Two Top Teams, Two Ways to Walk Off

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, August 29. The Yankees and Red Sox both scored walk-off wins last night. They just went about it in different ways.
In New York, the Yankees played flat ball early though they didn’t instantly pay for it. The first ball put in play was a routine grounder to short which was fielded by Gleyber Torres and thrown to Greg Bird-who didn’t catch it. Pitcher Lance Lynn got past that SNAFU but had trouble throughout the game. a 2-0 lead in the 5th became a 4-0 lead for the White Sox before the Yanks came up in the last of the 6th. The 40,000+ in attendance sat by waiting for something to happen, and in the home sixth it did. Brett Gardner, who at 35 can still run if he has to, started the inning with a triple. That was followed by Miguel Andujar’s 22nd home run of the season. Andujar was a child of 5 when pitcher James Shields broke in, and the possible rookie of the year crushed a pitch from the clever veteran into the left field seats. Two innings later, against Juan Minaya, the result was similar. Aaron Hicks belted his 22nd home run with a man on to tie the game. That one reached the stands in right field. With the game tied in the 9th a couple of guys who normally start games faced each other, mano a mano. Dylan Covey is normally a White Sox starter. Neil Walker has spent the best part of a decade starting games at different infield positions and has even started a few in right field with the Yankees’ spate of injuries. Last night Covey was a reliever and Walker a pinch-hitter. Theirs was a one-act play. Covey fired one pitch, and Walker “turned it around” ending the game with a walk-off home run to right field. With a month to go, 80 walk-off home runs have been hit in the bigs, tying a rookie set in 2004.
Some 200 miles to the north as I95 and I90 crawl, a similar drama played out in the capital of Red Sox Nation. Their heroes who had been swept in 3 by the Rays were about to face the other Florida team, the Marlins. The Fish haven’t been the embarrassment I for one thought they would be. The Royals and Orioles have done far worse than the Marlins in spite of all the players Miami has unloaded. Boston on the other hand hadn’t lost more than 3 in a row all year, a claim no other team can make. Boston had 90 wins as the game begin, and not even the Yankees have 90 wins.
Going to the 8th it looked like a routine Red Sox win. They had a 4-1 lead and were turning to UConn product Matt Barnes from the pen. But this wasn’t Barnes’ night. He only retired one of the 5 men he saw. The other 4 scored as part of a 5-run Marlins’ rally. Unlike the Yankees who built their win on home runs, the Red Sox put up 3 singles with a man out in the 8th. After Blake Swihart struck out, Jackie Bradley JR. singled home two runs to tie the game. On Bradley’s hit, Ian Kinsler made it to third. Pitcher Tayron Guerrero then fired a wild pitch allowing the go-ahead tally. This time, Craig Kimbrel couldn’t close the deal. After two walks, Magneuris Sierra singled home the tying run. In the last half of the 9th the Red Sox continued to play small ball, as if to mock their rivals to the south. With one out, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts singled. The next play looked like aroutine grounder for a double play. Eduardo Nunez hit it to shortstop JT Riddle. Riddle me this–how did the Red Sox win? Riddle got one out and bounced the throw to first, which then sailed into the camera well, allowing Martinez to score the winning run. Boston now has 91 wins, which only one Red Sox team could do before the end of August. That was the 1946 team which lost the World Series in 7 to the Cardinals.
Wednesday means day baseball and plenty of it. Just for starters, the Mets and Cubs have to finish a game that was suspended in the 10th in a 1-1 tie. The two teams will wrap that game up at 1 PM and play a scheduled day game some 30 minutes after the suspended game is decided. The A’s face the Astros today after beating them last night to get within 1.5 games of first place in the AL West. Oakland’s job is a difficult one as they face Dallas Keuchel. Check your local listings for the rest of today’s schedule.

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