Another Late Great One in Kansas City; More Bloodletting in Flushing

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, Sept. 1.

The Royals were the hottest team in baseball when the Yankees came into town Monday night.  They looked like staying hot, beating the Yanks in the first game of the series 8-5 in a game that was 8-1 as long as their starter was in.  But since then the Yankees have derailed the Royals with consecutive extra inning wins, one in 10 innings on Tuesday and a 13-inning win last night.  Both were by identical 5-4 final scores. Meantime in Mets Nation, two more players-Neil Walker and Justin Ruggiano  are done for the year, and the call-ups of September 1 couldn’t come soon enough.

In Kansas City, the game  looked like a rerun of Monday night’s yawner  when the Royals got out ahead 4-0 through 5 innings off Luis Cesa.  The highlight for the Royals was a two-run first-inning home run by Kendrys Morales. Eric Hosmer also took one out of  the lot to make it 4-0 while former Yankee Ian Kennedy kept his old team scoreless. The visitors finally showed signs of life in the 6th.  The first two men got on as Jacoby Ellsbury singled and Gary Sanchez walked. With Ellsbury on third Didi Gregorius hit a scoring fly ball to put the Yanks on the board. Starlin Castro followed with a two-run home run to make it a game at 4-3. Cesa held his own and the Yanks tied it in the 7th on a scoring fly ball from Ellsbury. Both bull pens put up bagels until near Midnight. In the 13th, Didi Gregorius singled and Castro doubled down the left field line putting Didi on third. The Yankees’ forgotten catcher Brian McCann, overshadowed by the early success of Gary Sanchez  hit the scoring fly ball to bring Didi home and give the visitors what would prove to be the winning run. Ben Heller, the unsuccessful closer from Tuesday night got the win with Dellin Betances claiming his 7th save.

Meantime in Flushing, in spite of an exciting 5-2 win over the Marlins spearheaded by a 3-run double in the 8th by Kelly Johnson, the endless parade of injuries continues for the home team. It’s enough to make a layman like myself wonder what the Mets did after the World Series.  If they followed a proper conditioning program, it doesn’t seem likely that so many would be on the shelf with serious injuries.  From the very beginning, it was David Wright, lost for the year with a herniated disc in his neck following a ruined  2015 season owing to spinal stenosis.  Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes have missed significant time. Juan Lagares has been out since late July with a partially torn thumb ligament. John Niese had knee surgery after his most recent awful start where he only saw 4 batters. Zack Wheeler never returned this year, as he was scheduled to  from 2015 Tommy John surgery.     Matt Harvey is done for the year with thoracic outlet syndrome that needed surgery.  Steven Matz has shoulder trouble,   Noah Syndergaard has a problem elbow and Jacob DeGrom while not believed to be injured  has been ineffective, to put it kindly. Even people who have barely joined the Mets have been terribly hurt. Justin Ruggiano is done for the season after being shelved for the second time since the trade deadline with an injured shoulder.    The latest and most catastrophic news came down last night. The Mets’ best hitter throughout the season, Neil Walker needs season-ending back surgery, putting him on the shelf with first baseman Lucas Duda. The injury puts Walker’s future with the Mets in doubt.  His contract is up and it’s an open question whether the notably frugal Mets will pay the money Walker wants following a serious surgery. The other side of that coin is the Mets unloaded the supposed heir to second base Dilson Herrera.  I personally never thought he would amount to much but if Walker either can’t return or isn’t given a chance to, it becomes a very large question who will man second base at Citi Field in 2017.   If the Mets have 40 eligible players left, they can expand the roster to that size today and hope nobody else gets hurt before the season comes to a merciful end.

In desperation for any_ warm body to take the hill, the Mets acquired pitcher Fernando Salas from the Angels for pitcher Erik Manoah. Salas, age 31 is from Sonora, Mexico. He broke in with the Cardinals in 2010 and has a 19-21 mark with a 3.72 ERA. He was with the Cardinals when they took the 2011 World Series from the Texas Rangers. The Cardinals signed him early in 2007 at age 21, ancient for an international minor leaguer who may sign at 16. He collected 24 of his career 29 saves in 2011. He and David Freese were traded to the Angels late in 2013 for Peter Bourjos and Randall Grichuk. He did little of distinction with the Angels.        In similar moves, Oakland sent Coco Crisp to Cleveland and the D-Backs gave Michael Bourn a new identity as an Oriole, both for basically a bucket of curve balls.

The Padres and Braves are set to begin today’s earliest game as I write this. It is today’s only matinee. The Mets will send out jacob DeGrom, who skipped a scheduled start because of how awful his previous two starts had been. He had given up 13 runs in 25 hits in those two starts. The Twins have lost 13 in a row and face the White Sox’ Jose Quintana, a hot pitcher who will make it difficult to avoid number 14.

Rico Carty is 77 today and is this date’s only baseball birthday of any distinction.   When Howie Rose said, as Bartolo Colon was legging out a double “You could time him with a sun dial,) I thought he had just come up with that.  It turns out this was said of Carty, by Rangers’ beat writer Mike Shropshire in his book “Seasons in Hell.” Ricardo Carty  was a late call-up by the Milwaukee Braves in September 1963. He lasted as a DH until 1979 with the Blue Jays. All told he had a .299 batting average. He was with the Braves for a decade.  He didn’t last long with Whitey Herzog’s 1973 Rangers, being sent to the Cubs and Oakland in the same year. He lasted 3 seasons with the Indians and two in Toronto. He was an All-Star and won the league batting title in 1970 hitting .366. He had finished second in his rookie season of 1964 hitting .330 behind only Roberto Clemente. He lost part of 1967 to a separated shoulder and 1968 to tuberculosis, an ailment that few players return from. Jason Isringhausen is one modern player who did. With his lungs cured Carty  hit .342 in 1969 before his batting title year in 1970. He lost all of 1971 to a knee injury suffered playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. His 1973 performance was so poor he could only get work in Mexico the following year, but somehow in Cleveland he got his touch back, hitting .308 and .310 the next two years. Unlike his fellow Dominican Juan Marichal who became a politician, or other Latin players who have become broadcasters Carty has lived quietly since retirement.

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