In Pursuit of a Record


John Parrish was one of the O’s old-timers signing autographs at the Yards yesterday. He came up to the Birds in 2000 as a promising young pitcher. He spent the next seven years alternating between the O’s, the minors, and the DL showing bits of promise here and there but not much consistency. Eventually the Birds got tired of it and sold him to Seattle. Timing is everything. On the current O’s team, he would be a welcome addition.

The O’s had their chances early last night. The Indians started a pitcher named Mike Clevinger who has shoulder length hair and a herky jerky motion. The Cleveland fans in the stands made it clear that they did not think much of him. Seth Smith led off the bottom of the first with a homerun. He’s been doing a lot of that lately. The next two Birds hitters get on base. But they get stranded there. In the second inning, the O’s get the bases loaded with none out. Looks like a big inning. Nope. They get just one run. In the third inning they get two men on with only one out, but come up empty. It seems like Clevinger is able to get serious at just the right time.

Meanwhile Wade Miley is getting hit for a couple of runs here, a couple of runs there (and going deep in the count on everyone) and we are suddenly behind 4-2. At that point the game settles into a slow slog. Indians skipper Francona starts bringing in relievers left and right like it’s the seventh game of the World Series. Indians fans are enjoying themselves immensely. Baltimore fans either fall asleep or go home early. In the end Cleveland wins 6-3. Game takes 3 hours, 33 minutes (far too long). USAToday reports that this is the 19th consecutive game where the O’s pitchers have given up five runs or more. The record is 20, sets by the Phillies in 1924, playing in the legendary Baker Bowl. The Birds are on the road tonight, playing in Tampa with Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound. I would say that Phillies hold on the record is looking rather tenuous right now.

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You Make the Call


Mark and I made the trip up to the Yards today for a most satisfactory Baltimore win over St. Louis 8-5. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched one of his better games as an Orioles and the O’s hitters came up with four homeruns (Smith, Trumbo Mancini, Castillo) and a couple of triples (Jones, Mancini). The Cards also had four homeruns and one great catch (Fowler) plus we got to see most of the Cardinal relief pitchers at various points in the game. In the photo you see various father-child combos who were allowed to play catch on the field.

Now for the puzzler. Bottom of the 3rd inning. Smith on first base. None out. Count is three balls, two strikes on Machado. On the next pitch, Smith breaks for second base for an attempted steal. Machado checks his swing. Catcher Molina throws to second base even as umpire calls ball four. Base on balls. Runner automatically advances to second base. Smith eases up and jogs into second, secure in the knowledge that ball four advances him to second base. The second baseman tags him before he reaches the base. Meanwhile Molina asks ump to check with the first base umpire to see if Machado actually swung. Fortunately the first base ump says ‘no, he did not swing,’ and the walk stands.

Got that? OK, my question is,

Suppose the 1st base umpire called it a strike. No walk. No automatic advancement. Is the runner out? He was tagged out. However the reason he stopped running was because of the original home plate umpire’s call. Neither Mark nor I are quite sure how this would be ruled.

Any ideas?

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game


Heading out to Nats Park for the 56th Annual Congressional Baseball game tonight. Democrats vs. Republicans. I’ll be cheering for both teams.

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Where’s Waldo?


After every Fairfax County election there is a canvass at the Government Center. Seasonal employees (mostly rovers) pour over the tapes and paperwork for each of the county’s 243 precincts (plus absentee sites/mail-ins) for any discrepancies (dropped digits, digits transposed, etc.). My team actually uncovered a few errors; nothing that will change the outcome but we still want it as accurate as possible. If you search real hard you will find me in this photo from page B2 of today’s Washington Post.

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Exciting Finish at the Yards


An interesting (and enjoyable) visit to the Yards last night as the Orioles hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates. Seth Smith led off the bottom of the first inning with a homerun, putting the Birds up one-zip.  The O’s hitters then had a collective six inning siesta as Pirates’ starter Ivan Nova took control of the game in impressive style.

Meanwhile Baltimore’s starter Kevin Gausman wasn’t all that bad (that means “better than usual”) but four back-to-back Pittsburgh hits in the second put the Bucs up 3-1. A David Freese solo homer in the sixth made it 4-1.

Key moment in the top of the 7th. Gausman is obviously tiring. A leadoff single by John Jaso. I look out to the pen and Buck has Ubaldo Jimenez throwing. Buck is obviously conceding the game. We’re down by three runs, the bullpen has been overused, and Gausman is running on empty. Let Ubaldo mop it up and give those relievers who really matter, a night off.  Then in a rather bizarre move John Jaso decides to try and steal second base. Jaso is a former catcher. He has stolen exactly two bases in the past three seasons (he was 0 for 4 last year). What I’m not sure is, if the batter swung and missed (that would be a busted hit-and-run) but I think he did not. Straight steal. Caleb Joseph throws him out. And with that, Buck makes the switch the pen. Ubaldo sits down and Givens gets up. Buck is not conceding. He’s going for the win.

Then in the bottom of the seventh Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoop (who has been red hot) both hit bases empty homeruns so now it was 4-2. The Pittsburgh management then suddenly “realized” that Nova was hurt so their reliever got lots of time to warm-up and the Birds were quickly retired.

In the 8th inning there was an impressive display by former Nats’ reliever Felipe Rivero who effectively mixed his 91 mph “change up” with his more serious 99-100 mph smoke and it looked like the Birds were going to come up short.

Bottom of the 9th and the Pirates brought in their closer Tony Watson. There were quite a few Pirates fans in the stands last night and I’m not sure there are all that sold on Watson as a closer. Anyway Davis singles and Schoop blasts another homerun tying it at five.

We go to the tenth. Buck has used Givens, O’Day, and now Brach in the relief. They entire bullpen (the ones that count, anyway). Bottom of tenth Jones gets a one out single. Machado (who is still struggling) flies out to deep left and Jones tags up and goes to second. Trumbo then singles him home ad the crowd goes wild.

A most enjoyable night.

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Jimmy Piersall


One of my childhood heroes passed away the other day. Jimmy Piersall played with the Red Sox from 1952 thru 1958. Along with Ted Williams and Jackie Jensen, he helped form one of the best MLB outfields during the 1950s. He was a great defensive outfielder and could be a pretty good hitter at times.

He’s most remembered for his nervous breakdown in 1952 which eventually became the subject of a book and movie, both titled Fear Strikes Out.

An intense competitor but emotionally delicate, he gave me many thrills during his time with the Sox. After the ’58 season he was traded to Cleveland. In 1960, during a game at Yankee Stadium, some fans ran onto the field to torment him. Jimmy ran after them and gave one of them a boot in the rear. It got quite a bit of attention at the time, so much so that the next time Cleveland was back in New York, some other fans tried the same thing. It as a bad mistake. Second baseman Johnny Temple, quite a battler himself, ran after one of them, made the tackle, and proceeded to beat the living datylights out of him. All brought to you on WPIX, Channel 11.

In 1963 he was traded to the Mets and for a couple of months he was the sparkplug on a rather dismal team. I can still see him in the Mets’ dugout, running this way and that, urging his team on, in the 1963 Mayor’s Trophy game against the Yankees. That game was the last time I saw Jimmy Piersall play. He was released by the Mets soon after.

An intense player, he gave baseball everything he had. And baseball was the richer for it.

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Chris vs Chris

Red Sox

Went up to the Yards to see a strange little game between the O’s and the Red Sox. Right from the beginning it was obvious that it was a mismatch. The Orioles starter was Chris Tillman who has had a rough time trying to get started, especially in inning one. The Sox countered with Chris Sale who continues to be one of the best.

Well Tillman had another rough go of it in inning one and yet the score was tied three-all after five innings. That was somewhat artificial as

  1. A base running blunder by Mitch Moreland prematurely snuffed out a Boston rally in inning one.
  2. A bad throw by Pablo Sandoval kept an Orioles rally going in the bottom of the first.

Anyway, after the first Tillman sort of settled down and he really battles but his pitch count soared and he always seemed to be on the edge. Finally in the sixth inning he walks the bases loaded and then throws one in the dirt. Catcher Francisco Pena who joins the team whenever Wellington Castillo has a nosebleed, pounces on the ball and then slings it into left field. Two Sox runners score and that’s pretty much the ball game as a bunch of Boston relievers limit to the O’s to one harmless base hit an inning for the rest of the game. Sox win it 7-3.

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