Hi, all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, June 29.
Coastal Carolina could only survive to play tonight one way. They had_ to win last night against Arizona, and as usual with the odds stacked against them, they beat the house and won. This time it was a 5-4 win over a relentless Arizona Wildcats team that has all the tradition Coastal hopes they can start to build from this World Series appearance. Knowing neither of his regular starters could go, coach Gary Gilmore pulled one out of a hat. Mike Morrison, normally his closer carried the mail in last night’s game with the season on the line. Morrison is an undrafted senior, so neither he nor coach Gilmore were risking anything. He had started twice in 2015, even though he hadn’t made a start this season. He had bailed out starter Jason Bilous on Thursday in an earlier elimination game against Texas Tech, throwing 83 pitches in the process. So last night he took to the hill for his coach, his team and the town of Conway, SC where Coastal is located. After his fearless performance last night he probably won’t have to buy himself a beer in Conway for at least a month.
Just like Monday night, Arizona scored in the first inning. Last night the first inning could have spelled DOOM for the Chanticleers. Cody Ramer and Zach Gibbons singled to center, and after a failed bunt attempt Ryan Aguilar drew a walk to load the bases with one out. Then, astonishingly pitcher Morrison picked off Ramer from third, a play you never see. Bobby Dalbec singled home Gibbons to make it 1-0 but Morrison retired Cesar Salazar to end the inning. Having escaped that near-calamity, the Chanticleers rebounded in the third. Billy Cook singled. All the talk on the air was about whether he would steal, but he didn’t have to as pitcher Kevin Ginkel threw a wild pitch, sending him to second. He was bunted to third and stayed there as David Parrett reached second base on an error by Wildcats’ shortstop Louis Boyd. The leadoff hitter Anthony Marks was up then and he made his mark by singling home both runners. They were the only two runs starter Ginkel would allow. He would strike out 10 in 7 innings, but so would Morrison for Coastal. The Wildcats evened the score in the fifth with the usual suspects doing the damage. Ramer walked and Gibbons singled him to third. After a strikeout, Ryan Aguilar tied the game on an infield grounder. There would be no further scoring until the 8th and by then both starters were gone. Bobby Holmes relieved Morrison in the last of the 7th with two out nobody on. Cameron Ming came on to begin the 8th for the Wildcats. That was when Coastal mounted their rally. Marks singled to center and was bunted over by Michael Paez. Conor Owings, who only had 3 hits in 24 atbats in the series hit an RBI single on a blooper to left. Zach Remillard then doubled to left with Owings stopping at third. Exit Ming, enter Alfonso Rivas for Arizona on the hill. He couldn’t contain the damage, as GK Young singled home both runners to make it 5-2. The Wildcats put up 2 in the 8th to make it 5-4 but weren’t able to solve pitcher Holmes in the 9th. The 2, 3 and 4 hitters didn’t hit one out of the infield. Coastal had won, setting the stage for tonight’s game at 8 PM. There’s no question who’s going for Coastal. Andrew Beckwith, though undrafted in this his junior season is 14-1. He’s going on 3 days rest, so Alex Cunningham will be there to back him up. For Arizona, if Nathan Bannister can’t go after leaving Friday’s game early with a sore arm, Bobby Dalbec will forsake his normal position at third base and pitch, as he has done beautifully throughout this World Series.
The beauty of baseball is, there’s no clock. Sometimes for different reasons you have to work overtime. Monday night in the 9th inning, the Yankees-Rangers game was halted by a rain delay of almost 4 hours and was resumed at around 2 AM. Last night the Cubs had to go 15 innings to notch their 50th win, a 7-2 defeat of the homestanding Reds. John Lester and John Lamb were the starters but they were a distant memory when the game ended. The Cubs were ahead 2-0 until the 8th when a Billy Hamilton home run cut the lead in half. In the 9th against the Cubs’ closer Hector Rondon, Eugenio Suarez singled home Brandon Phillips who was playing on his 35th birthday. 4 relievers provided 8 innings of shutout ball for the Reds before J.J. Hoover took the ball in the 15th. He gave up a single with the bases loaded to Chris Bryant, then a grand slam to Javier Baez. That’s 6 grand slams given up in Hoover’s Reds’ career, an ignoble record he holds that no other Reds pitcher can match-or would want to.
After the Indians had extended their present winning streak to 9 I said they had a chance to reach double digits with a 3-game series against Atlanta who seems to only beat the Mets. Well, the Indians have done it. Their streak is now at 11 in a row, the longest by the Tribe since 1982. Carlos Santana got the game-winner in a 3-run 9th last night as the visitors beat the Braves 5-3.
You’ll swear this game happened at Coors Canaveral, but it didn’t. In San Francisco the A’s beat the home Giants 13-11 with 4 in the 6th, 5 in the 8th and 3 in the 9th for the win. Oakland pinch-hitter Jake Smolinski hit a 3-run bomb to make it 9-8 in that 5-run 8th inning. Kris Davis (not to be confused with Crush Davis of the Orioles,) crushed one of his own early in the going. Jarrett Parker and Denard Span hit back-to-back blasts in the home 9th but it was too little, too late. The Giants’ pitchers dug their own hole by walking 8 men, 4 of whom scored. Their closer Santiago Casilla balked during the 9th. Oakland closer Ryan Madson, scavenged from the Royals in the winter survived giving up 2 home runs to get a 2-inning save.
An old commercial used to say “Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day.” The fact of the matter is, Wednesday is usually afternoon baseball and today is no different. Some games may already be on before we go to press. Boston is finishing their series in St. Pete. The Cubs and Reds face off at 12:35 after their megamarathon last night. The Marlins and Tigers wrap up their series in Detroit. Toronto and Colorado have a matinee at Coors Canaveral which starts at 3:10 Eastern. Last night, There was a hail storm before_ the game, then when it started there were baseballs the size of hailstones flying out of the yard as the Jays beat the Rockies 14-9. Houston and the Angels also have a west coast day game at 3:35 our time. The Orioles and Padres meet in San Diego at the same time. As if all that weren’t enough, the Phillies and D-Backs play in Phoenix leading up to the Arizona vs. Coastal Carolina game at 8 PM. Under the lights, the Mets, Yankees and Braves all hope not to be swept at home by the Nats, Rangers and Indians respectively. Especially for the Bravos, I don’t see or hear the cavalry coming to rescue them from the marauding Indians. Atlanta has to start Joel de la Cruz, a 27-year-old rookie who hasn’t seen the bigs in his life. The Indians throw a blazing hot Danny Salazar who has won his last 5 starts. The Dodgers, who actually got a win from Julio Urias last night will audition another novice, Brock Stewart who makes his MLB debut against the Brewers. With Clayton Kershaw perhaps_ dealing with a back issue, the Gong Show continues for the Dodgers.
Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler is 30 today. On a biblically bad team he has a 32-41 lifetime record. He’s played with the Marlins since his first taste of the majors in 2012. It was a surprise he made the bigs at all, considering he was an 18th-round draftee in 2012. He hails from the Bronx and played his college ball at Stony Brook University on Long Island. He opened a lot of eyes with a 16-2 record and a 2.61 ERA in AA Jacksonville in 2010.
The Dodgers’ pitching coach Rick Honeycutt is 62 today. His given name is Frederick Wayne Honeycutt and he hails from Chattanooga. Although he had a 109-143 record he lasted 20 years in the game and has been a pitching coach for ten years. Early on he was with the expansion Mariners from 1977-80. His two long runs were with the Dodgers from 1983-87 and Oakland from 1987-93. He was an All-Star twice early in his career. He was with Oakland when they were in 3 straight World Series between 1988–90. On the debit side of the ledger, he earned a 10-game suspension for being caught using a thumbtack to cut the ball.
Former catcher and first baseman John Boccabella is 75 today. He gets his mention because as a boy, his name was my favorite name in all of MLB. Talent didn’t matter, his name alone was great. He played for the Expos then and the P.A. announcer drew it out like Michael Buffer does introducing boxers. Boc–Ca–Bel–La was how it sounded. He was a San Francisco native who began his career in 1963 with the Cubs and wrapped it up in his home town with the Giants in 1974. It turns out he was a career .219 hitter in his time. In college his Santa Clara Broncos got to the final of the College World Series in Omaha in 1962. Only the Michigan Wolverines could tame the Broncos that year. He went to the Expos in the expansion draft before the 1969 season and was their main catcher in 1973. He worked for Pacific Gas and Electric in the San Francisco area for 19 years after baseball.
Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew was born on this day in 1936 and passed away in May 2011. His was the first baseball card I ever had. It came out of a cereal box, as cards occasionally did back in the day. He was a man of many nicknames-The Killer, the Brew, the Fat Kid (according to Jim Bouton in “Ball Four.) He made his debut a week before turning 18 in 1954. By the end he hit .256 with 573 home runs. He broke in with the original Senators who became the Twins, and spent his final year with the Royals in 1975. He was an All-Star 13 times between 1959 and 1971 and hit a home run in his final All-Star appearance. The 1971 All-Star game in Detroit had home runs by 6 Hall of Famers including Reggie Jackson’s moon shot that nearly left old Tigers’ Stadium. 6 times he led his league in home runs and once he was voted MVP. He played in the 1965 World Series when the Twins lost to the Dodgers, and also played in the first 2 ALCS in 1969 and 1970, both lost by the Twins to the Orioles. He broadcast on TV around MLB through 1988. It took 4 ballots to induct him into the Hall of Fame in 1984. The only question in my mind is, WHY? He was inducted with Luis Aparicio and 1965 World Series foe Don Drysdale.