21 is a Blackjack Win and a Lexington Winner;

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Saturday, July 15.

With legalized gambling sweeping the country over the last few decades, almost everybody knows that 21 is a winner in the game of blackjack.  21 is a number you’ll rarely hear in baseball unless you’re talking about a slugger’s home run total over a good stretch.  But starting Thursday night and ending last night, the South Atlantic League’s Delmarva Shore Birds ( Orioles) hosted the Lexington Legends (Royals) in a 21-inning game won by the Legends 7-6.  It was the season’s longest game, topping a 20-inning tilt on the 4th of July when Boise bested Eugene 7-5.

The Shore Birds play in Salisbury, Maryland on the Delmarva peninsula.  The area is known for storms that can either call an early end to or cancel a game outright. The storm that hit on Thursday night only hit after 20 innings had been played between the two teams with the game even at 6. Unlike many of these marathon games, neither team scored in extras until the 21st.  Lexington had all their runs on the board before the 7th-inning stretch. Delmarva was behind 6-5 in the last of the 9th only to tie the score.  They didn’t score for the next dozen innings. The Birds might have called it a night much earlier but for poor play in the fifth inning.  Their pitcher walked the first two men he saw.  Yeison Melo then singled.  Birds right fielder Jake Ring couldn’t field it and the ball went to the fence bringing two runs home.  The relay throw was air-mailed allowing Melo to score making it 5-2. The Birds tied it at 5 before Lexington’s Angelo Castellano homered in the visiting half of the 7th. With the game tied at 6 play was stopped by rain at 12:55 and the game was suspended only 12 minutes later.  When the game began again last night, the Legends’ Martin Gasparini led off with a home run to provide the winning margin.  When all was said and done, the teams combined for 35 hits and 50 strikeouts. In another oddity for a game of this length, no position players took the mound.  The Legends were lucky enough to get 5 innings each out of relievers Justin Camp and Vance Tatum. Those two relievers struck out 8 hitters each in their prolonged outings. Six Shore Birds had multi-hit games in the kind of game that I’ve heard described as a “one game slump.” Cole Billingsley and Milton Ramos each had 3 hits while 4 others had 2 each. On the other side of the coin Legends’ Khalil Lee struck out 8 times, Joe Dudek 6 times and Gabriel cancel 4. For the home team Milton Ramos and Stuart Levy struck out 4 times each. Both catchers went the distance. Down a run in the last of the 21st the Shore Birds hit into a double play ending the team’s longest game by innings.  Twice they had played 19-inning affairs-once in 2000 and once in 2011. Thanks to computers we know that 624 pitches were thrown during the 21 innings. Only one South Atlantic League game ever went longer.  Back in 2006 Lakewood beat Hagerstown 8-7 in 22 innings.

Arguably the game of the night in the bigs also took place in Maryland-at Camden Yards where the Cubs edged the Orioles 9-8. The game, which was delayed almost an hour at the start featured 7 home runs, 5 by the Cubs.  4 of those came early as the Cubs built an 8-0 lead by the home third inning. Following an Orioles’ comeback Addison Russell untied the game in the visiting 9th with the game’s last home run. The O’s had tied it in their half of the 8th on a 2-run home run by Mark Trumbo. The Cubs had made their share of news by acquiring lefty starter Jose Quintana from the White Sox while only giving up 4 minor leaguers. The plan is for Quintana to carry the mail tomorrow afternoon. The Cubs’ Mike Montgomery might qualify for the Joe Ross award by not surviving 5 innings while his team had an 8-0 lead.  Ross of the Nationals didn’t last 5 back in May when his team beat the Mets 23–5.

None of today’s major or minor league games begin earlier than 4 PM. Coming off a terrible loss last night the Yankees face the Red Sox in Boston again. Momentum in baseball is only as good as your next starting pitcher, and in the Yankees’ case that’s Luis Severino.  He struck out 10 Brewers his last time around and was an All-Star for the first time. He draws a tough opponent in Chris Sale. His 178 strikeouts is the most before the All-Star break in 15 years. He’s also 6-1 at Fenway, giving lie to the myth that lefties can’t win there. All other games will be played under the lights.  Tigers’ all-star Michael Fulmer faces the Blue Jays in a 6:10 PM start in Detroit. The Pirates send out Jameson Taillon against the Cardinals.  Taillon missed his last start with food poisoning while the Cardinals probably still have stomachaches following the Pirates’ walk-off win on a 3-run home run last night. The Mets go with Seth Lugo after their 14-2 demolition of the Rockies last night. After the Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first the Mets put up 2 in the second and 6 more an inning later. They supported Jacob DeGrom with 14 runs and 19 hits on his way to his 10th win. The Dodgers’ Alex Wood puts his 10-0 mark on the line in Miami against the Marlins.  Yaciel Puig hit two home runs including one in the 9th to break a 4-4 tie and ultimately give the Dodgers the win. The Nationals’ Max Scherzer who started the All-Star game takes the hill tonight in Cincinnati. The Giants’ Madison Bumgarner returns to the hill after an amazingly quick recovery from serious injuries suffered crashing a dirt bike on April 20.   He gets what amounts to another rehab start for his first time out as he faces the Padres. It can safely be assumed he’ll be on a pitch count.  Giving the sorry state of the Giants I for one think he would do himself and the team a service not to pitch again until next spring training.

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