Results tagged ‘ Wild Card ’

Rock-tober comes to an end

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

While Jim Tracy’s Colorado Rockies won’t join the likes of Jack McKeon’s 2003 Florida Marlins and Hall of Famer Bob Lemon‘s 1978 Yankees, the skipper certainly made headlines before his team was eliminated from the playoffs on Monday by the defending World Champion Phillies.

10-13-09-Hayes_Lemon.jpgBoth Lemon and McKeon, however, claimed the unique accomplishment of leading their team to a World Series title during a season in which they didn’t start the year as that team’s manager.

Lemon, elected to the Hall of Fame as a pitcher in 1976, was hired by the Yankees shortly after the White Sox fired him in the summer of 1978. His new team trailed the Red Sox by nine-and-a-half games when Lemon was hired on July 25, but future Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Goose Gossage helped the team surge back into contention to catch Boston. The chase was highlighted by a four-game sweep of the Sox known as the Boston Massacre and a one game playoff which featured Bucky Dent’s historic home run. The Yankees then went on to defeat the Royals in the American League Championship Series and the Dodgers in the World Series.

McKeon’s Marlins were much quieter in qualifying for the postseason via the Wild Card – but used an infusion of stellar play from young talents like Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Riding the youth wave, McKeon let veterans like Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Lowell pace the team – pushing the Marlins from 19-29 in late May to 91 wins and a World Series title.

10-13-09-Hayes_Tracy.jpgTracy, who took over the Rockies in May, accomplished quite a bit in his first season at Colorado’s helm. The Rockies finished 22 games over .500 (92-70), making Tracy the first in-season replacement to take a team that was 10 games under .500 to 20 games over .500. He set several other records, tying the modern mark for wins (41) in a team’s first 60 games after getting the job in midseason. With 50 wins through 75 contests, he matched Lemon in 1978-79 as the first mid-season replacement to post a .667 win percentage through that many games.

Entering this year, 30 managers were replaced during the season since 2000. Only eight of the new skippers posted winning records – and only one, McKeon with the 2003 Marlins, actually won the World Series.

Just 15 midseason managerial changes, prior to Tracy, resulted in a playoff berth.In fact, only two teams in history have changed their manager midseason and won the World Series – McKeon’s Marlins and Lemon’s Yankees.

Trevor Hayes is editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Postseason drama

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

On Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins met in the 12th tie-breaker play-in in major league history. The 12-inning affair also matched Game Seven of the 1924 World Series for the second-longest elimination game in major league history, a game in which 12 Hall of Famers saw on-field action.

10-9-09-Berowski_Gomez.jpgTuesday night’s game ended in dramatic fashion when Tigers closer Fernando Rodney, pitching in his fourth inning (something unheard of for a closer in this era), gave up the game-winning hit. Alexi Casilla, hitting a major league low .202 in 2009 for batters with more than 200 at-bats, drove a single to right allowing the speedy Carlos Gomez, the primary piece of the 2008 Johan Santana trade, to score the winning run from second base and secure the AL Central title for the Twins. This Tigers loss also marked the fifth time since 1900 that a team lead by as many as seven games in September and lost the lead, ultimately missing the post-season. The other teams to suffer the same fate as the Tigers: the 1934 Giants, the 1938 Pirates, the 1964 Phillies and the 2007 Mets.

The 1924 World Series between the New York Giants and the franchise that is today known as the Minnesota Twins – the Washington Senators – would take all seven games to decide. Eight future Hall of Famers competed for the Giants that day while the Senators fielded four, including Game Seven’s winning pitcher, Walter Johnson.

10-9-09-Berowski_Johnson.jpgAlready 0-2 in the Series, The Big Train played a pivotal role in this game from the time he entered in relief in the 9th inning, striking out five and allowing only three base hits until the game’s end. With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the 12th, Giants backstop Hank Gowdy dropped a foul pop-up by his Senators counterpart, Muddy Ruel. Ruel took full advantage of his second chance, driving a double to left field. Johnson was up next and he too reached base, on an error committed by future Hall of Fame shortstop Travis Jackson. Instead of a three-up, three-down inning, runners were now on first and second with one out. Light-hitting Earl McNeely, batting only .192 in the Series and already 0-for-5 in the game, proved the unlikely hero, doubling home the winning run.

Incidentally, the record for most innings played in an MLB elimination game – where both teams could be eliminated – is 13, when the Colorado Rockies defeated the San Diego Padres to become the 2007 National League Wild Card winner.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Six cycles

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Hitting for the cycle is one of the more rare feats in baseball. It has happened only 286 times in the history of the game.

8-12-09-Carr_Tulowitzki.jpgOn Monday night, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki made it 287 when he became the sixth player in 2009 to accomplish the feat.

Tulowitzki had a career-high seven RBIs during his five-hit performance against the Chicago Cubs, putting the Rockies in first place in the National League Wild Card race and cutting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lead to 5 1/2 games in the NL West.

“It’s definitely more satisfying that I did it in a game that means a lot,” Tulowitzki said.

8-12-09-Carr_TulowitzkiHi-Five.jpgHe joins Orlando Hudson, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Melky Cabrera on the list of players who have hit for the cycle in 2009. They have all donated items from their historic feat to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, with the latest item being Tulowitzki’s batting gloves.

Only five other times in history have there been six cycles in one season. Only twice (1890 and 1933) have more than six cycles been reached.

In 1933, a record eight players hit for the cycle, and five of them were later inducted into the Hall of Fame: Chuck Klein, Arky Vaughan, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx and Earl Averill. Cochrane, who had also hit for the cycle in 1932, Pinky Higgins and Foxx were all teammates on the Philadelphia Athletics and hit for the cycle within a two-week span during the first half of August.

1933 cycles
May 5: Pepper Martin, St. Louis (NL)
May 26: Chuck Klein, Philadelphia (NL)
June 24: Arky Vaughan, Pittsburgh
Aug. 2: Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 6: Pinky Higgins, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 14: Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 17: Earl Averill, Cleveland
Sept. 30: Babe Herman, Chicago (NL)

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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