Yes, Doctor-This Game Really Happened; Minors Madness in Durham-And They Do It Again at 10:30 AM!

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, May 11.

This rarely if ever happens in the major leagues.  Somewhere up in Heaven I can hear the Mets’ icon Bob Murphy say “They win_ the damn thing!”  That’s how the Columbus Clippers’ announcer must have felt after their 13-9 win in 11 innings over the Durham Bulls.

The Clippers, (the AAA Indians) and the Bulls (AAA Rays) had an exciting game going through 10 innings knotted at 3-3.  But a 3-3 10-inning game doesn’t get reported in this space.  What happened next is the stuff that makes this column. The Clippers put up 10 runs in the 11th, and for their part the Bulls put up 6 in their half to make it a 13-9 final. And the best part of all is the two teams have a 10:30 AM game this morning following the nuttiness of last night’s finish.  The stats have barely been compiled as I write this but the broadcasters are getting them, hot off the presses and ready to go (hopefully with a gallon of hot coffee per broadcaster.)

The Bulls, who are now 21-10 were in an impossible position through 9 innings.  Somehow they were out of pitchers at that point and had to resort to position players.  Center fielder  Johnny Field got the Clippers out in the 10th but couldn’t do so again. Incredibly they had only 3 regular pitchers to work with as the game began.  The starter Jacob Faria put on a performance striking out 13 batters but didn’t last 5 innings.  He gave up 7 hits and 2 walks good for 3 runs and was gone in the fifth in spite of the 13 K’s. The next two pitchers got the Bulls through the 9th. I can’t imagine in this era how  any manager could start a game with only 3 pitchers but with 5 of his pitchers on the 7-day DL Bulls’ manager Jared Sandberg did and he paid the price. The outfielder Field, who had hit a home run in the first inning and doubled home a run in the third gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks in the top of the 11th but the fun was just starting. Michael McKenry was the next victim as he gave up 7 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks including a grand slam.  Finally, Kean Wong ended the inning though he walked two men before doing so.  That left the Bulls down 13-3. So, knowing they had a 10:30 start this morning, they packed up and went home, right? Not exactly.  They put up 6 runs including their own grand slam by Patrick Leonard before the final out was registered.

Along with a handful of minor league games to be played in daylight, there will be afternoon baseball in the bigs today.  After a Milwaukee win last night, the Red Sox and Brewers get it on in Milwaukee in today’s earliest big league start at 1 PM. With David Price on the shelf lefty Eduardo Rodriguez has needed to perform as well as he has to keep the Sox afloat.  He gets the start today. The Royals and Rays also have a 1 PM start under the dome in St. Pete. Jason Vargas of the Royals and the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi have done well out of the gate as they square off today.  The rest of the action will be played at night. The Astros and Yankees are the game of the night, with both teams surprising everybody with their hot starts. The Yankees face lefty Dallas Keuchel who shut them out in their last playoff appearance in 2015. But several of these Yankees-Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge in particular-were in the minors when that happened and have replaced a lot of the dead wood the 2015 Yankees carried. Tonight’s starter is Michael Pineda and if_ he’s on his game this could be a classic mound duel.  If not, Keuchel could have another romp like he did in the playoff game mentioned above. Luck has been on Pineda’s side lately as the Yankees have won his last 5 starts whether he got the decision or not. There could be another excellent mound duel in the desert tonight.  The Pirates’ Gerrit Cole faces Zack Greinke of the D-Backs. While Greinke was 13-7 for last year’s woeful D-Backs’ team, his 4.37 ERA (worst in his career) made skeptics think he might be getting a bit long in the tooth.  His start this season has quieted the doubters in the Phoenix area.

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