Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Last year, the September series that turned the Mets’ fortune once and for all was a 3-game sweep of the Nationals in Washington, all in surprising fashion. Last night’s 4-3, 10-inning win in the nation’s capital must have given the Nationals flashbacks of 2015. If Drew Storen hadn’t been traded he might have punched a locker again, as he did a year ago resulting in a broken pitching hand.
In last night’s game, the Mets had a 3-1 lead heading to the last of the 9th with Jeurys Familia taking the mound. He rarely blows a save, and usually he does it in spectacular fashion giving up at least one home run. Last night was another matter. He was charged with a blown save as the Nats tied the game, but he repeatedly induced ground balls. Several went through the infield, including Daniel Murphy’s hit to start the inning. Murphy has hit in all 18 games against his former employer. one grounder, by Bryce Harper resulted in a throwing error by third baseman Jose Reyes. The former shortstop airmailed the throw into the seats putting runners on second and third, both of whom scored on subsequent infield hits. In the end, Familia got the win as T. J. Rivera, the batting champion of the Pacific Coast League hit his first MLB home run in the top of the 10th. The home run came off Mark Melancon, the closer the Nats got from Pittsburgh. On a 17-6 run since August 20, the Mets remain half a game ahead of the Cardinals for the second wile card spot, and just behind the Giants for the first wild card spot and the home field advantage it carries. Rivera, in the lineup because of Wilmer Flores’ stiff neck finished the night with 3 hits and 3 RBIs, the others coming on a single in the third and a scoring fly ball two innings later. Thomas Javier Rivera is no kid-he’ll be 28 on October 27. After a college career at Troy University in Alabama, nobody drafted him. Mackey Sasser, a college coach of his put in a good word for him and the Mets signed him in 2011. After 2015 he was again unclaimed in the rule 5 draft. Since he joined the Mets on August 10, he could be made eligible for the postseason if the Mets reach it.
The Giants continued their poor play since the All-Star break, blowing a 4-1 lead and losing 6-4 to the Padres in San Francisco. The visitors put up 5 in the 9th for the win, highlighted by a 3-run home run by Ryan Schimpf. Both the Cards and Mets won to gain a full game on the Giants in the wild card race. Schimpf, whose name sounds like a character on the 3 Stooges, has 19 home runs, all hit after July 1. Hunter Strickland was sent in to try and get the save, given the recent struggles of Santiago Casilla in that role. Strickland gave up 3 hits and a walk, then messed up a double play grounder that would have ended the game. The Giants only got one out on the play setting up Schimpf’s heroic blast off Steven Ockert who replaced Strickland. The Giants and Marlins each have 27 blown saves, leading the National League in a stat you don’t want to lead in.
I should ask our correspondent Dan Cummo if he knows where the expression “to eat crow” comes from when you have to take back something ill-advised that you said. This morning it’s my turn. After I referred to CC Sabathia as “dead weight,” in this space yesterday he showed a rare flash of his old self, not giving a run to the Dodgers as long as he was on the hill. He got no decision but the Yankees won 3-0. All the scoring was after CC had left the hill. In the home 7th, Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius who were both coming off the bench hit home runs to break a scoreless tie. Gary Sanchez homered in the 8th, his 14th since his call-up on August 3. Sabathia gave up just 3 hits and a walk before leaving in the 7th. His counterpart, the Dodgers’ Julio Urias threw 78 pitches and didn’t survive the 4th even though he didn’t allow a run.
Wednesday brings matinee baseball as usual. Today the Rays and Jays play the earliest game, at 12:30 in Toronto. The Cubs and Cards meet in St. Louis at 1:45 Eastern. John Lester, 6-0 since July 29 faces Carlos Martinez, the most consistent starter the Cards have. He’s won his last 4 starts and seems the heir apparent to an aging Adam Wainwright. In the late afternoon the Padres and Giants meet again in San Francisco. If Madison Bumgarner wins it would be his 100th win. If he manages it, he will be the third youngest Giants’ pitcher to 100 wins. The Dodgers and Yankees meet in the Bronx while the Mets and Nationals hook up in Washington. Both games start just after 4 PM. Clayton Kershaw faces Michael Pineda. Kershaw would be a prohibitive favorite except he’ll probably only be throwing 80 pitches. He threw 66 in 3 innings in his first start off the DL, where he’d been since late June. The Mets also have a tough matchup. They face Tanner Roark, at 14-8 and they counter with rookie Robert Gsellman. The rest of the action is under the lights. Rick Porcello takes his 20 wins to the hill against Baltimore and Kevin Gausman, who’s their best with Chris Tillman on the shelf. Porcello is 13-0 at Fenway in 2016. Jose Fernandez faces the Braves in Atlanta. He’s won 14 games this year, the most any Marlins’ pitcher has won since 2010. This is that much more amazing considering it’s his first full year after Tommy John surgery.
The Pirates’ Gregory Polanco is 25 today. He’s been with the Pirates since 2014. He had been in the minor league system since 2009. He’s the son of two police offocers in his native Dominican Republic.
David Bell is 44 today. His grandfather Gus and father Buddy were both major leaguers. David played parts of a dozen years in the bigs, registering a .257 average. He now coaches for the Cardinals who he played for early on. He scored the winning run in the 2002 NLCS for the Giants. In game 5 of the World Series that followed, Bell was heading for the plate when 3-year-old bat boy Darren Baker wandered into play. It took quick action by the Giants’ J. T. Snow to lift the child out of harm’s way to avoid a fearful injury. Bell managed in the minors during 4 seasons, 2009–12.
Former 1962 Met Dave Hillman is 89 today. The 1962 Mets were his final stop on a big-league career that had begun with the Cubs in 1955. From then until 1960 he was a Cub. He then went to Boston, Cincinnati and lastly the Mets.
Former player and broadcaster Jerry Coleman was born this day in 1924, and died very early in 2014. He exclusively played with the Yankees, from 1949–57. He was an All-Star in 1950. He was with the Yankees’ World Series winners of 1949–51 and again in 1956. Like Ted Williams, he served in both World War II and Korea. Coleman reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Marines. He’s in Cooperstown, a winner of the Ford C. Frick award presented in 2005. He might never have broadcast a word into a microphone if he hadn’t had a meeting with Howard Cosell. Coleman began with CBS, doing pre-game and post-game on their Game of the Week series with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese. Coleman began with the Yankees in 1963 and stayed through the firings of both Mel Allen and Red Barber. He broadcast for the Angels in 1970–71, then went to the Padres where he remained. The only year he didn’t broadcast was 1980 when he managed the team to a 73-89 finish. Statues of Coleman and the late Tony Gwynn stand outside Petco Park.