Jays Make It a Series Again; Doubleheader Today

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After losing the first two games in the ALCS to the Royals in Kansas City, the Toronto Blue Jays returned home and showed the hitting power which propelled them to the  Eastern Division. They bludgeoned the opposition pitching staff with an 11-8 win over the Royals last night. Marcus Stroman got the win in spite of giving up 4 runs and 11 hits before leaving in the seventh inning. Royals’ starter Johnny Cueto was even worse, giving up 8 runs in less than 3 innings. So much for the matchup of the two best pitchers the teams had.

The Royals put up an early 1-0 lead on a tripple by Alcides Escobar and an infield out by Ben Zobrist. But that lead lasted as long as the early season snow some cities have gotten. The home team put up 3 runs in the second, as Ryan Goins singled home Troy Tulowitzki and Kevin Pillar, then scored on a hit by Josh Donaldson. The Royals tried to keep it close in the third when Zobrist  doubled and later scored on an infield out by Eric Hosmer. But the game was essentially decided by Johnny Cueto’s meltdown in the third. The first 5 batters reached base. Edwin Encarnacion started off with a double, then Chris Colabello walked and Tulowitzki crushed a Cueto pitch 425 feet to center for a 3-run home run. After Russell Martin walked and Kevin Pillar doubled him home, Cueto’s night was done. Chris Medlen entered the game. He’d been one of baseball’s best pitchers with the Braves until needing his second Tommy John Surgery in March 2014. The Braves didn’t take the risk of signing him after the season.  He had only been able to pitch starting in late July with the Royals. After getting the first two men he saw, Josh Donaldson hit an even more titanic home run than Tulowitzki had done earlier in the inning, making it 9-2 Jays. The Royals put up a pair in the fifth but the Jays answered back in their half with another giant home run, this one by Ryan Goins. The Royals put up 4 in the 9th featuring a 2-run homer by Kendrys Morales, but it was, to steal from Shakespeare,  an inning of sound and fury signifying nothing. The game had been lost hours before. During the game, canned beer was no longer available in the upper deck of Rogers Center. The cans are now emptied into plastic cups, which has been the policy for years in most parks. The change follows Wednesday’s disgraceful display by Toronto fans after Texas took a 3-2 lead in a game the Jays ultimately won 6-3.

The Royals-Blue Jays  series lacks the appeal of the Mets-Cubs NLCS which resumes tonight in Chicago. In two of our largest cities, last night’s game could not be found on radio. In New York, the ESPN affiliate carried a Rangers’ hockey game, while in Philadelphia the station aired the football game between the Eagles and Giants. Hopefully listeners in these cities can hear today’s two games. Toronto will again host the Royals at 4:07 PM, with knuckleballer R. A. Dickey of the Jays facing a former Mets’ teammate Chris Young. Both have 11 wins this year. Meantime in Chicago, Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs has the daunting task of facing Jacob DeGrom of the Mets. His Cubs’ teammates call him The Professor because he studied at Dartmouth. Ivy Leaguers are rare in pro sports, and one who makes it is liable to be called the Professor or some other appropriate nickname. He had an 8-7 record after being considered for last year’s Rookie of the Year award, which went to his foe tonight DeGrom. It will take all the professor’s wits to stop Daniel Murphy in particular, who has 5 postseason home runs for the Mets. Meantime DeGrom has to concern himself with all the tough hitters the Cubs will send up to face him.

A Bad Reason To Grow Up Faster than Most

Daniel Norris is a boy of 22. If he weren’t an athlete he might be finishing college. There his biggest worries might be his exams and whether he should or shouldn’t ask his sweetheart to marry him.  If not in college he might already have years of work under his belt, and his biggest worry might be how to get a raise or whether to quit his job in favor of a higher-paying one, or will he get laid off.  But Daniel Norris pitches for the Tigers. He’s a rookie with a 3-2 record who the Tigers got when they traded David Price. Norris found out earlier this season that he had a bigger worry than all the hitters in the league and all the other pitchers the Tigers have who might like to take his job. He was told earlier this year that he had thyroid cancer.

How does a person of 22 react to such grim news? I can’t imagine. I was recently told I needed a second back surgery, and while that’s hardly life-threatening it was still upsetting.  At 52 I’ve faced serious health issues, unemployment and  divorce. In 1998  I sat helplessly in an emergency room in Minnesota,  waiting to hear if my new bride would need brain surgery.  But this boy, the son of a bike shop owner, faces a fight for life itself. Once, cancer was so dreaded its name wasn’t generally used. It was called The Big C, or “The Big Casino.” Babe Ruth’s wife and doctor never told him he had cancer, for fear that knowing it would take away his will to fight it. Norris pitched this season knowing it was inside him and somehow keeping it from the world. That’s no easy trick in these days of total access through social media. It was via Instagram that he finally told the public. In previous years, if the news came out at all the team would release it to the media. Norris will need surgery to have the tumor removed from his thyroid. Beyond that nothing is known. Norris does not say publicly whether he is a man of faith, but I hope all who are would take a moment and say  a prayer for his health.



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