Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Saturday, July 7.
Joey Bats, aka Jose Bautista of the Mets was a proud member of the Blue Jays a year ago when Steve Pearce hit not one but two walk-off grand slams in the same week. Now, when it seemed his career might be done, Bautista has his own walk-off grand slam, the first of his baseball career. He hit the first pitch he saw last night out of the lot at Citi Field with the bags loaded giving the Mets a 5–1 win over the Rays. Jacob DeGrom pitched 8 dominant innings, giving just a home run in the fifth to Willy Adames. But the Mets could only muster a single run driven home by Asdrubal Cabrera. Jeurys Familia pitched the 9th and was in line for the win after getting out of trouble in the top half. When the Mets came up in their half, Todd Frazier walked, Devin Mesoraco singled and Brandon Nimmo was purposely passed by pitcher Chas Roe to get to Joey Bats. While Bautista’s sun may be setting, he had hit 5 grand slams in his career, so it must have been a shock to his pride that Nimmo got a purpose pass in order to get to Bautista. This was his first walk-off home run of any kind, and it came with the bases full.
Bautista is approaching 1500 hits and 340 career home runs going back to 2004. He was a Pirate early on, but Bautista never amounted to much until he joined the Jays. He became the 26th man to hit 50 home runs in a season. That was in 2010. From then until 2015 nobody hit more home runs than he. Bautista is best remembered for his bat-flipping exploit with Toronto during the playoffs against Texas in 2015. He was a consistent All-Star from 2010 until 2015. The famous bat flip came in game 5 of the ALDS after hitting a 3-run home run off the Rangers’ Sam Dyson. The Jays would lose in the next round to the Royals. By 2017 he only hit .203 and the Blue Jays let him go after the season. The Braves took a chance on him but he only hit .143, 5 hits in 35 atbats before being released. The Mets, desperate for offense grabbed him. Last night’s walk-off grand slam was his second home run as a Met. Though he got no decision, DeGrom’s ERA is now a tiny 1.79.
Earlier this week I couldn’t help but notice the pounding the Pirates got from the Dodgers 17–1 in L.A. I wrote it up, assuming there was no way I would be writing up another brutal outing by the Pirates within 4 days. The Buccos came across the country only to be assaulted and battered 17–5 by the Phillies last night in the Pirates’ own house. They’ve lost 4 in a row starting with the 17-1 bludgeoning by the Dodgers. That series was a write-off in the land of fruits and nuts. The win by the Phillies puts them atop the heap in the National League East, the roller coaster division. The Phillies and Braves have both risen to the top after some biblically bad years while the Mets have collapsed and the Nationals have been treading water.
The Pirates’ starting pitcher this time was Trevor Williams. He was gone in the third inning having given up 5 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. The Phillies were just getting going. 5 more Pirates’ hurlers gave up a dozen more runs, making their despairing fans want to hurl. The Phillies put up 18 hits while receiving 10 walks. As bad as the demolition was, the worst part is Pittsburgh is now just a game and a half ahead of the Reds, a team that couldn’t buy a win earlier this season. The game took 4 and a half hours to play. That’s a long game even when it’s a tight battle. When it’s this kind of rout the seconds crawl by. The Pirates thought they had a chance when it was 7–4 Phillies after 6. However, The Phillies scored 7 in the 7th and 3 in the 9th to add insult to injury.
My longtime broadcast partner Jim Lucas made the scene at Wrigley Field yesterday as the Cubs lost to the Reds. Surprisingly, he told me he couldn’t get Old Style beer. I was surprised, since for generations that has been Wrigley Field’s beer. On the company website it says Old Style is still being sold at Wrigley. He won’t be there today but the fans in attendance will see Matt Harvey with the Reds. Harvey may be getting somewhere in his attempt to salvage his career. He has won 3 decisions in a row for the first time since 2015 when he was still a Met. He was dominant last Sunday until a rain delay forced him out of the game in Milwaukee. He faces the Cubs’ Tyler Chatwood who was battered for 7 runs in his last outing. The Phillies’ Jake Arrieta just hopes he gets the kind of support the Phillies were handing out last night. They won 17-5 over the Pirates Friday night. Arrieta faces the Pirates’ Jameson Taillon, who the Phillies victimized for 5 runs the only time they saw him this season. The Yankees send out Luis Severino, the league’s top winner at 13 wins against the Jays and J.A. Happ. Rumors have the Yanks and Jays talking about sending Happ to the Bronx as a badly-needed replacement for Sonny Gray. Sonny got yet another loss last night, his 10th out of the 29 losses his team has. That’s 35% of the team’s losses on one man. The Mariners’ James Paxton goes against the Rockies. Paxton struck out 11 his last time out, making 7 starts where he has double digit K’s. Corey Kluber, who has a dozen wins for the Indians takes on Edwin Jackson of Oakland. Now pitching With his 13th big league team Jackson could write his own version of the old country song “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man.” At Citi Field in New York, The Rays will use one of their few legit starters, Blake Snell against Steven Matz, possibly the only Mets’ starter not rumored to be on the trading block. There has been talk about the Mets unloading Starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom and Zack Wheeler as they hope to restock a dreadful farm system. The Red Sox’ David Price will try to recover from being savaged by the Yankees last Sunday night. He will face the Royals’ Brad Keller, or more appropriately Keller will face Mookie Betts and the Red Sox’ potent bats. Keller’s catcher will have to be a miracle worker to walk him through this start.0