Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-5-13

Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Top of the 1st
Last night, Cleveland second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera turned an unassisted triple play in the 5th inning against Toronto. Cabrera caught Lyle Overbay’s line drive, stepped on second to double Kevin Mench and tagged Marco Scutaro, who was standing on second.

The only mistake Cabrera made on the play was that he flipped the historic ball to fans behind the Indians’ dugout. “He came off the field and tossed the ball into the stands,” explained Indians first base coach Luis Rivera, serving as the 22-year-old Cabrera’s interpreter. “Right as he did, he cried out, ‘Oh, no!”‘

The last player to pull an unassisted triple play against the Indians was Ron Hansen, in 1968 for Washington. Hansen is now an advance scout for Philadelphia and was at Progressive Field to see Cabrera’s feat. “First one I’ve ever seen from the stands,” Hansen said. “On a play like that, it’s just reaction and he reacted right.”

Hansen said he sent both the ball he caught and his glove to the Baseball Hall of Fame and cherishes the moment forever.

The Indians have pulled off three unassisted triples plays and been victims three times. This is also the third triple play at the Jake (the first unassisted). The Tribe’s Neal Ball was first man to achieve the feat and Cleveland’s second baseman Bill Wambsganss was the last and only player to do it in the World Series.

Asdrubal Cabrera’s feat yesterday makes you reflect on all triple plays and you have to have a soft spot in your heart for the batter who hits into the triple play. It should be noted that Brooks Robinson hit into the most triple plays; the Hall-of-Famer hit into four.

Then it should be noted that Ron Wright played one game in the majors. In his three at bats for the Mariners on April 14, 2002 against the Texas Rangers, his highlight was striking out. In his other two at bats he hit into a double play and a triple play.

Yet, of all those poor souls I feel the most sorry for Joe Pignatano who was finishing his major league career playing for pitiful 1962 New York Mets. On Sept 30, 1962, facing the Cubs in Wrigley, Piggy hit into a triple play…it was his last major league at bat.

Can you imagine having to live with that memory?

It was off Bob Buhl in the 8th inning following singles by Sammy Drake and Richie Ashburn (his last at bat as well) and it started with a liner to the late Ken Hubbs at second, who threw to Ernie Banks at first and then over to shortstop Andre Rogers at second.

It’s my favorite last lick.

Here are major league baseball’s unassisted triple plays:

April 29, 2007: Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki turned his in the 7th inning against Atlanta. Tulowitzki caught Chipper Jones’ line drive, stepped on second to double Kelly Johnson and tagged Edgar Renteria, who was headed to second.
Aug. 10, 2003: Atlanta shortstop Rafael Furcal turned his in the 5th inning against St. Louis. Furcal caught Woody Williams’ line drive, stepped on second to double Mike Matheny and tagged Orlando Palmeiro, who was running back to first.
May 29, 2000: Oakland second baseman Randy Velarde turned his in the 6th inning against the N.Y. Yankees. Velarde caught Shane Spencer’s line drive, tagged Jorge Posada between first and second and touched second base before Tino Martinez could return.
July 8, 1994: Boston shortstop John Valentin turned his in the 6th inning against Seattle. Valentin caught Marc Newfield’s line drive, stepped on second base to double Mike Blowers and tagged Keith Mitchell.
Sept. 20, 1992: Philadelphia second baseman Mickey Morandini turned his in the 6th inning against Pittsburgh. Morandini caught Jeff King’s line drive up the middle, stepped on second to double Andy Van Slyke and tagged Barry Bonds who was standing near second base.
July 30, 1968: Washington shortstop Ron Hansen turned his in the 1st inning against Cleveland. Hansen caught Joe Azcue’s line drive, stepped on second to double Dave Nelson and tagged Russ Snyder going toward second.
May 31, 1927: Detroit first baseman Johnny Neun turned his in the 9th inning against Cleveland. Neun caught Homer Summa’s line drive, tagged Charlie Jamieson between first and second and touched second base before Glenn Myatt could return.
May 30, 1927: Chicago shortstop Jim Cooney turned his in the 4th inning of the morning game against Pittsburgh. Cooney took Paul Waner’s line drive, stepped on second to retire Lloyd Waner and then tagged Clyde Barnhart coming from first.
May 7, 1925: Pittsburgh shortstop Glenn Wright turned his in the 9th inning against St. Louis. Wright caught Jim Bottomley’s line drive, stepped on second to retire Jimmy Cooney, and tagged Rogers Hornsby coming from first to end the game.
Oct. 6, 1923: Boston shortstop Ernie Padgett turned his in the 4th inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. Padgett caught Walter Holke’s line drive, stepped on second base to retire Cotton Tierney and then tagged Cliff Lee before he could return to first base.
Sept. 14, 1923: Boston first baseman George Burns turned his in the 2nd inning against Cleveland. Burns caught Frank Brower’s line drive, tagged Walt Lutzke off first base and ran to second and slid into the bag before Riggs Stephenson could return from third base.
Oct. 10, 1920: Cleveland second baseman Bill Wambsganss turned his in the 5th inning of the fifth game of the World Series against Brooklyn. Wambsganss caught Willie Mitchell’s line drive stepped on second to retire Pete Kilduff and tagged Otto Miller coming from first.
July 19, 1909: Cleveland shortstop Neal Ball turned his in the 2nd inning of the first game of a doubleheader with Boston. Ball caught Amby McConnell’s line drive at second base, touched second to retire Heinie Wagner, who was on his way to third, then tagged Jake Stahl as he came up to second.

Top of the 2nd
Historically, the two big road draws in the American League are the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

And yet…

Last night in Minnesota, where the first-place Twins beat the Red Sox 7-3 to win the four-game series three games to one and improve to 14-7 at home, there were only 18,782 which means it was only 41.3% full.

Then in Tampa, where the Rays topped the Yankees 7-1 for their 10th straight home win and fifth in a row overall to move them within a half-game of first place and putting them six games over .500 for the first time, the Rays drew 13,932 making Tropicana Field only 33.7% full.

Top of the 3rd
Now that the Jay’s Vernon Wells is on the DL for an extended period of time it’s getting harder and harder for this team to score runs. In the 10th inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Indians, after 31 shutout innings in a row, the Jays finally scored three times to win 3-0. They lost the opener, 3-0.

Pitchers on the Jays must feel like soccer goalies knowing that even giving up one run may be insurmountable. Twelve times this season the Jays have scored two runs or fewer and they have a 2-10 record in those games. They are 27th in the majors with only 148 runs scored. The Cubs lead all teams with 223. The Jays have grounded into a major league leading 51 double plays.

Richard Griffin in today’s Toronto Star points out GM J.P. Ricciardi’s moves this season:
* Added: Jesse Carlson, Joe Inglett, Shawn Camp, Jorge Velandia, Armando Benitez, Wilkerson and Kevin Mench. That amounts to four veteran minor-leaguers, an out-of-work 35-year-old reliever, a released free-agent outfielder and a former major-league slugger who was stuck at the Rangers’ Triple-A level.
* Deleted: Randy Wells, Buck Coats and Frank Thomas. Plus, in all the ups and downs of roster moves, in order to make room for newcomers on the 40-man roster, the Jays have cut loose from the organization Josh Banks, Gus Chacin, Sergio Santos and Tracy Thorpe. If the latter three clear waivers, they could remain at Syracuse.

“I think we’re pretty much there now,” Ricciardi said in terms of making any moves to improve. “We’re done. This is our team. This is the guys we’ve made our bed with. I don’t really see us being able to do a lot at this point.”

If that’s his opinion, even with the exchange rate it’s going to be a long season.

Top of the 4th
The Goldklang Group of minor league teams will participate in a season-long ceremony to induct the first members into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame sponsored by the Topps Company, Inc.

The following scouts and respective dates represent the inaugural 2008 induction class:

John Tumminia – Chicago White Sox
Tom Giordano – Texas Rangers

Tom Kotchman – Los Angeles Angels
Rudy Satin – San Francisco Giants

Lennie Merullo – MLSB
Buzz Bowers – Boston Red Sox

Lon Joyce – Los Angeles Dodgers
Donny Rowland – New York Yankees

Brad Sloan – Los Angeles Angels
Art Stewart – Kansas City Royals

ST. PAUL SAINTS – August 15
Phil Rizzo – LA Dodgers
Hep Cronin – Atlanta Braves

Each scout selected had to have a minimum of 20 years professional experience, and a combination of quantifiable success in the field, contributions made to the game in other areas of the sport, and their involvement and dedication to the local community that is honoring them through induction.

In conjunction with the ballpark campaigns, Topps also plans to create special trading cards for each scout as part of the individual presentation to each inductee.

Top of the 5th
Forget Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy and their youth and inexperience, the Yanks have Darrell Rasner who is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. “You know who he reminds me of a little bit? Jon Lieber,” Derek Jeter said. “He works quick, he throws strikes; he’s fun to play behind. He doesn’t take too much time between pitches, he has a plan and he goes right after guys.”

Maybe the next answer is Dan Giese who will be 31 next Monday. Primarily starting for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees of the Triple-A International League, Giese is only 2-2 but he has surrendered just five earned runs in 39.2 innings for an ERA of 1.13.

Giese became a big-leaguer for the first time last season, at age 30, going 0-2 for the Giants. In the summer of 2005 he briefly retired from baseball and sold cars at a Honda dealership in car dealership in Carlsbad (San Diego County). After leaving the dealership, he took a job at an indoor pitching facility, got the itch again and returned to the Phillies’ system – with his wife eight months pregnant. Giese signed with the Giants (his fourth organization) in November, 2006 and was invited to spring training as a nonroster player.

Giese signed with the Yankees during the off-season and seems to be unrelated to Rip Torn’s Don Geiss on “30 Rock.”

Top of the 6th
Here’s a great site to study baseball’s triple plays:

Email me any interesting things you discover.

Top of the 7th
Red Sox (Josh Beckett) at Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie), 7:05
A’s (Justin Duchscherer) at Indians (Paul Byrd), 7:05
Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang) at Rays (Edwin Jackson), 7:10
Mariners (Felix Hernandez) at Rangers (Kason Gabbard), 8:05
Tigers (Nate Robertson) at Royals (Zack Greinke), 8:10
Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch) at Twins (Kevin Slowey), 8:10
White Sox (John Danks) at Angels (Jered Weaver), 10:05

Braves (Jo-Jo Reyes) at Phillies (Kyle Kendrick), 7:05
Marlins (Mark Hendrickson) at Reds (Edinson Volquez), 7:10
Nationals (John Lannan) at Mets (John Maine), 7:10
Dodgers (Brad Penny) at Brewers (Carlos Villanueva), 8:05
Padres (Shawn Estes) at Cubs (Jason Marquis), 8:05
Pirates (Phil Dumatrait) at Cardinals (Kyle Lohse), 8:15
Rockies (Jeff Francis) at Diamondbacks (Randy Johnson), 9:40
Astros (Brandon Backe) at Giants (Matt Cain), 10:15

Top of the 8th
The number one road draw so far this season?

The New York Mets, averaging 36,589 fans a game. The Red Sox are next.

The Orioles are last averaging 22,608 fans a game.

Top of the 9th
Nationals manager Manny Acta commented, “Look at us,” he says. “Are we bigger than the Redskins?”

Wily Mo Pe