Cubs Lose, Brewers win to make NL Central More Muddled than Ever;

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, September 25. The Cubs lost 5–1 to the Pirates while the Brewers waited out a rain delay and beat the Cardinals. With a nod to Lewis Carroll, the NL Central becomes “curiouser and curiouser.”
The Cardinals and Brewers were tied at 1 in the 6th when I tuned in. It was raining even then but the umpires were determined to see this vital game played. Before that, Dan Jennings of the Brewers threw 3 pitches in the first and left the game. Even if he hadn’t done that, he was already replacing a hurting starter, Chase Anderson. Thanks to MLB allowing teams to carry 40 men this month, the Brewers could safely use 8 men after Jennings bailed out. Freddy Peralta lasted the longest of any, going 3 2.3 innings. In the top of the 6th, Cardinals’ pitchers walked 3 Brewers and hit one. Two runs ended up scoring. With the score 3-1 Brewers in the last of the 6th, Josh Hader went All-Star game and gave up 2 home runs good for 3 Cardinals’ runs. First, right fielder Jose Martinez homered to make it 3-2. Then with a man on, Marcell Ozuna left the yard, putting his team ahead. All Josh would have needed was for further hate tweets to emerge, which happened following his All-Star game meltdown in DC. The Cardinals tied it before a 31-minute rain delay briefly put the game in limbo. In the late innings, it turned out that closer Jeremy Jeffress had neck spasms and couldn’t go. Joakim Soria and Corey Knebel got the outs the Brewers needed. The Brewers rallied in the 8th to get the runs they would need to win. Eric Thames tripled as his shot skipped past Jose Martinez in right field. Mike Moustakas was walked, after which Bud Norris tried a pickoff throw to keep Moustakas (he of the one stolen base all year) close. The throw went wild, Thames scored to break the tie, and the Brewers went on to win. With the Pirates beating the Cubs, the Brew Crew find themselves just a game and a half out of first and holding a 3-game lead on their wild card rivals, the Cardinals. The Rockies won, keeping them just a half game behind the Cardinals for the second wild card slot. Since the Dodgers also won, the Rockies didn’t gain ground in the NL west race. The only American league question is, will the wild card game be held in New York or Oakland. Both teams won last night, and at this moment the A’s are a game and a half behind the Yankees. The Yankees have to play the Rays in a horrific ball park. The Rays always give the Yankees trouble in either St. Pete or New York. Meantime the A’s continue against the Mariners who should bbe in the postseason but somehow have managed not to get there. If the Yankees hold it together, I would make them a favorite in a one-game winner-take-all game if it’s in the Bronx rather than Oakland.
Tonight, Max Scherzer gets his first of 2 cracks at reaching 300 strikeouts. He has 290 K’s up to now. Despite how much batters strike out these days, no other pitcher in either league is even close to sending away 300 batters shaking their heads. Baseball has gone in cycles-the pitching-dominated years from 1900–1920 and 1962–68, many heavy hitting eras ending with the steroid era, and in the last few years a resurgence of pitching. As cycles have come and gone, only 16 other men since 1900 have managed 300 K’s. It has been done multiple times by individuals, most notably Randy Johnson who did it 6 times including 5 in a row from 1998–2002. Nolan Ryan also did it 6 times between 1972 and 1989. The colorful Curt Schilling managed 300 K’s 3 times. One of those was in 2002 with Johnson. As a result the D-Backs were the only team in history to claim 2 pitchers with 300 K’s. Sandy Koufax did the deed 3 times and might have done it even more often if he had considered cortisone safe to use. He retired rather than try the new medicine for his aching elbow. Imagine if Tommy John had retired without getting the surgery he got, after which he pitched for more than a decade. Pedro Martinez rang up 300 strikeouts twice, proving you don’t have to look like Godzilla (as Randy Johnson does) to punch out 300 hitters. J.R. Richard did it twice before suffering a stroke at age 30, ending his career. Sudden Sam McDowell twice fanned more than 300, but he was a fan of the bottle which he later admitted damaged his career. He went public about it in the “Washington Post” and the item remains in circulation 33 years later. The Big Train, Walter Johnson did it twice in his astonishing career. Clayton Kershaw did it in 2015 but injuries have dogged him ever since. Chris Sale did it last year, but has spent parts of this year on the shelf. Vida Blue and Mickey Lolich did it in 1971, though with different teams. Later, Blue was troubled by drugs while Lolich did some TV and owned a chain of donut shops. When I met him in London, Ontario where the Tigers had a AA team he insisted on feeding my seeing Eye dog Gizmo pieces of donuts. You’re not supposed to allow that, but has anybody got an idea how to tell Mickey Lolich not to do what he wants to do? I don’t. The only time Bob Feller struck out 300 was in 1946, after he’d spent 4 years in the Navy. The media was ready to say his career was over but Feller wasn’t buying that particular Brooklyn Bridge. Scherzer already has 2 Cy Young awards in a row and I would vote for him this year, even if he doesn’t reach 300. He probably will since he can go today and Sunday if need be. If he wins, he’ll join Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux who have claimed 3 straight Cy Young awards. He may lead the NL in wins, and if he does that will be 4 times leading one league or the other in wins. He faces the Marlins’ Jeff Brigham who is both young and overmatched. He hasn’t won in his first 3 starts for the Fish.
Tonight’s most significant game again features the Brewers and the Cardinals in the battle of the beer capitals. I’ll take Miller over Bud and I’m hoping the Brewers and their young announcers make a playoff run. Tonight they go with Gio Gonzalez, a pitcher with 2 wins since he came over from Washington. The team has won all 3 of his starts even if he didn’t get the decision. The Cardinals turn to Austin Gomber on the hill as they try to either catch the Brewers or at least keep the Rockies from stealing their playoff slot. The Cubs continue against the Pirates, the Rockies host the Phillies again and the Dodgers have another game in Arizona. Oakland faces the Mariners with the idea that they might overtake the Yankees and get to host the wild card game.

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