How Tuesday ended with one National League club all but eliminated from the postseason, another contender setting some home run records, a third contender showing a couple of vulnerabilities that might prove fateful come postseason time, and a couple of crazy (and heretofore unlikely) American League wild card sharps getting a little crazier . . .
What to take away from the All-Star Game other than the American League’s 6-3 win and thus home field advantage for this year’s World Series? The Mike Trout Show?
* Trout (Angels) became the first player in 38 years to lead off an All-Star Game going deep, hitting Zack Greinke’s (Dodgers) fourth pitch the other way, into the right field seats next to the Great American Ballpark visitors’ bullpen. Add scoring ahead of a powerful throw by Joc Pedersen (Dodgers) on Prince Fielder’s (Rangers) single in the fifth, and Trout—who’d reached base in the first place by beating out what might have been a double play finisher—joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Gary Carter as baseball’s only two-time All-Star Game MVPs.
As regards the final All-Star voting—fans, players, etc.—minus the Last Man online vote, a few sobering thoughts:
1) Four Royals turned out to be voted as starters, after all, compared to eight Reds voted but six left remaining in the 1957 ballot box stuffing scandal. (Then-commissioner Ford Frick, we repeat, removed Wally Post and Gus Bell from the starting lineup in favour of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.) Apparently, the Kansas City stuffers just didn’t quite have what it took to set a new record for voting perfidy.
Is it unreasonable for Cardinals fans to ask themselves whether their team is trying, literally, to throw this National League Championship Series to the Giants? Bad enough the Cardinals lost Game Three on a walk-off throwing error. Putting the Giants on the threshold of the World Series with two bad throws in Game Four’s sixth inning is worse.
At what cost will the St. Louis Cardinals’ National League Championship Series-evening win Sunday night prove to have come? As great as it looked when Kolten Wong ended the game with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth, that’s about how horrible it looked when another swing earlier in the game sent Yadier Molina out of the game—and out of who who knew what else—with an oblique strain.
It seems that Detroit isn’t the only city this postseason fated to have nervous breakdowns when it’s time for their team to call the bullpen. Los Angeles may be fated to reach for the nerve tonics in similar times, if Friday’s National League division series opener in Dodger Stadium was any barometer.
So what to make of the Jhonny Peralta signing with the St. Louis Cardinals, in the wake of his having been one of the Biogenesis 13? Among other things:
1) A four year deal at $52 million dollars isn’t exactly what anyone expected to see for a player bagged over actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances. Without that issue, however, it’s a questionable deal considering Peralta’s age (32), his faltering defensive range, and his batting average-dependent on-base percentage.
CC Sabathia sat in the Yankee dugout gazing upon the field with a look, to an outsider, that seemed suspended between resignation and disbelief, moments after his day ended two thirds of the way through the bottom of the fourth. His Detroit counterpart, Max Scherzer, who had to get past late-season shoulder barking, would remain in the serious business of absolutely throttling a Yankee lineup for another inning and a third, doing to the Yankees what Sabathia once did to the other guys.
It’s the kind of play Derek Jeter has been making since he came into the Show in the first place. The kind of play he has made often enough that you would not be surprised to learn he could have been blind and still made it.
Nothing more dangerous than a middling little ground ball up the pipe in the top of the twelfth, courtesy of Jhonny Peralta, and nothing more strenous for the Yankee captain than ranging to his left, reaching for it, and, if he was going to tumble, as he must have known he would, shoveling the ball to second baseman Robinson Cano for a relay to first to get rid of Peralta.
Even if you knew in your heart of hearts, you could only feel for the Oakland Athletics as they got pushed away from the postseason Thursday night. When Sean Smith pushed a meek grounder to second that Omar Infante fed to a Prince Fielder who must have felt as though it took forever for the final out to reach his mitt.
Whoever said losing hurt worse than winning felt good is probably going to be a grudgingly respected figure by Oakland’s half of the Bay Area.