The Indians entered the weekend looking to right the ship after a disastrous sweep at the hands of Detroit effectively ended the AL Central race and left the Tribe in a wildcard or bust situation. They were unable to turn things around Friday night, falling behind the Angels 5-0 in the first inning and never recovering. Making matters worse, the A's, Rangers (who acquired OF Alex Rios yesterday), Orioles, Royals, and Yankees all won last night, meaning the Indians lost a game to each of them in the fight for the second wildcard and currently sit 4 games back in that race. If you were looking for a silver lining to last night's action, it might be the 5 shutout innings of relief provided by Carlos Carrasco, making his first appearance at the big league level in over a month.
Other Indians news/links:
Mark Emery's Friday notes at MLB.com include a look at Ryan Raburn'sshutout inning of relief from Thursday night, the players-only meeting called by Jason Giambi after that game, and Carlos Carrasco's five innings of scoreless work against the Angels.
Bastian reports that Francona says Scott Kazmir (who lasted just 3 innings Friday) is fighting fatigue and that the team will look to get him some rest, as he's now thrown 114 innings, far higher than his total in either of the last two years. Bastian wouldn't be surprised if Carrasco is given the starting nod on Wednesday, when Kazmir's next turn is currently scheduled.
Former Giants and Cardinals All-Star Jack Clark has a new radio show in St. Louis, and looking to make a splash, declared yesterday that he "knows for a fact" that Albert Pujols has used steroids. Then, for good measure, Clark accused Justin Verlander of using as well.
I hate, hate, hate what I view as a PED witch hunt, and wild accusations that might taint a clean player's reputation bother me tremendously. If someone has hard evidence, by all means, come forward, but this feels like an attention grab by Clark (in which case I suppose I'm giving him what he wants). His take on Verlander (which he bases on a drop in velocity which is factual data shows isn't actually there) is especially weak, and I would be happy to see Verlander (as reported by the Detroit News) and Pujols (as reported by the LA Times) follow through on the legal action against Clark they have mentioned in response to his comments.
I like Steven Goldman's take at SB Nation, in which he points out how silly it is to base assumptions on season-to-season fluctuations in performance, such as Verlander being merely very good in 2013, after being the best pitcher in baseball in recent years.
The Twins Jared Burton punched teammate Brian Duensing while the two stood in the bullpen yesterday. Minnesota may be headed to another losing season, but at least they haven't lost their sense of humor.
Jonah Keri looks at what he calls the BestCoolest players of his time as a baseball fan (since roughly 1980), a combination of production and "it" factor. Thursday he posted his top ten pitchers, and then yesterday he counted down the top twenty position players (finding ways to include far more than just twenty players).
I am a few years younger than Keri, so a few of his choices wouldn't make the cut for me, and I think he's maybe a little kind to former Expos (understandably), but I love the concept and really enjoyed reading the lists. #5 on the position player list will be of particular interest to many of you.
I'm sure I'm not the only one here who's awfully excited about the return of Breaking Bad Sunday night, for the first of its final eight episodes. It's bittersweet to know there is so little time left with Walter White, but of course all things must end, including great TV dramas. Here are my favorite dramas, among those that are still on the air (whether they happen to be in-season at the moment or not):
6) Treme - If I cared more about music or food, this might rank even higher. As is, it cracks the list for its well developed characters trying to reclaim some kind of ordinary in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
5) Boardwalk Empire - A great looking show that has at times struggled to make itself consistently compelling, but I think it's most recent season was its best. Richard Harrow is one of the great supporting characters on TV.
4) The Americans - Only one season so far, but I really liked that season. If you're unfamiliar, it's about a pair of KGB agents posing as a married American couple as the Cold War's final chapters play out in early 1980s Washington.
There's a big gap between those first three and these next three, each of which would also rank on my list of all-time favorite TV dramas:
3) Game of Thrones - Unlike the two shows still to come on this list, this one isn't yet near its end, so it has lots of time to climb even higher (or fall apart, I suppose). It's gone beyond its soapier elements and really developed interesting characters and storylines.
2) Breaking Bad - Are audiences still cheering for Walter White? Are they supposed to? It seems to me that the show has worked hard to make him less and less likable, all while keeping the show as interesting as ever. Are we about to witness a redemption, or a final descent to whatever depths remain?
1) Mad Men - What began as a show that seemed tightly centered around one man has gone on to create a more fully realized world than I expected (side characters here have more going on than the leads in many series), but as the show prepares for its final season, it seems poised to focus again more tightly on Don Draper.