(with apologies to Ogden Nash)
Hi, everyone! And welcome to Write-Up For Yesterday, BttP’s guide to what the heck happened yesterday in baseball. We’re not gonna just hand you some scores here, because we trust you know how to type the letters E-S-P-N into your internet machine. Instead, we hope to give you a fuller and richer understanding of important goings on from yesterday in baseball. The big stories, and the noteworthy performances-good and bad.
STORY LINES AND NEWS CYCLE EPHEMERA
We’re honoring another retiree today. Veteran shortstop and three-time All-Star, Rafael Furcal, signed off yesterday. He spent most of his 14-year career with the Braves and Dodgers but I’ll remember him most as the shortstop and popular clubhouse guy for the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series team.
A series of unlikely and notable events led to the Cardinals recording the final out of that season — the unpopular-at-the-time Colby Rasmus trade, Adron Chambers scampering home on a Carlos Marmol wild pitch to complete a comeback victory vs. the Cubs in the final week of the season, etc. — and the acquisition of Furcal at the trade deadline was as important of part as any.
Relieving Ryan Theriot of his duties, Furcal took over shortstop and the team went 33-18 the rest of the way and squeaked into the Playoffs on a memorable last day of the 2011 season. In the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS, Furcal hit a lead-off triple off of Roy Halladay to open the game and scored on a double by the next batter, Skip Schumaker.* It would be the Cardinals’ only run of the game and the only run they would need to topple the mighty Phillies. (Yes, less than four years ago the Phillies were considered “mighty.”) Thirteen games later Furcal won his first and only World Series. Too often plagued by injuries, he still finished his career with 1,817 hits and a .281/.346/.402 line. Take a bow, Rafael, you’ve earned it.
I paid attention to three games yesterday, which made me dizzy. These people who can rattle off stats for utility players and relievers for teams located in different divisions and time zones from the actual team they follow must be of a different species. I really don’t know how they do it or where they find the time, but it impresses the hell out of me. Anyway, Hardball Talk writer Aaron Gleeman called his shot with this tweet:
I predict tonight the Twins either get no-hit by Francisco Liriano or knock him out of the game in the second inning. Nothing in between.
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) May 19, 2015
If you were wondering, there wasn’t a no-hitter last night but Liriano only lasted two full innings and was pasted for seven runs. The Twins won 8-5. The Pirates weren’t bereft of style points though as Pedro Alvarez hit a home run directly into a boat docked on the Allegheny River.
The Mets’ starting pitcher last night was Jonathon Niese, who was born on October 27, 1986, which is fun because on that very evening the Mets won the legendary 1986 World Series.
Unfortunately for the Mets, that factoid was coolest part about their night as the Cardinals beat up on Niese and pounded out 15 hits in a 10-2 rout. Michael Wacha put in seven solid innings, and the Cardinals improved to 8-0 in games he starts. Also, Randal Grichuk pulled off this remarkable feat:
Congrats, I guess. And Randy Choate batted in the 9th inning. I’m serious.
It was his first at-bat since 2004. He drew a walk which was likely his first time ever running the bases as he was previously 0 for 5 in his career.
The Nationals beat the Yankees 8-6. Remember when some of us were wondering what was wrong with the Nats? I was one of them. You may have been one of them, too. Turns out, of course, nothing was really wrong with them — it was just April. Well, now it’s mid-May and they are tied for first in the NL East with the Mets at 23-17. And Bryce Harper in the last three weeks has revealed himself to be possibly the most exciting player in the league. All 22 years of him.
You really can’t miss his at-bats or you’re likely going to miss something like this. That was a pitch near the dirt and he effortlessly stroked it to right-center. He also has a .474 on-base percentage which seems unfair. Wilson Ramos hit a home run of his own extending his hit streak to 19 games. And Ryan Zimmerman ended the game with a crazy opposite field line-drive walk-off home run off the foul pole. It was the TENTH walk-off home run of Zimmerman’s career, which ranks third all-time in the NL.
TWEETS WE LIKED
You may be able to see it on TV, but Hector Santiago draws "lane lines" on the mound before each inning. Pointing straight toward home
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) May 20, 2015
A fond farewell to Bruce Chen. Played for 11 teams. Played with 665 different teammates, from Smoltz/Maddux/Glavine to Mo Vaughn & Jose Mesa
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) May 19, 2015
— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) May 20, 2015
ARTICLES WE LIKED
Jeff Long at Baseball Prospectus authored a crazy-analytical piece which turned baseball stats into stars and constellations.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wondered if the A’s are running out of time.
Daniel Meyer at Beyond the Box Score analyzed Cory Kluber’s 18-strikeout game with fun graphics, gifs, and smarts that hurt my brain.
Because I love Shelby Miller, this is the second day in a row we’re throwing an article about him at you, but this piece from Owen Watson of Fangraphs on Miller’s 2015 pitch usage really is worth your time.
TODAY’S BEST PITCHING MATCHUPS
If you have a favorite team, just watch them play. If you don’t, try one of these:
Roenis Elias (SEA, 3.24 ERA) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (BAL, 2.53) (7 ET)
Chase Anderson (ARZ, 2.81) vs. David Phelps (MIA, 2.68) (7 ET)
Brett Anderson (LAD, 3.50) vs. Tim Lincecum (SFG, 2.43) (10:15 ET)
*This post originally stated that Furcal hit the double to score Schumaker instead of the other way around. Perhaps an entire post could be written on the fact that the Cardinals beat Roy Halladay in his prime in a deciding game with Skip Shumaker batting in the two-hole.Next post: Velocity and the Likelihood of a Tommy John Surgery
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