Here is a special bulletin received as this column was about to go to press. Major league baseball lost slugger Lee May last night at age 74. He had over 2000 hits and 350 home runs facing far tougher pitching in larger ball parks than modern hitters do. May played the bulk of his career with the Reds and Orioles. R I P. We return you now to our regularly scheduled column. Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, July 30.
When I wrote of Lexington’s 21-inning victory over Delmarva which began July 13 and ended July 14, you couldn’t have gotten me to bet that I’d be writing about another 21-inning game in the same season. How about another one 16 days later. Last night, in the AA Southern League the Chattanooga Lookouts (Twins) literally walked off against the Birmingham Barons (White Sox) 2-1 on a bases-loaded walk in the 21st inning. This time the game was played from start to finish with no fireworks from above. The Lexington-Delmarva South Atlantic League game, played at Salisbury, Maryland had to be suspended when a violent storm hit during the 20th inning. Last night’s game was played without the stifling heat you can normally count on in that part of the country. In response to the good weather a Saturday night crowd of over 5500 attended the game in Chattanooga. The Barons, who sport a 40-64 record after last night scored their only run in the first inning. the homestanding Lookouts who are 68-37 didn’t score until the 9th and then not again until the 21st. The Barons’ starter Tanner Banks’ pitching was harder to solve than the combination on a bank vault. He left after not giving a run to his foes in 8 innings. In what I believe is a case of a manager overmanaging, Barons’ reliever Scott Snodgrass was taken out with two gone and nobody on in the 9th. His replacement Robinson Leyer promptly gave up the tying run on two hits and a walk. Nothing I’ve been able to locate points to Snodgrass being injured. With the Lookouts out of pitching they put infielder Alex Perez on the hill in the 19th. He had scored the Lookouts’ only run 10 innings earlier. He went two scoreless innings, after which he handed the baton to outfielder Max Murphy who pitched the 21st and now has a win on his record. By the last of the 21st the Barons had no pitching left. Their volunteer was infielder Toby Thomas. Though he struck out his first two batters he walked all of the next 4 to step up, thus ending the game. All told the Barons struck out 21 Chattanooga hitters. Not to be outdone the Lookouts’ pitchers struck out 21 Barons. Their starter Felix Jorge went the regulation 9 innings, an amazing feat especially in the minors where the pitch count is king instead of cotton being king. The Lookouts notched 13 hits and 7 walks-4 of which came in the 21st inning. The Barons could only muster 10 hits and a run with 5 walks in the 21 frames. The two games of 21 innings are the two longest games baseball has seen this year, closely followed by a 20-inning game in the Northwest League on the 4th of July.
The Yankees and Rays play today’s earliest game. The Yankees were busy during the night arranging a deal for Jaime Garcia of the Twins. Only last week the Braves had sent Garcia to Minnesota but the Yankees were able to acquire a capable starter for two lower-level prospects-Dietrich Ennns and Zach Littell. I’d been hearing that other teams wanted such seemingly untouchables as Clint Frazier or even the injured Gleyber Torres. When they take the field today the Yanks turn to rookie Jordan Montgomery against the Rays’ Jacob Faria. Both have dealt with the growing pains any MLB rookie gets. Montgomery looked masterly the last time he took the ball, not giving up a hit until the 6th. The Jays’ Cesar Valdez starts against the Angels. Valdez won for the first time since 2010 the last time he started. The Angels’ Jesse Chavez gave up 7 runs in 2+ innings in a game the Angels lost in extra innings to Cleveland. The Reds’ rookie Luis Castillo faces Dan Straley whom the Marlins have been looking to trade without success. Justin verlander faces the Astros today in what could be his last start with the Tigers. Now age 34, Verlander began to make his name at Old Dominion, a school best known for early women’s basketball star Anne Donovan who ruled the college basketball roost from 1979–1983. Verlander’s storied pro career began as the Tigers’ first pick, second in the country in the 2004 draft. The Tigers were so awful then that Verlander reached the show just a year later and has been a Tiger and only a Tiger since then. He’s seen them go from awful to the World Series in 2006 and 2012. His Tigers were kept out of the 2013 World Series by the eventual champion Boston Red Sox. If he’s traded, whoever gets him will have to deal with two more years on his contract. The Braves meet the Phillies at 1:35 after an extra-inning game last night where the Phillies’ Ty Kelly put up the game-winning hit. The Nationals will go with rookie Eric Fedd who is making his MLB debut in the first game of a split doubleheader in DC. He faces the Rockies’ rookie Kyle Freeland. Game 2 will be at 7:05 PM but is not the ESPN Sunday night game. The Cubs and Brewers finish their weekend series in Milwaukee this afternoon. The D-Backs send Taewon Walker to the hill against Lance Lynn who may soon be leaving St. Louis by way of a trade to who-knows-where. The Giants and Dodgers are the ESPN game at 8 PM. When the schedule was drawn up nobody imagined how awful the Giants might be or how little help Madison Bumgarner would be. Since returning from his idiotic dirt bike wreck his velocity has been notably lower than when he was at his peak. Before the wreck he regularly hit 92. Now he’s lucky to hit 90 and that means a lot in the majors.