Today’s Trivia: Trevor Hoffman has his first opportunity to nab save No. 600 tonight, so let’s take a look back at his career with a two-part trivia question.
You might not have realized that Hoffman’s first career save came not with the San Diego Padres but with the Florida Marlins. Hoffman played on that inaugural Marlin team in 1993 but was traded in the middle of the season to the Padres. Who was the big name on the other end of the deal that was traded for Hoffman?
In Hoffman’s career, only two closers have won Cy Young awards – Eric Gagne and Dennis Eckersley. But Hoffman TWICE finished as the runner-up in Cy voting. Who did he lose to? Bonus points if you know the year.
Quick Hits: If Sunday was Manny Ramirez’s last game and last plate appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers, then he went out with an extended thumb. Manny’s ejection, after arguing about a strike call that PitchFX had located 3.8 inches off the outside corner, was certainly a memorable and odd way to finish a stint with a team. Let’s take a look at some of Manny’s other openers and closers with the team’s he has played for in his 18-year career:
• His MLB debut, in 1993 with the Cleveland Indians, didn’t come until September as a call-up. In his first-ever game, Manny was the DH and went 0-for-4, though he didn’t strike out. It was the first of 268 times that Manny has gone 0-4 or worse in his career, though only 68 of them didn’t include a strikeout.
• He went out with a bang, or more appropriately, a bomb with the Indians, homering in his last game. In fact, Manny finished his Cleveland career by homering in each of his last three games. Manny has had 20 streaks of three-plus games with a home run in his career.
• There’s more: Manny also had two-plus hits in each of those last three games with the Indians. He’s only had seven streaks of three-plus games with two hits and a homer in his career, and his streak to finish his Indians career was one of them.
• In his first game with the Boston Red Sox, Manny went 1-3 and only lasted seven innings before being lifted for a pinch runner, Darren Lewis. Not a smart decision by Jimy Williams, then the Red Sox manager. The Sox ended up losing, 2-1 in extra innings, and Manny would have had two more at-bats in the game. Instead, Lewis took those at-bats and went 0-2.
• Manny’s last game with Boston was a lesson in bad breakups. Ramirez went 0-3, then gave this quote: "The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me," he said in an interview with ESPNdeportes.com. "During my years here I've seen how they have mistreated other great players when they didn't want them to try to turn the fans against them."
• His first game as a Dodger had better numbers: 2-4 at the plate, the only Dodger in the lineup that day who got multiple hits against Diamondbacks starter Randy Johnson. But in the bottom of the ninth with the Dodgers down a run, Manny had a chance to have an extra-special debut and send Dodgers fans into a frenzy. Instead, he grounded into a double play with a runner on base, sealing the Dodgers’ loss.
Today’s Leaderboard: You’ll never guess where Manny’s new team is playing this week. They’re headed to Cleveland and then Boston – two locations pretty familiar to Ramirez. Thank the baseball scheduling gods for their sense of timing.
Manny Ramirez Most Career PA at Ballpark
There are only two stadiums where Manny has not had a plate appearance - Target Field and the new Yankee Stadium. The White Sox don’t travel to either park the rest of the year, so Manny won’t be able to cross those off his list yet.
Key Matchups: Trevor Cahill enters tonight’s matchup with the New York Yankees on an absolute tear. He has a 1.00 ERA over his last seven starts, throwing a quality start every time. Cahill has faced the Yankees only once in his two-year career, and it came earlier this season. That start was one of the worst of the year for Cahill, allowing six ER in six innings. But it was Alex Rodriguez who did most of the damage, hitting two home runs. That won’t be the case this time around - A-Rod is on the DL, and the rest of the Yanks haven’t had much success against Cahill. All other Yankees are 3-22 (.136 BA).
• Something to keep an eye on when Pat Misch tries to limit the Atlanta Braves in tonight’s ESPN game: in his career Misch allows a .256 batting average when the bases are empty but that jumps to .322 when there are runners on. Pretty odd numbers for a former reliever that should be used to pitching out of the stretch. Those numbers are even more disparate this season: .222 opponents’ BA when the bases are empty, .379 with runners on.
• Among all active batters whom Jake Westbrook has faced more than 30 times, Carlos Lee is hitting them the hardest. Lee has a career .406 BA and .594 slugging percentage against Westbrook, whom he’ll face tonight in Houston. Lee and Westbrook spent most of their duels in AL Central play when Lee was on the White Sox and Westbrook an Indian.
Trivia Answer: On the other end of the deal was Gary Sheffield, who went to the Marlins in June. Just for fun, Sheffield batted just .150 (3-20) with seven strikeouts in his career against Hoffman.