Cubs, Giants, Mets-Last Year’s Playoff Teams Going Nowhere; First Results from Omaha are Mixed

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball this Monday, June 19.

As we’re approaching the halfway mark of the 2017 season we can’t help but notice that the World champion Cubs, along with the Giants and Mets who were also postseason teams in 2016 are going nowhere in 2017.  The Mets, already far behind the Nationals are playing for pride the rest of the way. Jacob DeGrom appears to show the pride you want from a front-end starter, pitching a gem of a win yesterday.  The Mets’ 5-1 win was the only win they got over the Nationals in a 4-game series in New York. They also have injuries to their ace and to their closer.  Their ace was Noah Syndergaard, AAKA Thor who now has a thore arm since he refused an MRI his employer told him to get.  Their closer Jeurys Familia started the season suspended for a domestic violence incident over the winter.  He was hardly back before requiring shoulder surgery on a blood clot.    The Cubs still have a shot because they don’t play in a great division.  The worst of the 3 teams mentioned are the Giants-at 26 and 45 and on a pace to lose 103 games in 2017.

Of course, the Giants can lay it all at the feet of their stud Madison Bumgarner.  They’re a different team if he doesn’t dump a dirt bike while he was on it.  That’s bad enough, but a sore elbow on their closer Mark Melancon which has been sore since April hasn’t helped.  He blew his latest chance for a save yesterday as the Rockies completed a 4-game sweep of the Giants at Coors Canaveral.

Coors Field showed again yesterday why Jim Rome gave it the colorful nickname of Coors Canaveral when it first opened-back when he was still funny.   The Rockies had a 3-2 lead going to the 9th. Sounds like a yawner considering the Giants have the league’s worst offense.  Suddenly the Giants erupted for 3 9th-inning runs to take a 5-3 lead.  Hunter Pence hit a pinch-hit home run bringing in Gorkys Hernandez ahead of him to make it 4-3.  He had never hit a pinch-hit home run as he seldom appears as a pinch-hitter. Only 20 times has he done so in an 11-year career. His victim was Jake MCGee who got taken downtown by Brandon Crawford two nights ago in a game the Rockies wound up winning 10-9. In the 9th inning yesterday after Pence went yard, Joe Panik singled and Crawford doubled him home making it 5-3.  But Coors Field struck again in the last of the 9th. When Melancon came on it was just his third appearance in June and his first in 10 days. He was trying to work around a painful elbow, and let’s face facts: a team this bad seldom needs a closer with or without a bad elbow.  Melancon, once a prime closer for the Pirates gave up 3 singles leading up to a 3-run home run by Nolan Arenado to end the game.  By leaving the lot, Arenado managed to hit for the cycle-having gotten a single, double and triple earlier in the game. The Giants hadn’t allowed a man to hit for the cycle since the unlikely Kelly Johnson back in 2010 when he played for the D-Backs.

The first weekend of the College World Series, or CWS has taken place in Omaha.  Saturday featured two excellent games while neither of yesterday’s games were competitive.  In the first game Saturday, Cal. State Fullerton jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a 3-run first-inning home run and was ahead by as much as 5-1 over Oregon State before the Beavers managed to tie it in the 6th and win it 6-5 in the 8th. When the dust had settled Oregon State had 11 hits to only 3 by the Titans. It didn’t help Fullerton’s cause that the first 3 OSU hitters in the 6th all walked. Nick Madrigal never sang any better than when he hit a scoring fly ball to make it 5-2. Trevor Larnach then brought home two on a single.  Junior Jack Anderson, already sporting two hits on the day tied the game on hit third hit. The Beavers’ catcher Adley Rutschman brought home the winning run after Larnach had singled and Anderson had been hit by a pitch. From the bull pen Jake Mulholland held the Titans hitless during 4.1 innings and got the win. The Beavers hav won 22 in a row and stand at 55–4 as they prepare to face LSU tonight.  LSU also came from behind to win.  Florida State had a 4-2 lead and it was still 4-3 when the Bayou Bengals came up in the home 8th and put across two runs for a 5-4 win.  Like the Titans,  Florida State also got a home run in the first inning, for all the good it did them. So today the two losers from Saturday, Fullerton and FSU meet at 2 PM and the two winners Oregon State and LSU meet at 7 PM.

Yesterday’s doubleheader wasn’t nearly as competitive.  Louisville scored 5 runs on 6 hits in the second inning chasing Texas A&M’s starter Corbin Martin off the hill en route to an 8-4 win. Colby Fitch drove in 4 runs which tied his career best total. The Cardinals, who now stand at 53-10 hadn’t won a CWS game in 10 years.  When they last won the Series was still played at Rosenblatt Stadium.    The Florida Gators then shut out TCU 3-0 with the Gators’ starter Alex Faedo striking out  10 men.  Faedo like the Louisville starter Brendan McKay who won the first game were both first-round draft choices last week. McKay is now 11-3 on the year and 32-10 as a Cardinal.    Sunday’s losers–TCU and Texas A&M meet at 2 PM< while the winners, Florida and Louisville clash at 7 PM tomorrow night.

While today offers a sweet College doubleheader in Omaha, another minor league begins play today.  Over the weekend the short season A-ball Nothwest League began operations for the year.  Tonight the New York Penn League with such teams as the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) and Staten Island Yankees play their first games tonight.  The league actually plays in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut and Vemont in spite of its name-the New York Penn League.  In the majors the Indians send Corey Kluber against the Orioles.  Kluber struck out 10 Dodgers his last time out. The O’s Dylan Bundy has lacked stamina in his last few outings, reminiscent of another famous fictional Bundy. After taking 3 of 4 in the Big Apple, the Nationals take their show to Miami.  Tanner Roark takes the hill for the visitors against Justin Nicolino who hasn’t pitched since the end of May with a bruised finger. As the Giants play their first game in the new ballpark in Atlanta they turn to an old hand-Johnny Cueto-against an even older hand, R.A. Dickey for the Braves. The Pirates’ Gerrit Cole was a merry old soul in has last outing giving up just one run in 7 innings. Whether he’ll be merry after facing the Brewers in their home park is an open question. After decades of being baseball’s disgrace the Brewers for once look like a team that’s going places. The Rangers’ Austin Bibens-Dirkx won for the first time as  a starter last Wednesday and faces Toronto tonight.  His reward is to get his last name spelled right, as compared to how I got it wrong Wednesday. Houston will play late tonight in Oakland.  Brad Peacock is the starter for Houston in the 10 PM game. He faces Daniel Gossett who was bounced around in his first MLB start against the Marlins. The Tigers have recalled Anibal Sanchez who has been struggling at AAA Toledo.  He faces the Mariners’ Sam Gaviglio.  The Mets and Dodgers also play a late one tonight. Zack Wheeler who gave up 8 runs in less than 2 innings last time now has to face Clayton Kershaw.

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