Dodgers Scale Rockies and Reach First Place; St. Lucie Mets’ Hitting Assault Continues but They Don’t Win

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, June 26.

Thanks to a 10-game winning streak including a 3-game sweep of the Rockies, the Dodgers find themselves in first place in the NL West.  If the Rockies and D-Backs hold up we’re looking at the most exciting 3-horse race in baseball coming out of that division.  Meantime in A-Ball the St. Lucie Mets scored in double figures again-but lost. That shouldn’t happen in the pitching-rich Florida State League.

When you’re on a 10-game winning streak which the Dodgers are at the moment, you find ways to score and ways to win.  You also take every gift you are offered.  The Rockies’ Adam Ottavino (remember Rick Ankiel?) fired 4 wild pitches in 2 innings yesterday on which 5 Dodgers scored en route to a 12-6 win. It marked a sweep of the series and the team’s 10th win in a row launching them into first place. Up to now the Rockies and D-Backs have been squabbling over first place to the shock of many. Besides the wild pitches Cody Bellinger hit two more bombs in the Dodgers’ latest win. This series happened at Chavez Ravine by the way, not Coors Canaveral.  Sunday was Bellinger’s sixth game of at least 2 home runs and that’s a Dodger rookie record.  One more 2-tater day and he’ll equal 7, the major league rookie record belonging to Mark McGwire who may even have been clean at that point in his life. At age 21 Bellinger has 24 home runs leading his league. The Dodgers have hit 43 home runs in June and have launched at least one long shot in 17 games in a row. Ottavino (not Ankiel or any known knuckleballer) became the first pitcher in 50 years to allow 4 or more runs to score on wild pitches. No team other than yesterday’s Rockies have given up 5 runs on wild pitches since 1920.

Going back to Thursday night, the Florida State League’s Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays) beat the St. Lucie Mets (guess who) 13-10 to start a 4-game series.  No matter how pitching-heavy a league is, one of those games happens every few years.  How to explain Friday night when it was the Mets’ turn destroying the Stone Crabs 19–7. After a quiet Saturday where the Crabs won 6-1 you could be forgiven if you assumed the craziness was done.  Not quite.  The bombardment resumed last night, again with St. Lucie on the wrong end 13-10. The visiting Stone Crabs were dominant most of the way. With the Mets up 5-3 after 3 the visitors exploded for 5 4th-inning runs and 4 more in the fifth after which  they finally found some pitching. The Mets stayed at 5 runs from the 4th until the 8th when they put up 5 to make it 13-10 where it stayed. Although many runs were scored, no ball left the lot at Thomas J. White Stadium in St. Lucie. Like his colleagues on the big league Mets, starter Andrew Church got “Beat up and batted around) as the Tom Petty song goes.  He lasted just 3 innings giving up 10 hits and 8 runs. The next two pitchers didn’t help his cause. Neither did the defense as 2 errors led to 3 unearned runs.  All told the Crabs put up 17 hits to build their 13 runs. St. Lucie registered 40 runs in the series-usually 2 weeks’ worth in that league-and still lost 3 out of 4.  They are receiving help but not on the mound but in another area where they sorely need help. While Tim Tebow only hit .230 at low-A ball in the south Atlantic League he can sell tickets like mad and St. Lucie needs that.  Not even 800 people saw last night’s game and that’s about their usual. I hope what passes for security and ushers can handle the Oklahoma land rush that will come to see Tebow’s first game in the state where he was a football God.

Here’s a baseball oddity-a couple of Monday afternoon games in the majors.  It’s Getaway day as the Phillies finish a 4-game series in Phoenix with the D-Backs. Phillies’ Nick Pivetta has been at his best in his last two starts but that may not be enough as the rookie faces Zack Greinke.

The Reds face the Cardinals at 4:15 today in St. Louis. This is a makeup game, as the Reds come to St. Louis from Washington while the Cardinals had_ an off day scheduled before flying to Phoenix to play tomorrow night.  The Reds’ Brandon Finnegan makes his first start since Mid-April with a shoulder injury.  He only hopes and prays he does better than Homer Bailey in his return from injury Saturday. Meantime the Cardinals can’t be too happy about this scheduling quirk.  They played the Sunday night game against the Pirates and salvaged one game out of a 3-game series with their Central division rival. The disappointing Cubs  face the surging Nationals who look  like the only team outside the NL West that can contend. Eddie Butler starts for the Cubs and that says a lot about why they’re not where they were a year ago. He faces the Nats’ Gio Gonzalez who hasn’t “dealt” like this in 5 years.  If a pitcher is at his best his teammates (and maybe the opponents) say he’s “dealin’.”  I know the feeling from certain broadcasts and even certain columns I’ve written in this space. The Twins’ Jose Berrios has won 4 road decisions in a row but he has a daunting task ahead tonight.  He faces the Red Sox’ Chris Sale at Fenway.  Sale is the one Boston pitcher who has lived up to his billing. Texas welcomes Cole Hamels back after a lengthy stretch on the DL. He doesn’t get a soft test his first time out-he faces the Indians and one of their best, Carlos Carrasco.  The Yankees can only hope to do better in Chicago than they did at home against Texas where they lost 2 out of 3.  The Friday game where they won is a rare win in the last few weeks for the Yankees. Both sides start rookies-the Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery and the Sox’ David Holmberg. In june Montgomery is 3-0 in his starts. The Rockies meet the Giants and if ever there’s a place to get well it’s San Francisco where the Mets just swept 3 straight. The Angels and Dodgers meet in hopefully a better game. Both are late late shows starting shortly after 10 PM Eastern.



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