Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, August 8. The Yankees very nearly made a mess out of a game they had won. They managed to salvage the win 4-3 in 13 innings. Meantime, their wild-card foes, Oakland and Seattle both lost. The Blue Jays made a gallant try to beat the Red Sox but lost 10-7 in 10 innings to a Red Sox team that looks more like last year’s Dodgers every day.
The Yankees’ game in Chicago was a classic pitching duel early on. CC Sabathia, who I’ve given a fair bit of grief for his lacking stamina was dominant. He looked like the 2008 version of CC, striking out a dozen White Sox in 6.2 innings. In short, he got 17 men out and only 5 of those 17 put the ball in play. In 18 years on the hill he has struck out a dozen men 6 times. For all his effort he got no run support. In fact, through 5 innings the White Sox starter Renaldo Lopez had a no-hitter going. Aaron Hicks ended Lopez’ bid with a ground-rule double in the 6th. When CC left, the score was 1-0 White Sox but a home run by Miguel Andujar to start the 7th got the large lefty off the hook. It’s the 15th “quadrangular” for the rookie third baseman from the Dominican Republic where a quadrangular is a home run. The youth wasn’t finished. After each side tallied twice in the 10th, Andujar singled home the winning run in the 13th.
It shouldn’t have come to that. In the 10th, Giancarlo Stanton who had been struggling mightily of late hit a no-doubter with a playmate on base. Considering Aroldis Chapman’s folly on Sunday night in Boston, the Yankees turned to Zach Britton, acquired from Baltimore to do the job if Chapman wasn’t available. The results were just as bad. Jose Abreu hit a two-run home run to tie the game. Omar Narvaez, the kind of player for whom Sidney Sheldon’s phrase “He’s a 32nd assistant nobody” would apply nicely, was walked twice by CC and was plunked by Britton. Narvaez scored 2 of the 3 runs the White Sox tallied for the night. He was aboard on Abreu’s big fly. It took failed starter Sonny Gray to stop the White Sox until Andujar could drive home the winning run in the 13th.
Besides breaking up Lopez’ no-hitter, Aaron Hicks gave one of my nephews a moment he’ll never forget and a souvenir he can show his friends when he returns to New Jersey. In the top of the 7th, following Andujar’s game-tying home run, Kyle Higashioka was on third after a double and a fly out. Aaron Hicks was at the dish. My nephew Nate Pietz, who will be 13 in November was among the 19,000 in the stands at the second Comiskey Park. He described the crowd as “50-50,” noting how well Yankee fans travel and how bad the White Sox have been doing. He was in the right field seats near the foul pole. Hicks sent a foul ball that way. Nate saw his chance and took it. With a few others trying to prevent him from doing it, Nate hauled in the foul ball. His week in Chicago with his grandparents also includes a stop at Wrigley, where I told him he could expect an entirely different kind of crowd, much louder and wild about their team whether they win or lose.
While the Yankees and White Sox went at it on the south side of Chicago, the Red Sox continued doing what they do north of the border. The Blue Jays gave them a terrific scrap, playing Jersey Joe Walcott to the Red Sox’ Joe Louis. The Jays had a 2-1 lead through 7. Ryan Tepera entered the game for Marcus Stroman who left owing to a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. With the bases full, Mitch Moreland grounded into a fielder’s choice for one run. With two on, J.D. Martinez stepped in and slammed a 2-0 pitch from Tepera for a 3-run home run to left. None of the outfielders moved. Martinez now has 34 home runs and 97 RBIs. When the inning ended, Tepera let his temper get the best of him and was ejected by the plate umpire.
Most nights after a monster shot like the one Martinez hit, that would have been that. Game over, go out into the monsoon that was causing a leak in the roof and drive home safely. But somehow Craig Kimbrel couldn’t get the job done. In the 8th, Luke Maile had doubled home run off Matt Barnes to make it 5-4. In the 9th, Kimbrel gave a cookie to Justin Smoak. He was “sitting dead red” on a 3-0 heater, and he hit it out of sight.
In the 10th, the Jays turned to embattled reliever Ken Giles. They had gotten him from Houston and unloaded their problem child, Roberto Osuna on the Astros. Giles’ trouble isn’t abusing anybody. It is that his pitches get abused by American League hitters. It turned out they get hit whether he’s pitching for Houston or Toronto. He gave up a booming triple to Mookie Betts and walked the next hitter, setting the stage for a 3-run home run by Moreland. He had just given up only his 4th walk and third home run of the 2018 season. As bad as that was, he compounded the idiocy by putting one on a tee for light-hitting Jackie Bradley JR. The man is hitting all of .211, and last night’s 4-bagger was only his 9th of the year. While the Jays made a try in their half, they only put up 2 runs before being retired.
The Red Sox are now the 4th team in 20 years to reach 80 wins in 114 games or fewer. The other 3 were the 1998 Yankees, the 2001 Mariners and last year’s Dodgers. A noteworthy fact here is, the only one of those 3 teams to win a title was the 1998 Yankees.