Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, June 20.
Last night’s game in Miami should have been yet another stomping by the Washington Nationals. They came into the game with all the momentum in the world having taken 3 of 4 from the Mets and pretty much clinched the NL East barring catastrophic injuries to Max Scherzer or Bryce Harper. They were starting a series in Miami which is a lovely city with an unlovely short baseball history. The Nats must have figured the Marlins were dead in the water early on. Bryce Harper launched a 2-run home run and Anthony Rendon drilled a solo blast to make it 3-0. With the roof closed, hitters didn’t have to deal with the almost palpable air of Miami. If you haven’t lived down there you can’t imagine air so thick you could almost see it. The score was 6-0 Nats going to the home third. But the Marlins’ faithful didn’t have to wait long for a rally. Somehow in the home half of the third Nats’ starter Tanner Roark had nothing to offer. Justin Bour (pronounced Bore) who had been injured for over a month hit a tremendous grand slam to tie things at 6 all. Roark was finished after that leaving it in the hands of the bull pen in just the third inning. The Marlins’ starter Justin Nicolino barely survived 3 innings. The Nats took a 7-6 lead in the fifth, but in the home 7th Giancarlo Stanton again evened up the score with a solo home run. The Marlins completed the comeback with a Marcel Ozuna walkoff single in the 9th. Until last night their biggest comeback win was against Oakland who had built a 4-run lead against them last week. Unless your team is facing Marcel Ozuna you probably have no idea how good he is. If he was playing for a decent team his .327 average, 18 home runs and 50 rBIs would have him on the All-Star ballot. He’s been a more consistent hitter than Giancarlo Stanton, the one Marlin player whose name might be known outside of Marlins’ Park. Nats’ reliever Enny Romero will be seeing Ozuna in his sleep until he has a good outing and moves on. He gave up the winning hit with the bases full in the home 9th. Dee Gordon walked and stole second to begin the winning rally. He took third on a Stanton infield hit. Christian Yelich drew a walk which loaded the bases setting the stage for Ozuna’s heroics.
A number of opening night games in the New York Penn League were postponed as vicious storms assaulted the New York metro area. I had hoped to hear Brooklyn play Staten Island, but that hope was in vain. The game between the Hudson Valley (NY) Renegades and Aberdeen (Maryland) IronBirds was put off. So was the game between the Connecticut Tigers and the TriCity ValleyCats who play in Troy, New York. The game between Lowell (Massachusetts) and Vermont got going but had to be suspended. Some 2,000 miles away The Pioneer League, a rookie-level league that plays out west opened up last night, leaving only the Gulf Coast League (Florida) and the Appalachian League-two rookie levels-not playing as of now. There’s a full slate in the bigs with the earliest game being the Indians and Orioles meeting at 7 PM in Baltimore. The O’s wish they had been rained out last night considering they were wiped out 12–0 by Corey Kluber and the Tribe. The Yankees face the Angels as they begin to deal with the reality that their top prospect, AAA infielder Gleyber Torres is through for the year. The infielder needs Tommy John surgery, if you can imagine. The braintrust in the Bronx had Torres penciled in for third base before this season was out but now that dream is in ruins. While the injury wasn’t to his throwing arm, rehab for Tommy John surgery is still quite extensive. The Yankees need to bounce back after a disastrous road trip punctuated with defeats and-worse-injuries. The Nationals face the Marlins, and a Miami native Gio Gonzalez takes to the hill for the visitors. His mound opponent is Edinson Volquez, who was 1-7 when he threw a no-hitter on June 3. He’s up to 3-7 now. The question isn’t the Nats’ hitting, even though Anthony Rendon left with pain in his neck last night. Their big question is pitching–see the theme above concerning last night’s game. The Cubs have a seemingly easy assignment hosting the Padres while the first-place Brewers face a sterner test from the Pirates. Boston sends out Chris Sale in Kansas City and he’s worth watching even if the team behind him isn’t. Sale struck out 10 or more men for the 9th time this season the last time he took the ball for Boston. The Rockies host the D-Backs and listeners can hear how the great man does at Coors Canaveral. The Astros send out their top prospect, Francis Martes in Oakland against Sonny Gray who, when he’s right is as good as Oakland can offer. The Tigers send out Jordan Zimmerman against Seattle’s patchwork pitching staff. The Mets go with Robert Gsellman in Los Angeles-they have no choice. If Matt Harvey were healthy Gsellman would be back in the bull pen at best. Zack Wheeler gave his second awful performance in a row, reminding one and all that he’s pitching after two years of enforced inactivity. Though the Mets hit 4 home runs off Clayton Kershaw they still lost 10-6 thanks to Wheeler’s horrific showing-7 runs in 2 innings. Brandon McCarthy goes for the Dodgers. Their big story is Cody Bellinger launching home runs out of sight. He now has 21 home runs in 51 games since coming up from AAA. Last year the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez (remember him?) hit 20 home runs in 51 games. Last night Cody his number 20 off Zack Wheeler in the first and number 21 off Wheeler just an inning later. That’s 5 games with 2 home runs, which only one other Dodger rookie can match-Mike Piazza who is a Hall of Famer. Cody’s dad Clay was a utility player for the Yankees and Angels between 1999 and 2002.