Giants and their AAA Team Both Lose Double-Digit Walk-offs

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball this Friday, June 16.

This doesn’t happen often.  All 3 of the night’s most compelling games took place near or west of the Great Divide. All were won in walk-off fashion and good pitching was lacking in all 3 games.  The oddest thing was that the Giants and their AAA affiliate the Fresno Grizlies both came out on the wrong end of two of the night’s 3 best games while Oakland took the third one from the Yankees in the East Bay.

In the foothills of the Rockies, the Giants and Rockies met at what Jim Rome first called Coors Canaveral. If the Giants didn’t call it that before they may be calling it that this morning.  They were down 9-1 to the Rockies, fought all the way back to tie it 9-9 and found themselves 10-9 walk-off losers. Rookie Raimel Tapia singled off controversial Giants’ pitcher Hunter Strickland driving home Mark Reynolds for the victory. Tapia, 23 has been Rockies’ material since 2010 and was a late call-up in September 2016. In rookie ball in 2013 he had a 29-game hitting streak.  He was with the  Hartford YardGoats in 2016 when the team had no home stadium and played all their games on the road.  He was promoted from that brand of baseball Hell in August.  Last night he was the hero as the team fought back in spite of blowing a 9-1 lead which they held as the 7th inning began. During that inning Buster Posey, who had made two throwing errors early on-hit a two-run home run but hurt his ankle in so doing.  The game was now 9-3 but Posey was done for the night. Only moments later Eduardo Nunez singled and pulled up lame. He had to leave with a hamstring problem, leaving the Giants hamstrung-or maybe not.

How do you even come back to tie from 9-3 down with your two best hitters on the bench? It helps if you’re in Denver where the Rockies’ bull pen have now twice           given up 8 earned runs in a 9-inning game.  Only the Twins and Mariners have done worse. Greg Holland didn’t get his 24th save though he only had a one-run lead to work with. He can thank Jake McGee for that. McGee gave up a 3-run gopherball to Brandon Crawford in the 8th to make it 9-8.  If Holland or his manager are into oldtime radio they could tell Jake “t’ain’t funny McGee,” as my Grandpa would tell me when I made a silly joke. The Giants  nearly took the lead in the 9th but with the score 9-9 Denard Span was thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch. The Giants’ batters bailed out starter Matt Moore who lasted but 3 innings, giving up 11 hits and 8 runs. All were considered earned although Hunter Pence butchered two plays that were called hits by the official scorer in Denver. 4 relievers gave up a total of one run before Strickland began the 9th, got just one man out and gave up the game-winning rally. The Rockies’ Jeff Hoffman might have had an easy win, giving up a run in 5 innings and with his team up 9-1 in the 7th. But once the Giants got going, no reliever-not Scott Oberg, Mike Dunn, Chad Qualls, Jake McGee or even Greg Holland could stop them knotting the game. The way it worked out, Holland got the win after not getting the save.

Meantime in Albuquerque, New Mexico some 460 miles south of Denver by way of I25, the Giants’ AAA team-the Fresno Grizlies were suffering a similar fate as the big league club, losing 12-11 in 10 innings.  By a scheduling quirk the AAA Giants were also playing against the Rockies’ AAA team, the Albuquerque Isotopes-a contender for dumbest name in baseball along with their AA team the Hartford YardGoats and the  Phillies’ AAA team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The Grizlies mauled the home team’s pitching for 6 home runs among the 11 runs but it wasn’t enough. After not scoring in the first two innings the visitors put up 1, 2, 3 and then 4 over the next 4 innings for 10 runs. 8 of them came off starter Barry Enright who lasted into the sixth. Meantime the home team put up one each in the first 2 innings, scored 2 in the 5th to make it 6-4 Grizlies, then rallied hard for 4 runs to  make it 10-8 through  6. They tied it at 10 in the 7th, each side scored in the 9th before the home team finally won in the 10th on a walk-off walk. The former Albuquerque Dukes put up 18 hits on their way to scoring a dozen runs. The Grizlies mashed 15 hits en route to 11 runs, not enough to win this game. The only pitcher to make a name in this one was Carlos Estevez, once a major leaguer who now toils in AAA in spite of a 2.92 ERA. When he was in the bigs his ERA was near 6, more than double what it is in AAA.

Still further west, the Yankees may have done a lot more than lose a ball game 8-7 to Oakland on a walk-off.  They may have lost their catcher Gary Sanchez along with outfielder Aaron Hicks and pitcher Adam Warren due to injury. Warren had a sore arm going in, which nobody knew at gametime.  Both Sanchez and Hicks were hurt in the 9th inning in separate incidents.  Sanchez came up lame after stealing second. Just before that he had singled home the tying run in a game the Yankees had trailed 3-0 early on. Hicks didn’t answer for the bell in the 9th owing to a sore Achilles tendon.  That said, they still gained a 7-6 advantage in Oakland at baseball’s worst ball park, then blew it giving up 2 in the 10th. The A’s Kris Davis hit a two-run single for the win. The Yanks have only one win on a west coast trip that grows bloodier by the day.  In Anaheim CC Sabathia pulled a hamstring and went on the DL.  Then from home came bad news, that Greg Bird could be done for the year for a second consecutive year-this time with an ankle injury. Giovanny Gallegos (said GaYayGos) lost the game but might not have been on the hill at all.  He was because Warren was hurt and both Chasten Shreve and Jonathan Holder were getting mandatory rest days (When did that particular term enter baseball?) I wonder what sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage would say about pitchers getting mandatory rest days when the team is slumping and needs a win desperately. They have to hope Luis Cesa and Domingo German, just called up can do better than Gallegos did in his first try in MLB.

With the Cubs in Pittsburgh, all of Friday’s action will be under the lights. That also goes for the minors, where one short-season league the Northwest League has begun play as of last night. The D-Backs begin the night’s first game in Philadelphia. In New York, Max Scherzer faces the Mets and whenever he does that, a no-hitter is a possibility.  He has one at Citi Field at the end of 2015 and coming off an 8-3 demolition last night, and quite possibly doing without Yoenis Cespedes the Mets are in no position to face Scherzer. I wonder if, because of his great stuff some storage company could change its name to StuffMax and get him to endorse it. All joking aside, his last 4 outs he’s struck out 10 men or more and this outfit strikes out a lot against lesser hurlers. Steven  Matz is his mound opponent. When the Mariners face Texas it’s a matchup of pitchers coming off injuries.  The Mariners start the big Canadian James Paxton who has made 3 starts since coming off a stint on the DL. Tyson Ross of the Rangers hasn’t made an MLB start since April 2016 with the Padres. The Red Sox face the Astros in Houston and this one is special for radio listeners.  Instead of the annoying, nasal shriek of Joe Castiglione at the mike, Roger Clemens will do color commentator along with Tim Neverett, the announcer the Sox lured away from Pittsburgh. Listening to the Rocket will be a lot more interesting than the matchup of Drew Pomeranz and Mike Fiers who hasn’t done much since his no-hitter a few years ago with the Brewers. The Yanks just hope not to lose any more players when they face Oakland, as their disabled list is almost as long as that of the Mets. They face Oakland at 9:30 with the Royals and Angels bringing up the rear half an hour later in Anaheim.

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