No Hitting Woes Here; 31-run Madness in Low A West

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  Hi friends.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, August 4.  Articles like this one used to be a lot easier to write.  The story must be told of how the Stockton Ports (Oakland, Low A) beat the Modesto Nuts (Mariners) by a 16—15 final with 3 9th-inning runs. A story like this used to be a lot easier to tell because the facts weren’t as hard to find as they have become. 

  When I found the score on my daily scroll through the minor league scores, the first thing I had to do was pick my jaw up off the floor.  A 16—15 final in the regulation 9 innings is almost unheard-of since the steroid era ended.  Major league batting is at an alltime low in spite of a recent upkick since umpires started checking pitchers for banned substances. The first thing I found was the box score.  It took a couple of hours to find any more details or this story would have been done by now.  It was a goofy game all around. One pitching staff struck out 12 men.  They were the winners although they gave up 6 home runs. One hitter, 19-year-old Noelvi Marte, the #82-ranked prospect in MLB today) bombed 3 home runs, one being a grand slam and drove 9 runs across.  He was on the losing side in spite of his heroics, and those of Spencer Packard and James Parker who also had home runs for Modesto. Marte is the Mariners’ 4th-ranking prospect.  He had only had one 4-hit game in his short career, that being in 2019 in the Dominican Summer League. With 15 home runs, Marte is tied for second in his league, only 3 behind the Giants’ prospect Marco Luciano.     

  Each team scored a pair in the first, and amazingly they each put up 4 more in the second. The visiting Nuts made it 7-6 in the third only to have Stockton put up 3 more to make it a 9-7 game after just 3 innings. On their mettle, the visiting Mariners Wanabes from Modesto scored 3 times in the top of the 4th for a 10—9 lead. Neither team scored in the last of the 4th or the top of the 5th. Stockton added 2      in the home 5th making it 11-10.  Their two were instantly answered by the visitors to make it 12-11 Modesto.   The home team didn’t score in either the 6th or 7th.  Meanwhile Modesto hadn’t scored in the 7th. The visiting Nuts fired their final salvo, scoring 3 in the 8th making it 15—11.  But like the champion fighter Matthew Franklin of the 1970’s, Stockton reached for reserves they didn’t know they had.  Stockton produced Yaqui Lopez, Franklin’s foil in two famous fights.  Both times the Stockton native thought he had the championship won … until he didn’t.  This was Stockton’s night.  The home team trimmed the lead to 15-13 with 2 in the 8th, then closed the show in the 9th.  31 runs were scored, 30 hits and a dozen walks were given up. A run down in the last of the 9th with two out and a man on, Jose Rivas ended the madness with a home run to left field. Only one of his playmates, first baseman Lawrence Butler had hit a home run for Stockton all night long while Modesto with 6 bombs were living and dying by the long one, playing the 2021 major league game. In spite of the loss, the visitors have a 41—38 record while the home team are 33-46.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From the department of good news and bad, the good news was this astonishing game only took 3 hours 18 minutes to play.  I’ve seen games with a 2—1 final score taking 4 hours and needing more pitchers.  The bad news is, only 706 people attended the game, although judging by the kind of game it was, every working stiff at every water cooler in Stockton will say he was at the game.          

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