The wild and wacky from 2007
Once again this year, the amazing sport of baseball was stranger than fiction, stranger than a Britney Spears trip to the hair salon, stranger even than the Jonathan Papelbon School of Dance.So before the 2008 sign flashes in Times Square, let's look back at the Strange But True Feats of the Year:
Strangest But Truest Event Of 2007• How the heck did this happen? Yankees rookie Chase Wright, a pitcher who had given up four home runs to the previous 673 hitters he'd faced (in the majors and minors), needed a mere 10 pitches to serve up four home runs in a row to the Red Sox on April 22. Naturally, the four hitters who bashed them had combined for only four homers all season before that, in 218 at-bats.
Strange But True Poster Boy Of 2007• You can't beat Troy Percival's year, can you? On Opening Day in Anaheim, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch (on the soon-to-be-disproved theory that he'd retired). But six months later, that very same Troy Percival was the Cardinals' starting pitcher in the last game of the year. And by November, Tampa Bay had signed him to a two-year contract. Anybody see that coming?
Five All-Time Strange True-isms Of 2007• Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain Dept.: Melvin Mora managed to get ejected during a rain delay of a June 28 Yankees-Orioles game. So what got him booted? He was arguing that the umpires should have started the delay while the Orioles were leading, instead of waiting until the Yankees took the lead. Another great moment in Bird Land. • This Is Modern Managing Dept.: In an Aug. 21 game against the Royals, hyperactive White Sox magician Ozzie Guillen used five different pitchers -- in a span of five pitches. We kid you not. Ehren Wassermann got a fly-ball out. Mike Myers gave up a single on the next pitch. Ryan Bukvich allowed a single on the next pitch. Matt Thornton got a double play on the next pitch. Bobby Jenks started the next inning with pitch No. 5.
Five October Strange True-isms Of 2007• Just for Starters Dept.: We should have known what kind of World Series we were in for when the first inning of Game 1 featured a leadoff homer by a fellow who hadn't hit a leadoff homer all year (Dustin Pedroia) -- off a pitcher who hadn't allowed a leadoff homer since 2004 (Jeff Francis). • Just Getting Warmed Up Dept.: The Red Sox had a longer winning streak in the postseason (seven games) than they had at any point in the regular season (five games). • October Sky Dept.: Even more amazingly, the Red Sox scored 11 runs or more in three straight postseason games (Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS, Game 1 of the World Series). Before that, they'd done that once in all 107 of their regular seasons combined. But heck, that's only about 16,500 games. • No Experience Needed Dept.: When did we know the Rockies were officially out of control this October? Game 2 of the NLCS was saved by a pitcher who had never saved a big league game before (Ryan Speier). And their biggest hit of Game 4 was a two-run single by a hitter who had never driven in a big league run before (Seth Smith). • Infield Fly Rule Dept.: After arriving in the Bronx in August, Joba Chamberlain pitched 24 innings, faced 91 hitters, blew zero leads, gave up only one earned run and threw just one wild pitch. Then the dreaded Lake Erie midges came into his life (not to mention his nostrils, eyeballs and earlobes) in October -- and six hitters into his postseason career, he'd already blown a save, given up an earned run and thrown two wild pitches. So where was the Sultan of Swat when the Yankees really needed him?
More Strange But True Insanity• He Was Just 17 Dept.: Billy Wagner collected his 17th save of the year in the 17th inning of a July 7 Mets-Astros game -- an inning that took him (what else?) 17 pitches. • And They Were Just 17, Too, Dept.: On Aug. 19, Johan Santana struck out 17 Rangers in one game. Meanwhile, Giants reliever Steve Kline faced 216 hitters this year -- and whiffed 17 all season. • Fab Four Dept.: The Cardinals scored in precisely four innings during their entire four-game series with the Padres, Aug. 6-9 -- and still managed to win three out of four. • Wearing Gloves for No Apparent Reason Dept.: The fielders could have gone out for a pizza when Ryan Howard came to the plate from June 24-29 -- since he made 20 consecutive plate appearances without hitting a ball that landed on the field. That's two homers, five walks and 13 strikeouts if you're scoring at home. • Road Wearier Dept.: Those Rockies might have looked unbeatable in September and October. But in June? Uh, not so much. They embarked upon the road trip from hell on June 22 -- a trip in which they A.) lost four straight games in which they held a lead in the ninth inning or later, B.) lost three straight games in which Troy Tulowitzki hit a home run to give them the lead in the ninth inning or later and C.) lost every game in which they made the mistake of giving up a run. (They were 1-0 on the trip when they threw a shutout, 0-9 when they didn't.) • Life Is a Coaster Ride Dept.: That innovative Phillies pitching staff ripped off a three-game stretch in June in which it gave up no runs, then 17, then zero again.
Strange But True Game Of The Year, Century & MillenniumThis all happened, in real life, in the Rangers' 30-3 win over the Orioles on Aug. 22: The Orioles' bullpen gave up 24 earned runs. How hard is that? The Red Sox bullpen gave up 18 earned runs in the entire month of July.
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