Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, July 26.
Cleveland and Seattle hosted last night’s best games in my opinion. While the Royals won their 7th straight they are still a game and a half behind the Indians. The Royals might have thought they had a chance when the Angels tied the Tribe at 7-7 and forced extra frames. But Edwin Encarnacion hit the Indians’ second grand slam of the night to lead his team to a walk-off 11-7 win in 11 innings. The Mariners took 13 innings but finally bested the Red Sox 6-5.
In the second inning of their game in Cleveland the Indians built a 7-0 lead thanks to a grand slam by Bradley Zimmer followed by a solo blast off Michael Brantley’s bat. The Indians chased Angels starter Jesse Chavez with one out in the third. The Angels gave their hosts a fight and Indians’ starter Mike Clevinger didn’t survive the 5 innings needed for a win. A 3-run home run by Kole Calhoun and a 2-run dinger by Luis Valbuena made it a 7-6 game as early as the visiting 5th. Valbuena had earlier singled a run home. Yunel Escobar squared the game at 7 with an RBI hit in the 6th and there the game stayed until Encarnacion’s heroics in the 11th. The Indians’ win was their fifth straight as they hold off a midseason charge for the astonishing Royals. Encarnacion now has 10 walk-off hits in his career, 6 of which have left the park.
The Angels have been here before. Nick Swisher, then playing for the Indians hit a walk-off grand slammer against the Angels in 2014. The Indians haven’t hit two grand slams in the same game since 1999, in an 18-4 demolition of the Blue Jays. This time the second grand slam meant the game.
It’s an open question whether the Red Sox’ losing their game to the Mariners was more or less important than their acquisition of Eduardo Nunez from the Giants. The Sox have been looking for anybody to play third following their horrific mistake signing Pablo Sandoval. While the Sox and Mariners played in Seattle, Nunez was removed from the Giants’ game in San Francisco and the word came out he had been traded for two minor leaguers. Nunez had just doubled home two runs to make the score 8-0 Giants when he got the news. Much has been made lately of the Sox calling up megaprospect Rafael Devers from AAA Pawtucket. Last night was his first game and while he went hitless he played the hot corner well. If Devers sticks at third, Nunez could ease the burden on shortstop Xander Bogaerts who was hit by a pitch on July 6 and has hit .147 since. The Red Sox paid next to nothing for a .300-hitting Nunez, possibly because he will be a free agent at the end of the season. They faced him enough between 2010 and 2013 when Nunez was a Yankee.
The game itself in Seattle had my kind of finish-not just a walk-off but a 2-run walk-off for a one-run win. Red Sox’ catcher Sandy Leon had broken a 4-4 tie in the top of the 13th. However (does this sound familiar, ’86 Red Sox fans) a wild pitch tied the game and an RBI hit by Jean Segura ended things. It only would have been more perfect if Jean Segura’s hit had been a dribbler past the first baseman. After the 5-hour ordeal the Red Sox found themselves dealing with their 4th straight loss and their lead on the hated Yankees is only one game. Through 5 innings King Felix Hernandez looked like the old king and his team built him a 3-1 lead on the strength of a 3-run bomb by Guillermo Herredia. But like Darby’s Castle in the old song, the king’s lead crumbled to the ground following a 3-run 6th. Dustin Pedroia doubled home two runs, followed by an RBI single by Jackie Bradley JR. The home team tied it at 4 on a Mike Zunino home run in the 7th. 7 Mariner pitchers later, Tony Zych gave up the go-ahead run but got the win when the Seattle offense won the game. In perhaps the most beautiful baseball irony the two teams who battled in last night’s longest and latest game have to play at 12:30 local time in Seattle.
As usual there are a bouquet of afternoon games around the majors. Under the dome in St. Pete, the Orioles and Rays meet just after Noon eastern time. The Rays’ Alex Cobb went 8 full innings his last time out, which few pitchers do now. He’s notched 4 wins against a loss in his last 8 outings. Tampa is just 2.5 games behind Boston and are the only other horse in contention in the AL East along with the Yankees. Said Yankees have a 1 PM game with the Reds, the kind of midweek afternoon game I would try to attend when I was an office worker. The long-suffering Homer Bailey of the Reds deals with one of the game’s young pitching stars, the Yankees’ Luis Severino. After an 0–8 year in 2016 I wouldn’t have put a dime on Severino’s chances to do as well as he has. The Braves meet the Diamondbacks in Phoenix in a 3:40 start on Atlanta time. Aaron Blair is back after 18 starts for the Braves’ AAA team in Gwinnett. He faces the D-Backs’ Patrick Corbin. If there’s a good side to the Red Sox’ 3:40 start in Seattle after last night’s 13-inning loss, that silver lining is Chris Sale, today’s starter. If anybody can rest the Sox’ bull pen Sale is the man to do it. Facing Sale, rookie Andrew Moore is far more likely to guide the Mariners onto the rocks than into a safe harbor. The Giants and Pirates also meet in a west coast matinee. From there, the rest of the schedule is played at night. The Astros, the class of the American League look to finish a sweep against the Phillies, the worst in a league with several bad teams. With but 34 wins the Phillies have 10 fewer than Oakland, the American League’s worst team. The Phillies even have 5 fewer wins than the Giants, their closest rival in futility. With 43 and 41 wins respectively, San Diego and Cincinnati also field worse offerings than the worst in the American League. In the Houston game in Philadelphia the Astros turn to Mike Fiers against the Phillies’ Aaron Nola. Both have pitched well of late. The Brewers hope to preserve a narrow lead in the NL Central as they face the Nationals in Washington. The Royals carry their 7-game winning streak into tonight’s game against the Tigers. The Cubs and White Sox meet in a night game following two day games at Wrigley Field. They go downtown to the second Comiskey Park for tonight’s game. The Twins face the Dodgers who have continued to win in spite of Clayton Kershaw’s injury. The Dodgers are the first team to 70 wins this year. The Dodgers in desperation turn to Brock Stewart, who has only made 6 appearances from the bull pen all season long thanks to an injured shoulder. The Mets and Padres meet in tonight’s latest start.0