A Tale of Two Closers; FailMilia Flunks while Chapman Charms Chicagoans

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It was the best of times at Wrigley, it was the worst of times at Citi Field.  In an odd matinee game to start a 4-game series, the Mets’ Jeurys Familia flubbed his second save in as many days.   The Rockies won 2-1 with 2 runs in the 9th inning.  Meantime Cubs’ fans got a taste of the closer they stole from the Yankees. Chapman was asked to get 4 outs and he delivered as the Cubs beat the White Sox 3-1 at Wrigley.  John Lackey took the win against Chris Sale. Chapman entered in the 8th facing a runner on third while holding a one-run lead.  He  retired Melky Cabrera with his usual panache, striking him out on 6 pitches-4 of which reached 100 MPH while the other two were a paltry 99 MPH. In the last of the 8th his team got him an insurance run. He struck out one batter in a quiet 9th inning.

The moving vans began to roll as they doubtless will until the trade deadline Monday.  The Giants got former Yankee shortstop Eduardo Nunez from the Twins for a minor leaguer.  Then only a couple of hours ago the Padres and Marlins made a major deal.  Going to Miami are starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea.  The Padres get Josh Naylor, reportedly a top prospect and other minor leaguer. Both men are in A ball, years away from the bigs. Something seems wrong with a trade where two major-league starting pitchers  go in exchange for two A-ball players, but it happens. Whatever the Padres think they have in their system, nobody has enough pitching to sell two of their starters as short as they did.

There is the usual full slate of action on this Friday.  There’s even a matinee for what Lee Elia called “The other 15%,” of which I am a member. The day game is in Chicago (where else) as the Cubs host the Mariners. Rockies’ starter Tyler Chatwood should be the kind of pitcher the Mets’ bats can get well against.  He’s given up 13 runs in 18 innings since coming off the DL, and walked 8 men his last time out. Steven Matz hopes to avoid the fate that befell Jacob DeGrom yesterday when Familia blew the save.

A pitcher who symbolized just how bad the Yankees were in the late ’80’s and early 90’s, Dave LaPointe is 57 today. The lefty from Glens Falls, NY broke in with the Brewers late in 1980 and finished with the Phillies in 1991. He was the Brewers’ 10th-round pick in 1977. When all was said and done he had an 80-86 record and a 4.02 ERA. His longest stay was with the Cardinals from 1981 to 1984. He was with the Cardinals when they won the World Series in 1982. The Yankees signed him as a free agent, and as such he only won 6 games with a 5+ ERA, and only a slightly better 4+ era a year later when the Yanks were 67-95. He has managed and coached in independent leagues off and on since 1995.

Dan Driessen, a spare part of the Big Red Machine is 65 today.  A native of Hilton Head Island, SC was never drafted but lasted 14 years in the bigs.  He was first heard from in June of 1973.  That fall brought about my strongest personal memory of him.  In game 4 of the NLCS, in the 11th inning Driessen hit a mighty clout to right field with two men on.  Rusty Staub made an incredible catch, but in doing so he hurt his shoulder and would be troubled by it throughout the World Series. Driessen played for the 1975 and 1976 Reds’ world championship teams.  He  became the starting first baseman after future Hall of Famer Tony Perez was traded in 1977.   He lasted until 1984 with the Reds, then spent 3 years bouncing around the league. He was part of the 1987 Cardinals who lost the World Series to the Twins in 7 games.    Surprisingly he never went to the American League where he might have been a DH.

One of the original Mets, Felix Mantilla is 82 today. He hails from Puerto Rico and first made the majors with the Milwaukee Braves in 1956. After the infamous 1962 Mets, he played for Boston and the Astros. He was an All-Star in 1965.  In 1957 his Braves won the World Series, and they lost it in 7 a year later. He played all four infield positions and the outfield. He and Hank Aaron were roommates in the minors. In 1959, Harvey Haddix had pitched 12 perfect innings but the Pirates hadn’t scored. In the bottom of the 13th Mantilla hit a grounder which Don Hoak didn’t field at third. After a sacrifice and a purpose pass to Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock hit one out of County Stadium for the win. Mantilla scored, but Aaron ran from second to the dugout and Adcock passed him on the bases, so the final official score was 1-0.


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