Losing Manny Ramirez for a quarter of the season isn't automatically a death knell. Pedro Martinez has just one good start against a good opponent this year, but that's the scheduler's fault. I'm hardly off the hook for advancing the claim that he won't make it to ten starts, and if losing Martinez was one of my major theories about what would lay hope low in Beantown, losing Ramirez for a month and a half might make you think I'd peg this as the beginning of the end.
Placed OF-R Manny Ramirez on the 15-day DL (fractured finger); purchased the contract of UT-B Bry Nelson from Pawtucket. [5/14]
While the playoff picture may be clear, those who will take the mound in each game are not.
When Josh Beckett hobbled off the mound with an ankle sprain during the fourth inning of Monday's start, he added an unwelcome layer of suspense to Boston's championship aspirations. Not that the Sox are in danger of missing the playoffs without him; their chance of bonus baseball stood at 99.7 percent even after losing extra innings. For all of the team's strengths, including its formidable offense and late-game bullpen, Beckett's sprain—which will cost him at least one start—spotlights the unsettled nature of the Red Sox’ October rotation.
The Yankees look to get back to yet another World Series while the Rangers are in uncharted territory.
From 1996 through 1999, the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Johnny Oates-piloted Rangers faced off in three American League Division Series, the first three times the latter franchise had ever reached the postseason. The Yankees won nine of those 10 games, holding the Rangers to a lone run apiece in their 1998 and 1999 sweeps. Times have changed, however, and while the Yankee machine has simply kept rolling, racking up four pennants and two world championships while missing the playoffs just once since their last meeting, the Rangers endured a dark decade before reemerging as AL West champions thanks to the shrewd deal making of general manager Jon Daniels and the fruits of their well-stocked farm system.
Saluting the players whose accomplishments will go unrecognized during awards season.
While the postseason is in full bloom, the winners of the regular season awards will be revealed next month. At that juncture some fans will cheer, some will cry, and others will inevitably write articles about how the BBWAA messed up by not voting Justin Morneau as sixth in the AL MVP race, or why James Shields deserves Cy Young consideration because his predictive numbers were much better than his ERA would indicate; as the co-creator of SIERA, I think I can joke about its usage in award voting. I know from experience what it’s like to write such articles, as I once nastily opined that it was a sham how Roy Halladay finished out of the top three on the AL Cy Young Award ballots of some writers in 2008. Then again, even if Cliff Lee deserved the award, how in the world did Halladay fall out of the… never mind, this is no time to dwell.
Phil Hughes silences the doubters by coming up big as the Yankees finish off a sweep of the Twins.
At the outset of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Twins, doubts about the defending world champions centered almost entirely upon their rotation. Quite reasonably so, given that aside from ace CC Sabathia, their starters had put up a 5.91 ERA after the All-Star break, and that Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and every other one of manager Joe Girardi's options had sizable question marks next to their names. But even with Sabathia scuffling in Game One against the Twins, the Yankees were able to pull off a sweep of the series. On Thursday, Pettitte shook off concerns about his health and his stamina to pitch like a man who'd done it all a thousand times before. On Saturday night it was Hughes' turn, and with an electrified Bronx crowd of 50,840 at his back on a clear, crisp October night, he simply stifled the Twins with seven shutout innings while the Yankees offense pounced upon his opposite number, Brian Duensing. After four innings and a 5-0 lead, the outcome was never in doubt; the Yanks had their sweep.
Two teams that took interesting rides to the postseason meet in the first round.
Those of you who root for chaos and the eventual heat death of the universe were no doubt disappointed that the season did not end with a series of one-game playoffs. To the Braves and the Giants, however, the outcomes of Sunday’s games were more than welcome. Their starters will receive an additional day of rest each, and they won’t entirely foreclose the possibility of pitching their Game One starters on short rest in Game Four. The condensed schedule of this series (potentially five games in seven days, rather than the eight allotted to the other NLDS) means Bobby Cox and Bruce Bochy will have tough decisions to make should the series go to four or five games.
The Phillies and Brewers combined for an amazing six lefty-on-lefty home runs on May 14 and hardly anyone noticed.
As Christina Kahrl has said, one of baseball’s well-worn tropes is that every game provides you the opportunity to see something you’ve never seen before. When you buy your ticket and settle into your seat, you hope to witness something unique, or historic, or even comic, but in a marathon season of roughly 2,430 games, not every game can be so obviously special—and the May 14 game between the Phillies and Brewers, in which the visitors from Philadelphia beat Milwaukee 9-5, appeared to be just such a mundane early-season contest. Ageless wonder Jamie Moyer ran his record to 5-2 on the season, key off-season acquisition Randy Wolf fell to 3-3 for the Brewers, and Milwaukee’s continued pitching woes managed to drag them five games under .500 for the year. Just another win for Philadelphia; just another loss for the struggling Brew Crew; just another box score to digest and forget.