What’s Happening in Baseball Today

The First Pitch: October 4, 2022

On the eve of his 78th birthday, Tony La Russa is retiring from the game for a second time, finishing a throwback tenure with the Chicago White Sox was cut short to just under two years when he left the team on August 30 to deal with heart issues. Such health concerns prompted La Russa, who had one year left on his contract, to step away from the game for good. 

While piloting the White Sox—the same team he broke in with as manager in 1979—La Russa passed John McGraw for second place on the all-time list of managerial wins. Only Connie Mack has managed more games in baseball history.

The Phillies, who took over as the team with the longest playoff drought after the Mariners ended their 21-year dry spell last week, have taken themselves off the list of shame. Aaron Nola takes a perfect game two outs into the seventh inning before allowing back-to-back hits, and Kyle Schwarber goes deep twice to extend his NL home run lead to 46 as Philadelphia takes a 3-0 win over the resting-up Astros in Houston. It will be the first postseason participation for the Phillies in 11 years; the Angels and Tigers now share MLB’s longest active playoff drought, at eight seasons each. 

Schwarber’s two multiple-homer games within one October (regular season only) is a first by a major leaguer in the modern (post-1900) era.

Luis Severino steals the spotlight from Aaron Judge as the Yankees begin their final regular season series at Texas against the Rangers. The burly right-hander, making his third start after missing two months to injury, pitches seven no-hit innings on 94 pitches before being removed; Miguel Castro allows a run on two hits in his one inning of work to follow, spoiling both the no-no and shutout, but the Yankees go on to win, 3-1. 

Judge can only manage a check-swing infield hit in four at-bats, as he remains tied with Roger Maris among AL players in a season with 61 homers; he has just one round-tripper over his last 12 games, but he does run his streak of consecutive games reaching base safely to 31, the longest active in the majors.

Albert Pujols passes Babe Ruth for #2 on the all-time RBI list with a two-run homer at Pittsburgh, where he’s always loved killing the ball; besides being his 703rd career homer, it’s his 35th at PNC Park—by far the most by a visiting player. Pujols’ shot is the only offense on the night for the Cardinals, who bow to the Pirates by a 3-2 score.

Congrats, Your Box Score Line Was the Best (Hitters Edition)

4-2-3-3—Bryan De La Cruz, Miami
The second-year outfielder was one of the prime reasons the Braves have to wait another day to celebrate the NL East title, as he finished a triple shy of the cycle and knocked in three of the Marlins’ four runs in their 4-0 home victory over Atlanta. It was, in fact, the third time in De La Cruz’s last nine games that he finished with three legs of the cycle secured, lacking only the triple. Since September 18, he’s 24-of-55 (.436) with eight doubles, four homers, 16 RBIs—and yes, no triples. Sounds like a keeper for 2023.

Congrats, Your Box Score Line Was the Best (Pitchers Edition)

7-0-0-0-1-7—Luis Severino, New York Yankees
second individual no-hitter, saying he was “1,000%” positive he would have finished it. But he came to the realization after the game that, on the eve of the postseason, it’s all about perspective. “I think it was a good decision,” he said, “I don’t want to go out there and hurt myself and not be good for the postseason. We’re looking for the bigger picture.”

It Was Whatever-Something Years Ago Today

1902: It’s cold, wet and miserable at Pittsburgh’s Exposition Park for the final regularly scheduled game of the season between the Pirates and Reds. The Pirates say the game is on, despite objections from the Reds—whose ensuing performance borders on civil disobedience. They come to bat smoking cigars. They wander into the stands to fetch drinks. Player-manager Joe Kelley plays most everyone out of position, including using hitters Jake Beckley, Mike Donlin and Cy Seymour on the mound. Pitcher Rube Vickers, asked to play catcher, sets an all-time record by allowing six passed balls—and never bothers to chase them down. The 1,200 fans are so irate at the careless display, in spite of the home team’s 11-2 win, that they demand—and get—their money back. 

1948: In a tiebreaker game to determine the AL champion, the Cleveland dispenses of the Red Sox at Fenway Park, 8-3, behind shortstop/manager Lou Boudreau’s four hits including two solo homers—likely cementing his AL MVP honors. 

1955: The Dodgers win their one and only world title while at Brooklyn, defeating the hated Yankees, 2-0. Johnny Podres scatters eight hits and two walks in completing the shutout, while infrequently used outfielder Sandy Amoros makes the catch of his life, racing over from center-left to make an outstretched grab of Yogi Berra’s line drive down the left-field line, turning a potential rally-erupting double into a rally-killing double play as a disbelieving Gil McDougald—running from first—is doubled up. 

1968: In the first game of the World Series, the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson strikes out a Fall Classic-record 17 Tigers and completes a five-hit shutout, easily defeating Detroit and 31-game winner Denny McLain, 4-0. 

1986: Minnesota shortstop Greg Gagne becomes only the second player since 1950 to hit two inside-the-park home runs in the same game, during the Twins’ 7-3 victory over the White Sox. He nearly makes it three in the late innings, but the Chicago outfield gets a gapper back to the infield in time to hold Gagne at third with a triple.

Shameless Link of the Day

The Phillies are back in the postseason for the first time since 2011, their last of five straight seasons finishing first in the NL East. Here’s a look back at the year in which they won it all during that stretch.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Promising Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz is 24; Oakland catcher Sean Murphy is 28; veteran catcher ready to call it a career Kurt Suzuki is 39; top Angels pitcher Jered Weaver is 40; 147-game winner Kyle Lohse is 44; 19-year second baseman/outfielder Mark McLemore is 58; 1990s reliever Dennis Cook is 60; 12-year outfielder Billy Hatcher is 62; 140-game winner Charlie Leibrandt is 66; just-retired (again) Hall-of-Fame manager Tony La Russa is 78.  Born on this date is gone-too-soon Cleveland reliever Steve Olin (1965), long-time Yankees infielder/coach Frankie Crosetti (1910) and 1910s Yankees pitcher Ray Fisher (1887).

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