One of the only baseball blogs (to my knowledge) in the blogosphere that focuses on the Montreal Expos. Okay, mostly baseball in general, however with Montreal Expos references to be found within!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mark Bellhorn, the newest Yankee

After being designated for assignment, August 19th, the Yankees signed Mark Bellhorn to a Major League contract yesterday. He'll join Alan Embree in New York, who was released by the Red Sox, July 29th, and signed by the Yankees the very next day!

I remember watching the Angels at Boston, and Embree gave up four runs, just getting 1 out. At around that time, and a few other bad outings, many fans didn't want him any longer. To make an in blog reference, that is the game I first wrote about in the first entry of this blog! Not sure how they all feel about Mark Bellhorn, but probably most won't miss him, since he strikes out a lot, and doesn't have a high batting average, but can get some timely hitting. Some good examples of that go back to last years post season for Boston, the biggest being his three home run in game six. Those four runs in the fourth were enough to tie the series at 3 all. Anyway, point being, both players will always be remembered as being part of the historic 2004 Red Sox team.

So I'll leave it at that. It will interesting to see Bellhorn playing his former teammates when the two teams meet up again, September 9th through the 11th, at Yankee Stadium. Outside of game time however, they all remain friends.

David Ortiz's bunt single

Nine days late, but oh well. Anyway, I was watching Boston at Los Angeles, and in the top of the eighth, with two out, after Renteria hit a three tun home run, Ortiz was up, and the shift was on, and he just layed down a bunt, for the bunt single, and made it, since Chone Figgins was playing so deep. I probably would have wrote more had I posted this soon after the game! Anyway, point being it was funny to see Ortiz lay down the bunt. It payed off too, following a pitching change, Brendan Donnelly in for Paul Byrd, Manny Ramirez homered, and added some insurance. Those five runs were the first runs of the game, and L.A. only got one back in the bottom of the ninth.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Surprisingly, Vlad still one shy of 300!

So, I wasn't able to see the first two games of Boston versus Los Angeles. Although today and tomorrow I will be able to see them again. And as the title says, Vladimir Guerrero surprisingly hasn't hit number 300 yet. That makes five games without a homer. After hitting seven in the first half of August, it is understandable though. I still think he is due. Plus hitting them at home would be nice. I'll be watching on FOX, which I don't mind, unlike some. I find the Joe Buck, and Tim McCarver duo a little annoying, luckily they'll be doing the St. Louis game, so there'll be other play by play guys. To add some additional information to this post, the Angels won the first game, 13-4, and Boston won yesterday, 4-3 in 10 innings. Today Bronson Arroyo pitches versus Ervin Santana. Should be a pretty good matchup, and their win loss records are very close, Boston at 70-50, L.A. has two more losses.

Now, had baseball, etc. (Selig, Loria...) not messed up baseball in Montreal, which was a great baseball town in the past, we should be watching Vlad hit home run number 300 in a downtown Montreal ballpark, just behind the Bell Centre, with a nice view of the tall buildings of downtown! Instead, condos are going up in the lot! Bah, to condos, especially those ones!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Vlad, one shy of 300 homers!

Much going on that is worth mentioning, so I'll get right to it!

I'll start off with Toronto at Los Angeles. I forgot to mention yesterday, but it is still relevant today, the fact that Vladimir Guerrero is one home run shy of his 300th. 234 of which came as an Expo. I am hoping he hits it tomorrow, because I know I'll be able to see it. If he doesn't, then I'll probably miss it, even though I'll be able to watch the last two games of their four game series with Boston. I say that I'll probably miss it because he is hitting .451 this month, with 7 homers already, 5 in his last 8 games. His last homer was on the 14th in Seattle. Both in game one and game two against Toronto he was within a few feet of getting a homer. Overall I would say Vlad is the best player playing today. There are others, so it is arguable. However, I am a bit biased as an Expos fan. Seeing him live at his best confirms he is a superstar! He is without a doubt one of the best hitters for sure.

No extra innings were needed in tonight's game. Toronto came from behind to win 4-3. They were down 3-2, and the blown save went to Francisco Rodriguez, his fifth, and the loss, putting his record at 2-3. Two of those blown saves were against Toronto!

A good game happened in Detroit tonight. Nate Robertson was cruising, and Detroit took a 3-2 lead into the top of the ninth. Despite Robertson doing well, 8.0IP 2H 2R 2ER 3BB 5SO 1HR, Alan Trammell went with their current closer, Fernando Rodney. I hear he has been under fire for decisions like this by the fans. This decision was costly as David Ortiz, Big Papi himself, hit a solo shot to tie the game. To the tenth, Boston's offense exploded! With two runs in already (Tony Graffanino scored on a fielder's choice with one out, and Kevin Youlkilis with two outs on a Johnny Damon single), David Ortiz hit another homer, this time a three run shot! With Manny Ramirez on second with a double, and another new Detroit pitcher (Franklyn German, Detroit's 4th after Robertson left), Jason Varitek hit his 20th home run of the season. However Detroit weren't down and out. Mike Remlinger came in to finish the game. The NESN guys said how maybe he'd find his bearings with this outing, after a couple bad outings. Anyway, that he almost did, if you feel like omitting a grand slam he gave up. He got the first two batters out easily, then managed to load the bases, and give the slam up to Craig Monroe. Next batter up, Brandon Inge flew out to right field. Boston wins 10-7!

I'm not sure if Kenny Rogers was booed in Cleveland, although Rafael Palmeiro was in Oakland. Rogers got the benefit of the doubt on one call in the bottom of the first, Gary Matthews caught a ball but only after it went off the wall and got caught in the top of his uniform, or pinned it to him as he hit up against the wall. Regardless, Rogers still ended up with the loss, going 7 and allowing 6 hits and 6 runs, although only 3 earned. One of two errors was Kenny's own.

Chicago hosted the Twins, in a game that went five hours and nine minutes, and lasted sixteen innings! Michael Cuddyer tied the game at 4 in the top of the ninth. Former Expo Dustin Hermanson got the blown save, only his second this year! Cuddyer also saved the game with a nice play in the bottom of the 11th. He then went on to get the go ahead run in the 16th a couple hours after tying the game! The Twins scored five times in that inning, and Joe Nathan closed out the game, although not a save situation. Detroit used eight pitchers and Minnesota six, for a total of fourteen! Both starting catchers caught the entire game.

Kansas City lost their 17th straight. I sort of feel sorry for them, well maybe the fans anyway, as I know what it is like to be a fan of a losing team. Although not as poorly as they are doing now! The Expos final year was not one to remember, as far as having a good record, but 2002 and especially 2003 were good years! If even the Expos played .500 on the road in 2003, we would have had a great chance at the wildcard, if not taken it. Even still, after sweeping the Phillies in four at home, we were tied for the wildcard with Florida. Expos fans there, can tell you how electric it was. A mere 20 000, yet it sounded like twice that easily in any other stadium. I remember some Phillies said it was the loudest they have ever heard a crowd! Seeing Vlad play that year, and that was awesome! Everytime he was up he would receive a standing O, and he hit three homers in that series! He was an important aspect of us winning those games as he was with Anaheim (still Anaheim at the time) at the end of 2004!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

4 of 9 and 3 of 4.

So tonight, again, for the first game of their series, this time in Anaheim, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had four former Expos in their lineup. Orlando Cabrera, batting second, at short, Vladimir Guerrero batting cleanup, in RF of course, Juan Rivera batting sixth, in left field, and Maicer Izturis batting eighth, at third. Vlad went 2 for 3 with two walks, one being intentional. Orlando Cabrera was only 1 for 6, but that one hit was a double with no outs in the bottom of the 11th. Next batter, Darin Erstad singled in Cabrera to win the game. It actually would have been most likely a double since it found the gap, but since it was the game winner, Erstad only had to touch first.

The three of four is referring to the fact that all but one games in their four meetings have needed extra innings to be decided. The one that didn't was the first meeting, in Toronto, so as far as their meetings are concerned, that makes three consecutive extra innings ballgames. Not very exciting, however if tomorrow's game (actually today) goes to extra innings, then it will start to be interesting! The time prior to this was the one that went to 18 innings!

Elsewhere in the league, former Blue Jay, who I just wrote about yesterday (about a nice DP he was involved in), John McDonald got the walk off hit for Detroit in a come from behind win for the Tigers, over the Boston Red Sox. John McDonald was traded to Detroit for a player to be named later, on July 22nd. Curt Schilling got the blown save, his second, and the loss, putting his record at 4-5. In the game, Jason Varitek made a nice grab in foul territory, right in front of the Red Sox bullpen, hanging over the rail to make the out. It was a big out too, with the bases loaded, and only one out. There was a similar play recently, third baseman for the Reds, Edwin Encarnacion, leaned into the Reds dugout for the out. It was a big out too. So anyway, as the NESN broadcasters said, regarding Varitek's play, such a play may not be possible in Boston, since there is no fence/railing, since the catcher, or player can only slide so far to try for the out.

Finally, Randy Winn hit for the cycle today in Cincinnati, in order, single, home run, double, and triple. His single led off the game, his homer led off the third, his double was with one out in the fourth, and his triple led off the sixth. He also struck out in the seventh. It is the first cycle recorded at the Great American ballpark, which opened March 31st, 2003 against the Pirates. He is the first Giant to do so since Jeff Kent on May 3rd, 1999, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. He is the third to do so this year, Brad Wilkerson did so April 6th in Philadelphia, and former Expo Mark Grudzielanek did so April 27th at home, in St. Louis. All of the which were on the winning side. Yes it's a lot of information, but I am sure the trivia nuts would enjoy it, and I like to be as complete as possible!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Around the league.

Rafael Palmeiro made his return to the lineup yesterday. Although he could have played in the first two games against Toronto, as well as the finale against Tampa Bay. His reason being he did not participate in baseball activities in those ten days, so he had to prepare to start playing again. Palmeiro was greeted by predominantly boos, for his first at bat, although I am pretty sure I did hear some cheering in there. This was at home. I'm sure he'll receive many more boos at Oakland today!

Speaking of Bronx cheers, Kenny Rogers will more than likely be booed again with his second start back since his suspension was cut short to 13 games, from 20. For once I agreed with Bud Selig, thinking he definitely should not have had his suspension cut short. This is where the arbitrator should be booed. It wasn't within Kenny Rogers' control that his suspension was cut short, that I know of, maybe his agent had a say. All of the slow appealing may have helped too. Anyway, regardless of serving only 13 games, I am sure he still would have been booed if his suspension was not cut short. So his second start back will be in Cleveland, versus C.C. Sabathia. It would have been interesting if he made a start in New York. Then Boston and NY fans could have agreed on booing him! Should also be interesting to see if Cleveland's booing affects his pitching. Or maybe if he just plain doesn't pitch well like his Boston start.

Speaking of baseball players with the same name as singers (how's that for a segue way!), Corey Hart hit his first major league hit today in Milwaukee against the Reds, and it happened to be a home run at that! Check out his player page. And eventually when they post it, said homer will be viewable. He started in center field, and went 1 for 4. He was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on the 13th.

Now, as far as some plays go, Placido Polanco, the former Philly, turned a nice double play. A high chopper that right after its second hop ricocheted perfectly off of former Blue Jay John McDonald to Polanco, where he caught it just as he got on the bag, and threw to first. Since it hit McDonald, it went 6 to 4 to 3. Had McDonald been able to field it, they may have only got the out at second, since in between hops can be hard to field properly. Here is Placido Polanco's media page, where the play should be posted, if not, here is the Detroit Multimedia Guide, and just get to the top plays for August 14th.

Jose Vidro had a nice juggling catch, the kind where a player loses it, and still manages to catch it.

Former Montreal Expo Kirk Rueter was activated from the 15 day DL and designated for assignment by San Francisco. He got his start in Montreal, playing from July 7th, 1993 until July 15th, 1996, and was traded to San Francisco July 30th, 1996 for Mark
Leiter. SF also received Tim Scott in the deal.

That is all for now!

Pedro's near no hitter.

So, in his first trip back to Dodger Stadium in eight years, last time being as an Expos, Pedro almost had a no hitter.

In the bottom of the eighth, after retiring Ricky Ledee, Antonio Perez tripled to break up the no hitter. Gerald Williams could not make the catch, but he isn't to blame, as it would have been very hard to get, as it hit off the wall about halfway up. Had he caught it, it would have been a highlight reel catch. Next batter, Jayson Werth homered. So Pedro got stuck with the loss despite allowing a mere two hits, and one walk. So his pitching line ended as follows: Martinez (L, 12-5) 8.0 IP 2H 2R 2ER 1BB 5SO 1HR 2.96ERA. With eight innings pitched on the losing side, he gets a complete game, his third of 2005.

On the other side, Brad Penny had a good game of his own, only allowing one earned run, and allowing ten hits, and no walks. That is how baseball is!

To take a trip down memory lane, Pedro almost had the first extra innings perfect game in history, on June 3rd, 1995. In San Diego, Pedro retired the first 27 batters, and then gave up a double to the 28th, Bip Roberts. Once again, this was Pedro as a Montreal Expo. Check out the box score from that game here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

3 Grand Slams.

There were three grand slams today in MLB play, probably not even too close to any records, but worth noting.
First one, Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia, with no outs, in the bottom of the first, Bobby Abreu hit it out! The guy can slug!
Second one, Kansas City Royals at Boston, with two outs, and his second plate appearance, in the bottom of the fourth, Jason Varitek went deep. He started the inning off with a walk, and later scored. The Red Sox scored 8 in that inning, and had 11 men come to the plate.
Third one, Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington, with two outs, in the bottom of the eighth, former Expo, Brad Wilkerson got all of it. I didn't see his AB before that, but I did see his AB in the fifth, and I don't know if he thought he had hit it out, but he probably at least thought he hit it hard enough to get over Jose Valentin's head, but he made a nice over the head catch.

Of note in the Washington game, John Patterson pitched a complete game shutout allowing only 4 hits, and striking out 13! With the win he earned his 5th win of the season, now 5-3. That is only his 8th decision out of 20 starts! Receiving a decision only 40% of the time at this point! Last year with the Expos he had a 58% decision rate, lifetime 50% (only since 2002, with 52 GS). Indeed baseball can generate some weird stats! So despite pitching well, he obviously didn't get sufficient run support.

Oh, and go here for grand slam team records.

The hottest teams.

No surprises that Boston has now won 8 straight ballgames, making them the hottest team in baseball right now. It was however a surprise that the second hottest team was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I say was because (whew, that doesn't sound right!) I was planning on writing this sooner, while they were still streaking, but they have since lost. Prior to tonight's loss, they had won 6 straight! Now, yes after tonight's loss, with a record of 14-6 since the All Star Break! They also had won 3 straight, and then 4 straight before this 6 game streak came to a close. 7-3 for their last 10. Sounds like the streaking Yankees from the first half! Only 19.5 games behind for the AL wildcard, I say only, although in the AL East that is still a huge number, especially when you are the Tampa Bay Devil Rays! But two full months till the season is over, chipping away, it would be possible. I sound like a Devil Rays fan. Truth is I am not, although I do root for underdogs, however I am only pointing this out, since I thought it was worth pointing out being that they were the second hottest team in baseball. Like when fans say "how about them 'insert some team that normally isn't good that is doing well now here'"! So if any Devil Rays fans read this, ones that remain positive, I am sure they'll be happy to read it! Alright, enough rambling, I think that is my first case of blog rambling, but I am guessing in the blog world it happens a lot!

To end this post with a Simpsons reference, from a recent episode, "Future Drama", Professor John Frink: "Astrology used to be the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of all sciences. Not so very good". Said only the way he could!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

4 of 9

Okay, so a lot more can be said about the long Blue Jays game, such as length of time position players played for, the home plate umpire calling an awful lot of pitches, but now that a fair amount of time has passed I'll leave it at that, and go a little further back in time! Notice how I said Blue Jays, and not just Jays, as that is how they are more commonly referred to now, in their second season of the new uniform style, and logo.

So, going back to July 26th, the first game the Los Angeles Angels played in Toronto, in that lineup, four of nine starters were former Expos in the last two years! Three as of last year! Superstar Vladimir Guerrero being the one that goes back two years. The other three former Expos as of last year were, in order that L.A. received them, Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis (same deal which sent Jose Guillen to Montreal/Washington, more later...), and Orlando Cabrera. I say Montreal/Washington, because it was official that they were heading to DC, there was a period of time when they ceased DC operations of the team, although I definitely could not have seen Bud letting Montreal have them again! Orlando Cabrera was signed as a free agent, as was Vlad, almost a year earlier.

Unregardless (as Homer said in "Weekend At Burnsies"), Vlad was batting third, in RF of course, Juan Rivera was batting sixth, in LF, both with cannons for arms, Orlando Cabrera was batting seventh, and Maicer Izturis was batting ninth, SS, and 3B respectively. Orlando Cabrera being a great shortstop, as is Maicer, although he has been mostly playing third, but almost the same amount of games played at short. Although he has started more games, as of this typing, at short. Orlando Cabrera has the second best fielding percentage in the majors (as of right now as well)! Second to Omar Vizquel.