Some thoughts on Thursday's slate of games ...
ESPN Insider Dan Szymborski wrote the other day that it's time to break up the Phillies and it's hard to argue with that assessment after their recent results. The Pirates won 6-4 to take three out of four in the series, holding the Phillies to 10 runs in four games and dropping Philly to 9-14 while the Pirates improved to 13-9. Cliff Lee went seven innings but threw 122 pitches and left with the game tied and the Pirates then jumped on Phillippe Aumont, with Garrett Jones' pinch-hit two-run double the big blow. The Pirates are fourth in the majors in ERA but it's reminding me of two years ago when there was a lot of smoke and mirrors and the pitching fell apart in the second half. Right now, the staff ranks 25th in strikeout/walk ratio and second in lowest BABIP.
Alex Gordon did this in the 10th inning as the Royals beat the Tigers 8-3. Gordon's blast was helped set up by an intentional walk to ... wait ... Jeff Francoeur. There were runners on second and third with one out with Phil Coke pitching and lefty-hitting catcher George Kottaras on deck, so you can sort of understand Jim Leyland's move. But I'm rarely a fan of the intentional walk to load the bases since it forces the pitcher to throw a strike. In this case, Coke could not, and Kottaras walked to force in the go-ahead run. Why not bring in righty killer Al Alburquerque to face Francoeur? He'd thrown 26 pitches the day before, but you'd think he could face one batter.
An intentional walk that worked: Rangers up 2-1 in eighth, runners at second and third with one out, Tanner Scheppers walks Joe Mauer and then gets Josh Willingham to ground into the 6-4-3 double play. The difference there: Mauer is better than Francoeur and a tough guy to strike out.
The Blue Jays hit Rajai Davis and Munenori Kawasaki 1-2. Shockingly, they lost 5-3 to the Yankees. Injuries or not, John Gibbons needs to stop doing things like this if the Blue Jays are to be taken seriously as playoff contenders.
Carlos Peguero did this for the Mariners. His 451-foot monster blast was third-longest at Safeco Field. No. 1: Barry Bonds off a young (and chunkier) Felix Hernandez in 2006. (Grainy video here.) Peguero isn't really a major league player, but at this point neither is Raul Ibanez.
Condolences to the family of former Braves pitcher Rick Camp, who died at the age of 59. Camp was involved in one of the most memorable games of the 1980s, the July 4, 1985 game against the Mets. Camp hit his only major league home run in the 18th inning to tie the game 11-11 (the Braves would lose 16-13 in 19 innings). Here's video of that home run (the setup by Braves announcer John Sterling and the reaction by Mets left fielder Danny Heep are classic) and here's the box score.