Well this week has been a bit odd around Major League Baseball, no? Maybe it was just that everything that happened Friday night in Texas was completely backwards. No, actually it’s more than that, I think, it really was a very unusual week around MLB.
There are always some odd scores here and there and an injury or two but in this week in baseball, I’m pretty sure everyone thought it was the week of Friday the 13th, seemingly forgetting that it was still only just June 12th.
Things were predictable out in Caliornia for the most part. Oakland A’s lost yet another one-run game. That happens a lot these days. Oh and Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia got tossed during that same game for arguing a call that had already been replayed, no shocker there, he’s always whining about something.
Yet there were quite a few other odd incidents all around the league that were not predictable, with most happening within the span of the last few days. I’ll get to those in a bit, but let’s start Friday night in Houston, Texas.
What went down in Houston as the Astros hosted the Seattle Mariners couldn’t have been predicted by anyone, no matter how much of an expert they are about the game. What occurred in that game was not just unusual, it had not happened in the last 11 years.
“King” Felix Hernandez has long been regarded as one of, if not the best, pitcher in the American League since his MLB debut for Seattle on August 4, 2005. Yet, Friday night he looked nothing like the King Felix we all love (or fear) and know. The Astros, who’d been in an offensive slumber on their seven-game skid (also unusual, for this season at least), erupted during the first inning against Hernandez.
Reigning batting champion Jose Altuve led off with a single and left fielder Preston Tucker, whose younger brother Kyle was just drafted fifth overall by the Astros, walked to lead off the bottom of the first. George Springer then doubled, plating Altuve and moving Tucker to third.
Catcher Evan Gattis then reached on a fielder’s choice that was fielded by Hernandez who threw to the runner at home. However Hernandez made an error on the throw and both Tucker and Springer scored.
With the score now 3-0 and Gattis already on second, Hernandez walked outfielder Colby Rasmus. He struck out Carlos Correa. That at least makes some sense as it was Correa’s first time facing the King, but that would be the only out Hernandez would get on Friday night.
Third baseman Luis Valbuena broke an 0-19 streak with a line drive three-run homer to center making the score 6-0. Just when things looked as though they couldn’t get any worse for Hernandez, they did. Chris Carter knocked a single to left, catcher Jason Castro hit his seventh homer of the season making it 8-0 in favor of the Astros.
At this point Seattle manager did something completely unprecedented in the career of King Felix, he removed him from the game in favor of reliever Joe Beimel. The Astros went on to score one in the second and another run in the fifth. All the while Astros’ starter Brett Oberholtzer kept the Mariners’ bats silent, allowing just three hits in eight shutout innings.
The Mariners, on the other hand, used many of their relievers that it was back-up catcher Jesus Sucre who came in to pitch a scoreless bottom of the eighth inning. He did a better job than the King, allowing a lead-off hit to Marwin Gonzalez, who came in to play for Jose Altuve who exited the game after the first inning, but needing only a two more pitches to end the inning. He got Tucker on the first pitch as he grounded into a double play and then got Jake Marisnick on another ground out to end the inning.
What exactly happened to Altuve is at this point mostly a mystery. So far the team has only called it “hamstring discomfort” but we all know it could be more than that. Now reports are saying that he will not play in Saturday’s game. A precaution? Perhaps, but it’s questionable.
So we have a King that failed, an injured batting champion and a pitching back-up catcher looking like an ace. Strange right?
And then there were all the other strange events that have happened in the last couple days. Torii Hunter got suspended two games for throwing a major temper tantrum on the field over balls and strikes and Matt Kemp got tackled by an umpire!
Mookie Betts is out Saturday after smashing into the outfield wall Friday night and the first full-time switch-pitcher in MLB history Pat Venditte, who had waited seven seasons in the New York Yankees farm system to be called up (despite having consistently great numbers his whole career?!), was finally called up by Oakland only to land on the DL a week later.
And I can’t forget the very public, in the dugout manager/pitcher screaming matches between Boston Red Sox starter Wade Miley and John Farrell or Philadelphia Phillies’ reliever Ken Giles and Ryne Sandberg.
I’m sure there have been more unusual weeks in MLB history but you can’t tell me that some strange things were not afoot in the last few days.