“Pujols, one of the highest paid players in baseball…the Angels got him for moments just like this.” These are the words of Michael Kay, bloviating Yankees broadcaster yesterday afternoon. The stage was indeed set, as Albert Pujols came to the plate with a chance to save the Angels. Two outs, bases loaded, down by a run.
Alas, it was not meant to be. Facing Mariano Rivera for just the second time in his career, Albert Pujols struck out on just three pitches. Game over. Albert Pujols’ time as an Angel: encapsulated.
Albert Pujols’ tenure with the Los Angeles Angels hasn’t even been bad, on a personal level. His 2012 season, slow-starting as it was, ended up looking pretty darn good. 50 doubles and 30 home runs? Always in style. He drew walks at the lowest rate of his career while striking out at the highest rate of his career, but at the end of the day his .285/.343/.516 (132 wRC+) stands tall.
But Albert Pujols is paid like a very good player, he is paid like a great player. He wasn’t brought to Anaheim to be a good player, they want him to be a great player. Unfortunately for Artie Moreno, you don’t always get what you want.
It is easy to kill Pujols for striking out with the game on the line, as I’m sure many Angels fans will do. It is just as easy to forget his walk and going first to third on Mark Trumbo‘s deflected single played a significant role in the Angels aborted comeback.
But that isn’t how anybody will remember this game or the first two years of Pujols in the American League. It doesn’t make it right but it all but makes it so. Albert Pujols hasn’t delivered what he promised. He hasn’t been what he represented.
He’s playing hurt – more than hurt, if we’re being honest. He’s playing far below 100% while fighting off the effects of age, dragging his carcass around while still putting up a .256/.327/.439 with 11 home runs on what looks like two blown tires.
But most fans don’t care about playing hurt and age regression. They know what Pujols makes and they watch him strikeout (feebly!) with the game on the line and they want blood. Thin, anemic blood as it might be, Angels fans surely want it. Hard to blame them, given the circumstances.
RELATED – GAME CHART OF THE WEEKEND
Close but OH SO FAR! Like, so far.
In Praise of the Hard Luck Loser
On Friday night, Chris Sale pitched about as well as any one man can pitch. He threw a complete game, eight inning on the road, struck out 14 Astros, walking only one and allowing just five hits. He didn’t allow a single earned run – earned being the operative word.
Chris Sale took the loss on Friday night, allowing two UNearned runs en route to one of the best pitching performances of the year…completely for naught.
THe White Sox defense – and a wild pitch from his own hand – undid Sale Friday. A brilliant pitching performance undone by shoddy work. Some might cite this example of why pitcher wins are dumb and a grand waste of time. It’s true, after all.
But that ship sailed long ago. Everybody knows pitching wins and losses are cruel and unpredictable and utterly pointless. But that’s baseball, in a snapshot, isn’t it?
I say we celebrate Chris Sale and his accomplishment for entering the history books. Only one other pitcher can claim a 14 strikeout, 0 ER loss on their resume – and that outing happened before they lowered the mound! Chris Sale is alone – he is a man on island of individual greatness, surrounded by brackish poison.
|1||Chris Sale||2013-06-14||CHW||HOU||L 1-2||CG 8 ,L||8.0||5||2||0||1||14||0||124||85||81||32||0.00||0.077|
|2||Sam McDowell||1968-07-06||CLE||CAL||L 0-2||CG 9 ,L||9.0||3||2||0||2||14||0||89||32||0.00||0.021|
It’s sort of awesome, unless you’re Chris Sale’s agent. Just another loss for the White Sox but a moment in time for the White Sox singular pitcher.
The Astros are only two games behind the White Sox in the reverse “Race for Rodon” standings. Not only that, but the ‘stros now have more wins than the Marlins AND the Mets. The National League East – it sort of beyond terrible.
The Rays announced Wil Myers will make his big league debut tomorrow in Boston when Tampa Bay travels to Fenway Park. Rays GM Andrew Friedman said some words to the media regarding the timing of Myers promotion:
“We felt like now was the right time,” said Andrew Friedman, the Rays’ executive vice president of baseball operations. “He made some real adjustments in the last six weeks and that really stood out to us. It was something we were monitoring very closely.”
Congrats to Wil Myers, who totally made real adjustments to become big league ready right after the Super 2 cutoff.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) June 17, 2013
PHOTO OF THE WEEKEND
For the second time this season, a crowd gathered around the mound at Tropicana Field as a pitcher was struck in the head with a line drive. Alex Cobb was struck above the right ear with a line drive off the bat of Eric Hosmer on Saturday and was rushed to hospital. He was released today but placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Cobb remained conscious and the team is hopeful he’ll be back soon.
Tropicana Field might look like a toilet but at least it doesn’t have regular sewage back ups. Leave that to O.co coliseum in Oakland, were seeping sewage forced the A’s and visiting Seattle Mariners to shower together in the same locker room after a backup forced “a foot of raw sewage” into one of the managers offices and will force the A’s to replace most of the carpeting in the dressing room areas. Ugh.
The Super Kimbrel
Craig Kimbrel is really good. He’s probably the best reliever in baseball. Sometimes, when you don’t watch a player every day, you expect them to set the world on fire every time you do happen to catch them perform. Craig Kimbrel, good as he is, hasn’t quite been the record-setting pitcher he was in 2012. His strikeout rate is a mere 35%, after becoming the first man to ever eclipse the 50% mark in 2012.
But then, you catch a pitcher on the right day against the right set of (terrible) hitters and it looks like he could go the rest of his career without giving up a hit. Craig Kimbrel was unreal last night against the San Francisco Giants, retiring them in order in the ninth to lock down the save.
He struck out two hitter and coaxed a fly to centre off the bat of Nick Noonan to end the game. Total pitches? 10. Three strikes against Andres Torres, three strikes against Joaquin Arias, and Noonan finally flew out on the fourth pitch of his at bat. Ten pitches, four swinging strikes. Boom.
Let it forever be known that, effective today, a three up, three down save with three strikeouts on nine pitches shall forever be known as a “Super Kimbrel.” A regular “Kimbrel” is the same feat but without the pitch restriction. Nine pitches makes it special. How special? How about only done four times in the history of the game? That’s pretty special.
|1||Rafael Soriano||2010-08-23||TBR||LAA||W 4-3||9-9f ,S||1.0||3||9||9||3|
|2||LaTroy Hawkins||2004-09-11||CHC||FLA||W 5-2||9-9f ,S||1.0||3||9||9||3|
|3||Doug Jones||1997-09-23 (1)||MIL||KCR||W 7-4||9-9f ,S||1.0||3||9||9||3|
|4||Todd Worrell||1995-08-13||LAD||PIT||W 4-1||9-9f ,S||1.0||3||9||9||3|
Special, like Kimbrel, who is unreal.