Old School Pitching Duel in Frisco; Happy Birthday Yaz

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, August 22.

Last night’s game in San Francisco was a throwback game to the great pitching duels  of the 1970’s: Seaver vs Marichal or Carlton vs. Bob Gibson.  Both pitchers worked like lightning, and the  game was done in less than two and a half hours, which today is fast as a jack rabbit.  The Mets won 2-0 over the pennant-contending Giants.

The Mets had begun the series looking like a AAA team, losing 10-7 and 8-1 in the first two games.  But Saturday’s 9-5 win was a nice rebound and Sunday would mean either a gentleman’s split for the Mets or a momentum-switching 3-1 series win for the home team.  For six innings, Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ mighty Thor matched zeros with The Shark, Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija.  By your leave I’ll call him the Shark from here on out. Heading to the 7th Thor had given up but one hit and the Shark had not given a single safety.  He had done to the Mets what JAWS did to the town of Amity in 1974. The Mets’ defense did what it could. Eduardo Nunez singled in the 4th, the one hit Syndergaard gave up.  Nunez had 31 steals coming in and Syndergaard had given up 40. Giving up steals might be Thor’s Achilles’ heel.  But on this night backup catcher Rene Rivera gunned down Nunez trying to swipe second.   But in the 7th fortune smiled on the visiting batters  of  the Flushing 9.  Aging Curtis Granderson, who has had a woeful year clouted a booming double to ruin the Shark’s dreams of baseball immortality. That done, Yoenis Cespedes did what he does.  He brought La Potencia, (The Power) which had been his nickname in Cuba. He did it just two pitches after Granderson’s double, possibly while the Shark was still digesting the fact he had lost his no-hitter. Cespedes lost a Shark splitter far into the California night. From there Syndergaard cruised.  He only gave up one more hit through 8 innings.  He threw less than 100 pitches, striking out 6.  In the 9th manager Terry Collins turned to the closer Jeurys Familia.  Normally that’s as close to a guarantee as you can get but Jeurys hasn’t had a good August.  But last night he was vintage Familia, dispatching the Giants while only allowing one hit in the process.

This has been quite the week for late finishes in Indians games.  Wednesday through Friday all winners won on their last atbat including two Tribe wins where Tyler Naquin got the winning RBI.  Again yesterday the Tribe won on their last atbat, taking a 3-2 win from the Bluejays.  Jose Ramirez hit a no-doubter of a home run in the last of the 8th. The Central division leaders took 2 of 3 from the East-leading Blue Jays.  The Jays had a shot in the 7th  but with the bases loaded a balk call was overturned on further review.

There is an unusual Monday matinee in progress as I write this. The Dodgers are facing the Reds in Cincinnati.  As I have a hard curfew today I’ll dispense with the usual pitching matchups.

Pitchers Drew Hutchison, age 26 and David Huff, 32 have birthdays today. Hutchison is with the Pirates.  He was a top Blue Jays’ prospect when he broke in at the start of the 2012 season. After 11 starts he had to have Tommy John surgery and lost the entire 2013 season. He was traded for Francisco liriano and two minor leaguers, and is now in AAA with the Pirates.        David Huff is now playing in Korea but was with the Indians from 2009–13. Jeff Weaver, whose brother still pitches in the bigs is 40, as is former Phillie Randy Wolf. Steve Kline’s son is 43.  The younger Kline was with the Indians, his dad with the Horace Clarke-era Yankees. We broadcast some games of the younger Kline when he pitched for Canton. Darrin Jackson who broadcasts for the White Sox is my age, 53.

Hall of Famer and sitting Twins manager Paul Molitor is 60. The St. Paul native went to the Brewers in round 1 of the 1977 draft, third overall in the country. He had played his college ball at the University of Minnesota.   He broke in the very next year and lasted until 1998 when his career ended with the Twins. He hit .306 in the two turbulent baseball decades he played. He passed 3300 hits and stole 504 bases. He was with the Brewers through 1992, then spent 3 years in Toronto and 3 in the twin cities. He’s been manager there since 2015. He was an All-Star  7 times between 1980 and 1994.  His Brewers team lost the World Series in 1982, then his Jays won a frenetic series from the Phillies in 1993. He was MVP of that World Series though Joe Carter’s walk-off home run to win it is everybody’s Sports Center moment from that particular Fall Classic. He went to Cooperstown on his first ballot in 2004. Before managing he coached with the Mariners and Twins.

It’s a rare day when you have two first-ballot Hall of Fame birthdays.  Carl Yastzremski or Yaz is 77 today. As beloved as he is where I91 meets I90 and points north, he’s actually from Southampton, Long Island, New York. With no draft, local teams usually_ snapped up local talent.  But the Red Sox grabbed Yaz out of Notre Dame.   He only played for the Red Sox, playing from 1961 to 1983. He hit .285 with 3419 hits, 452 home runs and almost  1850 RBIs. He was an All-Star not less than 18 times. Starting in 1963, the only year he wasn’t_ an All-Star between then and 1979 was 1964.  He won his league’s MVP and the tripple crown in 1967.  He once led  the league in batting at .301. That was the last of his 3 batting titles, in 1968.  His number 8 is retired in Boston, and he made the Hall of Fame on his first try in 1989. He famously played left and first, but actually played 33 games at the hot corner. Only Ted Williams and David Ortiz have more home runs than Yaz. In a piece about Maine, Jean Shepherd wrote “Yaz is always 2 for 3 and batting late in the game in Maine.”His tripple crown was the last his league would see until Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Yaz and Brooks Robinson each played 23 years with the same team, a record that will never be broken in this day when no player has much loyalty to his team. Carl’s  grandson is in AA with the Orioles. Carl himself remains a roving instructor with the Red Sox.



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