It’s the bottom of the ninth in Kansas City. Dusty Baker has called upon Jonathan Papelbon to protect a 6-4 lead with Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Omar Infante due up. Papelbon leaves the bullpen with 358 career saves. He will not record his 359th.
Only 6.6 percent of the strikes that Papelbon had gotten this year before Tuesday night were the result of swings and misses. That stands in stark contrast to a career average of 13.2 percent. He hasn’t fooled hitters this year, and what unfolded in Kansas City was nothing short of sweet, delicious schadenfreude for many and a trip to the liquor cabinet for Nationals fans.
Gordon and Perez both singled, and Terrance Gore replaced Perez at first. He did Terrance Gore things and stole second base. So after Infante struck out, Mike Moustakas would bat for Christian Colon. Baker had a choice. He could walk Moustakas to face Jarrod Dyson and his .247 TAv, or let Papelbon tangle with a dangerous lefty batter. Baker chose the Moose.
Lorenzo Cain would end the game three batters later.
Observe as Wilson Ramos sets his target inside, and Papelbon leaks a fastball right over the middle of the plate. It’s Papelbon’s second blown save of the year, and that doesn’t include his disastrous outing against the Phillies on April 28th. He’s a very easy figure to hate, yes, so go right ahead and revel in his failures. However, the Nationals will need to determine when it’s time to worry about their closer being knocked around.
It’s not as if Papelbon being a choke artist is a new thing, though.
Okay, sorry. That was bad.
Quick Hits from Tuesday
Futility in sports can elicit a number of different reactions. For those who favor the team experiencing said futility, the ordeal is one of pain and angst. For everyone else, except for those souls blessed with empathy, it can be a source of humor, or the warm fuzzy feeling of “Things are bad, but hey, at least we aren’t the Reds’ bullpen.”
Reds bullpen gives up a run for its 21st straight game, a new MLB record
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) May 4, 2016
Indeed, what a time it is to be a member of the Cincinnati relief corps. The Reds’ relievers set a big-league record on Tuesday when the bullpen allowed a run for the 21st game in a row. The Reds have only played 27 games this year. The record-setting blow happened in the eighth inning when Caleb Cotham allowed two earned runs to the Giants.
The Reds were always going to be bad this year, what with selling off some of the major players (Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman) and a rotation composed of hope and chewing gum. The bullpen is a bit short on hope for the future. At the moment, it’s made of exasperated groans, heads being whipped around to watch balls sail into the outfield, and Caleb Cotham.
Maybe there was something in the water. Maybe it was the pitchers who happened to be thrust into action on Tuesday. But goodness gracious, there were some dingers.
Hello there, Ryan Howard.
Nice of you to join us, Chris Carter.
Oh. Oh my, Yasiel Puig.
George Springer, you get back here right this instant and apologize to that ball. How DARE you. We raised you better than that.
Let’s watch Mike Trout hit a baseball.
An 87 mph looper comes in on his hands, and Trout is quick enough to flick it off into right field. Many of the opposite-field hits in baseball are poked off the end of one’s bat. Trout, doing his best Derek Jeter impression, uses an inside-out jackknife to fight it off and score two runs. That’s ridiculous hitting talent. On a pitch that many right-handed batters would take or foul off, Trout makes solid contact and goes oppo.
Sometimes it’s easy to take players like Trout for granted. All he’s ever done since his arrival is be excellent. He is a constant, business as usual. We reflexively scribble his name into preseason award predictions. There is no more breakout to be had with Trout as there was with Bryce Harper last year. It’s a silly kind of ho-hum excellence that’s been sequestered on an awful Angels team. Oh look, there goes Trout again, doing something great. Next please. That in and of itself is incredible.
We are blessed to have Mike Trout among us mere mortals.
Defensive Play of the Day
Not to be outdone, the newest member of the A’s made a fantastic stab on a line drive.
What to Watch on Wednesday
The day’s slate opens with the Cubs and Pirates concluding their series in Pittsburgh. Chicago has dominated the first two games, but watching Juan Nicasio peddle the Ray Searage brand isn’t something to miss, especially when he has to deal with the lineup from hell. Jon Lester will oppose him.
Next, Sean Manaea will make his second start big-league start of the year. He’ll be facing a strong Mariners team, and Felix Hernandez will be his counterpart for Seattle. The Mariners aren’t lacking for right-handed power (Nelson Cruz, Franklin Gutierrez, Dae Ho Lee) and Cano will hit anything, so the rookie will have his work cut out for him.
For your evening viewing, make sure to catch Jose Fernandez being unleashed on the Diamondbacks. The Marlins have won eight of their past 10 games, and, well, it’s Jose Fernandez. That’s reason enough. For a sweetener, Rubby De La Rosa is coming off a strong outing, but is historically homer-prone and will be in the same time zone as Giancarlo Stanton. Grab the popcorn.