Yesterday the legend of Bryce Harper continued to take shape. He had the day off yesterday, and was called upon by his skipper Dusty Baker to pinch-hit in the ninth inning with the Nationals trailing 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins and without much hope. And a note real quick, it’s dawned on me that Dusty Baker might just be the perfect manager to bring out the most in Bryce Harper.
I mean, if Harper can put up the numbers that he did in 2015 playing for a total dick like Matt Williams; just imagine what he’s going to do playing for Ol’ Dusty! It’s like pairing a guy with all the talent in the world in ring with a great mouthpiece manager in wrestling. But it’s even more dynamic than that.
So back to the no-hope thing. Harper enters the game and gets into a battle with Kevin Jepsen he will assuredly win. Jepsen is no match for the hottest hitter on the planet. And Harper hits his most dramatic home run possibly ever.
The Nationals went on to play SIXTEEN innings and win in magical fashion on a Chris Heisey walk-off home run. The box score is something to marvel at.
On a wild day in baseball where a lot of bonus baseball was played, this one was possibly the one talked about most. This game began when my daughter went down for her nap, and didn’t end until after she was in bed. Baseball is neat like that.
There is no better way to start the weekend than a matinee game at Wrigley Field. Sometimes when the Pirates and Cubbies lock horns, wild things happen. And today, the Cubbies Cubbie’d the shit out of things.
This was the longest game in Yankees franchise history in terms of time – we actually had a friend at the game – for at least some of it.
This game had a little bit of everything, and it’s the kind of unpredictable little lottery that buying a ticket to a baseball game can provide. It’s honestly the type of game we’ve always wanted to be present at.
There was a 16-minute power outage at the game, making the official time of the game six hours, 49 minutes. With the power outage factored in, officially it was not the longest game in franchise history.
We started watching this one somewhere around the 13th. It was a game that just wanted to stay tied. The Red Sox led with two outs in the ninth when Edward Mujica surrendered a home run to Chase Headley to send it to extras.
Then the Red Sox grabbed two leads in extra innings that the Yankees came back to tie; one on a home run by David Ortiz and the other on a single by Pablo Sandoval.
The winning run in the top of the 19th scored on a sac fly after a Yankees passed ball allowed by John Ryan Murphy.
This was a WILD one. I had the game on for much of it, and once again the Angels’ magical season rolls on through an improbable event. It was Albert Pujols’ 19th inning home run – the 514th of his illustrious career – that kept this game from running into some Sunday morning church services.
By the end of the game, Pujols had played five innings at his old position third base. Matt Shoemaker had thrown three scoreless innings as the final arm out of the Angels pen.
Of course I dozed off somewhere in the 16th or 17th inning, at 2:30 AM ET, a time when no normal human should still be up to see how a ballgame concludes.
This was one of the better games of the season and an incredible effort by the Angels.
The Angels turned around today and lost 3-1 in the series finale. Their only run coming on Mike Trout’s 26th home run of the season. These teams were dog tired, and today would have been a great under bet with your local book. Of course, we were out baby crib shopping all day; so we didn’t capitalize.
I saw most of it – and I have to give the Angels bullpen credit. The last three pitchers who appeared; Fernando Salas, Cory Rasmus, and Hector Santiago all got out of jams where I said to myself ‘they’re going to blow it right here’. As a whole, the Angels pen threw ten innings of shutout baseball after Jered Weaver left the game.
Mike Trout had three hits and scored the winning run. At almost 3:00 AM EST, I woke up to see good old Efren Navarro hit his seeing eye single back up the box to score Trout from second.
The Angels have some serious magic going this year. On Sirius MLB Network Radio this morning the host – and forgive me for not knowing his name – said if the Angels could just add one more starting pitcher he would pick them to be a World Series team out of the American League. I don’t know about that, but they’ve caught my interest this year.
The guy simply does not get enough run in these parts. His remarkable career is passing us by entirely too quickly, in part because the Pirates are blacked out in Columbus, Ohio by Major League Baseball. We only get to catch a handful of McCutchen games per year; and every time we do he does something that is absolutely one of a kind. Let’s preface the post by saying the Pirates weren’t blacked out tonight.
Mike Trout is the best player in the American League. If you hit the ‘freeze frame’ on the National League, right now it’s McCutchen.
Two innings later in the top of the 11th, the backbreaker. The kill shot. The death knell, and the dagger.
If you’ve watched as much baseball as we have; and lets be modest, if you’ve seen a lot of baseball you knew it was the type of home run that the opposing team just isn’t going to come back from. McCutchen ripped Cincinnati’s heart out and served it to them in their home stadium Saturday night.
McCutchen is the National League MVP again if things continue. He deserves the majority of the vote; even if the Pirates come up short. He’s also got 15 steals in 15 attempts, something no one is talking about enough. McCutchen is close to the perfect player right now; and you’re missing out if you’re not paying attention to the NL’s version of Trout.
Monster bomb by Yasiel Puig off a Jacob Turner hanging breaking ball. It lands in Giancarlo territory, way out over The Clevelander.
Puig might make his gaffes in the field and have a peanut for a brain, but you can’t sit here and tell me he’s not one of the most fun players in the big leagues in the same way that Manny Ramirez was fun. You know you don’t change your channel when he’s about to come to the plate and you definitely don’t leave the room. We’re all about guys like that.
And the bat flip is really a thing. It’s not going anywhere. Griffey had his thing when he homered, you can picture it in your head right now as you read these words. It was kind of ‘pimping’ a homer. Some of the other icons in the game had their thing when they homered (Sammy’s hop, McGwire’s bat toss, Bonds pimp job), why can’t the bat flip be Puig’s thing when he gets into one?
Yasiel Puig hits a walk-off home run against my favorite team to give the Dodgers a 1-0 win in extra innings, and he slides into home plate feet first to the arms of his awaiting teammates. I should hate this guy with every inch of my soul. But I don’t.
Puig is quickly becoming one of my favorite non-Reds players in baseball. He’s a flashy Cuban with a killer instinct that is too dumb to be fearless and too cocky to ever think he’s going to fail. The game is not too big for him. I think he’s going to be one of those few athletes in baseball who makes his arrogance work in his favor.
Here’s that walk-off that just went down at Chavez Ravine:
And there’s this, so you can get a good look at the bat flip. Curtis Partch never knew what hit him.
Manny-esque. This guy was meant to play near Hollywood. The Wild Horse. Indeed.
This was actually my first Opening Day that I haven’t been in the stands in Cincinnati since Joe Randa and Adam Dunn went back to back to walk off the Mets back in 2005. That’s a lot of Opening Days that I strung together. I doubt I ever make it back to that many consecutive Opening Days. I’m satisfied with the streak I put together. I’ve seen some unbelievable openers in the Queen City. From Randa’s walk-off, to Ramon Hernandez’s walk-off grand slam, to last year’s Cueto masterpiece with Bruce’s moonshot to seal it shut.
Here’s some notes from today’s ballgame, which was a long one.
The Reds really didn’t hit all spring long, and they didn’t hit today. Jay Bruce wore a golden sombrero in the middle of the order. Joey Votto went 0 for 4 but at least drew a few walks.
Shin-Soo Choo had two hits and Todd Frazier had one. And that’s all the Reds offense tallied. There weren’t even any hard hit balls.
Of the Angels fearsome three, Mike Trout was the only one with a hit. Trout went 1 for 6, Pujols and Hamilton went 0 for 4.
Chris Iannetta was the hero in this one, hitting a solo home run and doubling in the top of the 13th inning with two outs off J.J. Hoover.
The Angels pen just earned this game, though I would give it to the lack of Reds hitting. After Jered Weaver exited, six Angels relievers combined for seven scoreless innings. Ernesto Frieri was the final one and he earned the save.
I’m not too upset with this game. The Angels are a World Series contender, and the Reds are going to hit at some point. It hurts that they’ll miss Ryan Ludwick for the better part of a month with separated shoulder.
How could I forget Johnny Cueto. I feel like for the last year and a half, if you’ve seen Cueto throw once you’ve seen the same solid, dependable game. I love the effort this guy always brings to the mound with him.
Here’s some running total stats from today’s game, and from my most recent watched game:
Home Runs: 1 (Chris Iannetta 1)
Stolen bases: none
Official time watching baseball: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 2
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): one half
EDIT: I watched about two innings out of the Rockies Brewers game today, I watched Chris Sale’s entire start on and off, and I watched about five innings out of the Phillies-Braves game today. I’m not going to count it, because my totals aren’t exact. And I’m honestly ready to abandon the 2000-Inning Quest after just a night and a day. It’s too damn tedious. But still I press onward to go where no idiot has ever gone before.
STATS during the 2000-Inning Quest:
Home Runs: 4
Bryce Harper home runs: 2
Stolen bases: NONE
Official time watching baseball: 9 hours, 55 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 6
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): .5
Innings left to go: 1,969
If I was in Las Vegas last night, I would have bet the Mets. And I would have lost.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the Mets; and not the Atlanta Braves, will be the team that poses the most threat down the stretch to the mighty Nationals. I thought last night was going to be the first chop of the axe. The Nationals showed some amazing resolve after Tyler Clippard gave up a 3-run bomb to some light hitting little infielder named Jordanny Valdespin hit a 3-run shot off Tyler Clippard to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. Things were just getting started.
The Nationals rallied to tie the game at 3-3 and send it to the 10th. The Mets reclaimed the lead again at 4-3. Bryce Harper hit a rocket triple to right field to tie the game. The Nationals won it on a wild pitch. It had all the ingredients of the type of game that teams like the 2012 Nationals get. The bounces go the way they need them to go. A game of inches gets handed to them not once, but twice after they surrender the lead.
I knew Bryce Harper couldn’t get out of town without dialing one long distance in Colorado. He waited until his final at-bat in the four game series to put another notch in his belt. This one tied the game at 10-10 off Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt. The Rockies escaped with an 11-10 victory in 10 innings.
It was almost 100 degrees in Colorado. Factor in the altitude; do you think that everyone was happy to see Harper serve one off the AT&T sign in the back of the Rockies bullpen and silently announce that more baseball was to be played?
This was one of those really weird games where the baseball Gods were just determined to have their way. It seemed like the Mets delivered the death blow in the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th innings. Instead, the Nationals just kept getting chances and when Harper came up to the plate with the bases juiced and two out in the 12th, you knew high drama was around the corner.
I was hoping to see something like a walk-off grand slam. With the way Mets reliever Elvin Ramirez was throwing, I was pretty certain that the game would end on something anti-climactic like a bases-loaded walk.
Instead there was a happy medium: a nice piece of hitting that resulted in a soft line drive to the opposite field.
The Nats are a team on a mission right now and Harper is providing the electricity. If you watched how the Mets continually let victory slip through their fingers, you start to realize that things like that only happen to teams like the 2012 Nationals who are putting together a special little season here. The win allowed them to stay in sole possession of first place too.
And I’m just wonder what Harper is going to do next. The good news is that at the rate he’s going it’s likely going to happen tonight.
Coincidentally, I ran across the quote that serves as the title of this post and had an epiphany of sorts.
At the same time I found the quote, the Reds were throwing up 5 runs on the Cardinals before the home team could ever record an out in the top of the 1st inning of last night’s game. This came off the heels of two of the flattest performances I can ever remember watching out of a Cincinnati team.
It didn’t end until late into the night, four hours and change after the first pitch had been thrown. It certainly didn’t end how we wanted it to–having to use every pitcher in the bullpen and needing Aroldis Chapman to lock down the save in the bottom of the 13th. But the Reds won. They didn’t quit, they didn’t roll over and they didn’t get swept. And they continue on as the same as they’ve done all season long. Doing just enough to keep us all interested. I’m not sure what “Razor” Ramon Hernandez’s double means to this season or if it’s a turning point. But it was a big hit in a big game that allows the Reds to keep on playing, three games out. Back to .500 we go.
I’ll admit–had the collapse not happened or had they went into St. Louis and taken the series–this post would have been all filled with all the jingoistic praise surrounding the post that Calcaterra wrote. That the Reds are our current day Mickey Mantle’s and they’re making stories that we’re watching every night that we just someday might tell our kids about like our parents talk about The Mick.
I thought last night’s performance was pretty heroic. As mad as I was two nights ago, and on my 4th of July holiday, I came away feeling pretty impressed before the collapse that led to an 8-8 tie between these two rivals.
The Reds served up a turd burger to two things:
1) C.B. Bucknor
You lousy, yellow, good for nothing arrogant asshole of an umpire. I’m not one to complain about umpires. On most nights I don’t even pay attention to who is doing the duty. But this guy is awful in every shape and form.
Bucknor; an asshole, has no semblance of what it’s like to call a good ballgame. He is there to show up ballplayers and make a name for himself which is the opposite of what most decent umpires do intentionally or unintentionally.
Give yourself a hand you jackass.
2) Pujols’ return
Luckily, Pujols garnered only a single in six trips to the plate on this evening and the Reds were able to sneak out of town before he began destroying buildings, pillaging food supplies and generally taking shits on small towns like he usually does against Cincinnati. See above video for footage of Pujols vs. Cincinnati (career).