I received several emails from readers this week which detailed various "bad beats." It was a difficult choice about which one/s to print, as each story had merit. I decided to include both from a Canadian player named "Derek S." Derek's tale took the prize, largely because he had two heart-breakers on the same evening. Both were underdogs which looked good nearly the entire way. However, in each case he was going against the top team in its league and in each case his bullpen let him down. Remember, if you've got a "bad beat" that you'd like to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the details. Let's take a closer look at Derek's two heartbreakers.
Rangers at Angels
Naturally, the Angels were heavily favored for this game. The line ranged from -170 to -180. However, it was the underdog Rangers who jumped off to an early 4-0 start against Jon Garland in the top of the first inning. Texas maintained its lead the entire way and had a 5-2 advantage heading into the bottom of eighth. The Angels have the best record in the American League for a reason though. Keyed by a pinch-hit three run double from Juan Rivera, they put five runs on the board. That gave them a 7-5 lead, heading to the ninth. Of course, with Francisco Rodriguez coming out of the bullpen that was 'all she wrote' for the Rangers. Rodriguez worked a scoreless ninth, converting his 51st save in 56 tries. After the game, Rivera was quoted as saying: "We saw the rally monkey come out, and knew it was time..."
Phillies at Cubs
This matchup featured Cole Hamels for the Phillies vs. Ryan Dempster for the Cubs. While Hamels is a very good pitcher, Dempster is also having a very good year. Playing at home, where they've been superb all season, the Cubs came in as a -135 favorite. The Phillies managed a run in the top of the first. Note that they left the bases loaded. They maintained that 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Cubs tied things up. The Phillies immediately answered though, scoring three in their half of the sixth to go up 4-1. It looked very much like they might spoil Chicago manager Lou Pinnela's 65th birthday, as the Phillies carried that 4-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. Like the Angels in the AL, the Cubs have been this year's best National League team for good reason though.
With Hamels out of the game, the Cubs went to work on the Philadelphia bullpen. Ryan Madson started the inning and promptly gave up three hits (home run, double, single) without recording an out. Chad Durbin relieved him and walked Derrick Lee to load the bases. You can probably guess what happened next. Yep, grand-salami time! Aramis Ramirez came up and sent a 1-0 pitch deep into the seats. Philadelphia center fielder Shane Victorino hardly moved as the ball left the bat and the rest was history. With the Cubs up 6-4, Kerry Wood came in and closed the door in the ninth. It's been a familiar story for Hamels, who surely wished that Charlie Manuel allowed him to pitch one more inning. For the season, he has a stellar 3.13 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Pitching for one of the better hitting clubs in the National League, with those numbers, one would think he'd have a lot of wins to his credit. He's only 11-8 though. After the game, Lou Pinella would comment: "What a great come-from-behind win. Just a great win. I mean, exciting. This place really got loud. ... I don't know if it was the loudest I've heard it, but let me tell you what, it was loud."