Perhaps it's the writer and perhaps it's just another night in baseball. But there sure seems to be a weird vibe going on in baseball tonight. The day started with another MLB manager getting fired. Eric Wedge got wedged out of Cleveland after three very disappointing years. His team, the Indians responded with Carmona throwing his best game since 2007. Even Travis Hafner hit a homer. Was that a sigh of relief?
Then the Toronto Blue Jays finished off a three game penalization of the Red Sox, who have now lost a bunch of games in a row and are heading into the playoffs looking like one of the worst teams in baseball. There were many times where posts here in the FanDome extolled the virtues of the Red Sox pitching. The Blue Jays totally wiped that pitching from here to tomorrow scoring thirty runs in the three game series. The Great Roy Halladay finished them off with another gem, striking out Big Papi three times in three at bats. It got so bad today that the Red Sox called upon a career minor leaguer getting a cup of coffee to pitch the last inning. This career minor league player? Dusty Brown. Ever heard of him? Dusty Brown is a catcher with one at bat in his entire major league career. He has now thrown to more batters than he has ever batted. If the poor blighter never plays another major league game (a definite possibility), he will end up with a .000 batting average and a 9.00 ERA.
Another thing about the Blue Jays' game. The scored 11 runs despite clogging the middle of their lineup with Kevin Millar. Millar stopped being a viable major league player about three years ago. Why is he batting third for the Blue Jays? Second thing. The Blue Jays got two homers from another lifetime minor leaguer named Rusty Ruiz. So we could have called this the Rusty and Dusty show. Ruiz has been up 98 times and has hit 9 homers now. His OPS is over .900. Why isn't this guy playing more?
Elsewhere, the Mets got swept by the Nationals. Nothing has gone right for the Mets this year. Last year, their bullpen basically KOed them from the playoffs and so they went out and got the best closer on the market in K-Rod. Unfortunately, after a great start this season, K-Rod can't get the deal done. The Mets had the game well in hand until the ninth inning and K-Rod came in and gave up five runs and the ballgame. Tim Redding, improbably, had his third straight quality start ruined in the flames. Ron Villone, who is at least sixty years old at thie point, got the win. Oh yes, the big blow in the ninth was a grand slam by Justin Maxwell with his silver hammer. The homer was only the fifth in his major league career. Maxwell pinch hit for Josh Willingham, who has an OPS that is .185 points higher than Maxwell's. Told you it's been a weird night.
Probably the two biggest stories of the night were the death tolls taken by the Twins and the Braves in their bigs for the playoffs. The Twins got Pavanoed by Bonine and the Tigers and can kiss their season goodbye. The Tigers got an early lead off a helpless Pavano and the Twins couldn't make a comeback against Bonine, Minor, Lyon and Rodney. Goodnight Twins. It was a good run. The Braves, after being the best team in September, lost two big games in a row to the Marlins and thus can bury their season in a hail of "what ifs." Javier Vazquez, one of the most talented pitchers of his generation, continued his long history of folding in pressure games. The guy is an amazing pitcher, but every time a game really matters, he folds like a lawn chair. Ricky Nolasco struck out 16 Braves, proving that Vazquez wasn't the only goat in this one. Nunez almost blew the save again for the Marlins, but good old Brendon Donnelly came in and saved it with the last out.
The Phillies game with the Astros was another weird one. Pedro Martinez started for the Phillies and was trying to make his bid for postseason time. He did okay except for one batter who hit two homers off of him. The batter? J. R. Towles. Pedro, one of the best pitchers of his era (if not the best), could not get a guy out who was going into the game batting .150. Towles, before this game, had a lifetime OPS of .574. Oh yeah, the Phillies destroyed Moehler (predictably) and won the game anyway.
Over in Ohio, the Cincinnati Reds ran their September record to 18-9 with their second straight win over the Cardinals. Bronson Arroyo is doing everything he can to get a good contract next year and ran his record to 15-13. John Smoltz got rocked again and is now a combined 3-8 this season. The Cardinals are going to have some tough decisions going into the playoffs. Pineiro finished the season on a bad note with several bad starts in a row and Smoltz doesn't seem to have what it takes anymore to get the job done. The big blow of the game came on a grand slam by journeyman, Laynce Nix. Nix now has 15 homers to set a new career high.
The Cubs are headed to a double-header sweep by the Pirates. In the first game, Charlie Morton, who had an ERA over six in his first dozen or so starts, pitched a complete game shutout. Ted Lilly gave up four runs in the first inning and then nothing the rest of the way in the hard luck loss. In the second game, Zambrano got lit up with ten base runners in six innings of work that led to four runs. The Cubs were stymied by Karstens and the bullpen. The Pirates' big stars for the two games were their catchers. Jamarillo drove in two with a double in the first game and Doumit is having a great game in the second with three ribbies.
The Royals finally managed not to blow a lead to the Yankees to take the third game of the series. Jeter went 2 for 2 with a walk and a homer to lift his average to .335 for the season. Amazing. Thankfully, Soria was available for the ninth and he closed out the win. It was another Joba Rules start for the Yankees and Chamberlain was terrible again. If the guy could just throw strikes consistently, it would be comforting for the Yankees.
Yes, it was a weird night. Too bad the Fan is too sleepy to see what else can happen in the late games on the west coast.