If you hear about Chris Davis, it’s usually the man nicknamed “Crush” with the Orioles hitting bombs out of Camden Yards. But there’s another Kris Davis out there, and last night was his moment in the sun. He hit 3 home runs in Oakland’s 8-5 win over the Rangers. The third one was a grand slam good for a walkoff win. The Rangers thought they were in Red Barber’s Catbird Seat when Ian Desmond hit a two-run shot in the 9th giving them a 5-4 lead. But the A’s put up a single and double, and Rangers’ closer Shawn Tolleson purposely walked Josh Reddick to fill the bases with one out. After Danny Valencia popped out, Davis stepped up big time. He launched a 2-2 pitch into the Oakland night. But who is this Kris Davis? He’s Kristopher Adrian Davis of Lakewood, California. He’ll be 29 in December. He reached the bigs with the Brewers in 2013 and was the subject of some talk during the past hot stove season. He played college ball for the legendary Cal. State Fullerton Titans. The Brewers chose him in round 7 of the 2009 draft. In 2010 he played in Appleton, Wisconsin where the Division 3 World Series has been held in recent years. This past February he was sent to Oakland for two minor leaguers.
The Pirates put up 7 runs in the first inning against the Braves but had to call on their closer to lock down a 12-9 win. Their manager Clint Hurdle had fondly hoped not to use his closer Mark Melancon for a third game in a row, but it turned out to be necessary. This was a rare night when Atlanta was hitting. Mallex Smith hit a pair of home runs, the last one making the game so tight Hurdle probably turned to Maalox. 11 Pirates hit in the first inning when they put up 7 runs. They put up 2 more in the second before the Braves started to rally. It was their first game since firing manager Fredi Gonzalez early in the day. For the time being, Brian Snitker is the Braves’ boss and he had to watch helplessly as the Buckoneers wrought havoc and mayhem in the early innings and scored enough late to raise the Jolly Roger high after the game.
The Commissioner has spoken. 14 men were disciplined for the actions in the Jays-Rangers free-for-all Sunday in Texas. Rougned Odor understandably got the hardest wallop, an 8-game suspension for landing a right hook that would make Marvin Hagler proud. This is the longest suspension for fighting since 2006. Jesse chavez will be suspended 3 games for throwing at Prince Fielder in the bottom half, after the brawl was over. Jose Bautista, who received the punch from Odor gets a one-game suspension, as does the Rangers’ shortstop Elvis Andrus.
It took extra innings for Houston to beat the White Sox, but they did it by a 6-5 score on a home run by Evan Gattis in the top of the 11th. The Astros had been ahead by a run in the last of the 9th, but Austin Jackson doubled for the home standing White Sox and tied the game on a scoring fly ball by Tyler Saladino.
Two home runs were the only difference between the Mets and Nationals last night. Curtis Granderson led off the last of the first with a long ball off Washington starter Max Scherzer and Michael Conforto touched him up for another gopher ball in the second, and that was that. Both Scherzer and Mets’ starter Noah Syndergaard struck out 10 men.
You have your fair share of afternoon baseball if you’re in a position to listen or watch. The Marlins have the early start in Philly, and the Twins play the Tigers at 1:10 in MoTown. The Royals will host the Red Sox at 2:15 Eastern. This is part of a day-night doubleheader in Kansas City. The last afternoon game will be the Rangers in Oakland at 3:35 Eastern. The Yankees have lost two in a row to the D-Backs and send out Nathan Eovaldi tonight against Shelby Miller, the 17-game loser a year ago who the Yankees’ ailing bats can hope to get well against. The Giants-Padres matchup should be a good one, as Johnny Cueto faces Drew Pomeranz. Both are about as good a starter as their team has this season.
The Twins’ top prospect Jose Berrios is headed back to AAA Rochester after a number of bad outings, the latest being on Monday night in a game I wrote about in this forum. The cubs are signing Joe Nathan, hoping there’s something left in his tank.
Royals’ reliever Joakim Soria is 32 today. He’s from Coahuila, Mexico in the northern part of the country just below the Texas border. In the movie “Lonesome Dove,” the cattle that went to Montana were mostly stolen from Coahuila. Soria was with the Royals when he reached the majors in 2007, but has bounced around a lot until this season when he rejoined his old team. Most notably he was with the Pirates last year as they made their playoff run. He was an All-Star in 2008 and 2010, both as a Royal. In the Mexican winter league in 2006 he pitched a perfect game against the Hermosillo Naranjeros (Orangemen.) However in the big leagues his home has been the bull pen. He was their closer until he needed Tommy John surgery that cost him a year and a half. He bounced from Texas to Detroit to Pittsburgh and now back to Kansas City. Until 2011 he was called “The Mexicutioner,” but he asked for that nickname to be dropped because of violence in his native Mexico.
Mets studio analyst Nelson Figueroa is 42 today. When the Mets are on SNY, their cable outlet which carries most of their games Figueroa can be heard in the studio on their lengthy pre-game and postgame shows. He pitched between 2000 and 2014 between the majors and minors, with two stints in China thrown in. The Mets took him in round 30 of the 1995 draft from Brandeis. He was the first alumnis of Brandeis to reach the majors. From the Mets he went to Arizona, and on to the Phillies in the deal that sent Curt Schilling to Arizona. SNY announced he would replace Bobby Ojeda, one of the heroes of the 1986 Mets. The move didn’t set well at first, but Figueroa has found his way in the studio.
Former Texas Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg is 65 today. His early years get some play in Mike Shropshire’s exceptional book “Seasons in Hell,” about the 1973–75 Rangers. Sundberg, an Illinois native joined the Rangers in 1974. He was an All-Star 3 times, twice as a Ranger, once with the Brewers. He was with the Royals when they took the 1985 World Series championship. With the Rangers he copped 6 gold gloves between 1976 and 1981.
Hall of Famer Reginald Martinez Jackson is 70 today. That’s hard for me to imagine. I couldn’t stand him when his home run in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series helped Oakland beat the Mets. But I loved him as a Yankee as he helped them win two World Series. The A’s were in Kansas City when they drafted him in 1966 and when he made his MLB debut, at 21 the following year. Of his nearly 2600 hits he launched 563 home runs and I mean launched_. He hit one that landed on the right field roof at Tiger Stadium in the 1971 All-Star game that put older fans in mind of a Ted Williams clout in the All-Star game 30 years before. Reggie cleared that same roof in a regular season game in 1984 when he was with the Angels. He was an All-Star 14 times and won 5 World Series rings-3 with Oakland and 2 with the Yankees. In both 1973 and 1977 he was MVP of the Fall Classic. I’ve mentioned the home run he hit in 1973. In 1977 he hit 3 home runs in game 6 on 3 pitches from 3 different Dodger pitchers. The third one in particular was an enormous wallop, over 475 feet away into the black seats at the old Yankee Stadium. He claimed 93.6 percent of the vote when he went to Cooperstown on his first ballot in 1993.
Another Hall of Famer, third baseman Brooks Robinson is 79. He broke in with the Orioles at 18 in 1955 and played his entire career with them, finishing in 1977. He was an All-Star 18 times, won 16 consecutive gold gloves and 2 World Series rings-1966 and 1970 with the Orioles. They lost the World Series in both 1969 and 1971. He picked up 91.98% of the vote when he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983 on his first ballot. He holds the distinction of hitting into 4 tripple plays in his career and once starting two tripple plays on defense in the same season.