Tag:Gabe Kapler
Posted on: May 11, 2010 12:52 am

The Rays and the art of the perfect game

Perfect games follow the Tampa Bay Rays around the way stray dogs hang near the meat market.

Rays' outfielder Gabe Kapler on Sunday became the only man in baseball history to bat in the ninth inning twice with his team facing a perfect game.

Kapler bounced to shortstop to end Dallas Braden's grab at history in Oakland on Sunday.

And in Chicago last July, he was Mark Buehrle's first out in the ninth inning.

You might recall that one: Kapler was the guy who smoked the fly ball to the wall that Chicago outfielder DeWayne Wise majestically chased down in a highlight reel play for the ages.

"And if you want to take it one step further. ..." Kapler said Monday in Anaheim as the Rays prepared to open a series with the Angels.

Yes, if you want to do that, Kapler now has had three brushes with perfect games in three years: In 2008, San Diego's Chris Young spun a perfect game for 7 2/3 innings on Sept. 7 in Milwaukee when Kapler, then a Brewers outfielder, broke it up by smashing a home run.

Understandably so, Kapler says he felt "very connected to" Buehrle's moment, given how close he came to breaking up and Wise's spectacular play.

As for Braden's perfecto on Sunday, Kapler said, "I think in the order of the universe, there are reasons why it would have been nice for us to break it up. But after the game, I read about how Braden's mom had died of cancer, and it was poetic [to have it happen on Mother's Day]. It was his day. He needed to make pitches, and he made them."

Meantime, Kapler's wild perfect game history isn't all in this crazy Tampa Bay connection.

Manager Joe Maddon?

He's now been involved with three perfect games (plus another no-hitter) -- all on the wrong side.

While his Rays now have been victimized by two perfect games in their past 96 (Braden on Sunday, the White Sox's Mark Buehrle last July 23), Maddon also was the Angels' bullpen coach when Texas' Kenny Rogers was perfect against them back in 1994.

He also was the Angels' interim manager when Minnesota's Eric Milton no-hit them in 1999.

"I'm your guy for a perfect game," Maddon joked. "I'm on the bad side of history once again. Kind of amazing, but it happened."

Wait, there's more: Including the Braden and Buehrle games, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and third-base coach Tom Foley each have been involved with three perfect games.

Unlike with Maddon and Kapler, though, the Rays finally have a winner with Foley and Martinez: Each was on the 1991 Montreal club when Pedro Martinez tossed a perfect game against the Dodgers on July 28, 1991.

The Rays join the Dodgers and Twins as the only three teams to have two perfect games thrown against them.

Likes: Do yourself a favor and watch this absolutely hilarious recent rant by a disgusted Cleveland television guy doing a postgame show. And it was on the Indians' flagship station, no less. ... Terrific analysis encapsulating the mess that is the Kansas City Royals here. ... Classy tribute to the late Ernie Harwell before Monday's Tigers game in Detroit. A sad, sad thing, but the Tigers really deserve credit for the first-class manner in which they've handled everything. ... Really superb Drive-By Truckers show last Thursday at the House of Blues in San Diego. Those guys can play and, boy, do they rock. The new disc, The Big To-Do, is very good. Of course, it's no Decoration Day -- the Truckers set the bar with that (or maybe with Southern Rock Opera) -- but it's good. Love Birthday Boy, Daddy Learned to Fly, Santa Fe and (It's Gonna Be) I Told You So. ...

Dislikes: So, what, this oil is going to continue leaking into the ocean indefinitely? Can we get it fixed anytime soon? Yeah, drill, baby, drill. It's sickening watching what's going on.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"There was that whole weird thing with the horses
"I think they know exactly what happened
"I don't think it needs any explaining
"I'm pretty sure I wasn't your first choice
"I think I was the last one remaining"

-- The Hold Steady, The Weekenders

Posted on: September 8, 2008 11:35 pm

Pausing for one of season's nicest moments

It's a very long road, coming back after taking a line drive in the face, and much as you might think that San Diego right-hander Chris Young is fully up to speed given his 7 2/3 perfect innings in Milwaukee on Sunday, just know this:

His ears still fill with pressure during airplane flights, so much so that after the Padres flew home from Wisconsin on Sunday night, Young's right ear still felt clogged Monday evening before San Diego opened this week's homestand with Los Angeles.

He was brilliant -- and inspirational -- in threatening to throw the first no-hitter in San Diego franchise history, and it was all the more impressive when you consider that he missed a large chunk of this season after an Albert Pujols line drive broke several bones in his face on May 21.

He still can't smell that well. And he still doesn't know if he ever will.

"It's not like it was," he says. "I'm going to have a doctor look at my sinuses and ears after the season, tell me what I can expect, tell me what I should expect going forward.

"Every time I fly, there's pressure in my ears. My sense of smell isn't what it was. Little things that I took for granted. Getting treatment (in the trainer's room), when I lay with my head face down, there's pressure. My bones are still sensitive to the touch."

The damage was immense when Pujols' screamer smashed into Young's nose/forehead region (essentially drilling him between the eyes). Thankfully, he didn't lose an eye. He did undergo surgery to repair facial fractures and a deviated septum, and to reopen his nasal passages.

For a time, it was questionable as to whether the 6-foot-10 former Princeton University basketball player would even return this season. He did come back, 10 weeks later -- only to make three starts and then land on the disabled list, this time with a forearm strain.

At that point, it seemed the smart thing to do might have been to simply shut it down for the season and start again in 2009. Young, an All-Star in 2007, refused, for a lot of reasons.

"The biggest thing is, I don't get paid to sit out," says Young, now 5-5 with a 4.48 ERA. "I'm paid to be competing, helping this team win ballgames. When I'm healthy, I can do that. And as a competitor, I hate sitting out."

He's taken two no-hitters into the late innings before, carrying one into the eighth inning and another into the ninth in 2006. Being that the Padres have never had one (nor has, surprisingly, the New York Mets), it could have been quite a moment.

It still was, even though Gabe Kapler blasted an eighth-inning homer to wreck Young's bid.

As fate would have it, the very next play following Kapler's homer was a Bill Hall comebacker -- the first liner up the middle to laser in on Young since Pujols'.

He caught this one, then walked off the field to a classy standing ovation by Milwaukee's fans.

"I really didn't think about it much," Young says of Hall's liner. "It was similar to the pitch to Pujols, he just didn't barrel it up as much.

"I thought about it for a split-second after I caught it."

It still wasn't as daunting as facing his first live hitters during a batting practice session shortly before his July 29 return to the rotation.

And it was a lot more enjoyable.

"It was a lot of fun," Young says. "It was a great day for the team, a great win for us. And it was a great atmosphere, too, playing in a full stadium against a team still playing for something.

"It's a day I'll probably remember for a long, long time."

Likes: Baltimore actually extending a manager who's done a good job at this time of year instead of discussing how long until the Orioles manager is fired. Dave Trembley has done wonders with this year's O's, whose lack of talent finally has caught up to them here in the past few weeks. ... Dodgers shortstop Angel Berroa, back from oblivion. ... The jumbled NL MVP race. Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Carlos Delgado, CC Sabathia, Lance Berkman, Geovany Soto, Ryan Braun, Manny Ramirez and if I'm leaving anybody else out, I apologize. ... Vin Scully coming back next year. Let me tell you: I was home last Friday night watching baseball on television. The Dodgers-Diamondbacks were on one channel on high-definition. And I love high-definition. They also were on another channel, not high-definition, but Scully was broadcasting. I went with the poorer picture so I could listen to Scully. Easy choice. ... My football Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central drilling Riverview 28-8 last Friday night in their league opener. Young team, starting eight sophomores, but great 2-0 start. Look out, Flat Rock.

Dislikes: Lies in the presidential campaign. Blatant, obvious, false-reality lies.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Come senators, congressmen
"Please heed the call
"Don't stand in the doorway
"Don't block up the hall
"For he that gets hurt
"Will be he who has stalled
"There's a battle outside
"And it is ragin'

-- Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin'

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