Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, June 27.
Last night I finished reading a science fiction novel called “The Postmortal” in which a drug called “The Cure” halts the aging process. The main character takes it at age 29. In theory, only people of certain ages should take it. In the novel, the black market doctors will give it to anybody of any age. The book brought into sharp focus something I’ve always known but not thought much about. This great game of baseball is and always will be a young man’s game. There will always be exceptions-Nolan Ryan, Bartolo Colon, Henry Aaron. But the bulk of the players will be young, especially on teams trying not to break the bank.
So into this young man’s world comes Freddy Peralta, a righthand pitcher for the Brewers. He’s 22. I hadn’t heard of him but I have now and soon you and the rest of the baseball world will. Barring the catastrophic injuries to elbows or shoulders that pitchers of any age seem to suffer, Peralta could be a name we hear for many years to come. In two of his 4 MLB starts including the one last night, he gave up just one hit and struck out 10. No Brewer pitcher has done that in an entire career, much less his first 4 starts. Since the Brewers arrived from Seattle in 1970, they haven’t been known for pitching excellence.
The Brewers got Peralta from Seattle in a trade where Adam Lind joined the Mariners. Lind is no longer in the bigs. Peralta was still in the low minors then and few if any thought anything about him. Now, after not giving up a run to the Royals last night, reporters are talking about him. The Brewers hit 3 home runs behind him as they beat the Royals 5-1. The numbers are astonishing. In 22.2 innings he has given up just 7 hits, striking out 35. He made his MLB debut on Mother’s Day at Coors Canaveral, where pitching careers go to die. He responded by giving up just a hit with 13 strikeouts.
A Milwaukee reporter asked the Brewers’ Christian Yellich to compare Peralta with Yellich’s former teammate, the late Jose Fernandez of the Marlins. Of the former rookie of the year, Yellich said he was a very different pitcher. Peralta lives by the sinker and the cutter (cut fastball) where Fernandez lived by the fastball and slider. What Yellich wouldn’t say is, you can’t hang a fastball. A sinker pitcher like Peralta has to put his pitch just where he wants it unless he’s touching 100 MPH. If Peralta is doing that, it’s not being written about. As a boy, Peralta says he played PlayStation and dreamed of pitching like the men on the video game. Only time will tell if he becomes another Luis Severino, Sean Newcomb or Jacob DeGrom, or another Gary Nolan, Don Gullet or Jim Merrit, 3 Reds pitchers felled by arm trouble. None of that trio was pitching at age 30. Meantime the rest of the league will watch recordings of Peralta facing the Rockies, Twins, Pirates and Royals as they try with all their cleverness to figure him out.
The NCAA had to be glad of the weather they got yesterday for game 1 of the 2018 NCAA World Series final round. I mistakenly reported that last night’s game would be delayed. I was unable to find out for certain that the game would in fact start on time. Further, I wasn’t here until the second inning of the game which did in fact start as scheduled. Oregon State’s Luke Heimlich lasted 4 innings and showed how well he can pitch and why the Royals are considering him yet. The Beavers gave their man a 1-0 lead in the second. Michael Gartler singled to left, driving home Trevor Larnach who had doubled into the right field corner. Then in the 5th, suddenly all Heimlich’s dynamite stuff was gone in a blink, it was 4-1 Arkansas and he was gone in favor of Christian Chamberlain.
Writing for the “Oregonian,” reporter Nick Daschel laid the blame on an umpire’s call in the home 4th inning. Base runner Adley Rutschman was called out for interference. Had the call not been made, a second OSU run would have scored. This is a case where older professional ball players make their careers by brushing off situations like this and keep going. For college and minor league players that isn’t the easiest thing to manage. The Beavers never mounted another rally and the Razorbacks scored all their 4 runs in their half of the 5th, directly after the interference call. With one out, Heimlich walked Carson Shaddy and Jared Gates. Grant Koch (Pronounced Cook) singled Shaddy home, tying the score. Heimlich then hit Jax Biggers to fill the bases and plunked Eric Cole to drive Gates home making it 2-1. The Arkansas broadcasters considered what happened next the pivotal moment of the night. Their leadoff hitter Casey Martin, who can “flat out fly” dribbled a slow grounder to second. OSU’s second baseman Nick Madrigal, apparently trying to turn the double play before he had the ball, booted the ball. All hands were safe. Broadcaster Phil Elson who has watched Martin run all season long said Madrigal never had a shot of making the double play with Martin on afterburners. He suggested Madrigal should have taken the sure out. That didn’t happen and the first-round draftee for the White Sox was tagged with an error. Grant Koch scored on the play making it 3-1. That was all for Heimlich. From the bull pen, Chamberlain walked Heston Kjerstad bringing home the 4th and last Arkansas run.
From here, game 2 will proceed at 7 PM Eastern time tonight. Should Oregon State win, game 3 will take place tomorrow night at 6:30 PM Eastern, as reported in “The Oregonian.” If instead Arkansas wins, it will be their first ever national championship in baseball. It turns out that outfielder Luke Bonfield comes from Skillman, New Jersey, not 20 miles from where I write this blog. While he was drafted by the Mets in round 21 4 years ago, nobody has touched him following 4 years in the SEC, one of the toughest baseball conferences anywhere.0