Archive for the ‘gameblog’ Category

Gameblog #3: Dodgers at Cubs…with Beer!

June 1, 2009

This game is taking place barely a mile from here, and at one of the very best places on earth, Wrigley Field. I could, if I wanted, walk right down there right now, overpay some scalper for a ticket and see it all in person. But then how would you ever find out about all the stupid stuff Joe and Steve said?

Warmups

Broadcast: ESPN; Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips. I watch them so you don’t have to. The game hasn’t started, and Joe has already called Juan Pierre “an everyday player–a fabulous everyday player” and opined that with Pierre, they could go without Manny for the rest of the year “and not miss a step.” This is going to be FUN!

Pitchers: Eric Milton (1-0, 3.00, 4.94 FIP) vs. Sean Marshall (3-3, 3.70, 4.59 FIP). Eric Milton!!!! Wow. Pretty good pitcher for the Twins in 1999-2002. I remember his no-hitter. Putting the 33 year-old version of Milton in Wrigley is like putting a fat rat with a bad leg in a den of starved lions. Marshall, like Milton, has been pitching much worse than his traditional numbers so far would suggest. Could be in for a high-scoring game.

Beer: An absolute necessity for dealing with three hours of Morgan and Phillips, we’re opening today with your basic Fat Tire Amber Ale. Word is, though, that Fat Tire is on a strict pitch count, and we’re not afraid to go three, even four different beers deep in the fridge, if that’s what it takes to get through this broadcast. All will be enjoyed in the author’s commemorative Second City tall glass.

First Inning

Look, Juan Pierre is a bad baseball player. Bad baseball players (especially ones with empty .300 career averages) sometimes hit .380 for a month and a half. There’s no reason to believe he’s “stepped up” in Manny’s absence or has somehow “figured it out” at age 31. He gets an infield hit here, which means we get to hear Joe ‘n’ Steve praise him a whole bunch more. He even gets credited for #2 hitter Furcal’s hit (which is just a ground ball that happens to find a hole), because, you know, when you have a base stealer on first base, it opens up the right side and you get more fastballs. The Dodgers actually open with five consecutive singles, all of them kind of cheapies, and then it’s 2-0 with the bases loaded, nobody out and, finally, Matt Kemp (arguably the first good hitter they’ve sent up there) naturally strikes out on four pitches. Bad hitter #6 (Mark Loretta) comes up with hit #6, a double that drives in two. Lou’s already got somebody warming up in the bullpen, even though Loretta’s was the first fairly hard-hit ball that Marshall has surrendered. The next guy is Jamie Hoffmann, who I’ve honestly never even heard of (apparently a New Ulm, MN native, though), and he hits a booming sac fly to center. 5-0, and Eric Milton himself finally ends the inning, taking the first pitch to the warning track in dead center field.

The guys mention that Milton has the highest career home run rate of any active pitcher with 1000 innings pitched. Jon Miller (the one I like out of the three) still pronounces OPS as though it were a word, like in “special ops.” Now they’re talking about Derrek Lee and marveling over how he’s fallen off since 2005. And he’s been terrible so far, and might well be done, but guys? Lee was never the hitter he looked like in 2005 (.335/.418/.662, 50 2B, 46 HR, 174 OPS+). Outside of that, his career high is a 131 OPS+, a number he matched in 2007. It’s fine to talk about his big dropoff this year, but to put it against the backdrop of his freaktastic 2005 makes no sense at all. Anyway, Theriot lines a sharp single, but otherwise the Cubs go quietly. Most Cubs fans have probably already given this one up, and are rebudgeting their evenings to make room for a couple more Old Styles. Me, I’m going for Fat Tire #2 (it’s much smoother and less bitter out of the bottle than it is on tap, I’ve decided).

Second Inning

Pierre strikes out on three pitches, and still gets video-montage love from Joe Morgan. Marshall looks like a different pitcher, getting 3 outs on 8 pitches.

Reed Johnson bloops one into center that falls in front of the diving Matt Kemp, and ends up with a double. Kemp takes kind of a nasty fall, but seems okay. Something is clearly wrong with Geovany Soto, who has hit one HR this year after hitting 23 as a rookie in 2008. He takes a big, good-looking flyball swing on a batting-practice fastball, and can’t even get it to the warning track in left. Johnson tags and makes third on a rainbow from Juan Pierre, which Morgan calls “a good throw.” Sigh. Johnson then tries to score on a diving catch in short right by Hoffmann, and is gunned down pretty easily. Great play by that one guy (a rookie with an unimpressive minor league record who no doubt got the call for his Juan Pierre-like .294/.435/.484 fluke between AA and AAA so far in 2009). Still 5-0 Dodgers.

Third Inning

Marshall was really cruising through the first two batters, giving him seven batters retired in a row, but then Kemp (who I do believe is the lone good hitter in the Dodgers’ lineup right now) absolutely crushes one over the fence in left-center. 6-0 Dodgers.

Nice play by Hudson to retire Mike Fontenot for the first out. As you get into the middle innings of an ESPN broadcast, it’s kind of hard to remember that you’re watching a ballgame, because they find so much tangentially related crap to prattle on about. Now they’re talking about aggressive hitters vs. patient hitters, I guess, and it’s as asinine as you’re picturing it. The Cubs manage just a walk in the third. They had to figure that they’d have driven Milton out of the game and back into reality by now.

Fourth Inning

Marshall hit Eric Milton with a pitch. That’s…not good. Pierre hits a weak line drive to short, and luckily they’re talking about Matt Wieters right now, so they can’t be bothered to praise Pierre again. The HBP is all they get.

This is getting embarrassing for the Cubs. Milton gets Milton (Bradley) to hit a towering popup to very short right and D-Lee to hit a warning-track flyout to center before permitting Johnson an infield single. Then Soto flies out to medium right. Milton has gotten through four innings in 56 pitches, giving up three hits (only one, Theriot’s, legitimately hit) and a walk while striking out two.

Fifth Inning

Sean Marshall may still be in the game despite giving up six runs, but we’ve got a relief beer: Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA, which the makers themselves describe as “really hoppy, strong.” It’s good stuff.

Loney doubles in Martin, who had walked, for his second RBI of the game and 38th of the year. I talked a bit about this yesterday, but let it also be said that he’s had 184 runners on base for his plate appearances coming into tonight, more than anyone in the majors, and driven in 18.5% of them, which is more than you would expect from a guy who has been such a bad hitter overall, but not particularly close to being among the best in the league. He’s just been a bad hitter in an advantageous position in a high-OBP batting order. Anyway, his double makes it 7-0 and chases Marshall from the game. This is getting awfully boring, though you have to believe the Cubs could hang up four or five one of these innings. Joe says the Dodgers should still be running because “this is Wrigley field; a bloop and a blast and you’re right back in it.” No, Joe. Runs are worth the same amount here as they are anywhere else; a bloop and a blast, and you’re still losing 7-2. Anyway, they do run, and an errant throw down by Soto brings the 8th run in.

Bobby Scales is leading off for the Cubs, an instant fan favorite and one of the better stories in the league this year. But he doesn’t do anything here, of course. The baseball blogging gods have forsaken me for this one. Third in the inning is rookie Jake Fox, who swings the hardest of anyone I’ve seen since probably Geronimo Berroa. He strikes out like he has someplace to be in an hour, which is pretty much how all the Cubs are playing right now.

Sixth Inning

Now they’re talking about what position Fox will play (right now he’s at first), so they can’t praise Juan Pierre while he strikes out looking (now 1-4 with an infield single and a terrible throw to third base, if you’re scoring at home). Nice play by Theriot to end the inning after a Furcal walk.

Theriot, not-at-all-shockingly, hasn’t hit any more HR since I memorialized his sudden power stroke in verse. How do you (Milton) know you don’t have the hitters’ respect? If you hit a guy with a pitch (here, Lee) and he doesn’t want to take his base. That loads the bases, and Johnson hits a two-run double (his third hit of the game and the first time he’s really hit the ball). Eric Milton is finally coming back to the reality of 2009–N*Sync has separated, Gladiator and Cast Away are no longer in theaters, and so forth. He leaves the game– 5 1/3, 6 hits, 2 ER (so far), a walk and 4 K’s. Ronald Belisario, a rookie who (awesome name aside) is just about the dictionary definition of a good middle reliever, gets the next two chumps out to end the threat.

Seventh Inning

Whoever is in for the Cubs now (fourth pitcher, and honestly I just don’t see why it matters) gives up a base hit to Martin to start the 7th, just a little dribbler up the middle. It’s amazing that Martin doesn’t have a home run yet after averaging 14 for the last three seasons. He gets on base at a fine clip, but has a .319 slugging percentage…and is batting cleanup for the team with the best winning percentage in baseball. He does steal a base (his 7th in 10 attempts), on another terrible throw by Soto. There’s a walk after that, but Hoffmann strikes out while Jon, Joe and Steve are praising him, ending the inning.

Jake Fox strikes out again. Morgan says the Cubs “overreacted” to being beaten by the Dodgers in the playoffs last year. But isn’t the point not just that they made moves (it’s not like the Cubs didn’t have any room to improve), but that they made the wrong moves? Trading DeRosa, signing Bradley…these were dumb things. I don’t think they were dumb because the Dodgers won three games against them in October; I think they were just dumb. Soriano doubles and Theriot almost gets de-faced by a 93 MPH fastball, but otherwise uneventful.

I’m surprised they didn’t have anything to say about whichever celebrity sung the stretch…I hope s/he was better than this.

Eighth Inning

It’s not a save situation, but I’m turning the game over to my closer, Strongbow English hard cider. It’s almost like dessert beer.

Lou goes to the guy who should be his closer, Carlos Marmol…though he’s had some crazy control troubles this year. Why would anyone want to throw at Brad Ausmus? Brad gets a free base, but Pierre takes a called third strike again; 1-for-5 with 3 Ks now, and the praise has stopped. Marmol made a really funny error on a grounder by Furcal; he must’ve tried and failed to pick that ball up six different times. Marmol gets an out but then walks Martin, loading the bases entirely under his own power (HBP, E1, BB). Joe: The Cubs aren’t as good as they were last year. Steve: Yeah, but their best baseball is still ahead of them. Joe: Yes, but I still don’t think they’re a better team than they were last year. That’s why you two get the big bucks. Marmol strikes out Loney to bring this conversation to a merciful end.

Ramon Troncoso comes in, presumably to close this one out. I think I get why the Dodgers are so good; if a guy with a 1.95 ERA (and 2.88 FIP) is the guy you bring in to get some outs near the end in a six-run game, you’re in good shape. There have been a lot of pretty-looking deep flyouts hit by the Cubs tonight, and Bradley hits one here. Lee loops a single into right and Soto rips one there. Dodger closer Broxton starts to get loose, which still feels like a waste with two guys on and two out in a six-run game. Pinch hitter (and probably the Cubs’ best hitter right now) Kosuke Fukudome strikes out to make it all moot and send us to what promises to be a pretty meaningless ninth.

Ninth Inning

Jon can’t get the word “steroids” out of his mouth. “Manny was suspended, of course, for…for…breaking, the…baseball…MLB…rules, as pertaining to…for…performance-enhancing substances….” I like Miller, but that was just weird. He’s trying to start a conversation about whether Manny should be allowed to rehab for 10 games in the minors while he’s “suspended,” and this just isn’t going to go anywhere interesting or informative. Phillips is ridiculous one way, and Morgan is ridiculous in an equal and opposite way. Meanwhile, the Cubs’ terrible closer Kevin Gregg has given up a hit and a walk, and this game has gotten so boring that even whoever is updating “MLB Gameday” hasn’t noticed that it’s Andre Ethier pinch-hitting, and not the pitcher Troncoso taking his cuts right now. They get out of it without any more damage, and the Dodgers are actually bringing in Broxton to get his work in. This won’t take long.

Broxton is probably the nastiest pitcher going right now. Most relievers with a 1.50 ERA would have like a 2.75 or 3.00 FIP…it’s just not possible to have a 1.50 ERA and actually come by it honestly. But Broxton’s FIP is 1.45. He’s on pace for around 30 saves and around 15 wins. He’s good. Jake Fox, who entered in the fifth, strikes out a third time…not bad for a half game’s work. With a 1-2-3 ninth, the Cubs leave Chicago with a whimper, headed for a series in Atlanta on Tuesday.

———————————————–

Well, I foresaw a high-scoring game, and I was half right. The reanimated corpse of Eric Milton’s career was hardly dominant, but he’ll live to make another start, which will give him four more Major League starts than you had to figure, a few months ago, that Eric Milton would ever get again. We know now what everybody should have known already: the Dodgers can win without Manny and without Juan Pierre somehow hitting like Manny.

As a pseudo Cub fan (well, I care about them more than any other NL team, if only for geographical reasons), I’m glad this was a four-beer gameblog. Not the kind of game one should watch while sober.

Gameblog #2: Braves at Mets

May 12, 2009

You might think that a guy with a family and a very full-time job whose blog just got linked to by the great Rob Neyer might realize that he’d already pretty much peaked as a baseball blogger and hang it up right there. Mais non! Not us! Like Pete Rose, we’ll keep selfishly pencilling ourselves into the lineup long after we’ve become pathetic, fleshy mockeries of our old selves. And like Queen Victoria, we’ll refer to ourselves as “we,” if only for purposes of this paragraph.

Warmups
Broadcast: Atlanta; Chip Caray and Joe Simpson.
Pitchers: Atlanta’s Derek Lowe (4-1, 3.98 ERA, 3.60 FIP) vs. New York’s Johan Santana. (4-1, 0.91, 2.02).

With only four games on the night’s entire schedule, how do you pass up this matchup? Atlanta radio broadcaster Don Sutton is a Hall of Famer, and just edges out Lowe for the title of “Second-Greatest Pitcher Involved in Tonight’s Game.”
PeachTree TV isn’t showing commercials to we Extra Innings folk; we just see a silent long view of the field for two or three minutes. I haven’t watched any Braves broadcasts yet; is this normal for them?
Sadly, each team is down one big, aging piece for tonight’s tussle: both Chipper Jones and Carlos Delgado are on the shelf. I have to say, there’s a whole lot stacked against the visitors coming into this one. Atlanta needs Larry much more than Queens needs Carlos.

First Inning

Kelly Johnson swings at the first pitch and makes the first out, which as a leadoff hitter should probably earn him a fine or something. But that’s as good as it gets for Santana, as three of the next four guys come up with singles, the last of which leads to an unearned run on a bad throw by Wright that substitute first baseman Fernando Tatis can’t handle. Probably most important is that, first-pitch out and all, Santana needs 27 pitches to get through the inning.

The graphic says “Derek Lowe – Last Start — Defeated Marlins,” and then gives his line: 5 innings, 7 hits, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. Sorry, no: the Marlins hitters defeated Lowe. That he happened to leave with a lead his team didn’t relinquish doesn’t make his performance one in which he “defeated” anybody. To his credit, Lowe himself is very aware of that. He takes 1/3 as many pitches as Santana to get through his inning, following up a walk with an easy double play. It’s good to be probably the most extreme ground ball pitcher in the bigs.

Second Inning

Hey, guess what? Jeff Francouer swung at the first pitch! And the second! And the third! And the fourth! He struck out, but Santana just isn’t sharp so far. Quite a few more pitches, but no damage done.

After the costly first-inning error and a strikeout here, the Mets fans (some of them) are booing David Wright. And yeah, he’s a little down so far (and has been especially horrible in the field, costing his team 1.6 runs already according to UZR), but he’s still your best player and one of the best in the game. Chill out, folks. A good, long AB by Tatis keeps it from being another insanly quick inning for Lowe, but it’s 1-2-3 nonetheless.

Third Inning

Chip and Joe are talking about how hard it is to hit homers here in the Mets’ new park (it is quite big, but ESPN’s park factors, which actually don’t mean anything at all yet, have it at .973 for homers, making it just a tick shy of the average). They both seem to believe that the answer to what they perceive as a pitching shortage is for everybody to build bigger ballparks…but that’s insanely stupid. Santana looks much better now, though he’s still not JOHAN SANTANA tonight.
Derek Lowe facing off against Jeremy Reed, Omir Santos and the pitcher: how do you suppose that went? Faced the minimum through three.

Fourth Inning

Casey Kotchman does his best Kelly Johnson/Jeff Francouer impression, popping out to the catcher on the first pitch. The real Francouer actually takes a pitch, then swings wildly at the next two and flies out harmlessly. He’s a terrible, terrible player, folks. Now Santana is rolling.

The answer to the Toyota Tacoma Trivia Question: the only 3 pitchers in Braves history to have 4 strikeouts in 1 inning are Phil Niekro, Paul Assenmacher, and Mark Wohlers. A question I can’t tell you the answer to: if you’re Jose Reyes, and you walk, and you’ve got an extreme GB pitcher on the mound, how are you not taking second base on the first pitch? He doesn’t run, and Castillo predictably erases him on a DP. If Reyes takes second there, he scores easily on the Mets’ first hit of the night, a sharp single into right by Beltran. Lowe got hit hard this inning, though, and I’m starting to think Santana has the edge again.

Fifth Inning

You can tell by the way Lowe swings the bat that he was born to pitch (preferably in the AL, or as a closer). To be fair, Kelly Johnson doesn’t look much better. Santana loses focus a bit after that, though, walking Escobar on four pitches and throwing a whole bunch of pitches to Martin Prado. Still one-zip halfway through the game.

This is pretty much how an ace pitcher has to get in trouble on a night like this: one sharp single to right, and a bouncer that would’ve been a third double play if it didn’t happen to bounce too high for Kotchman and into right. First and third, one out, and Omir Santos hits a sac fly to Francouer. 1-1 now.

Sixth Inning

Santana throws three straight absolutely unhittable strikes to Brian McCann, the best hitter in Atlanta’s lineup tonight. Caray says “91 pitches for Santana, but that’s not an issue — he’s pitching great tonight.” Um, Chip? You’re dumb. To Simpson’s credit, he immediately points that out (though not in so many words). Diaz singles and Kotchman gets absolutely drilled on the hand because he started to swing, and I hope he’s all right, but that really shouldn’t get you a free base. Guess what, though? Francouer swung at the first pitch! He’s now seen eight pitches and swung at seven of them. Also, he’s dumb. Santana gets out of trouble, but at around a hundred pitches, despite what Chip says, he might be done for the night.

Bottom 6 — nothing at all happens. Lowe is good.

Seventh Inning

Santana does actually come out for the seventh, and immediately goes to 3-0 on Lowe before pumping three BP fastballs down the middle to claim the automatic out that’s rightfully his. Then he gives up a broken-bat single to Kelly Johnson, and then Manuel makes the very curious decision to take him out. Why the hell would you do that then? Parnell is in to face just two batters, and then Manuel goes back to a lefty reliever, so he’s used three pitchers where he probably could’ve used just one. Anyway, it should work, but then Reyes bobbles a ball on about the seventieth bounce, and the bases are loaded. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shortstop boot a chance that easy. Then the wheels kind of predictably come off, with four more unearned runs coming in on a pair of singles. This is looking like yet another tough-luck loss for Santana. Even Francouer manages a hit, off the fourth Mets pitcher of the inning, before they finally limp out of it. Manuel is gonna get skewered in the papers tomorrow for taking Johan out.

Wright leads off with a double off the base of the wall in deepest center that was just destroyed; no doubt the Mets fans and press will get on him for hitting a “meaningless” double…unless of course it ignites a Met rally to help surmount this very surmountable four-run deficit. It doesn’t; Wright scores, and Lowe comes out, but that’s it, and it’s 5-2, and thus Wright is so not clutch.


Eighth Inning

Greg Norton pinch hits and singles, and then Kelly Johnson celebrates not having to face Johan anymore by hitting a grounder to the shortstop position on a first-pitch hit-and-run; that’s what they call “perfectly executed” (but how much control does he have over it, really? How much can Johnson control hitting it to the vacated shortstop position rather than, say, right over the bag, where Reyes has vacated to, for a rally-killing double play?). The few Mets fans remaining are booing rather lustily at no one in particular, but then cheer a sharp Wright-Castillo-Tatis double play, and it’s now 6-2 Atlanta.

Rafael Soriano comes in for the eighth, and this feels like a lot more than a four-run lead. Alex Cora has 0.0 chin, but a lovely .320 or so batting average after that single. There’s some sort of issue with some fans in the outfield, who waved a flag they weren’t supposed to and then flipped off Jeff Francouer. That’s pretty much the highlight of the Mets’ eighth.

Ninth Inning

Ken Takahashi, who I don’t believe is exactly 6’0″ and exactly 200 pounds (but who I do believe is very hittable tonight), is on the mound now. McCann doubles; you’d have to have figured that if this was going to be a fairly big win for the Braves minus Chipper, McCann would be something other than one-for-five with a low-leverage last-inning double. Francouer takes his second and third pitches of the night, then hits a sac fly. 7-2. Takahashi is both hittable and crazy wild, chucking up a wild pitch that bounced most of the way back to him. Jordan Schafer walks to remain the only Atlanta starter without a hit. Another single makes it 8-2, and it looks (because of course the camera only shows the corporate seats) like there are about ten people left in Citi Field.

The excellently-named Buddy Carlyle comes in with a six-run lead to protect and three outs to get. Wright reaches on an infield hit, the throw bounces off him and way up along the wall, and Wright probably could’ve ended up on third, but stays put; Chip says “Wright…thought about moving up ninety feet but he’s gotta play it safe.” Well, nobody’s gotta play it that safe. His playing it safe immediately costs the Mets, as Murphy bounces into an easy DP. Tatis doubles, so Wright would’ve been an easy run if he’d moved up. Smarter fans would boo him for that, not the other stuff. The way this inning is working out, his run could’ve been pretty important; it’s 8-3 with two on and two out, and 8-4 with two on and one out would make this a pretty different feel. Regardless, it ends 8-3, and what was a great game for the first six innings has felt like it’s taken about seven hours to end.

————————————————————

Lowe gets credited with the win, which is well-deserved; Johan goes 6 1/3 and gives up 0 ER to drop his ERA 13 points to 0.78, and gets stuck with the “loss,” which is pretty much the story of Johan’s life. Fans of both teams ought to be feeling really good about their aces, and really uneasy about their bullpens.

Gameblog #1: Rangers at Blue Jays

April 24, 2009

I’m trying something new today that I hope will become something like a weekly feature: I’m going to watch every pitch of a more or less random ballgame and jot down my observations throughout. We’re starting with the red-hot Jays hosting the powerful but P- and D-challenged Rangers.

Warmups

Broadcast: Blue Jays; Jamie Campbell and Rance Mulliniks
Pitchers: Texas’ Kevin Millwood (1-1, 1.17 ERA, 3.10 FIP) vs. Toronto’s Scott Richmond (1-0, 3.48, 4.78)

Millwood has been the AL’s whipping boy for the last few years, but has started off strong in ’09. It’s hard for me to believe anything has really changed, and I have to think that this solid lineup and hitter-friendly stadium will be unkind to him. I’m sorry to say that I’d honestly never heard of Richmond before just this very moment.

First Inning

The formidable Kinsler-Young-Hamilton trio is dispatched quickly by Richmond. Mulliniks opines that Hamilton is struggling because he’s getting out in front and not letting the ball travel far enough into the zone. He lines out pretty sharply to right, but does seem a little quick, getting it off the end of the bat just a little.

On the other side, Aaron Hill is just crushing the ball right now. The sound the ball made off his bat was the kind of thing pitchers develop neuroses over. It was just a lineout, but it was an adventure (at least) for Murphy in left, and seemed almost to still be rising as he raced back and reached up to pull it in. Hard lineout by Rios, too; Millwood looks awfully hittable right now, 1-2-3 inning and all.

Second Inning

All the Rangers, except maybe Mike Young, swing really hard. They came in leading the AL in homers and just three away from leading the AL in strikeouts, and from watching them, it’s kind of surprising they’re not running away with both. The first swings of Blalock and Cruz tonight might have missed by a combined total of twelve feet, but they were impressive things to watch. Don’t even get me started on Chris Davis, who seems to just swing at the spot where he wishes the pitch was. Cruz got the first hit tonight with a sharp single to left, but otherwise nothing doing.

Very long homer by Vernon “$126 Million??!” Wells to lead off the bottom of the inning. Young shortarms a ball to first base after a routine grounder down the line, but Davis scoops the throw; does Young really have the arm for third? I have no idea, but that one didn’t look good at all. Lyle Overbay adds a solo shot, a screaming line drive to dead center field. I’m feeling good about my Millwood’s-wheels-falling-off prediction so far.

Third Inning

Another 1-2-3 with two strikeouts for Richmond (I keep wanting to call him “Scott Thornton” for some reason), who I guess looks pretty good. 92-93 MPH fastball, nice low-80s offspeed pitch, hitting most of his spots.

I know he’s never been a big fan of changing the batting order (or doing much of anything), but how is Cito still batting Travis Snider ninth? He’s probably the best hitter on this team right now. Dude’s slugging .686. Anyway, there’s another skipped-in throw by Young for an out, and then an even worse throw by shortstop Elvis Andrus that Davis can’t handle. Millwood rises above it all.

Fourth Inning

Hamilton gets a fastball biting down and in on him and crushes it to the opposite field for a solo shot. Definitely wasn’t out in front of that one. If you don’t root for Josh Hamilton, are you a bad person, or just misguided? Blalock follows that with a well-struck double down the right field line. Blalock runs like a fat kid with very full pockets. Richmond still isn’t making bad pitches, but these guys hit everything hard (when they hit it). He’s already set his career high with 6 strikeouts; thanks for swinging with your eyes closed, Chris Davis!

Millwood gets in a bit of trouble, but gets out of it, Davis making a nice play on another truly terrible throw by Andrus. 2-1 Jays now.

Fifth Inning

You know, I imagine a regular feature of these things will be a lot of ragging on lazy or just plain ridiculous comments by the broadcasters, but there’s really nothing here. Campbell and Mulliniks aren’t Scully and Allen by any means, but they stick to the facts and generally stay out of the way, or at least they’re doing that tonight. I’m a fan so far. Campbell is a native Canadian, and you can really tell.

Another absolute screamer by Hill in the bottom of the inning, this one a double over Murphy’s head with two out, and then an even harder-hit homer by Rios in the same direction. How Millwood even gets an out at that tiny stadium in Texas I might never know; he throws 90 MPH fastballs right over the plate that are supposed to sink but mostly don’t, and occasionally tries to get you to wave at a big curveball way out of the zone. Just five hits, but three of them have gone out. 4-1 home team.

Sixth Inning

First weird little thing by Mulliniks–“I don’t think there’s a team in the league that plays better defense than the Jays, and they’ve got great range!” People should realize by now that, crazy throws by the Rangers’ infielders aside, about 90% of defense is range, and surehandedness doesn’t matter if you can’t get to where the ball is hit. Davis finally guesses right, runs into one, and hits it a very long way, the fifth home run hit in this game. 4-2 Jays. They haven’t mentioned how many pitches Richmond has thrown, but it seems like he’s probably had it. We’ll see if Cito can get up the energy to pick up the phone. He doesn’t have a lot of bullpen to work with anyway, with BJ Ryan hitting the DL today.

In the bottom of the inning, Campbell points out that Davis’ homer was hit with a broken bat. That’s a strong man (though honestly I don’t know that the break was anywhere near where the bat made contact; it looked to just be part of the handle). Something needs to be done about those bats already. Nothing to report from the Jays’ sixth.

Seventh Inning

Brandon League in, so Cito did, in fact, pick up the phone (or tell someone else to). They’re interviewing a hockey player named Curtis Joseph now, and he (Joseph) is wearing a terrible sweater that clashes with the Jays cap he’s obviously never worn before (though he claims to be a fan). Mercifully quick 1-2-3 job by League. Listening to hockey talk gives me hives.

Millwood is still going. He’s like a starting pitcher and a mopup reliever all in one; as the Rangers, you should probably keep him in the rotation for lack of other options, but you can pretty much leave him out there as long as you want to (I mean, would you miss him, really?). Using nothing but guts and guile — and some ringing foul balls, and a very questionable third strike call, and a crazy twisting, stumbling, incompetent catch by Cruz on a warning track fly to right — he gets through 1-2-3 again.

Eighth Inning

Jesse Carlson is in, and making Hamilton look silly, but then Josh manages to flare a single into left. Batting lefties Hamilton and Blalock (who strikes out here) back to back seems like a bad idea — both are terrible, at least relatively, against lefties, so one good lefty reliever can shut them down. Davis (who Andruw Jones pinch hits for here) is also a lefty, and that’s just dumb. Andruw Jones looks more like a sumo wrestler than like one of the best center fielders ever to play the game, and he strikes out.

Jason Jennings replaces Millwood, speaking of ragdoll (former) starters. Gets Adam Lind to hit an easy grounder to Andrus, who uncorks a third nightmarish throw of the night. This one winds up in the stands. Wasn’t this kid (and his .390 wOBA coming in) supposed to be all glove and no stick? Guess nobody said anything about the arm…I can see why people think Hamilton is a good center fielder, and he makes a nice running catch here for the first out. It’s just that an actual good center fielder would’ve been there waiting for it. Anyway, Rolen makes the Rangers pay for the error with a hard-fought at-bat and a single to left. We head to the 9th at 5-2, and I guess we’ll see what they do about closer with Ryan out, though the three-run save isn’t one of the three thousand or so most exciting things baseball has to offer.

Ninth Inning

Scott Downs is your man tonight, and it’s as anticlimactic as you’d expect. Aaron Hill makes a really nice play on a ball up the middle for the first out, which suddenly makes me remember how much I’m not an Alexi Casilla fan. Downs strikes out Teagarden, and then fittingly, it’s Andrus, who has probably had the worst night of his young big-league career, who lines out to end it. Andrus has had the kind of night you write home about, but what you’d write is “please Mom or somebody for the love of God tell me something good about myself.” I mean…yikes.

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So that’s it! Pretty good game to start off with, with a lot of offense and the (superficially) best team in baseball right now running their record to 12-5, having won each of their first five series. Andrus has amazing athleticism, but should probably get himself a general idea of where first base is located. I never did see Young throw to first again after those first two, but I’ve seen enough that I’d be worried if I were a Rangers fan. Meanwhile, the Jays look unrealistically awesome right now, especially for a team with like half its players on the shelf.

If you just can’t get enough of this totally random game for some reason, check out the boxscore.

Let me know if you have an idea for a better name for this. “Gameblog” is fine, I suppose, but…meh. Back tomorrow with a whole lot less than this!