Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The Tigers have been making a mad dash to join the American League wild card race. Their frantic charge continued yesterday with a 5-3 win in 11 over the White Sox in Chicago. With the game level at 2, Justin Upton crushed a 3-run home run some 417 feet beyond the outer limit of what should be Comiskey Park II. Though the Pale Hose put up one in their half it wasn’t enough.
Early on, the game was the pitching duel I thought it would be when I wrote of it in this forum yesterday. Justin Verlander, who with every good start looks like the Verlander of 2012 struck out 11 men, walking but one in 7 innings. He has now struck out 200 or more batters 6 times in what has mostly been a brilliant career. Meantime, White Sox lefty Chris Sale lasted 8 innings, striking out 8 Tigers without walking any. 4 of the 6 hits he allowed were by Miguel Cabrera including a pair of solo bombs for the Tigers’ only two runs until the 11th inning. The Sox evened the game at 2 each on an Alex Avila home run while his dad, the Tigers’ general manager Al Avila watched from a suite.
There’s a new slugger in Minneapolis. After Sunday’s game, Brian Dozier had 35 home runs, and no Twins’ hitter other than the Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew had hit more than 35 in a year. Dozier has now hit 38, launching 3 shots in a game the Twins lost yesterday. The Royals beat the Twins 11-5 but Dozier continued to do what no second baseman did in Killebrew’s day-launch prodigious home runs. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo has 41 which leads all of baseball. Killebrew hit 41 in 1970 and no Twin has hit 38 since, until now. His third was pounded off reliever Brooks Pounders in the 8th inning. Max Kepler is another Twin who has launced 3 long ones in a game during 2016, which only 4 other Twins had managed since 1961. The most home runs ever for a second sacker was 42 by Davy Johnson in 1973 with the Braves.
Baseball’s philosopher, Socrates Brito is all of 24 today. This time last year he was a late-season call-up by the D-Backs. He’s played part of this season in the bigs with them. In 2015 he was their minor league player of the year.
Tyler Austin, who joined the Yankees last month is 25. Christopher Tyler Austin was the Yankees’ 13th-round draftee in 2010 coming right out of high school in Georgia. He, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge all joined the Yankees shortly after the trade deadline when it appeared the team was waving the white flag by trading what players they had. At 17 doctors found he had testicular cancer, which was taken care of with surgery. He and Aaron Judge, both making their first MLB atbats hit back-to-back home runs. Such a thing had never been done by teammates making their first MLB atbats in the long and glorious history of the game.
Another Yankee, Nick Rumbelow is also 25. He was their 7th-round draft choice in 2013. He played his college ball at LSU. He made his Yankee debut in June of 2015. He had Tommy John surgery in April of this year, and at best could be seen pitching again sometime in 2017.
Rangers’ first baseman Mitch Moreland is 31. He played his college baseball in Starkville for Mississippi State. The Rangers took him in round 17 of the 2007 draft, and they are the only team he’s played for. He reached the show for the first time in 2010. He hit a 3-run home run in game 3 of the World Series that year against the Giants. No Ranger had homered in the first 2 games. The Giants ultimately won the series in 5 games. He also homered in the 2011 World Series, which went the full 7 games with the Cardinals barely beating the Rangers. Watch for him in October, since the Rangers have a huge lead in the AL West.
Mets’ lefty reliever Jerry Blevins is 33 today. He was the Cubs’ 17th-round draft choice in 2004 after playing for the University of Dayton Flyers. By the time he reached the show in 2007 he’d already been traded to Oakland. He pitched for Oakland through 2013, then spent a year in Washington, then was traded to the Mets at the end of spring training in 2015. It was a lost year for Blevins as he broke his pitching arm twice and didn’t throw a pitch after April 19. At the time he was considered a lefty specialist but during 2016 he’s been throwing full innings from the bull pen rather than just coming in to get rid of lefties.
Former catcher and broadcaster Fran Healy is 70 today. I believe he was the first baseball birthday I wrote up in this space a year ago when the column was aborning. His home town is Holyoke, Massachusetts, the town that gave the world Jack Buck. Healy’s first taste of the show was in late 1969 for the expansion Kansas City Royals. His playing career ended with the Yankees for whom he would soon be a broadcaster. From there he joined the Mets’ tv team where he made his fame. I first heard of him as a catcher for the Giants, where he played in 1971-72. He was a career .250 hitter. With the Royals he caught both of Steve Busby’s no-hitters, one each in 1973 and 1974. He won a World Series ring in 1977 with the Yankees. After 6 years split between radio and TV with the Yankees he joined the Mets on TV in 1984 and stayed until 2005. He, Tom Seaver and Tim McCarver are 3 men who have been regular broadcasters for both the Yankees and Mets. His Mets’ time ended when they moved to Sportsnet New York in 2006, the channel that broadcasts most of their games to this day.
Vincencio DiMaggio, the oldest of the 3 All-Star DiMaggio brothers was born this day in 1912 and died in 1986 at age 74, being the first of the 3 to die. He was twice an All-Star, both while he was with the Pirates in 1943 and 1944. He played for 5 of the 8 existing National League teams, only missing St. Louis, Boston and Brooklyn. He was traded from the 1940 Reds to the Pirates too soon to play in the 1940 World Series which the Reds would win. In Gene Schoor’s book about Joe, he wrote that Vince’s 1932 signing with Tucson finally gained approval for Joe to play ball from a disapproving father, Giuseppi by name. Vince, as fate would have it reached the show a year later than Joe did. Vince made it in 1937 with the Boston Bees, the once and future Braves who had a 5-year run as the Bees. In the 1944 All-Star game he registered a single, tripple and home run. With regular broadcasters Mel Allen and Bob Elson in the military, boxing icon Don Dunphy called the action of that All-Star game.
Red Faber, one of the untainted members of the 1919 White Sox and a Hall of Famer was born this day in 1888 and died in 1976 just before the playoffs. A native of Iowa, Urban Clarence Faber played his entire career from 1914-1933 with the White Sox, owned by The Old Roman, Charles Comiskey, or “Commie,” to the 8 men who would fix the 1919 World Series with Cincinnati. Faber was not involved in the fix, as he was injured and unable to pitch against the Reds. In a day when men pitched both games of doubleheaders, not to mention complete games his record was 254-213. Twice he led his league in ERA, in 1921 and 1922 In 1915 he pitched a 3-hitter using only 67 pitches to do it, the sort of thing Greg Maddux would do 80 years later. . In 1917 the Sox won an honest World Series against the Giants. Faber won game 2 in Chicago, lost game 4 in New York, then entered game 5 from the bull pen to win, and won a start 2 days later in game 6. So, he got 4 decisions in 6 World Series games, something no American League pitcher has done in the 99 years since.