Heartbreak Hill

Rich Hill, pitching what proves the hardest-luck loss of his major league life.Pour up a couple of ice cold Cokes, Jim Maloney and Pedro Martinez, and lift a toast to the memory of Harvey Haddix and Hippo Vaughn. Because nothing in Rich Hill’s roller-coaster pitching career prepared him to join that group of pitchers who took no-hitters or better into extra innings and lost them.

For 98 pitches Wednesday night in Pittsburgh Hill was almost perfect. Heeven shook it off when third baseman Logan Forsythe stumbled on Jordy Mercer’s leadoff grounder in the ninth and erased the next three in order, prompting Dodger manager Dave Roberts—trying to make up to his man for pulling him after 89 perfect pitches last September—to send him out for the tenth.

WS Game Three: Thor’s hammer from Brushback Mountain

Escobar, knocked out of his lounger to open Game Three . . .

Escobar, knocked out of his lounger to open Game Three . . .

Thor swung his hammer right out of the chute. And the New York Mets hammered and tonged the Kansas City Royals to make the World Series an honest-to-God Series again Friday night.

Noah Syndergaard said before Game Three that he had a trick up his sleeve in store for the Royals. What he really had was an opening argument to deliver. Not in the second inning. Not in the third. Not in the fourth or the fifth. Right out of the chute, top of the first, first pitch. Essentially, the message read thus:

Joaquin Andujar, RIP: There was just one word . . .

Andujar, en route to helping beat the Brewers in the 1982 World Series . . .

Andujar, en route to helping beat the Brewers in the 1982 World Series . . .

“In baseball,” Joaquin Andujar once posited, “there’s just one word—you never know.” It was an expansion of a comment he’d once made to Sports Illustrated‘s Steve Wulf, in which he said his favourite English language word was “you never know.” For Andujar, who died at 62 Tuesday after a long battle with diabetes, his favourite English language word could also serve as the epitaph to his pitching career.

The IBWAA ballot; or, how I voted for the Hall of Fame

National Baseball Hall of FameSince I wrote purely from an observer’s position, I was content to let my previous writings on this season’s Hall of Fame voting stand for themselves. But in the interim I was made a life member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, which conducts its own Hall of Fame ballot every year. My membership came just in time to have such a vote myself.

This vote, of course, is purely symbolic outside the IBWAA itself. Even if there are those in the mainstream press who actually pay attention to the balloting, sometimes using those results as one barometer toward gauging how the Baseball Writers Association of America vote might result. The day may come when the IBWAA vote is included in the ultimate tally that elects Hall of Famers. May.

The Oriole elephant falls to the Royal mouse again

Cain channeled his inner 1969 Met in Game Two . . .

Cain channeled his inner 1969 Met in Game Two . . .

Have you noticed the same two things I’m noticing about the Kansas City Royals? Thing one: They seem to have positioned themselves as giant killers. (And who knows that they won’t get a chance to be Giant killers, too?) Thing two: Contrary to swelling popular opinion, they don’t always need extra innings to make a postseason statement.

It might have shocked enough people that they dispatched the Baltimore Orioles, 6-4, in Game Two of the American League Championship Series in nine regulation innings. It probably has shocked enough people that they’re halfway toward a second consecutive sweep of a regular season powerhouse.

Words, potentially, for the Red Sox to die by?

It came forth within half an hour after Game Three ended with Yadier Molina in self-professed shock, Allen Craig sprawled across the plate in disbelief, the Red Sox slinking to their clubhouse, the Cardinals whooping it up between their dugout and the plate area. All because of an unusual but no-questions-asked correct obstruction call.

Farrell tried a futile argument with Dana DeMuth---who merely affirmed Jim Joyce's obstruction call---but Farrell's own preceding strategies helped set up the disaster . . .

With Middlebrooks, Saltalamacchia, and Uehara surrounding, Farrell tried a futile argument with Dana DeMuth—who merely affirmed Jim Joyce’s obstruction call—but the manager’s own preceding non-strategies helped set up the disaster . . .

Even if he was lost to explain what just happened, manager John Farrell took it like a man.