Before the days of Facebook and twitter, a thrilling win like the Astros’ 10-9 win over Oakland last night would have provided a real challenge for the men who wrote the game recaps. All newspapermen were on deadline. With the score 7-4 after 8 innings and Houston ahead, the writers would have leaned back and started writing their stories. But wait a minute. Oakland put up 5 runs off the Astros’ normally reliable closer Will Harris for a 9-7 lead. Now the writers would have to change gears and prepare for a 9-7 Houston loss. But stop the press—Luis Valbuena hit a 3-run home run off Ryan Madson to send the Houston fans home happy and make the writers reach for the Mylanta.
Neither starter did well in hitter-happy Minute Maid Park. Carlos Correa hit his 14th home run early on against Oakland starter Daniel Mengden. Meantime Collin McHugh, the Astros’ starter did little better giving up a shot to Marcus Semien. Each starter gave up 4 runs in 6 innings or less. With Houston ahead 7-4 in the 9th, their All-Star closer Will Harris started off giving up a double to Billy Butler. He hadn’t given up an extra base hit in 37 games. Yonder Alonso followed Butler’s hit with a two-run shot to bring his team to within a run. Two hits later, Harris was gone in favor of Michael Feliz, who gave up two more hits, including a tie-breaking double to Kris Davis. That left Oakland ahead 9-7 and their closer Ryan Madson, scavenged from the Royals during the winter on the hill. With one out Jose Altuve singled, stole second and took third on a wild pitch which would have been a third strike to Carlos Correa, allowing him to take first. With two men on Valbuena hit his game-winner. He took Madson’s first offering into the seats in right. He now has a dozen home runs for the season.
In Los Angeles, Dodgers’ iconic broadcaster Vin Scully got to see and call yet another special moment in Dodgers’ history. As they beat San Diego 10-6 their catcher Yasmani Grandal hit 3 home runs. Only 2 other catchers for the Dodgers have done this-Roy Campanella and Mike Piazza. The crime is, Scully’s 3 home run calls were not heard on Dodgers’ radio. Most of his work has been on TV for a number of years now, where his true talent can’t come to the fore. The first two were hit within the first 3 innings as the Dodgers built an 8-3 lead. Grandal wasn’t the only one reaching the grandstands. Justin Turner launched one in the first tying the game at 1. Grandal’s first blast came later in that inning putting the home team up 4-1. The Padres’ Melvin Upton JR. hit a two-run home run in the second making it 4-3 but that was the last time they were in the game. After Grandal’s second dinger Howie Kendrick hit one in the same inning. Upton hit one in the 4th but Grandal’s third big fly sealed it for the Dodgers. Nobody’s pitchers impressed or fooled anybody. The Padres’ hurlers walked 8 men giving up 14 hits, while the Dodgers hurlers walked 7 giving up as many hits.
There’s a full slate of action this afternoon. The earliest game is in Toronto where Aaron Sanchez at 9-1 goes for his 10th win. The Braves’ All-Star starter Julio Teheran goes against the Cubs at Wrigley. Fox Sports 1 has the Yankees and Indians with CC Sabathia against Danny Salazar. Salazar is the Indians’ best now while CC was their best before he left for Milwaukee and then the Yankees. The last 3 times out he’s gotten hammered. And I mean during_ the games, for an 8.31 ERA.
Today, I’m going to take a look back at maybe the best All-Star game ever played. This feature was meant for yesterday because the game occurred on July 8, 1941 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. In Babe Ruth’s time it was called Navin Field for the owner Frank Navin (pronounced to rhyme with Raven.) But Spike Briggs had recently bought the Tigers and renamed the famous stadium for himself. No fewer than a dozen future Hall of Famers played in the game before 54,000 fans. In a scene that wouldn’t happen now, a marching band performed just before the game, to the consternation of Tigers’ broadcaster Ty Tyson who called the action solo for local fans whom he referred to lovingly as “boys and girls.” Red Barber and Bob Elson broadcast it nationwide for Mutual. The managers had managed the 1940 World Series-Bill McKechnie of the winning Reds, Del Baker of the losing Tigers. McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida is named for Bill McKechnie, a Hall of famer in his own right. The National League didn’t score until the sixth. The American had put up a run in the home fourth. With the score 1-0 each side put one up in the sixth making it 2-1 American. The National then put two each on the board in the 7th and 8th for a 5-2 lead. Their highlights were two home runs by the pirates Floyd “Arky” Vaughn. But the American League notched one in the 8th before a 4-run winning rally in their last atbat. Ted Williams ended matters with a 3-run home run, what would today be called a walk-off home run. As Red Barber described it, the ball hit the facade of the upper deck. To his eye, had it not done that it might have gone clean over the roof and out of Briggs Stadium, a cannon shot if ever there was one.
A couple of college ball players of note have signed pro contracts in recent days. Thomas Hatch, starting pitcher for Oklahoma State has signed on with the Cubs. Mike Morrison, pitcher for Coastal Carolina who won the College World Series put down his John Hancock for the White Sox. His teammate Connor Owings did likewise for the D-Backs, as did shortstop Michael Paez with the Mets. Justin Dunn of Boston College made his first pro appearance for the short-season Brooklyn Cyclones in the Mets’ farm system. The Mets also signed infielder Peter Alonso from the Florida Gators. David Parrett, catcher of Coastal Carolina now belongs to the Tampa Bay Rays.0