Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, May 21.
King Felix Hernandez who had been shelved since May 27 with a calf injury hoped his return would be the usual dominance he always showed. It wasn’t, although the Mariners won 6-5 on a walk-off home run by Leonys Martin in the last of the eleventh. The King got knocked around for 5 runs on 10 hits before leaving in the 7th. Martin had hit a two-run home run early on, so the Mariners were only down 5-2 and lucky to be there. Mike Zunino launched one in the 7th and and Adam Lind homered in the 8th to tie the game and set up Martin’s walk-off winner. That makes 6 walk-off wins by Seattle in this 2016 season and 2 in the 3-game series just ended against the White Sox. Although the King struck out Adam Eaton to lead off the last of the first, he surrendered a 3-run home run to Todd Frazier before the inning was out. Lind, who tied the game in the 8th had beaten the White Sox Monday night with a 3-run walk-off jack. The Pale Hose are now 46-48 and their scorching start is a fading memory as the Indians are running away with the central division. Frazier’s bomb was his 28th. He and the Orioles’ Mark Trumbo lead all the majors in home runs.
Like yesterday, there is afternoon baseball today for those with the chance to watch. The Dodgers finish their series in Washington just after Noon. Stephen Strasburg is 13-0 and has a soft opponent in 19-year-old Dodgers’ starter Julio Urias. The Orioles and Yankees have a matinee in the Bronx. The Yankees have now won 4 in a row, starting with Sunday night’s win over Boston. The O’s have their ace Chris Tillman on the hill with his 13 wins. He’s 6-0 against divisional foes. He faces a scuffling CC Sabathia who’s had an ERA approaching 8 in the last month. Everything else is under the lights. Some teams aren’t scheduled. As a broadcaster, in 1996 when I was dating my future ex-wife, I would write x’s and o’s on every open date, hoping we could have dates on those rare days.
CC Sabathia who pitches for the Yankees today is doing so on his 36th birthday. His given name is Carsten Charles, so I can see why he’d go with CC, although his bulk has led to food nicknames. Especially on the Jim Rome show he’s known as Carrot Cake, Chocolate Cake, Captain Crunch and I made up the name Commander Calzone because he’s as overstuffed as one of those Italian delights. As bad as his last few years have been he’s still 219-136 overall. The Indians took him in round 1 in 1998, the 20th pick overall. He was a high school pitcher when they got him. While he had been offered a football scholarship at UCLA, his plan was to go to the University of Hawaii if he didn’t get an early draft, which he did. He made the big leagues by 2001. He was a rental player for the Brewers for part of 2008 but has been a Yankee since 2009 when they took their last World Series to date. He’s been an All-Star 6 times, his last notably being in 2012.
The Red Sox’ hero of 1986, Dave Henderson was born this day in 1958 and died in late December 2015 at age 57. He had been a Mariners’ first-round pick in 1977-their first year of play-but his home runs in the ALCS and game 6 of the World Series are why he’s so well remembered where the Sox are called the Sawcks.
The Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky is 67 today. The Oakland native broke in with the Cardinals as early as 1970. As a boy trading baseball cards with my friends, not one of them could say Hrabosky. I wouldn’t have been able to except for listening to Bob Murphy who was as careful about names as any broadcaster could be. Hrabosky has an amazing 64-35 record with 97 saves in a career that ran until 1982. With the Cardinals he led the league in saves in 1975 but was shipped to Kansas City two years later. Popular though he was with the fans, he was never selected to be an All-Star. Today he does color commentary on Cardinals’ cable-tv broadcasts (which he has done since 1985) and owns a saloon across the street from Busch Stadium. His nickname stems from both his last name and his ritual on the mound. While the fans loved to watch him stomp around, pound the ball into his mitt and stare daggers at the batters, his foes were generally not amused.
Red Sox pitcher Gary Waslewski is 75 today. He started game 6 of the 1967 World Series with his team down 3 games to 2. While radio broadcaster Harry Caray had no problem with the name Waslewski, he butchered the name of the starter’s home town. He hails from Meriden, Connecticut just south of Hartford, but Caray called it “Meridian, Connecticut.” The pitcher, who was then 26 had made his MLB debut only 3 months before. His career would last until the end of 1972.
Johnny Evers, made famous in the poem “Tinker to Evers to Chance,” was born this day in 1881 and died in 1947. He played steadily from 1902 to 1917, then appeared for one game each in 1922 and 1929. He managed the Cubs in 1913 and 1921, then the White Sox in 1924. His Cubs won the World Series in 1907 and 1908, and his miracle Braves won it in 1914 over Connie Mack’s Athletics. He took the MVP award that year. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946, a year before his death. In spite of the poem, Tinker and Evers couldn’t stand each other, and once didn’t speak for years because of a dispute over a taxi cab, a relatively new concept then. As it turned out, all 3 were inducted into the Hall of Fame in the same year, 1946.0