Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this first Monday in June.
The Washington Nationals have increased their lead on the Mets in the NL East to 2 games. They did this by winning a wild 10-9 affair in Cincinnati, while the Mets lost as tight a pitching duel as an old-fashioned baseball fan could want. The Mets lost 1-0 as the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez struck out 14 men.
In Cincinnati, the Reds built a 5-0 lead and hoped to continue what was at that point a 4-game winning streak. The Reds put up 5 runs on 6 hits in the home second off starter Tanner Roark. He was gone after 3 innings. But the Nats’ middle relievers kept the Reds at 5 while the Nats scored 10 unanswered runs. In the visiting fourth, Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos hit back-to-back home runs as the Nats put up 5 of their own off John Moscot. They added 3 in the 5th and 2 in the 6th for a 10-5 lead. The Reds gave it their best shot, as Jay Bruce hit a 3-run home run in the 7th, and they put up a run and had the bases full with nobody out in the 9th. But Nats’ closer Jonathan Papelbon worked out of the tight spot for the save.
I was lucky enough to catch as good a college baseball game as you’re likely to hear last night on the Internet. The Miami Hurricanes walked off on the Long Beach State 49Ers 9-8 to earn a berth in the Super Regionals that take place next weekend. They will host Boston College. Early on, it looked like being no game at all, as the hurricanes built an early 8-1 lead. But the 49Ers scored 6 in the 6th and tied it in the 8th, before a walkoff single with a runner on third in the last of the 9th won it for the homestanding Hurricanes. When the stadium is full and the crowd is into it, as the ‘Canes fans were last night, it makes for an atmosphere that can’t be topped.
There’s basically a full schedule of games tonight, but none of the pitching matchups jump out and grab me, so I’ll go right to the birthdays for today. Anthony Rendon of the Nats is 26 today. Yesterday with the game tied at 5 in the 5th he hit a grounder with the bases full. The catcher muffed it and two runs scored. Rendon, a Houston native was the Nationals’ first choice, 6th overall in the draft of 2011. He played college ball at Rice, who plays LSU later tonight in the regionals assuming they win their elimination game in the daytime. He has played second and third for the Nationals since joining them as early as 2013.
Bud Harrelson is 72 today. He was born on what would be famously called “The Longest Day,” or D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Californian whose given name is Darrell McKinley Harrelson made it into the show in late 1965 with the Mets, where he stayed for a dozen years. He made brief stops in Philly and Texas before calling it a career in 1980. He briefly managed the Mets in 1990-91. He was an All-Star twice, in 1970 and 1971. He won World Series rings as a player in 1969 and as a coach in 1986. Besides hearing him speak at a sports dinner for kids in 1975, my strongest Bud Harrelson memory is when he was decked by Pete Rose in game 3 of the 1973 NLCS. What I didn’t know until researching for this piece was, after game 2 which was a 5-0 shutout by Jon Matlac, Harrelson said “He made the Big Red Machine look like me_ hitting.” Bud hit .236 lifetime. Pete Rose took umbrage with the quote, and the rest is Mets’ history. He is now co-owner and first base coach of the Atlantic League Long Island Ducks.
One of Harrelson’s foes in the 1969 World Series, Merv Rettenmund is a year older at 73 today. He was with the Orioles from 1968-73, then the Reds, Padres and Angels. He won a World Series ring in 1970 with the Orioles, 1975 with the Reds and 1989 as a coach with Oakland.
Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey was born on this day (or yesterday depending which source you believe,) in 1907 and died in 1993. He hailed from Bastrop, Louisiana and was the original great Yankee catcher, the first of many. He was an All-Star 11 times over and a member of 14 World Series winners as player and coach. Though he was well past the usual age he served in the Navy, missing the seasons of 1944 and 1945 when he was nearing age 40. He broke in with the Yankees in late 1928 and hit .313 though by convention catchers hit 8th in the order at the time. That’s how he got his number 8, which in combination with his protegee Yogi Berra was retired by the Yankees. Dickey also mentored Elston Howard, the first black Yankee, of whom Casey Stengel said “They finally get me a n—-r and I get the one who can’t run.” Dickey played himself in both “The Pride of the Yankees,” and “The Stratton Story,” about White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton who returned to the mound in the minors wearing a prosthetic leg after an accidental shooting in 1938.