Prof: Well, here we are. Another regular season has come and gone. But baseball isn’t going down without a fight! Chaos continues to reign in his wild, wild season.
Since this is (for most teams) Game #162, for a lot of our readers the season is over. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who read, comment, like, and share our little blog. I hope you will continue to come back during the postseason, if only to help me not be the ultimate homer as all three of my favorite rooting interests have made the playoffs.
Over the weekend, not only did we say goodbye to the regular season, but we also said goodbye to a great many classy gentlemen. Some are retiring, and some are just heading off to the great unknown (Scout will discuss a couple of them in his Orioles recap). Let’s talk about two who will probably never pick up a bat again. The Mets wasted David Wright’s career and what could have been a legendary one at that, but even with all of that stacked against him, he made a unique and unforgettable impact on the game of baseball. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Joe Mauer strapped on catcher’s gear in the ninth inning to play one last time at the position that made him, in my eyes, an absolute legend. Mauer has some of the best stats of a catcher in the modern era, a fact that has been forgotten because of having to move to first base due to what could have been career threatening concussions. But through it all, both Davey and Joe have been classy, clutch, and somehow still underrated. Davey is for sure retiring, and it’s been a pleasure watching him even if it was usually beating up against my boys in Atlanta. If it’s the end of the road for Joe, I wish him the very best. Both of these gentleman are class acts and will be missed.
Astros 0, Orioles 4 – Scouts: A terribly emotional day for everyone in Birdland. While nothing is known for certain, it certainly appears that both Adam Jones and Buck Showalter have participated in their final Orioles games. Adam who has been the best thing to happen to Baltimore since Cal Ripken (and is now fittingly living in his old home.) was given quite the honor on Sunday. Not only did he receive many, standing ovations, but he received a special tribute. When Adam rushed out onto the field for the last, first time, once he reached second base, he realized he was all alone. Buck instructed the rest of the players to stay in the dugout so that Adam could have the full spotlight. It was an incredibly touching moment for a player who made Baltimore his home. A person who does more work in the community than he does on the field. A person who was a friend, a leader, and a mentor to so many around him. A person who loves the city and who should have retired here.
“A lot of people talk about putting on a moment,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was visibly choked up talking about Jones. “Some of them are put together by good music and things that create some environment. Here in Baltimore, it’s put on by people, by the emotion and the deep love they have for Adam.”
Personally, I will be incredibly sad to look into the dugout next year and not see either Buck or Jones. Buck is the best manager we’ve had since Earl, a guy who loved his guys, who fought for them, and who would often put himself in harms way to protect him. He is one of the best baseball minds I have ever seen, and I am still completely in shock that this organization would let either go they way they are.
Asked if he noticed the crowd, Showalter blinked back tears and said, “What do you think?”
Mr. Jones and Mr. Showalter, this pie is for you. Thank you for everything you have done. You will be missed.
Yankees 2, Red Sox 10 – Prof: Boston ended the regular season in the win column, but what’s new? Nothing but spectacular play from the likes of Brock Holt, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts might have been the most successful Red Sock of the day, going 2-3 with two ribbies. For New York, Luke Voit continued to crush homers like these two teams crush dreams.
Braves 1, Phillies 3 – Scouts: The final game of the best season Atlanta has seen since Chipper, sadly ended with a loss. Kevin Gausman pulled a Kevin Gausman special, allowing 5 hits and 3 runs over 5 innings. Most of Atlanta’s starters were pulled early after Philly took an early lead. Philly is a team poised for some changes next year who somehow ended up feeling like the season was a disappointment even though they improved 14 games over 2017’s tally. Atlanta, meanwhile watched their home-field advantage dreams fade away as both LA and Colorado won.
Dodgers 15, Giants 0 – Prof: CHAOS REIGNS IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE! This game was important for the Dodgers, as they needed a win to force a tie if the Rockies won their game as well. (Tomorrow, they will meet up in a tiebreaker to see who wins the NL West crown and who gets the wild card. More on that in a moment.) I was totally wrong about this division – I thought it was the Diamondbacks to lose, so I’m pleasantly surprised by this outcome. Anyway, back to this game. The third inning was deadly for the Giants, who could have had a sloth take the mound and deliver more strikeouts. Seven runs scored, including one off of a wild Hunter Strickland pitch, which moved Yasmani Grandal over to set up two more runs after a Brian Dozier homer. Wild.
Athletics 4, Angels 5 – Scouts: Taylor Ward smoked a two-run homer to walk it off against the playoff bound Oakland Athletics. The homer capped a three-run 9th that was a fantastic bookend to Mike Scioscia’s final game as LA’s manager. Scioscia was the manager for the Angels for 19 years.
Tigers 0, Brewers 11 – Prof: The Brewers make it official – they are going to the postseason for the first time in almost a decade, but they will need to play a tiebreaker against their most hated rivals, the Chicago Cubs, to determine if they go in as the NL Central champions, or as the wild card. Christian Yelich – my choice for NL MVP and should be yours, too – continued his death march across baseball diamonds. They gave him the Bonds treatment, but it didn’t matter as Detroit forgot that Jesus Aguilar and Ryan Braun exist. Travis Shaw put the exclamation point on the game with a solo blast in the eighth inning. This team is going into the postseason lava hot and it will be fun to see how far they go.
White Sox 4, Twins 5 – Prof: As I mentioned in the prologue, if it is indeed Joe Mauer’s last hurrah, I’m glad he went out on a winning note. Joe hit a double, and while he wasn’t able to cross home, his teammates Jake Cave and Max Kepler both hit dingers. Minnesota has a young squad, and hopefully it’s guys like Cave, Kepler, and Robbie Grossman who will continue to build the future for the Twins.
Rangers 1, Mariners 3 – Scouts: Both Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre played what could be their final games for their respective clubs. Adrian Beltre has been in Texas for gee, as long as I can remember. While I remember Nelson’s all too short stay in Baltimore, he feels more like a Mariner at this point. Of all the baseball players I’ve ever seen in my time, I can’t recall anyone who just had as much fun playing the game as I have Adrian Beltre. The 39 year old may have played his final game, or he may attempt another season or two, but to me he will always be the smiling Ranger. Beltre’s 21 year career stat line: 2933 Games, .286/.339/.480/.819, 477 HR and the most laughs in the league.
Pirates 6, Reds 5 F/10 – Scouts: Neither team had anywhere to go, so they decided to play one more inning. This one ended on not the best possible note, as Pittsburgh rookie Pablo Reyes hit a flare to right, then motored on to third after the ball was booted around a little, then scored on a while pitch by reliever Jackson Stephens.
Marlins 0, Mets 1 – Prof: It took the entire season, but Noah Syndergaard finally got a shutout. In fact, this was Thor’s first shutout of his MLB career. Congrats, mighty prince of Asgard. In a disappointing season, you take what you can get, which is more than you could say for Miami, who couldn’t even sniff a run in these last couple of games.
Diamondbacks 3, Padres 4 F/10 – Scouts: There is only so many next years a team has left, and Arizona is starting to run low on theirs. They will still have an opportunity to step up next year, but many of their key components are starting to reach the end of the line. This year ended on a particularly sour note for Arizona, who failed to reach the playoffs despite being in the drivers seat for most of the season. After getting walked-off to San Diego in the season finale, Arizona finishes at just two games above .500.
Nationals 0, Rockies 12 – Prof: Here’s the other cog in the wheel for the NL West, the fate of the Rockies. They weren’t taking any prisoners, either. No offense to SomeGuy, but your boys punked out by not pitching Max Scherzer to play spoiler. I know, I know, they no longer had skin in the game. And to be honest, I like the chaos of a game 163 deciding the playoffs for the NL West. But it feels like a cop out in a way. Anyway, what wasn’t a cop out was the rock solid play of one Chuck Nazty, Mr. Charlie Blackmon himself, who hit for the cycle. Nolan Arenado hit two dingers, David Dahl hit a three run homer, and Trevor Story crushed one as well.
Blue Jays 4, Rays 9 – Scouts: Tampa ends up 18 games above .500 and didn’t even get to take a sniff at the post-season. This is how messed up the unbalanced schedule and terrible AL East is. Even being in what was by far the most difficult division in MLB, the Rays ended up 7 games back of the final Wild Card spot, despite finishing just a game behind the AL Central Division Champions, the Cleveland Spiders. One could only imagine what the Rays would have done had they not had to face the Red Sox and Yankees 38 times.
Spiders 2, Royals 1 – Prof: This game really meant nothing to the Magical Land of Cleve, as they had the AL Central crown in the bag for months now. Basically this was knocking the rust off. Cookie Carrasco gets win number seventeen while noted drone enthusiast Trevor Bauer took the mound for a save, even though he worked four full innings. I think that’s a smart move; Cleveland will need Bauer to perform at full strength in the playoffs and he’s coming back from a pretty funky injury, so this was pretty good strategy from Tito Francona to get Bauer back in shape just in time for the most important games of the season.
Cardinals 5, Cubs 10 – Scouts: St. Louis entered the week with a good but tough shot to make the playoffs. They finished it out losing 5 of their last 6. I don’t want to say they choked, but yea, they choked hard. As a result of Chicago’s big win, they get to head home to face Milwaulkee for a very important bonus game Tiebreaker. The outgame will determine who is the number 1 seed and get the benefit of home-field advantage for as long as they can stay alive.