John Smoltz’s career has life after beating San Diego Sunday. Smoltz threw five shutout innings and fanned nine batters. Maybe the AL is tougher than the NL – but it certainly helps to face a punchless San Diego team, too. [MLB/SI]
For the second time in history (according to STATS, Inc, that’s who), Eric Bruntlett ended a game by himself – recording an unassisted triple play to help Brad Lidge avoid another blown save and give Pedro Martinez a win over his former team, the Mets. The score stood 9 – 7 after a run scoring single by Daniel Murphy. Murphy and Luis Castillo, who was on second, attempted a double steal when Jeff Francouer launched a Lidge pitch back up the middle where Bruntlett was moving… Bruntlett caught the liner, stepped on second, and tagged Murphy. [MLB/SI]
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will be more careful next time – he stabbed himself in the left hand with a falling steak knife, requiring a single stitch but keeping him out of the lineup for the next couple of days. [SI]
Meanwhile, the Rockies have come to terms with free agent Jason Giambi, most recently released by the Oakland As. He’d be a nice bench option, that’s for certain. [ESPN]
Moving to the Rockies rotation, the pitching staff took a big hit when Aaron Cook hit the DL with a sore shoulder. Cook had to leave Friday’s start with a strain and an MRI is scheduled for Monday. If the Rockies have to use Adam Eaton down the stretch, pencil in San Francisco or the Dodgers as the Wild Card team in the NL. Josh Fogg is the other option (not appreciably better), and Matt Herges got the call from AAA Colorado Springs to join the roster. [FoxSports]
Reds starter Aaron Harang’s season came to an end thanks to emergency appendectomy surgery. He’ll see restricted activity for about three weeks before he can do anything physical in nature. According to SI, Harang is the ninth player to head to the DL for Cincinnati, and the seventh to require surgery – which is an amazing number, really. Fortunately, Scott Rolen came off the DL – but he can’t pitch. [SI]
Boston may have claimed Billy Wagner off the waiver wire (the Mets haven’t decided whether to allow the claim, work a deal, or pull him back), but apparently the bullpen wouldn’t have done it. Both Jonathon Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen weren’t excited about it when asked by WEEI radio earlier this weekend. [ESPN]
FoxSports reported that David Eckstein will remain in San Diego next year and signed a contract extension for 2010… He’s not really a championship level producer anymore, but he’s an extra coach for a young team and Eckstein does have a history of being on winning teams. [FoxSports]
Here’s a position that won’t get much of an argument… FoxSports Jon Paul Morosi makes his case that Ichiro Suzuki will one day enter the Hall of Fame. His take on it is mostly “Well, he has more hits than anybody, and Ken Griffey says he’s a Hall of Famer…” Let’s look at it more subjectively. Assuming he finishes the season and gets 16 more hits in the last 40 games or so – meaning he won’t get injured or suddenly freeze at the plate – Ichiro will have nine straight seasons of 200 hits, more than 2000 in his career, and his fourth season batting at least .350. Dusting off a 1986 Bill James Baseball Abstract, his Hall of Fame calculator shows that Ichiro has collected nearly 200 points of accomplishments that Hall of Fame voters tend to consider when voting for someone – which makes him, well, overqualified (the gray area is from 70 – 130; beyond that is pretty much guaranteed in, unless you are Pete Rose or Barry Bonds). Then, you add that he was the first Japanese position player and remains one of the most skilled outfielders and hitters – he certainly qualifies as both famous and great. Ichiro may wind up with more professional hits than Pete Rose when it’s all over – he could have 4500 hits if you count his days in Japan.
Hurry Back! Alfonso Soriano continues to miss games with a sore knee. Gee – I thought it was his poor batting. (Sorry – Angry Cub Fan in me typing that one…) Marlins reliever Brendan Donnelly hits the DL with a calf strain. I watched the play – I’m not sure what he did, but if he can’t field a grounder without getting hurt, he needs to step aside. Phillies infielder Greg Dobbs also has a strained calf. Cardinal starter Kyle Lohse just came off the DL – he heads back with a strained groin (hopefully his own).
Welcome Back! Miguel Cairo was called up by the Phillies to take Dobbs’ spot. Did you see that Armando Benitez was signed by Houston? He heads to Round Rock to see if he can still pitch. Jason Grilli returned to Texas from the DL. Seattle is giving one more shot to former Marlin Randy Messenger. I can answer this for you – this Messenger has already been shot.
Pennant Chances: Now that the season has entered its final quarter, let’s pronounce some races over…
Nobody is catching the Phillies or Cards. The Yankees would have a significant collapse if they were to lose now, as would the Angels. Even though it’s closer than before, I have faith in the Dodgers – but give Colorado a 15% chance to win, and San Francisco 10%. The NL Wild Card is too close to call, but it’s going to be one of the teams from the West. If someone were to surprise, it’s going to be Atlanta because they suddenly have a healthy pitching staff – but it’s getting late to put up a fight. I’d give them a 15% chance of pulling it off. The closest race is Detroit and Chicago in the AL Central, and I am relatively confident it will be Detroit by a nose because Chicago plays too sloppily to win. Minnesota doesn’t have a fight in them this season thanks to a failing rotation. The AL Wild Card will be the best race because Texas is good enough to win and Boston is just crazy enough to blow it right now. I know – I picked Boston to win it all, but the last three weeks have been disastrous and I don’t see how they will get out of it. I give Tampa a 15% chance of surprising somebody.