Rays Win Tiebreak, Postseason Set

Tonight the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Texas Rangers in a tiebreaker game for the second AL Wild Card berth.  The key moment in the game was a 2-run homer by Rays 3B Evan Longoria in the 3rd inning.  The game was closer than the score would indicate, as it was 4-2 for much of the final few innings, and the Rangers brought the tying run to the plate several times, before a brilliant base-running play by Rays CF Sam Fuld led to an error and an insurance run.  Rays starter David Price went the distance for his fourth complete game of the season.

Now the Rays will fly tomorrow morning to Cleveland, where Wednesday night at 8:00 they will play the AL Wild Card Game against the Indians.  The winner of that game will play the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS, with games October 4th, 5th, 7th, and if necessary, 8th and 10th.  The same schedule will be followed by the other ALDS matchup between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics.

The NL portion of the playoffs begins tomorrow night, when the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates play the NL Wild Card game.  The NLDS games will be October 3rd, 4th, 6th, and if necessary, 7th, and 9th.  The Reds/Pirates winner will go to St. Louis to play the Cardinals, while the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves will battle.

At midnight, it will be October.  Twenty hours later, we will be watching official playoff baseball.  How appropriate.

MLB Postseason Awards

The baseball regular season is over, and while the postseason is upon us, and this year’s awards won’t be awarded until after the completion of the World Series, the balloting is taking place now.  I don’t have a ballot, but if I did, here’s how I would vote.

Note:  In MVP balloting, each writer votes for his top 10, and in Cy Young balloting, each writer votes for his top 5.  For the sake of efficiency, as well as not wasting your time or mine, I’ve listed stats and analysis for just my top 3 choices for each of these awards, and who else got my consideration


1. Pirates CF Andrew McCutcheon  (.317 BA, 21 HR, 84 RBI, 38 2B, 97 R, 27 SB).  McCutcheon is absolutely the leader of the first Pirates team to have a winning record since 1992, and the hosts of the NL Wild Card game on Tuesday.  His stats aren’t quite as good as Goldschmidt or Freeman, but this award doesn’t necessarily go to the player with the best stats.

2. Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.302 BA, 36 HR, 124 RBI, 36 2B, 103 R).  Goldschmidt led the Diamondbacks, a team that led the NL West for a large portion of the season, before falling victim to the Dodgers charge.  Without Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks, who finished 81-81, may have been struggling to win 70 or 75.

3. Braves 1B Freddie Freeman (.319 BA, 23 HR, 108 RBI, .438 BA with RISP).  The best hugger in the NL is also a big reason for the Braves success in winning the NL East.  He has been particularly hot in the second half, and is also one of the best defensive 1B in the game.

Also considered (ordered 4-9):  Cardinals 2B Matt Carpenter, Cardinals C Yadier Molina, Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez, Rockies OF Michael Cuddyer, Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw, Braves P Craig Kimbrel (note:  I’m usually reluctant to give pitchers much MVP credit because they have their own award, the Cy Young.  For Kershaw and Kimbrel to be considered, I’m obviously impressed by their body of work).

NL Cy Young

1. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 236 IP, 232 K, 52 BB, 164 H, .195 BAA).  This was a tough decision for 1st and 2nd, but Kershaw’s numbers are Maddux-like from his run of four straight Cy Youngs (1992-1995).  Any time a starter has an ERA of less than 2.00 and less than a .200 BAA, it is deserving of a Cy Young Award.

2. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel (50/54 saves, 1.23 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 66 IP, 98 K, 20 BB, 38 H, .165 BAA).  Kimbrel’s numbers are also ridiculously good, and he has a chance to become the first reliever since 2003 to win the Cy Young.  He is only the second pitcher in history with 50 saves and less than 40 hits allowed in a single season, and also struck out approximately half of the batters he faced.  Kimbrel had a stretch of 37 straight saves snapped late in the year.  His numbers were actually even better last year, and for the second straight year, he may be just short of a Cy Young.

3. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 241.2 IP, 219 K, 35 BB, 223 H, .248 BAA).  I’m a little reluctant to put him 3rd because of that .248 batting average against.  Wainwright did lead the league in innings pitched, and yet still only gave up an average of 1 BB per start.  He is the unquestioned leader of a very good Cardinals rotation and pitching staff.

Also considered (ordered 4-9): Mets starter Matt Harvey, Marlins starter Jose Fernandez, Phillies starter Cliff Lee, Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman, Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, Reds starter Mat Latos.

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Marlins P Jose Fernandez (12-6, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 172.2 IP, 187 K, 58 BB, 111 H, .182 BAA).  Fernandez may win this award unanimously, as he has numbers that put him in Cy Young contention.  Keep in mind his 12-6 record is with the Marlins offense backing him up; he didn’t really have much help.

2. Dodgers P Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-7, 2.97 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 188 IP, 150 K, 48 BB, 174 H, .247 BAA).  I hesitate to vote for players for Rookie of the Year who have played in the majors in Japan and then come play here.  Ryu is one of these, but since he is eligible, I’ll put him in 2nd.  Very solid year pitching for the NL West Champions, the Dodgers.

3. Braves C/OF Evan Gattis (.238 BA, 20 HR, 63 RBI, 21 2B, 42 R).  This was a tough pick between Gattis and Shelby Miller, who probably has better stats than Gattis.  However, Gattis’ story going from janitor and ski lift operator to the Braves cleanup hitter, coupled with his tendency to perform better in the clutch, gave him a slight edge.  9 of Gattis’ 20 HRs have been in the 7th or later, and 12 have either tied the game or given the Braves the lead.  His 20 HR and 63 RBI is in somewhat limited playing time.

Also considered (ordered 4-10):  Cardinals P Shelby Miller, Pirates P Gerrit Cole, Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig, Padres 2B Jedd Gyorko, Braves P Julio Teheran, Mets P Zach Wheeler, Reds P Tony Cingrani

NL Manager of the Year

1. Clint Hurdle (Pirates).  Led the Pirates to the playoffs after 21 straight losing seasons.  Enough said.

2. Don Mattingly (Dodgers).  Led the Dodgers to a division title after a 30-42 start, going 62-38 the rest of the way.

3. Fredi Gonzalez (Braves).  Led the Braves through the disappointment of last year’s Wild Card loss and multiple injury issues to the East title.

Also considered (ordered 4-6):  Mike Matheny (Cardinals), Dusty Baker (Reds), Kirk Gibson (Diamondbacks)


1. Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera (.348 BA, 44 HR, 137 RBI, 193 H, 103 R, .636 SLG, .442 OBP).  Cabrera becomes the first right-handed hitter to win three straight batting titles since Rogers Hornsby (1920-25).  In doing so, he also led the league in RBI and was second to Chris Davis in HRs.  This is a tough choice between 1st and 2nd, but also remember Cabrera is on a playoff team and Mike Trout is not.

2. Angels OF Mike Trout (.323 BA, 26 HR, 96 RBI, 39 2B, 9 3B, 108 R, 33 SB, .431 OBP).  Trout is the ultimate five-tool player, as he has proven in his two years he can hit for average, hit for power, play defense, throw, and run the bases.  He will be a star in Los Angeles for a long time.  He would be the MVP if a future Hall-of-Famer wasn’t in his way.

3. Orioles 1B Chris Davis (.286 BA, 53 HR, 138 RBI, 42 2B, 103 R, .634 SLG).  Davis is a distant third, but only because most of these huge numbers came from a big first half, not his slumping second half.  If the two halves of the season had been reversed, or if the Orioles had gotten in the playoffs instead of falling just short, Davis might would be under more consideration.

Also considered (ordered 4-7):  Yankees 2B Robinson Cano, Red Sox DH David Ortiz, Athletics 3B Josh Donaldson, Tigers P Max Scherzer.

AL Cy Young

1. Tigers starter Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 214 IP, 240 K, 56 BB, 152 H, .192 BAA).  This was a pretty easy pick.  Scherzer was at one point 13-0 and later 19-1 on the year.  The 21-3 mark ties him for 14th in single season winning percentage in MLB history.  A WHIP under 1.00 and an BAA under .200 are also very good for any pitcher, particularly a starter.

2. Red Sox closer Koji Uehara  (21/24 saves, 1.10 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 73.1 IP, 100 K, 9 BB, 32 H, .129 BAA).  Nobody’s talking about this guy so I will.  He has been ridiculously good all year, particularly since becoming the Red Sox closer at midseason.  His numbers are arguably even better than Craig Kimbrel, who pretty much everyone claims as the best closer in baseball.

3. Athletics starter Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 190.1 IP, 117 K, 29 BB, 193 H, .264 BAA).  Colon’s numbers don’t touch Scherzer’s, and might not normally be in the top 3 for a Cy Young race.  However, Colon threw his heart out for the AL West winning Athletics at the age of 40.  He should be well past his prime by now, but he keeps getting better.

Also considered (ordered 4-10):  Rays starter Matt Moore, Rangers starter Yu Darvish, White Sox starter Chris Sale, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Rays starter David Price, Royals closer Greg Holland, Angels starter CJ Wilson, Twins closer Glen Perkins.

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Rays OF Wil Myers (.293 BA, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 21 2B, 48 R, .476 SLG).  Some would argue Myers isn’t even the best rookie on his own team (Chris Archer), but I think he’s the best in all the AL.  His stat line may not have anything that jumps out at you, but he put this together in just 87 games.  He also brings a lot of speed and defensive skill to the Rays.

2. Rangers P Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 119 IP, 79 K, 125 H, .268 BAA).  The stats I just listed aren’t really why he’s here.  He’s gotten better throughout the season, and the Rangers are trusting him, a rookie, to start tonight’s one-game playoff against the Rays David Price.  I think that trust and confidence speaks for itself.

3. Tigers SS Jose Iglesias (.305 BA, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 16 2B, 39 R, .352 OBP)  Once again, the stats don’t jump off the screen,  but Iglesias has been a very good SS (and occasionally 3B), starting the season on the Red Sox, before being traded to the Tigers.  For a rookie to be a big piece of two playoff teams, and one of the two centerpieces of a big deadline deal (along with Jake Peavy), this is quite an accomplishment.

Also considered (ordered 4-5):  Rays P Chris Archer, Indians P Cody Allen

AL Manager of the Year

1. John Farrell (Red Sox).  Led the Red Sox from a last place finish under Bobby Valentine last year to the AL’s best record.  Has done a great job and put the Red Sox into definite World Series contention.

2. Joe Girardi (Yankees).  Led the Yankees, despite millions of dollars worth of injuries and the distractions of the A-Rod drug situation and Mariano Rivera’s retirement, to within 6 games of the Wild Card.  It is remarkable the Yankees were still in the race in the final week.

3 (tie).  Ned Yost (Royals).  On the real ballot, you can’t have a tie, but I just can’t decide between these two, because both deserve recognition.  Yost led the Royals to the first winning record since 2003 and very nearly made the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

3 (tie).  Terry Francona (Indians).  After a year in the broadcast booth, came back to lead the Indians from a 68-94 record to the AL Wild Card with mostly the same roster.  He won 2 World Series titles in Boston and confirmed this year he is one of the best.

Also considered (ordered 5-9):  Joe Maddon (Rays), Bob Melvin (Athletics), Jim Leyland (Tigers), Buck Showalter (Orioles), Ron Washington (Rangers).

Rays, Rangers Set For One-Game Playoff

The Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays came into Sunday tied for the second Wild Card berth into the AL Playoffs, one game behind the Cleveland Indians.  The Indians won, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-1, to clinch the first Wild Card berth.  They will host the AL Wild Card game on Wednesday.

This afternoon, the Rays scored 6 in the first and held on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-6.  That put the pressure on the Rangers, who were playing a little later since they’re in a later time zone.  Their opponent, the Los Angeles Angels, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first.  After the Rangers took a 2-1 lead in the 5th, the Angels tied the game in the 6th.  The Rangers then scored single runs in the 6th and 7th, before scoring 2 more in the 8th, both on solo home runs, to grab a 6-2 lead.  Closer Joe Nathan retired the side in the ninth, and the Rangers stayed alive.

The tie in the Wild Card standings will be settled at 8:00 PM ET tomorrow night, when the Rays and Rangers play for the second Wild Card berth in a one-game playoff in Texas.  It is the fourteenth time a regular season tie will have to be broken, although it is just the ninth one-game tiebreaker (tiebreaks in 1946, 1951, 1959, and 1962 were played in best-of-three format).  It is the fourth time the Wild Card has been determined by a tiebreaker game, but the first time a second Wild Card berth has been determined this way (MLB added the second Wild Card just last year), and the first ever AL Wild Card tiebreak (the other three were in the NL).

Throughout history, tiebreaks have produced some exciting and memorable moments, from Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” in 1951 to Bucky Dent’s HR against the Red Sox in 1978.  Four of the thirteen previous tiebreaks have produced the eventual World Series champion, with three more producing the team that would go on to lose the World Series.

Each of the three previous tiebreaker games have been decided by one run, with two of those games going into extra innings.  In 2007, the Colorado Rockies (who went on to win the NL Pennant with sweeps in the NLDS and NLCS) beat the San Diego Padres, 9-8 in 13 innings, for the NL Wild Card.  In 2008, the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 1-0, to win the AL Central.  In 2009, those same Twins beat the Detroit Tigers, 6-5 in 12 innings, for the AL Central title.  Each of these games was won by the home team, although the home team is just 5-4 overall in one-game playoffs (this is tiebreakers, and does not count the Wild Card round of the actual playoffs).

The Rays now embark on what would, if they make it all the way to the ALDS, be a very interesting and exhausting traveling schedule.  The same would also be true for the Rangers, although they can spend tonight at home because they are hosting the one-game playoff.  The Rays will leave Toronto tonight, and fly to Texas, where they will play for the right to fly to Cleveland, where they will play in the AL Wild Card Game for the right to fly to Boston for the ALDS.

As for everyone else, the St. Louis Cardinals won today over the Cubs, 4-0, to clinch the #1 seed in the NL, and home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.  They won that battle with the Atlanta Braves, who fell one game short, although they beat the Phillies today, 12-5.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are the #3 seed, and will travel to Atlanta for games 1 and 2 of the NLDS.  The NL Wild Card game will be Tuesday in Pittsburgh between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds, for the right to play the Cardinals in the NLDS.

The Boston Red Sox clinched the best record in the AL on Friday, and will host the AL Wild Card winner beginning on Friday in the NLDS.  The Oakland Athletics are the #2 seed, and will have home-field advantage in their series with the Detroit Tigers (who were no-hit today), the #3 seed.  As mentioned, the Wild Card game in the AL will be played on Wednesday between the hosting Cleveland Indians and the winner of the Rays-Rangers tiebreak, for the right to play the Red Sox in the ALDS.

Marlins’ Alvarez Throws Unique No-Hitter

Henderson Alvarez threw the 5th no-hitter in the history of the Miami Marlins on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers in the final game of the Marlins season.  The Marlins finish in a distant 5th in the NL East at a record of 62-100, but that 62nd win is one no one who saw it will soon forget.  According to ESPN, it is the first time since 1997 that a no-hitter has ended with a walk-off in the bottom of the 9th.

The Marlins, at home, did not score a run through the first 8 innings of the game.  Alvarez went out for the 9th and got 3 outs.  While he could pump his fist after finishing 9 innings of no-hit baseball, he couldn’t really celebrate because the game was still tied, 0-0.  The Marlins needed a run in the bottom of the 9th, not only to win the game, but to give Alvarez his rightfully deserved no-hitter.

After Justin Ruggiano grounded out to shortstop, Giancarlo Stanton singled up the middle to put the winning run on base.  Logan Morrison duplicated Stanton’s hit, moving Stanton to 2nd.  Luke Putkonen’s wild pitch put the runners at 2nd and 3rd, with 1 out.  Adieny Hechavarria grounded out, and the runners stayed put, then Chris Coghlan walked to load the bases.  Pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs came to the plate.  Ironically, Alvarez stood on-deck because his spot was next in the order, even though it was physically impossible that he would have to hit because if Dobbs reached base, a run would score, and if Dobbs made an out, the inning would be over.  Marlins broadcasters remarked that if Alvarez couldn’t celebrate from the mound after the 27th out, then the next best place would be the on-deck circle. Dobbs was a great pinch-hitter for this clutch situation, as he is the active leader in both pinch-hits and pinch-hit RBI.

On the first pitch, Dobbs started to swing at an inside breaking ball, but checked his swing successfully.  The ball continued to break after it went by Dobbs, and catcher Brayan Pena tried to stop it, but it got by and went to the backstop.  Stanton broke for the plate immediately, and scored evenly.  The walk-off wild pitch gave a no-hitter to the man on-deck.  I doubt anyone has ever written that sentence before.

After the celebration on the field, Alvarez briefly went into the stands to embrace his wife, who is expecting the couple’s first child.  After hugging and kissing her, he kissed her stomach, as if to kiss the baby in her womb.

Ironically, the last Marlins pitcher to throw a no-hitter is Anibal Sanchez, who is now a member of the Tigers and watched the game from the visitor’s dugout.  Sanchez remained in the dugout to watch the celebration a few seconds longer than his teammates, and viewers could almost read his mind saying “I know how he feels to throw one, here.”

The fact the no-hitter was against the Tigers, who are the champions of the AL Central, makes the accomplishment even more special.  In fact, the Marlins, who had nothing to play for this weekend, swept the Tigers, a team that, until now, were projected by many (including me) as the potential favorites to win the American League.  Now, after being swept by the worst team in the NL (even considering some of their starters only played 1 or 2 games in the series), there are questions about their chances.

On this final day of the regular season, the AL Wild Card race is coming down to the wire, with the three teams all within a game of each other.  The Indians and Rangers have games currently in progress (both lead).  The Rays defeated the Blue Jays, 7-6, and cannot be eliminated today, although they may have to play a tiebreaker tomorrow.

Cardinals Clinch NL Central, Braves Win Instant Classic

By defeating the Chicago Cubs 7-0, the St. Louis Cardinals have won their first NL Central division title since 2009.  That’s ironic, because that’s twice as long as it’s been since their last World Series championship, in 2011, a year that they got into the postseason through the Wild Card.  They took the eventual champions, the San Francisco Giants, to Game 7 in the NLCS last year, after winning the NL Wild Card Game over the Atlanta Braves.  The Pirates, who until now have been focused on winning the division, are trying to claim home-field advantage for the NL Wild Card game.  This weekend they are playing the team who they will play in that game, the Cincinnati Reds.  With their 4-1 win tonight, the Pirates need to win 1 of the final 2 games of the series to clinch the home-field advantage.

The Braves’ Kris Medlen outdueled the Phillies’ Cliff Lee in an instant classic tonight, 1-0.  Medlen took a no-hitter into the 6th, and only allowed 2 in his 8 IP.  Lee only allowed 3, but the game turned on one of them, a Chris Johnson solo HR to lead off the bottom of the 8th.  Craig Kimbrel retired the side in the 9th for his 50th save, and the Braves’ 95th win.  If he allows 1 hit or less over the next two games, Kimbrel will become the second closer in history with 50 or more saves and less than 40 hits in a season (Eric Gagne, 2003).  The Braves’ broadcasters called this a “practice playoff game” based on the large crowd at Turner Field and the great pitching matchup between two of the best in the NL.  If that’s how the Braves perform in October (or as they call it, “Choptober”), they will be hard to beat, particularly at home.  Their magic number is 2 to clinch home-field advantage over the Cardinals, with whom they are tied, but own the tiebreaker.

In the AL Wild Card race, the Rays lost to the Blue Jays, the Indians beat the Twins, and the Rangers beat the Angels.  Therefore, now the Rays and Indians are tied, with the Rangers 1 game back.  Each team has 2 games remaining, and the top 2 teams after Sunday’s action will play on Wednesday in the AL Wild Card game.  As for the race for home-field advantage in the AL, the Red Sox lead the Athletics by 2.5 games.  The Athletics currently lead the Mariners, 3-1 in the 6th.

Excitement is building among baseball fans nationwide, as we are just 3 days from playoff baseball (5 days from Division Series play).

College Football Picks for Week 5

Game of the Week: LSU at Georgia.  Georgia is a 3-point favorite at home.  These teams are pretty even, both by the “eye test” and statistically.  LSU’s Zach Mettenberger actually has a little bit better numbers passing than Georgia’s Aaron Murray, but LSU has played one more game and has played lighter competition.  Mettenberger grew up dreaming of playing at Sanford Stadium, but not for the visitors.  Georgia’s offense is 6th in total yards per game, and that is with two games already and a third this Saturday against top-10 competition.  The Bulldogs become the 4th team in the BCS era to play a top-10 team three out of their first four games, and is seeking to be the first to post a winning record in these games after losing to Clemson and beating South Carolina.  With a Georgia win, and an easy schedule for the Bulldogs the rest of the way, they would be back in the national title conversation.  Georgia 28, LSU 20

Big Game Guarantee: Wisconsin at Ohio State. Ohio State is favored by 7, playing the game in the Horseshoe in Columbus.  Ohio State won last year at Wisconsin, 21-14 in overtime.  These two teams are 12th and 15th in total yards (slight edge to Wisconsin), and 3rd and 5th in points scored (again, edge to Wisconsin).  Ohio State has a 16-game winning streak, and the last time they had a regular season winning streak that long, the Badgers ended it in 2003.  Ohio State has won their first 4 games easily, 3 of them with backup QB Kenny Guiton.  Starter Braxton Miller is back this week, which should make the Buckeyes even better.  Ohio State will get a scare, but will pull away late.  Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 24.

Upset of the Week:  Oklahoma at Notre Dame.  Oklahoma is a 3-point favorite on the road.  When these two teams met a year ago, Notre Dame won in Norman 30-13.  Stats are working for and against Notre Dame.  To their advantage, the Irish are 9-1 all-time against Oklahoma.  To the negative, the Irish have been held under 100 yards rushing in each of the last three games, for the first time since 2008.  Then again, last year the Irish held the Sooners to 15 rushing yards.  This game’s really a toss-up, but I think Notre Dame has a slight edge at home.  Notre Dame 21, Oklahoma 17.

Closer Than The Experts Think:  Ole Miss at Alabama.  Alabama is a 16-point favorite at home, but expect this game to be closer than that.  Alabama is the best team in the country (see my Power Rankings), but #21 Ole Miss is certainly an up-and-coming program with second year head coach Hugh Freeze.  The Rebels have impressive road wins against Vanderbilt and Texas, and had an extra week to prepare for the Tide.  Alabama struggled last week with Colorado State in a game much closer than the 31-6 score would indicate.  The passing stats of these two teams are practically equal, but Ole Miss has 250 rushing yards per game, and Alabama has just 132.  This Ole Miss team has some incredible fight in them, but in the end they will fall just short against the #1 Tide.  Alabama 31, Ole Miss 24.


Update: Gomez, Johnson Suspended

Brewers OF Carlos Gomez and Braves OF Reed Johnson have both been suspended one game by MLB for their roles in Wednesday night’s brawl in the first inning at Turner Field (see post “Braves, Brewers Brawl Over Blast” for more).

I’m not sure if the suspension of Gomez is right.  He did start the chaos, but he was suspended for the final 8 1/2 innings of the game.  A hefty fine would have probably been sufficient.  Then again, if he wanted to get back at Paul Maholm for being hit by a pitch earlier in the season, the home run should have said enough; it did put the Brewers ahead in the game.

Johnson’s suspension makes up for him not being ejected after the brawl.  Johnson appeared to try pushing Gomez to the ground, and aimed the shoving around the head/neck area.  For a player off the bench who wasn’t even involved in the on-field incident to become so violent and get involved, a one-game suspension is appropriate, and may actually be too lax.

Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman of the Braves were both fined undisclosed amounts.  Freeman was ejected from the game for telling Gomez to run the bases; unless the fine is minimal, enough has already been done.  As for McCann, he should have either been ejected and missed 8 1/2 innings of last night’s game, or been suspended one game and missed tonight’s 9 innings.  He yelled at Gomez immediately after the home run as he stood and admired it, before blocking the plate when Gomez came around to score.  That started the bench-clearing portion of this incident.

Fortunately, the Brewers-Braves series concluded last night with Kyle Lohse’s two-hit shutout of the Braves.  The Phillies are now in Atlanta for a four-game series to finish the regular season, while the Brewers head to New York to play the Mets.