As hot as the Mets have been, it may take an act of God to stop their streaking ways. While their game with the Giants has not been postponed as I write this, the pouring rain I encountered earlier is expected to continue through the day. Games in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston are also under threat of inclement weather but the Giants have to be hoping the rain cools off the Mets’ bats. The Flushing 9 have won 8 in a row including the first two of the series with the Giants. Yesterday’s game was a 6-5 victory for the homestanding Mets. Michael Conforto continued his blazing April with 3 hits including a home run and 3 RBIS. Wilmer Flores, spelling David Wright at third base hit a home run, knocking in his first run since early September. On the hill, Jacob DeGrom pitched 6 innings in his first start following a lat muscle strain and a health issue involving his infant son, Jaxon. Should there be a break in the weather the brave fans who make it and the millions at home can see the matchup I’ve talked about in this forum, Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner.
It could be a relief to the Mets that Jordan Zimmerman no longer pitches for their rivals, the Nationals. Pitching for the Tigers, he’s 5-0 with an 0.55 ERA after silencing the Twins yesterday 4-1. He gave up but one run in 7 innings striking out 7 Twins. The game was no contest after a Justin Upton 3-run home run in the top of the first. It’s been six years since a pitcher finished April with 5 wins and an ERA below 1. The last Tiger to finish April with such a low ERA was John Hiller who had an 0.36 ERA at the end of April in 1974-and he was pitching in Tiger Stadium, a much better hitter’s park than Comerica will ever be.
Up to now, the story about Rockies’ rookie shortstop Trevor Story has been his home runs. Last night at Chase Field he hit a two-run tripple in the 9th to break a 2-2 tie and lead his team to a 5-2 win over the D-backs. He had also doubled home a run earlier on off Zack Greinke.
Even if today’s White Sox-Orioles game is lost to bad weather, last night’s game was more exciting than a night of cruising the establishments in the Inner Harbor. Two of the game’s better teams traded punches like champion boxers, with the White Sox finally getting the upper hand 8-7. The homestanding Birds took the early lead on an RBI single by Mark Trumbo. The visitors jumped ahead 3-1 with 2 in the third and a Brett Lawrie home run in the 4th. But in the home half, Pedro Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop hit home runs in the hitter-friendly Oriole Park at Camden Yards, leveling the game. Baltimore put up single tallies in the 5th and 6th making it 5-3. The visitors put up one in the 7th and 3 in the 8th for a 7-5 advantage. The tiebreaker was a giant home run by Todd Frazier whom they acquired from the Reds. But the Birds hadn’t yet had their wings clipped. Chris “Crush” Davis lived up to the nickname doubling home two runs to level the game again. But in the visitors’ final atbat Jose Abreu singled a run home for the winning margin. The White Sox needed their hitting attack as their starter Matt Latos was bruised and battered for 11 hits in 5 innings on the hill.
Most of the night the PaleHose had to do without their manager Robin Ventura who was ejected in the third inning for arguing after a review didn’t go his way. I have been strongly against the entire review process since it began being used on Little League World Series games. I thought it was wrong there and I think it’s even more potentially ruinous to big league baseball. The games are too long without reviews which can run as long as 32 minutes. That’s the record for a review to my knowledge. And they encourage even more immature behavior than usual by players and managers. Soon enough every play will be reviewable which will chase away the fans the game still has.
Should the Syndergaard-Bumgarner game be a washout, there’s at least one matchup that should be good and will be played since the game is in a dome. Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays’ Miracle Man will spend his 25th birthday facing Jake Odorizzi of the Rays. Should the game in Baltimore be played, the White Sox’ dominant starter Chris Sale will face a once-dominant Ubaldo Jiminez of the O’s. 6 years ago he came out of April with 5 wins and an ERA under 1. Now he’s had difficulty locating his pitches, and at Camden Yards that can’t lead to any good. The Nats and Cards each start one of their best in St. Louis. The Nationals go with Max Scherzer who threw 2 no-hitters last season. The Cards counter with Carlos Martinez who did some of his best work his last time out of the gate. He threw 8 innings of shutout ball against a potent Arizona offense. The Phillies have won 5 straight and hope to beat the weather. One of their young hopefuls, Vince Velasquez faces the Indians’ Danny Salazar if Mother Nature allows it. The ESPN game is the Yankees against the Red Sox in Boston if the weather from here doesn’t arrive there. The Yanks’ offense is so bad they might hope it rains. If it doesn’t they have to face David Price at a time when their offense has looked like only PED’s would help it. They counter with Nate Eovaldi who pitched well in his last outing, but no pitcher can survive with this lack of support from his offense.
As mentioned above, Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays is 25 today. The kid from Stony Brook, Long Island is only five-eight. As such he is only one of 6 pitchers under five-ten to pitch in this relatively young century. Especially righthanders are mostly drafted if they are six-three and above. He played at Duke, and was the first Blue Devil drafted in the first round. The Jays took him in round 1 in 2012. When he reached the majors in 2014 he was first used in the bull pen, then as a starter. In 2015 he tore his ACL, usually a season-ending injury. But he was back on the hill in the show in September and started 2 NLDS games against the Rangers.
A pitcher I remember from New Britain days has a birthday today. Dan Gakeler is 52. He hails from Mt. Holly, NJ. He had already been to the bigs when our paths crossed. He had a 1-4 record and a 5.74 ERA for the Tigers in 1991. He was 30 and a starter for the New Britain Red Sox in 1994. I vividly remember being in the trainer’s room with him, though I’ve long forgotten why I was there. He was trying to straighten out a neck injury he had, since he was that night’s starter. He told me in the strongest possible terms not to tell the manager or our listeners on the radio that he had hurt his neck. So I didn’t, although off the air I warned my partner to beware of our team getting slaughtered that night. We did, as Gakeler gave up six runs and didn’t get out of the first inning.