Happy Happy Jays Jays; Happ 16 Wins leads League

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, August 11.

The Toronto Blue Jays can hardly be blamed if they sang the theme from the Ren and Stimpy show after their win last night.  J.A. Happ won his 16th game taking the league lead from Chris Sale and Chris Tillman.  Meanwhile his Blue Jays teammates are in first place in the AL East. Their 7-0 win over the Rays  and Baltimore’s loss out west put the Jays ahead of the field in the division.

In an unusually costly game the Yankees put up a rare win, beating the Red Sox 9-4.  Their starter Nathan Eovaldi left after just an inning with discomfort in his elbow and early on it didn’t look like the bull pen was up to the task.  But with the Sox up 4-1 in the 7th the Yanks put up 5 and collected 3 more later on their way to a 9-4 win at Fenway. Starlin Castro turned the game around with a two-run double to make it 6-4.  In the 8th megaprospect Gary Sanchez launched his first major league home run over the distant center field fence. He had 4 hits in 5 tries on the night. Both David Ortiz and Mookie Betts had to leave with calf injuries.  Ortiz needed x-rays after fouling one off his calf in the 9th inning.

After losing 3-2 in 12 last night the Mets face the D-Backs in today’s early game just after Noon.  The last-place D-Backs have won both games in this series to the chagrin of Mets’ fans. Today the homestanding Mets  employ Noah Syndergaard on the hill.  The Pirates host the Padres half an hour after the Mets game gets going. Houston faces the Twins half an hour after that as part of a day-night doubleheader in Minnesota. Just after 2 PM the Rockies face the Rangers in Texas, and Atlanta faces Milwaukee. Baltimore faces Oakland at 3:30 today. The Cardinals and Cubs are tonight’s showcase game on the MLB Network.  Their A-Team of Matt Vesgerdsian, John Smoltz and Tom Verducci call the action. They’ll get a good matchup as Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals faces the Cubs’ John Lester. And if you want a break from MLB, starting at 11 AM there will be regional action leading up to the Little League World Series that starts a week from today in Williamsport.  While the foreign teams are set the US 8 teams are decided by regional play.

Drew Storen, a sometimes combustible reliever is 29 today.  Last September as the Nationals were collapsing and giving way to the Mets in the pennant race, Storen punched a locker breaking his pitching hand and finishing his season. It wasn’t surprising to see him traded to the Blue Jays before this season started and then shunted to the Mariners. The Brownsberg, Indiana native played college ball at Stanford and I mentioned in this space when he got hurt that you would expect more brains from a Stanford man.

Bryn Smith is 61 today.  Like Mike Piazza later on, Smith was a long shot to ever make the bigs, as a 49th-round draft choice out of high school by the Cardinals. While he was no Hall of Famer he spent all or parts of a dozen years in the bigs. He put up a 108-94 record in that time. He spent his first 9 years with the Expos, then 3 in St. Louis and part of one with the expansion Colorado Rockies. He was the winning pitcher in their first win.  Now he is pitching coach for the Santa Maria Packers of the Pacific West Baseball League.

Bill Monbouquette was born this day in 1936 and died in January, 2015. He hailed from a part of New England where signs are written in both English and French, and after a bad night he might stommp around the locker room bluing the air with French curses. He spent most of a decade with the Red Sox between 1958 and 1968. As bad as they were, he still did better than break even at 114-112. He was traded before the 1966 season to the Tigers, then bounced to the Yankees and Giants. He was an All-Star 4 times and pitched a no-hitter for Boston in 1962 in Chicago against the White Sox. Only a walk to Al Smith prevented a perfecto. He struck out 17 Senators in 1961, a Red Sox record that would last a quarter century until Roger Clemens whiffed 20 Mariners. I personally remember him for pulling a no-show.  He was the pitching coach for the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League in 1992 and had agreed to an  interview for our pre-game show.   However, when he didn’t appear  I recruited a fairly distinguished pinch-hitter in 19-year-old Carlos Delgado. The kid showed poise far beyond his years replacing his pitching coach in the interview.

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