Something There Is That Loves a Baseball Brawl; Twins Adrenalin Runs Out against Astros

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, May 30-the original Decoration Day.

For some reason, baseball brawls can be as memorable if not more so than the games during which they occur.  In 1973, Pete Rose decked Bud Harrelson during an NLCS game the Mets were en route to winning 9-2.  Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS wouldn’t be memorable if the Red Sox’ Pedro Martinez hadn’t left Yankees coach Don Zimmer laying in a heap in the Fenway dirt.  Who remembers the actual game in which Juan Marichal tried to decapitate John Roseboro with a bat? The game itself is forgotten.  Marichal’s thuggery isn’t.  Yesterday was another mundane game in San Francisco.  The Nationals, perhaps the game’s best team were ahead 3-0 on the Giants who probably have one of the worst offenses.  Yawn, snore, click the remote to some other channel. That is, until Giants’ reliever Hunter Strickland dotted Bryce Harper (plunked him with a pitch on his right hip.)  Harper, a possible face of the game took the mature way and forgot about it.

NAH, of course he didn’t.  He charged the hill and unleashed his batting helmet in the general direction of Strickland. In spite of the fact that few if any effective punches were landed the crowd lost their collective mind as usually happens during baseball brawls. Strickland clearly lost his, since it took 3 of his teammates to escort him off the field after being ejected.

Apparently, Strickland keeps a little black book and it doesn’t contain names of friendly women in different cities.  His proverbial “little black book” may have only contained one name-Bryce Harper.  IT happens that Harper launched two gigantic home runs off Strickland when the pitcher was a rookie in 2014. This sort of thing is as old as baseball itself.  Pitchers going back to Dizzy Dean took down certain names of hitters they would deck given the chance.  Outfielder and noted baseball villain Ty Cobb’s little black book must have been the size of a phone directory and contained most of humanity. Even umpires have been known to take down names of hitters or pitchers they have taken a disliking to. In Strickland’s case, one of Harper’s home runs in particular made him channel the spirit of his fellow Georgian, Cobb.    Harper stood and admired his handiwork as his home run splashed into McCovey Cove in game 4 of the 2014 NLDS. Since Strickland is a relief pitcher and the Giants and Nats seldom meet, he held onto the memory of that home run until yesterday. Harper said he didn’t remember the 2014 incident until he was struck by Strickland’s 98-MPH heater. While Strickland pleaded injured innocence, the facts are he hadn’t hit a man all year and had only hit 4 batters since reaching the bigs. Harper and Strickland seem certain to feel the wrath of Joe Torre, baseball’s vice-principal of discipline.  Oddly, the Giants’ Hunter Pence may also be in trouble. Pence is on the DL, and as such apparently wasn’t supposed to appear on the field even to separate Strickland and Harper.  But there he was, apparently figuring he’s already on the DL, how bad can a suspension be.

Yesterday, the main headline was about Sunday’s 15-inning Twins’ loss to the Rays and how the Twins had to play a game yesterday afternoon following the marathon.  For a while, it seemed like the home standing Twins might eke out a win.  They were ahead 8–2 after 7 innings over the visiting Astros.  Then all at once they were out of gas, particularly their pitchers who had been taxed to the limit on Sunday. The Twins got 7 innings out of Ervin Santana who only allowed 5 hits and one earned run.  But in 2017, 8 or 9 innings is too much to ask even on a day when it was desperately needed. The first reliever, Ryan Presley left the building having given up 5 earned runs in 1/3 of an inning. Two more relievers, Craig Breslow and Matt Belisle by name gave up 3 runs each in the Astros’ 11-run 8th inning. The last pitcher Drew Rucinski  gave up 5 hits and 3 more runs in the 9th. For this, he got a one-way ticket to AAA Rochester, an even more dismal place than Minnesota if that’s possible.

Houston joined the National League as the Colt .45s in 1962.  From then on the Houston franchise was 0–659 if they started the 8th inning losing by 6 runs or more.  The Astros had put up a snowman in the 8th (8 runs) even before Carlos Beltran’s 3-run blast to make it 13–8. The Astros hadn’t put up 11 in an inning in 23 years.  At that time the Cardinals were their victims. The Twins had given up that many as recently as 2007 against Toronto.

The baseball world received bad news yesterday.  The Angels’ Mike Trout needs surgery for a torn ligament in his thumb.  He’ll miss at least 2 months.  The part I don’t get is this.  The Angels have put him on the 10-day DL, not the 60-day version.  they should skip the kidding around  and go right to the 60-day DL.  The man will be good for nothing 10 days from now, same 20, 30, 40 or 50 days hence. Besides Trout’s injury, there’s a full slate of MLB games all due to be played tonight. Five minor league games will be played in daylight.  Owing to an unavoidable commitment I can’t go over tonight’s major league slate as I normally would.

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