Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, July 25.
The headline for today’s entry does not simply refer to the strikeout or home run mentality that has increasingly overtaken baseball. It refers to a phenomenon that only the unpaid pundit copes with. I can go through box scores for a week and, without the incentive of a pay check I can find nothing to write about. Then there are nights like last night and in fact the entire time frame starting last Friday until now. There have been so many games that deserved writing about I couldn’t manage to cover them all. I would write until it was time to start searching twitter and other web sites to find out what could possibly be coming next. A possible no-no, a slugfest, an incredible marathon. Anything’s possible in baseball just recently.
After a loaded night last night, all but 3 games on this Wednesday will be played in daylight, and as far as I can I try to end my writing before the day’s first game starts. Last night’s games in Philadelphia and Arlington, Texas will challenge my ability to do this.
The chaotic affair in Philadelphia began at the usual 7 PM start time and wasn’t over until the games from the west coast were wrapping up. It took 16 innings and the best part of 6 hours before the Phillies won it by way of a 3-run home run. None of the stars had anything left to offer. Journeyman Trevor Plouffe, whose name sounds like an opening act for Michael Crawford hit the 3-run blast. The hurler? Not Jansen, Hill, Kershaw or any Dodger who cashes paychecks because of his pitching prowess. No, it was Enrique hernandez who served up his best imitation of a pitch and watched it fly into the night. Hernandez is the old school utility man, the modern Cesar Tovar who could play every position if he were asked to. Last night, after going 0 for 7 with his bat he had no choice but to try to survive as a pitcher.
The Dodgers had made a mighty effort to get where they were. Yasmani Grandal, their slugging catcher had homered from both sides of the plate. Though the Phillies’ workplace is a band box, it takes talent and effort to do what Grandal did. The starter Kenta Maeda lasted 7 innings but gave up a 4-1 lead. Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro, the Phillies’ offensive-minded catcher hit home runs off Maeda. From there Every Dodger reliever did his bit. Together they threw 8 scoreless innings at a surprisingly potent Phillies’ lineup. Starter Rich Hill warmed up as an emergency closer if the Dodgers should score in the top of the 16th. They didn’t, which meant It was Hernandez or bust. Although he got one man out, The bust came after two walks. His best effort was a fastball touching 85 MPH and Plouffe launched it high, wide and handsome as a Philadelphia broadcaster of another age would have said.
Hernandez said he hadn’t pitched for real since he was 12, in his native Puerto Rico in 1993. As for the Dodgers, they got into a similar spot in 2014 when catcher Drew Butera was called on to pitch.
Meantime in Arlington, a game was going on that was astonishing in its own right. This one wasn’t a testament to relief pitching. The Rangers had a 10–2 lead. In a sane world I would be writing about one of the night’s other exciting games-a couple of which went to extra innings. But the visiting A’s fought back from being behind 10–2 to win 13-10 in 10 innings. The A’s pulled off a miracle this past weekend. Not only did they gain back-to-back walk-off wins against the Giants, they had actual people at their God-awful park. Some 56,000 of them set a record Saturday night.
Last night’s road game looked like Texas would dominate. The A’s found themselves down 10–2 through 6 when The Rangers’ Elvis Andrus had them all shook up. he blasted a grand slam and had the home crowd roaring in anticipation of an easy win. But wait. Oakland notched 3 7th-inning runs and attacked with 4 more in the 8th. With the score at 10-9 Stephen Piscotty led off the 9th with the game-tying blast. That makes 7 home runs in the month of July for Piscotty. After Jeurys Familia quieted the Rangers in the 9th, Khris Davis hit a 3-run home run to break it open in the visiting 10th. He drove in Nick Martini as well as Jed Lowrie who had homered earlier on. Familia collected the win while Blake Treinen picked up the save. That was the reason the A’s got Familia. He’s good insurance and came at a bargain price.
The A’s won a game once when they were down 8 runs through 6. The kicker is, they did it when World War II hadn’t yet begun, on August 30, 1939 when the A’s played in Philadelphia.
Boston faces Baltimore in one of the 4 night games on today’s schedule. They did what the Yankees needed so badly to do-got a starting pitcher. The Rays gave up Nathan Eovaldi for someone named Jalen Beeks. The move is necessary because starters Eduardo Rodriguez and steven Wright are on the shelf. David Price gets the start for the Sox after they lost last night. He’s a perfect 7–0 in 11 starts in Baltimore. Later, Texas hosts Oakland again, Houston faces the Rockies and the White Sox meet the Angels.