Minors Present Fans with Noteworthy Stuff; 5 in 9th lead AAA O’s to Victory, Two 1-0 Games in the same doubleheader

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, May 26.

It’s a rare all-minor-league edition today.  In a game dotted with once and future big leaguers, Norfolk (AAA Orioles) defeated Toledo (AAA Tigers) 9-7 sparked by a 5-run 9th inning. Meantime in A-ball there was a doubleheader where the winner swept the loser and won both games 1-0 which is a rarity in today’s more high-scoring game.

The Norfolk Tides had broken out to a 4-0 lead only to have Toledo take a 7-4 advantage into the 9th inning in Toledo. Enter Bruce Rondon, who hadn’t succeeded as the Tigers’ closer and was back in AAA.  He got the first 2 men out but it was downhill from there. With two on Robert Andino doubled them home to make it 7-6.  Andino reached the majors as early as 2005 but I remember him during the 2015 season in the independent Atlantic League with the Somerset  Patriots who play not far from where I’ve been living. He was briefly with the Marlins near the end of last season and is considered infield depth by the Orioles. Following his double, Chance Sisco singled him home to tie the game at 7. Sisco at 22 is the other end of the spectrum from the 33-year-old Andino.  Sisco was a second-round draft choice 4 years ago by the O’s out of high school and won a batting title in only his second pro year.  With Matt Wieters gone to Washington, Sisco could be a future Orioles’ catcher. Craig Gentry doubled home Sisco, then scored after a steal attempt led to a throwing error. Donnie Hart got the win out of the Norfolk bull pen.  You may remember him from a 13-inning Orioles’ win at the big league level where I referenced the old song “You Gotta have Heart.” Former big leaguer Chris Dickerson had 3 hits and Pedro Alvarez, the former Pirates’ slugger homered for the Tides.

You won’t know the names but this story is noteworthy in this homer-happy culture.  In the Florida State League of A-ball, the Palm Beach Cardinals beat the Lakeland Flying Tigers 1-0, then did the same again in game 2 of their doubleheader.  This is a rarity at any level.  The 1969 Mets once beat the mighty Pirates 1-0 in each game of a doubleheader with Tom Seaver and Don Cardwell, the pitchers each driving home the only run.  In game 1 of yesterday’s double bill in Lakeland, each team only had 2 hits but the Cardinals managed a run in the second inning to win by way of a home run. Casey Turgeon, the Cardinals’ third baseman launched one out of the park at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. No Cardinal in the lineup was hitting over .285, while the Tigers only had one .300 hitter.  Once you get down to the 6 spot in the order and below you get a lot of hitters on both sides who are struggling to reach or stay above the Mendoza line. As fate would have it, the winning pitcher was one Derian Gonzalez, who even after a 2-hit gem still sports an ERA over 5. Those are rare in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.  That game was played in a snappy  hour and 36 minutes. The hitting was not much better in game 2.  The Cardinals only managed 3 singles in the game but scored a run in the first inning and it stood up.  The Tigers had but 4 hits in the second game. The Cardinals’ Ryan Helsley went the 7-inning distance yielding 4 hits while striking out 11.   Imagine, two complete game wins in the same night.  The  bull pen probably bought dinners at McDonalds for the two starters. The second game was also played at a lightning pace, ending in an hour and 35 minutes.  The sad fact is only 341 people saw the twin gems, two games that would have made John McGraw or Ty Cobb proud.

Today in the majors, the earliest start is at 5 PM when the Tigers and White Sox meet for a doubleheader in Chicago. The Mets send out Jacob DeGrom in Pittsburgh.  They pushed him back a day fearing bad weather last night in New York.  The rain never came but another loss did, thanks to Rafael Montero who along with Kevin Plawecki have to join Rudi Meoli in anybody’s list of worst alltime major leaguers. Montero threw an obscene 45 pitches in the first inning alone and only survived 3 innings against the league’s worst offense, the Padres.  Rafael, there’s a cab needing a driver and  you’re elected. DeGrom haces Chad Kuhl (pronounced Cool) whom the Mets haven’t seen. The Yankees host Oakland.  After being destroyed by Houston and the Rays, if Masahiro Tanaka can’t get past Oakland he needs either a surgeon or a new line of work. The Padres, who are walking tall and proud after taking 3 from the Mets will get a nasty dose of reality tonight as they face the Nationals and max Scherzer. Cy Young winners feast on offenses like the Padres. The Royals face the Indians in Cleveland.  Ian Kennedy only lasted two innings Sunday, and he faces the Indians’ Mike Clevinger who had a no-hitter through 6 the last time he took the hill. He got an extra day’s rest as last night’s Indians’ game was rained out. The Mariners, who like the Mets have a patchwork pitching rotation will send out Yovani Gallardo against the Red Sox.  Gallardo gave up 10 runs and didn’t survive the third inning against the White Sox. He faces Eduardo Rodriguez who, excellent as he has been is probably pitching to keep his job considering David Price is coming back. The Cubs flew to Los Angeles dressed as characters in the long-forgotten movie “Anchorman.”  Jake Arrieta will hope to be their anchor tonight against the Dodgers’ Alex Wood.  One of Arrieta’s two career no-hitters was thrown at Chavez Ravine in 2015. For his part, Wood hopes to stay in the rotation even if Rich  Hill has gotten past the blister problems he has dealt with going back to last summer. The latest game of the night features the Braves and Giants in a game of two of the sadder offenses in baseball. Turn this on and you won’t need Ambien.  Uber drivers, don’t listen to this game while driving. zzzzzzzzzz

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