Cards get the Gold Mine, Phillies get the Shaft; Cubs Sweep Pirates;

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Considering what the umpires did to the Phillies last night in St. Louis, the Phillies deserved to be kissed after their 5-4 loss to the Cardinals. The home team needed all the help they got from the umps just to stay in reach of the Cubs who completed a sweep of the Pirates.

In St. Louis, the Phillies jumped ahead 4-0 on a 3-run home run by Ryan Howard and a solo shot by Odubal Herrera.  Then the skullduggery began in the home fifth.  With Ruben Tejada up, he hit a simple foul ball. But wait-today even that can be effected by the obscenity that is umpire review.  Even a few years ago a foul ball was a foul ball and that was that. What the umpire saw with his own eyes stood.  Last night the Cardinals challenged this simple foul ball. Five agonizing minutes later it was declared fair and called a double for Tejada.  By then pitcher Adam Morgan, who had been cruising along had lost his stuff. He walked light-hitting Eric Fryer. Brandon Moss, hitting for starting pitcher Mike Leake singled to fill the bases.   Tejada and Fryer scored on an infield hit by Aledmys Diaz. The Phillies tried to get that call overturned without success.    Then Stephen Piscotty singled home Moss to make it 4-3. At that point Colton Murray had to relieve Adam Morgan after just 4 innings.  Even a few years back he would have cruised along after that simple foul ball.  None of the videos showed a conclusive reason to change the call to a game-changing double for the home team. Umpire reviews at best needlessly lengthen a game that’s already way too long because of TV commercials between innings and during pitching changes. At worst they give fans a travesty like the one in this game.

Even considering the events of the fifth inning  the Phillies kept the lead until the last of the 9th. Closer Jeanmar Gomez committed baseball’s first deadly sin, walking off the leadoff man Colton Wong. With one out, Matt Adams doubled, putting men on second and third. Starting pitcher Carlos Martinez pinch-ran for Adams at second. Diaz was intentionally walked, filling the bags. Piscotty tied the game with an infield hit, but Martinez overran the bag at third and was tagged out. In spite of this the Cards won when Matt Holliday singled home Diaz for the winner. The Phillies had won 10 of 12 while the Cards had lost 5 of 6 as last night’s game began. They get a chance to take the series in today’s lone day game.

Meantime the Cubs needed no help taking the sweep from the Pirates. Ben Zobrist hit an early 3-run home run and John Lester got two out in the sixth before being relieved. The Cubs are the first team to 20 wins and lead the Buckos by 6 and the Cardinals by 7.5 in the Central Division.

The Blue Jays scored their second walkoff win in two nights as Russell Martin singled home Ezequiel Carrera with the bases full for a 4-3 win.  Tuesday night, Justin Smoak had tied the game with a home run in the 9th and won it with a 2-run shot an inning later.  Last night the Jays pulled it off in the regulation 9. The Rangers had jumped out early 2-0 and 3-1  but Aaron Sanchez kept it there through 7 giving his team time to even the score, which they did on a blast by Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth.

It’s normal for one guy to come near hitting for the cycle-a single, double, tripple and home run in a game.  Most miss the tripple.  What’s unusual is when two guys each hit a single, double and home run in the same game.  That happened last night in Houston as the Astros wiped out the hapless Twins 16-4. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa each missed only a tripple or we could have had two guys hit for the cycle in the same game. Altuve’s home run led the game off, and the Astros were up 8-3 when they put up 5 in the fifth to put it out of reach. As if things aren’t bad enough for the Twinkies, they’re off to Chicago to face the White Sox, arguably the best team the league has to offer.

One of tonight’s better matchups is the Nationals’ game at Wrigley against the Cubs. The visitors send Joe Ross to the hill against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. Coming off an 8-0 demolition of the Braves yesterday with 4 home runs, the Mets send Jacob DeGrom to the hill in San Diego late tonight. He’ll face Colin Rea who is still trying to find a groove. The Yankees also pulled off a shutout, 7-0 in Baltimore and they will send out                    Masahiro Tanaka to try to follow up and take the series against the Birds’ Kevin Gausman.

Yankees’ pitcher James Pazos, recently recalled to the big club is 25 today.  He’s up because Alex Rodriguez was put on the DL with a hamstring strain. The Arizona native will be needed in the Yankees’ bull pen in middle relief since the starters have been nearly as awful as I’ve predicted right from the start of the season.  Only CC Sabathia has performed above expectations, and his 7 innings last night provided  a rare rest for the fatigued middle relief corps. The Yankees took Pazos in round 13 of the 2012 draft from the Torreros of the University of san Diego. He was called up in September 2015 but began this year at AAA Scranton.

Charles Nagy is 49 today.  While pitching for University of Connecticut, he faced Seton Hall and their vaunted freshman Maurice Vaughn in the 1987 Big East tournament.  This was the first time it was held in Bristol, CT-the home of ESPN-where it would remain for many years.  Those who saw the bomb Vaughn hit off Nagy say it’s still traveling. Nagy was taken in round 1 in 1988 by the Indians while Vaughn went to the Red Sox the next year. Nagy  collected a 129-105 record between 1990 and 2003. He was with the Indians until his final season when he went to San Diego. After 3 years as pitching coach with the D-Backs  he now has that position with the Angels. He was an All-Star 3 times, between 1992 and 1999. He pitched for both the 1995 and 1997 Indians who made the World Series but lost. He lost game 3 of both World Series’ and from the bull pen was tagged with the loss in game 7 after a blown save by Jose Mesa.

Infielder Jose Pagan was born this day in 1935 and died in June 2011 at 76. The native of Puerto Rico made the World Series with the Giants in 1962 and played on a World Series winner in Pittsburgh in 1971.  Between 1959 and 1973 he was a career .250 hitter. His best year was in 1962 when he hit .259 with 150 hits for the Giants-the only time he got 150 hits. In game 7 of the 1971 World Series his 8th-inning double scored Willie Stargell with what would be the winning run of the 2-1 battle. He had been the shortstop for the Giants in his day, and was a third baseman and utility player during his time in Pittsburgh.

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