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The Wrap: AL

AL Quote of the Night

"Gabbard I thought was a left-handed pitcher and he came in throwing sinkerballs, side-armed right-handed, so I was a little confused at first."
-- Toronto's Kevin Millar on facing reliever Darren O'Day who, after being picked up Wednesday by Texas, didn't have his own jersey and had to wear that of pitcher Kason Gabbard who is currently in Class AAA.

Toronto Blue Jays 8, Texas Rangers 7 (11)

Ah, there's the offense we expected. After combining for just nine runs in the series opener, two of the major league's best offenses teed off Wednesday. Toronto appeared to have the game in the bag, holding a three-run lead in the ninth inning. But closer B.J. Ryan's continuing struggles allowed the Rangers to bring six men to the plate and tie the game. Jason Frasor came in for the Blue Jays and steadied the ship, pitching two scoreless innings to earn the win. Kevin Millar singled in Vernon Wells in the bottom of the 11th as Toronto handed Texas its eight loss in the last 11 games.

Chicago White Sox 8, Baltimore Orioles 2

It was back to reality for the Orioles on Wednesday as Chicago's John Danks pitched an impressive seven innings, allowing just one run and four hits. Danks retired 19 of his final 21 batters and has allowed just two runs in 19 innings so far this season. Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie got knocked around for the second straight time, giving up five runs in six innings. On the plus side for the Orioles, Nick Markakis is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak during which he is hitting .471. Adam Eaton will take the mound against Chicago's Bartolo Colon in Thursday's rubber match.

New York Yankees 9, Oakland Athletics 7 (14)

Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 14th (his second of the game) to end the longest game of the season (4 hours, 57 minutes) and thus the longest game yet to be played at new Yankee Stadium. New York again had to overcome a shaky start from CC Sabathia who gave up seven runs (six earned) in 6 2/3 innings. Sabathia was booed as he left the game. Well that didn't take too long. Jason Giambi, who was making his return to New York after seven years as a Yankee, went a combined 1 for 10 with two runs, an RBI and a walk over two games.

Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox

Game 1: Red Sox 10, Twins 1 (7)
Game 2: Red Sox 7, Twins 3

The Red Sox swept an interesting day-night doubleheader (making up for Tuesday's rain-out). The Red Sox won a rain-shortened first game in seven innings but the two teams still managed to play the nightcap after a 47-minute delay to the start of the game. In Game 1, Boston's Tim Wakefield pitched his second straight complete game (albeit in seven innings) to, at the age of 42, become the second oldest pitcher to pull off the feat behind fellow knuckleballer Charlie Hough who pulled it off as a 44-year-old. Kevin Youkilis failed to get on base for the first time this season in Game 2, ending a 14-game streak. The Twins had entered Boston riding a three-game winning streak and will look to get back on track in Cleveland against the Indians after being off Thursday.

Kansas City Royals 2, Cleveland Indians 0

Cliff Lee had an impressive outing for Cleveland but it still wasn't enough. Lee, the league's reigning Cy Young winner, went eight innings and allowed just two runs while scattering nine hits. Unfortunately for Lee, his offense couldn't figure out Brian Bannister and the Royals bullpen as Kansas City registered its third shutout of the season and first that didn't involve Zach Greinke. David DeJesus and Willie Bloomquist drove in the Royals' two runs.

Detroit Tigers 12, Los Angeles Angels 10

Detroit's Justin Verlander got battered again, handing out seven runs over five innings but managed to wriggle off the hook thanks to his offense. Placido Polanco, Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge each drove in two runs as the Tigers used a five-run seventh inning to vault past the Los Angeles Angels. Joe Saunders wasn't outstanding for the Angels either, giving up five runs in five innings but it was his bullpen that faltered as reliever Scot Shields gave up four runs without recording an out in the seventh. The loss was Los Angeles's sixth in its past eight games.

Tampa Bay Rays 9, Seattle Mariners 3

The Rays scored at least one run in all but two innings as Tampa Bay trounced Seattle. The Rays chased Mariners starting pitcher Chris Jakubauskas after just 3 1/3 innings by tallying six runs on 10 hits. Interestingly, Tampa Bay did its damage without using the long ball though it did get four doubles from four different players. Carl Crawford was not one of those four players but still went 4 for 4 on the day, delivering a steady dose of singles.

By CJ Holley  |  April 23, 2009; 7:56 AM ET
Categories:  The Wrap: AL  
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Comments

CJ et al - Any thoughts on Madden's use of his bullpen. Seems he is a real practioner of using his best arms in the most important stretches, regardless of whether it is the nominal 3 out closer role at the start of the 9th. Perhaps he is smarter than all the wise guys who said "how can you have Percival close?"

So far this year, Grant Balfour has pitched twice as many innings as Percival, and both Dan Wheeler and JP Howell have pitched more innings. Balfour, certainly, and Howell, probably, at this point are better pitchers than Percival. Percival adds a lot in that he is a veteran, does not get overly hyped about the 9th, but at this point he is in the Todd Jones / Bob Wickman / Joe Borowski class of closers.

Wiser heads like Bill James have pointed out that 3 outs in the 9th is not necessarily where the game is in the balance. 7th inning, tied, with runners on, probably has less room for error than the start of the 9th with a 2 run lead. Madden seems to get this. Of course, there's no moving the Mo the Godfather or Papelbon out of the closer role, but it is also interesting that those two will not infrequently make > 3 out saves against each other, Tampa Bay, LAA, and other top teams.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 23, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I think Maddon knows that at this point in his career, Percival is playing with house money. Just look at the guy's recent injury history (and the guys you lumped him in with).

This being the case, I think he'll ride the younger guys (who, coincidentally are better pitchers at this point in time) and hope Percival will be effective when called upon as the season wears on.

Posted by: CJ Holley | April 23, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, CJ.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 23, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

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