Red Sox Take Advantage of Yanks’ Gutted Bull Pen; Cubs Clinch without Winning;

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, Sept. 16.

I’ve  said from the very start that the Yankees made a horrible mistake by giving away 2/3 of their bull pen for futures, which is to say essentially for nothing.  Last night was just the latest of several implosions by what’s left of the bull pen and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.  The Yankees, who had already lost 2 of 3 to the Dodgers needed to lock down a game in which they were leading Boston 5-1 after 7.  But Adam Warren gave up a home run to David Ortiz in the 8th, and an overworked Dellin Betances gave up a 3-run  shot to Hanley Ramirez as part of a 5-run Boston 9th for a 7-5 Red Sox win.

As early as the third inning, with the score 4-0 the Yankees had their chances to bury the Red Sox. With runners on second and third and one out, nobody could either hit a fly ball or a base hit to score the two men supposedly in scoring position.  This is a failing both the Mets and Yankees have suffered from in recent years. Boston scored its first run on just such a scoring fly ball as the Yankees couldn’t manage.  They left a dozen men on base and still could have won had their bull pen done its job.  Masahiro Tanaka, who can’t reasonably be expected to go the distance anymore due to a problem elbow gave the Yankees 7 excellent innings of one-run ball on 4 hits.  His ERA is the best in his league, 2.97. But without Aroldis Chapman (Chicago) and Andrew Miller (Cleveland,) Betances has appeared in the last 3 games, something very few closers can manage.  He clearly wasn’t up to the task.  With a Toronto win the Yankees are now 3 games behind the Jays for the second AL wild card spot.

Meantime, even though they lost 5-4 to the lowly Brewers, the Cubs won the NL Central division as the Giants beat the Cardinals 6-2.  They are the first team to clinch a division this year.  The Central division hasn’t been theirs since 2008. The Cardinals won it last year, but the Cubs defeated them in the NLDS only to be swept by the Mets in the NLCS. While Jake Arrieta hasn’t been the Jake of 2015, Kyle Hendricks and John Lester have the two best ERA’s the National League can offer. The Giants’ win behind Johnny Cueto’s complete game  puts them a game above the Cards for the first wild card spot. An aging Adam Wainwright didn’t survive the fifth inning and has a 6.16 ERA outside of St. Louis.

The Cubs will be able to celebrate their division title after today’s matinee in Chicago against the Brewers. It’s the only daylight action on this Friday.  The Phillies, reeling from a 15-2 keel-hauling by the Pirates will set sail with Adam “Captain” Morgan tonight against Tom Koehler of the Marlins. The Mets host arguably baseball’s worst team, the Twins. Bartolo Colon will face a man half his age in Jose Berrios who has one lonely “quality start” all year long. The Yankees have to play out the string after last night’s loss. Luis Cesa, known for serving up meatballs is in the wrong park to do that, Fenway. Clay Buchholz will go for the Red Sox.

In an unprecedented move, the Padres’ general manager A. J. Preller has been suspended 30 days following an investigation into the July 14 trade of Drew Pomeranz to Boston. According to  San Diego TV station NBC7,  the team had two sets of books regarding the health of its players-one for internal use only and one for public consumption.  Since arriving in Boston, Pomeranz hasn’t been injured, but the Red Sox were one of several teams suspicious that the Padres might not have told all they knew about his medical condition. This item was not available on MLB.com but an internal source told me where to look.

Former Yankees outfielder Mel Hall is 56 today.  A pal of mine called him “Mel Hell” in the awful years the Yankees had in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s. Hall, of Lyons, New York had been taken in round 2 by the Cubs in 1978 right out of high school.  His career was surprisingly long-from late 1981 to early 1996. He  hit .276 lifetime. He was traded from the Cubs early in 1984 before they won the division.  He went to Cleveland, then the Yankees, then spent 3  years in Japan before playing briefly for the Giants. He’s now a guest of the state of Texas, and will be until he is at least 70 years old.   He turned out to be  one of the players  who couldn’t make it after the cheering stopped.

Orel Hershiser is 58 today. The Buffalo native first made the majors in 1983 and lasted until 2000. The Dodgers drafted him in round 17 in 1979 from Bowling Green.  As a high schooler at Cherry Hill East in southern New Jersey, Hershiser struck out 15 Deptford batters in 1976, a school record that lasted until 1997. He became a starter in 1984, then went 19-3 the next year and pitched in two NLCS games against the Cardinals. He won 23 games in 1988 finishing the year by breaking Don Drysdale’s scoreless innings streak with 59. In the NLCS against the heavily favored Mets, he started games 1 and 3, registered a save in the 12th inning of game 4 and won game 7 with a shutout. He pitched another shutout in game 2 of the World Series and won game 5 to end the series, which the Dodgers won in 5.                                He lost 13 months to shoulder surgery which was done in April 1990. When all was said and done his record was 204-150. He was an All-Star 3 times from 1987–89. He was with the Indians who lost both the 1995 and 1997 World Series, then pitched for the Giants, Mets and Dodgers. He was an analyst with ESPN from 2000-2001, then again from 2006-14.  He now works with SportsnetLA on road games when Vin Scully does not travel.

Hall of Famer Robin  Yount is 61 today. The Brewers took him in the first round, third pick overall in the June 1973 draft. The next pick was another Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield.  He made his MLB debut the following April at age 18. He played his entire career with the Brewers, finishing in 1993 with over 3100 hits. He was an All-Star 3 times between 1980-83, and twice league MVP, once as late as 1989. He went to Cooperstown on his first try, in 1999. His only postseason was 1982 when the Brewers lost to the Cardinals in the World Series. His brother Larry is a historical footnote.  He was called up by the Astros, brought in from the bull pen-and blew out his elbow taking his warmup tosses.  Tommy John surgery was unknown then, so Larry Yount is the only pitcher  to be officially announced  into a game and never throw a pitch.

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