In AA, Yanks Bull Pen Gives One Up to Red Sox

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, April 24.

The most buzz created yesterday wasn’t about any particular game, not even the game where Boston beat Baltimore 6-2.  Andrew Benintendi, a rookie whose name scribes need to learn to spell knocked out 5 singles. That’s his first five-hit game in his brief career.   Mookie Betts hit a 3-run jack and Hanley Ramirez followed with a solo blast to make it 4-0 before the visiting first inning was over.  But that isn’t the talk around Copley Square, Kenmore Square, on the MBTA in Boston or whatever public transportation they have in Baltimore.  You won’t hear those names around the water cooler particularly near the Beltway.  In Baltimore they’re fuming over a “purpose pitch,” or “chin music” played for the benefit of Orioles’ slugger Manny Machado.

The offending pitch was thrown by former UConn hurler Matt Barnes in the last of the 8th. The pitch behind Machado’s helmeted head was payback for a hard slide on Friday night which put Dustin Pedroya out of action for the foreseeable future. The Sox’ star second baseman is set for an MRI today on both his knee and ankle which were damaged to some degree by the Machado slide.  The pitch in question from Barnes did not in fact bean Machado-it ticked off his bat. All the same, pitcher Barnes was ejected at once and immediately the talk of a fine or suspension began. Bob Gibson or Steve Carlton must cringe at the decrease in toughness of today’s players compared to their opponents of 50 years ago.  Gibson would deck an opponent and not think twice about it. The old baseball expression about guys like him was “He’d knock down his grandmother to win a game.”

Normally, if the Red Sox get up to no good they do it against the Yankees, who they play in a 3-game series starting tomorrow night. The rivalry isn’t as intense since neither team has been too good in the last few years, but mention the 2003 ALCS and Yankees fans still remember Pedro Martinez decking coach Don Zimmer in a bench-clearing brawl during game 3, and what the Yankee batters did against Martinez in game 7.

While the MLB Red Sox and Orioles were exchanging choice words over a questionable pitch, in the minor leagues at AA they were concentrating on playing baseball.  The AA Red Sox team, the Portland Sea Dogs rallied for 4 in the 9th to beat the Yankees AA team which is the Trenton Thunder.  The final was 6-5 at Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine.

Portland, which entered the Eastern League in 1994 as the Marlins’ AA team became a Red Sox team shortly after the Sox left New Britain, CT.  Trenton also entered the Eastern League in 1994 as a Tigers’ team, then spent some time as the AA Red Sox before the Yankees began playing AA games there. Yesterday, former UConn star and present Portland third baseman Mike Olt had 3 hits including the game-winning two-run single in the Sea Dogs’ 6-5 win over the Thunder. The visitors built  up a 5-0 lead early on but couldn’t score after the fifth inning off the Portland bull pen. For their part, the Dogs couldn’t score until they put up 2 solo home runs-one by Olt-in the 6th. Joseph Monge launched a 2-run shot in the 9th to cut the lead to 5-4. Next Aneury Tavarez doubled and  Heiker Meneses singled setting the stage for Olt’s game-winning knock. For Olt, a man of 28 who’s been riding the minor league buses since 2012 and has little hope of reaching the top, a game like yesterday’s is a game to remember no matter what his future holds.

All the action in MLB is under the llights tonight. In Pittsburgh, they get to see the weakest link on the Cubs’ pitching staff, Brett Anderson. He didn’t survive the 4th inning last time out against the Brewers, giving up 6 runs and getting hit in the leg with a batted ball. He faces last year’s rookie surprise, Chad Kuhl of the Pirates. The Brewers welcome Matt Garza back for his first start of the season.  He was injured in spring training and has made a couple of rehab starts.  He has a relatively soft assignment for his first MLB start of the year, facing the Reds at home. For the Twins and Rangers, both starters Phil  Hughes and Martin Perez got belted around during their last starts, so you could get a high-scoring game in Texas tonight. The Nationals, who beat the Mets in last night’s ESPN game  (and swept the series by the way) travel to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to face the Rockies.  Their radio broadcasters were griping about having to fly 2 thousand miles after playing the Sunday night game while the Mets take today off.  I’m sure about a  million current or former minor league broadcasters out there would trade places with the Nationals’ announcers and hold their tongues about the first-class air travel on charter planes. This could be another high-scoring affair.  25-year-old righty Jacob  Turner, a non-roster invitee makes his Nationals’ debut in place of Stephen Strasburg who went on the paternity list. As a kid of 20 Turner got his first shot in the bigs, with the 2011 Tigers.  Now, a month shy of turning 26 he has a 12-27 MLB record with an ERA just over 5.   Turner faces Tyler Anderson who has an ERA north of 7. The Dodgers face the Giants in San Francisco in the latest start on tonight’s slate. The Dodgers turn to Hyun-Jin Ryu whose ERA is nearly 6 after 2 years on the shelf with injuries.  He faces Matt Cain who has done well early on.  The Giants will need every starting pitcher to step up during the lengthy absence of Madison Bumgarner.

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