Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, August 19.
Walter Johnson vs Babe Ruth, Bob Feller vs Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver vs Steve Carlton, Jack Morris vs John Smoltz. If they faced each other you figured it would be a 2-1 or 1-0 ball game. The same goes for modern aces Madison Bumgarner of the Giants and Jacob DeGrom of the Mets. Well last night the crowd in San Francisco didn’t get a pitching duel at all. Neither pitcher was on his game though Bumgarner got the win in the 10-7 slugfest. MadBum, or the Angry Hobo got angry for sure after serving up a grand salami on rye to Justin Ruggiano, a Met just up from AAA. That made it 4-0 Mets in the top of the 4th. But in the Giants’ half DeGrom imploded giving up 5 runs including a 2-run home run to who but Madison Bumgarner himself. He launched a moon shot over the left field wall to make it 5-4, a lead the Giants wouldn’t relinquish. The Giants put 3 more on the board in the fifth, spearheaded by a two-run double from former St. John’s star Joe Panik. When the dust settled DeGrom had given up 8 runs and 13 hits in 5 innings of work, both career highs. The Mets gave it their best, putting up 3 in the 7th to make it 8-7 but in the 8th Buster Posey gave the Giants all the insurance they needed by doubling home two runs. With the win the Giants are just a half game behind the Dodgers, while the Mets fall further out of playoff contension. Another Giants’ hero was light-hitting Eduardo Nunez who they acquired from the Twins and who once wore the proud pinstripes. He had 4 hits in 4 tries, 3 RBIS and 2 runs scored. Mercifully for the Mets, Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera should be back in the lineup tonight. Hopefully somebody confiscated Cespedes’ golf clubs. On the down side, Steven Matz should have started tonight but won’t owing to a problem with his shoulder.
After being ambushed by the White Sox Wednesday night, the Indians turned the tables last night. Wednesday it was Adam Eaton beating the Tribe with a 9th-inning grand slam. Last night the Indians came from 4-0 down to win 5-4 on a 9th-inning walkoff scoring fly ball. Tyler Naquin drove home the winning run, Abraham Almonte who had moved to third on a passed ball. The Indians got a run in each of the last five innings to rescue Danny Salazar who only lasted an inning in his return from the DL. During that inning Justin Morneau registered a 3-run double following 3 walks to give the Sox the early advantage.
All of the MLB games scheduled today are under the lights. In Baltimore, Collin McHugh and Wade Miley, neither of whom are going well face each other. Miley hasn’t won since leaving the Mariners for the Orioles at the trade deadline. You need to listen carefully to the Marlins-Pirates game to know who’s pitching. The Marlins go with Tom Koehler while the Pirates go with Gerrit Cole. Koehler’s name is German, and would be pronounced Kayler if he were on a German soccer team. In what hopefully will be a dandy matchup, Rick Porcello of Boston faces Michael Fulmer of the Tigers. Porcello is having a career year and Fulmer pitched a shutout his last time out of the gate. The Cubs, who got two home runs from Chris Bryant yesterday head to Coors Canaveral, as if their bats weren’t doing well enough when playing at a normal altitude. Both New York teams are in California. The Yankees hope to bounce back from two bad losses to Toronto against the Angels. You would think they have the man to do it on the mound in Masahiro Tanaka. Meantime Seth Lugo has to start for the Mets with Steven Matz shelved pending an exam on his shoulder. Lugo, normally a reliever only has to face Johnny Cueto of the Giants who’s 13-3. Besides that the Mets’ bull pen has been bombarded in the Arizona series and in game 1 of the Giants series last night.
Our first baseball birthday is the Orioles’ shortstop J. J. Hardy, who is 34. James Jerry Hardy of Tucson broke in with the Brewers in 2005, went to the Twins in 2010 and on to the Orioles in 2011 where he has stayed. He was an All-Star twice, in 2007 and 2013. He copped 3 straight gold gloves from 2012-14. The Brewers took him in round 2 of the 2001 draft from high school. He was traded to the Twins for Carlos Gomez who was released early today by the Astros. While not spectacular Hardy has been a steady shortstop, and his 100 home runs are second for an Orioles’ shortstop behind Cal Ripkin JR.
Former Mets’ pitcher and current broadcaster Ron Darling is 56 today. While he is a lasting presence with the Mets, few remember he was a Rangers’ draftee in round 1 of the 1981 draft, the 9th man picked overall. He was an All-Star just once, in 1985. He was one of the Mets’ leading pitchers with Dwight Gooden and Bobby Ojeda in their second World Series winning year of 1986. He was 136-116 with 13 shutouts between 1983 and 1995. I first heard of him in 1979, as a sophomore when his Yale team faced Columbia. The Lions’ batters were helpless against the future big leaguer. On May 21, 1981 he and St. Johns’ Frank Viola hooked up in a legendary college pitching duel. This was when college players still used the kind of aluminum bats where the ball went off like a rocket and spindly shortstops could hit home runs. Darling held St. Johns hitless while Viola kept the Bulldogs scoreless for 11 innings. In the 12th the Redmen as they were then called got a hit, and with two men on they engineered a double steal for the win. Smoky Joe Wood, who pitched for the Red Sox in 1912 was at the game along with former New Haven mayor Dick Lee, immortalized by Larry King in his “Carvell Story.”Only two Yalies have reached MLB since Ron Darling. He started broadcasting in 2000 with the A’s. after some national appearances he and Mel Procter became the first voices of the Washington Nationals on TV in 2005. The Mets hired him in 2006. He and Gary Cohen are the Mets’ TV voices to this day along with Keith Hernandez.
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is 61 today. The native of Eureka, CA near the Oregon border will never be remembered for his playing career. He hit but .212 in parts of 5 years. But he’s managed nearly 2,000 games at this writing. After a dozen years coaching under Bobby Cox in Atlanta, he managed from 2003–08 with the Brewers and from 2010 to the present with the Royals. In baseball, where managers are fired with few compunctions by their bosses, Yost has had two amazing runs. As a coach he was part of the 1995 World Series Braves team. Last year he managed the Royals to their second World Series win. He’s under contract through 2018, though who knows what will happen because of the collapse of the Royals this season.
Bobby Richardson is 81 today. I’ve met the man from Sumter, South Carolina when I worked for the Charleston RiverDogs. Later I heard him make a speech on one of my last days in Charleston before moving to Myrtle Beach. He is a devout Christian and the thrust of his speech is how he led Mickey Mantle to Jesus in the last days of the Mick’s tumultuous life. Richardson hit .266 between 1955 and 1966 all with the Yankees. He was an 8-time All-Star and his teams won 3 World Series-1958, 1961 and 1962. He hit a grand total of 34 home runs in a dozen years. But with the bases loaded in game 3 of the 1960 World Series he launched a grand slam and finished the day with 6 RBIS. He won the Series MVp award and to this day is the only series MVP from the losing team. He coached the South Carolina Gamecocks from 1970–76 and under his tutilage they went to the final game of the 1975 College World Series. After coaching he ran for Congress and lost. He later coached at Liberty and at Coastal Carolina who won this past College World Series.