Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-5-10

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Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Happy birthday Jim Hickman

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Top of the 1st
Ryan Howard has been slumping this season and Charlie Manuel thought a night off would do him good. But when Arizona brought in right-hander Brandon Medders, in relief of Randy Johnson, with the bases loaded and the Phillies trailing by three runs in the 7th inning, it was enough time-off. Howard hit the first pitch he saw for a pinch-hit grand slam to lead the Phillies to a 9-3 victory.

Jamie Moyer picked up the win and Medders took the loss. This Jamie Moyer shouldn’t be confused with the “Jamie Moyers” once played by Amy Smart on “Scrubs” (TCW- Tasty Coma Wife). This Jaime is the old, tried and true pitcher. In fact, the Moyer-Johnson start was a matchup of the oldest lefties in history with the 44-year-old Moyer going against the 43 year-old youngster Randy Johnson. At a combined 88 years and 48 days, Johnson and Moyer broke the record set April 24 when Johnson faced San Diego’s David Wells. Johnson and Wells were a combined 87 years and 300 days.

Johnson started out like a young whippersnapper striking out the first six men he faced,
“I may have been the old Randy for six innings,” Johnson said. “Then I just got old.”

Johnson and Moyer met for the first time since Sept. 21, 1989, when Johnson pitched for Seattle and Moyer Texas. The span of 17 years, 230 days is the longest period between starters for opposing pitchers in history. Asked by the AP if he remembered that game, Moyer replied, “No, do you?”

Let me tell you about it guys. Here’s your memory:

It was a Thursday evening in Arlington. Jim Lefevbre was the manager of Seattle and Bobby Valentine in Texas. Both teams were stumbling toward the finish of another mediocre season. The same was true for both pitchers – Johnson finished the year, split between Montreal and Seattle, 7-13. Moyer finished his first year with Texas after three with the Cubs at just 4-9.

But they were kids; they were just 26. Neither of them could have imagined the years of pitching ahead of them. The Mariners had some playahs on that team: Harold Reynolds, Alvin Davis, Ken Griffey Jr. was a rookie centerfielder, and this night, Jeffrey Leonard was the DH because the third baseman was Edgar Martinez. The Rangers starting lineup that night wasn’t chopped liver either – Juan “Gone” Gonzalez, Pete “Inky” Incaviglia, Ruben Sierra, and the all-natural Raffy Palmiero.

The Rangers got off to a quick start that night scoring a couple of runs in the 1st sandwiched between a pair of RaJo strikeouts. They picked up a third run on a Chad Kreuter homer and Johnson picked up two more Ks in the 2nd.

Through three innings Moyer was perfect and the M’s had a 3-0 lead. But time has taught us to never count on the Mariners for too long and in the 4th Texas put up five runs on five hits and before the inning was done, Moyers was done.

The Rangers went on to win the game, 8-3. Johnson went eight innings striking out 10 and picked up the win. Moyer took the loss and that made him 4-8 on the 1989 season. The win last night, 17 years later, made him 4-2.

What’s this all prove? Really very little, except like great songs, baseball can very quickly bring you back to another time. Maybe you were in elementary school, high school or college. Maybe you were dating some hunky guy. Maybe you were married with wife number one? Wife number two? Job number one? Job number two? Everyone of you have a different memory of where you were on September 21, 1989.

But our constant, our common experience was, and is baseball. It brought two old pitchers together last night and brings us together today.

And that’s not a bad thing.

I hope we will still be sharing, 17 years from now.

Top of the 2nd
The Braves’ John Smoltz faced his old friend Greg Maddux in their first head-to-head matchup since 1992, and Atlanta topped the Padres, 3-2. Johnson and Moyer had 500 wins and five Cy Youngs between them while this duo had 533 wins and five Cy Youngs between them.

“What a special night,” Smoltz told reporters. “This one sure lived up to its billing, and we came out on top. That’s the extra icing on the cake.”

Smoltz (5-1) gave up homers to Adrian Gonzalez and light-hitting Geoff Blum before leaving for a pinch hitter in the seventh with the Padres leading 2-1. Maddux was lifted an inning earlier, having allowed only four hits and a single run in 5 1/3.

The highlights were the at bats against each other. As Maddux strolled toward the plate for his first at-bat, Smoltz took off his cap and pointing his bald head, a reference to Maddux saying a day earlier that he had more hair. “I was trying to blind him at the plate with my head,” Smoltz quipped.

Countered Maddux, “I loved it. I saw the ball better.”
Maddux lined the first pitch up the middle for a single and asked for the ball. It was displayed proudly in his Padres locker after the game

This was their first matchup since July 7, 1992. Smoltz got the win then as well in a 4-0 shutout at Wrigley against the Cubs.

Top of the 3rd
In just the fourth match-up between mediocre Japanese pitchers, Dice-K continued the decline of the Canadian dollar versus the Japanese Yen as the Boston Red Sox knocked off the Toronto Blue Jays, 9-3. Tomo Ohka was devoured by the Sox hitters as if he were a plate of Sam’s fabulous Spicy Tuna Rolls from Super Fusion. The Red Sox hit four home runs for the second straight game. Manny Ramirez hit his 476th career home run and David Ortiz homered and tied a career high with four hits. Mike Lowell and Julio Lugo also connected.

They’ve won six of seven while Toronto has lost eight straight.

The Matsuzaka and Ohka matchup was just the fourth time in major league history that two Japanese starters have faced off. The last time it happened was June 19, 2002, when Ohka, then with Montreal, beat Kansas City’s Mac Suzuki. Suzuki was the loser in all three previous matchups of Japanese pitchers, losing to New York’s Hideki Irabu on May 7, 1999, and to Detroit’s Hideo Nomo on July 2, 2000.

Lyle Overbay, who homered twice, provides the answer to our limbo question, “How low can you go?”

“This is about as low as it can get,” Overbay said.

Top of the 4th
Back-up catcher Wil Nieves recorded his first hit since 2002 as the Yankees defeated Texas, 6-2. The hit snapped an 0-for-22 stretch for Nieves this season. Overall, he was hitless in 34 at-bats dating back to Sept. 29, 2002 when playing for the Padres, he singled off of Dodgers pitcher Victor Alvarez.

According to, the Yankees dugout cheered as Nieves roped his hit into left field, but then Nieves took off for second base. Rangers left fielder Brad Wilkerson threw Nieves out, and Yankees captain Derek Jeter couldn’t help but smile.

“It’s just like one of those days in Little League, where you just keep running until you’re tagged out,” Jeter said.

Nieves is now hitting .042 for the season and .132 for his career.

Top of the 5th
The Orioles Aubrey Huff homered with one out in bottom of the 10th inning, giving the Baltimore Orioles a 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. James Shields pitched nine three-hit innings for Tampa Bay, before Brian Stokes gave up the game’s lone run. Erik Bedard pitched seven innings giving up three hits while striking out 10. Baltimore has now scored 145 runs and allowed 144.

Speaking of 1-0 wins, Alfonso Soriano led off the bottom of the 1st with a homer and Jason Marquis retired the first 16 batters he faced and the Cubs defeated the Pirates, 1-0. Marquis threw a three-hitter.

Top of the 6th
Adam Dunn batted in the cleanup spot yesterday for the first time this season and hit a two-run homer, but that would be all the Reds could do as they lost to the Astros, 3-2. Dunn entered the game batting .189 in 50 career games as a cleanup hitter.

Top of the 7th
You say goodbye
I say D. Lowe

Detroit hosts the great deceiver
Known as Jeff Weaver

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Dodgers Marlins 12:05 p.m. Lowe (3-3) Mitre (0-2)
Astros Reds 12:35 p.m. Albers (1-1) Harang (4-1)
Padres Braves 1:05 p.m. Wells (1-1) Hudson (3-1)
Mariners Tigers 1:05 p.m. Weaver (0-5) Verlander (2-1)
Rangers Yankees 1:05 p.m. McCarthy (2-4) Wang (1-2)
White Sox Twins 1:10 p.m. Contreras (2-3) Silva (2-2)
Athletics Royals 2:10 p.m. Kennedy (0-2) Hudson (0-0)
Pirates Cubs 2:20 p.m. Maholm (1-4) Zambrano (3-2)
Indians Angels 3:35 p.m. Sowers (0-2) Escobar (3-1)
Devil Rays Orioles 7:05 p.m. Fossum (2-2) Cabrera (2-3)
Red Sox Blue Jays 7:07 p.m. Wakefield (3-3) Halladay (4-1)
Giants Rockies 8:35 p.m. Lowry (4-2) Cook (1-1)

Top of the 8th
The first athlete to appear on a box of Wheaties was Lou Gehrig in 1934. The first team to appear on a Wheaties box was the World Series champion Minnesota Twins in 1987. The only baseball-related company spokesman for Wheateis, appearing on the box and in commercials was Pete Rose (1985-1986).

Top of the 9th
Here’s a tip on how to Tivo all your favorite baseball movies. Here’s how to make sure you have your choice of movies:

* From Find Programs, select Create a WishList search
* Select Keyword Order Print
* Spell BASEBALL using the arrow keys on the remote
* Select done, when finished
* Choose “Movies” as a category, then “View upcoming episodes”
* Schedule recordings as inspired

Happy Birthday, Steve Gliner!

Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports,,, and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.