The promise of each day’s slate of baseball games has been well established to the point of cliché. As fans, we watch in anticipation for thrilling finishes, Ruthian blasts and historic feats that we’ll remember for years. We hope to see something that has never happened before.
Those of us who tuned in Thursday for the final Subway Series matchup of the regular season were rewarded with the added bonus of some really bad baseball.
Yes, we love bad baseball. Well, not booted grounders, strikeouts or blown saves. Those are routine over the course of a season, even in this current 60-game truncated mess. No, we love the bad baseball that makes us wonder how such a blunder is possible. Sure, for fans of teams on the wrong end of these mishaps, bad baseball can be frustrating. But for those whose allegiances won’t be tested by them, bad baseball moments are comical refreshments that break up the monotony of a season.
Let’s go to Flushing, Queens for some poor late-inning baserunning from two of the fastest players in the league. First it was Billy Hamilton, the most famous pinch-runner since Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.
With the Yankees leading 7-6, Aroldis Chapman walked Jeff McNeil to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Hamilton replaced McNeil, representing the tying run. He took a large walking lead, split for second on first movement and forced Chapman to balk.
Then, for some inexplicable reason, Hamilton tried to steal third. A pretty throw from New York’s backup catcher, Kyle Higashioka, nailed him, removing the tying run from the bases.
“Good grief,” groaned Keith Hernandez in the Mets broadcast booth, along with his characteristic sigh whenever the Mets do Metsian things.
Naturally, J.D. Davis launched the next pitch over the center field fence for a solo homer. What would’ve been a walk-off blast instead tied the game and forced extras. The Yankees caught a break thanks to Hamilton—and then saw their fortunes turn in the 10th on an even fouler baserunning brain fart.
Tyler Wade began the inning at second base with DJ LeMahieu at the dish and woefully inconsistent Edwin Díaz pitching. LeMahieu laced a liner at Mets right fielder Michael Conforto, who came in a few steps for the easy snag and tossed it to second for a double play. Wade was one base and two outs ahead of where he should’ve been.
In the pouring rain, it looked like both teams were doing everything in their power to keep playing. It ended in the bottom of the 10th in the only way fitting for this ugly game to finish: A leadoff, two-run homer from Pete Alonso to walk it off against a rookie reliever on the first pitch. Welcome to baseball in 2020.
Just in time for Mike Clevinger’s Padres debut Thursday, San Diego’s explosive offense morphed into the Mets’ lineup whenever Jacob deGrom pitches. And this was against the Angels. Go figure.
It was a solid, if underwhelming, start for Clevinger, who allowed two runs on seven hits and one walk with two strikeouts in six innings. A third-inning Andrelton Simmons single brought home the first run. Anthony Rendon led off the fourth with a triple and scored a batter later on Justin Upton’s single to center field.
Both of Clevinger’s strikeouts came in the second inning, when he caught Shohei Ohtani looking for the first part of a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play as new Padres catcher Austin Nola caught Upton stealing. Then, Clevinger made Franklin Barreto, the player the Angels acquired from the Athletics in the Tommy La Stella trade, look silly on this three-pitch strikeout.
The next time up, in the fourth, Barretto tried to bunt his way aboard, and instead bunted his way back to the dugout. He was called out when the bunted ball hit his helmet as he started running to first base.
At least we should commend him for using his head. Barreto is hitless in 14 at-bats this season.
Gotta love some bad baseball.
The Red Sox knew we didn’t get our bad-baseball fill from those first two games, and they were ready to oblige us.
Boston led the Blue Jays, 2-1, in the top of the eighth when, with runners on first and second and nobody out, Ryan Brasier balked on a klutzy pickoff attempt, which allowed both runners to advance. Instead of coming off the rubber to try and get Cavan Biggio, who was at second, Brasier stepped toward third and then turned to second—an easy call for the umpires.
As if that wasn’t enough, Brasier’s first pitch to Teoscar Hernández skipped through catcher Christian Vázquez’s legs and went to the backstop. Biggio scored easily from third before Brasier retired the side.
Hernández's three-run homer in the top of the 10th gave the Blue Jays the lead in their 6-2 win.
- Clevinger wearing the vintage brown-and-yellow Padres uniforms was the perfect antidote for all the bad baseball we saw Thursday.
- Clayton Kershaw became the 39th pitcher to record 2,500 strikeouts when he whiffed Nick Ahmed on three pitches in the second inning of the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game Thursday. At 32 years and 168 days old, Kershaw is the third-youngest pitcher to reach the milestone, according to MLB Stats. Only Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson did so before their 32nd birthday. Kershaw flirted with a no-no through five innings, ultimately throwing six scoreless while allowing one run and striking out eight.
- The Phillies walked off the Nationals, 6-5, in 10 innings for their ninth win in 10 games, fulfilling Bryce Harper’s Aug. 22 prophecy.
- The White Sox continued to feast at the dish, plating 11 runs on 13 hits in their win over the Royals Thursday. Edwin Encarnación, Tim Anderson and Luis Robert all homered, and José Abreu extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a 2-for-5 night.