Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on the last day of the regular season.
Yes it’s corny, but it’s the fact. The Giants, Cards and Tigers are still in the hunt while the Mariners aren’t. The Mets certainly will play at home in the wild card game Wednesday, but against whom? Both the Giants and Cards won, so they live to fight another day. Both the Tigers and Orioles lost. So the Tigers absolutely must win to have any hope at all. It would also help if the Yankees beat the Orioles again today. All games today start at 3 PM Eastern, even the ones out west where they will be playing at Noon.
The only issue settled yesterday afternoon was the first wild card slot. The Mets gained it with a 5-3 win in Philadelphia. What crowd there was seemed to be mostly Mets’ fans who had come down I95 for the occasion. James Loney, who rarely hits a home run launched one to break a 2-2 tie in the 6th. The Mets got a valuable insurance run in the 9th and Michael Conforto’s sliding catch closed the deal.
The fans had been scoreboard-watching even if the players weren’t. The Pirates had built an early 3-0 lead on the Cardinals, thanks to a 3-run gong by Jung Ho kang. But the cards equaled the score in the 6th and won it on Jed Jyurko’s 30th home run of the year. They remain a game behind the Giants, so a Giant loss and Cardinal win would require a play-in game. Said tiebreaker would occur tomorrow in St. Louis and require a Tuesday column.
MLB has mandated that all games today start at 3:05. When they do, the Cardinals will turn to Adam Wainwright against Ryan Vogelsong in a battle of veterans. Vogelsong in particular, at 39 may be singing his swansong to baseball. The Orioles turn to Kevin Gausman as they try to keep their spot in the postseason. The Yankees go with Luis Cesa. The Yanks pulled off a comeback win yesterday over the O’s after it looked like they would roll over and die like they did Friday. The Dodgers and Giants play in a game that is meaningful on two counts. The Giants need to win and hope the Cardinals lose. The Dogers and particularly their fans say farewell once and for all to Vin Scully, as he won’t broadcast after today. The Dodgers turn to Kenta Maeda and the Giants’ Matt Moore as both teams want their heavy artillery for their first playoff game. Max Scherzer sets his sites on his 20th win of 2016 as he faces the Marlins. Since the Mets have clinched their spot, they go with Gabriel Ynoa today saving Noah Syndergaard for Wednesday’s wild card game. Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez faces Boston’s David Price as the Jays try to cement their wild card spot. The Sox want to keep Price sharp for the postseason in which he has always performed poorly. His 2–6 playoff record testifies to that. The Tigers turn to Justin Verlander as they hope to unseat the Orioles and play in a wild card game. They face Julio Teheran, the best Atlanta has to offer.
The Astros’ Lance McCullers JR. is 23. The son of a former pitchers, Mccullers is a Tampa native who the Astros drafted in round 1 in 2012. He made his debut in May 2015 and pitched in the postseason for Houston.
Pitcher Ryan Dull is 27 today. Oakland took him in the 32nd round in 2012 making him a dark horse big leaguer but he has pulled it off. From the Oakland bull pen he has 88 strikeouts, a feat considering he was a late call-up just last September. He had pitched for UNC Asheville, in a mountainous region where few pitchers flourish.
The Yankees’ outfielder Aaron Hicks is also 27. The Twins drafted him in round 1 back in 2008. He reached the show with the Twins to begin the 2013 season. Since then his average has been but .223. The Twins dumped him on the Yankees for a good backup catcher in John Ryan Murphy. Whatever Twins’ executive pulled that off should start selling the Brooklyn bridge.
The Phillies’ closer Jeanmar Gomez is 28 today. He played in the show as early as 2010 with the Indians. A team known for their scouting in Latin America, the Indians had Gomez in their tribe since 2006 when he was but 17. In 2009 he threw a 9-inning perfecto for Akron against the Yankees’ AA team, the Trenton Thunder in Trenton. It was only the second 9-inning perfecto in the Eastern League going back as far as stats for that league go, 1923. He was traded to Pittsburgh in 2013 where their pitching coach Ray Searage mentored him. He started early on and moved to the bull pen in 2013, the first year Pittsburgh made the postseason since 1992. The Phillies got him as a free agent in early 2015 and named him their closer for 2016 early on. as bad as they are he racked up 38 saves for the Phillies.
The man the Twins fans knew as “Everyday Eddie” is 46 today. That would be Eddie Guardado, a 21st-round Twins pick in 1990. He pitched from 1993 to 2009 in 908 games all told. His first decade was with the Twins after which he became a baseball vagabond. He was twice an All-Star as a Twin, in 2002 and 2003-his final season under the MetroDome. The last 2 seasons he has been the Twins’ bull pen coach. Late in his career he managed to tear his rotator cuff and throwing elbow and survive both injuries.
A man I consider real baseball gentleman, Maury Wills is 84 today. He was born when Washington, DC-his home town-was still segregated. So he had no idea of the white Washington Senators team playing nearby. He told me this in an interview in 1998. At that point he was the color commentary on radio for the Fargo Morehead Redhawks, as awesome a short-season team as there probably ever has been. He still holds that position at his great age. He was a rookie at 26 when he first played ffor the Dodgers in 1959. His career ended with the Dodgers just after he turned 40 in 1972. Considering his late entry he had quite a career with over 2100 hits and 586 steals–104 of them in the 1962 season alone. He was an All-Star 7 times, the last in 1966. He was part of 3 Dodgers’ World Series winners-1959, 1963 and 1965. Wills led his league in steals 6 years running, the last in 1965. He did color commentary for NBC between 1973–77, managed in Mexico and then did poorly managing Seattle even by his own admission.
A man who could be considered my onetime employer, Joe Buzas was born this day in 1919 and died in March 2003. He owned the New Britain Red Sox when my partner and I broadcast for them between 1993-96. His playing career lasted all of 2 months in 1945 when he hit .262 for the Yankees in a year they lost the pennant to the Tigers. He was a team owner as early as 1958 and died a team owner. In 45 years he operated 82 minor league teams.0