Yesterday was a birthday for several active players, two being Williams Perez and Matt Wieters. Perez led the Braves to a 2-0 shutout of the Phillies at a sodden Citizens’ Bank Ballpark. The loudest noise when the Phillies were up was the rain pounding on the broadcast equipment used by the TV commentators. On the other end of the country Matt Wieters hit a 3-run home run in the 9th propelling the Orioles to a 3-1 win over the Angels in Anaheim. Matt Shoemaker quieted the O’s offense with a dozen strikeouts and worked into the 8th inning but his closer Joe Smith let him down in the 9th. Smith almost got the job done, he got the first two outs before a single by Chris Davis and a walk to Mark Trumbo. Then Wieters, who turned 30 yesterday unleashed one that went almost 400 feet and sealed the Angels’ fate.
Another game on the west coast had a walkoff ending but it was nowhere near as exciting as Friday night’s home run hitting contest. San Diego beat the Dodgers 3-2 on a walkoff walk by Yangervis Solarte in the bottom of the 11th. Dodgers’ starter Alex Wood had struck out 13 Padres in 6 innings. But the Dodgers’ bull pen had been depleted Friday night and in desperation they turned to journeyman ChinHui Tsao, just up from AAA who walked home the winning run.
In New York, along with crucifying Matt Harvey nothing seems to satisfy Mets’ fans on social media or sports talk radio than burying David Wright. All they lack is Mark Antony to say “Friends, New Yorkers, countrymenc lend me your ears. I come to bury David Wright, not to …” Just maybe not so fast. On a day when Jacob DeGrom didn’t look his best and the team was down 4-1 early on, the team captain hit a walkoff single in the 9th to give the Mets a 5-4 win over the Brewers. DeGrom gave up 5 hits and 4 earned runs in 5 innings of work. Down 4-1, Asdrubal Cabrera singled home Yoenis Cespedes in the last of the 4th. Cespedes then hit a two-run home run to level the game in the 6th. Hansel Robles, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia held the game at 4-4 setting the stage for a rare piece of heroics for Wright, who hadn’t gotten a walkoff hit since 2012. Eric Campbell led off the inning with a single to right, followed by a walk from Kevin Plawecki, the Mets’ regular catcher with Travis D’Arnaud injured. After a sacrifice bunt by Matt Reynolds and an intentional walk to Curtis Granderson who had homered in the first, Wright singled to right center for the win. It was a tweener that might have cleared the bases had it not been a tie game in the 9th.
In today’s Brewers-Mets game, Noah Syndergaard starts for the Mets against Chase Anderson, who had a no-hitter going with two outs in the 9th his last time out against the high-powered Cubs offense. It should be a duel in Detroit with Jordan Zimmerman of the Tigers against Chris Archer of the Rays. Zimmerman barely held onto an 8-run lead last time out against the Twins, but hopefully he’s back on his game today. Cole Hamels of the Rangers faces Dallas Keuchel of the Astros. On talent alone this ought to be a fine game, but Keuchel is still without a win since April 15 and Hamels hasn’t done well his last two times out of the gate. The matchup in St. Louis is also a good one, Zack Greinke against Jaime Garcia. Greinke has won his last 4 outings including the last win anybody has over the Yankees. That came Tuesday in Arizona. The Yanks bested the D-Backs Wednesday and have taken the first 3 in their series in Oakland since then. The Cubs and Giants are the night game on ESPN at 8 PM Eastern tonight in San Francisco. The Cubs send out Kyle Hendricks against MadBum, or the Angry Hobo, Madison Bumgarner. He has struck out 10 men or more 27 times, the last being in his last start.
One of the best closers of the ’90’s, Jose Mesa is 50 today. He had 321 saves, belying his 80-109 record in a career that ran from late 1987 to the end of 2007. He was an All-Star twice while with the Indians, for whom he played from 1992-98, his longest stretch with any team. The Blue Jays had signed him in 1981 as an outfielder. He was a starter with the Orioles before being sent to Cleveland in 1992. He began as a closer in 1995, the year the Indians lost the World Series to the Braves. He remained in that role and blew the save in game 7 of the 1997 World Series against the Marlins who ultimately won in 11 innings. As of now his son Jose JR. pitches in the minors for the Yankees.
Tommy John, whose name is synonymous with repair of catastrophic elbow injuries is 73 today. He was the first man to have ligament replacement surgery in his pitching elbow and pitch successfully, which he did for nearly 15 years after the operation. His most famous quote about his pitching arm was, “They put in a Koufax fast ball–Mrs. Koufax!” Owing to a commitment, I can’t give you more information about the famous lefty or any other baseball birthdays today.0