Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, August 21.
If only the Mets had somebody else who could hit home runs like Yoenis Cespedes does, they might still be in the hunt for a playoff spot. Cespedes, just off the DL hit a pair of giant home runs as the Mets beat the Giants 9-5 to end their latest losing streak. This was only the Mets’ 4th win in 12 outings, a pace they maintained all through their first year of 1962. The first shot was a colossal one of 457 feet, the second almost as titanic at 418 feet. Earlier on he had doubled home Jose Reyes who joined the team while Cespedes was laid up with a quad injury that put him on the DL August 3. Bartolo Colon was the beneficiary of the Mets’ offensive attack. Also, late word is Jim Henderson is back to assist the beleaguered bull pen.
In a game the Angels lost 5-1, Albert Pujols hit his 583rd home run to put him 10th on the alltime list. His next target is Frank Robinson who hit 586. Pujols is a rarity today-a mighty home run hitter who has not been tarred with the steroid brush. Technically he’s tied with his old friend Mark McGwire at 583 but McGwire’s numbers are especially tainted since he was the first one who got the finger of suspicion pointed at himself and the game itself. The next two after Robinson are the tainted Sammy Sosa at 609 and the clean Jim Thome with 612. The Yankees won with Gary Sanchez hitting a first-inning home run off Ricky Nolasco followed by another run making it 2-0 before the Angels reached the dish. That was Sanchez’ 6th home run in his all-too-brief stay in the Bronx that began about the time Cespedes was shelved by the Mets.
For the first time since Wednesday night, an Indians game wasn’t decided in the 9th inning. Wednesday an Adam Eaton grand slam in the 9th left the Tribe scratching their heads. But Thursday and Friday Tyler Naquin provided walkoff excitement for the Jacobs Field faithful, with a scoring fly on Thursday and an inside-the-park wallop on Friday. The streak of thrilling finishes ended last night as Toronto beat the Indians 6-5 with the last run scoring in the home fifth. Tom Hamilton, the Indians’ loud play-by-play man got to rest his embattled voice as there was no action for him to shreik at after the Indians’ 5-run 4th. Josh Tomlin, their losing pitcher was victimized by 3 home runs. Russell Martin, Melvin Upton JR. and Edwin Encarnacion took him deep, raising his total to 32 home runs given.
The earliest game today will start at 1:10 PM Eastern around the time the early edition of the column becomes available. Today’s birthdays will be written later. Boston is at Detroit in the earliest game of the day. Rookie Henry Owens faces the crafty veteran Justin Verlander. Dallas Keuchel hopes the Astros’ bats continue hot today when he pitches. They have brutalized the Orioles the last two nights. Today they have the benefit of Yulieski Gurriel, the latest Cuban defector to reach the bigs. He shredded California league pitching, including hitting a grand slam on his last atbat before moving up. ESPN, thinking the Mets would be better than they have been, scheduled their game with the Giants for tonight’s feature game and now they’re stuck with it. At least they get to see Thor, aka Noah Syndergaard who homered in his last outing. Besides the full slate of MLB action, the Little League World Series continues in Williamsport, PA.
One of the Cardinals’ young arms, Luke Weaver is 23 today. The Cards took the Deland native in round 1 in 2014. The kid with a name that sounds like it belongs on a cowboy movie hero made his MLB debut all of 8 days ago, August 13. He played for the Seminoles of FSU under Mike Martin before joining the Cardinals.
Mason Williams, whose name has been bandied about as a good Yankee prospect is 25 today. He was taken in round 4 of the 2010 draft. Had they not done so he planned to go to University of South Carolina. He’s a lefty hitter with a swing made for the short porch at Yankee Stadium. In fact he already has a homer in his brief experience. A week after his debut he separated his shoulder, needing surgery and finishing his season way too early. His great-uncle is the former Yankee Walt No-Neck Williams.
The Tigers’ outfielder J.D. Martinez is 29 today. Martinez, whose given name is Julio Daniel Along with Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera terrorize enemy pitchers. The Astros took him in round 20 in 2009 and amazingly he was in the bigs just two years later. He’s been with the Tigers since 2014, playing in a notorious pitcher’s park, Comerica Park instead of tiny Minute Maid Field. In 2015 he was named an All-Star for the first time. He attended Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The school was called Nova University from 1970-94, and when it was under that name Jim Lucas and I prepared for our first professional season by recording their games of 1991 into a tape machine. No player from the school had reached MLB before Martinez. The Astros released him in March 2014 and the Tigers signed him almost at once. He hit home runs in his first two postseason games, something no Tiger had ever done. This was in the 2014 ALDS against the Orioles.
Melvin Upton JR. of the Blue Jays is 32 today. The Norfolk, VA native was taken first by the Rays, second overall in the 2002 draft. His kid brother Justin went 3 years later and was first overall pick. Melvin made his debut in August of 2004. He was with Tampa Bay until joining the Braves in 2013, then the Padres and now the Blue Jays following a trade at the deadline. The brothers played together in Atlanta and San Diego and have hit home runs in the same game 5 times.
Mike Misuraca is 48 today. I remember him pitching for the Miracle, a Florida State League ball team Jim Lucas and I broadcast for in 1991 and 1992. Misuraca was wwith the 1992 Miracle as property of the Twins. We remembered him as one of the more emotional pitchers we saw on the hill. What major league time he had was with the Brewers, and his final year was at AAA with them in 1997, the year he spent two weeks in the bigs. He had no record.
John Wetteland is 50 today. Without him as a closer to save all 4 of their wins, the 1996 Yankees couldn’t have won the World Series. The native of San Mateo, CA had a 48-45 mark and 330 saves in a dozen years in the bigs. He joined the Yankees after playing with the Dodgers and Expos. After two years in the Bronx he spent his last 4 with the Rangers. He was an All-Star 3 times, in 1996 with the Yankees and twice with Texas. He led his league in saves and took the World Series MVP award in 1996. He briefly coached with the Nationals and lasted considerably longer coaching for the Mariners.
Former Braves and Mets’ second baseman Felix Millan is 73 today. He hit .279 between 1966 and 1977. He was an All-Star 3 times, all with Atlanta. In his native Puerto Rico he was nicknamed “The Kitten,” or “El Gatito.” He had 4 singles in a game in 1975 and was erased all 4 times when Joe Torre hit into double plays. Following a serious shoulder injury in 1977 Millan spent 3 years in Japan, once winning a batting title there.0