For the first time in its brief history, the World Baseball Classic has an expanded field of 28 countries, with 16 of those national teams playing in qualifiers for the final field of 16 to be staged in March 2013. A dozen teams were given automatic byes out of the last tournament in 2009, but the four countries that were winless in the double elimination tournament were placed as the top seed in four-team pools that were forced to compete for one spot, rounding out the field.
Already there has been one change to the field, as Spain went to extra innings to beat Israel 9-7 in the championship game of Qualifier 1 in Jupiter, Fla. The host team that had been to the first two versions of the WBC was South Africa, now eliminated. Israel's line-up featured former Jays outfielder Shawn Green who came out of retirement to DH and was 1-for-4 in the final game.
In Qualifier 2, Canada plays host-country Germany in the championship game on Monday afternoon in Regensburg. Earlier in the tournament, Canada beat the hosts 16-7. Manager Ernie Whitt's team was relegated to a qualifier because of losses to Team USA and Italy in '09 at the Rogers Centre. Whitt's team was handicapped by the fact the qualifier was in September, thus forced to use minor-leaguers, rather than any of the 17 Canadian major-leaguers that will be available should they win the pool. There are 147 Canadians in baseball's minor-leagues.
Meanwhile there was one player in the Jays clubhouse looking forward to his kick at the WBC can. Catcher Yan Gomes spoke enthusiastically about his upcoming experience as a member of Team Brazil, entered into a Nov. 15-20 qualifier with Colombia, Panama and Nicaragua. Brazil is ranked 33rd among baseball countries in the world, making them the long shot in Pool 3.
“It's going to be a huge honour, just kind of how it was being the first Brazilian in the majors – even bigger, just representing the country on the stage of the WBC,” Gomes said on the weekend at Tropicana Field. “I still have a lot of friends down there in Brazil that played and get in contact with me a lot. They kept up with me and my career.”
Gomes, a native of Sao Paulo, became the first Brazilian-born player in the majors when he made his debut on May 17 vs. the Yankees. In a four-game series in early August in Oakland, Gomes showed his versatility appearing in left field, at first and third base and behind the plate. He will be a huge part of manager Barry Larkin's plans to pull off an upset.
“I think that's really awesome,” Gomes said of the chance to play for a hall-of-fame player. “I'm looking forward to it too. I'll probably get to learn a lot from him.”
Starting at spring training, where Gomes impressed manager John Farrell with his versatility as a non-roster player, through his various stints at the major-league level, it's been an eventful year.
“It's definitely been a huge year,” Gomes said. “To top it off I'm getting married in a couple of weeks. It's just been a great year. It started off last year, just working hard and trying to get something going. I started off pretty good in spring training and just kept going. It's been a great experience.”
The key game for Gomes may have been a March contest in Sarasota against the Orioles. He travelled south with the team and drew a start at third base for an injured Brett Lawrie, banging out a couple of hits and making some nice defensive plays.
“It was big in some ways, but I wouldn't say it was the biggest game,” Gomes recalled. “But it definitely made them think that I can play some third too. That was the first time I had played third in my career. It happened to be in a big-league game in Sarasota. I don't want to take just one game out of that spring training. Just the whole experience, even off the field, while we were training and doing stuff on the side. Just the little things, being with big leaguers.”
In some ways, it was a difficult summer for Gomes, back and forth to the minors, with the travel to Las Vegas and the disappointment of being sent down again both being factors.
“At first I was upset, but it wasn't really that big of a deal,” Gomes said of each demotion.
“No matter how I was doing, it did take me a couple of days to get it going. Me and ('51s batting coach Chad Mottola) would work very hard at trying to get it going, back to where I need to be to get back up here. It worked out all right. To me it was really important (to finish the season back in the majors), not just to get the feeling of being comfortable up here. I know for my fiancée (Jenna) it wasn't nice, she hated the travel back and forth, but it just kind of kept the experience going.”
Yan and Jenna plan on being married in October, at which time Gomes will head south for a month of winter ball in the Dominican Republic and from there straight to Panama City to meet his Team Brazil mates. It will be a hectic offseason for the Jays' rookie.
“I'm sure we have a chance,” an optimistic Gomes said. “It just comes out of who's playing hot. It's just like any kind of match-up is. We'll see how we look. We'll give it our best that's all we can do.
JAYS WEEK IN REVIEW
SEASON: The Jays concluded a horrible week, losing all six games on the road trip, three at Yankee Stadium and three at Tropicana Field, heading to Baltimore. The Jays had an off-day Monday, then were rained out on Tuesday with a split doubleheader on Wednesday. The Jays were outscored 42-16 in the six games. They scored more than two runs in just two of the games, but the pitching did not respond in kind, losing 10-7 to the Yankees on Thursday and 11-5 to the Rays, Saturday.
The Jays enter the week with a sad 6-14 September mark. Since July 29, the Jays are 15-36 and have scored two or fewer runs in 25 games. Before the streak began, they had been one of the top offences in the AL in terms of home runs and runs scored. How tough has it been? At spring training, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow were the clear 1-2 starters in the rotation. In the last 81 Jays games, a full half season, since June 23, the two men have combined for one victory.
YUNEL ESCOBAR: The Escobar press conference at Yankee Stadium to announce Escobar's fine, suspension and mandated interaction with the gay community was ridiculous, not in what it was trying to do but in how it was presented. Three days later, however, the follow-up Escobar press conference at Tropicana Field, called informally after manager John Farrell kept him out of the starting line-up his first game back as an eligible player vs. the Rays was far more sublime.
It seemed, at the very moment he was being punished in New York, the Jays' shortstop was totally unaware of the far-reaching societal impact that his stupid, homophobic actions of Saturday at the Rogers Centre had created. He seemed bewitched, bothered and bewildered by the enormity of the moment. He looked confused as he was escorted by club officials down the tunnel to the Yankee interview room on Tuesday.
The first problem was the translator was not good. His choice of words made Escobar look like a cliché-spouting idiot, but the worst aspect of it was that the inept translator was handpicked by the Players' Association.
The second unhelpful decision was that club president Paul Beeston did not fly to New York, leaving the responsibility of representing the organization to young GM Alex Anthopoulos. This was not a player personnel problem, it was a franchise issue, a societal issue, a community problem over which Beeston should have presided. The Jays are Canada's team. Escobar appeared bewildered, unconvincing, simple and unapologetic. The fact is he was simply overwhelmed and without preparation or the proper support, given the quick turnaround.
But in front of a much smaller group on Friday in Tampa and with three days to ponder his own situation, having flown to Florida ahead of the team, able to go virtually one-on-one with a more familiar group of media and with the writers able to ask more specific questions and able to look into his eyes as he gave his answers in Spanish, translated by Jays' coach Luis Rivera, this briefing appeared to show far from a smug, smirking pro athlete deflecting questions with a wink and a nudge.
Escobar may not fully understand why what he did was so wrong, but he does understand, now, that a large group of people, an important segment of society with which he had been totally unfamiliar, felt demeaned by his actions. Escobar on Friday was still not able to properly express his regret, but that may be because he still has never understood the repercussions that his thoughtless actions of putting Sharpie to eye black patches, a feeble attempt at humour, had created. Farrell met with Escobar on Friday afternoon, deciding he needed another day to regroup. He was right.
OMAR AND THE BABE: Omar Vizquel will never be remembered as a Blue Jay, but he has had two memorable moments in the last two months that will live forever in his mental scrapbook. On Aug. 15, the future Hall-of-Famer tied Harold Baines for 42nd on the all-time hit list at the Rogers Centre. It came on a hit off Gavin Floyd of the White Sox with Baines sitting in the dugout as a coach. Then on this current road trip, at Yankee Stadium on September 19, at the son of The House That Ruth Built, Vizquel tied the Babe himself at 2,873 with a hit off Andy Pettitte. The bronze bust of Ruth in Monument Park smiled. Vizquel was overwhelmed to have not only tied the legendary Bambino, but to have done it in New York. Vizquel started the final game he played at Fenway Park and will likely do so on Wednesday in Baltimore, if Farrell has the opportunity. He will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.
BUTTER AND BELICHICK: Jays' third base coach Brian Butterfield, a resident of New England, is such a huge Patriots fan that it's believed the Pats consult him before every college draft, or if not, then he calls them and adds to his immense knowledge of all things Pats. On Sunday after the Jays played the Rays in Tampa, Butterfield had plans for the evening when the team charter arrived in Baltimore. He had arranged for a limousine to take him to the Ravens stadium where he had passes to stand on the Pats sideline. He was hoping to make it for the second half. The Pats lost on a last-second field goal.
INJURIES: The Jays have had 18 disablements this year. RH Dustin McGowan, RH Drew Hutchison, RH Sergio Santos, RH Robert Coello, LH Luis Perez, RH Jesse Litsch, RH Kyle Drabek, 1B David Cooper and LH J.A. Happ are all out for the season.
HUTCH UPDATE: Perez, Drabek and Hutchison were all enthusiastic visitors to the Jays clubhouse in Tampa, with hugs all around. Hutchison spoke to writers in the Jays clubhouse about his rehab.
“Right now I'm just going a day at the time, doing what they say to do,” Hutchison said. “Right now it's just range of motion stuff. Shoulder exercises.”
Hutchison won't even pick up a baseball for about 20 weeks from the moment of the surgery at the beginning of August. Recall that he had at first tried to rehab through exercise and rest before he was forced to undergo surgery, putting him a month behind Drabek on his rehab schedule.
“I'm working with Kyle and the training staff down in Dunedin right now, just taking it slowly,” he said. “There's not very much you can do. Kyle's been through it once already, so he knows what to expect. Obviously if you have any questions, you can always ask him and he has a pretty good idea what's going on.”
When will he be back? “It's early to predict. They're all different. Right now I'm just worried about getting healthy. I don't really have a time frame of when that is. But I'll take my time and get it right and get healthy.”
It would be an obvious, if futile exercise for Hutch to think back and wonder why it happened to him at the tender age of 21, with things going so well in his rookie year. He avoids that self-flagellation.
“It is what it is, it's over with, there's no reason to,” Hutchison said. “It happened it's time to move on and get right and get healthy. You do something and it's what you love to do, it is difficult.”
I consider myself a baseball traditionalist. For instance, I think W's matter for a pitcher and batting average matters for a hitter. But I'm also open minded, unlike some of those that have declared WAR on the game.
But here's where I break away from tradition. The second wild card has been a fabulous idea. Far from ruining the integrity of the game, far from allowing undeserving teams into the mix, the second wild-card has juiced the month of September like nothing before it. It's been great for the game.
In fact, I have this unorthodox theory that the second wild card is why the Jays have sucked so badly in September this year. The Jays are 6-14 in the final month. Recall in past years, the Jays have continued to play hard in September, using a regular rotation and regular position players in the annual period of expanded rosters, while their opponents, the majority of which are usually out of contention, have played minor-leaguers and started Double-A arms looking ahead to next year.
I may not have exact numbers, but the feeling is always that the Jays in the past have been playing to win September games much harder than have their opponents. This year there is a difference.
With more teams in contention, three from the AL east and seven overall in the league, teams are not in cruise control. The Jays are competing vs. teams that are still playing to win and, in Toronto's specific situation, with injuries having wounded their offence and a rotation still missing two of five starters, the Jays are being crushed. With one wild card they would have already met teams playing out the string and competed hard to get as many wins as possible. Even John Farrell admits that September is no longer like September where nobody takes performance seriously preferring to evaluate young players.
“In the case of our schedule this month, everybody we played has been a contender so it's not like we're seeing guys make starts against us as we're evaluating our hitters,” Farrell said, referring to the usual plethora of AA and Triple-A studs they normally face. “It's not like we're seeing guys come out of AA and start against us. We're seeing their regular turn in the rotation.
“We're seeing playoff intensity thrown at us and the game played like that at us. (The Jays have) done a solid job in competing against that and competing with it. The fact is they're getting valuable repetition and experience this month.”
There's one wild-card possibility of which MLB is totally scared but that I would love to see. It is primarily a possibility in the National League wild-card race.
As of Monday morning, there remained the mathematical possibility that there could be a six-way tie for the second NL wild-card spot at 84-78. How, you might ask? Here are the necessities for the remainder of the schedule to create MLB's deliciously uncontrolled chaos: Cards 2-7; Brewers 5-5; Dodgers 5-4; D-backs 7-3; Phillies 7-2 and Pirates 9-1. Just looking at those numbers, maybe a six-way tie is a long shot, but the possibility of a 2, 3 or 4-way tie for the new wild-card is not beyond the realm of possibility. Baseball better start explaining how that's going to work. Halloween is coming soon.
MLB POWER RANKINGS
Last Week's rankings in parentheses
1. Washington Nationals (1)
Just like happened to the Rays in '08, finishing last often enough pays off
2. Texas Rangers (2)
Are using September to sort out pitching rotation for playoffs
3. Cincinnati Reds (4)
Taking advantage of being in a bad six-team division but hanging in
4. Oakland A's (3)
Emerging as this team's MVP is Cuban rookie Yoenis Cespedes
5. New York Yankees (6)
CC came back strong in last start and they'll need more of that to advance
6. San Francisco Giants (7)
Nice call on batting crown. If you're caught cheating on exam they don't give you that mark
7. Baltimore Orioles (4)
Showalter easy call as manager of the year. Maybe Duquette as executive
8. Atlanta Braves (9)
Locked in at WC-1 and no chance at division, so nobody paying attention
9. Detroit Tigers (11)
Cabrera shouldn't win MVP 'cuz his 3B defence helps cost Verlander Cy Young
10. Chicago White Sox (12)
Ventura proving Sox genius for letting Ozzie swim with the Fishes
11. Los Angeles Angels (10)
Critics questioning whether Scioscia will be back. It should be his decision
12. Milwaukee Brewers (17)
No Prince, no Greinke, inconsistent Ax, no problem. They surged anyway
13. St. Louis Cardinals (14)
Carpenter comeback is feel-good story. This year they have spot and are holding on
14. Philadelphia Phillies (15)
All they needed was a little offence. Manuel must have become smarter
15. Los Angeles Dodgers (13)
Magic Johnson has gone underground after promising championship post-trade
16. Tampa Bay Rays (8)
Pitching staff sets AL record for strikeouts. Unfortunately hitters lead AL too
17. Seattle Mariners (16)
This is an organization with no major stars other than Felix but plenty of talent
18. Arizona Diamondbacks (20)
D-backs not making a move when the door was opened to them
19. Kansas City Royals (24)
Will be a lot of off-season interest in some of their young arms
20. San Diego Padres (19)
Another organization that received no attention but on the way up
21. Pittsburgh Pirates (18)
Didn't Travis Snider say how great it was to be traded to a contender?
22. Boston Red Sox (22)
Valentine developing a knack for putting his players in a position to fail
23. New York Mets (23)
Nice ballpark, great baseball town, not a very good team
24. Toronto Blue Jays (21)
Have never seen a Jays team deal with so many embarrassing moments
25. Minnesota Twins (25)
They can't give up on this roster because of promise to fans when Target Field built
26. Miami Marlins (26)
Girardi was let go after NL Manager-of-the-year. Where does that leave Ozzie?
27. Cleveland Indians (27)
Once promising starting pitching has been shredded as season goes on
28. Chicago Cubs (29)
Anthony Rizzo will become a big-time player. But they need more
29. Colorado Rockies (28)
Could this be the end of the road for manager Jim Tracy as well?
30. Houston Astros (30)
'Stros take heart looking at Nats role model of building through losing
ONE FOR THE ROAD:
I regret, for myself, that I missed this week's trip to the Big Apple because of another conflicting assignment from The Star back in the GTA, that unfolded mostly on Wednesday as the Yankees series was Tuesday to Thursday. Staying home, as part of a team of seven Star news reporters, I found this week's GTA assignment for a future special section in our paper very rewarding. Upon further review, as I outline the day, to the casual observer it may seem this pleasure with the 24 hours is because I'm a little different than most people and sleep and food are an afterthought. Hey, life is too short.
Consider that I left home on Tuesday evening at 11:35 p.m. I drove to Greenwood in Scarborough for a 12:40 a.m. interview, then to Keele and Sheppard at 2:15 a.m., then to Black Creek and Eglinton for 4 a.m., then to Appleby and the QEW for 6 a.m., then to Acton for 7:10 a.m., then to Brampton for 9:30 a.m. then to Keele and Lawrence for 11:15 a.m. then to Kennedy in Scarborough for 6:00 p.m. I had five Tim Horton's medium coffees, black, one iced cappuccino, one large Monster energy drink, four bottles of water, one bag of pretzels (cuz I had to use the washroom at a Shell station at 3:45 a.m.), a Burger King Devil Whopper and a piece of apple pie. The breakfast of champions, is I believe what they call it. I got home from this odyssey around 9:45 p.m. making it a 22-hour tour of duty, logging a total of 540 km without ever leaving town – except for Acton, which was worth the drive.
In any case, I missed on TV most of the Jays' split doubleheader in New York, although I did see the Escobar saga play out on Tuesday. I caught up on the baseball action via late night highlights and the fine reporting of Mark Zwolinski in The Star. I physically caught up with the Jays in Tampa on Friday.
Ah, Florida. Other than Tropicana Field being such a joke of a ballpark, the trip to Tampa is usually quite pleasant. My modus operandi is to rent a car at the greatest airport in the world, Tampa International, stay at a hotel just across the Courtney Campbell Causeway on Gulf to Bay in Clearwater and make the 20-25 minute commute straight down I-275 to the Trop for games. Life is good.
The personal preference of staying in Clearwater is pretty much for the familiarity of being in the Jays' spring training sphere of influence, plus the occasional need to drive up to the Mattick Complex to see some minor leaguers, or some rehabbing major leaguers, or, one time, it was some guy named Vlad Guerrero, who looked like a pretty good prospect at the time but who ended up being too demanding.
Friday, I landed in Tampa and rented a 2013 Ford Escape. A review of the Escape? Too many blind spots, a sound system slanted at a weird 80-degree angle and one of those difficult computer screens that make you want to wear sunglasses at night when you turn it on and likely could lead to a Thelma and Louise cliff dive while you're trying to find a local hip-hop station or sports news using the seek buttons which are disturbingly flush to the console and hard to spot. Plenty of get up and go.
This is probably the easiest MLB ballpark to access if you have a car. South on I-275, veer off on the exit to old St. Pete, a quick right along Martin Luther King and another right on Central. I always try and get there early enough before a night game -- around 1 p.m. -- to be able to stop at historic Ferg's on Central Ave. for lunch. Clam chowder and a chicken wrap, all live sports on TV and always an available parking spot right in front of the popular pre- and post-game venue, especially at that late-afternoon hour. Oh and you can leave your windows down and the motor running because it's right across from a bustling police station. Parking lot, just flash your press pass, walk across the street into the press gate, elevator up one floor to the press box, ready to go. Did I ever say life is good?
THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL HISTORY:
9/24/57 The final game at Ebbets Field as the Dodgers pack up and move to L.A. It's a 2-0 win over the Pirates in front of 6,702 fans... 9/24/74 The veteran Tigers' star Al Kaline collects his 3,000th hit off Dave McNally of the O's on a 5-4 win... 9/24/85 The Expos' Andre Dawson bangs out three homers, including a pair of three-run shots in the fifth inning in a 17-15 win at Wrigley Field. He ties Willie McCovey as the only players with multiple home run innings twice in a career... 9/24/92 Jays' DH Dave Winfield becomes the oldest player in history with 100 RBIs, in his 2,700th game at 40... 9/25/55 Tigers' Al Kaline becomes the youngest batting champion in AL history at 20... 9/25/61 a homer off Jack Fisher of the O's gives Roger Maris a tie with Babe Ruth at 60 home runs... 9/25/81 Astros' Nolan Ryan facing the Dodgers tosses his fifth no-hitter, an all-time high... 9/25/86 Mike Scott tosses a no-hitter vs. the Giants the first time a clinching game has had no hits... 9/26/83 Cards' RH Bob Forsch no-hits the Expos 3-0 at Busch Stadium. The Expos are embarrassed when Forsch hits Gary Carter in the butt in the seventh inning and laughs... 9/26/71 O's RH Jim Palmer wins his 20th game, joining teammates Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson and Dave McNally as only the second staff in MLB history with four 20-game winners. First was the 1920 White Sox... 9/26/79 Phil Niekro of the Braves beats his brother Joe Niekro of the Astros to join him as the only NL pitchers with 20 wins. The only other time two 20-game brothers happened was '65 with Gaylord and Jim Perry... 9/27/83 Expos' Tim Raines joins Ty Cobb as the only players in history with 70 steals and 70 RBIs in a season... 9/27/96 Barry Bonds steals his 40th base joining Jose Canseco as the only 40-40 men in history... 9/27/98 Mark McGwire crashes homers No. 69 and 70 vs. the Expos on the final day of the season. No. 70 is against Carl Pavano... 9/28/41 Ted Williams chooses to play both ends of a DH sitting on a .400 average and goes 6-for-8 to finish at .406... 9/28/60 Ted Williams hits the final homer of his career against Jack Fisher of the O's... 9/28/95 Greg Harris of the Expos becomes the first player to pitch with both hands in the same game, facing two Reds right-handed and two left-handed... 9/29/54 The iconic catch by Willie Mays of the Giants off Vic Wertz of the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series at the Polo Grounds... 9/29/68 Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski, coming off a Triple Crown season the year before, wins the AL batting title with a .301 average the lowest in history. Runner-up is Danny Cater of the A's at .290. It's just one of the reasons MLB lowers the mounds in time for the '69 season... 9/29/71 Expos' pest Ron Hunt is drilled by Milt Pappas of the Cubs, the 50th HBP of the season, a MLB record... 9/30/27 Babe Ruth hits homer No. 60 off Tom Zachary of the Senators... 9/30/72 Legendary Roberto Clemente strokes his 3,000th career hit off Jon Matlack of the Mets. Three months later on a New Year's Eve on a mercy flight to Nicaragua, his plane goes down off the coast of Puerto Rico ending his life... 9/30/88 Dave Stieb of the Jays loses a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth on a Jim Traber double ripped inches over the glove of 1B Fred McGriff.
BIRTHDAYS: 9/24 Johnny Mac 38, Kevin Millar 41, Paul Spoljaric 42, Jim Acker 54, Hubie Brooks 56... 9/25 Dave Weathers 43, Sal Butera 60, Phil Rizzuto 95...9/26 Dave Martinez 48, Dave Duncan 67...9/27 Mike Schmidt 63, Gary Sutherland 68, Johnny Pesky 93...9/28 Charlie Kerfeld 49, Todd Frohwirth 50, Dave Rajsich 61...9/29 Warren Cromartie 59, Ken Macha 62.
The Rangers have the classic situation in which they control their own fate. The A's are visiting Arlington for a four-game set and with a magic number to clinch the division of seven, a sweep of the A's would do it for them. Even a split would reduce the magic number to three games. OF Josh Hamilton has been dealing with vision issues and was not even in Seattle. He is battling Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera and Jays' 1B Edwin Encarnacion for the home run title. Wondering how RH Yu Darvish is doing? He leads the staff with 214 Ks and is one the Rangers pitchers that seems to be getting stronger as the playoffs approach. Last year's post-season hero, C Mike Napoli is batting .389 with three homers since his return from the DL with quad issues... The Tigers' Cabrera did not homer on Sunday but his two doubles gave him 40 for the year. He and Hank Greenberg are the only Tigers ever with 40 doubles and 40 homers. If the Tigers make it to the playoffs, MGR Jim Leyland should insist that CL Jose Valverde give up that silly choreography when he enters a game, the dramatic pose, the hop, the dance and sprint to the mound. That's great if you never blow a save, but he lost again in extra innings on Sunday and even to teammates it must be getting old... It's a pennant race and it's Alex Rodriguez, so why else should Yankees rookie Melky Mesa feel bad. Pinch-running at second base he raced around third with the winning run on a 1B in the 14th against Oakland. But he felt he missed third, screeched to a halt and scrambled back to the bag. The Bombers went on to win, thankfully for the kid. A major factor in the AL East race? The O's are 27-9 in one run games and 16-2 in extra innings. The Yankees 21-23 in one-run and 5-3 in extras. Jays MGR John Farrell talked about how the O's are helped in the future by their success in the past. He spoke of the streak of extra inning wins the Jays put up last year at the Rogers Centre: “You would be in the dugout saying, 'Just tie this game up and we'll win it.'...Following Sunday's oh-fer, A's RF Josh Reddick ran his hitless streak to 28 at-bats. He is batting .138 in September. LF Yoenis Cespedes has emerged as the A's MVP. He slammed his 20th homer on Sunday. He and Reddick are the first A's teammates with 20 HR each since Nick Swisher and Jack Cust in '07. The A's brought up RH Jeremy Accardo to bolster the bullpen for the final week. The former Jay was released by the Indians in August and had been pitching in a holding pen in Phoenix just in case, since the Triple-A Sacramento season ended.
It was a decision of the player, that was presented to MLB by the union, but when Melky Cabrera announced that he would withdraw his eligibility for the NL batting title it was the proper call. Rule 10-22 (a) states that a player can qualify for the batting title if his required plate appearances are shy of the number, however if you were to add the required number of hitless at-bats to his numbers to get him to 502 PA, and his average still leads the league, he wins the title. Cabrera was one appearance shy and would just lose a point from his .346 average. The addendum states that the procedure cannot be done for a suspended player under the Joint Drug Program for PEDs. In 1955 Ted Williams would have won the batting title if the rule had existed. Instead a 20-year-old Tiger Al Kaline became the youngest batting champ in history... After the Giants clinched the division on Saturday, MGR Bruce Bochy announced LH Barry Zito would be included on the post-season roster. He was left off in 2010... Cards' RH Jake Westbrook, a 13-game winner, has been shut down due to discomfort as he was attempting to come back... When LH Gio Gonzalez won his 20th game on Saturday he became the first wearing a Washington uniform since Bob Porterfield in 1953. Tyler Clippard has struggled lately in his role as closer, allowing eight runs in his last seven innings. Meanwhile former CL Drew Storen has 10 straight scoreless appearances and may get his job back... Brewers 3B Aramis Ramirez stroked his 49th double on Sunday. The club record is 53 by former Jays' 1B Lyle Overbay... Phillies' RH Roy Halladay was knocked out of Saturday's start vs. the Braves after 1-2/3 innings. He was examined and told reporters he has spasms in his right shoulder. His status for the rest of the season is to be determined... Reds MGR Dusty Baker returned to Cincy after four days in a Chicago hospital diagnosed with irregular heartbeat. The 63-year-old swung by the ballpark on Saturday but did not stay for the game. Chris Speier continued as acting manager in his place as the Reds clinched their second division in three years. CL Aroldis Chapman returned on Saturday from a club-imposed 11-day sabbatical to keep him rested for the post-season... RH Kris Medlen has been tabbed by Braves MGR Fredi Gonzalez as the starter for the wild-card game on Oct. 5. He is their hottest pitcher. Likely RH Tim Hudson would start NLDS Game 1 if they advance... If Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw can stand the pain, he can pitch a couple more times as long as the Dodgers are still in the wild-card race. Kershaw pitched five innings Sunday with an injured hip that specialists say will not suffer any more damage if he continues to pitch. It does hurt though.
JAYS MINOR LEAGUE ROUNDUP
The Blue Jays' eight farm teams combined for a 427-395 record.
Triple-A Las Vegas (79-64) on Thursday the Jays announced that they were ending their affiliation with the '51s and were signing a two-year agreement with the Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons had been courted by the Jays after their agreement with Syracuse ended following the '08 season. But the Bisons, who had ended their relationship with the Indians, chose the Mets' bid, with the New York connection and all that. In four seasons at Las Vegas, the Jays affiliate was a combined 287-288.
AA-New Hampshire (61-81) ended the EL season in last place.
A-Dunedin (78-55) posted the best record in the FSL's North Division and second overall. Jays lost the first round playoff series to Lakeland. MGR Mike Redmond was named to the FSL all-stars...
A-Lansing (82-55) posted the best overall record in the Midwest League.
A-Vancouver (46-30) won second straight Northwest League championship.
A-Bluefield (29-37) finished last in their division.
Rk-Gulf Coast Blue Jays (22-38).Rk-Dominican Summer League (30-35).