April 12 MLB Roundup: Full Count to Cano…Hey Look, Cars!

I mentioned in yesterday’s roundup that last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game was one of the weaker recent offerings involving the two teams. The game was close, but there wasn’t a lot of drama, and the atmosphere was surprisingly dull given the blood feud between the clubs.

Saturday’s game was more along the lines of what to expect when the Sox and Yanks square off. Like Friday’s game, both starting pitchers put forth pretty solid efforts to keep their respective teams in the game. Unlike Friday’s game, this game was actually enjoyable to watch.

I’ve already made most of my comments on Chien-Ming Wang, but I’ll throw out one more. He’s just not very interesting to watch as a pitcher. He goes in there, gets a ton of ground balls, eats innings, and that’s about it. He’s not very flashy, though he’s sure as hell effective. On the other side, you had Clay Buchholz, who has electric stuff but can’t always control it. The result was Buchholz throwing 99 pitches in six innings before giving way to the bullpen. It’s widely accepted that a pitcher’s pace has one of the biggest effects on a game, and when the home crowd sees its stud rookie pitcher laboring through six innings while the opposing team’s bland starter is mowing the home team down, it’s understandable that they’re not going to demonstrate a lot of enthusiasm, even with the game as close as it was yesterday.

This afternoon was a different story. Boston had its ace on the mound in Josh Beckett, and he was going up against the corpse of Mike Mussina. Beckett was arguably the best pitcher in the American League last season, whereas Mussina has been steadily declining for years and is often forced to rely more upon guile than skill at this stage of his career. Still, the Stanford graduate is far from an idiot when it comes to the art of pitching, and has been able to get by for the most part with his diminished stuff. Of course, he’ll take his lumps from time to time.

The Fenway faithful seemed to expect this to be one of those times, and was pumped up every time the Sox threatened to score. To Mussina’s credit, he held the Red Sox in check every time, but this crowd wasn’t as easily demoralized as Friday night’s. Even when Beckett coughed up the lead in top of the sixth inning, it wasn’t like dread set like it had on Friday. Sure enough, the Sox rallied back and the crowd went nuts.

(Say what you will about my placing this much emphasis on the crowd, but really, it’s Red Sox Nation and the Yankee fanbase that drive the rivalry. Everyone’s heard it already, but it’s not like the players on these teams legitimately hate each other (for the most part, anyway). Seeing a crowd that is actually into the game adds to the atmosphere, if nothing else.)

So we’ve established that the game was at least as dramatic as your typical close ballgame. Still, it wouldn’t be a Yankees-Red Sox game without at least some strange managerial decisions and a general sense of controversy.

The bad calls were primarily generated by Joe Girardi today. He allowed Mussina to pitch to Manny Ramirez with runners at second and third with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. At the time, the Yankees were clinging to a 2-1 lead. After Manny’s at-bat, the Yankees trailed 3-2. The second-guessing began almost immediately, as Ramirez could have been walked to load the bases for Kevin Youkilis.

Later, Girardi used LaTroy Hawkins in a one-run game in the 8th inning. The move worked out, but seriously, LaTroy Hawkins?

But the big controversy of the day saw Jonathan Papelbon have to warm up a total of three times due to a series of rain delays. Papelbon was to relieve Hideki Okajima with two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. With Alex Rodriguez coming up for the Yankees, Terry Francona made the pitching change. Papelbon got ready to enter the game, and then the rains came. The umpiring crew decided at that point to cover up the field and call a rain delay. The delay was originally supposed to last about a half an hour.

It actually took about two hours, and during that time, the game nearly resumed again. This prompted Papelbon to warm up again and get ready to pitch. But the rains intensified again, and the umpires chose not to resume the game at that time.

The speculation began that Papelbon would be unavailable to pitch when the game did resume because of all the up-and-down stuff in the bullpen. Ultimately, the Red Sox closer told Francona he was good to go, and Francona allowed him to face A-Rod when the game resumed.

And, after a two hour delay, that happened.

Papelbon finished out the game by striking out Jason Giambi and Jorge Posada in the ninth, then getting to a 3-2 count on Robinson Cano. At that point, FOX cut to cars driving in circles.


Savvy viewers were able to flip over to FX in time to see Cano ground out to cap yet another bizarre encounter between the hated rivals.

Long rain delay excluded, I can only hope Sunday’s game more closely resembles the Saturday afternoon one.


Atlanta Braves 10, Washington Nationals 2

  • Jeff Francoeur homered twice and knocked in seven runs as the Braves trounced the Nationals. Still, I’ll bet he wishes he could get this one back:

Chicago White Sox 7, Detroit Tigers 0

  • Gavin Floyd carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before an Edgar Renteria single ended his bid.
  • Dontrelle Willis officially went on the disabled list with a hyperextended right knee.

Milwaukee Brewers 5, New York Mets 3

  • Johan Santana allowed three home runs to the visiting Brewers — none hit by veggie-hugger Prince Fielder — and now sports a losing record as a Met.
  • Ben Sheets saw his earned-run average skyrocket from 0.00 to 1.17 in the win.
  • Eric Gagne pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save, which may be more surprising than yesterday’s Gregg Zaun steal of home.

Arizona Diamondbacks 10, Colorado Rockies 3

  • Justin Upton tied teammate Mark Reynolds and Florida’s Mike Jacobs for the National League lead in home runs (5) as the Diamondbacks won their eighth game in a row.
  • Eleven games into the year, Arizona has a 3.5 game lead over the next best team in the NL West.

Boston Red Sox 4, New York Yankees 3

  • Hughes. Matsuzaka. Only one can push his team to the promised land known as “above .500.”

St. Louis Cardinals 8, San Francisco Giants 7 (10 innings)

  • Matt Cain took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and attempted to provide his own run support by connecting for a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth, but his teammates would have none of that.
  • Cain’s homer gives him more home runs this season (1) than reigning National League home run champion Prince Fielder (0). He also tied Ray Durham and John Bowker for second place among San Francisco’s 2008 home run leaders.

Oakland Athletics 7, Cleveland Indians 3

  • Fausto Carmona did his best Paul Byrd impression, walking eight batters and striking out just one in 3 1/3 innings in a losing effort. Then he went to get his teeth cleaned.

Philadelphia Phillies 7, Chicago Cubs 1

  • Cole Hamels allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings. He also doubled.

Houston Astros 5, Florida Marlins 0

  • Florida’s magic number: 151

Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Cincinnati Reds 3

  • You know, there weren’t a lot of very interesting games tonight.

Minnesota Twins 2, Kansas City Royals 0

  • It’s like the afternoon hogged all of them.

Baltimore Orioles 3, Tampa Bay Rays 2

  • Daniel Cabrera remains undefeated in 13 career appearances against the Rays following tonight’s no-decision. He’s 6-0 overall.
  • Evan Longoria went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk in his Major League debut.

Toronto Blue Jays 4, Texas Rangers 1

  • Roy Halladay scattered six hits in a complete game win. Aaron Hill knocked in three of Toronto’s four runs.

Seattle Mariners 8, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3

  • Jon Garland distributed 12 hits with little regard for his team’s wellbeing (this would be the opposite of scattering, no?) over five innings as the Angels got beaten down by the Mariners. Garland also walked a batter while failing to record a strikeout.
  • Seattle starting pitcher Carlos Silva also failed to record a strikeout and walked one batter while allowing 11 hits. He did it over eight innings. What a game this must’ve been.

Los Angeles Dodgers 11, San Diego Padres 1

  • Andruw Jones went 0/3 with two walks and three runs scored, reportedly drawing the ire of the home crowd that likely had collective flashbacks to the days when that nerd Paul DePodesta was running things.

Cleveland Indians over Oakland Athletics
New York Mets over Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds over Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies over Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves over Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles over Tampa Bay Rays
Florida Marlins over Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox over Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals over Minnesota Twins
Toronto Blue Jays over Texas Rangers
San Francisco Giants over St. Louis Cardinals
Arizona Diamondbacks over Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres over Los Angeles Dodgers
Seattle Mariners over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Boston Red Sox over New York Yankees

Merrill Park Superstar vs. the NL Central:
St. Louis Cardinals (9-3) .750
Milwaukee Brewers (7-4) .636
Chicago Cubs (6-5) .545
Merrill Park Superstar (89-81, 10-5 Saturday) .524
Cincinnati Reds (6-6) .500
Pittsburgh Pirates (5-6) .455
Houston Astros (4-8 ) .333


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