Farewell to Johnny Pesky, one of the last great Red Sox lifers, who debuted as a 22 year old in 1942, hitting .331/.375/.416, leading the American league in hits (and sacrifice hits) and finishing 3rd in the MVP vote. Then, like so many other young men, Johnny Pesky went to war. He was stationed in the Pacific, and lost three seasons serving his country. He returned in 1946 and led the American League in hits in both of the next two seasons.
Given the incredible start to his career, and the value he provided surrounding his time in the Navy, it’s tempting to wonder whether Pesky could have been a Hall of Fame quality player if the War hadn’t intervened. This seems unlikely, given that he probably lost out on, at best, 15-18 WAR during his time away. That’s not really enough to push him into consideration, especially given how short his career was (10 seasons), how he was pushed to 3B when he was just 28, and that he was essentially done as an everyday player by the time he was 32.
That’s not to say Pesky didn’t have the talent for it. He was a very valuable player despite having almost no power. His .394 career OBP is 9th in the lively ball era among players with a slugging percentage below .400, and puts him in the same category as guys like Richie Ashburn and Luke Appling, just with a much shorter career and less positional value. Pesky would actually be a great choice for the next edition of the Hall of Nearly Great (which you should absolutely buy if you haven’t yet), a terrific player, a tremendous teammate, and the consummate Red Sock. Rest in peace.
Pitcher of the Night: Cole Hamels, 9 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 R
The second straight shutout for Hamels, who has done everything in his power to build up the anticipation of Phillies Phans before his contract extension starts next year. So how many starts do you think it's going to take before they boo the hell out of him? Two? Three?
Hitter of the Night: Adam Dunn, 3-5, 2 HR
On a night when nobody could touch Blue Jays pitchers (literally, the White Sox struck out 16 times), Dunn mashed two solo shots that wound up not mattering. Still, that's a heck of a performance.
Play of the Night: Darin Mastroianni
Mastroianni's play was especially impressive given the situation, as the Tigers had runners on 1B and 2B with nobody out in the 8th, and his hustle forced the runners to retreat. The Twins would get out of the inning with just one more run scoring, and would score in the bottom half and win 9-3. Mastroianni had a tremendous game overall. In addition to this play, he went 3-5 with his third homer of the year, 3 RBI, and a stolen base. He's hitting .296/.361/.444 in 108 plate appearances for the Twins.
Dodgers: Shane Victorino, 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
Victorino hits his first homer as a non-Philly as the Dodgers nip the Pirates. Since being picked up at the deadline, Hanley Ramirez and Victorino have combined to hit .276/.346/.405. That doesn't seem like much, but remember they're being used to replace Tony Gwynn Jr, Bobby Abreu, Juan Uribe, and Dee Gordon.
Yankees: Derek Lowe, 4 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 R, Sv
Lowe's first relief appearance since 2007, and his first time in pinstripes, couldn't have gone any better, and also couldn't have been any weirder to watch.
Yankees: Derek Jeter, 1-3, 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI, BB
As we mentioned yesterday, this hit tied Jeter with Napoleon Lajoie for 12th on the all time hit list. He's 13 shy of Eddie Murray and his droopy mustache and should be able to pass Willie mays by the end of the year.
Blue Jays: Carlos Villanueva, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 R
Ho hum, Villanueva just keeps rolling along with his eighth strong start in eight attempts this year. For those keeping track, he now has a 3.04 ERA, with 50 Ks in 47.1 innings against just 14 walks. Again, he's going to be a free agent at the end of the year. Get your checkbooks out.
Padres: Chase Headley, 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
More than his power surge and his incredible productivity in 2012, TCM is really impressed by Headley's durability. Aside from last year, when he broke his finger and was out for more than a month, Headley has played 524 of a possible 531 games since comingup in June of 2008.
Cubs: Jeff Samardzija, 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 11 K, 1 R
Sure, it was a good start. But more importantly, the Astros and Cubs play each other 8 more times this year. Man, what did we do to deserve that?
Twins: Sam Deduno, 7 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 6 K, 3 R
Deduno now has 30 walks and 28 strikeouts in 40 innings. Regardless of how filthy his stuff is, that's just not sustainable. This is getting ridiculous.
Twins: Ryan Doumit, 3-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
The Common Man has given the Twins front office a lot of grief this year about the construction of this team and its pitching staff, about how they've handled injuries, and about how badly they bungled the trade deadline. But there's no doubting that the decisions to bring in Josh Willingham and Doumit were both tremendous.
Angels: Chris Iannetta, 0-3, BB, 2 K
The Common Man was super positive about the Angels trading for Iannetta before the season, but a busted wrist cost him almost 70 games and he's hit just .188/350/.375 since coming off the DL. Bad luck all around, as a healthy and effective Iannetta would almost certainly have the Angels leading the Wild Card chase. Right now, they're 2.5 back of Baltimore.
Mariners: Dustin Ackley, 0-4, K
Ackley started at 1B last night for the fifth time this season. He's hitting .220/.294/.328 on the year, and .194/.273/.291 since June 1. This, as you'd suspect, is not good.
Nationals: Danny Espinosa, 4-6, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI
Since Ian Desmond went down and Espinosa slid back over to short, he's hit .294/.343/.484 with five homers in 137 plate appearances and Steve Lombardozzi has hit .293/.340/.394 in regular time at 2B. There were concerns before the season about the Nats having too many corner-OF/1B (Morse, LaRoche, Werth, Harper) and talk about them dealing one of their middle infielders. But see? They needed their depth and haven't had to skip a beat when injuries felled Werth, Morse, and Ian Desmond.