Thursday, June 25, 2009

Baseball in the Daytime: Six Pack After Catcherkkake

If you missed last night's Royals-Astros game that went into extra innings, you missed quite a sequence of unusual events. Allow me to backtrack. Tuesday night's game was a 2-1 win for the visitors, and Kansas City closer Joakim Soria gave up two singles in the bottom of the ninth before striking out two and fielding a grounder. Nailbiter. Against the Astros. After five frames on Wednesday there were goose eggs in the runs column for both squads. Top of the sixth: Mark Teahen reaches with a single. Brayan Pena does the same. Royals skipper Trey Hillman, the subject of some recent House of Georges scrutiny, calls for Tug Hulett to pinch hit. In the sixth. If the move had failed, cue the central scrutinizers.

But it didn't. Hulett singled, scoring Teahen. Houston countered with a two-run homer in the bottom. In the ninth, Lance Berkman pulls a Bill Buckner; Mitch Maier safe at first. Hillman sends Mike Jacobs in to pinch hit, who crushes one to deep center, but not out. The Astros CF plays it off the wall (into his glove) and Houston tries to pretend like he caught it clean, sending the ball back to first as though Maier, who saw it hit the wall first, hadn't tagged up. One ump calls Maier out. Another overrules him. David De Jesus singles, scoring Maier: tie game.

In the 10th, Royals catcher Brayan Pena is at the plate, and after the first pitch, Astros catcher Ivan Rodriguez gets up and gets in his face, claiming that Pena "peeked" behind him to see where Rodriguez was positioned, an unwritten-rule violation of player etiquette said Royals commentator Frank White. Rodriguez continued to jaw at Pena for two more pitches, just before Pena jacks one out of the park, Royals 3, Astros 2. Hillman then sends Miguel Olivo out to catch for the bottom of the inning, where Rodriguez is leading off. He singles, chats up Billy Butler about the scenario at first base, advances to second on a Kaz "Sex" Matsui sacrifice, where he chats up Willie Bloomquist (now playing SS) about the deal. Another Houston hit, Rodriguez scores, tie game again.

In the 11th, Olivo leads off, and Olivo attempts to ignore Rodriguez, who was shooting Olivo glares in the dugout when Pena had been at bat. So what does Olivo do? Sends a pitch over the wall in leftfield. John Bale comes in and retires the Houston side. Royals win, 4-3. Never in my life have I seen such a bizarre catcher threesome take place. So, the natural thing to do would be to announce your starting catcher in each game of Baseball in the Daytime, but that ain't happenin', homes. You'll have to settle, after the jump, with the guys on the hills.

Windy City @ Motown, 12:05 Central: It's Cubs baseball at its finest, ladies and gents, especially when lefty Ted Lilly takes the hill. Though Chicago has lost three straight, they're still at .500, and Lilly's 7-4, 3.04 E.R.A. gives them a decent shot this afternoon. Right-hander Armando Galarraga gets the go for the Tigers. He's had less success as his 3-7, 5.62 insists. That E.R.A. creeps above seven if you look at his last three starts. I'll be pulling for Cecil's club as Detroit has won six straight, a comfortable five-game cushion over Minnesota in the A.L. Central. Get your DirecTV rocks on on 307, 721, or 722. Or, put an ear to a speaker on XM 176.

Gateway to the West @ Shea Queens, 12:10: The schedule makers are quick to interrupt our Inter-League hoedown with some quick N.L.-on-N.L. action. Our second match of the day should be a pitching delight as the 5-1 righty Chris Carpenter goes for the Red Birds, while left-handed Johan Santana starts for Los Mets. Santana has struggled of late, losing three of his last four goes, but still holds an 8-5 record. This game'll matter in the standings as St. Louis clings to a one-game lead over Milwaukee in the N.L. Central; New York sits a game and-a-half behind defending champion Philadelphia in the East. DirecTV invites you, but not for free, to have a peek on the 723 or the 724, while XM says, "Picture. Picture? Listen in on 183."

City of Fountains @ We Have a Problem, 1:05: The Royals look for a sweep of the Astros today as a couple of four-loss, right-handed Brians go to work. It's Bannister versus Moehler down at Minute Maid Park, and you can have your juice and drink it, too: DirecTV 729, 730; XM 184.

Humberto's Angels @ White Stockings, 1:05: The fourth can of our six pack should be a hurler's doozy as well. Dodger Chad Billingsley, his right arm, his 9-3 record, and his 2.83 E.R.A. challenge White Sock Clayton Richard, his left arm, and his 2-1/4.03 combo. L.A., of course, continues to cruise out West winning of seven of their last 10, padding that eight-game lead, while Chicago sits three games over .500, right smack in the middle of the A.L. Central. Catch the arms and the bats on DirecTV 725 or 726, or tune into XM 177.

Twinkies @ Brew Crew, 1:05: Next on tap is Scott Baker and the Twins versus Mike Burns and Milwaukee. Baker hasn't quite had the start many envisioned, posting a 4-6/5.22. Burns was called up from Triple A Nashville due to Dave Bush's placement on the DL. This will be Burns' first big-league start; he went 7-2 with a 2.55 this season in the minors. Dunk your cream-filled Hostess cake in a pint of Miller Lite on DirecTV 727, 728, or crinkle the wrapper and the can on XM 185.

Whale's Vagina @ non-Pilots, 3:40: And a pair of lefties conclude daytime baseball today. It's Wade LeBlanc and Jerrod Washburn standing on the rubber. The Padres' first-time starter got knocked around a bit by the A's in relief duty on Friday, while Washburn continues to hover somewhere below the pitcher Mendoza Line, if such a thing exists. And it doesn't. But hell, tune into DirecTV 731 or XM 176 if you feel like catching some west-coast Inter-League love. I know I don't.

That's your slate for today, folks. Like Coco Crisp might say, My work's done; I'm outta here.