I lost a pile of money last night, and I still feel like I was on the right side. My gut told me the Oakland A’s would win last night and then move on to Anaheim to give the Angels all they could handle in the ALDS that begins tomorrow. The Royals simply would not die, winning a wild 9-8 ballgame in 12 innings that was an excellent display of how exciting the sport of baseball can be.
I underestimated the effect that all that team speed can have in a one-game and go home scenario. The Royals had seven different players steal bases. They were able to constantly apply pressure to the Athletics, even when they would reach base with an out via a walk or single; it would be just moments until that guy was in scoring position or thinking about stealing third.
After the Royals came back a few times, it became apparent that there was nothing the Athletics could throw at them to give them a ‘kill shot’. It sounds insane saying that about a baseball game, but if you watched how the game played out; the A’s seemingly had this game won two or three times, except for they didn’t.
It was an excellent game to kick off the 2014 playoffs, and I hope some people who say baseball is a slow game had their eyes on the Royals last night. It was their explosiveness, clutch-hitting, and sheer will to not be denied that gave them their first postseason win since 1985. It’s good for the game we all love.
And for the A’s…. well… bye. I don’t know if I could have handled an Oakland ALCS. This is one less boring team in the tournament we all have to worry about being forced to watch.
Baseball fans, rejoice. We’re into the start of a second season. The Royals last found themselves in a playoff game on October 27th, 1985. It was game seven of the world series. I was two years and change.
Brett Saberhagen and the Royals shut out the Cardinals 11-0 on that night in game seven of the World Series. Lonnie Smith! Willie Wilson! Some guy named Frank White hit clean-up that night and played second base. Their shortstop was Buddy Biancalana!
There’s something magical about the MLB playoffs. This post is a little overdue because of a busy workday but it’s great to see the A’s and Royals square off in front of a rabid crowd with all the talking heads saying this is the A’s last running of the bulls. Something’s got to give. Tonight is win or go home.
And in honor of the Royals big night – which is so very good for baseball – we have George Brett talking about the time he shit himself at Kokomos Steakhouse in Vegas.
How nice it is to be able to use those post categories ‘Kansas City Royals’ and ‘MLB Playoffs’ in the same place. You had to figure if you lived a long, normal lifespan you would live to see the Royals get here one time that you could recall. This *could* be the only time. Soak it in!
Let us just say; we’re totally not ready for a baseball world without Adam Dunn being a part of it. It seems like just yesterday it was May of 2002, and Dunn was 22 years old in his first full big league season; and we were saying hello to him just as he came out of the Cincinnati dugout at old Riverfront Stadium before a game to get warm.
Where did the years go!
At least Dunn will finally get a chance to appear in some postseason games unless something unlikely happens. And Billy Beane finally has that coveted player that was written about in Moneyball.
In an odd turn of events, the Anaheim Angels have won six games in a row; including a four-game sweep of the team that was supposed to win the American League West after acquiring the two biggest arms on the trade market. In yesterday’s 8-1 win in Anaheim, Mike Trout drove in three runs and set a new career high for home runs in a season with his 31st of the year off Jesse Chavez on a pitch that was in a zone that should never be sniffed to Mike Trout:
ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. A’s and Angels on center stage, gridlocked in a 76-52 tie for first place in the AL West. The Angels are down a Garrett Richards and to be honest the first two games of the series went exactly as we planned with the A’s getting a couple wins to pull even in the division standings. This was even though Mike Trout hit his 28th home run of the season on Friday night off Sonny Gray. This was despite Gray having lights out command and going eight strong for the win.
But last night, the Angels took the game they had to take. You can’t go into the Oakland Coliseum and get swept by your foes; those rotten A’s. And Mike Trout hit a towering home run into the camera well to put the exclamation point on a 9-4 Angels win.
This was obviously one of the more impressive Trout home runs of the season – though it’s hard to pick a favorite. And you guessed it: it was a low pitch. He was also the Sunday conversation on SportsCenter with Buster Olney. He’s all the rage right now for good reason.
It is important to document as much as we can in what might Mike Trout’s first MVP season.
Man the Oakland Athletics sure are annoying. They have a bunch of junk-heap guys who seemingly just fit into place and get the job done. Sure, it’s to the credit of a mastermind General Manager who is one of the greatest of all-time. But it doesn’t make them any more entertaining.
And it’s not just their roster that gives me that sense of dread, it’s their damn morgue of a park! There was a game cancelled there for sewage overflow this year!
Look, I thought the little run they made to the postseason in the early 2000’s was a great story and great for baseball. You know what isn’t great for baseball? The A’s getting in the playoffs now and keeping a team with star appeal like the Angels out.
Ernesto Frieri feels that the Angels are the better team, and he was feeling froggy about this so he jumped. Queue up the OC Register, please.
“We played really good baseball against a really good team,” Frieri said Sunday. “It’s good for our confidence, to let us know that we can beat anybody.”
Frieri was then asked if anybody included the Oakland Athletics, the team that easily swept the Angels just one week ago and the team the Angels host for three games beginning Monday. He didn’t hesitate.
“We’re going to beat them,” Frieri said. “Get ready to write that. I hate to say this, but they have a little bit extra luck. If you pay attention every play, it’s stupid how the game goes their way.”
I agree with Frieri that they probably will ‘beat them’. The Angels have played like six games against the A’s this season (losing five) so with 13 left to go; they probably won’t get skunked. But you get Frieri’s poorly made point; the A’s are a sack of shit and fuck their producing lineup with Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp and that dweeb Eric Sogard going out their every night and getting it done. Derrick Norris is going all Scott Hatteberg on us from the right side so he can suck one too.
I hate the A’s, their shitty stadium, and their boring ass games that put me to sleep. I hope this rivalry ends with Mike Scioscia taking a big stinky dump that overflows into the A’s home dugout in September and cancels another game.
I had the Angels game somewhat queued up last night when I passed out on the couch with my bulldog – Garrett Richards was doing everything he could to hand the game back to the A’s despite those darling Angels doing everything they could do to get him the win in the face of his own futility.
And I fell asleep on Michael Nelson Trout. And wouldn’t you know it that he did something that I very much would have liked to have been awake for. He hit a majestic two-run home run off the A’s closer Du Jour Sean Doolittle. It sent the game into extra innings. And that’s what Mike Trout does – he takes something and makes it beautiful. Trout’s gift to the world on Jackie Robinson Day was bonus baseball. As M.J. Lloyd would say, he isn’t real.
The Angels would lose the damn game 10-9 in 11 innings, making all those handicappers who said Oakland would win last night correct and my very gut feeling that the Angels would steal one so very wrong (I am picking stuff at around a 75% clip this season on the money line, giddeup).
Mike Trout has five home runs and just may have learned a new trick: how to lead the American League circuit in homers. Don’t worry about what the A’s players did because they’re boring.
Sonny Gray has the name of a star and shined last night in his MLB postseason debut. He out-dueled Justin Verlander in one of the better baseball games in recent history. Gray went eight strong shutout innings and struck out nine holding the game scoreless and allowing the A’s to steal a 1-0 victory in the bottom of the ninth.
And perhaps Gray ends up being the great young arm that a guy like Rich Harden could never be consistently for Oakland. From the first time we saw him pitch (his MLB debut in relief in Pittsburgh) we thought he had electric stuff despite having a small frame. Gray is the type of arm that could get the A’s on a roll all the way through the postseason.
I kind of thought this might be a breakout year for Brandon Moss. He’s OPS’ing about 100 points less than he did last season, but with the huge week he had last week he’s already bettered his power numbers and has an eye on destroying his previous career bests. He’s also also been named Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten Memorial Player of the Week. Here’s the weekly stat line that got him the gig:
8 for 22 (.360), .500/.955/1.455, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 6 walks, 8 runs, and as always the token “slow guy stolen base”.
Moss’ four homers came in three consecutive games in which he ransacked the Tigers pitching staff – Verlander, Smyly, and Scherzer were the victims.
What is it with these Oakland journeyman guys (Moss previously played for the Red Sox, Pirates, and Phillies – you did not know that) going on these apeshit streaks? I mean seriously; they have a bunch of roundabout guys who comprise a roster of 25 that no one else really wanted, they’re not good on paper, and every year they’re somehow winning the damn division and having guys get on these late season hot streaks that are the stuff of legend.
If you’re looking to catch lightning in a bottle on your fantasy team, be sure to scope out some Oakland players on the waiver wire early tomorrow morning. Like catfish in a lake that hasn’t been fished, they’ll be there. Bring your lantern for these bottom feeders.
Dan Straily and Bartolo Colon learned the hard way, when Jay Bruce decides he’s hot; it’s best just not to mess with him.
The Reds answered my notion that they were dead with two big wins at home over the Oakland A’s, and today on the radio Marty Brennaman brought up a good point. Maybe in this game of such a long season – you never are quite as good as you seem but things are never quite as bad as they seem either.
Bruce hit a big home run last night to the power alley in left center to get the Reds going in a 3-1 win. He also made a terrific running catch in the fourth inning to get Mat Latos out of trouble. Today he hit a two run homer and drove in three total and threw a runner out at home plate.
Bruce is carrying the Reds right now as he has so often through different points of this long and challenging season.
After a day off tomorrow the Reds welcome the Padres to Great American for the weekend with yet another chance to get hot and put their stamp on this 2013 chapter in the book of Cincinnati.
By the way, this was the second Simpsons match up lifetime. That’s right, today at GABP it was Homer vs. Bart just like six years ago (June 14th, 2007) when Colon and Homer Bailey faced off. In yet another piece of evidence that baseball just repeats its own history, neither pitcher has been very sharp when they’ve faced off, like in today’s game.
As of this very minute, the Pittsburgh Pirates are a .600 baseball club. It’s a great story. They’ve slipped a little bit lately, and they’re mostly blacked out in my city of residence; so I am not getting the opportunity to enjoy their ride each night watching on MLB.tv.
However, tonight the Pirates take on the Oakland Athletics from Pittsburgh. Their de facto ace Francisco Liriano is going. You get the feel that Liriano has his badge of justice on, and the losing streak stops tonight.
In any event, they’re a fun bunch. McCutchen, Marte, Cole, Grilli, Melancon, Cole, Liriano and even shitty old Pedro Alvarez are a scrappy, fun bunch to pull for a little bit. That city deserves a baseball winner. I can’t wait to watch them tonight in their rare ESPN appearance.
Stuff like this; major reclamation projects that could be considered half-miracles, always seem to happen in Oakland.
Bartolo Colon was left for dead long ago in the baseball world. A few weeks ago I was laughed at in my H2H fantasy league for using my top waiver spot on the guy. I needed the pitching and I have a feeling that this roll is going to continue all year for Colon.
It’s easy to forget that Colon had 14 wins from the beginning of the 2006 season to the beginning of the 2011 season, and in 2010 he was out of the game completely.
The A’s always find something on the scrap heap that no one else wants and it works out. There’s a lot of teams around baseball that were apparently caught sleeping at the wheel on this one, and who could blame them.
Big Fat Bartolo Colon (BFBC) is really the perfect pitcher to win this award. He’s been in the league longer but the past, oh, I don’t know, 7 years have resembled the IcyHotness of Liriano. This week he was hot. BFBC racked up two shutouts and yielded a WHIP under 1.00. Neither outing was completely dominant. The first go round he was able to strike out 9 but also scattered 9 hits. The second he only gave up 5 runs in a complete game shut out, but only struck out 3. The one consistent stat was control. BFBC gave up zero free passes in 16 innings this week. Oh, and he turned 40 right before this stretch. BFBC has been a great sign for the Oakland A’s. He’s only getting paid $3M and still eats innings (and many other things) and will occasionally throw off a week like this. I benefited from the second start in a fantasy streaming strategy. Thanks. We are just as likely to see BFBC here again on the Icy side, but we’ll enjoy the hefty one for now. See full stats below:
As part of our preview for the upcoming 2013 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2013 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our third prediction: Yoenis Cespedes collects more MVP votes than Robinson Cano.
Robinson Cano has been one of the best hitters in baseball over past several years. His three year averages: .311/.370/.539, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 104 runs, and 5 sB. The 30/100/100 mark is a milestone and when someone averages that over three years in an increasingly pitching dominated era, it’s incredible. He has finished 3rd, 6th, and 4th in the MVP race in the past three years. It seems like any year now he is going to win it. Well, it’s not likely to be this year. Let me get this out there to start. In no way is this prediction based on the fact that Cano will be meaningfully worse this year, but the Yankees lineup is not going to be great this year and two of these stats depend in part on his teammates – RBIs and runs. In each case, Cano only contributes half of the contribution to the stat. I don’t think Cano will go over 100 in RBIs or runs this year. His average should maintain over .300 and the o/u on his HRs this year is probably 30. Still a great year, but it won’t stack up against his previous seasons.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin, Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes came to Oakland last year from Cuba. It was a bit of a surprise that Oakland spent on what was basically a free agent, but I suppose they saw more value than anyone else did. Cespedes’ rookie year was going great, certainly overshadowed by Mike Trout, but great nonetheless. However, he only got to play in 129 games last year due to a wrist injury. What could he have done with a full season? His 162 game averages were .292/.356/.505, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 88 runs, and 20 SB. Take a few counting stats off for a 158 games season and his numbers don’t look too far off of Cano except exchange some runs for some SB. Cespedes isn’t a young rookie, he’ll be entering his age 27 season this year. Cespedes has always been rated as plus raw power with speed to match so the 30 HR/20 SB averages aren’t too surprising. The .292 average to go with it is what can set him apart from the typical power/speed outfield type. In a season where the overall average with .260 you can count the guys on two hands who can hit for average, power and steal plenty of bases.
Part of this prediction is based on the fact that the MVP is voted on. It’s not a mathematical calculation of who had the best year. Although Cano possibly has the advantage of being in a bigger market, the media is national enough that Cespedes will get plenty of press, especially if Oakland comes close to their 2012 season. Another great year from Cespedes will be exciting as he is still relatively unknown to the casual fan and he could still have the “breakout” year narrative since last season was cut short by injury. I don’t think either of these guys will necessarily win the MVP, but we can count the votes at the end of the year. Check back to see if I’m brilliant or a complete idiot, or a little bit of neither.