BULLETIN! Bulletin! Bulletin! Here is a bulletin that appeared seconds before I put the finish on today’s column. The Blue Jays, who are getting Jose Bautista off the DL went out and got … what? Another big bat. They sent basically nothing to the Padres for Melvin Upton JR., who began his career as B.J. Upton. They still need to catch Baltimore and keep Boston off their tails, but they’ve made their first move. We return you now to your regularly scheduled column.
Here’s how I see baseball this Tuesday, July 26.
Especially as a kid, if you’re a baseball fan doesn’t it just make you sick when one of your parents says, “Let’s go home early and beat the traffic.” Last night was no night for anybody to leave early. Camden Yards, the Ball Park at Arlington and the second Comiskey in Chicago all hosted games that provided walk-off finishes.
In a game where neither starting pitcher did themselves or their teams much good, it took a 9th-inning two-run home run by Adrian Beltre to provide a 7-6 win for the Rangers over Oakland last night in Arlington, Texas. Beltre (pronounced Bell Tray) has been considered a borderline Hall of Famer, surprisingly enough. His walk-off shot was his second home run of the night and his 9th walk-off blast of his long career. Oakland hit 4 doubles in the third inning against embattled Rangers’ starter Martin Perez. By the end of their hit parade they were ahead 5-1. However, Oakland’s starter Daniel Mengden didn’t survive the fifth inning and gave up 4 runs. John Axford gave up Beltre’s first home run in the 7th inning and closer Ryan Madson gave up the game-winner, and the game. So much for the north side of Dallas.
On the south side of Chicago, the White Sox put up their third walk-off win in as many games beating the Cubs 5-4. The Sox hadn’t won 3 straight in walk-off fashion since August 4-6 1962, when they played at the original Comiskey Park and before the term “Walk-off win” had been thought of. Tyler Saladino singled home the winning run off Cubs’ former closer Mike Montgomery who has to be glad Aroldis Chapman was stolen from the Yankees earlier in the day. This one could have and should have been easier for the Sox. They built a 4-0 lead going to the 7th against the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta. But the Sox have had to live without Chris Sale after his idiocy on Saturday and two of their normal relievers were unavailable for last night’s game because they’ve been carrying Sale’s load. So against what was left the Cubs got 2 in the 7th and 2 in the 9th to square things before the Sox won it in their half.
Meanwhile in Baltimore, the game took an extra inning and the Orioles defeated the Rockies in 10 by way of a walk-off error. With Adam Jones on third, Manny Machado hit a comebacker. Jordan Lyles barely managed what should have been an easy catch, then threw to Nick Hundley at the plate who couldn’t handle the throw. Game over. Jones had both of the O’s earlier RBIs in the contest.
As long as I’ve been a Yankee fan I’ve seen a lot of ill-advised trades. Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps jumps right out at me. Signing Don Gullet after_ he was hurt during the 1976 World Series is just one of their poor free agent moves along with Karl Pavano and Kevin Brown. But trading Aroldis Chapman to the already World Series-bound Cubs for basically nothing is the worst ever. They get back Adam Warren who they were only too glad to be rid of last year. They were lucky to get as much as Starlin Castro in exchange, and while he was OK early on he has struggled of late. They also had to send Brendan Ryan along to get Warren off their backs. Now Warren’s back with his 5.91 ERA in the senior circuit. The Yankees get a 19-year-old shortstop from Venezuela (WHY, when they already have a suitable shortstop; and they get someone named Billy McKinney. This could be the Yankees’ Denny McClain trade. 19-year-old shortstops from Venezuela are as common as 19-year-old shortstops from the Dominican Republic. In case he amounts to anything his name is Gleyber Torres, and they say he’s a top prospect but at this time of year so is everybody. As bad as George Steinbrenner could be with some of his moves, his sons make him look a genius.
Thanks to a bad storm in the New York area last night, the Mets and Cardinals have what used to be called a twi-night doubleheader starting at 4:10 this afternoon. When the term “twi-nighter” was in vogue the first game started between 5 and 6 PM depending what city you were talking about. With the regularly scheduled doubleheader a distant memory, the few clubs that don’t do day-night split admission doubleheaders start the first game so early (4:10 PM) that almost no working person will be in attendance. The few who will be there can catch the cardinals’ Carlos Martinez against the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. The Cardinals will trot out Jaime Garcia who has won his last 3 outings against the Mets’ Bartolo Colon in the nightcap. The Orioles were lucky to get their game in last night, and as such will only have to play one tonight. That one game features the league’s best, Chris Tillman with his 14 wins. Chris Sale also has 14 but did a number on his reputation as a teammate and as a loyal employee this past Saturday. King Felix Hernandez, after taking a beating in his first start off the DL on Wednesday now faces the Pirates on the road. His team bailed him out with a walkoff win in 11 innings last time. He’ll face Francisco Liriano who struck out 13 Brewers his last time out of the gate, looking a lot more like the Liriano of his Twins days. The Nationals face the Indians in what could be a World Series matchup if the Nats upset the Cubs in October. Both teams use one of their best tonight as Gio Gonzalez faces Danny Salazar of the Indians.
Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm, the original ageless knuckleballer was born on this date in 1922 or 1923 (depending on your source) and probably would be starting for most of the teams in the game today had he not died in 2002. Before facing a major leaguer with a bat, he faced the Germans with guns and grenades in the Battle of the Bulge, from which contest he retained a piece of shrapnel he carried in his back forever. He was an aging rookie in 1952 when he played his first game for the New York Giants. In his first atbat he hit his first and only home run. Though he broke in at age 29 or 30 he lasted until July, 1972 as he approached age 50. He put together a record of 143-122 in that time with a 2.52 ERA. He was an All-Star 8 times, the last being 1970. He had 3 lengthy careers by today’s standards, with the Giants, Orioles and White Sox. With the Orioles, manager Paul Richards came up with the now-famous large catcher’s mitt for catching the rare knuckleball pitcher. The two in the game now are R. A. Dickey and Steven Wright. He won 124 games from the pen, which no reliever has done since. He coached with the Yankees and Braves after his playing days were done.0