One Meltdown Too Many for Giants Bull Pen; Dodgers Square Series with Nats, Game 5 Tomorrow Night

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, October 12.

32 times turned out to be one too many for the combustible Giants’ bull pen. 31 times they had blown a save before last night’s 4th game of the NLDS with the Cubs, and the 32nd blown save sent the Cubs to the NLCS against the winner of the Dodgers-Nats series which stands even at 2 games apiece.

It didn’t help that game 3 went 13 innings thanks to the 31st blown save by the Giants’ bull pen. Matt Moore did all he could. He went 8 innings  and only gave the Cubs 2 runs. One happened to be a home run by Grandpa Rossy, which is the Cubs’ nickname for catcher David Ross. At 39, he became the oldest Cub to hit a postseason home run, passing Moises Alou who did the deed at age 37 in the 2003 NLCS.  Moore even got an RBI hit to make it 2-1 in the 4th. No Giant pitcher had driven home a go-ahead run in postseason play since Hal Schumacher did it against Washington in 1933.  Moore  left after throwing 120 pitches holding a 5–2 lead. Only once in a clinching game had a 3-run lead in the 9th not stood up.  Until last night.

Amazingly, though 5 pitchers contributed to the debacle it only took 22 pitches to go from a 5-2 lead to a 6-5 deficit.  4 hitters came up, 4 pitchers took the hill, 4 hitters reached.  Derek Law was the first reliever to try and lay down the law. Chris Bryant kicked things off with a single. Exit Law and lawlessness prevailed.   Next  came a walk to Anthony Rizzo by Javier Lopez. Exit Lopez, enter Uh Oh Sergio Romo.  Ben Zobrist singled home a run to make it 5-3. Exit Sergio.  With Will Smith coming on to pitch, (apparently taking a night off from being the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,) rookie Wilson Contreras stepped off the Cubs’ bench and knocked home two runs with a single. This tied the game. Enter Hunter Strickland. After Jason Heyward reached on a fielder’s choice with a throwing error thrown in,  Javier Baez-the same guy who hit a home run to win game 1-brought victory to Chicagoland by singling home a run to make it 6-5. Now, the Giants were in a spot no Giant team had been in since 1911-losing a postseason game they had led after 8 innings. All was stunned disbelief.   Aroldis Chapman struck out all 3 shell-shocked  Giants he saw on 13 pitches, all of which topped 100 MPH. The only other team to come back from 3 runs down in the 9th in a clinching game was the 1986 Mets in the classic 16-inning sixth game of the 1986 NLCS in Houston.

Thanks to Chase Utley,the villain of last year’s NLDS for breaking the Mets’ Ruben Tejada’s leg the Dodgers are still alive this year.  Washington had tied yesterday’s game at 5-5 in the visiting half of the 7th, but when the home team came to bat,  Utley stepped up by singling home what turned out to be the game-winning run.   With all accounts even, there’s a win-or-go-home game Thursday night at 8 PM in Washington. With the Dodgers and their fans still trying to recover from the nats’ game-tying rally, the first two Dodgers were retired in the home 8th.  Then Andrew Tolles took one for the team, getting hit on the foot by a Blake Treinen pitch. Coming off the bench Andre Ethier singled him on to second after which Utley brought him home. Dodgers’ pitchers Pedro Baez and Luis Avilan had to take the rap for allowing the Nats’ runs to score. Joe Blanton got the win and Kenley Jansen took the save a night after being hammered for 4 runs. Starter Clayton Kershaw pitched heroically on short rest, leaving ahead 5-2 but with the bases full in the 7th. He threw 110 pitches just 3 days after firing 101 in game 1. He struck out 11 Nats yesterday before he was pulled in favor of the bull pen. After Jason Werth was hit with a Baez pitch to force home a run, Daniel Murphy tied the game with a two-run base knock on the first Avilan pitch he saw.  That left Kershaw with no decision and charged with 5 earned runs or “Ernies.”DC starter Joe Ross was history before the third inning was over. In spite of the defeat yesterday the Nats have to be the clear favorite Thursday. In their yard they have their best, Max Scherzer, he of two no-hitters last year.  With Kershaw needed just to survive until game 5, the Dodgers’ season rest on the fragile fingers of Rich Hill. Since they got him from Oakland blisters have defined Hill’s season. He’s on s hort rest and failed to survive 5 innings on Sunday.    The ex-factor is Julio Urias, who the Dodgers haven’t yet had to turn to.  The 20-year-old they brought up in May is chomping at the bit to get into the playoffs.

With 3 of the 4 series concluded, there will be no games today, and as a result no blog tomorrow-the one day this week I would have ample time to write one.  So we’ll cut right to today’s birthdays. Orioles’ outfield Nolan Reimold is 33.  The Greenville, PA native was drafted by the Orioles in round 2 in 2005 from Bowling Green, where he holds the home run and RBI records.  Reimold is pronounced to rhyme with “Rhine Gold.” He was with the Orioles through 2013, then spent short stints with Toronto and Arizona before being returned to the Orioles. If nothing else, he can tell his kids he hit a home run off Mariano Rivera, soon-to-be a Hall of Famer, and the kids can google it and find it’s absolutely true. He began having back trouble as early as 2012 and had two operations before 2013 was done.  He had the same trouble as David Wright and Prince Fielder-a herniated disk in his neck. Hopefully he’s got a good financial adviser, because in spite of his bad back he and his wife have six children.

Jorge Pedre is 50 today. He was a backup catcher. You didn’t know he made the majors? Neither did I. I remember him as a backup in AA with New Britain.  The catcher’s job is a dangerous one, and one night in a game we were broadcasting he caught a foul ball where no man wants to get hit by anything.  He spent several minutes on the deck before being removed from the game. As a major boxing fan, I described what happened as a ‘low blow,” and discoursed at length on the boxing rules in force if a fighter takes a low shot. We didn’t know, and neither did Jorge, that his MLB career was already over by the time we saw him.  He was 28 and had played with the Royals and Cubs.  The Red Sox brought him and another older catcher in to work with prospect Walt McKeel who ultimately made it to the bigs for a while. As a 33rd-round draftee Pedre was a long shot to even get a “cuppa coffee,” in the bigs which he got.   Now Pedre, of Culver City, CA is an emergency responder at a refinery.

Former Mets’ lefty Sid Fernandez is 54 today. His given name is Charles Sidney Fernandez.   While his renown came as a Met, the bulky Hawaiian was the  Dodgers’ third-round draftee out of high school in 1981, graduating the same year I did.   Mets fans who remember him may wonder if he’s banned from Hawaii for fear that his added weight would set one of the islands drifting out to sea. lol  He was listed at six-one and 230 pounds when he played at Shea where the roaring crowds competed with the roaring jet engines from nearby LaGuardia Airport.

He broke in as a Dodger in late 1983 but joined the Mets the next season along with Dwight Gooden. When his Mets days were done after 1993 he had short hitches with the O’s, the Phillies and the shortest of all with Houston. He was an All-star twice in his prime with the Mets in 1986 and 1987. He was the first native-born Hawaiian to appear in the All-Star game in which he struck out Jim Rice and Don Mattingly-neither of whom were exactly chopped liver.  He was a major figure in the Mets’ World Series winning team in 1986 and their return to the playoffs two years later where they were upset by the underdog Dodgers.

Tony Kubek, former Yankee shortstop and NBC broadcaster is 80 today.   He was a Yankee from 1957 until his retirement at 28 in 1965. He was an All-Star 4 times and was on World Series winners in 1958, 1961 and 1962. His teams lost the 1957, 1960, 1963 and 1964 World Series, so the only two times he wasn’t involved were 1959 and 1965. After 1965 a back injury sent him upstairs to the radio or TV booth.  As a broadcaster for NBC he covered a dozen World Series and 14 LCS. He did the Game Of the Week on Saturdays for decades and broadcast locally in Toronto from 1977-89. When NBC lost the rights to baseball Kubek covered the Yankees on TV from 1990–94.     In 2009 Kubek  took the Ford C. Frick award for broadcasting excellence. He only once attended Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium-in 1986, to remember Roger Maris who had passed the year before.

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