Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball this Saturday, May 6.
If more folks were reading this blog, I could be accused of having a New York bias. While I live in the greater New York area and have been a Yankee fan for decades, when other teams provide compelling baseball (see yesterday’s piece about the Omaha game) I write about it. It happens that yesterday both New York teams provided more than compelling baseball. Both of them were dead and buried … until they weren’t.
It started in the afternoon with a matchup at Wrigley Field. Predictably the wind was howling in the Windy City and the wind chill factor made it feel colder than a landlord’s heart. Through 8, all the offense was two long balls hit by the Cubs. The first was by Kris Bryant, the next by Kyle Schwarber. Through 8 innings those two runs seemed like enough. But an old Yankee tradition resurfaced. It’s called 5:00 Lightning.
In the days when most games were begun at 3 PM and wrapping up arond 5:00 the Yankees would often stage late rallies against weary starting pitchers. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig began the 5:00 Lightning tradition. It continued through the decades. Bucky Dent provided it with a 3-run home run into the screen at Fenway Park in the AL East playoff game in 1978. Now, if 5:00 ligntning happens it’s against inept or unlucky relief pitchers rather than weary starters. Thursday the Cubs had won in 13 so their closer Wade Davis couldn’t go. In his place, Hector Rondon got Chris Carter out to start the 9th. Chase Headley singled which was harmless enough. Rondon retired the next man, then walked pinch-hitter Jacoby Ellsbury to set the stage. Brett Gardner, who has taken a lot of heat from Yankees fans in the last few years launched one into the right field seats to give the Yanks a 3-2 lead. Aroldis Chapman, who ended the last World Series for the Cubs struck out the last man he saw to close this game for the Yankees. Chapman, Starlin Castro and Adam Warren all got their 2016 World Series rings yesterday as former Cubs now with the Yankees.
Meantime in Queens, the Mets fell behind 7-1 as Rafael Montero filling in for Noah Syndergaard tried to turn a festive Cinco de Mayo into Stinko de Mayo. He left down 3-1 with two men on. They both scored, so he was charged with 5 runs in 3.1 innings. Josh Smoker got smoked yet again and the Mets were down 7-1 in the home 4th when Curtis Granderson hit a 2-run home run. All remained quiet until the 7th when Brad Ziegler came in from the bull pen to start the home 7th. He didn’t retire a single Met, giving up 6 hits and 5 runs. That left it to Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia to lock it down. The 9th inning was the cleanest inning Familia has pitched since returning from his suspension.
None of last night’s games were put off because of the weather, although Pittsburgh dealt with a long delay in the 4-0 defeat of the Brewers. Meantime, 3 doubleheaders and numerous single games were postponed as heavy rains pelted much of the east and south. In the most distant corner of the country, the Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners in 13 innings. Short term, it was a win for the Rangers but their bull pen is in shambles not only because of last night’s game but because of the beating they took from the Astros. Houston, easily the class of the AL West as of now swept the Rangers 4 straight in Arlington. Seattle is in bad trouble over the long haul. They have two pitching kings-King Felix Hernandez and King James Paxton but both are on the DL along with starter Drew Smiley. None are expected back any time soon.
By working at top pressure this item should be finished before 2 PM Eastern when the Red Sox face the Twins. Rick Porcello goes for the visitors. Nick Tepesch is the Twins’ sacrificial lamb against Porcello. He hasn’t thrown in MLB all year. Things start to warm up at 4 PM when the Jays face the Rays in St. Pete. The Indians and Royals start a few minutes later. From there everything is under what Stan Lomax used to call “the sodium arc lamps.” It’s a sign of the times when the White Sox meet the O’s. Both starting pitchers are named Dylan. Covey starts for the White Sox, Bundy for the home standing O’s. The Nats send out A.J. Cole against the Phillies. When Joe Ross couldn’t last 5 innings in the Nats’ 23-5 win over the Mets he got a one-way ticket to AAA. That leaves a spot for Cole. The Nats took him in the 4th round 7 years ago. Now 25, he still has but one win against 2 losses in the bigs. The one win came last September against the Mets. The Phillies trot out Vince Velasquez whose 16-strikeout game early last year increasingly looks like a flash in the pan, not a sign of stardom. Jordan Montgomery of the Yankees gets as tough a test as there is tonight. He faces the reigning world champion Cubs in their ballpark. He’s facing Brett Anderson who didn’t last two innings last time out of the gate. Oddly, in the Dodgers-Padres game both starters are named Clayton. The Padres’ sacrifice is Clayton Richard. His opposite number, Clayton Kershaw should have little trouble with the padres’ lineup.0