The King is Gone, Long Live the Mariners; 8 Isn’t Enough for Minor League Orioles

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, August 9.

There are different ways of continuing to play baseball when a major piece of your team is snapped away from you by injury.  When the Mets’ ace Noah Syndergaard got hurt in May, his teammates folded, quitting on their manager, their fans and worst of all quitting on themselves. Ditto the Giants when Madison Bumgarner took his infamous dirt bike ride to Oblivion.  Flip the coin.  The Dodgers lost Clayton Kershaw, perhaps for the season.  They got another starter and kept winning. Clayton Who?  Then there’s the middle ground.  While nobody would confuse the Mariners with a playoff team you can’t call them a pack of quitters.  This is the second time this season they found out they would have to live without their ace, King Felix Hernandez.  This season was already a lost cause for the King as he was out for much of the early part of the season with an arm injury.  Now he’ll lose at least another month with shoulder trouble-the Black Death as far as pitchers are concerned. But unlike the Mets and Giants the Mariners play on and try to be respectable even with their ace on the shelf.  Last night in Oakland Leonys Martin hit a tie-breaking home run in the 10th leading his team to a 7-6 win over the A’s.  Oakland had built a 5–1 lead after 3 innings.  Kris Davis had hit a 3-run home run and tripled home another run for the home team.   Refusing to surrender,  the visitors didn’t send their bats back to the hotel for the night. They scored in 5 of the next 7 innings, most importantly the go-ahead run in the 10th. The only time they put up more than one run in an inning was in the 6th on a 2-run double by Ben Gamel. Neither starter did well and both were lucky to survive 5 innings.  The Mariners’ starter Ariel Miranda gave up all 6 Oakland runs while their starter Kendall Graveman, just back from AAA surrendered 4 runs to the Mariners.

Oakland’s defense did them no favors, with both shortstop Marcus Semien and third baseman Matt Chapman air-mailing throws and Matt Joyce doing a Cespedes on a simple single which went for two bases. All the errors led to Seattle runs which made it possible for them to win.

In the 1980’s there was a forgettable sitcom called 8 Is Enough.  It is only remembered today when some team blows an 8-1 lead and loses.  That was the fate of the Delmarva Shore Birds, the Orioles’ class A South Atlantic league team.  They built an 8-1 lead after 2 innings of a scheduled 7-inning game, the first of a doubleheader against the Hagerstown Suns which are the Nationals’ entry in that league. By scoring 4 in each of the first 2 innings Delmarva put themselves in position for an easy victory at home which would end a 9-game losing streak and possibly give them momentum enough to sweep the doubleheader.  But the visitors had other ideas. They started small with a run in the third, then put up 3 next inning to make it 8-5.  a 4-run 6th made the difference. The unlikely hero was the 9 hitter in the order, shortstop Paul Panaccione. A .211 hitter, he put up 2 hits, both home runs and knocked in 5 runs. One of his shots was a 3-run homer, the other a 2-run jolt in the 6th. The Suns’ starter Ben Bramer took the fall, giving up all 8 Delmarva runs in just 2 innings of work.

The highlight was a ringing double with the bases full by Jake Ring to score 3 of the 4 first-inning runs.  An inning later Preston Palmeiro doubled home a pair and Collin Woody launched a 2-run home run making it 8-1 but that’s all the runs the Shore Birds got. The Suns’ bull pen in the form of Kyle Simmons and Ben Held provided 5 scoreless innings allowing their side to make their comeback. For the Shore Birds, their starter Matthias Dietz lasted but 4 innings in spite of the early 8-1 advantage.  He had given up 5 runs by the time he left. Steven Klimek and Jake Bray did no better, giving up the game in the end. The Suns went on to sweep the doubleheader with an 8-5 win in game 2.  The Shore Birds have now lost 11 in a row.

6 minor league games will be played in daylight today, the most interesting one to me being the AA game where the Trenton Thunder (Yankees) play the Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies) at Noon in Hartford.  As for the big boys they play their share of day games on this Wednesday afternoon.  The earliest is a Noon affair in Cleveland where the Rockies and Indians do battle. The Rangers and Mets also meet at High Noon. The Mets finally won a game, beating Texas 5-4 last night.  They must have been relieved to see the Dodgers leave town after this weekend’s demolition. Martin Perez, who has lost his last 4 starts  pitches for Texas against Rafael Montero whose work had been improving against all odds until his last couple of starts when he regressed to the Montero Mets’ fans have known since 2014. If the game weren’t being played at Citi Field with its large dimensions this would have the earmarks of a slugfest.  Later in the afternoon the Mariners face the A’s at 3:30 Eastern time in Oakland. The Orioles face the Angels in a start at the same time as the game in Oakland begins. The Angels’ rookie Troy Scribner who was battered for 5 runs in 4 innings against Oakland his first time out will try it again today facing the Orioles. The Cubs and Giants have a west coast matinee at 3:45 Eastern. Both starters Kyle Hendricks and Madison Bumgarner have underperformed in 2017 though MadBum went about ruining his year in a more spectacular way than Hendricks. The Cubs’ starter hasn’t got the scars from a dirt bike crash that Bumgarner has.  He has no sexy excuse for why his season has gone to the dogs. The Yankees, after taking 3 steps forward took another large stride backward last night with CC Sabathia being removed complaining of pain in his always cranky knees after only 3 futile innings. Today it’s Masahiro Tanaka’s turn.  He too is coming off yet another loss. The Jays try their luck with Nick Teppish who they recently got from the Twins.  This is his first effort for the Jays. The game in Detroit might be the night’s best pitching matchup as the Pirates’ Ivan Nova faces Justin Verlander.  I wouldn’t have said this while Nova pitched for the Yankees.  He turned out to be one of many who can’t do the job in New York but performs like an ace for a small market team with more charitable fans. After the Tigers couldn’t peddle him at the trade deadline Verlander struck out 10 Orioles the last time he pitched. The Twins turn to the amazing Bartolo Colon against Milwaukee.  Colon, who was talking retirement two weeks ago pitched a complete game in his last start.  It was his first win for the Twins, who are the 10th team he has won at least one game with. He faces the Brewers’ Brandon Woodruff who made his MLB debut last week. He was born in 1993, which was Colon’s first year playing pro ball. Woodruff played college ball at Mississippi State where he faced the likes of Vanderbilt and University of Florida, both of whom make bids to reach the College World Series more often than not, so he’s no stranger to stiff competition. The Dodgers send Alex Wood into battle against the D-Backs and former Dodger Zack Greinke in the night’s latest game at 9:40 PM Eastern.

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