Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, June 3.
While it isn’t the 4th of July, yesterday was the kind of Saturday in the park that the group “Chicago” sang about in their song of that name. In Atlanta and New York, 2 memorable games were played, each going 14 innings before a decision was reached. In Atlanta, the new-look Braves and the Nationals duked it out until the Nats’ Max Scherzer ignited the winning rally. In New York, the Mets and Cubs played to a standstill until the 14th when the Mets’ beleaguered pitching staff finally could do no more. The offense was helpless with Jay Bruce out with back spasms and Yoenis Cespedes acting like, well Yoenis Cespedes. Wilmer Flores and Todd Frazier are on the DL as if Bruce’s and Cespedes’ problems weren’t enough. Among the pitchers, AJ Ramos, Anthony Swarzak and Noah Syndergaard are all on the shelf.
With their best pitchers out of action it’s amazing the Mets held off the Cubs as long as they did. A beleaguered staff who have to work without reenforcements struck out 24 Cubs before finally flinching. Jacob DeGrom, easily the best pitcher the Mets still have struck out 13 in 7 innings. Sadly, the Mets could only get a single run against Mike Montgomery and the Cubs’ bull pen. Luke Farrell held the Mets at bay knowing he would get little help from an already-fatigued bull pen. At last in the 14th, the Cubs’ Albert Almora JR., Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez all launched 2-run extra base hits. Baez swatted a pinch-hit 2-run home run to make it 7-1 Cubs in the 14th. Brandon Morrow locked it down for the North Siders. It was the 15th save for the former Dodgers’ setup man.
Most of the Mets’ bull pen went just an inning with the exception of Tim Peterson. the 27-year-old had been called up this past Wednesday when it became clear the Mets’ staff was in shambles. The Mets drafted him in 2012 from the University of Kentucky. He pitched the 12th and 13th. Buddy Bauman and Gerson Bautista pitched poorly in the 14th with Bauman taking the defeat. With the loss, the Mets fell to an unacceptable 12–16 in their home ball park. The Mets are in 4th place, 4 games behind their nearest rival, the Phillies.
Some 900 miles south of New York, another epic struggle was taking place just outside of Atlanta. The Braves, who have been everybody’s punching bag over the past few years put up an impressive showing against the Nationals before falling 5-3 in 14 innings. With the win, the Nats are just half a game behind the Braves who have shocked the world over the first two months of the season.
This wasn’t the first time Max Scherzer had been summoned as a pinch-hitter. With the current trend of teams keeping 13 pitchers, and with no DH in the National League, managers have few resources on their benches. Therefore, a pitcher like Scherzer or Madison Bumgarner may find themselves called upon to use the willow if no other pinch-hitters are available. That was the scene in the 14th inning in Atlanta yesterday. Scherzer singled and came home on a 3-bagger by Wilmer Difo. Spencer Kieboom (which would be a great name for a boxer or a home run hitter) singled home Scherzer for an insurance run in what would be a 5-3 win. From the bull pen, the Nats’ Justin Miller pitched 3 innings while striking out 5 men. Sean Doolittle pitched a quiet 14th inning to get the save, his 14th in 15 chances.
On today’s slate, the Yankees send Domingo German to the hill in Baltimore against Alex Cobb. After an impressive first start, German has come crashing back to reality going 0-2 with an ERA approaching 10 in 14 innings. Cobb has his own troubles, a 1–7reccord and an ERA just south of 7. The Cubs follow up yesterday’s marathon win by throwing John Lester at the Mets. Lester is 5–1 facing the struggling Mets. They hope to send out Steven Matz who has been on the DL of late with a strained finger. If he can’t go, it’s a nearly impossible situation for the Amazin’s since all hands were on deck yesterday. Following the league’s other marathon, the Nats and Braves each have usable veterans starting today. The Nationals turn to Jeremy Hellickson while the home team goes with the former Tiger Anibal Sanchez. The Pirates have Nick Kingham back and plan to start him in St. Louis. The Red Sox and Astros are the featured game tonight on ESPN and well they might be. The Astros have the league’s best record and the Red Sox are the only real challenger to the Yankees in the AL East. The Sox have Rick Porcello carrying the mail against the Astros’ Charlie Morton. He struck out 10 against the Yankees on Tuesday. This was his 4th game with double-digit K’s in 2018.