Cubs Go to 11;

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Saturday, August 13.

The Cubs continued their winning streak which is now at 11 games.  In 2001 they won a dozen games but missed the playoffs.  Now it would take a 1969-like collapse for the Cubs to miss, considering they’re the first team to 70 wins.  Their 11th in a row was a 13-2 demolition of the Cardinals and pitcher Adam Wainwright.  He was mauled for 7 runs in 2 innings. Matt Szczur (pronounced Caesar,) who is still in his salad days had his first career multi-home run game. Meantime, the AL West leaders, the Texas Rangers defeated the Tigers 8-5 in a game held up nearly 3 hours by rain at the start.  When it got going, Anibal Sanchez had nothing and Yu Darvish didn’t have much more in a game that would have been a great pitching matchup about 4 years ago. Jonathan Lucroy, recently acquired from the Brewers hit 2 of the Rangers’ 4 home runs to put them ahead 8-1 through 5. They survived a late rally by the Tigers for the win.  In doing so the Rangers lead the Astros and Mariners by 7.5 games in their division.

The Yankees and Rays play today’s earliest game at 1:05 Eastern.  Following a 6-3 win last night the Yanks go with Masahiro Tanaka against the Rays. The Cardinals go with MLB debutante Luke Weaver against the Cubs who are looking to match their 12-game winning streak of 2001. besides the full rota of major league games, the regionals continue for the Little League World Series, as early as 11 AM Eastern.  The Series itself begins on the  18th in Williamsport, PA.

Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker is 24 today. He was their first round pick in 2010 out of high school. He reached the show late in 2013 and was  a fixture in the Mariners’ rotation until being sent to AAA on August 8.

Randal Grichuk of the Cardinals is 25 today.  He’s a true rarity-a man whose name can make the great and iconic Vin Scully stumble.  Scully  had trouble pronouncing  the name when Grichuk homered off Clayton kershaw early in the going of game 1 of the 2014 NLDS. He made the show in 2014 and has only played for the Cardinals. The Angels had taken him from high school in Rosenberg, Texas but traded him to St. Louis after Thanksgiving 2013. In 2003 and 2004 his Little League teams made the World Series in Williamsport.

Hansel Robles, of the much-maligned and beleaguered Mets bull pen is 26 today. He made the bigs with the Mets early in 2015 and has a 9-7 mark and a 3.49 ERA from their pen. He is a rare Latin American with no middle name.  The Mets signed him at 18, relatively old for an international player considering they’re allowed to sign at 16. He’s known for a “quick pitch” which infuriates opposing hitters and has twice led to bench-clearing “pushy pushies” to use Stephen King’s term for them.

Dallas Braden who once threw a perfect game is 33 today. All told he was 26-36 with a 4.16 ERA. Oakland drafted him in the 24th round of the 2004 draft from Texas Tech in Lubbock.  He made the show 3 years later. His perfecto, the 19th in history came on May 9, 2010 in Oakland against the Rays. He had undergone one shoulder surgery in the minors and had two more starting in 2011 that ended his career and put him behind a microphone with ESPN.  First he handled Baseball Tonight, then moved into the booth replacing the great Curt Schilling.  This left him to fill some very large brogans.

Fred Stanley, known as “Chicken,” but not in a mean way is 69 today. The tall, thin Iowan was drafted in round 8 by the Astros in 1966 but made his MLB debut with the Seattle Pilots late in 1969, which is to say late in their existence. He lasted until 1982 though he only hit .216. His longest tenure was with the Yankees from 1973-80 including their 3 pennants and two World Series, in 1977 and 1978. Now he’s director of player development with the Giants at the other end of the country from where he won fame.

Jim Mudcat Grant is 81 today. He made his debut with the Indians in 1958 and finished with Oakland in 1971. He collected a 145-119 record. He was with the Indians into 1964, then sent to the Twins where he pitched in their 1965 World Series effort against the Dodgers of Koufax and Drysdale. He led his league in wins that year and it was his second All-Star selection, the first coming in 1963. Later he would broadcast for Cleveland and Oakland.  He is one of 15 black pitchers to win 20 or more games in the bigs.  He refers to them as “black aces,” and wrote a book about them in 2006.

Since I had a job interview yesterday I didn’t have time to pay tribute to a man whose birthday was yesterday.  Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson was born on August 12, 1880 and died at age 45 in October, 1925. His record was 373-188 between 1900 and 1916. He played most of his career with the Giants and only part of 1916 with the Reds who he managed until going off to war in 1918. He pitched 3 shutouts in the 1905 World Series.  In an era where very few cities allowed Sunday baseball he wouldn’t pitch on Sundays even where it was permitted.  For this he was called “The Christian Gentleman,” along with “Big 6.” His famous pitch immortalized in song as “the fadeaway ball” was later called the “screwball.”He was accidentally gassed in a training exercise during World War I, and died of tuberculosis 7 years later.  He was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936.

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