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46 Short Season A-Ball

About WillyM

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  • Birthday 2/2/1949

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    York County, PA
  • Favorite All Time Oriole
    Willy Miranda

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  1. An article on the Orioles' homepage discusses pitchers who hit notable home runs. There are pictures of Mike Hampton, Bartolo Colon, Madison Bumgarner, and the Orioles' Dave McNally, who remains the only pitcher ever to hit a grand slam in a World Series game. A number of other pitchers are mentioned in the article. I was a little sorry to see that the article did not mention George Brett's brother Ken, who hit home runs in four consecutive games for the Phillies in 1973. The heck of it is, it should have been five. On June 3 of that year, Brett came to bat in the sixth inning at Candlestick Park in San Francisco and belted one to deep right-center. The ball landed near the base of the fence, then bounded high and far beyond. The question was whether it had landed in front of or behind the fence. The fence was nothing more than a cyclone fence, so there was no solid background to allow the umpires to see whether the ball had descended in front of the fence or disappeared behind it. The Phillies' TV crew showed numerous replays, but instant replays in that era weren't nearly as sharp as they are today, and even with the replays, it was impossible to tell where the ball had landed. The umps, positioned far away in the infield, took their best shot and ruled it a ground-rule double. The two guys with the best view of the play were Giants outfielders Bobby Bonds and Garry Maddox. I heard, long afterward, that when the play happened, one of them looked toward the infield, saw Brett stopping at second base, then looked at his teammate and asked "Did the umps say that ball landed in front of the fence?' To which his teammate replied, "Yes. Now shut up and act as if you believe it." Brett went on to hit home runs - and actually get credit for hitting home runs - in each of his next four games.
  2. Of course, I'm not on the rules committee. I don't know what they're thinking. If they think that it is important to provide an extra penalty, in the form of returning the runners to their bases, to further discourage the batter from running outside the three-foot lane, then the rule isn't likely going to change. But if that's the way it is and that's the way it's going to be, this is just one of the little things that a team like the Orioles has to try to do right. We've been told that the other teams have more talent than the Orioles do. In order to win games, the Orioles have to concentrate on doing things the right way - even if it's hard to do it the right way, and even if lots of players on other teams don't do it the right way. I hear all the people who say that when a player is running as fast as he can to try to beat the throw to first, it's hard to get over into the three-foot lane. But if Broxton could have done that on Sunday, Santander's run would have counted. And instead of seeing the Red Sox assert their talent with a five-run rally in the tenth inning, we might very well have seen a 4-3 Oriole victory.
  3. I'd like to see the rule tweaked so that, instead of automatically returning runners to the bases they occupied prior to the pitch, the umpires could be given discretion to place the runners where they would have been if no runner's interference had occurred. In the case of Broxton's bunt, I agree with the umpires that Broxton was guilty of runner's interference, because the pitcher had to alter his throw to avoid hitting him. But the only thing the Red Sox were trying to do was get the out at first base. They made no attempt to prevent Santander from scoring or Davis from advancing to second base. The fact that Broxton ran to the left of the base line had absolutely no effect on those two runners. The way the rule is now, the Red Sox got the extra added bonus of not only having Broxton called out but having both runners returned to their bases. If the umps were given discretion, I don't think there's any question that they would have decided to give the Red Sox the out they were trying to get, put Davis on second base and count Santander's run. Does that make sense to anybody?
  4. I can remember when I was a high school player, an umpire explained to my teammates and me about the three-foot lane rule, which calls for a batter approaching first base to run in the lane on the foul side of the baseline, so that he will not interfere with a throw from fair territory. Long-time Oriole fans undoubtedly remember that the umpires working the 1969 World Series somehow forgot that this rule was in the book. The ending of last night's game against the Rangers made me wonder a little bit. Does the rule change if a throw to first base is coming from foul territory instead of fair territory? Two out in the ninth, tying run on second, the batter (Andrus) struck out but the ball got past Severino, who had to chase it down and make a long throw to first. For a moment, I had a nightmarish vision that the throw would hit Andrus and deflect away from Davis, allowing the tying run to score. Fortunately, it didn't. I couldn't tell from the replays which side of the baseline Andrus was running on or how close he came to being hit by the throw. Does the rule call for the batter to run in the three-foot lane on the foul side of the baseline in all circumstances? Or does it change and require him to run on the fair side of the line if he's trying to beat a throw from the foul side on a missed third strike?
  5. Yes, I watched the whole game. Winning beats losing any time, even if it wasn't very artistic.
  6. OK, that shows the answer to my question. It is an official stat, and Fry is credited with 19 IR (inherited runners) and 2 IS (inherited runners scored) for an IS% of 11% (actually 10.5%). Evidently if the runner he inherited scores after he's out of the game, it doesn't count against him. Incidentally, Branden Kline has an even better IS% stat. He has inherited 10 runners and allowed none of them to score.
  7. I'm not sure this is even an official statistic, but it gets brought up pretty frequently on the broadcasts. I'm wondering how it works when a pitcher enters with an inherited runner on base and then is removed, with the inherited runner still on base, before the inning is over. For example, in Sunday's game, Paul Fry was brought in to pitch with a runner on base in the ninth inning. The announcers mentioned that Fry had entered games this year with a total of 18 runners on base and only 2 of the 18 had scored. Fry walked the only batter he faced and was promptly removed. The runner who was on base when Fry entered the game eventually wound up scoring, though he did not score while Fry was in the game. Is Fry credited with an inherited runner but, since the runner did not score while Fry was in the game, not charged with an inherited runner who scored? In that case, his statistic is now 2 out of 19 inherited runners who scored. Is Fry credited with an inherited runner and charged with an inherited runner who scored, even though the guy didn't score until after Fry had left the game? In that case, his statistic would now be 3 out of 19 inherited runners who have scored. Or, if the pitcher enters the game with an inherited runner on base and leaves the game with the same inherited runner still on base, does it not count in his statistic at all, which would leave Fry still with 2 out of 18 inherited runners who have scored? My guess would be that the second alternative would apply and Fry's statistic is now 3 out of 19, but I don't know if that's right or not. Anybody know?
  8. Because once in a while, they actually win one of these games.
  9. Kline retired the last two batters in the eighth and the first batter in the ninth. IIRC, at least one of those three batters was a lefty swinger and the TV announcers made note of the fact that lefty batters were 1-for-19 against Kline this year. The next batter was a righty and he got a single. The next batter after him was another lefty. At that point the choice was to either bring Fry in for a lefty-lefty matchup or leave Kline in there, even though he's a righty, because he's done so well against lefties. Fry had pretty good statistics against lefties, too, but not as good as 1-for-19. And, as we know, the decision was to bring Fry in. Fry couldn't find the strike zone, and after that, Hyde didn't have much choice but to bring Givens in. Givens couldn't find the strike zone, either, and after he walked in the tying run, up came Wolters, who had spent the whole previous at-bat standing almost directly behind home plate timing Givens' pitches, and he produced the game-ending sacrifice fly. Boy, I wish we could have seen what Kline could have done against that lefty batter with one out and one on in the ninth.
  10. In addition to having slumped badly of late, Villar sports an 0-for-19 lifetime against Yankee starter J. A. Happ. Tonight seems like an especially good time to give him a day off.
  11. Very true. Palmer entered the game in the third inning in relief of starter Dave McNally, homered in his only at-bat, and stayed in to pitch through the sixth. He actually allowed the Yankees to score the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth and was removed for a pinch-hitter in the bottom half. A two-run homer by Luis Aparicio in the bottom half gave the lead back to the Orioles and made Palmer a winner. Interesting to note that the man who came on in relief of Palmer in the seventh inning was Don Larsen of World Series perfect game fame. Larsen was in his second tour of duty with the Orioles in 1965, having begun his major league career with the St. Louis Browns in 1953 and then spent one season in Baltimore before moving on to the Yankees. Larsen remains the only pitcher in Oriole history to lose twenty games in a season, going 3-21 for the 1954 club. He pitched 12 complete games that year, nine of which were losses.
  12. I remember a game between the Phillies and the Expos, July 4, 1971. With the score tied, 2-2, John Vukovich led off the Phillies' half of the fifth with a single. Pitcher Chris Short came to bat, and a bunt was obviously in order. Short bunted the ball in front of the plate. Expos pitcher Ernie McAnally fielded the ball and tried for a force out at second. McAnally fired the ball way wide to the right of second base. It went past not only second baseman Ron Hunt, but also center fielder Clyde Mashore, who had come in to back up the play at second but never anticipated that McAnally's throw would be as far off line as it was. I can still remember shortstop Rich Hacker frantically pursuing the ball all the way to the fence in deep right center at Jarry Park as Vukovich and Short both rounded the bases. I know this was a physical error, rather than a mental error, but it's the only time I can recall a pitcher laying down a bunt and scoring on the play.
  13. Last year, Chris Tillman started out by losing his first four decisions. He was just awful. Then he was brilliant against the Tigers in his fifth game, pitching seven innings of one-hit, shutout baseball to pick up his first win. Some of us dared to hope that Tillman had finally rediscovered the form that had enabled him to win 66 games over the four-year period from 2013-2016. But in his next outing he was just awful again, giving up seven runs on seven hits and a walk in just one inning of work against the Angels. And when he followed that up by allowing six runs on four hits and three walks in 1 1/3 innings against the Royals, it marked the end of his Oriole career and, it appears, probably his major league career as well. This year, Dylan Bundy has started out by losing his first four decisions, though he wasn't quite as bad as Tillman had been in losing his first four the previous year. Then he was outstanding against the Rays, pitching 7 1/3 innings of three-hit, shutout baseball to pick up his first win. Boy, I was hoping that, unlike Tillman, Bundy would come back and pitch really well again in his next start. But, though he wasn't as bad against the Angels today in getting his fifth loss as Tillman was last year in getting his fifth loss, he fell quite a bit short of inspiring a great deal of confidence about how he's going to do the rest of this season.
  14. A few days ago, the "this day in baseball history" feature on the MASN telecast reported that May 3 was the anniversary of the first time an Oriole homered in his first major league at-bat. The guy who did it was pitcher Les "Buster" Narum, who homered off the Tigers' Don Mossi on May 3, 1963. Narum was used sparingly that year, appearing in only nine games, all in relief. That at-bat in Detroit was his only at-bat of the season. Narum was traded to the Washington Senators after the 1963 season. He pitched in parts of four seasons for Washington. He turned out to be a pretty poor hitter, accumulating only seven hits in 118 major league at-bats for a lifetime batting average of .059. Three of those seven hits were homers, so we can surmise that Narum subscribed to the swing-hard-in-case-you-hit-it school of batting. But we can be sure that no other Oriole will ever surpass Narum's 4.000 slugging percentage. If I'm not mistaken, the second Oriole to homer in his first major league at-bat was Luis Montanez, who went deep leading off the third inning against the Angels' Ervin Santana at Anaheim on August 6, 2008. He had been called up to the majors the day before and appeared as a late-inning defensive replacement, but did not have an at-bat on August 5. Oddly, if you look at Montanez' record on either retrosheet or baseball-reference, at first glance it appears that he had two at-bats, neither resulting in a home run, prior to that August 6 game. This peculiar situation arose because of what happened in the Orioles' series against the White Sox in April of that year. That was the only time the Orioles were scheduled to play in Chicago that season. Although the weather was terrible on April 28, the third day of that series, the umpires made every effort to get the game in. The Orioles came from behind to tie the game in the ninth, so even though the weather was getting even worse, the game continued. The Orioles scored in the top of the eleventh, but the Sox tied it again in the bottom half. At that point, the weather had gotten so atrocious that the umps suspended play. The game would have to be finished when the White Sox came to Baltimore, which didn't happen until August 25. By that time, the rosters of both teams had undergone considerable changes. Adam Jones, who had started in center field for the Orioles, was injured, so when play resumed, Montanez, who had joined the club by that time and already played in a number of games, took Jones' place in the lineup. Montanez ended up batting twice and even drove in the winning run with a single in the 14th. According to convention, the game enters the official records as being played on the day when it was started. So, even though Montanez never had an at-bat in a game prior to August 6, the records show him as playing in a game, and going 1-for-2, on April 28.
  15. Well, if the general consensus is that it's better to play ultra deep, so be it. I did have another thought. I don't know the name of the White Sox' first base coach, but I assume he's a good baseball man. I can envision that when Abreu came up to bat after Delmonico walked, the first base coach leaned over to Delmonico and said something like this. "See how deep the Orioles' outfielders are playing? If Abreu gets a hit, you make sure to run as hard and as fast as you can. It's going to take them a while to get to the ball, and you might be able to score all the way from first." So, if the Orioles want their outfielders to continue to play deep, the Orioles' outfield coach should explain to his guys that opposing first base coaches are going to notice where they are playing, and are going to tell their players to run as hard and fast as they can. That means the Orioles' outfielders had better get to the ball quickly and get it back to the infield with a good, strong throw, or else the other team's guys are going to continue to score from first on singles.
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