WHILE YOU WEREN’T WATCHING
WHILE YOU WEREN’T WATCHING
While most of America settled in for their first weekend of football, and others watched the finals of the U.S. Open, and a religious few spent time setting the table for Erev Rosh Hashana, the fine folks of MLB were playing some of the most exciting baseball of the Summer. Over the past couple of days, there were a few games that you may have missed, games that remind us (a) why we love this sport and (b) why September/October/November baseball cannot be beat.
For your reading pleasure, a brief summary of what happened while you weren’t watching:
Friday: The Orioles were in a tough battle with the Royals. The O’s founds themselves trailing in every inning, and were down 6-4 going into the bottom of the 8th . Then they proceeded to hit not one, but two grand slams in a single inning. Suffice it to say, it was good night for Baltimore, and a not-so-good night for KC.
Saturday: David Ortiz hit homerun numbers 499 and 500 in the same game. In doing so, he became the second player ever (granted, there are only 27 of them) to do reach that mark in that manner. Big Papi has given Red Sox fans something to root for this September, and he did so again on Saturday. The one downside is that he did it at Tropicana Field – the worst venue in all of sports.
Check out the pitchers running in from the bullpen. That was pretty cool.
Trivia question #1: What other player hit #500 and #501 in the same game?
Trivia question #2: What other historical/landmark hit happened at The Trop?
Sunday (Part One): The Mets go into the top of the 9th inning in Atlanta trailing 7-4. Eight pitches and two Ks later, they are down to their last out. Three pitches later they are down to their last strike. But then Juan Lagares doubles on a 1-2 pitch, and there is life for the Metropolitans.
After a pitching change and a walk, the tying run comes to the plate. So, what do you think happens? That’s right, Daniel Murphy hits a 3R dinger into the right field stands to tie the score at 7. A crushed Braves team walks through the bottom of the ninth, the Amazings score three more in the top of the 10th and win 10-7.
Sunday (Part Two): A few hours later, in Southern California, the Angels are on the verge of sweeping the Astros to climb back into the race for the AL West. The Halos are leading 3-0 with 2 outs in the top of the 9th. Huston Street is dealing, and gets ahead of Preston Tucker, 1-2. Tucker promptly hits a solo homer to right. No worries, the Angels still lead 3-1.
Street then gets ahead of George Springer, again 1-2. Springer promptly triples. Jose Altuve follows with a single to center. No worries, the Angels still lead 3-2.
The next batter is likely AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa, who hits a scorcher up the middle (StatCast shows it having an exit velocity of 110 MPH). No worries, Taylor Featherstone is there to make a diving grab, and has the option of flipping to second for the force or tossing to first to end the game. But, when it ain’t your year . . . the ball literally gets stuck in the webbing of your glove – and Featherstone cannot get it out in time to make the play. That happens maybe once a season – have you ever seen it with two outs in the ninth?
But, hope still springs eternal, as the Astros send up light-hitting and injury-prone Jed Lowrie to pinch hit for masher Evan Gattis. Maybe the Baseball Gods were smiling down on the Angels after all. Lowrie proceeds to hit a high fly ball to the right field corner. Two feet to the right, it’s foul; two feet shorter, Calhoun catches it for the third and final out. But the Baseball Gods were just toying with the Angels, as the ball falls just inside the fair pole and just out of reach of Calhoun. 5-3 Astros. Game, set, match, and most likely season, over for the team from Los Angeles of Anaheim.
Monday: While not technically a three-day weekend, many people were off on Monday. So the craziness continued.
The Yankees were no-hit for 7 innings in St. Pete. They conjured a hit in the 8th, but nothing came of it. They were able to get their second hit to lead off the 9th, which was quickly erased by a twin killing. Brett Gardner walked, and then Alex Rodriguez – of all people – laced a double, driving in the tying run. How unlikely was that? Well, that was the first time in his career that A-Rod got a game-tying hit with two outs in the ninth inning or later.
But the madness wasn’t over. After an intentional walk to Brian McCann, Slade Heathcott (you read that right, and my guess is that, like me, you have no idea who he is) hit the first pitch he has seen in the Majors since May 27th over the left field wall for a 3R dinger. Two highly unprobable events happened within minutes of each other. I guess it just wasn’t the Rays weekend.
Those three games may have been enough to fill an hour-long SportsCenter, but the following also happened while Notre Dame’s quarterback was trying to reattach his foot, Jameis Winston was throwing to the wrong team, Tom Coughlin forgot how to coach and Eli Manning forgot how to play football, and Adrian Peterson made an inauspicious return the league:
After scoring 66 runs in their previous 9 games, on Sunday the Red Sox were held scoreless for 12 innings. And, if you understand anything about baseball, you know that means that the Rays were held scoreless for at least 11. They both put up goose eggs for 24 half innings, and then the Red Sox scored not one, but two runs in the 13th to win it.
Jonathan Papelbon didn’t blow a single save with the Phillies this season. He then blew one against the Phillies on Monday. And because baseball is a great game, he still got the win.
On Monday afternoon, Oakland scored 4 runs in the top of the ninth to tie their game with the White Sox, 7-7. All that did was prolong the agony for two teams just playing out the string, as the Pale Hose won it anyway, in the 14th.
In a must-win game for the Rangers against the Astros on Monday night, Houston took the lead twice, and Texas got a 2R HR in the 6th and another in the 8th to bring themselves within ½ game of the AL West lead (even though they were 8 games out on August 1st).
And, even though it is just business as usual, it bears mentioning the following:
On Sunday, Zach Greinke threw 8 innings of 3-hit, no-run ball for his 17th win. His ERA now sits at 1.61.
And on Monday, channeling Sandy Koufax and welcoming in the New Year, Clayton Kershaw threw 7 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball for his 14th win. His ERA is now at 2.12 (and just 1.06 since the All-Star break). Kershaw hasn’t lost in 81 days.
Okay, you may now resume your NFL Fantasy Leagues, your College Football tailgate prep, and your regularly-scheduled programming.
Me, I will be watching how the West was won; if Jake Arrieta can match Greinke and Kerhaw pitch-for-pitch and win-for-win; if the Mets can find any other “Amazing” way to win; if Johnny Cueto will remember that he is Johnny Cueto; and if Mike Trout can do anything to keep Josh Donaldson from winning the AL MVP. And many, many more things on diamonds around the league.
Have a great week.
Trivia Question #1 Answer: Albert Pujols
Trivia Question #2 Answer: Wade Boggs’ 3,000th hit