No Pitching Staff but an Exciting Late Finish;

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, July 10.

The Tampa Bay Rays came into last night’s game with the Tigers hoping for a healthy starter, Chris Archer.  On his game he’s about as good as it gets but he’s spent a lot of time on the DL of late.  They hoped for 75 pitches to get them into the 5th or 6th inning, knowing they  didn’t have a pitcher to go with tonight.  Archer didn’t exactly bring his best game, but in 10 innings the Rays won 10-9 in the night’s most exciting game, if not the prettiest game.

Archer came back and the Rays celebrated by giving him a 5–0 lead in the first inning. They put up 5 on 6 hits off the Tigers’ Francisco Liriano.  The 6 hits were the most in any inning in 2018 by the Rays.  However, like the Nationals’ Joe Ross a year ago, Archer wasn’t able to maintain the lead, even for the 5 innings it takes to be eligible.   It took 8 relievers and a walk-off single for the Rays to win. Archer had been sidelined with an abdominal strain.  His 78 pitches weren’t very effective and he had to leave in the 4th. Since the Rays were up 7–3, Archer drew cheers even though he wasn’t dominant.  Hunter Wood held the Tigers at 3 runs as the game ambled into the 7th inning.  Then came two parades.    One came from the bull pen, another from the Detroit Tigers dugout, leading to the plate, then circling the bases and scoring. The Tigers’ Miko Goodrum doubled twice for 3 RBIs. Jose Iglesias doubled home two men in the 7th to knot the game at 7. Each side put up two more runs-the Rays in the 7th and the Tigers in the top of the 8th leading the game into extra innings. Kevin Kiermaier hit a thundering triple to start the 10th.  Daniel Robertson then singled him home for the winning run. Matt Andriese got the win out of the bedraggled Rays’ bull pen.  In spite of all their woes, they’re still 46-44 in a brutally tough American League East.

Both of yesterday’s doubleheaders ended in splits.  The Orioles took a 5-4 win in game 1 before the Yankees routed their foes 10–2 in game 2.  As that game got later it began to sound more like a Yankee home game, as games in Baltimore often do.  Locals sell their tickets to New York fans at shameless prices, and the New Yorkers pay them without despair.  They just want to see their team play, and if it means spending next month’s rent, so be it.  Meantime, the Mets won game 1 but lost game 2 in their double-dip at Citi Field against the Phillies.  Wilmer Flores got his 10th walk-off hit, a home run to give his team a 4-3 win.  In 56 years, no Met has compiled 10 walk-off hits in a career-not Jose Reyes, David Wright, Rusty Staub, Cleon Jones, not anybody. Victor Arano was his foil, giving up the bomb. The Phillies’ pitcher was the hero in game 2.  Aaron Nola won his 12th and drove in all 3 runs in a 3-1 Phillies victory.

Well, they did it again.  I’ve written up the Bluefield Blue Jays recently for a compelling minor league game and last night they managed another, beating the Kingsport Mets 10-9 in 10 innings.  If country singer Stonewall Jackson hadn’t sung a song called “Bluefield, West Virginia,” a song in which a sheriff is shot dead by his deputy in a dispute over moonshine, nobody might have heard of the tiny town on the border where Virginia and West Virginia meet. Small as the town is, it kept an Orioles’ team going for decades and has been taken over of late years by the Blue Jays. Neither team scored through the first 3 innings of last night’s contest.   The visiting Mets put up 2 runs and the home team answered with 1 in the 4th.  Things got interesting from there on.  The visitors put up 4, making it 6-1.  Then the Blue Jays, who have won 16 of their first 20 games this year stormed back with 4 to make it 6-5 after 5. The Mets seemed to buckle their chinstraps, putting up single runs in the 6th, 8th and 9th making it 9–5.  Then the home team struck, scoring 4 in the 9th to level the game. The Mets didn’t score in the 10th in spite of the new minor league rule putting a man on second to start the inning.  In the home half, with the bases full Cal Stevenson walked to end the game.  There’s just one down note-only 700 people viewed this game at Bowen Field in Bluefield.

Frankly I’m glad they cancelled bingo tonight in the building where I live.  As compelling as a duel of two Cy Young winners would be, so is a battle between two men who have never pitched in the bigs.  That’s what’s on the menu at Citi Field and what I plan to listen to.  The visiting  Phillies will start Enyel De los Santos, a 22-year-old prospect from the Dominican Republic.  Born on Christmas, 1995 he must feel Christmas 2018 has come 6 months early. He began as a Mariner, was traded to the Padres after an undefeated 2015 season, did well at AA a year ago-and was traded to the Phillies. He didn’t come cheap–major league shortstop Freddy Galvis, an established big leaguer went to San Diego in the deal.  De los Santos is rated the 11th-best prospect the Phillies own.  For the Mets, it’s a different story.  Drew Gagnon is no wide-eyed kid.  Though he’s never pitched on a big-league mound, he’s a man of 28. He played college ball for Long Beach State, a team whose name has been since 1989 (amazingly) the DirtBags. I kid you not.  Officially they’re the 49Ers but if you know about their baseball program you call them the DirtBags.  In Gagnon’s final year his coach was Troy Buckley, a former Twins’ minor league catcher who played on the 1992 Miracle.  I had the good fortune to broadcast Buckley’s games in 1992, my second year as a pro. The Brewers took Gagnon in round 3 of the 2011 draft. After putting up an 11-6 record in AA in 2014 he seemed to stall, never getting past AAA.  He was traded to the Angels in December, 2016. Up to now in 2018 with Las Vegas, his ERA has been 4.67 (not bad in that league) but considering the woeful offense Las Vegas has, his record is 1–4.  His ERA has been 2.45 in his last 5 starts, so just maybe …  Because of the uncertainty here, I’d rather see how two rookies duke it out than some of the other matchups available to TV watchers or Internet listeners. The Yankees bring back Masahiro Tanaka, who got a month’s vacation by pulling both hamstrings.  Only a baseball player can do that.  Following his holiday he faces the Orioles, so actually his holiday continues. There’s a full slate of games around the country with every team hoping their All-Stars don’t get hurt.  One change has already been made-Yadier Molina of the Cardinals replaces the Giants’ Buster Posey on the National League squad as backup catcher.

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