It’s easy to take the efforts of two certain baseball players for granted, simply because those efforts result in a consistency that’s rather unheard of in baseball. We’ve visited the luck dragon in the past, and while the mythical creature may be a formidable foe for the rest of Major League Baseball, if anyone has escaped its fiery breath, it’s two particular pitchers, one starter, one reliever, that have dominated their opposition so reliably that when they don’t, it’s almost shocking. And maybe that’s why it’s so strange that Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera would both falter on the same evening.

For Halladay, his brush with humanity came last night against the Milwaukee Brewers, where he allowed six runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. That line may be a little unfair as only four runs had scored when Halladay left the game with two outs in the seventh, but David Herndon promptly surrendered a three run home run that scored all of his inherited runners.

Similarly, Rivera’s blown save in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays probably isn’t remembered with the same vividness if Ivan Nova doesn’t give up Travis Snider’s game winning RBI double in the bottom of the tenth, but it would’ve still been hard to forget a definite Yankees two run lead falling apart in front of the greatest reliever in baseball.

Yunel Escobar led off the ninth with a double and took third base on a Travis Snider groundout. Then the unthinkable happened: Rivera threw a wild pitch with three balls to Jose Bautista, allowing Escobar to score from third and giving Bautista first base. Adam Lind then followed with a single that put runners on both corners. John McDonald, who was only in the game because Aaron Hill injured himself stealing a base (yay, running game), then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt single that scored Bautista to tie the game.

Halladay and Rivera are like that perfect meal that only your mother knows how to make, but even your mom, from time to time, is going to reach into the freezer and cook its frozen version for you from time to time. Last night was both time and time.

And The Rest:

Today in lawsuits: A Yonkers woman is suing the New York Yankees claiming that her father came up with their infamous top hat logo design, while the composer of the Da-da-da-da-da-da-charge! rally cry is suing the company that licenses the chant to sporting venues because he hasn’t seen a single cent for it.

When the Rays do something like this, it’s Joe Maddon’s genius. When the Cardinals do it, it’s Tony LaRussa’s madness.

Tampa Bay will open its post game concert series with REO Speedwagon. I haven’t seen them since I last flipped through the bargain bin of a record store.

Joe Posnanski writes, and then writes some more, about what a sixteen game schedule would tell you in baseball.

Can we correlate clutchiness with anything?

A robot will be throwing out the first pitch at today’s Brewers / Phillies game. It’s a little ominous considering the timing.

Barry Bonds has Tim Kawakami’s vote for life.

Alex Rodriguez should be making his return to the lineup tonight.

Ayn Rand’s favourite softball team ever.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have finally given up on Brandon Wood.

Big changes are a-coming with pension benefits for former MLB players.

New York Mets tickets are beyond affordable at the moment.

I’m pretty sure that Aroldis Chapman has got his velocity back.

How the size of MLB players has changed over time.

Finally, this is pretty cheeky:

But it’s still got nothing on this:

Comments (11)

  1. You literally knocked small ball (yay, running game) in the same sentence that you described the perfect squeeze bunt.

    While it’s not as useful as many managers think it is, I also think small ball gets knocked far too often by moneyballers. The squeeze seems like a good example of the appropriate use/time for small ball. Weak hitter against dominant pitcher, dominant pitcher almost always around the strike zone (noting the rare wild pitch), and worst case you still have a runner in scoring position (at 2nd) if everything goes to shit.

    You guys analyzed previous bunts in depth – was this one statistically worth it? Or was it just lucky?

  2. Small ball as a prevailing philosophy isn’t reasonable. But that doesn’t mean that elements of it aren’t effective from time to time.

    What I’m far more critical of is using sacrifices to advance runners. Giving up an out for a tying or winning run doesn’t bother me at all, especially for a home team. Even better when the bunt has an increased chance of going for a hit.

  3. any chance jays take a flyer on wood? if the jays were to trade a minor league scrub for him, would they have to put wood on waivers in order to send him to AAA?

    • @Blueyays: Very doubtful. They’ve got Emaus coming back if they want him. And they’d have to keep him on the active roster or try to sneak him through waivers, as he’s out of options.

      @Oakville: I really don’t understand the benefit of stealing bases while Jose Bautista is at bat and I’m not sure Farrell has properly thought it out.

  4. How many Jays will end up getting hurt this year as a result of the aggressive running game?

    Escobar was concussed when he slid into 3B.

    Rajai Davis was hurt in the first inning of the home opener getting caught in a rundown.

    Hill was hurt last night trying to steal second.

    There is a diffrence between station to staion Cito ball & Farrell’ roadrunners.

    Do you think Farrell will slow down the running game?

  5. From snippets of what’s reported in the media, I imagine that Farrell’s thoughts on running while Bautista is at bat is along the lines of: an aggressive running game (and more generally making baserunners’ presence known to a pitcher) will make a pitcher more likely to make mistakes, and Bautista is great at crushing pitchers’ mistakes.

  6. @Parkes – I imagine Farrell’s reasoning (if any) is that a runner on second or third stands a far better chance at moving up 90 feet if Bautista flies out.

  7. @ Spriggy, Canuckistani:

    With an open base though, isn’t the pitcher more likely to throw shit?

    Fly balls shouldn’t have anything to do with it. Last year, Bautista swung at just over 40% of the pitches he saw. He made contact on 80% of those. Of the 80% he made contact with, 54.5% were fly balls of those fly balls, 22% were HRs. He’s more likely not to hit a fly ball out, and moving up another runner for Hill isn’t a very sound strategy.

  8. I’m not necessarily defending running while Bautista is batting, and I think you’re totally right that if this happens all season his walk rate will be quite high (though I think pitchers are throwing around him more this year anyway).

  9. 1) The hulking, blurry image of the batter in the box against Doc could only possibly be one ballplayer…Prince.

    2) I wonder if the equivalent of the Jays Talk in Philly was jammed with callers wanting to know if Halladay was pitching hurt last night…Like that’s the only plausible explanation for poor results from The Cyborg. I used to crack up when half the callers would call in after a tough Halladay start asking this. “But Mike, he pitched like crap, are you sure he doesn’t have any injury issues?”

    3) Count me among those who would like Farrell to scale back the running game/small ball just a bit. Don’t get me wrong I have my feet in both camps. I believe small ball to be mostly a waste from a mathematical standpoint…Except that you have to use it to keep the other team off guard, otherwise you become too predictable and easy to defend against. The problem is if you overuse it, you also become too predictable and easy to defend against. Change it up a bit. You’ve got it in the opponents heads now that this will be an aggressive team on the bases. Try bluffing and holding up…Delayed steals…Straight steals…Holding your ground…Show bunt on the first pitch and then swing away…Take a big rip at the first pitch, and then drop one down. The most important thing in all this is the unpredictability factor. If the Jays can create a very unpredictable offense, by throwing in a few surprises and trick plays like an offensive co-ordinator would in football, the small ball can become a valuable weapon in this offense. Overused, it’s more likely to become: “…a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

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