Well, the Astros have gotten everything they wanted from Justin Verlander since dealing to bring him over from the incredible shrinking Tigers. Including, they dared to dream, the still-formidable righthander pitching and winning the American League West-clinching game, which he did Sunday in his first home start for his new club.
Ten years ago today, the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles played a game in Camden Yards. It was more like police brutality—the final score was the Rangers 30, the Orioles 3. Even the Rangers couldn’t believe what they’d just accomplished no matter how badly either team’s seasons were going at the time.
I wrote this essay the following day for a journal that no longer exists; I republish it here on the sad anniversary of the game about which Rangers reliever Wes Littleton—who got credited for a save despite protecting a 24-run lead, because he pitched the final three innings of the massacre—now remembers, “I got a lot of crap the next day. ‘Nice save, Wes.’ ‘Easiest save in the world’.”
Once upon a time, Doug DeCinces was known as the third baseman who bridged the gap (the words of the Society for American Baseball Research) between Orioles franchise icons. He succeeded Brooks Robinson until he was dealt to the Angels when the Orioles needed to make room for a franchise icon-in-waiting, Cal Ripken, Jr.
Just when you thought there could be nothing more shocking, stupid, or staggering coming out of Fenway Park, the Red Sox and the Orioles had do go and do something completely unexpected Thursday night. They went out and played a baseball game. Just baseball. Nobody tried yet again to re-enact The Wild Ones.
The good news from Boston Wednesday: Manny Machado got to play a game against the Red Sox without one pitch sailing anywhere near him other than around the plate. The bad news: Orioles starter Kevin Gausman couldn’t resist opening the second inning by throwing the first pitch at Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts’s hind quarters.
Someone needs to read these Red Sox the riot act. Or, at least, Tuesday night starting pitcher Chris Sale. First, Sale joined Fenway Park fans in showing Adam Jones of the Orioles some respect his first time up, in the top of the first, after Monday’s disgrace. Then, when Manny Machado batted right after Jones, same inning, Sale tried to kneecap Machado with a pitch.
It’s safe to say people expected a little heat between the Red Sox and the Orioles at Fenway Park this week, considering the doings of two weekends ago. But I’m not sure what happened during Monday night’s skirmish—which the Orioles won, 5-2—was quite what they had in mind.
I wonder if anyone noticed something during the Red Sox-Orioles series ender Sunday. Not Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes trying to decapitate Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the eighth inning, but the way the Orioles handled the would-be brain scrambler.
They did nothing.
Machado, who isn’t exactly a shrinking violet when it comes to confronting pitchers he thinks get out of line with him, didn’t move a muscle toward Barnes.
You may or may not remember this, but the first time baseball heard of Jeffrey Loria in earnest, it had to do with the Orioles, in the early to mid 1990s, when then-owner Eli Jacobs decided he had no choice but to sell the team in order to raise cash. John Helyar in The Lords of The Realm told the unlikely story, worth revisiting in light of the news that Loria wants to sell the Marlins and stands to make billions from the sale, as if to prove failure is profit.
Charlie Dressen (Ralph Branca over Carl Erskine, 1951), phone home. Casey Stengel (Jim Coates and Ralph Terry over Luis Arroyo, 1960), there’s a call for you on line 60. Mike Matheny (Michael Wacha over Trevor Rosenthal, 2014), come out from under the rug.
All is forgiven. Buck Showalter died for your sins Tuesday night and slaughtered the Orioles’ season while he was at it.
Showalter wasn’t even close to the first manager ever to make the wrong bullpen decision in a postseason win-or-be-gone game. But he may yet prove the most ignominious. Especially because the decision he refused to make Tuesday night was one he made on 31 July—and got the result he could have gotten Tuesday making the same move.