Welcome back to the weekend review, in which we try to catch up with the 135 hours or of baseball that happened while everyone else in the world was mowing their lawn. Please note that this isn't a comprehensive review, as it won't catch every piece of news from the weekend. For example, Miguel Cabrera hit three home runs on Sunday, but that doesn't qualify for this space. What, Miguel Cabrera is good? Freaky good? Seems a little dog-bites-man. While man-bites-dog isn't the only goal of this weekend catchup, it certainly doesn't hurt.
A few stories or events that caught my eye:
Review works … eventually
Matt Joyce hit a line drive that ricocheted off an unknown object on or near the right-field wall. The umpires called it a double. Joyce and the Rays thought it was a home run that should be reviewed. Buck Showalter ran out to argue that it was foul and should be reviewed. The umpires conferred, and they decided to put a note on one of their fastest pigeons to get clarification from the league office. Through rain and wind, the feathered Mercury forged a path to New York, where the league office tucked a tiny little note reading "Probably a home run" into the slot on his ankle. When the pigeon returned with the news, Showalter was sleeping on the mound, covering himself with the rosin bag.
But they got the call right!
"Me and [catcher Chris] Snyder were talking -- that's probably the longest debate we've ever seen over a call," said Tillman, who threw some warmup pitches to stay loose. "But they got it right. That's all that matters."
The worry is that expanded replay will slow the game down. This game was the manifestation of that worry. Yet there isn't a single person involved who regrets the call being made correctly. Well, the Orioles probably aren't thrilled with the result, but in theory they're probably fine with the process.
The original video uploaded to MLB.com was over ten minutes, so there's some judicious editing there. But the delay beats another blown call in a tight ballgame.
Aroldis Chapman allowed a homer to Erik Kratz to blow a save and a homer to Freddy Galvis to lose the game
One of the best things about baseball is that it's filled with individual matchups. Football is an 11-on-11 affair most of the time, and only rarely do you get a Bo-vs.-Bosworth moment that isolates two players. Basketball has one-on-one situations regularly, but it seems like the offensive player has more responsibility to fail or succeed. Maybe that's overstating it, but the blame or praise usually goes to the player with the ball.
In baseball, the pitcher wants to do something specific. So does the hitter. And thousands and thousands of times every year, the pitcher is much, much better than the hitter. It's a mismatch. And in hundreds of those scenarios, the underdog prevails.
Here, then, was one of those times.
Both homers were line drives down the left-field line. Kratz was only in the game because Carlos Ruiz made this face earlier in the game:
Which is the international sign for "Dammit my hamstring dammit ow dammit so much." But if Kratz was an unlikely hero, what was Galvis? He had hit 23 professional home runs in over 2,400 plate appearances. None of them came off a pitcher who threw as hard as Aroldis Chapman. I didn't look that up, but I don't even want to bother with the "probably" for that sentence.
The Reds are still having a good season, as is Chapman. This game didn't mean anything, necessarily. But it was an unlikely ending. Maybe one of the more unlikely endings we'll see this year.
Indians sweep, take over first place
For the last decade, I've spent my Aprils writing "IT'S STILL EARLY. DON'T MAKE A BIG DEAL ABOUT THIS." Yet it's still easy for me to look at a week or two of results and make up my mind. I can preach it, but practicing takes discipline. Boring, boring discipline. And when the Indians lost -- to the Astros, mind you -- to fall to 5-10, I couldn't help it. I figured the Indians' splashy offseason was a huge mistake.
Look at them go! The Indians haven't lost a series since getting swept by the Red Sox in mid-April, and they completed an impressive three-game sweep of the Mariners to vault ahead of the Tigers in the Central. The last game of the series was probably the most encouraging, as Justin Masterson is completing his transformation into the Jamaican Kevin Brown.
The Indians didn't get a ton for CC Sabathia, and they didn't get much of anything for Cliff Lee. But the consolation prize from the dissolution of the 90-win teams of the mid-'00s is turning out to be Masterson. He's a sinker/slider guy, which makes him sound like, I don't know, Joe Blanton. Except Masterson can throw in the upper-90s with his fastball, and he's trusting his slider more and more, throwing it 28 percent of the time this year compared to between 14 and 20 percent in previous years.
On the other hand, Mariners.
Curtis Granderson played right field
Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's the first time he's done it in his career. The move is important because it makes the Yankees better, albeit incrementally. Brett Gardner is the better center fielder, and he has been since joining the Yankees. But incumbent center fielders are like boring congressmen. They need to commit the fielding equivalent of diddling an intern before managers will consider moving them off the position, but that rarely happens. So they linger about, uncontested, in their comfortable roles with low expectations.
Of course, Vernon Wells played second base last week, so this is the second-most interesting defensive alignment for the Yankees in the last few days. It's the most important, of course.
Now let's all sit back and wait for Granderson to hit 45 homers in the next four months and propel the Yankees to another division title. Because someone's going to do it. Might as well be Granderson. They say right field is a position for power hitters, after all.
Because Photoshop limits me to 500 frames, I had to choose between the thunderous lead-in to Ian Kinsler's slide, or the sad toe tap at the end. I stand by my decision.