailed. But if Zack Greinke, who was brilliant last night, can pitch them to a win in the Wild Card game, they’re as dangerous as any team. Fear the snakes.

Defensive Play of the Day

(Insert some mumbo jumbo about Net Home Runs hit and prevented as a new-age statistic because of Giancarlo Stanton.)

What to Watch on Wednesday

Take some time to actually watch one of those bizzaro 12:30 Reds games. Why, you ask? Why would you ever subject yourself to the Reds? Because Luis Castillo is pitching today, and he’s filthy as hell. Get acquainted with him. The Brewers are also pretty hot and they’re worth watching. Enjoy the daytime dingers.

For your east coast evening game, the Yankees will try to win a series in Baltimore for the first time in years. Sonny Gray gets the start in the rubber game, opposed by Kevin Gausman. Gray isn’t wearing “Pickles” on his jersey anymore, but he’s worth watching pretty much any time he takes the mound.

Then for your evening viewing, you can watch yet another Dodgers-DBacks tilt, or you could watch a presumably more comfortable Jack Flaherty try to dismantle a Triple-A lineup when he takes on the Padres. Dinelson Lamet is also secretly interesting, so there’s that.

Nicolas Stellini is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nicolas's other articles. You can contact Nicolas by clicking here

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