Red Sox-Orioles: The wildest game of the season?

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Red Sox-Orioles: The wildest game of the season?

From Comcast SportsNet
BOSTON (AP) -- Chris Davis had a much better day as a designated pitcher than as a designated hitter. In the first major league game since 1925 in which both teams put a position player on the mound, Davis overcame an awful day at the plate by pitching two scoreless innings and getting the win as the Baltimore Orioles outlasted Boston 9-6 Sunday in 17 innings. Davis went 0 for 8 as the DH, striking out five times and grounding into a double play. Yet in a season full of surprises for the Orioles, the first baseman by trade delivered the biggest one yet in his pro pitching debut. "I was like Sweet! I get to try something different today -- because hitting ain't working," Davis said. "Basically, that was my first thought." Adam Jones hit a three-run homer in the top of the 17th off Darnell McDonald, an outfielder the Red Sox turned to once their bullpen was empty. Boston then got two runners on to start the 17th against Davis (1-0). With a fastball in the mid-80s mph, he struck out All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez and got McDonald to ground into a double play to end a game that took 6 hours, 7 minutes. The last time two teams brought in position players to pitch in the same game was Oct. 4, 1925, when Hall of Famers Ty Cobb of Detroit and George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns closed out the second game of a doubleheader on the last day of the season, STATS LLC said. The last time any position player wound up as the winning pitcher was May 25, 2011, when Philadelphia infielder Wilson Valdez threw one scoreless inning in a 19-inning victory over Cincinnati. "I was just out there trying to throw strikes and not blow the game," Davis said. "In a game like that when everybody's battling, trying to get a win, both teams are throwing everything they got at each other. You don't want to blow it." Baltimore and Boston each used eight pitchers before going to Davis and McDonald. "Just when you think you've seen it all, some days you come out here and just assume the position. That was fun," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "It was a long day, but you like to get something good out of it." J.J. Hardy had a career-high five hits, including two homers, as Baltimore completed its first sweep at Fenway Park since 1994 and won its fifth in a row. The shortstop also made a relay to the plate that cut down the potential winning run to end the 16th. Robert Andino hit a three-run shot for the Orioles, who improved to a major league-best 19-9. Boston has lost five straight. McDonald had scored the tying run as a pinch runner in the eighth, and took the final swing against Davis. "He had pretty good stuff. He had a lot of life on his balls -- more than I expected," McDonald said. "I don't know what was worse -- giving up the three-run home run or grounding into a double play to end the game." Said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine: "He tried to throw it over and got hit out of the park." "I wish there was another option," he said. Boston rookie Will Middlebrooks hit his first major league homer, a grand slam that tied it at 5 in the fifth inning. Gonzalez finished 0 for 8. Davis was having a tough day when Showalter told him to go to the bullpen and begin warming up. "I waited as long as I could to even break it to Chris," he said. "You don't put somebody in that position. It's like asking somebody if they want to walk somebody or not. It's not their decision, it's yours." The first batter Davis faced was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who struck out. After Middlebrooks flied out, Marlon Byrd reached on an error by third baseman Wilson Betemit. Mike Aviles followed with a double, but Byrd was thrown out at the plate. Jones ran down the ball in left-center field and threw a strike to Hardy, and his relay was in time as Byrd barreled into catcher Matt Wieters. McDonald, who pitched one inning last year in his pro mound debut and gave up two runs, took over in the 17th and walked Betemit, who was thrown out trying to steal. Hardy doubled, Nick Markakis walked and Jones hit a drive over the left-field wall. Boston made it 6-all in the eighth when McDonald, pinch running for David Ortiz, scored on a sacrifice fly by Saltalamacchia. NOTES: The game was Boston's longest at home since an 18-inning win over the Tigers on June 5, 2001. ... The Red Sox placed RHP Aaron Cook on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee laceration and activated LHP Andrew Miller from the DL. ... Middlebrooks is the first Red Sox player whose first major league homer was a grand slam since Daniel Nava against Philadelphia on June 12, 2010. ... The Red Sox are last in the AL East, with the New York Yankees in fourth. This is the first time since the current division format began in 1994 that the Red Sox and Yankees were in the bottom two spots past May 1, STATS LLC said.

White Sox expect Chris Sale's return to be 'fairly normal'

White Sox expect Chris Sale's return to be 'fairly normal'

It doesn’t sound as if there’s much ambivalence among the White Sox about Chris Sale’s expected return on Thursday.

Manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday he expects things to be “fairly normal” as Sale is scheduled to pitch the finale of the Crosstown series after serving a five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property. Adam Eaton said teammates should have no reservations about Sale’s coming back after his actions Saturday left them in a bit of a bind. And pitching coach Don Cooper said he’s the first to forgive and that everyone has situations they might later wish they’d handled differently.

“Open arms,” Eaton said. “He’s our teammate. He’s our guy. All of the things that are swelling around about his character, who he is as a player … he’s my brother and I enjoy every second with him on and off the field. Can’t be a better person. I’ll be excited to see him and I’m sure he’ll be in the same form he’s been the entire year — go out and perform and be Chris Sale.

“I’m sure he’ll be well-rested and a clear mind for him I’m sure is going to be a good thing. We’ll welcome him back.”

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The pitching staff could use some innings from Sale without question. When he didn’t pitch Saturday, the White Sox filled those innings with a committee of relief pitchers. Prior to Tuesday’s win, the bullpen had pitched 19 1/3 innings the previous four games.

But the White Sox have handled the drama extremely well. They’re 4-0 with one game left in Sale’s suspension and they look forward to having their ace back. Cooper said he hopes to move on, sentiments that were previously echoed by Ventura and executive vice president Kenny Williams.

“Welcome back, let’s go,” Cooper said. “Let’s go to work. Let’s move on. Listen man, who would want to be held responsible for the (stuff) they did at 22, 24, 26, 27, you know what I mean? He’s way too good of a kid. I don’t think anybody would. Everybody screws up from time to time or has some missteps.”

One of the actions that has caught Sale flack is his criticism of Ventura’s handling of the situation. Neither Ventura or Williams responded to Sale’s comment on Tuesday that “Robin is the one who has to fight for us.” Ventura said he wouldn’t have done things any differently and Williams applauded how Hahn and Ventura handled a difficult, “unique” situation.

Ventura said he doesn’t expect much out of the ordinary.

“I think it’s going to be fine,” Ventura said. “Players always have their teammates’ backs, and that’s no different with our clubhouse, and it’s going to be fairly normal, as far as he’s going to be prepared to pitch and our guys are going to prepare to play and it’s going to go from there.”

White Sox C Dioner Navarro has a good story behind the best game of his career

White Sox C Dioner Navarro has a good story behind the best game of his career

There’s a good story behind the best game of Dioner Navarro’s 13-year career. 

On May 29, 2013, Navarro — then playing for the Cubs — hit three home runs and drive in six in a 9-3 Crosstown victory at Wrigley Field. Both were career highs. 

And Navarro did it without a whole lot of preparation. 

“I got to the ballpark and I didn’t see the lineup, I thought I wasn’t playing,” Navarro recalled. “So we go out for stretch and the first group is hitting and they called my name and I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ And they said ‘You’re playing.’ It was already too late to get into the group so I went inside.”

Navarro only took two rounds of batting practice in his haste to get ready. But he also took those swings thinking right-hander Jake Peavy was going to start for the White Sox, so he hit left-handed during batting practice. 

The White Sox, though, were starting left-hander John Danks, so the switch-hitting Navarro wound up batting right-handed when the game started. 

The pregame mixup hardly hurt Navarro, as it turned out. He homered off Danks in his first and second at-bats, and then launched a three-run homer in the seventh off White Sox right-hander Brian Omogrosso. 

“It was one of the best experiences of my career,” Navarro said.

Navarro is one of a handful of people to play for both the Cubs and White Sox since the two teams began their annual interleague series in 1997 (others include pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Bob Howry, Edwin Jackson and Neal Cotts, among others). His perspective from playing off the Addison and Sox/35th Red Line stops is one he said he’ll cherish after his career is over. 

“I’m really fortunate to be part of it from both sides,” Navarro said. “A little bit bittersweet because the Cubbies had lost 100 games the year before and we were onto our way to lose 100 more games that year (2013). But still the rivalry against this team was something that people always talked about. Being part of it with the Cubs and now being part with the White Sox is a tremendous experience, something I look forward to share with my kids when I get older.”

White Sox happy to retain, and drink beer from, Crosstown Cup

White Sox happy to retain, and drink beer from, Crosstown Cup

The White Sox had a little fun with the Crosstown Cup trophy after securing it for the third consecutive year.

Well, at least one player did for sure: Left fielder Melky Cabrera, according to first baseman Jose Abreu, drank some beer out of the trophy after the White Sox beat the Cubs, 3-0, Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. 

The White Sox retained the Crosstown Cup by virtue of winning the season series in 2014 (three wins, one loss), splitting in 2015 (three wins, three losses), and assuring themselves of at least a split in 2016 (two wins with two games to play). 

This isn’t like a college football rivalry trophy that gets passed between campuses every year. And baseball players generally aren't keen to over-emphasize four or six games over the course of a 162-game season. 

But the Crosstown Cup is still a trophy, and it’s one White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton appreciated receiving again. 

“Any time you win an award — I don’t care if my grandma gives me an award during checkers, I’m excited,” Eaton said. “I don’t really care. But if you play for anything there’s some extra emphasis there. I definitely do think guys take pride in it for sure. But more pride in it that our side of town is happy with us in that sense that we’ve taken the cup back. 

“You don’t want to put too much emphasis on any particular series. But at the same time, if it makes our fans happy that we got the cup back then that’s what we do.”