Tell the Cubs to Save Something for October; Indians and White Sox Win Fun Games

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, Sept. 5, Labor Day.

Among several outstanding games played yesterday, one was a 13-inning duel at Wrigley where the Cubs beat the Giants 3-2.  The Cubs have won twice in 13 and once in 15 innings this season, leaving me to remind them to save some good baseball for October.  They don’t want another 4-game flameout like they suffered against the Mets a year ago. Their latest marathon win was against a foe they may or may not see in October, the skidding Giants.  Unless they pull their act together this month they won’t play in October, a disappointment for the team that looked like a certainty at the All-Star break but has played poorly since.  In Sunday’s game, Jason Heyward was the Cubs’ hero with both the game-tying hit in the 9th  and the walkoff single  in the 13th. The Cubs took 3 of 4 from the Giants in a series where each game was a one-run game. Anthony Rizzo started the game-winning rally with a single, then took second on a Ben Zobrist grounder. After an intentional  walk to Addison Russell to bring up Heyward who has been a major disappointment to Cubs fans in his first year there, Heyward made the Giants pay by singling to left center for the win. The same combination of Rizzo and Heyward built the tying rally in the 9th when Rizzo doubled and Heyward brought him home with a base knock. Heyward had also singled a run home in the 4th, so he drove in all 3 Cubs’ runs.  It was his first walk-off hit since 2010 when he was still in Atlanta.

Meantime, what looked like a sleepy Sunday ball game in Cleveland suddenly got interesting in the last of the 7th and got crazier as the remaining innings played out until the Indians finally took a 6-5 walkoff win.  It was 2-0 Marlins before the Indians put up 3 in the last of the 7th.  Both starters were gone by then.  Danny Salazar threw his best game since coming off the DL, striking out 11 Fish.  For his part Tom Koehler kept the Indians at bay for the 6 innings he lasted. With the score 3-2 in the visiting 8th, the Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto homered to level things at 3 each. The Marlins put up 2 in the 9th which should have ended things in their favor but their closer Fernando Rodney got no respect from the Indians’ hitters in the home 9th. Rodney walked 3 of the first 5 men he saw.  Jose Ramirez, with two strikes on him and two outs tied it with a two-run single and Lonnie Chisenhall won it with a single of his own. The win puts the Indians 23 games above .500, their best mark since the end of 2007 when they were 30 games above the break-even point.

In a game that looked like a throwback to the steroid era, the White Sox took a 13-11, 12-inning victory over the Twins in Minneapolis. The Twins are a sorry 51–86 and doubtless headed for 100 losses or more. They outhit the White Sox 18-16 but the Sox got the runs when it mattered. Tim Anderson’s two-run double in the 12th broke an 11-11 tie. Jose Abreu put up 3 hits including 2 home runs and drove in 7 of his team’s 13 runs. The Sox almost won it in the regulation 9 innings, as they held an 11-10 lead going to the last half of the 9th. However, Kurt Suzuki doubled home the game-tying run bringing about extra innings. Four Twins had 3 hits each, including home runs by Brian Dozier and Byron Buxton who hit a grand slam. Miguel Sano and John Ryan Murphy also went the distance for the home team. Murphy, the former Yankee catcher hit his first home run of this long, long season. It was a brutal start for the White Sox’ Anthony Ranaudo who surrendered 11 hits and 9 runs and didn’t survive the fifth inning. The home run for Dozier was his 35th of the year. Since moving to Minneapolis in 1961 the only Twin to ever hit more than 35 bombs in a season was Harmon Killebrew, known as “The Killer” in his home town and “The Fat Kid” by his foes.

There’s quite a bit of day baseball on this Labor Day, a holiday that has been celebrated since 1894.  The Yankees host  the Blue Jays in the earliest game at 1:05 Eastern.  The home team is just glad they got out of Baltimore without getting swept, after being embarrassed Friday and Saturday nights. They will start Masahiro Tanaka against the knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Jays. The Orioles face the Rays in St. Petersburg in one of several 1:10 PM starts. The Brewers host the Cubs at 1:10.  The Cubs had a short trip from Chicago to Milwaukee following their marathon win Sunday. The Mets face the Reds at 1:10. The Mets won the Sunday night game last night, then had to fly to Cincinnati where they figured to hit their pillows around 4 A.M.  Life in the big leagues. Another 1:10 start takes place in Miami where the Phillies and Marlins go at it. An hour later the Royals face the Twins in Minneapolis. The Twins will start Jose Berrios who has been brilliant in AAA but brutal in the bigs. The Braves face the Nationals in DC at 4:05. Oakland hosts the Angels at the same hour. Oakland starter Raul Alcantara makes his MLB debut after putting up a 1.18 ERA in AAA. The Pirates host the Cardinals in yet another 4:05 start. The White Sox host the Tigers at 4:10 PM. This is easily the pitching matchup of the day as Chris Sale faces Justin Verlander. The Rockies host the Giants at 4:10. Also at 4:10 is another good pitching matchup in Seattle.  Felix Hernandez of the Mariners faces the Rangers’ Cole Hamels. The Rangers got King Felix  for 6 runs in his last outing. At 4:40 the Padres host the Red Sox.  For Boston, Drew Pomeranz faces the Padres for the first time since he was traded to the Sox. Houston faces Cleveland and the D-Backs face the Dodgers in the only two night games on this holiday.

Cincinnati Reds’ broadcaster and former MLB pitcher Jeff Brantley is 53 today.  The Alabama native was the sixth-round draft choice of the Giants in 1985 and reached the show in August of 1988. As a collegiate at Mississippi State, he was teammates of fellow future Giant Will Clark, tainted slugger Rafael Palmeiro and future White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen. Their 1985 Bulldogs reached the College World Series in Omaha.  He had a 43-46 record in a career that ran through 2001.  His longest runs were with the Giants and Reds. He was an All-Star in 1990 and led his league in saves 6 years later. His 1989 Giants lost the World Series in 4 to Oakland in the Earthquake World Series. He pitched in 3 of the 4 games played. He began broadcasting with ESPN from 2002–06, and has broadcast on Reds radio since 2007 working with Hall of Famer Marty Brennaman and his son Tom Brennaman.

Former outfielder Candy Maldonado is 56 today. Born Candido Maldonado in Puerto Rico, he was in the bigs from 1981 to 1995.  He was part of the 1992 World Series winning Blue Jays. He also had the only tripple in the 1989 World Series which the Giants lost in 4 to Oakland.   He worked on ESPN after baseball with Chris Berman. More recently he’s done regular season and postseason games on their Spanish outlet, ESPN Deportes (Sports.) He might not have gotten a mention today except that John Sterling, the Yankees’ longtime broadcaster has a producer in his booth called Jack Maldonado whom he nicknamed Candy in homage to the ball player.

Bill Mazeroski is 80 today.  A native of Wheeling, he played for the nearby Pirates for his entire career, from 1956 to 1972 and saw them go from ancient Forbes Field to 3 Rivers Stadium.  He was not yet 20 when he played his first game, a rarity in the 1950’s.  His SportsCenter moment of course is the first ever walk-off home run to win a World Series, hit off Ralph Terry of the Yankees in 1960. He was also part of the 1971 Pirates who beat the Orioles in 7. He and Roberto Clemente were the two Pirates from the 1960 team who also played in the ’71 Series and the NLCS in both 1970 and 1972 which the Pirates lost to the Reds.  Mazeroski, known as “The Glove,” was an All-Star 10 times between 1958 and 1967. He won 8 Gold gloves, the last in 1967. He joined the Hall of Fame in 2001 causing a great deal of controversy because of his .260 batting average. A statue of him stands at PNC Park where the Pirates now play.

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