Catcher Mathis Pitches-The Twelfth of Never has Arrived

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, July 9.

After winning by a score of 20 to 5 over the Padres on Saturday night, the D-Backs could only register 3 runs in a 16-inning, 4-3 losing battle yesterday.  Chances are, their manager Torey Lovullo never thought he would have to send catcher Jeff Mathis to the hill. But because he used his other pitchers carelessly, getting less than a full inning from a couple of them he found himself out of legit pitchers at the 16th inning began.  He tried bringing back Friday night’s starter Zach Godley in the 15th but he could only last an inning.  Catcher Jeff Mathis, who had been behind the dish for 15 innings was Lovulo’s only choice. He may not turn to Mathis again until the twelfth of never, and that’s a long long time.   The Padres must have thought it was wonderful, wonderful. It turned out to be so for Will Myers who took Mathis out of the lot to give his team a 4-3 lead they would keep.

Myers, once a highly touted prospect has been terribly hampered by injuries throughout his career.  This was only his 25th game of the year. He had hit 3 home runs the night before and seen his team go down to humiliating defeat, 20–5 in spite of his efforts.  No other team had been so dismantled on a night when one of its players had hit 3 home runs.  Before Saturday night, no team had lost by as many as 10 runs when somebody in their colors had hit 3 bombs.  Myers made up for that on his 8th atbat yesterday. Mathis had pitched twice in 2012 when his team,  the Bluejays were being demolished. This time, on a first-place team he was the only arrow in his manager’s quiver.  Luckily for the D-Backs, the Dodgers also lost, 4-3 to the Angels.

The D-Backs’ Zack Greinke started but got a very quick hook in the 5th.  This was a surprise considering the Padres are no Murderers’ Row.  Greinke gave up 2 runs and 6 hits to them before Lovulo came out with the hook.  Against the staff, the Padres’ Manuel Margot had 5 hits and a steal but nobody else did much. Jose Pirela hit a pinch-single to tie the game at 3 in the last of the 6th.  Arizona never scored after the 4th. I was listening to the Dodgers and Angels who were the Sunday night game.  The ESPN broadcaster mentioned that Mathis was pitching for the Padres.  If somebody were here with me, they would have seen a certain smile, knowing what material was available to me.

Why didn’t ESPN or even the San Diego radio use Johnny Mathis puns?  It’s not for me to say.

The Padres’ main man, Ted Lightner has been broadcasting since Johnny Mathis was top of the pops.

We know now who most of the 2018 All-Stars are.  Some of the men chosen last night will miss the game owing to real or unreal injuries.  The most deserving new All-star, Gleyber Torres may be forced out if his strained hip continues to trouble him.  If he can play, he will join Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle (who did it twice) and Willie Randolph as Yankees who were All-Stars before they turned 21. If Juan Soto is chosen later, (a dark horse since his name wasn’t on the ballot) he will be younger than all but 4 men in the Futures Game, also played as part of the All-Star celebration. Between the two teams, 25 men are first-time All-Stars, so maybe they’ll show the game more respect than the jaded players for whom the trip to Washington is an inconvenience rather than an honor.  The game was conceived by journalist Arch Ward of the Chicago Tribune as a way to show baseball’s best players once a year in the midst of the Depression.  He hoped to raise money for former players who had been ruined by the economic devastation throughout the land.  Most of the All-Star games have been well attended, with the early ones raising considerable money for indigent players. With baseball more available to the nation since the 1970’s the game has lost much of the glamour it had in the thirties, forties and fifties.

The defending World Series winning Astros have 5 All-Stars along with the Red Sox and Indians, all 2017 Playoff teams. The Braves have 4 and they were nowhere near the playoffs a year ago. Other than injury replacements chosen by the managers, the fans can vote in the final player on each side.

Jose Abreu of the White Sox is making his second All-Star appearance, his first in the starting lineup. The Cubs’ Javier Baez almost missed a chance to start his first All-Star game because of a huge year by the Braves’ Ozzie Albies.  When it mattered, Chicagoland voters came up big in favor of their man.  Albies is a reserve, still quite a trick for a man of his age. The Orioles’ Manny Machado made it as a starter but may be traded to an NL team before the All-Star game in Washington on the 17th.  If that happens, MLB needs to decide if he can appear as a reserve.

While Aaron Judge won’t defend his home run derby title (thank God) he will start again in his second All-star game. Astonishingly, the Braves’ Nick Markakis had never been chosen, even when he played for the Orioles.  In spite of more than 2,000 hits this will be his first time without a 3-day vacation in mid-July. Matt Kemp is back after a lengthy absence.  He was an All-Star starter in 2011 and a reserve a year later. Bryce Harper is hitting a disgraceful .219 but is in because of his reputation and because the game is in his city, Washington. He’s not the only undeserving candidate to get the nod in that town–consider U.S. Grant, Warren Harding and Richard Nixon. Behind the dish, Wilson Contreras gets his first nod instead of Buster Posey who has been the starting catcher since 2014 for the National League.  The AL catcher is Wilson Ramos of the Rays.  He had been an All-Star in 2016, then suffered a severe injury.  He mostly recuperated a year ago and is now back on his game. The Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez was an easy choice at DH though he didn’t have a job until the season had begun.  He now has 27 home runs and 74 RBIs. If that keeps up, Sox fans will consider him the second coming of David Ortiz.

Among pitchers The Indians’ Trevor Bauer gets the nod for the first time. So does the Twins’ Jose Berrios who is a rookie. Gerrit Cole was once an All-Star with the Pirates.  Since being traded, the Cole train now runs out of Houston. He has an incredible 158 K’s in 116 2/3 innings.

The Mariners’ closer Edwin Diaz, who the Mariners’ radio crew call “Everyday Eddie”  is a first-timer. He already has 34 saves with the record being 62 set in 2008. J.A. Happ is another All-Star who may be traded before the game happens.  For now he works for the Blue Jays, but a move south seems unavoidable. The Tigers’ Joe (Not Jose) Jimenez is a first-time All-Star in just his second year.  And why not, with a 2.85 ERA. Oakland’s Blake Treinen was traded from the Nats to the East Bay where he has put up a 0.81 ERA with 54 K’s in 44 innings. This makes him a first-timer in what used to be called the MidSummer Classic. Another first-timer is Mitch Moreland, the Red Sox’ first baseman. Alex Bregman of the Astros is a first-timer and a reserve on the AL side. The Mariners’ Mitch Haniger got some ink in this forum earlier this season.  Even then I had no idea he might be considered for his first All-Star game. The Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo has never been selected in 13 years-until now. The Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz has been chosen, so it’s a good thing Harry Caray isn’t around to call the game.  He’d have more trouble with that name than John Sterling would. Josh Hader was picked from the Brewers’ bull pen in this his second season in the show. The Cardinals’ Miles Mikolas had pitched in Japan from 2015–17.  This year he’s an All-Star with a 2.83 ERA, about 1/3 of the ERA he posted in Texas in 2014. After taking some beatings the last couple of years, Aaron Nola of the Phillies is now 11-2 with a 2.41 ERA and will get his reward for the first time. The Pirates had a pitcher named Felipe Rivero who never made the All-Star game.  This year he showed up wanting to be called Felipe Vazquez. 17 saves later, he’ll be in Washington on the 17th. Scooter Gennett gets his first call.  He’s another guy who was profiled in this forum after hitting 4 home runs with 10 RBIs in a game in  June, 2017.  The Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story and the Reds’ third basemen Eugenio Suarez both will be first-time All-Stars. The Brewers’ Christian Yellic made the team which he never managed to do as a Marlin. The catcher for the Fish, J.T. Realmuto is their rep on the team.

As for today’s schedule, the Yankees have a doubleheader in Baltimore, making up for a game rained out on the final day in May.   It doesn’t help that they played extra innings before beating Toronto 2-1 yesterday. At least, the first game is at 4:05 so the two teams escape the worst of the heat and humidity for which Baltimore is known.  CC Sabathia goes for the Yankees in that game against the O’s Jimmy Yacabonis. Sabathia has been pitching for so many years everybody knows his unusual name. But can you imagine if Yacabonis were up against Jonathan Loaisiga or Giovanny Gallegos (both of whom have pitched for the Yankees this season.) Yacabonis has an ERA a pproaching 9, but the O’s had little else to turn to. In the second game, Luis Cessa faces Yefry Ramirez.  Cessa is no Severino, but he might beat the O’s who have all of 23 wins. The Phillies have a twin bill in New York, also making up a rainout from May 31. Zach Eflin, who’s been busting out all over in June with a 6-0 record faces Zack Wheeler of the Mets. Wheeler’s been spinning his wheels, with an 0-4 record in his last 11 outings. In game 2, All-Star Aaron Nola faces Corey Oswalt. Not much more needs saying.  Oswalt has an ERA of nearly 8 and has no career wins. He nearly signed to play for the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara, whose most famous alum is sports talk show host Jim Rome.  When the Mets took Oswalt in round 7, UC Santa Barbara went out the window. The Rays’ Chris Archer will make his first start in a month when the Rays face the Tigers.  If he holds together he’ll be a breath of fresh air for a team whose starters have been decimated by injuries. The Red Sox are the first team to 60 wins and they return  home tonight to face the Rangers. The Dodgers send out Clayton Kershaw against what must be an absolutely exhausted San Diego Padres’ squad.  He’s no prescription for recovery from a 16-inning ballgame the day before. Luis Perdomo, who actually warmed up in the bull pen yesterday will take his start as scheduled since he wasn’t needed in the 16th inning.

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