Every Thursday, the Getting Blanked crew makes a prop bet of sorts with one another having something to do with baseball games over the weekend. Of the three competitors, whoever wins the prop bet is able to dole out a punishment on the colleague of their choice. This week’s punishment was watching and recapping Monday night’s Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks game. We call this #PropHate.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are teams in Major League Baseball, or at the very least the National League, who go through the motions of playing Major League Baseball games against each other in spite of the fact that they’re the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. One of them even has a chance at making the playoffs this year, and they’re the ones who’ve let it be known throughout the sport that they’re looking to trade their most talented player. WTF?
Could any of this be possible? Can Mark Grace keep it in his pants long enough to provide the analysis on Fox Sports Arizona? Is Aaron Hill actually not only still in existence, but actually having a good year? Could Mr. T possibly have aged that well? Did Ian Kennedy hit a triple? And Willie Bloomquist a double?? If the whole world is watching Ichiro making his Yankee debut in Seattle is this game even happening???
The answer to all these questions–except one, I think– is, unfortunately, yes.
Last night’s Rockies starter, Jonathan Sanchez, newly acquired by Colorado after being ditched by Kansas City– the Royals having traded surprise All-Star Melky Cabrera to San Francisco in exchange for him last winter– inexplicably began the game actually throwing strikes.
This is inexplicable, of course, because Sanchez, who has never been mistaken as anything resembling a control guy, took his inability to get the damn ball over the plate to a new level this year, walking 7.43 batters per nine innings while with the Royals, which was good for a rate of 16.6% of the batters he faced. Among pitchers with more than 50 innings this season, his BB/9 is the most in baseball by nearly a walk-and-a-half.
In the first inning last night, however, he threw just one ball, to Arizona’s lead-off man Willie Bloomquist (no, really), who hit a 1-1 single a pitch later, then was doubled off on an Aaron Hill grounder. Jason Kubel, Arizona’s current three hitter (no, really), then went down on three straight strikes.
The smooth start wasn’t to last for Sanchez, as he surrendered a home run to Paul Goldschmidt on his first pitch of the second inning, then quickly found runners on first and second with just one out, after giving up a single, a fielder’s choice, then his first walk of the evening. Somehow he escaped the inning with no further damage, then followed it up, while you were [read: I was] watching Ichiro’s sprinkled-with-Yankee-magic performance at Safeco, with a clean, two strikeout, bottom of the the third.
With Ian Kennedy going strong for Arizona (no, really), it looked for a moment like we might actually, somehow, have a pitcher’s duel on our hands. Ahh, but then Sanchez seemed to remember that he had a promise to deliver on, and began the fourth determined to give up all of the walks.
He issued a free pass to Goldschmidt, then to Justin Upton to start the inning. Catcher Miguel Montero then laced a ball of the bottom of the right field wall, which Goldschmidt somehow believed was going to be caught. He held at second to tag up, then ended up only making it to third, with Upton hot on his tail [note: heh], by the time the ball made it back to the infield. Montero, who had been thinking double all the way, was an easy out, leaving first base open. Sanchez– who you’d almost feel bad for if he didn’t work so excruciatingly slow– then induced a Chris Young pop-up, and intentionally walked eight hitter Ryan Roberts (no, really) to get to Kennedy.
Kennedy, perhaps in defiance of everything that’s right and true with the world, proceeded to rip a triple to the gap in left-centre, and Willie Bloomquist followed that with an RBI double (no, really), making it 5-0 Arizona. The rest of the contest, despite the Rockies clawing back three runs and making it almost-interesting in the eighth and ninth, was rendered more-or-less academic… meaning I kinda paid attention to it, kinda didn’t, kinda saw Mr. T, and kinda marvelled that people let 48-year-old Mark Grace on the air to, when not obsessing over tacos [note: heh], remark on a later shot of the girl seen below with the sign, “She’s street legal now, just turned 21.”
The Girl With the Sign
The Win Expectancy Graph
The Most Important Play of the Game
Not to belabour the point, but the damn pitcher hit a bases-loaded triple– the first one in D’Backs history, no less. So… it’s a point that probably deserves belabouring. Or at least labouring. With one swing of the bat Ian Kennedy, who possesses a wRC+ of twelve over 181 career plate appearances, increased his team’s chances of winning by 20%. That’ll play.
The Ugliest Numbers of the Night Besides the Difference Between Mark Grace’s Age and That Girls’
I hate to pick on Sanchez too much, except… I really kinda don’t, and his line for the evening deserves mention, as he picked right up where he left off in Kansas City. In a typical Jonathan Sanchez outing (2012 edition), he gave up six hits, four walks and five earned runs over four innings, with five strikeouts.
The Shamsky Award
Ray’s dog on Everybody Loves Raymond Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
For this edition of The Shamsky Award, I’m going to go out on a limb and say WPA be damned. Because I can. And because straight-up WPA tells us that DJ LeMahieu, who is totally a real player in Major League Baseball, increased the Rockies’ chances tonight the most, thanks largely to a one-out double in the third, when his club was only down a run. But the old fashioned eye test tells me that Josh Rutledge was the finest of the Rockies tonight– again– and I can’t possibly not give this entirely fake award to him.
In the tenth game of his MLB career, Rutledge hit his first home run and added a double, going two-for-four with an RBI and two runs scored. He was already sporting a .421 wOBA heading into the game, in a ridiculously small sample size. I wouldn’t run to go grab him on my fantasy team or anything, but… then again, maybe I would.
Who knows? I mean… did this game even really happen???
Top image via Norm Hall/Getty. Other images via MLB.TV.