Yanks and Nats Do What First Place Teams Do–they Win in Extras; LSU and TCU force Extra Games in Omaha

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Saturday, June 24.

The Yankees have a narrow lead on Boston in the American League East while the Nationals practically have the National League East won with a gigantic lead on the rest of the pack.  Both teams showed first-place panache last night, winning in walk-off fashion.  For the Nationals it was Bryce Harper bringing the game to a sudden finish-no news there.  For the Yankees it was Ronald Torais, who spent most of last year on the bench in the Bronnx sending everybody home happy.

It took Masahiro Tanaka’s surprising start to get the  Yankees through 8 innings in an even game with the Rangers.  Just when Yankee fans are ready to unload their inconsistent import with the time bomb in his elbow on any likely sucker, he throws in a game like last night and earns a few more starts. Yu Darvish, another costly import with arm issues also gave his best effort.  The regulation 9 innings finished 1–1 and wouldn’t have except each team scored a run in the 9th after Tanaka and Darvish left.  Darvish struck out 10 Yankees in 7 innings of a game seen nationwide in Japan where the 7 PM Friday US Eastern time start coincided with Saturday breakfasts. Tanaka, whose record is 5-7 and whose ERA is above 6 threw his best game in two months, going 8 innings, striking out 9 Rangers.  He gave up no runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  With the Yankees down 1-0 Brett Gardner tied the game in the home 9th with a home run. Chasen Shreve somehow got past a bases-loaded  mess in the 10th. In the home 10th Gary Sanchez singled and Didi Gregorius did likewise, sending Sanchez to third.  After Chris Carter struck out for the third time in the game, Torais singled to center field bringing home Sanchez for the win. Carter by the way got the bad news after the game.  In the language of the front office he was “Designated for Assignment,” or “DFA’d,” meaning the Yanks have 10 days to move him, send him to AAA or release him entirely.  Yankee fans won’t miss his sub-.200 average in spite of his home run power.  He has turned out to be a poor man’s Dave Kingman earning a rich man’s salary.

It’s the same old boring news from the nation’s capital.  No, nothing about President Trump’s tweets or any other politician’s silliness.  Bryce Harper did it for what seems like the thousandth time.  He hit a walk-off winner, this time a single for a 6-5 10-inning win against the hapless Reds. Raisel Iglesias was the pitcher on the losing end. The Reds had chances to put the game out of reach early on.  In fact they had a 4-0 lead off Stephen Strasburg before the Nats came to the dish.  Somehow, first-place teams deal with this sort of disaster especially if the opponent has the Reds’ notoriously bad bull pen.  4 solo home runs accounted for all but 1 of the Nats’ 5  runs in the regulation 9 innings.   Brian Goodwin hit two of the long balls, plus bombs from more familiar names Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon who make a habit of home runs. The Reds’ Luis Castillo made his MLB debut giving up 2 runs in 5 innings to the first-place team in the NL East. 2 innings later it was a 5-5 tie as Wandy Peralta served up Goodwin’s second home run. All 6 MLB home runs for Goodwin happened after the calendar flipped from May to June. The Reds have given at least one home run to the enemy in 16 games in a row-just one shy of their record going all the way back to the 19th century.

Just when Oregon State looked unbeatable in this year’s College World Series, LSU broke up their 23-game winning streak with a 3-1 win in yesterday’s early game in Omaha.  It’s a double-elimination tournament, meaning LSU would have to beat Oregon State again today to advance to the final best 2 out of 3 series against the winner of TCU vs. Florida tonight.  Oregon State had beaten the Bayou Bengals 13-1 on Monday night but LSU jumped ahead early and a solo home run in the 7th gave them a 3-1 lead they wouldn’t give up.  Zach Hess came out of the LSU bull pen in the 8th and struck out the first 2 men he saw, reaching 8 K’s among the last 8 men he had retired to that point.  Though the Beavers hit the ball after those first two batters no Beaver reached safely against Hess.  In the later game, Florida looked to be in the catbird seat, needing to win just one out of two against TCU who they had shut out 3-0 last Sunday night.  By the way, it was Red Barber-an alum of University of Florida-who coined the phrase “in the catbird seat” for a team in a position of power.  The Gators didn’t stay long in that position as TCU buried them 9–2.  The two meet again at 8 PM tonight, following the 3 PM start between LSU and Oregon State.

Considering they played extra innings last night it’s no surprise the Yankees and Rangers have today’s earliest start, at 1 PM. The Rangers turn to Austin Bibens-Dirkx whose name is so difficult to say it will probably loosen John Sterling’s dentures. His pitches are easier to hit than his name is to say or spell.  Luis Cessa goes for the Yankees. Oakland’s prize rookie Daniel Gossett starts against 35-year-old James Shields who I saw as a boy of 18 while I was with the Charleston RiverDogs. He missed the first two months of the season and got no decision in his first start Sunday. The Jays face the Royals who walked off on them last night.  The Royals go with Jason Vargas, whose 10 wins are tied with Clayton Kershaw for the most wins in the majors. Their tilt begins at 2:15.  From there the next few games begin at 4:00. The Reds and Nats meet in one of those games.   The Reds’ onetime ace Homer Bailey who already missed most of two years had to undergo his third elbow operation in February, and is making his first start of the season as a result. The Rays host the Orioles after walloping them 15-5 last night. Jacob Faria makes his fourth career start for the Rays.  He has won his first 3, gone at least 6 innings and given no more than a run in any of those 3 starts.  He’s only the fifth man since 1913 to manage this. The Cubs and Marlins meet at 4:10 as do the Brewers and Braves. The Indians and Twins are the last 4:10 start.  The Twins have to be hearing footsteps as the Tribe look to take back first place.   The Indians go with Corey Kluber who whitewashed the Orioles 12-0 his last time out. After finally winning a game last night the Mets face the Giants in San Francisco at 7:15 Eastern.  Jacob DeGrom faces Johnny Cueto in that game. Both teams have struggled mightily coming into last night’s 11-4 win by Seth Lugo of the Mets. The Rockies face the Dodgers in a 10:10 PM start at Chavez Ravine. Tyler Chatwood started Sunday’s game with the Giants which was 3-2 Rockies going to the 9th but ended up a 7-5 Rockies’ walk-off. Tonight he faces Clayton Kershaw. The Tigers face the Padres, the Astros and Mariners meet and the Phillies face the Diamondbacks in other late night games.


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