Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What A Game

George Sherrill, the O's only All-Star representative, got absolutely no reaction from the crowd. I imagine many of them thought "who is that guy, and what's up with his hat." The NL has the better team I think, with the far superior line-up (Ryan Braun is hitting 7th) and the better starting pitching. If the game stays close into the later innings, then the K-Rod, Nathan, Soria, Rivera back-end of the AL pen gives them the advantage.

Before the game, a bunch of Hall of Famers are introduced. Rollie Fingers still has the awesome 'stache. Eddie Murray doesn't look happy to be there. I wonder if Wade Boggs had some fried chicken before he showed up at the stadium? I also wonder if Ozzie Smith still has more range than Derek Jeter at shortstop? When Tommy Lasorda was introduced, it looked like he had been dosing off. Was Earl Weaver always five feet tall? Funny how he looked at his watch as Joe Buck was talking, though.

Ben Sheets is starting for the NL, with Cliff Lee going for the AL. One of those guys had a 3 to 1 strike-out to walk ratio last year, and the other had a 6.29 ERA. Guess which one's which.

Tim McCarver said no one in the Bartolo Colon to the Expos trade paid bigger dividends than Cliff Lee this year. Um... how about fellow All-Star and current AL home run leader Grady Sizemore (107 career Win Shares, 17 this year to Lee's 48 career, 13 this year)?

Hanley Ramirez strikes out to start the first. Chase Utley goes down looking on a nice pitch on the inside corner. Lance Berkman flies out to Hamilton in center, and Lee is off to a good start.

Ichiro pops out to right to bring up Cap'n Jeter. Apparently, Jeter (and not the Yankees as a team) has (himself) done nothing but win. He hits a weird short-hopping blooper to second, where Utley can't quite corral it. Jeter is the game's first baserunner and, considering yesterday, is already in scoring position for Josh Hamilton. He gets there himself anyway by stealing second, but Sheets gets Hamilton swinging at a change-up. A-Rod pops out to the catcher in foul territory, and the AL fails to score.

Albert Pujols grounds out to A-Rod at third. This will be Lee's last inning, with Joe Saunders warming up in the AL pen. Chipper Jones jumps on the first pitch and lines a single up the middle. Matt Holliday grounds to Youkilis at first. Ryan Braun goes down swinging to end the second for the NL. Nice job by Cliff Lee to keep the powerful line-up off the board.

Manny Ramirez fouls off a couple of pitches, but Sheets eventually gets him swinging. Milton Bradley works the count full and draws a walk. Bradley steals second - it looks like the AL wants to run on Soto. Youkilis strikes out on a 3-2 pitch. Joe Mauer also runs the count full, but he draws a walk. Dustin Pedrioa flies out to end the threat.

The lefty Saunders is in to face Fukudome. A groundout, and a flyout by teammate Geovany Soto, brings Hanley up for his second at bat. Ramirez singles to right, but Saunders gets Utley to ground to first.

Ichiro leads off with a single against Carlos Zambrano, but Jeter erases him with a double play. Hamilton grounds out to end the third. Still 0-0.

Roy Halladay relieves Saunders on the mound, and gets Berkman swinging. I hope someone told him he wouldn't have to finish this game. Pujols falls behind 0-2, but reaches out and pokes a hit off the wall down the right-field line. Albert tries for second, but Ichiro throws him out (well, not really - Pujols, who's a very good baserunner, got his foot to the bag before the tag was applied. The ball beat him, and so he was called out). Chipper bounces out, and this game is zooming along.

Big Z K's A-Rod with a high fastball to start the fourth. Zambrano starts Manny off with a big looping breaking-ball that goes over his head. Ramirez grounds out to second, and last year's AL starter Dan Haren is throwing in the bullpen. Bradley grounds to short, but Hanley's throw is high and pulls Berkman off the bag. Hey, the guy isn't in there for his glove. Youkilis comes to the plate, but won't get a chance in this inning as Milton gets picked off first.

Grady Sizemore comes in to play center, and Ervin Santana is the new AL pitcher. Matt Holliday takes a fastball up and out over the plate into the right-field bleachers for the first run of the game. The NL takes a 1-0 lead. Braun grounds out to second, and Santana makes Fukudome look silly on a slider for the K. Then he gets Soto looking.

Russell Martin and Dan Haren are the new NL battery, and they get Youk to fly out to right. Mauer bounces one up the middle off of Haren's glove, and Joe Sideburns has an infield hit. Ian Kinsler (23 of 24 in steals) pinch runs for him. Kinsler takes off and is safe at second despite a good throw by Martin. The AL is out NL'ing the NL, while the NL is the team with the power. Pedrioa walks, and the AL has a rally going. Ichiro has a fastball thrown by him, so it'll be up to Mr. Clutch. Jeter works the count full, but bounces back to the mounds for the third out.

Kinsler stays in to play second; Justin Morneau is in at first; JD Drew in right; Jason Varitek behind the plate; and the major league ERA leader Justin Duchscherer is on the mound. Hanley lines a hanging breaking-ball to left for a lead-off single. Ramirez takes off for second as Utley singles into right to put runners on the corners. Ol' Flat Brim is warming up for the AL. Berkman flies to deep center - Sizemore tracks it down but Ramirez scores to make it 2-0. Michael Young comes out in the middle of the inning to replace Jeter at short; that lets the Cap'n leave the field to the applause of the crowd. Pujols singles up the middle, and Duke isn't fooling anyone. Larry chases a fastball up and away for the K - two down. Holliday pops out to end the inning. The AL is still within striking distance.

Adrian Gonzalez in at first; Dan Uggla in at second; Miguel Tejada at short; Aramis Ramirez at third; Nate McLouth in center; and Corey Hart in right. Josh Hamilton lines a single to center to bring up Joe Crede (who is on the team for unknown reasons). Crede pops up to second. Hamilton steals the AL's fourth base of the night. Sizemore takes a fastball down the middle for strike three. Bradley hits the first pitch to center, but McLouth is there.

Carlos Quentin comes in to play left, and Joe Nathan is the first AL closer to take the mound. Braun can't check his swing on a slider in the dirt. McLouth and Martin each fly out to center. Time to stretch.

Ryan Ludwick in left, and the NL ERA leader Edison Volquez is the new pitcher. Morneau doubles passed Hart in right-center to bring up Kinsler. A groundout to Tejada moves Morneau to third, and Dioner Navarro hits for Varitek (that's kind of embarrassing for Tek to have his own manager hit for him with another catcher in this type of RBI situation). Volqeaz tails a 95 mph fastball back over the plate to K "Bandwagon" looking. J.D Drew. Laces one over the short porch in right for a game-tying two-run homer. With Papelbon, Rivera, K-Rod, and Soria (and Sherrill for lefties), the AL is in a good position now. Young strikes out, but we've got a brand new ball-game.

Papelbon starts the eighth with a fastball on the outside corner to Tejada. Miguel bloops the next pitch into right for a single. Papelbon strikes out Uggla with a high fastball to quiet the crowds chants of "OVER-RATED". Tejada steals second, and then advances to third as Navarro's throw goes into center. Adrian Gonzalez flies to left, but it's deep enough to score Tejada, and the NL takes back the lead. David Wright hits for Pujols, and strikes out looking to end the inning. With the NL up 3-2, Giants' closer Brian Wilson will take the hill.

Quentin flies to deep center for the first out. Carlos Guillen hits for Crede - he has a good at bat but chases a high fastball fro strike three. That'll be it for Wilson, with Billy Wagner coming in to face Sizemore. Grady pokes a single to the right side, and Evan Longoria (the last player on the AL bench) hits for Bradley. Talk about a pressure situation for a rookie. Sizemore steals second without a throw. That's five for the AL. Longoria reaches out and hooks a slider into the left-field corner for a game-tying RBI double. Morneau grounds out on the first pitch, but man was that awesome. Likely the first of many memories for Longoria in the All-Star game.

K-Rod will try to keep the score at 3-3 in the ninth. Aramis Ramirez walks, and Christian Guzman comes in to run for him. Hart flies out to right, and that's it for Rodriguez. Mariano Rivera comes in the cheers of the crowd. Mo gets Ludwick swinging, and Guzman gets caught trying to steal second. They go to the bottom of the ninth tied at 3; both teams have 8 hits and have committed an error.

Ryan Dempster comes on and gets Kinsler swinging. As does Navarro. And Drew.

To extra innings we go - will this one end in a tie? McLouth takes an outside corner fastball for strike three. Martin has a good at bat and lines a single passed a diving Kinsler into right-field. On a hit-and-run, Tejada singles up the middle to put runners on the corners. If the NL wins this game against Mariano Rivera in Yankee Stadium I don't even know what will be in the papers tomorrow. It won't happen, as Mo gets Uggla to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

Aaron Cook gets his usual groundball off the bat of Young, but Uggla can't hold on to it and Young is safe at first. Oh man. Quentin grounds one hard right to Uggla now, and it goes right through his legs to put runners on the corners with no outs. What a horrible, horrible sequence for the second baseman. Guillen is being intentionally walked to bring up the AL HR leader with the bases loaded. Sizmore grounds to a pulled in Uggla who makes a very careful throw to get the force at home. The relay to first wasn't in time, with Gonzalez making a nice pick to save the game. That brings up Evan Longoria. He grounds to Guzman at third, who likewise gets the force at home. Morneau hits a slow roller to short, and Tejada makes a nice play to charge it and throw him out. Great job by Cook to pull the Houdini in the bottom of the tenth in the All-Star game.

Joakim Soria takes over for Mo and gives up a single to Adrian Gonzalez. Hahaha. George Sherrill and Scott Kazmir (who the AL is trying not to use) are the only pitchers left in the AL pen. I can see it now... the only O's rep comes in to blow the game for the team. For now it's Soria, who gets Wright swinging. Guzman flies to short center. Hart flies out to short right. Someone please score.

Kinsler bloops a single into center. He takes off for second but the NL saw it coming and pitched out. Tejeda never actually tagger him, but the ball beat him to the base and so the ump called him out. Brandon Webb makes his way from the dugout to the mound - they didn't want to use him, but it might be needed. Drew singles up the middle to bring up Michael Young. The NL, if they get out of this inning, will be in a better position, pitcher-wise. Michael Young; "Professional Hitter." They're quoting bad stats (BA, RBI, BA with RISP), but fine. "Professional Player - hitting, baserunning, and defense?" Uh, no. Come on guys, stop deceiving the American (and international) people. Young singles to center and they send Navarro. McLouth makes an OK throw that beats him to the plate, but the tag is applied up his leg as he slides, and his foot got in there. Needless to say, he was called out. The game continues, with Quentin at the plate and two outs. Groundout to third, and we'll go to the 11th.

McLouth hits a slow roller to the right side and beats Morneau's flip to first. Martin lays down a bunt to would have gone foul, but Morneau fields it and throws to first. Miguel Tejada will get the intentional pass to bring up Dan Uggla, with Brad Lidge warming in the NL pen. Soria gets him to go too far on a big 67 mph breaking-ball. With lefty Adrian Gonzalez coming up, it'll be George Sherrill time with the bases loaded and two outs. I can hardly bare to watch. Fastball for a called strike one. Fastball for a swinging strike two. Fastball down and away for strike three. Wow. Go George Sherrill. If the AL scores he'll get the win.

Carlos Guillen hits a drive deep off the wall in left for a lead-off double. Sizemore hits a hard grounder to Uggla, who knocks it down and throws him out a first. Guillen does get to third with one out though. Evan Longoria with another chance to win the game. Cook gets him swinging and a nasty sinker down and in. Morneau gets the free pass and takes second on defensive indifference. Kinsler grounds out to Guzman at third (he's looked good over there, by the way) to end the 12th.

David Wright shatters his bat but ends up with a bloop single. Guzman drops down a sac bunt, but Sherrill throws to second to get the force. Hart goes down swinging for the second out. Ludwick gets ahead 3-0, but Sherrill ends up getting him to pop out. To the bottom of the 13th.

Carlos Marmol will try to keep the ball in the yard against JD Drew. He has nasty stuff, but some gopher-ball issues. Drew grounds to the right side. Man, Dan is Uggla at second-base. He can't handle the tricky hop and is given his third error of the game. And he didn't even come in until the 6th. Young takes a called strike three, but Drew steals the AL's 6th bag of the night. Quentin strikes out, and the marathon continues.

George Sherrill will come out for another inning. This should be it for him. McLouth hits a high flyball to deep right, but Drew is there at the wall and makes the catch. Yikes - that was close. Martin hits it hard to right also, but Drew gets to that one as well. Tejada grounds out to short. Great job by Sherrill, going 2 1/3 IP. If the AL doesn't score, Scott Kazmir (who threw over 100 pitches on Sunday) will have to come in. At that point it'll be a matter of time before the game is over, as he probably can't go more than two innings.

Brandon Webb, who also pitched Sunday, is in for the NL. Guillen lines one to the left side, but Tejada makes a nice sliding catch for the first out. Sizemore goes down swinging. As does Longoria. Still tied at 3-3 going into the 15th.

Kazmir blows Uggla away with a high fastball. Gonzalez flies out to short left. Wright draws a four pitch walk - Kazmir needs to throw strikes if he wants to win this thing. He is on a strict pitch-count, and isn't usually efficient. That helps, as Guzman grounds the first pitch to Morneau at first.

Brad Lidge somes in to pitch to new catcher Brian McCann. That's the NL's last pitcher. Morneau reaches down and serves a good pitch into center for a single. Don't listen to Tim McCarver, Ian Kinsler. Bunting the slow Justin Morneau to second isn't a smart move. It doesn't matter that it hasn't worked for the previous 15 innings - "changing things up" and giving away an out is bad. Kinsler hits a line-drive to left, but Ludwick makes a diving catch to rob him of a hit. Navarro singles into short center, and Monreaus rightfully stops at second. If JD Drew wins it here, will the NY fans cheer him? Drew draws a walk to load the bases for Michael Young. If he grounds into a double play I may cry. Pop-up to medium depth right-field. Hart has it and here comes Morneau... he just gets his foot in before McCann can apply the tag, and the AL wins it 4-3.

Wow. What a game. I thought that giving the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series was supposed to eliminate ties, but this one was an inning or two from ending in just that way. What would they have done? Does MLB even have a back-up plan? Thankfully it wasn't necessary.

JD Drew was the MVP of this one, going 2-4 with a walk and the two-run homer. He had .583 WPA. Our boy George led all pitchers with .460 WPA. He went get a win for his trouble, but boy did he pitch well in a tough spot. Miguel Tejada was also quite impressive; at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. Dan Uggla was awful, going 0-4 at the plate with 3 K's, making 3 errors, and totaling a - .634 WPA. Aaron Cook led the NL pitchers in WPA with .428 - he gave up 4 hits and 3 walks in 4 IP, yet kept the AL off the board. I'm not sure how he did that. I'm just glad this thing is over. It was a great game, but I need to get some sleep.

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