It’s early in the morning. The History channel is talking about the joys of siege machines. A flip through the other channels shows that this is the best thing on. There is a rerun of Franklin and Bash but I hate that show and keep wishing that the writers would do the human race a favor and kill all the characters in a nuclear holocaust. I’d even settle for a two parter. Knock off Franklin in episode 1 and then finish off with Bash. Or the other way around. I’m flexible.
The nice man on the TV is now talking about Pumpkin Chunkin.
Fine, if the writers can work siege machines and pumpkins into the nuclear holocaust, so much the better. Whatever it takes to kill that show.
Sorry about the pause. I had to go to the bathroom but, as you can tell, I’m back now.
So, let’s chat about baseball. Yesterday the national media descended on Wrigley to see two last place teams try not to embarrass themselves. Oh, who am I kidding? This was baseball as seen through a NASCAR lens. Everyone was hoping for a wreck.
And, as Carrie Muskat noted, they got what they wanted.
The 40,766 fans at Wrigley Field may not approve of what Alfonso Soriano did in the sixth inning Saturday night, but his manager and teammates backed him up.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run home run to back Jon Lester and lift the Red Sox to a 4-3 Interleague victory over the Cubs, but most fans will likely blame Soriano for the loss.
The Cubs trailed, 3-0, with two outs in the sixth and had runners at first and second. Soriano lined the ball sharply to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who bobbled it but recovered in time to throw him out easily. That’s because Soriano didn’t run it out, thinking Middlebrooks had caught the ball.
“That’s one of those things where 100 percent of every player in the history of baseball would do the same thing,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I know I did it a lot, a lot of times in my career. You hit a ball that hard and hit it right at somebody and you think it’s in the glove and you put your head down, and unfortunately it gets away from him.”
Need proof? Do a YouTube search for Sean Casey bloopers. He lined the ball to left once, thought the third baseman got it, and it actually went into left field. Casey was thrown out at first by the left fielder.
At Wrigley, the fans booed as the inning ended and resumed when Soriano took his place in left field.
“It’s unfair, because it’s a hard line drive into the third baseman’s glove,” Soriano said. “I’m happy my teammates and my manager and the coaches support me. They know I’m working hard to be a better player and be a better teammate.”
Why don’t the fans know that?
“I don’t think they understand the game,” Soriano said. “It’s a line drive, nothing you can do about it. If it’s a ground ball, they can do whatever they want. I don’t know what [the fans] want.”
Ryan Dempster’s locker is next to Soriano’s, and he heard the conversation.
“I would’ve run the same way, Sori,” Dempster said.
Ever since Soriano joined the Cubs, signing an eight-year, $136 million contract in November 2006, he’s had to deal with incredibly high expectations.
“That contract comes into play sometimes with that kind of reaction,” Sveum said. “The fact of the matter is everybody in this clubhouse knows how hard Sori works and how hard he’s played this year, and the balls he’s run out and the work he puts in to be a better outfielder. No matter what those legs feel like every day, he’s gone out there every day if it’s optional hitting.
“There’s not a guy in that clubhouse who wouldn’t give the shirt off their back for him,” Sveum said.
Ultimately, the Cubs lost because of their yearlong struggle against lefties, which now includes Lester (4-4), who struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings. Chicago now is 3-14 against left-handed starters for the season.
Luis Valbuena made the game close with one out in the Chicago seventh, when he hit a three-run homer, his first since being recalled Thursday from Triple-A Iowa. It wasn’t enough as the Cubs lost for the 23rd time in the last 30 games. Twelve of those 23 losses have been by one run.
Jeff Samardzija (5-5) took the loss and another step in his maturation. One thing he has to learn how to do is tame his “football mentality,” Sveum said.
“He’s still learning how to calm himself down and not throw what [coach Mike] Borzello calls a ‘gorilla pitch’ sometimes when things aren’t going too well,” Sveum said. “His numbers at this ballpark have been pretty phenomenal this season.”
The Red Sox made him work. David Ortiz walked with two outs in the Red Sox first but was thrown out at home trying to score on Saltalamacchia’s double on a perfect 9-6-2 relay. Ortiz had no problem in the fourth, when he doubled and Saltalamacchia followed with his 12th home run.
With one out in the Boston sixth, Samardzija walked both Ortiz and Saltalamacchia and was then lifted for Randy Wells, who served up an RBI single to Middlebrooks. Scott Podsednik added an RBI single in the seventh.
“As advertised, you know,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of Samardzija. “Great arm. He was just missing with his breaking ball the first two innings. Otherwise he would have had a lot fewer pitches to throw. He’s pretty good.”
The pitch count was the difference as the right-hander was over 50 pitches by the third inning.
“They’ve got some great hitters, and that’s not saying they’re going to be great hitters—they’ve been great hitters for a while, with [Adrian] Gonzalez and Ortiz and [Dustin] Pedroia and those guys,” Samardzija said. “I knew I had to come out and be on my game and make my pitches. I just needed to get a couple quicker outs and get a couple quicker innings to get our offense back in the dugout.”
The Cubs thought they had something brewing in the eighth, when Darwin Barney lofted a ball to left. The umpires ruled Daniel Nava made the catch, but the Cubs players who watched the replay felt the call could’ve gone either way.
“From the dugout, it looked like it did [bounce],” Sveum said. “It’s not the easiest call in the world.”
One thing that is certain is the Cubs players’ overwhelming support of Soriano.
“Anything Alfonso does when he’s playing with me in my lineup, I have no problems with,” Samardzija said. “I hope he’s in there every day when I pitch, and I hope he plays left and I hope he hits third, fourth, fifth or sixth. ... He cares, and you know he’s trying.”
“No matter what those legs feel like every day, he’s gone out there every day if it’s optional hitting.”
What the hell does that mean? I know the words are English but they may as well be the demented ramblings of that smelly guy at the end of the bar.
“Him work hard puppies see the breasts baseball is hard.”
Has Sveum finally lost it? That could make the rest of the season Must See TV.
On the Southside Sarah Trotto saw the game and noted that everyone she spoke with sounded lucid.
Not that they were, but they sounded like it.
Philip Humber’s struggles continued, but the White Sox bullpen threw four hitless innings to nail down a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night.
As a result, the White Sox snapped their three-game losing streak and moved back to a 1 1/2-game lead over the Indians, who lost to the Pirates on Saturday, in the American League Central.
After Humber allowed four runs in five innings, relievers Hector Santiago, Nate Jones, Jesse Crain and Addison Reed combined for four hitless innings. Reed threw a 1-2-3 ninth to improve to 8-for-8 in save opportunities.
“Those guys continue to come in and get the job done,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
After the Dodgers rallied to tie the game with four runs against Humber in the third, Alexei Ramirez scored the go-ahead run in the fourth. He was hit by a pitch by Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley, stole second, advanced to third on an error and scored when Alejandro De Aza grounded into a forceout.
The National League West-leading Dodgers (41-25) didn’t have a hit after the fourth inning.
“We are down 4-0 there and to get back in the game I thought it was a huge momentum swing,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “But then to give that one run right back, we let that momentum get back on their side.
“Still at that point, we had a lot of ballgame left. At that point, I’m thinking it’s going to be two bullpen games with a chance of putting some runs on the board. They get that run, and we weren’t able to score the rest of the night.”
The White Sox (35-30) escaped trouble after issuing walks to lead off both the seventh and eighth innings. Santiago walked Elian Herrera to begin the seventh, but he struck out Andre Ethier. Jones entered and struck out Jerry Hairston Jr. and got Bobby Abreu to pop out to end the inning.
Crain issued a leadoff walk to A.J. Ellis in the eighth, but pinch-runner Tony Gwynn Jr. was caught stealing to end the inning.
Humber (3-4) earned his first victory since May 29 and his second since his perfect game on April 21. He allowed four runs and nine hits—all singles—in five innings, striking out four and walking two.
The Dodgers tied the game at 4 with a four-run third. Billingsley’s leadoff single began the rally and James Loney’s two-out single scored the tying run.
After relinquishing the four-run lead, Humber threw two scoreless innings.
“It’s not his best [outing],” Ventura said. “[He] battled his way through it, and he gave us an opportunity to win.”
Humber also collected his first Major League hit, an RBI single that extended the White Sox lead to 3-0 in the second inning following Ramirez’s two-run single.
“Fortunately, we scored some runs,” Humber said. “I got in on the act a little bit, so that was nice. It was a good win.”
Humber has given up at least four runs in four of his last five starts.
“I felt like I pitched pretty well,” he said. “As long as it’s good enough to get a win for the team, that’s good enough for me.”
Dropping to 1-3 at home and 4-5 overall, Billingsley gave up five runs (four earned) and eight hits in six innings. He also recorded two singles off Humber.
“I faced them quite a bit in Spring Training,” Billingsley said. “I think it was two or three times. There’s no secrets. I’ve faced them in the past, too.”
After hitting two home runs Friday, Alex Rios hit an RBI triple for a 4-0 White Sox lead in the third.
Yeah, Humber got the win. No, he didn’t deserve it.
Yeah, Billingsly took the loss. Yes, he deserved it.
Thanks to the Pittsburgh Pirates the Sox lead in the Central is now a game and a half over the Tribe. As to Detroit, I wrote them off in spring training and see no reason to change my opinion now. They have 1 1/2 pitchers, a lousy infield and no speed. They are exactly the kind of team people with too much money and not enough sense put together.
The Sox, on the other hand appear to be in first because they deserve it.
They’re too Soxy for my car too Soxy for my car
Too Soxy by far
And I’m too Soxy for my hat
Too Soxy for my hat
What do you think about that
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