When the Washington Nationals took Stephen Strasburg with the number 1 pick in the draft many years ago, the kind of pitching he’s doing now is what they hoped to get from him. This Strasburg who is now 13-0 is the man who dominated college baseball so completely while he was at San Diego State. Last night his latest masterful performance led to a 5-1 Nats win over the Pirates. He only allowed 3 hits in his 8 innings on the hill. No National Leaguer has opened up 13-0 since 1912. In the American League, 4 men have done it: Dave McNallly, Ron Guidry, Roger Clemens and Max Scherzer. The game was a 1-1 tie until the Nats put up 4 in the 7th with an assist from their pitcher. He bunted with men on first and third bringing the go-ahead run across. After a run scored on a throwing error, Clint Robinson took one out of the lot to put the game out of reach. With Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer going along with Strasburg, the Nats have the kind of starting rotation that would be awfully dangerous in a short series.
This isn’t good news for the Mets. The Astros have signed Yulieski Gurriel, the Cuban defector the Mets were hoping could replace David Wright at third base. He and his brother Lourdes both defected from Cuba following the Caribbean Series this past February. With Jose Altuve at second and Alex Bregman projected to play third for Houston, it isn’t clear what they would do with Gurriel now that they have him. But having him means their league rival the Yankees don’t have him and that may be good enough for Astros’ ownership.
Yu Darvish, who it seems has been on the disabled list forever, returns to the mound for the Rangers today as they face the Cubs in Chicago. He made 3 starts following his Tommy John surgery, then was returned to the DL with shoulder soreness. Today he faces Jason Hammel of the Cubs. With catcher Tyler Flowers on the DL, the Braves have brought up Anthony Recker, who was with the Indians earlier this season and the Mets most of 2015. He should be available for the Braves’ night game at home against the Rockies. The Red Sox will start Eduardo Rodriguez who had been sent to the minors late in the first half. He’ll face CC Sabathia, one of a select few Yankee pitchers who have done well. Between his time with the Indians and the Yankees, this will be his 33rd start against Boston with a 12-12 record. Meantime, with an eye toward the future the Red Sox signed third baseman Bobby Dalbec who made his name as a pitcher with Arizona in their College World Series run. They also signed prize prospect Jason Groome of Barnegat, NJ. He won’t be 18 until August 23. He was their first pick, 12th overall in the country. While we’re on the subject, the Padres signed GK Young of the national champion Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Bobby Dalbec’s Arizona teammate Ryan Aguilar put his John Hancock on a deal with the Brewers, while their teammates Zach Gibbons and Cody Ramer signed with the Angels. In one of tonight’s better matchups, Gerrit Cole returns to the hill for the Pirates after a month on the DL to face Tanner Roark of the Nats.
Terry Pendleton is our first birthday man today, as he turns 56. The Cardinals took him in round 7 of the 1982 draft. He made the show by July 1984 with the Cardinals, and played through the 1998 season. The switch-hitter put up a career .270 average. He’s best known for his work with the Cardinals through 1990 and the Braves from 1991-94 and part of 1996. He’s been a coach with the Braves since 2002. With the Cardinals he made the World Series in both 1985 and 1987 though the Cards lost both. His Braves lost the 1991 1992 and 1996 World Series.
The combustible manager Lee Elia is 79 today. The Philadelphia native and graduate of University of Delaware played briefly as a shortstop for both the White Sox and Cubs in the late sixties, then managed the Cubs and Phillies in the 1980’s. Six teams have employed him as a coach. He is best known for a locker room explosion that was recorded by radio station WLS, the station whose reporter Herb Morrison recorded the explosion of the Hindenburg 46 years earlier. Elia destroyed the Cubs’ fans for booing his team. The entire rant is on youtube, but one famous sentence was, “85% of the —- world is working, the other 15 come out here.” by which he meant Wrigley Field. I met him in 1991 when he managed the Clearwater Phillies and thought he was a gentleman.
Joseph Jefferson Jackson, famously known as Shoeless Joe was either born yesterday or today somewhere between 1887-1889 depending who you believe. His home town was Pickens, South Carolina. He passed away in 1951. His lifetime batting average was .356 between 1908 and 1920. But he is the most famous of all banned ball players. He and 7 comrades made up the “Eight Men Out,” of book and movie fame, the 8 Black Sox who threw the 1919 World Series. He scored the first run in newly-built Tiger Stadium (then Navin Field) in 1912. Ray Liotta’s portrayal of him in the iconic “Field of Dreams” introduced the name of Shoeless Joe to generations who might never have heard of him. When I broadcast for Charleston in the South Atlantic league, the team’s general manager had a golden retriever called Jackson. I asked him, “Is he named for Reggie?” To which my employer said, “No, he’s named for Shoeless Joe.”