Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, August 31.
Monday night the Mets kept their fans up late with a thrilling 10-inning win. Last night it was the Yankees’ turn. Their 5-4 win over the Royals also took 10 innings but ended considerably later than Monday night’s game because of a lengthy rain delay in Kansas City.
The game started auspiciously enough as the Yankees, behind Masahiro Tanaka built a 4-0 lead. Aaron Judge hit a two-run home run in the second. Later in the same inning Jacoby Ellsbury doubled home Brett Gardner who had drawn a walk from Royals’ starter Edinson Volquez. Chase Headley made it a 4-0 game with a scoring fly ball. The rain delay limited Tanaka to 5 innings during which he gave up 2 runs. The Yankees have seen a rain delay ruin a perfectly good game and it nearly happened again last night thanks to the gutted bull pen. Predictably, Adam Warren gave up the third Royals’ run in the 6th. In the 8th Tyler Clippard walked the first man he saw, and with Dellin Betances on the hill the runner stole second and took third on a throwing error by Gary Sanchez, who is beginning to look human. A scoring fly ball tied the game. In the 10th Ellsbury picked the rest of the team up with a run-scoring single. Ben Heller was tasked with trying to save the game but he promptly loaded the bases. Jason Shreve came in and saved the game and the night. He struck out his first man and Salvador Perez, last year’s World Series MVP hit a fly out to end the late late show.
Meantime, the first-place Rangers did what first-place teams tend to do, they found a way to win. Down a run in the 9th Rougned Odour unloaded a 2-run home run for the walkoff win, 8-7 over the Mariners. The home run came off rookie closer Edwin Diaz, a prize Mariners’ prospect. With the win the Rangers are 30–8 in one-run decisions, the league’s best. The 2012 Orioles have the record, at 29–9 for best winning percentage in one-run games since 1900. Odour hit his 25th home run, bringing home Adrian Beltre who had singled to open the inning. The game could have been a laugher, with the Rangers up 4-0 after 3 and Cole Hamels on the hill. He had the league’s lowest ERA coming in. But between the 4th and 5th innings the Mariners put up 6 runs off him. The Rangers tied it in the 7th, but Robinson Cano lifted a scoring fly ball giving the Mariners the lead at 7-6 and setting the stage for Odour’s heroics.
In the Mets’ 7-4 win over the Cardinals, Curtis Granderson gained a place in Mets’ history. He didn’t start the game but hit two home runs-one as a pinch-hitter in the 6th and another an inning later. Only 2 others have done this-Scott Hairston in 2011 and Hawk Taylor who did it in 1964. Robert Dale “Hawk” Taylor hit all of 16 home runs between 1957 and 1970 and was a Met from 1964-67. He also hit the Mets’ first ever pinch-hit grand slam. Scott Hairston and his brother Jerry JR. represent the third generation of a baseball family along with the Ray Boone family and the Gus Bell family. On a more dubious note, with only 38 RBIs to go with his 22 home runs, Granderson if he stopped now would have the lowest number of runs batted in for any man with 22 home runs. For now the low is 43, and as poorly as he’s going, .118 with men in scoring position, Granderson could have less than that.
Like most Wednesdays, there’s a matinee or two today, and one features one of the league’s best pitchers against one who used to be and would like to be again. Chris Sale goes for the White Sox in Detroit at 1:10 PM Eastern. He faces Justin Verlander who has spent much of this year trying to be the Verlander of 2012 and before. That’s one worth seeing or hearing if you can manage it. The Rays and Red Sox have a 1:35 tilt at Fenway. Drew Smiley of the Rays has given up a career-high 27 home runs and this is the wrong ball park for a pitcher with that trouble. Stephen Wright, who had a recent birthday makes his second start since coming off the DL. The Mariners and Rangers have a 2 PM Eastern start after last night’s walkoff. King Felix Hernandez goes for the Mariners, and he hasn’t lost since he came off the DL. His foe, Martin Perez was knocked around by the Indians for 10 hits in 6 innings along with 6 runs in hist last start. Oakland and Houston also meet at 2 PM in Houston. The Rockies host the Dodgers at 3:10 Eastern to make up for last night’s washout. Then the two meet again tonight. The D-Backs and Giants have the last matinee, at 3:35 Eastern. For Arizona, Shelby Miller returns to the bigs after a lengthy demotion. He was 5-1 with their AAA team in Reno but last year in Atlanta and the first part of this year with Arizona he was nothing short of dreadful. The Twins look to Pat Dean to end their 12-game losing streak as they play the division-leading Indians. With a 1-4 record and a 6+ ERA, he’ll have a hard go against Corey Kluber who hasn’t lost in his last 9 outings with 6 wins.
Baseball players play on in the minor leagues for low wages and continue far beyond what most people would consider normal. It’s because they’re chasing the dream. Now and then, for one of them it works out. A pitcher named Terry Doyle, age 30 was signed by the D-Backs organization this morning. He pitched for the Lancaster Barnstormers in a game I attended last Thursday night. He had pitched for Boston College, played minor league ball as early as 2012, also pitched in Japan, Mexico and Venezuela. With the minor league season nearly over he may just get a cuppa coffee, as minor leaguers call a short opportunity in the bigs.
The Cardinals’ Matt Adams is 28 today. The Cardinals took him in round 23 of the 2009 draft and he made a quick trip to the top for a 23rd-rounder, reaching the bigs in 2012. At six-3 and 230 pounds and because he can hit one a long way, he’s been nicknamed “Big City” by the St. Louis players. A native of Philipsburg, PA he played at a small division 2 school, Slippery Rock University. He put up 44 doubles and 22 home runs in the Midwest League in 2010, then tore up the Texas League a year later. There he put up 32 home runs and drove in 101. He hasn’t been especially durable in the bigs. His 2012 season ended early with a bone spur in his elbow. He missed most of 2015 with a torn quad and he’s on the DL as I write this.
Hideo Nomo is 48 today. After 5 seasons in Japan, he played all or parts of 12 seasons in the bigs. He was 78-46 in Japan and 123-109 here. He spent two stretches with the Dodgers, 1995-98 and 2002-04, and missed two full seasons in 2006 and 2007. In japan he was his league’s Rookie of the Year and MVP. Here, he was an All-Star and Rookie of the Year in 1995. He began the trend of Japanese players coming to America to play in the bigs permanently. He was the first pitcher, Ichiro was the first position player. Nomo’s games were broadcast to Japan in spite of a massive time difference that would have his games on the air when the fans were just waking up. In 1996 he threw a no-hitter at Coors Canaveral in Denver. No Dodger would throw another no-no until 2014 when Josh Beckett did. Nomo would throw a second no-hitter with Boston in 2001 but Only in 2015 would another Japanese pitcher throw one.
Former knuckleballer and present D-Backs broadcaster Tom Candiotti is 59 today. He reached the bigs with the Brewers in 1983 and lasted until 1999 with the Indians. His longest runs were with the Indians from 1986-91 and the Dodgers from 1992-97. He went undrafted but got a chance to play for an independent team in the Northwest League, the Victoria Mussels. This is before independent leagues opened up opportunities for undrafted players. His team lost out on the pennant by bare percentage points, bucking the usual trend of those early independent teams to be horrid. The team did not offer housing, so for a week Candiotti stayed in the locker room. He shared floor space and also slept on the field in a sleeping bag which was not prohibited by team rules. From Victoria, he was sold to the Royals, then claimed by the Brewers with whom he made the bigs. After joining the Indians he was 72-65 in spite of how bad the team was. After baseball he spent 5 years with ESPN, and did color for the Blue Jays before joining the D-Backs.
Hall of Famer Frank Robinson is 81 today. The Beaumont, Texas native spent a decade with the Reds before being infamously traded to the Orioles for Milt Pappas when the Reds’ owner Bill DeWitt said Robinson was “an old 30.” He lasted another decade in the game, ending as a playing manager for the Indians. He barely missed 3,000 hits and 600 home runs. After the Indians he managed the Giants and Orioles for parts of 4 years each, and carried the Expos through their transition to Washington by managing the team from 2002-06. He was an All-star 14 times, and his 1966 and 1970 Orioles won the World Series, though his teams in 1969 and 1971 didn’t. He was American League manager of the Year in 1989 after dragging a perfectly wretched Orioles team in 1988 (54-107) up by its bootstraps and making it a contender which finished 87-75.