Lots going on, limited time, so I think I’ll only report the things I have comments on.
Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch, which may or may not have been intentional (it didn’t look like it to me. Why throw at a batter on a 3-2 count in a close game?). Quentin charged the mound, bashed into Greinke, broke his collarbone, and he will miss 1-3 months. Quentin was given an 8-game suspension, and Don Mattingly says it should be for as long as Greinke can’t pitch. My opinion: the penalty for charging the mound should be more severe, especially if actual contact is made (rather than just jawing or pushing) as was the case here – Quentin body blocked Greinke. Of course, Greinke didn’t exactly back away. I would like to see the practice of charging the mound ended, or at least punished harshly. 25-game suspension without pay seems about right. In a related note, Carrasco was also suspended 8 games for hitting Kevin Youkilis. This amounts in playing impact to a single start, though in financial impact it is the same suspension Quentin got. Do I think 25 games for Carrasco would also be more fair? Darn right I do. I know that HBP is part of the game, but intentional HBP (does ANYONE doubt that Carrrasco took aim?) should NOT be. At least be subtle about it.
I watched the entire Yankees-Orioles affair last night, and there were several points worth mentioning. Sabathia was pretty sharp, but his fastball rarely topped 90 (I remember one 92 late in the game). Can he win consistently as a decent-fastball-great-location pitcher? Yes, but not as consistently as a great-fastball-great-location pitcher, which is what he was. One of the runs that Sabathia allowed was unearned, and it was bizarre. I wanted to show the video, but mlb.tv got it screwed up, the video is of a different event in a different game. But here is what happened: first, Youkilis fielded a ball down the line cleanly, but didn’t set up well and three the ball off-line, allowing the runner to reach. It was a tough play, and could have been ruled a hit, but E-5 was not unreasonable. Then Sabathia wiped his hand on his pants with the ball in his glove (on the rubber) and was called a balk. I have seen him do this dozens (hundreds?) of times but never called before. Sabathia’s objection, which was vociferous, was not even that it is not a balk, but rather that it is a part of his routine – he does it all the time. In any event, the balk moved the runner to second, where he scored on a seeing-eye single past Jayson Nix (in for the injured by HBP Nunez, who of course was in for the injured Jeter). In my opinion, Jeter comes nowhere near fielding that ball, but Nunez has a decent chance to make the play. A-Rod may well not get TO the ball Youk fielded, but if he DOES get there, his strong arm probably makes the play. Anyway, very cheap run.
The run made it 2-2 and set up the surprising Yankee seventh. Instead of clinging to a 2-1 lead with Sabathia pitching well, they were faced with a tie game. They loaded the bases with 2 outs and Vernon Wells launched a deep fly ball to center. In fairness to Adam Jones, many centerfielders would have that ball go over their heads. Jones made a long run, got a bead on it at the warning track in DEEP center, blew a bubble with his bubblegum, took the ball in the mitt but on the palm, didn’t close the glove properly, and dropped the ball for a 3-run error. mlb.tv also messed up the video of this one, but it was amazing to see such a great fielder clank a ball that badly. It WAS cold.
And THAT set up the top of the eighth, when Sabathia, now sporting a 5-2 lead, allowed singles to the first two batters, and I wondered if Girardi would take him out. But no, he pitched to the red-hot Manny Machado and induced a one hop line drive which became the first 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play in baseball history. Fortunately, this one video they got right. It was fun to see Cano jumping up and down like a little leaguer who had just turned his first DP. Personally I though Youkilis almost cost the TP when he threw to first (Machado was halfway to second and headed there) but Overbay was able to make the catch-and-throw in time.
Other fun stuff: Atlanta gave up 4 runs in 2 innings, and trailed 4-0 after 6. But 1 in the seventh, 1 in the eighth, 2 in the ninth and 2 in the tenth gave them their seventh straight victory, and moved them to 9-1, their best start since starting 13-1 in 1994. And by beating the Nats in this one, they opened a 2-game lead instead of being tied for first. The Nats blew the save when Davey Johnson chose not to use Soriano to close out the game. May be the right decision, but it likely cost them a ballgame.
Scoring was down on this night, with lots of low-scoring games. Since it was cold in much of the country, you could suggest that chilly weather tends to hold down run scoring, which is why April tends to be low-scoring. And I would mostly agree. EXCEPT: the Mets visited Minnesota, where they used to play in a dome but now play at Target Field. It was 34 degrees at game time, and dropped steadily, while white stuff fell from the sky (I don’t know what that is, as I live in tropical New Hampshire). Naturally the pitchers dominated this one, especially as neither the Mets nor Twins is known as an offensive force. The Mets scored 5 in the first on two doubles, two singles, one walk and one error. The Twins got two back in their half on a walk, double, hbp, single. Three singles and a walk scored another run for the Mets in the second, and chased erstwhile Phillie Vance Worley. John Buck then added RBI numbers 16, 17, 18 and 19 with a LONG grand slam to make it 10-2. Eventually this snowy night resulted in TWENTY-ONE runs by both sides, the Mets victorious at 16-5. Imagine if it had been warm, and they could really hit!
As a result, the METS now lead the NL in runs scored with 65. The pitching-first A’s lead the AL with 70. These numbers are off-the-charts (next best in the NL is 58, in the AL it is 54). The A’s, by the way, have won 9 straight after starting the year 0-2.
April is SO much fun.