Was that the Game of the Year? It was certainly a candidate for Game of the Year. What we learned Thursday:
1. The Boston Red Sox will win and it will be dramatic. When Aaron Hill struck out swinging to start the ninth, Boston's estimated odds of winning were 1.9 percent. When Xander Bogaerts grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out, it was still just 4.4 percent. When David Ortiz singled, the odds went up to 10.1 percent and when Mookie Betts singled the odds increased to 17.2 percent. A passed ball moved the runners up. When Hanley Ramirez's home run flew well over the center-field fence the odds were 100 percent and the game was over and the New York Yankees had fallen five games behind the Red Sox in the AL East, and three games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild card.
What a ninth inning:
(A) Joe Girardi wanted to avoid using Dellin Betances, who had pitched the previous two nights. I actually think this was good strategy, with the bottom of the lineup up and three-run lead. After Blake Parker hit Chris Young, however, Girardi went to Betances.
(B) On the 2-1 pitch to Ramirez, he checked his swing. It looked like a swing that is normally called a swing, but first-base ump D.J. Reyburn said no. Them's the breaks.
(C) With first base open, Betances didn't have to throw a strike to Ramirez -- who, by the way, has been red hot with a 1.029 OPS over his past 26 games. Rookie catcher Gary Sanchez called for a fastball and Betances threw a 99-mph pitch. With Travis Shaw on deck and a 3-1 count, maybe a slider made more sense, considering Ramirez had waved wildly at one way off the plate and checked/didn't check his swing on the 2-1 pitch.
(D) It was the first time the Yankees had lost a game with a three-run lead and two outs in the ninth since September 28, 2007 (Jay Payton hit a bases-loaded triple off Mariano Rivera and the O's won in the 10th).
(E) Betances is probably unavailable now for Friday's game.
(F) Are we having fun yet?
Hanley Ramirez on his objective in last at-bat: "I was trying to go to the moon." Almost, Hanley.— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) September 16, 2016
2. David Ortiz passes Mickey Mantle on all-time home run list. Ortiz's screaming line drive to center field in the eighth inning traveled an estimated 442 feet, moving him into sole possession of 17th place on the all-time list with 537 home runs. Ortiz's skeptics like to point out that he wasn't that good with the Minnesota Twins, so believe his Red Sox career has perhaps been artificially enhanced. One thing to keep in mind: He had various nagging injuries throughout his Twins career. The Twins also stressed contact hitting at the expense of power at the time, forcing Ortiz out of his natural style of hitting. Aside from that, Ortiz's sustained excellence is also a product of his unique genius at the plate. In his first year with the Red Sox, his strikeout rate was 16.3 percent. It climbed to nearly 24 percent by 2010. Since then, as K's have increased, Ortiz's rate has decreased, and he's at a career-low 12.9 percent this year, which has allowed him to keep that average above .300.
Most home runs, ages 27 to 40:
1. Barry Bonds, 566
2. Babe Ruth, 552
3. Hank Aaron, 514
4. Rafael Palmeiro, 496
5. David Ortiz, 479
6. Sammy Sosa, 478
7. Jim Thome, 471
8. Willie Mays, 459
9. Mark McGwire, 427
10. Mike Schmidt, 417
3. Cubs clinch! OK, it would have been much more fun to do it with pileup on the mound in front of the home fans, but the Chicago Cubs couldn't hold an early 2-0 lead as the Milwaukee Brewers won 5-4. The Cubs ended up clinching a few hours later when the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2. It's their first division title since 2008 and their sixth of the divisional era (since 1969). And in wild-card news, that means the Giants are a game up on the New York Mets, who are a game up on the Cardinals.
4. Good night and good luck (in 2017). The defending World Series champs aren't officially eliminated, but the Kansas City Royals are done after the Oakland Athletics completed a four-game sweep in Kansas City with a 14-5 victory. And it was an ugly, ugly sweep.
The A's, who stink, outscored the Royals 43-12 in a four-game sweep.— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) September 16, 2016
5. Padres GM A.J. Preller suspended 30 days. The list of Preller's dirty deeds continues to grow and you wonder if the San Diego Padres should fire him, considering his now damaged reputation and how that might affect dealings other teams have with the Padres. While a member of the Texas Rangers front office, he was suspended for wrongdoings regarding signing players in Latin America. Soon after the Padres hired him in 2014, the team was reprimanded for conducting an illegal workout. A trade with the Miami Marlins at the deadline was re-worked after Colin Rea, who went from the Padres to the Marlins, blew out his elbow in his first outing with Miami. Now Preller becomes the first high-ranking front office member suspended since Reds owner Marge Schott in the 1990s after Preller's shady handling of medical information in the Drew Pomeranz trade. From Buster Olney's report:
Two sources with direct knowledge of the Padres' meetings told ESPN that the staffers were instructed by front-office officials to document medical details about players into the two separate systems. The athletic trainers were told to post the details of any disabled-list-related medical situations on MLB's central system, but they also were instructed to keep the specifics about preventive treatments only on the Padres' internal notes, sources said. One source defined the distinction in this way: If a player was treated for a sore hamstring or shoulder without being put on the disabled list, that sort of information was to be kept in-house, for use within the organization only.
Preller's statement makes it seem as if he just made an innocent mistake. Well, he's made too many of them.
Here's former Giants coach Tim Flannery:
Here my point, it's a sacred game. Not about teams, about people. pic.twitter.com/yZaQypeBCh— Tim Flannery (@TimFlannery2) September 16, 2016
Is this who the Padres want running the baseball side of their organization?