Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this second Tuesday in June.
The last slot in the upcoming College World Series is filled. The Florida Gators shut out the Florida State Seminoles 7-0 in game 3 of their Super Regional. Like the first two in the series, this one was delayed by lightning, to the tune of an hour and 40 minutes before it could start. When it did the Gators scored right out of the gate, with Dalton Guthrie crossing the plate on a wild pitch. Peter Alonzo hit a solo blast in the third, and the Gators put the game away two innings later on a J. J. Schwarz grand slammer. A. J. Puk, Oakland’s first pick in last week’s draft didn’t survive the fourth inning as he walked 6 men while giving up just one hit. Dane Dunning rescued him from the bull pen and got the win. The Gators now face Coastal Carolina Sunday night on the second day of play in the College World Series at Omaha.
The White Sox started the season as hot as the Cubs did, but have come down to Earth since then. The Tigers thought last night’s game would be what was once called a “laugher,” as they got ahead of the PaleHose 7-0 in the third. They scored 3 in each of the first 2 innings and one more in the third off newly-acquired James Shields who hasn’t found his rhythm since joining the White Sox from San Diego. By the time he left after 5, the Sox had cut the deficit to 7-6 off Tigers’ starter Matt Boyd. They were still down 9-7 before scoring a pair in the last of the 9th and one in the 12th for a 10-9 walkoff win. Adam Eaton’s single sent the fans from the south side home smiling. The Sox nearly short-circuited their comeback when Todd Frazier hit what should have been a double play grounder to short. The Tigers got one out, but Ian Kinsler at second made a bad throw, continuing the game. Brett Lawrie and Avisale Garcia hit two run-scoring singles to even the score. The last time the Sox pulled a game-winning rally from 7 down was in 2002 against their crosstown rivals, the Cubs.
For fans of exceptional pitching, Zack Greinke got the better of his former teammates as the D-Backs took the Dodgers 3-2 in Phoenix. Greinke lasted 7 while his foe Mike Bolsinger didn’t survive the fifth. Meantime, Max Scherzer struck out 8 of the first 9 Cubs he saw en route to a 4-1 win for the Nationals.
There is one matinee today as the Phillies take on the Blue Jays north of the border. Zach Eflin, who they got when trading Jimmy Rollins in 2014 makes his major league debut against the potent Jays’ lineup. Under the lights, John Lackey and Gio Gonzalez should provide an exciting pitching duel as the Cubs face the Nats in DC. Baltimore’s dominant Chris Tillman faces David Price in Boston. The Brewers’ Matt Garza hasn’t made a start all year due to an injury in spring training. Tonight is his first start, and he didn’t draw an easy assignment. He faces Madison Bumgarner of the Giants. What more need be said?
Phillies’ setup man Hector Neris is 27 today. He’s played for them since breaking in at the end of 2014.
Greg Brock is 59 today. He had one of the more unenviable jobs in baseball, replacing Steve Garvey on first base for the Dodgers. He lasted with them from late 1982 to 1986, and played with the Brewers until 1991. He hailed from Oregon and played college ball at University of Wyoming.
Don Newcombe, or “Big Newk” as Roy Campanella knew him, is 90 today. For his part, he called Campanella “Meat.” At six-foot-four and 220 pounds he was a big pitcher for his time, and radio announcer Gordon McClendon said he was big as an elephant. McClendon never lived to see Randy Johnson. The Jersey-born Newcombe was 149-90 mostly with the Dodgers, who became the subject for Roger Kahn’s book “The Boys of Summer.” He was an All-Star 4 times, the last being 1955. That same year his Dodgers won their only world championship, beating the Yankees in 7. In his rookie year of 1949, he was the first black pitcher to start a World Series game. He started game 1, and lost 1-0 on what would now be called a walkoff home run by Tommy Henrich. Up to then no World Series game had ended 1-0 on a walkoff home run. He won 20 in 1951, and with very_ little rest he started game 3 of the playoff with the Giants. He was pitching his fourth game in 8 days, and at that he lasted into the 9th. Roy Campanella didn’t play that game due to an injury. Dodger pundits have said since that if Campy had been put in just for the last of the 9th, he would have coaxed and cajoled one more half inning out of Newcombe. As it was, With a 4-2 lead Ralph Branca relieved him and gave up Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World.” Like Willie Mays of the Giants, Newcombe lost his next two seasons to military service. But he didn’t bounce back as well as Mays did. It took Newcombe until 1955 to get his groove back. He notched 20 wins that year and 27 a year later. He was traded to Cincinnati in mid-1958, then sent to Cleveland for a brief stay in 1960. He struggled with alcohol but has been sober since 1967 and worked tirelessly to help others with substance abuse issues, most notably former Dodger Maury Wills.