Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros

Kaboom! Pow! The Angels come back against the Cardinals!

Break up the Angels! The Halos discovered the Cardinals fatal flaw and exploited it for a walkoff victory! No, not their less than spectacular bullpen. I mean Mike Matheny‘s blindspot for Adam Wainwright.

Sure, Wainwright was cruising and had only thrown just 98 pitches headed into the ninth inning. With the “heart” of the Angels lineup due up, Mike Matheny opted to leave Wainwright in to face Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Howie Kendrick.

Pujols greeted Wainwright with a slider and that was the end of the night for the Cards ace. Perhaps one batter too late, Matheny went to his closer Edward Mujica, who pitched the night before in mop up duty designed to just get him work, hasn’t been quite as sharp of late, surrendering two home runs and five hits in his last five combined outings.

Josh Hamiton greeted Mujica and his nasty splitter in a very rude way indeed.

Two singles later the Angels were in a very threatening position, with runners on the corners and nobody out. Mujica battled back to retire the next two Angels but Erick Aybar slapped the above walkoff single into left field and the party began. Second guessing is easy but that’s the way it works in this biz, amirite?

The Cardinals don’t have bullpen problems quite as bad as recent years, which isn’t to say they couldn’t stand to upgrade some parts of their pen. As they are the Cardinals, they have myriad options should the choose to bolster their pen.

Trade one of your zillion prospect chips for a proven relief ace or just move one of zillion hyped arms into the bullpen, ala the 2012 playoff pen featuring current 2+ fWAR starter Shelby Miller and setup king Trevor Rosenthal? They’re the Cardinals, they do whatever they please.

Kapowy! The Diamondbacks rip victory from the jaws of defeat in a game they really wanted to lose!

This shitty team is going to win that shitty division. And for that our world will be a far worse place.

The Heath Bell Experience was in full effect last night as the Diamondbacks blew two different extra inning leads before finally putting away the (s)crappy Mets in the 15th inning. Baseball and sunshine and bunting is all well and good but nobody wants to watch a nearly six hour game in the middle of Independence Day. There is meat to grill and things to explode! Heath Bell and Chaz Roe are unAmerican.

Note: Chaz Roe’s beard is very, very American.

Image courtesy Frank Franklin, AP

Boosh! The Tigers pound out 11 runs against the re-reeling Blue Jays!

Justin Verlander showcased Verlander 2.0, pitching very effectively without the big strikeout totals or big radar gun readings we expect from the two-time defending American League Cy Young winner. Don’t mistake that statement for a damnation of Verlander, who was in complete control of the Blue Jays at all times last night.

Offensively, Austin Jackson continued making a case for Austin Jackson to be your favorite player. He’s really good, act like you knew.

Zoinks! Wilson Ramos returns from the DL in style!

Wilson Ramos has overcome his share of adversity. Not just “athlete adversity”, wherein his body betrays him as he pursues wealth and riches. But actual human hardship, as you might recall he was kidnapped during the 2012 offseason. Crazy! He then blew out his knee and missed most of the Nats historic season.

Missing more time here in 2013, Ramos returned from the DL in a big way, driving in five runs as the Nationals overcame aesthetic adversity to best the (very bad) Brewers

Great American Saves Day

Giancarlo Stanton is Captain America. Better known for his prodigious power, Stanton is actually quite an adept right fielder. Here he saves the bacon of closer Steve Cishek with a great lunging catch in the ninth.

This game was not without other firework moments, as the great Craig Kimbrell entered a tie game in the top of the ninth and surrendered the go-ahead run by walking two Marlins before Donovan Solano singled home what would be the winning run. Break up the Marlins!

Raul Freaking Ibanez!

Like a trade chip dropped into their lap from heaven, the Mariners are in an enviable position with Raul Ibanez. The 41-year old slugger is currently putting up the best numbers of his career, some of the best numbers of anybody’s career at his age.

Here’s a quick list of players to hit 20 home runs and slug higher than .500 after their 40th birthday:

Rk Player OPS+ HR SLG PA Year Age Tm Lg G
1 Ted Williams 190 29 .645 390 1960 41 BOS AL 113
2 Barry Bonds 169 28 .565 477 2007 42 SFG NL 126
3 Barry Bonds 156 26 .545 493 2006 41 SFG NL 130
4 Raul Ibanez 144 21 .564 258 2013 41 SEA AL 64
5 Harold Baines 136 25 .533 486 1999 40 TOT AL 135
6 Darrell Evans 135 34 .501 609 1987 40 DET AL 150
7 Hank Sauer 125 26 .508 428 1957 40 NYG NL 127
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/5/2013.

That’s it, that’s the whole list. Those are all the guys, and Ibanez is

  • actually forty-one years old
  • only 64 games and 258 plate appearances into his season.

Ibanez hit his 21st home run last night, collecting four hits on the Fourth of July for the also-ran Mariners, who fell to the Rangers despite the best efforts of Ibanez and designated Rangers killer Kyle Seager.

It’s a great story which will only end one way: in tears for the Mariners. However they try to do something good with this gift from the baseball gods, they will butcher it. Because they’re the Mariners, it is what they do (Felix Hernandez aside.)