Remember when Yoenis Cespedes clanked one in the outfield on the first batter of the first game of the season? The panic talk started on social media and New York talk radio. Now, Cespedes is hitting home runs again, the Mets’ pitching is the Mets’ pitching and they’re in first thanks to a ton of help from the Cubs. Arguably the league’s best team capped a four-game sweep of the Nationals with a 4-3 win in 13 innings yesterday at Wrigley Field. Javier Baez, who hit an important home run during last year’s NLDS hit a walkoff shot in the last of the 13th for the win. At 24-6, They are off to the best start since the Tigers started 26-4 and ultimately 35-5 in 1984. In the National League the Dodgers of 1977 were the last team to start 24-6. The Nats had a 3-1 lead until Chris Bryant registered a two-run single in the home seventh. The Nats held off the Cubs in the 11th when Michael Taylor threw out Jason Heyward trying to score on a Bryant double. The Cubs have won the last 20 starts made by Jake Arrieta, even short ones like yesterday when he was done after 5. They weren’t about to let Bryce Harper beat them. Cubs’ pitching walked him 6 times and hit him once with a pitch.
Meantime, the Mets beat the Padres to gain a sweep of a 4-game series. They had lost the first 2 and looked bad doing so. Bartolo Colon shocked the world Saturday night with one of the Mets’ 4 home runs as they won 6-3. Yesterday they built an early 3-0 lead and held on. Yoenis Cespedes hit his third home run of the series, Matt Harvey looked like his old self striking out 10 and the Mets found first place for the first time this young season.
All the games in baseball are under the lights tonight. The Nationals lick their wounds and try to recover at home against the Tigers, but they have no easy assignment. Anibal Sanchez goes for the Tigers against the Nats’ Stephen Strasburg. At 5-0 with a 2.36 ERA, this is the Strasburg we saw before his Tommy John surgery. Jose Fernandez is in his first full season back after Tommy John surgery and faces the Brewers tonight in Miami. With all the fuss the Cubs are causing, the White Sox aren’t chopped liver at 22-10. The two actually faced each other in the World Series of 1906. The Sox are in Texas while the Cubs host the Padres. The Cubs go with John Lester who has yet to win on the north side and hasn’t lost anywhere else. The Padres’ Cesar Vargas has had 3 good starts, but now he’s up against the big boys. The Mets are the late game in Los Angeles. Every starter they have is special and Steven Matz is no exception, at 4-0 with a 0.67 ERA since a bad first outing against the Marlins. Scott Kazmir was thought to be special once, but has been ordinary at best since being signed by the Dodgers.
Prince Fielder is 32 today. Born in Ontario, California, at first he was just the son of Cecil Fielder, the Tiger who in 1990 hit 51 home runs when 50 was still an achievement and the words “baseball,” and “steroids,” hadn’t been joined in unholy matrimony. Prince Semien Fielder is his actual given name. He was named for the late musician Prince. At age 12 he launched one into the upper deck at Tiger Stadium. The Brewers drafted him out of high school in round 1 of the 2002 draft. He’s been in the show since 2005 and has a .285 average. He was with the Brewers through 2011, then with his dad’s old team the Tigers for two sdasons and is on his third season with the Rangers. He’s been an All-Star 6 times starting in 2007 and was last year’s comeback player of the year after a serious neck operation in 2014. He and his dad are the only father and son to each hit 50 home runs in the bigs.
Hall Of Famer Tony Gwynn was born this day in 1960 and died on June 16, 2014 at age 54. Amazingly he was around until the third round of the 1981 draft when the Padres took him from San Diego State, where the stadium bares his name and where he later would coach for a dozen seasons. Amazingly for any modern player, facing the relief pitching now so prevalent he hit .338 lifetime and lasted 20 years, all with the Padres. He put up 3141 hits, won 8 batting titles and was an All-Star 15 times. Once he won 3 batting titles in a row, once 4. He copped 97.6% of the votes on his first Hall of Fame ballot in 2007. When he and Cal Ripkin JR were inducted that summer, the crowd was an estimated 75,000 which trippled the old record set in 1999.0