Brett Lawrie crossed the line when he threw his batting helmet at an umpire.
The Tuesday Takeaway Brett Lawrie can hit, and the 22-year-old is rapidly learning how to pick it at the hot corner. But the questions about his makeup that led the Brewers to ship him to the Blue Jays in a one-for-one deal that brought back Shaun Marcum reared their ugly heads again last night in an incident that is likely to result in a suspension.
At the plate with nobody on and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, with Toronto trailing Tampa Bay 4-3, Lawrie worked the count to 3-1. Then, home plate umpire Bill Miller clearly gipped him of a walk, calling a Fernando Rodney fastball that crossed the plate at least four inches outside a strike. The payoff pitch was a changeup that threatened the upper fringe of the zone but stayed an inch or so too high. Miller rang Lawrie up, and—moments later—the young third baseman seemed ready to ring the ump’s bell.
The Astros don't know if and when the future Hall of Famer will pick them, but their season depends on it.
However, Biggio makes a good point when he suggests Roger Clemens as a topic of conversation. As much as the Astros try to downplay it, the absence of the Rocket looms over them at all times, especially after getting out of the gate with a 10-15, which puts them 6 ½ games off Milwaukee's pace in the National Leauge Central. "It's always there," Biggio acknowledged. "But we can't focus on Roger. Nobody knows for sure what he is going to do. We can't just float along and wait for him to save us. We have to concentrate on winning games and if Roger comes back to us, he comes back. Hopefully he does, but we can't sit here and count on it."
For the second straight season, Clemens is going to wait until sometime in May to decide whether he will come back and pitch a partial season in the major leagues, or if this is the year he finally decides to retire. Last year, he chose to play a 23rd season, the third for his hometown Astros, not making his first start until June 22 (after three minor-league tune-ups). He nearly lifted them into the National League playoffs by posting a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts, helping the Astros make a late charge before finishing 1 ½ games behind eventual World Series winner Cardinals in the NL Central.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Giants page at ESPN.com currently features the headline, "Alou Still Believes in Tomko." Alou also believes in the lone gunman theory, that the Beatles reunited to record "My Sharona," and that "Joe Sheehan" is just another one of Joyce Carol Oates' pen names. He may even be right about one or two of these things but not about Tomko, who has pitched in 212 career games and has seen more balls get whacked than the kid who got held back twice at the boys' school. At this point, waiting for a turnaround is an act of blind faith equivalent to eating McSushi. Despite (or perhaps because of) the name on the label, you know that things can't turn out well. Tomko is symbolic of the problems with the Alou/Giants approach this year: on both sides of the ball they've wasted precious resources on automatic non-contributors. Perhaps at times they didn't have any other options, but that's the whole point of team-building: what you don't have, you try to find, as opposed to pretending that your Tomkos will somehow learn to be Marichals. GRADE: C+
The Rockies are going nowhere fast, but it's hard to get very upset about it because my town is finally getting a Papa John's. Consuming a Domino's pizza is akin to chewing a very salty tire, so we've stuck with the local product for years, most of it of variable quality. "Variable quality" also describes the CRockies, who in the first half have gotten Matt Holiday and Aaron Milesoff to major league careers--for what that's worth given the former's lack of real production and the latter's age and lack of plate discipline--as well as salvaged Joe Kennedy, probably the most impressive stroke of all. As for the second half, perhaps Ian Stewart will get a shot at Visalia, or--dare we hope!--double-A. For the mnemonically impaired: Ian Stewart is the Rockies' third base prospect. Ian Anderson was the singer-flautist in Jethro Tull, while Dave Stewart was the male half of the Eurythmics. Golly, why didn't those two guys ever record together? GRADE: D
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
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