Monday night featured 3 games where teams who are either almost out of it or already out of it still put on an exciting show. We’ll start with the Yankees. After a disastrous series with the Bluejays where they lost 3 of 4, they traveled down to St. Petersburg which has not always been a health spa for unwell bats. Rays’ starter Erasmo Ramirez almost laid the ultimate indignity on the Yanks. He had a no-hitter through 7 innings and the fans in St. pete were counting the outs until it all went terribly wrong. Carlos Beltran broke up the no-hitter in the 8th. The Rays still might have taken the game, but with two outs in the top of the 9th, Alex Rodriguez knotted the game with an RBI two-bagger. With two mates aboard, up came Slade Heathcott. WHO? I swear that isn’t the name of a leading man in a British romance of the Jane Eyre stripe, but it sure sounds like one. His story is a novelistic rags-to-riches tale. He lived out of his truck as a high school senior after his stepfather went to prison and his mom moved from Texas to Louisiana. Slade was a first-round draft choice back in 2009 right out of high school. He had two shoulder surgeries and two on an injured knee before ever seeing the Bronx. His given first name is Zachary, but Slade heathcott was the name on every lip when he launched a 3-run home run a row deep into the seats. His first one had been against the Royals back in May, but this is one he and his wife Jessica will remember even if he never hits another one. The win keeps the Yankees within 3 games of Toronto at the top of the American League East.
In Philadelphia, the league’s chronic underachievers the Washington Nationals finally got an extra inning win which could have been a lot easier. They were ahead of the Phillies 6-2 halfway along. This game was a home run derby of the sort played at Baker Bowl, the Phillies’ home before their 1938 move to Shibe Park. Anthony Rendon set the tone with a jolt in the first. Ryan Howard provided the equalizer in the home second. Bryce Harper took his turn to send one out of the lot in the visiting third. In the home third an RBI single tied the game. In the top of the fifth came the big blast that should have clinched things for the visitors. Ex-Phillies star Jason Werth unloaded one with a teammate on every base to make it 6-2 Nats. But the Phillies had an answer. In the last of the sixth, after chipping a run off the lead, Cody Asche took one “WAY OUTA HERE!” as Harry Kalas would have put it, knotting the game at 6. It stayed that way until extra innings. In the top of the 10th, the former Philly Werth again homered, giving himself 5 RBIs for the night and, he hoped, ending the night for his side. Not quite yet. The Phillies had one more cannon shot in them. Wearing number 13, Freddy Galvis was bad luck for the Nats as he cleared the fence to tie it at 7. It was the second RBI of the night for Galvis, a devotee of Chinese food though his home is in Venezuela. Surprisingly, a game with so much fireworks ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. Yunel Escobar’s RBI grounder gave the Nationals their final run and a lead their embattled bull pen was able to hold. After all that, they gained nothing because the Mets rallied to beat Miami for their eighth win in a row.
The final terrific game of the evening took place on the south side of Chicago, which may or may not be “the baddest part of town,” depending if you ask Jim Croce or somebody from the area. The White Sox and A’s, neither with a thought of the playoffs still put on a good show. Early on, a pair of two-run home runs by Jose Abreu and Trayce Thompson gave the Pale Hose a 4-1 lead in the third. This was expanded to 7-2 next inning by a bases-loaded walk and a two-run single also by Abreu. The A’s were still down 4 in the 9th until they rallied to tie it. The game-tying run was scored on a passed ball. It took 5 extra innings for the home standing Sox to win on a Melky Cabrera RBI base knock.
On today’s schedule, the Rangers and the skidding Astros play again. The Rangers won last night bringing them a game closer to the division leaders. another highlight is a day night doubleheader between the Pirates and Cubs, the two teams most likely to meet in the NL wild card game in 3 weeks. To me, a day night doubleheader makes sense in Boston, where the seating capacity is small and tickets can be hard to come by. Anywhere else it makes more sense to do a regular twi-night doubleheader. But that’s just baseball as I see it.