In Majors and Minors, West is Still Wild and Woolly

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, June 28.

The best games of last night took place in Phoenix and San Francisco at the MLB level and in Everett, Washington in the minors. Who said anybody has tamed the West?

The Giants beat the struggling Rockies 4-3 in 14 innings in spite of a flock of seagulls crashing the party at the ball park by the bay. And I don’t mean the alleged music group “Flock of Seagulls.”  I mean seagulls as in the Hitchcock movie ‘The Birds.”  I mean the kind of seagull Dave Winfield got in trouble for killing a couple of decades ago.  Denard Span, who by his own admission has a phobia about birds scored the winning run in the 14th inning and preferred being dog-piled by his teammates than being approached by any of the area’s wildlife. Span singled home Gorkys Hernandez to end the game. After Hernandez walked, pitcher Cory Gearrin, who had already pitched 3 innings batted for himself and struck out. Span bailed his pitcher out with the game-winning single.  For the Giants, That’s two wins in a row for the first time since May 26-27. As for the gulls, they normally congregate around the park when the fans leave, since fans’ litter is a feast for the birds. They were thoroughly confused to see people sitting in the stands at a time of night when the birds normally have the park to themselves. Sam Dyson, who struggled mightily and was released by the Rangers pitched 2 scoreless innings to help the Giants hold off the Rockies’ potent offense. The visitors from Denver only scored on a 3-run Matt Reynolds home run off starter Matt Cain. This was Gearrin’s second win.  His first was in a 17 inning marathon on a Buster Posey home run last month.

In Phoenix the Diamondbacks were 6-5 winners over the Cardinals in 10 innings on a Chris Herrmann walk-off single.  They were lucky to win considering they made 3 errors in one inning alone leading to 3 Cardinals’ runs.  Down 5-2 in the 8th the D-Backs coiled to strike. Daniel DeScalso singled the first run home and Herrmann collected an RBI on a scoring fly ball. It took a David Peralta home run to level the game at 5-5 and force extras, in which Herrmann got his game-winner.

The true craziness took place in the Northwest League which is short-season A-ball. The visiting Vancouver Canadians  (BlueJays) took a 15-13 win over the Everett AquaSox (Mariners) in one of those indescribable games that can only happen in the minors. The late Phillies’ broadcaster had a saying for games like this: “Hide the women and children.”  No pitcher was safe. The visitors from Vancouver seemed to have the upper hand from the start.  After a scoreless first they notched 11 runs in the next 4 innings and led 11-4 as the home team stepped up in the fifth. The Aquasox showed their share of fight with a run in the fifth and two more in the 6th before erupting for 6 in the 8th making it 13-11.  But the home fans were destined for disappointment as Vancouver tallied 4 in the 9th to take the 15-13 final. The winners registered 15 hits to 17 base knocks for Everett. The Aquasox launched 4 home runs against 1 for the victorious Canadians. The home team walked 10 of their foes, not helping their cause at all. While the visitors took a pounding they only walked 3 men, limiting the damage if you can call it that and giving their batters a chance to bludgeon their way to a win.  Vancouver is 9-4 as they prepare for tonight’s game against Everett who are 6-7 in the young season.
Not fewer than 15 minor league games will be held in daylight on what promises to be a hot June day in  much of America. Owing to technical difficulties earlier in the day, a number of those games have already begun.  Check your local listings for time and radio station or web site. While the majors have a few day games, none begin until 3:30 when the Phillies face the Mariners in Seattle.  The Phillies picked up a rare win last night, 8-2 over the homestanding Mariners. Mark Leiter JR. makes his second MLB start after getting his first win Friday in his first start.  His assignment is a difficult one indeed-to match pitches with Felix Hernandez. King Felix was welcomed back into the rotation as he beat the Astros in his first start since a long stint on the DL. The Rockies and Giants meet at 3:45 after their 14-inning struggle last night. Denver native Kyle Freeland, who has beaten the Giants twice in his rookie year faces fellow rookie Ty Blach who in his last start took the kind of beating most MLB rookies take early on. The rest of the action will take place at night. The Cubs continue their series in Washington, sending vetran John Lackey to face Stephen Strasburg. Stephen reaches back for something extra when he faces the Cubs, considering he has a 1.95 ERA against them in 4 starts. After the Reds and Brewers held an impromptu home run derby last night with the Reds winning 8-6, the Reds hope their rookie phenom Luis Castillo can tame the Brewers’ bats. The Mets hope Steven Matz can do a better job on the hill than Robert Gsellman did last night in a 6-3 loss. He’s facing the former Pirate Jeff Locke who’s been bounced around since joining the Marlins. After absorbing an awful walk-off loss last night in Chicago, the Yankees badly need Masahiro Tanaka to pitch as well as he did Friday against the Rangers.  His 5-7 record and ERA approaching 6 show what he’s done most of the season. His foe Carlos Rodon has been on the DL since the season began. The Cardinals hope Adam Wainwright can bounce back the way Tanaka did Friday night.  They face the D-Backs again in a late game. Bartolo Colon starts for the Braves after a 3-week hitch on the DL.  He meets the Padres, an offense which a man of his experience should handle with ease.

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