Posted on: June 14, 2011 2:19 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Pence's streak to 23

Hunter Pence

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Hunter Pence, Astros -- A day after sitting out his first game of the season because of a lower back injury, Pence extended his hitting streak to 23 games with a third-inning homer. He added another two RBI in the fifth on a single, giving him 50 driven in this season and stopping the Braves' six-game winning streak.

Carlos Carrasco, Indians -- Carrasco struck out seven while allowing five hits and three walks in seven shutout innings, earning the win in the first 1-0 game at new Yankee Stadium. Carrasco worked out of bases loaded jam with no outs in the first and never looked back. He improved to 6-3 and ended the Indians' four-game losing streak. The Indians have won just two games in their last 11, both Carrasco starts and 1-0 finals.

Ryan Dempster, Cubs -- The Brewers had looked unbeatable of late, but the team couldn't figure out an old nemesis in the Cubs' Dempster. Making his 45th appearance against Chicago and 23rd start, Dempster lowered his ERA against Chicago to 2.50, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven. He is now 6-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his last eight starts against the Brewers, but didn't pick up the victory, which went to Jeff Samardzija in the Cubs' 1-0 victory.

John Tumpane, umpire -- The home plate umpire for the Tigers and Rays may have helped keep Detroit in a tie for first place in the American League Central. With bases loaded and one out in the seventh, Rays left fielder Justin Ruggiano tried to tag up on Casey Kotchman's fly to right. Magglio Ordonez threw a strike to catcher Alex Avila, who had the plate blocked. The throw beat Ruggiano and Avila blocked it, the only problem was he didn't tag Ruggiano until after the runner touched the plate. Manager Joe Maddon was ejected for arguing the play. The Rays scored in the eighth inning to tie the game at 1, but the Tigers went on to win in the 10th, 2-1.

Ricky Nolasco, Marlins -- The Diamondbacks recorded nine runs (five earned) on eight hits and four walks off of starter Ricky Nolasco in just three innings. The Diamondbacks scored nine before the Marlins secured their second hit. The Marlins finished with a season-high 16 hits (including 10 with runners in scoring position), but the hole was too big to find their way out, losing 12-9 to Arizona. The Marlins finished an 11-game homestead with just one win.

Dee Gordon and Aaron Miles, Dodgers -- Gordon made several highlight-level plays on Monday, but botched a routine grounder by Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan to start the seventh inning. Paul Janish tried to help his fellow shortstop out by hitting a tailor-made double play ball to third, but Miles' throw bounced into the photo well, putting Janish at second. Bronson Arroyo followed with a game-tying single and then reliever Matt Guerrier walked Brandon Phillips and gave up a long homer to Joey Votto, setting up a 6-4 Reds victory.

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Posted on: May 29, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: May 29, 2011 1:40 pm

Hairston appealing suspension

Jerry Hairston

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Nationals utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. is appealing his one-game suspension levied on Sunday for his argument with an umpire on Friday.

Hairston is in the Nationals' lineup on Sunday against the Padres, batting seventh and playing third base.

"I had no clue in my wildest dreams I would get suspended," Hairston told the Washington Post. "I was definitely shocked. Never have I pushed or shoved an umpire, and I never will. I never cussed at him. I felt I pleaded my case, and I felt that’s all I did. Sometimes, I'm an emotional guy. I can be very high strung. I can be a little more, I guess, showy at times. I never pushed or shoved him. The video speaks loud and clear."
Friday, Hairston argued with home plate umpire Ed Hickox that Padres starter Clayton Richard quick-pitched him in the seventh inning. Hairston had called time out, Hickox declined while Richard was throwing the pitch. Hariston swung at the pitch and flied out to center. Instead of running to first, Hairston argued with Hickox.

On Friday, Hairston explained his side to MLB.com's Bill Ladson:

"I played with Clayton Richard and he quick pitches -- big time," Hairston said. "He held the ball and I stepped out. As soon as I stepped back in the box, he was coming. You just can't do that. You have to let the hitter get set.

"Basically, I asked for help and when I asked for help, I got thrown out. I never cussed at the umpire or anything. I didn't feel I needed to get thrown out there."

And now he doesn't feel the need to be suspended.

"This is not the YMCA," Hairston told the Post. "This is Major League Baseball. You're going to have your arguments. You're going to have your disagreements. I felt like I was in the right. I didn't push him or shove him in any way, and the video clearly shows that."

MLB's Joe Garagiola Jr. cited Hairston for "aggressive actions, which included making contact" with an umpire. Video showed Hairston inadvertently brushed umpire Brian O'Nora when pointing toward home plate. 

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Posted on: May 23, 2011 8:16 pm

Rizzo disciplined; Rodriguez fined

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike RizzoMajor League Baseball has disciplined Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and fined catcher Ivan Rodriguez for their role in an altercation with an umpiring crew last week, the Washington Post reports.

According to the report, the league considers the manner "closed." Rodriguez has been fined "an undisclosed amount."

Rodriguez was many of Nationals to confront umpires after Phil Cuzzi erroneously called Jayson Werth out on a close play at first base in a loss to the Mets.

According to a report (denyed by Rizzo), umpires called security after Rizzo confronted them outside their dressing room. Later, Rizzo said his confrontation with the umpires had nothing to do with the play in the ninth. Either way, neither the umpires nor MLB appreciated it.

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Posted on: May 20, 2011 7:09 pm

Rizzo says he's not under investigation by MLB

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike RizzoNationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters he called Joe Torre immediately after Thursday's incident with umpire Phil Cuzzi and was told he's not the "focus" of an investigation.

Rizzo was one of many Nationals to take shots at Cuzzi following his blown call in the ninth inning (here's what happened) of Thursday's game against the Mets and later there was a report the MLB was investigating Rizzo's actions and that the umpires called Mets security about Rizzo.

"I contacted Joe Torre immediately after the incident with the umpires, and he assured me that despite a lot of the reports in the media, this is by no means an investigation against Mike Rizzo," Rizzo told reporters, including CSNWashington.com's Mark Zuckerman. "This is an investigation of what happened after the game."

Jayson Werth, who was called out on the play, first base coach Dan Radison and manager Jim Riggleman all argued with Cuzzi on the field after the play, while Riggleman also argued with home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez. Several players were also seen yelling at the umpires as they left the field.

Rizzo said the complaints weren't solely based on Cuzzi's blown call.

"What happened last night postgame had absolutely nothing to do with arguing, or anything to do with the play that happened at first base," Rizzo said, declining to elaborate.

Rizzo repeatedly declined to explain what happened after the game.

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Posted on: May 19, 2011 8:23 pm

Report: Umpires file complaint against Nats GM

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike RizzoI already wrote about the controversy over Phil Cuzzi's call -- but now there's more. The umpiring crew has filed a report against Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo over a verbal altercation as the crew was leaving the field, the New York Daily News reports.

According to the report, one of the umpires told Mets security guards outside their dressing room to "find the guy in the suit," referring to Rizzo.

Cuzzi wouldn't comment on his call, but said he has filed a report with Joe Torre, MLB's vice president of on-field operations.

The Daily News contacted Torre, who said he hasn't been briefed yet, but said, "I'm looking forward to an interesting morning (Friday)."

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Posted on: May 19, 2011 7:46 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 8:37 pm

Bad call costs Nationals

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Phil CuzziAnother day, another blown call controversy.

Today's episode of bad umpiring comes courtesy of Phil Cuzzi, who called Jayson Werth out at first for the second out of the ninth inning in the Nationals' 1-0 loss to the Mets. Werth may have not only beat the throw from third baseman Jacob Turner, but first baseman Daniel Murphy also pulled his foot off the bag. (See the play here.)

Had the play been called correctly, the Nationals would have had runners at first and third with one out and in position to tie the game. Instead, with two outs, Adam LaRoche grounded out to end the game.

After the game, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reported one Nationals player saying, "I want to be an umpire when I grow up -- no responsibility, no accountability."

Several Nationals argued with umpires as they walked off the field, but only starter Livan Hernandez would go on record.

"What did I see? He was safe. He beat him two times," Hernandez said. "He was safe when the guy got off the bag and he was safe because he beat the throw. I think he made a big mistake, the umpire there, because it's not about his foot is off the bag, it's safe because he beat the throw. He was safe two times."

Nationals manger Jim Riggleman appealed to home plate umpire Manny Gonzaelz, but he refused to offer an opinion. Looking at the replay, Gonzalez was watching the play, but he was outside of the baseline, behind the plate, so he may have been blocked by Werth from his angle.

"I wanted to see if, from his angle he could see better maybe that the first baseman came off the base," Riggleman said. "He's got a good look at that. … Maybe the home plate umpire can get a better look. He just refused to do that."

To be clear, this wasn't a Jorge Orta/Don Denkinger level bad call, it took some super slo-mo and HD cameras to tell that Murphy's foot was indeed off the bag. In the past, it would have been maybe too close to tell, but now we do know better. Technology has improved so much that we can see for sure when the umpires err.

Many people complain about umpiring (and, well, a lot of times it's justified -- cough, Joe West, cough, Bob Davidson, cough), but the more you watch, I think it's amazing how much the umpires get it right. And that's why I'm for replay on a limited basis -- these guys are so good at what they do (for the most part), they should be able to finish a game and know they got them all right. Ask Denkinger or Jim Joyce how much their missed calls bother them, and you'll hear from someone who is bothered by it more than any Cardinal fan or Armando Galarraga. The ego of the umpire may not want instant replay, but their conscious just may. In the end, it's about getting the calls right -- that should be the goal of any umpire and it should be done by any means necessary.

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Posted on: May 19, 2011 2:23 pm

West's crew making more friends each day

By Matt Snyder

Stop me when you've heard this one before: There are some players complaining about Joe West's umpiring crew.

Yeah, I know ... pretty far-fetched, huh? (For my feelings on the crew, you can click here to read something I wrote a few weeks ago)

Anyway, Tuesday night, Eric Patterson of the Padres was deemed to have left third base early on a would-be sacrifice fly in the second inning by Joe West. One problem, at least according to the Padres, was that West wasn't even looking at Patterson. Nope, Padres' relief pitcher Mike Adams said that Wednesday a few of the players reviewed the video of their loss and noticed West wasn't even looking at Patterson. As Adams explained it to the North County Times, he made sure to point out that the Padres' players weren't exactly shocked, considering the source.

"As soon as it ended, a lot of us went in to go take a look at it," Adams said. "You really don't expect anything less out of that crew."

He wasn't done.

"There's a reason (West and Angel Hernandez) were voted two of the top three worst (umpires) in the big leagues. It seems like they've always got to be part of the game."

Lost in the mix of the incompetence of West, Hernandez, et al is that Padres manager Bud Black actually has a salient point about using video review. Situations like these are precisely where it would make sense. I'm not exactly for reviewing every single play, but whether or not a player leaves early on a fly ball is easily reviewable via video -- and also something that's pretty difficult for umpires to judge even if they are paying attention.

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 10:58 am

Pepper: Aces meet in Florida

By Matt Snyder

WEST AT IT AGAIN: Another game, another ejection by Joe West's awful excuse for an umpiring crew. Monday night, Ron Gardenhire of the Twins was West's victim. MLB Network studio analyst Larry Bowa said MLB executive Joe Torre needs to find a way to get West under control. You know I agree, and here's a link to my rant from last week on West's crew.

UH ... REALLY? During Justin Verlander's no-hitter in Toronto, Blue Jays' outfielder Juan Rivera ran by the mound and told Verlander he was just "getting lucky." Verlander even confirmed this after the game. "He was probably just trying to get under my skin," said the righty. (sportsnet.ca ) I know sometimes things are said due to frustration, so maybe Rivera backed off the comments later. Only he didn't. Instead he stood behind the remark. Look, there are certainly times where a run-of-the-mill pitcher has everything break his way and throws a no-no, but Verlander now has done it twice and is one of the elite arms in the game. There's no other way to spin the situation than to say that Rivera was just jealous.

QUITE A LEAP: From running a small hot dog stand to the Wrigley Field public address announcer within a few days? Yep, that's what Andrew Belleson did. Pretty cool story. (Chicago Tribune )

OFFENSIVELY CHALLENGED: The Twins have had a putrid offense pretty much all season. Before Monday's game against the Red Sox, a reporter asked manager Ron Gardenhire about Francisco Liriano's next start, saying "you don't need another no-hitter." Gardenhire's reply? "We don't? Who are you kidding?" (Twins Now via Twitter)

MONEY MATTERS: While Chris Young's season -- and maybe even career -- hangs in the balance, the Mets still have money woes. Thus, it's worth looking at Young's contract. He has a base salary of $1.1 million with incentives that could have pushed the deal all the way up to $4.5 million. He obviously hasn't reached any of those yet, so it's looking increasingly likely the Mets will only owe the initial $1.1 million. (ESPN New York )

MAD MILTON: When Milton Bradley was clipped by the Mariners Monday, the reaction across the baseball-loving world was anywhere from jubilation to relief to mockery. The always-great Geoff Baker of Mariners Blog (Seattle Times ) offers up a very thoughtful piece on Bradley, in that now he should be trying to figure out what makes him happy and get himself straightened out. It's very fair. While pointing out that Bradley has never been accountable for his actions, Baker also points out that teams continuing to sign Bradley have been enabling his behavior instead of forcing him to solve his personal demons. Meanwhile, Jerry Brewer of the same outlet discusses that Bradley's career is probably over. I tend to agree. When he was productive, it wasn't surprising that teams would give him a shot. But, to put it succinctly, he sucks now. There's no reason for anyone to give him a shot.

TURNIN' BACK THE CLOCK: Hanley Ramirez has had an awful beginning to the 2011 season. Back in 2009, he hit .342 with 24 home runs and 106 RBI, finishing second in MVP voting. So Hanley went back into his storage closet and found his bats from 2009. He started using them Sunday and has since gone 3-9 with two runs scored. He also scorched a pair of balls Sunday that didn't work out (one was a foul ball that easily had home run distance, the other was a line drive double-play that was right at the shortstop). Hey, if he thinks that will help, it very well might. Baseball is such a mental game, any little adjustment could get things on track. (Fish Bytes )

THE ROAD BACK: Josh Hamilton has been out several weeks with an injured shoulder, but he's going to take batting practice Friday (Evan Grant via Twitter).

MASKED MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN: "We are constantly looking for ways to connect and engage with our great fan base," said Angels vice president of sales and marketing, Robert Alvarado. And Tuesday night in Anaheim, the Angels will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "largest gathering of people wearing costume masks." Specifically, everyone in attendance is going to get an Angels wrestling mask. Sorry, this is stupid. Can't the fans just go watch a baseball game? (MLB.com )

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com