Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, Sept. 18.
Curtis Granderson has had a long career that is, no doubt on the down side now. But last night, when he was needed most he showed a last flash of the Grandy Man John Sterling used to “sing” about when Granderson was a Yankee. He homered in both the 11th and 12th innings to propel the Mets to a win over the Twins 3-2. In their 55th season he became the first Met ever to go deep twice in extra innings. In a 1-1 game at pitcher-friendly Citi Field, each team homered in the 11th. The Twins’ young stud Byron Buxton led off the top of the 11th by going deep, but the wily veteran Granderson left the lot in the home half to level the game at 2. With two gone in the last of the 12th Twins’ manager turned to lefty Ryan O’Rourke to get the lefty Granderson. Up to that moment lefties had been 0 for 18 against O’Rourke this year and only one had hit a lefty off him at all. But the luck of the Irish desserted O’Rourke (and his boss) when Granderson hoisted one over the distant right field fence. His game winner broke the Mets’ team home run record, set in 2006. Only two other men have hit home runs in consecutive innings, both of whom would become Mets after_ doing the deed. Art Shamsky, then of the Reds who did it to the Pirates in 1966 (in a losing effort) would later join the Mets. John Mayberry JR. did the unlikely trick in 2013 for the Phillies. He also would join the Mets before calling it a career.
The Cardinals helped their own cause, and that of the Mets by rallying in the 9th for a 3-2 win over the Giants in San Francisco. Neither Sergio Romo nor the former closer Santiago Casilla could stop the Cardinals once they got going. Jed Jyorko singled with one out, prompting the move from Romo to Casilla. He worked his first man, then gave an RBI single to Randall Grichuk to tie the game, followed by a Colton Wong scoring fly ball for what would prove to be the winning run. The Cardinals’ closer Seung Hwan Oh nailed it down. He has replaced Trevor Rosenthal who was their closer early in the season. Casilla blew his 9th save, the most by a Giant in 17 years. Robb Nen managed it in 1999. Brandon Moss, who turned 33 on Friday hit the only home run of the game early on for the Cards.
As I write this later edition, today’s games are already underway, so I’ll dispense with the listing of any of the matchups except the Sunday night game. As late as Thursday, it looked like this would be a vital game in the AL East race. But after twice squandering substantial leads in the late innings and losing 3 in a row to the rival Red Sox thanks to their purposely impotent bull pen, the Yankees have played themselves out of contention for the foreseeable future.
In what is now a meaningless game, CC Sabathia tries to salvage something, anything out of what has been largely a lost second half for him. He’s facing Drew Pomeranz, the subject of a recent probe that cost the San Diego general manager 30 days worth of his pay and a permanent stain on his reputation. Owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, along with team president Randy Levine should have been probed, if not given sanity tests for the Chapman and Miller trades. These have left Dellin Betances in a position to be as overworked as a West Virginia coal miner since early August and netted the Yankees Adam Warren (who they were only too happy to be rid of and who had a 6 ERA in Chicago) and a pocketful of empty dreams. Those could all turn into empty promises-anybody remember Kevin Maas, Oscar Azocar, and the parade of can’t-miss catchers between Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada? It isn’t just the Yankees. The Mets had 3 sure-fire never-miss studs-Bill Pulsipher, Jay Peyton and Paul Wilson. None of them did bupkes in the bigs. J.D. Drew looked like Mark McGwire when I broadcast his games in the Northern League. When he got to the bigs he wasn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit and neither were any of his MLB brothers. Every team’s fans can tell you of prospects who turned to dust when they reached the majors. It pains me to write this, because from my heart I am a Yankees fan and have been since 1974. I’ve lived the good and the bad and hate to witness the bad times to come given to us on purpose by incompetence at the highest levels.
Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is 57 today. The Phillies’ scouts didn’t know what they had when they took him in round 20 of the 1978 draft. If they knew, they wouldn’t have dealt him to the Cubs, thus foredooming him never to play in a World Series. In 1982 He and Larry Bowa were shipped to Chicago and Ivan DeJesus was palmed off on the Phillies. The trade was as bad as one decades earlier when the Cubs got Ferguson Jenkins for a pair of super-annuated arms in Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson. Sandberg was a Phillies’ September call-up in 1981. Their scouts figured him as a utility infielder at best. His career ended in 1997. He hit .285 with almost 2400 career hits. He was an All-Star for 10 straight years, between 1984-1993 and NL MVP in 1984 leading the Cubs to the NLCS. After 7 years of coaching he became manager of the Phillies in late 2013. He resigned in mid-2015 knowing his team was so awful John McGraw couldn’t win with it.
Ken Brett, best known as George’s big brother was born this day in 1948 and died in 2003 at age 55. When the draft was in its second year, 1966 he was taken in round 1 by the Red Sox. His first appearance was as a very late September call-up in 1967, at age 19. He pitched until 1981. He played for almost half of the 24 teams in existence during his career. He was once an All-Star in 1974 with the Pirates. He was the oldest of 4 Brett brothers who played in the pros but George, the youngest got the headlines. With Sparky Lyle hurt and unable to pitch in the 1967 World Series, Brett was put on the roster and pitched a scoreless inning of game 4 in St. Louis. In game 7 back at Fenway, he was put in with the bases full in the 9th and got Tim McCarver to ground out. No pitcher as young had been in the World Series before and none has since. He hurt his arm in 1968, had two operations and was never the same. Hank Aaron hit his 700th home run off Brett in Atlanta when the pitcher was with the Phillies. The next year, as a Pirate he was perfect through 8 against the Padres and finished with a two-hit shutout. Two years later, with the White Sox he had a no-no with two out in the 9th until Jerry Remy broke it up. After managing in Utica in 1985 he broadcast for 9 years-one with the Angels, 8 in Seattle. Brain cancer took his life, as it later would claim the life of Yankees’ broadcaster Bobby Murcer.
Harvey Haddix was born this day in 1925 and died very early in the year 1994. Between 1952 and 1965 he put up a respectable 136-113 record in the bigs. He was an All-Star 3 times early in his career while with the Cardinals. But he’s best remembered with the Pittsburgh Pirates for two particular events. On may 26, 1959, he threw a dozen perfect innings against the Braves in Milwaukee only to see his team not score through 13 innings. In the last of the 13th his perfecto ended on an error, then after a walk Joe Adcock broke up the game with a ball that left the lot but only counted as an RBI double because of a base-running gaffe. Haddix won games 5 and 7 of the 1960 World Series and was the only Pirate pitcher not brutalized by the Yankee bats. The Bombers won their 3 games 16–3, 10-0 and 12-0, the last in game 6 after being shut down by Haddix two days before. He entered from the bull pen in the 9th and got the win in game 7 because of Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run, the first of only two such home runs to end a World Series. Joe Carter hit the second in 1993. Haddix was pitching coach for five teams before he lost his life to emphysema, now called COPD in a futile attempt to take the curse off it.0