Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, July 28.
I doubt any decent salami can be had if you go north of the border, but last night the Jays’ Steve Pearce launched a stirring walk-off grand slam home run or grand salami to lead his team to an 8-4 win. Meantime in New York, an 11th-inning solo shot by Brett Gardner led the Yankees to a 6-5 win over the Rays.
Does it seem like we’ve been here before? Wednesday night the Jays won their third in a row over visiting Oakland on 2 9th-inning bombs. Yesterday afternoon Kendrys Morales, who had homered Wednesday night for the win tied this game at 4-4 with a 9th-inning solo shot. It was incidentally his second bomb of the game and 20th of the year. An inning later, Steve Pearce hit a walk-off grand slam for a 10-inning win and a 4-game series sweep. It was a weird game even without the Hollywood finish. In the 5th inning Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (a former catcher) and his battery of pitcher Marcus Stroman and catcher Russell Martin were ejected by sutstitute umpire Will Little. Stroman had walked a career-high 6 men when he got the thumb. This set him off so that he charged the plate. Heaven only knows what might have happened if his battery mate didn’t grab him. As John Sterling used to say “Russell has the muscle.” This he used in order to restrain Stroman. In so doing he drew the wrath of the umpire who thumbed him as well as the pitcher and manager. In the last of the 10th Oakland’s Liam Hendricks walked all 3 men who reached before Pearce’s blast. In 40 years in Toronto the Jays had never known two wins in a row each on walk-off home runs. In that time, only George Bell in 1988 and Greg Zaun in 2008 had managed to hit walk-off grand slams in Toronto uniforms.
Later in the evening, the Yankees found themselves trailing the Rays 5-4 as they entered the 9th. CC Sabathia had done them no favors by neither holding an early 3-0 lead nor surviving the 5th inning and putting them in a hole against the Rays’ Chris Archer. Tampa’s ace was able to strike out 10 Yankees in his 6 innings on the hill. By the 9th it was 5-4 when Brett Gardner, who takes a lot of heat from social media about being aged and slow hit a 3-bagger to start the inning off. After the next two batters (faded and died) in the lingo of Ring Lardner, Gary Sanchez drove Gardner across the plate to knot the contest at 5 all. Sanchez had hit a solo home run, his 15th earlier but this RBI meant the game. Two innings later, the third pitch Gardner saw was hit far into the distance and the voice of Frank Sinatra boomed through the night, emblematic of a Yankee win.
Is it the ball, modern science or lack of pitching ability? Wednesday night we saw the Marlins wipe out the Rangers 22-10. Yesterday the Nationals slaughtered the Brewers 15-2. Said Nationals had won an infamous game 23–5 earlier in the season against the Mets. In yesterday’s game they hit 4 home runs in a row and a total of 5 gopher balls in the 3rd inning alone. For the game Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman each unleashed two home runs of the team total of 8. I mentioned the possibility of Brewers’ starter Michael Blazek flaming out but I had no idea he would turn into the “Hindenburg” in the third inning. Nobody in history had hit 5 home runs in one inning. 4 had been done, even 4 in a row which Arizona did in 2011. Brian Goodwin was the first, followed by Wilmer Difo, Harper and Zimmerman. After Daniel Murphy flied out (to a chorus of boos) and with Blazek still shell shocked on the hill Anthony Rendon hit the inning’s fifth and last home run, his career-high 21st making it 8-0 Nats. That was finally curtains for Blazek. Only 9 pitchers have given up 5 home runs before getting the hook, and the last pitcher to face that form of torture did it 7 years ago. An inning later the nats put up 6 more runs including bombs by Zimmerman and Jose Lobaton off Brewers’ reliever Wily Coyote Peralta. It was almost like a cartoon, so you might as well have fun with it. The Nats had once hit 8 home runs in a game but it happened in 1978 when they were the Montreal Expos. With yesterday’s game in the books, the Nats have scored 15 or more 3 times and 10 or more 18 times, which means they have done it in 18% of the team’s 100 games. The Nats are 61-39 in those first 100, a record the team hasn’t achieved since the move to Washington.
Across the board, nobody in the majors or minors starts playing before 5 PM this evening. The 5 PM games are the first games of doubleheaders made necessary by rain in different minor league cities. The first MLB game is in Philadelphia where the braves come calling. With Jaime Garcia traded Teheran is easily the best pitcher Atlanta owns. He faces Jeremy Hellickson whom the Phillies have been actively shopping. The Nats face the Rockies in Washington, where yesterday’s home run barrage occurred. I thought it should be noted that the Nats unloaded all those home runs somewhere other than Coors Canaveral or Wrigley. The Rays send out Austin Pruitt against Masahiro Tanaka, who along with CC Sabathia have been concrete blocks around the Yankees’ necks keeping them from staying in first place when they were there. The Astros welcome Dallas Keuchel back after a long stretch on the DL as they face the Tigers in Detroit. He has dealt with pain in his neck going back to early June. He faces the Tigers’ Jordan Zimmerman. In Boston, David Price should have started tonight but his elbow is acting up again so he’s back on the shelf. Rick Porcello will face the surging Kansas City Royals. The Cubs face the Brewers in Milwaukee. The visitors go to Jose Quintana who has been dynamite in his first two starts for the north side team. He faces the Harvard-educated Brent Suter. His Ivy League credentials aren’t good for much in a game where a teammate may say “Quit thinking-you’re hurting the team.” Out west the Twins try out Jaime Garcia, their new acquisition from the Braves as they face Oakland. The A’s Daniel Gossett has their only win in the last 7 games-a win he picked up Sunday in New York. Meantime the Mets have to begin life without Lucas Duda, gone for a bargain basement price to the Rays. He and Wilmer Flores were the two holdouts from the Mets’ awful run from 2009–14. The Mets face Rafael Montero who first joined them in 2014 but has never flourished. The Pirates meet the Padres in another late game while the hideous Giants face the incredible Dodgers. Alex Wood, 11-1 on the year takes the rotation slot vacated by the injured Clayton Kershaw. His team has won 5 in a row going back to before he went down.