Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this crowded Saturday, August 20.
Some guys don’t get two walkoff RBIS in a year or in a career. For the Indians, Tyler Naquin has done it two nights in a row. Thursday night it was a scoring fly ball against the White Sox. Last night, the White Sox had gone and Toronto had taken their place at what should be Jacobs Field. The Jays had a 2-1 lead in the home 9th. after Jose Ramirez tied the game at 2 in the 9th Naquin hit an inside-the-park home run for another Indians win. Who is Tyler Naquin? You’ll see him on TV in October barring a 1964 Phillies-style collapse by the Indians. Naquin is a 25-year-old rookie from Spring, Texas. Before going pro he played for Texas A&M. He was taken in round 1 by the Indians in 2012. As of now he’s hitting .316 and the inside-the-parker was his 14th long ball of the year. The last two months he was declared Rookie of the Month and he’s pushing hard for the award in August. No Indian had hit a walkoff inside-the-park home run since August of 1916. The only two Blue Jays’ runs came about on a two-run home run by catcher Russell Martin.
Both the Rockies and Padres won extra-inning games in walkoff fashion last night. The Cubs had a 6-5 lead going to the last of the eleventh and Aroldis Chapman on the hill, but a one-run lead is even less safe at Coors Canaveral than it is any place else. The Rockies had already tied the game at 5 in the 8th by plating two runs of Carl Edwards, Jr. In the 11th Nick Hundley singled, Ryan Raburn doubled him home and followed him across the plate when the relay throw from second baseman Javier Baez sailed into the dugout.
In San Diego, Ryan Schimpf continued his amazing hitting. I thought he was only destroying Mets’ pitching because that’s what everybody else is doing. But no, Schimpf started off with two doubles, tied the game with the D-Backs at 4 with a two-run blast in the 8th and won it with a 3-run circuit clout in the 10th out of spacious Petco Park. With two doubles and two home runs he recorded a dozen total bases, which no Padre had done in a dozen years. Zack Greinke only gave up 2 runs in 7 innings but his bull pen and Schimpf’s bat were his undoing. Schimpf has 9 doubles, 12 home runs and only 10 singles in his rookie year. His might trumped Jean Segura’s five base knocks for Arizona. Schimpf is a 28-year-old rookie from Covington, Louisiana. He played at LSU when the Tigers (or Bayou Bengals if you like) won the College World Series. He had been a Blue Jays draftee in 2009, but joined the Padres as a minor-league free agent before the start of 2016.
There are no early games today. The Mets and Giants are the first to get going, at 4:05 Eastern. This leaves time to watch either the Little League World Series, the Olympic boxing or the US women’s basketball team going for Olympic gold and glory. Bartolo Colon pitches for the ever-more beleaguered Mets’ staff. The D-Backs hammered the elderly Colon for 5 runs in 4 innings his last time out. He faces Matt Moore whose hig water mark this year may be pitching against the Cuban Nationals when he was with the Rays. The Astros send out Mike Fiers (pronounced Fears) against the Orioles. Lately it’s been tears for Fiers as his team has lost 3 of his last 4 starts and he took a beating from the Toronto lineup his last time out. Now he faces a 15-game winner in Chris Tillman and a red-hot Orioles lineup. Max Scherzer only lasted 4 innings last time out at Coors Canaveral, but he faces the Braves whose bats are a health spa for the egoes of battered pitchers. King Felix Hernandez of the Mariners is 3-0 after 2 months on the DL, and he faces the Coyote, Wily Peralta of the Brewers. The Yankees are giving Luis Cesa his first MLB start against the Angels who they hammered 7-0 last night behind Masahiro Tanaka. Tjhe Angels counter with Ricky Nolasco. They haven’t won any of his 3 starts since he arrived from Minnesota. For his part, the other half of the trade Hector Santiago who pitches tonight for the Twins hasn’t won since arriving in the shadow of Mall of America.
The Cubs took a hit, having to put starter John Lackey and vital reliever Hector Rondon on the DL. Rondon has a right triceps strain, Lackey a more worrying shoulder strain. While they should win the division by roughly the margin by which Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale, they’ll need all pitchers’ hands on deck when the playoffs start. That was their undoing against the Mets a year ago. When the Mets beat Jake Arrieta the Cubs had no answers. Said Mets did get Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes back, but they still lost 8-1 to the Giants.
Todd Helton is 43 today. I remember him with the New Haven Ravens in AA when I was with New Britain. The Ravens were the Rockies AA team, and Helton played for the Rockies from 1997–2013. The Knoxville native hit .316 with 2519 hits in that span. He was an All-Star five times from 2000–2004. He won the batting title and was the RBI leader in 2000. He basically holds every Rockies’ offensive record and the way players change teams now, those records are more like CD’s, as in they’re next to indestructible. He was drafted in round 2 by the Padres in 1992 but went to the University of Tennessee instead. In 2004 he was second-string QB for Tennessee with Peyton Manning as third-string. The top QB got hurt early, the Helton fell with a knee injury and Manning took the reins-never to let them go. The Rockies took Helton in round 1 in 1995 with the 8th overall pick. He wore number 17 on his back in tribute to Mark Grace of the Cubs. number 17 is the first number retired by the Rockies.
Former pitcher and current broadcaster mark Langston is 56 today. He reached the bigs with the Mariners in 1984 and lasted until 1999. The Mariners had taken him second in the 1981 draft, after he played for the Spartans of San Jose State. His record was 179-158 in the bigs. He struck out nearly 2500 batters. His longest runs were with the Mariners, 1984-89 and the Angels 1990-97. He was an All-Star 4 times, once as a Mariner, 3 times as a Halo. Very early on he lead his league in strikeouts 3 times. He’s the color commentator with Terry Smith on Angels’ radio broadcasts today.
Graig Nettles is 72 today. He played college ball for the Aztecs of San Diego State who would later produce Stephen Strasburg. He played summer ball for the Alaska Goldpanners, who were broadcast two decades later by longtime minor league announcer Andy Young. In the very first draft, in 1965 the Twins took Nettles in the 4th round. He was a late call-up for them in 1967 and finished in 1988 with the Expos. He hit .248 with 390 home runs while playing a stellar third base. His longest run was with the Yankees from 1973-83 after they got him from the Indians. He played in 4 World Series for the Yanks, winning 2 in 1977 and 1978. He also played in a Fall Classic in 1984 with the Padres, losing in 5 to the Tigers. He was an All-Star 6 times between 1975–85. He managed the 1996 Bakersfield Blaze to a spectacularly bad 39-101 record. They were so bad that, in New Britain we adopted them late in the season and followed their road of futility to prove to the world that there was a team worse than ours. A San Diego native, Nettles now lives just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee.
1962 Met Cliff Cook is 80 today. The Dallas native made his debut at the end of 1959 with the Reds. His career ended in July 1963 with the Mets. All told he hit .201 with all of 7 home runs in spite of playing in the Polo Grounds with the Mets.
Hall of Famer Al Lopez was born this day in 1908 and died in 2005, at age 97. He played for nearly 20 years, 1928–47, then managed the Indians from 1951-56, White Sox 1957-65 and again 1968-69. His team reached the World Series in 1954 and 1959 losing both. He never managed a team to a losing record in the majors or minors.