Cubs Win Only Game of the Day; Matthew Sinks Dodgers and Nats

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, Oct. 9.

Hurricane Matthew couldn’t restrain himself and keep all his nastiness in the Carolinas or Georgia.  According to the National Weather Service, the northernmost part of Matthew reached the nation’s capital, forcing the Nats and Dodgers to wait a day before renewing their NLDS.  Their second game will be today at 1 PM Eastern. If nothing else, this means Clayton Kershaw will get an added day’s rest in case he’s needed to pitch game 5.  After the way  he pitched Friday he’ll be glad of an extra day, hoping he can bring his A-game to the party if he’s needed again to cinch this NLDS. Nothing else has changed. The Dodgers still have Rich Hill on the hill. While his record is 12–5, his walkup song should be the Johnny Cash song “Blisters,”” since they have defined him the last month of the season.  If they trouble him today Julio Urias, the 20-year-old phenom should have been  his backup in long relief. Now Urias has to starg game 4 Tuesday, since no travel day will be permitted in this part of the series. So the Dodgers have to pray for Hill to go as far as his fragile fingers will let him and hope they can find somebody in the back of the bull pen if Hill’s hand gives out. The lefty will be opposed by Tanner Roark, the righty who had the year of his life with the Nats collecting a 16–10 record.   As I said yesterday, with his team down 1 game to None and heading to L.A., Roark will have to be a hero like the character Roark in the Eve Dallas mystery books. (Guys, ask your wife or girl friend about those.)

Meantime, the one game played last night was a second win for the Cubs over the Giants. This time it was a 5-2 win. But was it Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo or Chris Bryant who’ve been providing the offense all year? Was it even Javier Baez whose homer won the game Friday night?  No sir, it was … the pitchers!  Kyle Hendricks, the NL’s best in terms of ERA hit a two-run bloop single. Pitching in relief, Travis Wood launched one out of the oldest park in the NL. Wood was pitching because Hendricks took a line drive off his pitching arm.  He’s the second pitcher to become a casualty in this young postseason.  The first was Francisco Liriano of the Blue Jays who got an all-expense-paid trip to a Texas hospital after stopping a liner with his dome. Wood stepped in for Hendricks, and hit for himself in the home 4th since he needed to last as long as he could.  He responded by slamming his 10th career home run. The last reliever to launch one in the postseason? The New York Giants’ Rosy Ryan did it in 1924. In fairness to Wood, he hasn’t always brought home the bacon from the bull pen. He was a starter for a lot of years, both in the minors since 2005 and in the bigs from his debut with the Reds in 2010.  Only in mid-2015 was he moved to the pen.   As for Hendricks, he hit all of .138 with 2 RBIs for the season but he drove in two on a bases-loaded single in the second inning. Aroldis Chapman struck out two en route to his second save.  The series moves to San Francisco for a 9:30 PM Eastern start tomorrow night. Keep the coffee flowing,  Cubs fans.

Brooms Up, Boys

Both ALDS series could end before this day is out.  The Indians take a 2 games to None lead into Boston, and the Blue Jays are ahead by the same margin as they return to Toronto to face the Texas Rangers.  For the Blue Jays, they’ve had to tweak their roster.  Francisco Liriano suffered a mild concussion in game 2 and can’t pitch under baseball’s concussion protocol. At best_ he can return in 7 days, making him eligible for part of the ALCS. But “at best” is the operative word when you’re talking about a concussion. I know from experience that even without a concussion a hard impact to the head can stay with you for years after.  The line drive that struck Liriano was clocked at 102 MPH as it impacted the back of his skull. He was lucky to come off without a fracture.      Liriano will  be replaced by righty Danny Barnes, a rookie at age 26 who played college ball at Princeton, as the Royals’ pitcher Chris Young did.  Barnes spent parts of 2016 in AA New Hampshire and AAA Buffalo but was called up in August, making him eligible for this postseason. He was taken in the 35th round in 2010 making him a long shot to even reach the bigs, much less play on the biggest stage of all. As for the 7:30 PM game, Colby Lewis is the Rangers’ hope for survival facing Aaron Sanchez who had a 15–2 record.  This is his first postseason start.  He pitched effectively from the Toronto bull pen a year ago.

In the middle game of today’s triple-header, a 4 PM start in Boston the Indians look to finish off the Red Sox.  They turn to Josh Tomlin on the mound against the Sox’ Clay Buchholz. The Indians should ban ham sandwiches from the ball park. Twice they’ve done a Mama Cass impression when playing the Red Sox.  The first time was in 1999 in the ALDS when Pedro Martinez trumped a 2 games to None Indians lead. 8  years later, ahead 3 games to 1 in the ALCS and playing at home the Indians lost game 5, then lost games 6 and 7 sending the Sox to their second World Series in 3 years.  The snag is, the Indians’ ace Danny Salazar is out of commission for the time being with a forearm strain, and Carlos Carrasco is done for the year with a broken hand.    Tomlin pitched so poorly as a starter he went to the bull pen only to pick up starting again when Salazar went down. Interestingly enough, the two opposing starters were teammates at Angelina Junior College.

The Rangers’ Derek Holland is 30 today.  His best present would be for  his side not to get swept. The Newark, Ohio native was a 25th-round choice by the Rangers in 2006. that being considered he made the big leagues in 3 short years and has seen the best baseball the Rangers have ever played, including the 2010 and 2011 World Series. He has a 62-49 pitching mark in that time. In January 2014 he suffered the kind of bizarre injury baseball players are known for.  He fell while romping with his dog.  Most normal people can do that, say “Aw, shucks” and keep playing with the dog.  Holland tore knee cartilage that needed microfracture surgery and kept him off the mound until the All-Star break. He also lost most of 2015 to a strained shoulder muscle.

Former pitcher Randy Lerch is 62 today. If any pitcher has flashbacks from games they wish they didn’t play in, Lerch is likely to be one.  He started for the Phillies on May 17, 1979 in Chicago.  His side got him 7 runs in the first inning.  Not only did he not win, Lerch didn’t survive the first inning as the Cubs scored 6.  It was the nuttiest game until the steroid era, as the teams played with a howling wind blowing out at Wrigley.  The Phillies won that game 23-22 in 10 innings in spite of 3 Dave Kingman home runs and a grand slam by Bill Buckner.  Lerch gave up the first of Kingman’s trio, a mighty wallop onto Waveland avenue. All told he was 60-64 between 1975 and 1986 and was with the Phillies for all 4 NL East titles and their one World series win in 1980. His two home runs helped the Phillies win the game that clinched the NL East in 1978.

The always colorful Joe Pepitone is 76 today. He and Jim Bouton both made their debuts with the Yankees in 1962.  Pepitone was a Brooklynite, and with no draft it was easier for teams in a given city to sign local talent. He lasted until early 1973. He was a Yankee through 1969, then an Astro, a Cub and briefly a member of the Braves. He was an All-Star all 3 years between 1963–65. He hit a grand slam in game 6 of the 1964 World Series, the last World Series game a Yankee team would win until 1977. In “Ball Four,” Bouton wrote a lot about Pepitone. Balding in his twenties he had a pair of toupees and carried a hair dryer on the road, which was unheard of then.  Bouton and one or two other merry pranksters filled the hair dryer with talcum powder once late in a game.  Joe showered, and all unsuspecting he turned the hair dryer on.  Instant white.  Bouton said he looked like George Washington in a powdered wig.

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