Monday night was an exciting night for major league baseball fans. These are short recaps of some of the best games last night. It was a night of a 14 inning, 16 inning game and 10 inning game. Bartolo Colon won his 12th game of the season. Raul Ibanez hit his 22nd home run, which is fourth in the AL and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Buster Posey had a 5-8 game in San Francisco, while Andrelton Simmons was 0-7 in Miami.
A look at some of the more interesting games last night:
Rangers 8 Orioles 5 – Scott Feldman of the Orioles was rocked in his second start, since being traded by Cubs to the Orioles. He allowed 7 runs, 9 hits and his ERA ballooned to 7.15. Manny Machado was 3-5 at the plate and raised his batting average to .315, which gave him 122 hits for the season and only 3 hits behind MLB leading Miguel Cabrera with 125.
Tigers 4 Indians 2 (10 innings) – Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder were a combined 1-11 last night in the 10 inning game. However, the Tigers defeated the Indians by a 4-2 score. Max Scherzer allowed 2 runs in 7 innings, while the bullpen held Indians scoreless over the last three innings. Only 23,640 fans attended the game in Cleveland, only filing the stands to 56 percent full.
Athletics 2 Pirates 1 – Bartolo Colon is now 12-3 after the Athletics 2-1 win over the Pirates, who have lost 3 in a row. It was a strange game in that the Pirates outhit the Athletics 9-3 but lost the game 2-1. Jeff Locke who has a major league second best ERA at 2.15 took the loss, but held the Pirates to 2 runs and 3 hits in 7 innings.
Royals 5 Yankees 1 – Phil Hughes lost the fifth of his last 7 starts in the 5-1 Royals win over the Yankees. He has only won twice since May 10. It is easy to see why the Yankees struggled to score runs last night, after looking at their lineup in last night’s game. These are the batting averages at the end of the game for some of those players:
Travis Hafner .220
Vernon Wells .237
Travis Ishikawa .105
Alex Gonzalez .194
Austin Romine .132
Eduardo Nunez .216
Those six players were a combined 2-16 with Wells having both of the hits. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter should be returning to the team later this month. They may not hit well at first, upon returning to the team, but can’t hit any worse than the six players mentioned above.
Braves 7 Marlins 1 (14 innings) – The Braves and Marlins both struggled offensively in this game, with both teams scoring one run in the first 13 innings. Andrelton Simmons 0-7, Jason Heyward 1-5, Brian McCann 0-5 and Dan Uggla 1-6 were a combined 2-23 in the game. The Braves may have won the game, but they still have to be concerned about this offense. Kevin Slowey, the starter for the Marlins didn’t allow a run in 5 innings, but the bullpen allowed all 7 runs in the game. 15,745 fans showed up for the game in Miami, which filled the stadium to only 42.1 percent of capacity.
Cubs 8 White Sox 2 – Matt Garza 5-1, 3.22 ERA allowed only one earned run in 7 innings in 8-2 win by the Cubs over the White Sox.. Any scouts at the game saw Garza at his best, so should increase his appeal to contenders needing another starter. Hector Santiago came within two outs of a quality start but took the loss. The Cubs outhit the White 13-5. The only bright spot for the White Sox was rookie Josh Phegley hitting his 2nd major league home run and is slugging .900 after his third major league game.
pitched and hit the Dodgers to an easy 6-1 win over the Diamondbacks. Greinke pitched 7 scoreless innings and was 3-3 at the plate and is now hitting .370 for the season. The Dodgers hammered out 17 hits, while the Diamondbacks could only muster 4 hits in the contest. Yasiel Puig was 2-5, but the hitting stars for the Dodgers were Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Greinke who all had 3 hits. Ramirez is hitting .419 but didn’t play his first game this season till June 4, so it is questionable if he will qualify for the batting title this season. Dodgers have now won 13 of their last 16 games. The win moved the Dodgers to within 3.5 games of the first place Diamondbacks in the NL West. They also need only two more wins to reach .500.
Mets 4 Giants 3 (16 innings) – The Mets scored the winning run on a Brandon Crawford error in the 16 inning win for the Mets over the Giants, who have lost 8 of their last 10 games. Gregor Blanco, Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence were a combined 3-27 in the game. Matt Harvey and Tim Lincecum each allowed 3 runs and 6 hits in 7 innings before leaving the game. The Giants used Sergio Romo in the ninth inning, but the Mets saved their closer Bobby Parnell in the 16th inning as he notched his 16th save of the season.The game last 5 hours and 26 minutes.
Looking at the Standings
The Tampa Bay Rays have the longest winning streak in MLB at 5 games….Any team that is 10 or more games behind the division leader is probably out of the race for the season. Twins, White Sox, Mariners and Astros are the teams in that category in the AL. The NL has Mets, Marlins and Brewers as the only teams 10 or more games behind as of today….Hottest team in last 10 games are the Rays with a 9-1 record, while the Padres are the coolest, with a 0-10 record in their last 10 games….Dodgers at 43-45 are the only second place team in MLB with a losing record….Pirates are 2-5 in June and have lost their last two series to the Phillies and Cubs and they need to win the next two games against the A’s to avoid losing their third straight series.
With most major league teams at or near the halfway mark this is a good time to assess the 2013 season so far. Red Sox have already played 84 games, so are already 3 games past the halfway mark, while Twins have played only 78 games.
Looking At Standings
AL East – The Yankees played their 81st game yesterday and slid down into fourth place behind the Rays who moved to third place. Yankees ended their first half by losing five in a row and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Red Sox won their 50th game yesterday, but hold only a 2.5 game lead over the Orioles. Chris Davis hit his 31st home run of the major league leading 115 hit by the Orioles. Blue Jays won ten in a row earlier in June, but then reverted to their losing ways losing 5 of their last 7 in games against the Rays and Red Sox.
AL Central – Indians at 7-3 are only AL Central team with a winning record in their last 10, while first place Tigers are 4-6 in that span and seem to be sliding. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are a combined 20-5 in 2013, while the rest of the starters are 17-17. Prince Fielder only has 13 home runs, which is 18 less than the AL leading Chris Davis with 31. Tigers are one percentage point ahead of the Indians, with the Royals 4.5 games behind the Indians. The Twins are still in striking distance at 6.5 games out of first place. The White Sox are just killing time now till the end of the season and should be sellers before the trading deadline arrives in late July. White Sox have to win 15 in a row, just to get back to playing .500 baseball, so almost no chance of them recovering from a terrible start.
AL West – Rangers are holding a half game lead over the Athletics. Angels have moved to within 9 games of the first place Rangers, but still are 8.5 behind the second place Athletics. Mariners and Astros are doomed to finishing fourth and fifth this season, since the Angels are pulling away from them, since they are currently in a 6 game winning streak. This is a three team race, if the Angels stay hot for a while.
NL East – Braves have the largest lead in majors at 6.5 games over the Nationals, but the Braves have to have concerns about the offense being hot and cold this season. The 11 shutouts pitched against them is a major concern. Nationals are hoping the return of Bryce Harper can get the Nationals going again. Phillies still have a remote chance of getting back in the race and perhaps winning a wild card bid, with them trailing the Braves by 9.5 games. The Mets and Marlins should be sellers when the trading starts, since they don’t seem to be factors in the NL East race.
NL Central – It was thought that the Cardinals and Reds would be battling for the NL Central title. But both teams find themselves behind the surprising Pirates, who have won 51 games and could be in the race to the end. Cardinals are 2 games behind the Pirates, while the Reds are surprisingly 5.5 games behind the Pirates. The season is more or less over for the Cubs and Brewers who are so far behind, they almost certainly will be sellers this month.
NL West – Only 4 games separate the first place Diamondbacks and the last place Dodgers, so this division is up for grabs right now at least. The Rockies despite the loss of Troy Tulowitzki are only 2 games out of first place. Padres are only 2.5 games out while the Giants who are 2-8 in their last 10 games are 3 games behind the Diamondbacks. This race is too close to even call, since all five teams have a chance of winning the NL West title. Dodgers seem to be playing better, since Hanley Ramirez returned from the DL.
Surprises This Season – The biggest surprise of the season has been the hitting of rookie Yasiel Puig who posted 44 hits in June, despite not joining the Dodgers till the third game of the month. It would be great for baseball, if he makes the All Star team, but it may cause some hurt feelings, by players who might miss out on the All Star game because of Puig….Chris Davis has hit an amazing 31 home runs and has driven in 80 runs, while hitting .332. Davis only hit 33 home runs and drove in 85 runs in 2012, so he is close to matching those numbers and probably will by the All Star break….There was no doubt that Manny Machado was a good player, but he has taken his game to a new level in 2013. Machado leads the majors with 38 doubles, 2nd in hits in MLB with 115….Jean Segura of the Brewers has shown why the Brewers insisted that Segura be included in the Zack Greinke trade. Segura is 3rd in MLB in hits with 105 and 5th in batting average in MLB with a .327 batting average….Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks has rebounded from his 6-8 record in 2012 to posting a 9-0 record in 2013. Matt Harvey is 7-1 and his 152 strikeouts lead all NL pitchers. His 2.00 ERA also tops the NL and is 2nd best in MLB. His 0.85 WHIP leads the majors.
Cole Hamels has been a surprise in a negative way with his 2-11 record in 2013. If he had won only 3 of those games the Phillies would be in the thick of the NL East race….It was a surprise that R.A. Dickey the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner allowed 6 or more runs five times in the 2013 season. His record was 4-7 on May 30, but he has won four of his last five decisions for a 8-8 record currently. His 18 home runs allowed in 2013 is second worst among all MLB pitchers. Dickey was 12-1 on this date last year.
Around the Bases….Michael Cuddyer who is currently on a 27 game hit streak has moved to within one point of NL leading Yadier Molina with Molina hitting .345 to the .344 of Cuddyer….Adam Dunn continues to be an enigma with him being 4th in home runs in AL with 21, but hitting an anemic .198. This makes it difficult for Jim Leyland to name him to the AL All Star team, since the purpose of the game is to win home field advantage for the AL and Dunn is as likely to strike out as to hit a home run in the midsummer classic. He is not really earning his $15 million salary this season, since he is a one dimensional player….Yankees are playing now like they were expected to play till their stars started returning. Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira have played a combined 23 games so far this season. Vernon Wells was productive earlier in the season, but has regressed badly lately. He hit .300 in April, .221 in May and .133 in June. He also walked only once in June while striking out 17 times. Travis Hafner also started well hitting .318 in April then tumbled to .179 in May and .174 in June. Lyle Overbay has not hit well for average all season hitting .241 in April, .253 in May and .219 in June, but was a run producer earlier in the season. He drove in 12 runs in April, 17 in May and then down to 5 in June.
Only the White Sox, Astros and Mariners have scored fewer runs than the Yankees in 2013. They are next to last in batting in the AL with a .239 average and only two points ahead of the last place Astros and Seattle tied at .237….Marlins with 47 home runs in 2013 are 68 home runs behind the Orioles with 115….Pirates have the lowest ERA in MLB with a 3.11 mark. Astros have the worst ERA at 4.69….Pirates have thrown the most shutouts with 12, while the Astros and Cubs have a major league worst total of one….Cardinals lead in complete games with 6, while 9 teams have yet to throw a complete game….Tigers are missing Anibal Sanchez, since his replacement Jose Alvarez lost today to the Blue Jays by a 8-3 score and his ERA jumped from 3.78 to 5.03 today. Prince Fielder hit his 14th home run today in the loss. However, Omar Infante hit a home run 73 feet further than the Fielder home run. The loss dropped the Tigers a half game behind the first place Indians in the AL Central. Blue Jays moved to within 1.5 games of the 4th place Yankees in the AL East. We can expect some wheeling and dealing from Yankees if they fall into last place.
The 2013 baseball season is about 40 percent finished, but Miguel Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki are contending for the Triple Crown. Cabrera is leading the AL with a .363 batting average. Jhonny Cabrera his Detroit Tigers teammate and Chris Davis of the Orioles are 25 points behind Cabrera at .338.
Chris Davis leads in home runs in the AL with 20, but Cabrera is only three behind with 17. I look for Cabrera to pass Davis eventually, if Davis hits a cold streak. Cabrera leads in RBI by a large margin, with him having 67 and Davis trailing by 15 RBI with 52.
Troy Tulowitzki isn’t leading in any of the Triple Crown categories, but is in striking distance in all three. He trails batting leader Yadier Molina by 3 points, with Molina hitting .354 and Tulowitzki at .351. Tulowitzki is 3rd in home runs with 16 and only trails Dominic Brown with 19 and Colorado Rockies teammate Carlos Gonzalez with 17. Paul Goldschmidt leads the NL in RBI with 58, with Tulowitzki second with 51.
Puig Finishes First Week In Majors
Yasael Puig excited the Dodger faithful, when he made his major league debut last Monday and continued to hit well as the week went on. Puig finished his first week hitting .364, with 4 HR’s and 10 RBI. Puig leads the Dodgers in all four percentage statistics, with a .364 batting average, a .483 OBP, slugging percentage of .964 and a 1.447 OPS. He has already hit as many homers (4) as Andre Ethier in only 28 at bats, while Ethier has four in 201 at bats. The Dodgers were 4-3 during Puig’s first week with the team. The Dodgers still need someone besides Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig to lead the team offensively. The attendance for Puig’s debut was 37,055 and increased each game through Saturday, when 52,716 showed up for the 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. For some reason the attendance dropped to 39,028 yesterday, which was a drop of over 13,000 fans. Nobody expects Puig to keep hitting like he did the first week, but even when he levels out he should be a much better hitter, than an average major league hitter.
Buchholz Leads AL in Wins and ERA
Clay Buchholz leads the AL in wins with 9 and in ERA at 1.71. Buchholz has allowed more than two runs, in a game only once in twelve starts. ESPN projects Buchholz to post a 23-0 record in 2013. The stat that jumps out at me is that he has allowed only two home runs in 84 innings. ESPN projects Buchholz to allow five home runs in 213 innings, which is very few home runs, over that many innings in a season.
Blue Jays Moves Possible
With the Blue Jays firmly ensconced in last place in the AL East there could be some moves made, before the trading deadline in July. The Blue Jays were anticipating the 2013 season with high hopes, after the acquisition of Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey. However all three have been a disaster for the most part with the three starters combining for only seven wins in 32 starts. Dickey has been hammered with him allowing six runs in two starts and giving up seven runs in two other starts.
Jose Reyes was hitting .395 when he went on the DL, but only played in 10 games. Melky Cabrera is not hitting with power with only three home runs and 23 RBI in 27 at bats. Meanwhile Mark DeRosa who has batted only 81 times has one more home run than Cabrera with four and only two less RBI with 21 than Cabrera.
Matt Adams Slugging .552 As Bench Player
The Cardinals may feel fortunate to have so much depth, that Matt Adams is a bench player despite his hefty .552 slugging percentage, not to mention his .313 batting average. However the 24-year-old Adams can’t be too happy to be in this situation much longer, but the Cardinals have no plans to trade him. Adams has nothing to prove in the minors having a .318 lifetime batting average and a .563 slugging percentage, while hitting 83 home runs and driving in 293 runs. His presence does give the Cardinals flexibility, if another player is injured during the season.
Around the Bases…..
Carlos Zambrano doesn’t like pitching in relief, but has pitched well in the minors with a 2-0 and 0.55 ERA, while pitching for Clearwater in A+ ball and Reading in AA ball. He has allowed one run and struck out 12 in 16 innings….It was no surprise that the New York Mets released Rick Ankiel and demoted Ike Davis to the minors. Ankiel fared no better with the Mets, than he had with the Houston Astros earlier this season. The Mets were very patient with Davis hoping he would regain the magic of the last half of the 2012 season. He had five home runs at the end of May in 2012, but wound up hitting 32 home runs for the season. Davis only played 55 games in AA and 10 games in AAA, before being called up by the Mets, so maybe he was too rushed to fully develop as a major league caliber player.
Derek Lowe has apparently played his last major league game as a major leaguer at the age of 40. He posted a 176-157 record in the majors, before being released by the Texas Rangers last month….Jose Iglesias who has been filling in for Will Middlebrooks at third base for the Boston Red Sox may be in the same situation as Matt Adams of the Cardinals, when Middlebrooks returns. Iglesias hits for average, but can hit with the power that Middlebrooks can provide. Iglesias should see little playing time, upon the return of Middlebrooks. Iglesias is currently in the middle of a 13 game hitting streak. He has hit consistently over .400, while hitting .450 in April, .423 in May and .464 and is currently hitting .446. He is hitting an astounding .536 against lefthanders, hitting .486 on the road and is hitting much better than the .118 he hit for Red Sox in 2012. Iglesias has no power with two home runs in 148 major league at bats and has not shown much speed with two stolen bases in 57 games.
The Atlanta Braves will soon have to make a decision on Evan Gattis. He made the major league roster since Brian McCann started the major league season on the disabled list. The Braves front office and manager Fredi Gonzalez have some tough decisions with McCann probably returning in about a week, after he finishes his minor league rehab.
Gattis has not hit well for the Braves early in the season, but has hit five home runs, which is second on the Braves behind Justin Upton with nine. He is also only one RBI behind Justin Upton, who has 12 RBI with Gattis having 11. His .674 slugging percentage is second to Justin Upton, who is currently slugging .862. I can’t see the Braves sending down Gattis with these kind of offensive numbers. Gattis did make a mistake in a game against the Royals earlier in this week, when a Royals player was trapped between first and second. Instead of throwing immediately Gattis hesitated allowing the runner to return to first base safely. However that is excusable when considering his offensive output so far this season. ESPN projects Gattis to hit 54 home runs and drive in 130 runs. We know that he is not likely to post those kind of numbers, especially considering he and Gerald Laird will have to share backing up McCann about once every week, if the Braves decide to carry three catchers.
Chris Johnson who has been filling in for Freddie Freeman at first base will soon be in the same predicament as Gattis when Freeman returns. Johnson is leading the majors in batting with a .438 average, but with the return he will have to share third base with Juan Francisco who is hitting .318 and is projected to hit 32 home runs in 2013. He is not likely to reach those kind of numbers either, since he is sharing time at third base with Johnson.
We should know in the coming days, what the Braves decide to do with this problem of too many good hitters. One thing we know for sure is that Gattis won’t be the primary catcher for the Braves, as long as Brian McCann stays healthy. Gattis is in a 3-20 slump but two of those hits were home runs.
It is amazing that the Braves are 13-2 with Freeman on the disabled list for the last two weeks. That shows how powerful the Braves are in this year. They recently hit five home runs in one game, which tells me that the team will be even better with the return of Freeman.
Around the Bases
The New York Yankees have learned that Derek Jeter is not likely to return to the field, till after the All Star game in July. It is surprising that the Yankees are only 2.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have still not returned and Alex Rodriguez is very unlikely to play this season. If MLB finds that Rodriguez tried to buy Biogenesis records, then Rodriguez may be given a 100 game suspension, for using steroids and then trying to cover it up by buying the Biogenesis report….One of the major surprises early in the 2013 season has been the dismal play of the Los Angeles Angels. They are already seven games behind the first place Oakland Athletics in the AL West. The 4-10 Angels have a better record than only the 4-11 Houston Astros and the 3-13 Miami Marlins. The poor play has not affected the Angels at the box office, as they are drawing 4,825 more fans per game than in 2012.
Atlanta Braves 7-0 and Oakland Athletics 6-0 are the only MLB teams, with no losses on the road. Colorado Rockies are the only MLB team, to not lose a home game with a 6-0 record….Justin Upton is projected by ESPN to hit 97 home runs and drive in 140 runs. He has hit nine homers and didn’t hit No.9 till August 3 in 2012….Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers is proving in the early part of the 2013 season, to be one of the best free agent signings, since he leads the AL in hitting with a .413 average….It looked like the Philadelphia Phillies would challenge for the NL East title, but they are 6-10 and 7.5 games behind the first place Braves. Chase Utley leads the Phillies in home runs with 3 and RBI with 13, but Ryan Howard has hit only one home run and drove in five runs in 54 at bats. They are fourth in quality starts with 10, but are 28th in ERA with a 4.84 mark. Cliff Lee has pitched well with a 2-0 record and a 1.52 ERA, but the other four starters have a combined record of 2-6.
Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers lead the majors in hits with 26 and 25 respectively….Dexter Fowler is surprisingly second in MLB in home runs with 7. He has hit 7 home runs in 53 at bats, after hitting 13 in 2012 in 454 at bats. Fowler had eight home runs at the end of May in 2012, but hit only five more over the last four months of the season. He hit a HR every 34.9 AB’s in 2012, but is homering every 7.6 AB’s in 2013….Chris Davis is first player to drive in 20 runs, with John Buck, Prince Fielder and Brandon Phillips with 19 each….Joey Votto has walked 24 times in 16 games and ESPN projects him to have 243 walks at the end of the season. The closest to Votto in walks are four players tied with 11.
Chris Johnson .438, Torii Hunter .413, Adrian Gonzalez .407 and Carlos Gonzalez .400 are the only MLB players still hitting over .400….Joey Votto leads in OBP with a .526 mark….Justin Upton is leading in slugging with a .862 percentage and also leads in OPS with a 1.256 percentage and also leads in total bases with 50 in 15 games. That projects to 500 total bases if he plays in 150 games.
The Detroit Tigers who have stated they had no interest, in bringing back Valverde have signed him to a minor league contract. The contract stipulates that Valverde must be in the majors by May 5. I was surprised that the Tigers let Valverde walk, even though he had an atrocious postseason. Onc concern about Valverde is that his strikeouts per 9 innings have dropped each year since the 2006 season. when he struck out 12.6 batters per 9 innings. The following strikeout numbers per 9 innings show how those numbers have steadily declined: 2006: 12.6 2007: 10.9 2008: 10.4 2009: 9.3 2010: 9.0 2011: 8.6 2012: 6.3 Valverde’s strikeouts totaled 69 in 72 innings in 2011, then tanked to 48 in 68 innings in 2012. That is 21 less strikeouts in only three less innings pitched in 2012.
Trout, Pujols and Hamilton Continue to Slump
Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are a combined 6-38, after losing to the Angels by a 5-4 score this afternoon in Cincinnati. Hamilton made the final out, when he weakly waved at a pitch from Aroldis Chapman. The Angels are 1-2 after today’s game, but their pitchers are holding batters to a .155 batting average, which is only behind the Indians in the AL who are at .138…. Carlos Marmol once again took the Cubs to the brink of disaster, but got the save in a 3-2 win by the Cubs over the Pirates. Starter Travis Wood and three relievers had allowed only one hit in eight innings. Then Marmol made things interesting in the ninth by allowing Starling Marte to start the ninth with a single. Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez follow with two run scoring singles making the score 3-2. Marmol struck out Pedro Alvarez for the first out, then induced Neil Walker to hit into a game ending double play. Marmol ended the game with a team high 20.25 ERA and has allowed opposing batters to hit .571 against him. Kyugi Fujikawa, Hector Rondon, Hisanori Takahashi, James Russell and Shawn Camp have not allowed a run in a combined 4.2 innings.
Marmol has allowed 3 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks and a hit batsman in 1.1 innings. Cubs are 5th in ERA in the NL with a 2.08 mark, but are 30th in MLB in hitting with a .121 average. The Cubs starting rotation has pitched three good games in a row with Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood allowing no runs in their games, while Edwin Jackson pitched fairly well but took the loss yesterday. Will be interesting to see how Scott Feldman fares against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, as the Cubs get into the back-end of their rotation.
Royals defeated the White Sox 3-1 as Jeremy Guthrie bested Gavin Floyd, as the Royals salvaged a game, after losing the first two games. Floyd didn’t pitch badly, allowing only 2 earned runs in 6 innings, but the offense took the day off as the White Sox struck out 12 times in the contest. Adam Dunn struck out three times, while Dayan Viciedo struck out four times. The bright spot for the White Sox was that Gordon Beckham was 4-4 and raised his average to .556, while Tyler Flowers was 1-1 and is now hitting .571. Jose Quintana will face the power laden Seattle Mariners tomorrow and their league leading home run hitter Michael Morse with 4 home runs, after leading spring training with 9 home runs.
With Opening Day of the 2013 major league baseball season just 33 hours away, it reminds me of the baseball memories of my lifetime. I was 9 years old when I remember listening to my first game on the radio during the 1954 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Giants.
Opening Day of 2013 has a special meaning for me, since I was diagnosed with Stage III duodenal cancer in October of last year. I watched the 2012 World Series from a hospital bed in the VA Hospital in Houston, Texas, after having surgery on October 16.
I am waiting to have a Catscan done on May 21 in Houston, which will reveal if the cancer has returned. If the cancer has returned I have no guarantee I will be around for the 2013 World Series.
My first time to see a major league game was in August of 1957. Hard to believe that it was 56 years ago, when my dad, my older brother and me entered Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia that night. I can remember men bringing in brown bags with bottles inside, in case they needed a drink during the game.
It was fun watching the players shag fly balls right in front of us in our left field seats, while they were practicing for the game.
Another thing that stood out about that night was that the Phillies fans were booing their own players, which came as a complete shock to me. The Pirates won the game the night of August 13, 1957, as Bob Friend pitched a two hit shutout in a 6-0 win over the Phillies. Future Hall of Famers led off for both the Phillies with Richie Ashburn hitting leadoff and Clemente hitting leadoff for the Pirates. It is fun going back to the boxscore of that game, which was found at baseball-reference.com.
14,129 fans attended the game that night and it last only two hours and 12 minutes. The highlight of the game for me was when Bill Mazeroski hit a home run that hit the roof over the left field bleachers. Little did we know that three years later Mazeroski would hit a home run over the left field fence, to give the Pirates a walk-off win over the New York Yankees in the 1957 World Series.
My aunt would bring me to a Boston Red Sox – Kansas City Athletics game on July 24, 1959 in Kansas City. The Athletics defeated the Red Sox 3-1. Ted Williams pinch-hitting was my most important memory of that game. He fouled out to the catcher in his only at bat. Williams was hitting .230 after the out, but would raise his average to .254 by the end of the season. That was the lowest average of his 19 year career. He had never hit lower than .316 in any of his other 18 seasons. This is the year that Williams requested a pay cut for having such a bad season. He would raise his average by 62 points the next season to .316. I can say I saw him in his next to last season, since he retired after the 1960 season.
The year 1962 was a special year in my baseball memories, when I rode the old Kansas City Southern Belle passenger train from Alexandria, Louisiana to Kansas City, Missouri. It was my first trip by myself on a train and the best part was being fortunate enough to see a doubleheader, between the Kansas City Athletics and the New York Yankees. This was the season after Roger Maris had broken Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season, when he hit his 61st the season before, while Mickey Mantle had hit 54 that same year. They almost both broke the record but Mantle had to spend time in the hospital late in the season.
August 18, 1962 : Athletics 5 Yankees 4
Mickey Mantle hit a solo home run for the Yankees in the 4th inning, which would be his 23rd home run of the season. Roger Maris would hit his 27th in the 5th inning of the game. Yankees were ahead 4-1 after five innings. Whitey Ford the Yankee ace allowed 16 hits in the game and gave up a walk-off single to Haywood Sullivan to take the loss.
GAME TWO :
Yankees 11 Athletics 7
Maris and Mantle were 1-7 in the second game with no runs batted in. Bobby Richardson and Dale Long took up the slack though, with each player driving in three runs. Yogi Berra and Clete Boyer drove in two runs each in the contest. The Athletics took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the Yankees scored in the top of the second to take a 5-1 lead. The Athletics came back to score five runs of their own in the fourth inning, to take a 6-5 lead. The game was tied 7-7 after the eighth inning. The Yankees scored four more times in the top of the ninth and would win the game by a 11-7 score. Marshall Bridges 7-1, pitching in relief took the win for the Yankees.
The attendance that night was 35,147 and the game took 2 hours and 59 minutes to play.
I have seen about 11 major league games, which isn’t many in a 56 year period. I hope to see a game this year in Houston’s Minute Maid Park. Was able to see Aroldis Chapman come in to notch the save when the Reds defeated the Astros in 2012.
What to Look For in 2013 Season:
One of the biggest question marks is how the Yankees will play in April, while waiting for Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson to heal from injuries. In addition Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire 2013 season. It will be interesting to see which Kevin Youkilis shows up for the 2013 season, since he seems to be slowing down in the last couple of seasons. Yankees will be facing an improved Blue Jays starting rotation, which added veteran starters Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson and shortstop Jose Reyes should reach base in front of sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The AL East should be up for grabs in 2013 with Yankees and Red Sox seeming to regress, instead of improve.
Astros will be a team to watch as they will be joining one of the tougher divisions. They will contend with Athletics who won the AL West last season, the wildcard Rangers and improved Angels and Mariners teams. It will be huge surprise if the Astros don’t finish last in the AL West.
Tigers and White Sox should contend all season for the AL Central title. The Indians and Royals made several offseason moves that should make them stronger in 2013. Will be interesting to see how Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn improve the Cleveland offense.
The Braves have one of the strongest outfields in the majors with the addition of B.J and Justin Upton for the 2013 season to go with Jason Heyward. Andrelton Simmons, who is one of best shortstops in baseball seems to be hitting with more power lately. When you throw Freddie Freeman into the mix it gives the Braves a powerhouse batting order and could be even better if Dan Uggla can regain his 30 home run form. Julio Teheran could be ready to have a breakout season, after a great spring allowing 7 hits in 26 innings.
Phillies should be improved with a healthy Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to start the 2013 season, plus Dominic Brown seems on the verge of having a breakout year. Ben Revere should spark the offense with his hitting and speed on the bases.
Marlins are almost sure to finish last after having another one of their patented fire sales. It will be interesting to see how many Marlins fans show up for the debacle of a season in 2013.
Nationals are in position to make another run at the NL Central title. This could be a huge breakout year for Bryce Harper who will be 20 till October.
The Reds may be the worst team in NL this spring, but this team has too much talent to not be contending in the NL Central. They made the right move to keep Aroldis Chapman out of the starting rotation. He may not have been as effective as a starter, since he can’t throw close to 100 MPH for a complete game.
Cardinals seem like the only team good enough to battle with the Reds for the NL Central title. Brewers seem to be a team in disarray with the offense and defense both near the bottom in spring statistics. Pirates and Cubs should contend for fourth place. Cubs could surprise if their starting rotation can get healthy very soon.
I can see no reason for the Giants to not finish first again in 2013 in the NL West. Dodgers seem to be a player or two short from winning it all in 2013. Yasiel Puig is in minors waiting to be called up. He was leading all spring players in batting average, when sent down to the minors. I can see why he was sent down, since he has never played above A ball. It is important that Zack Greinke pitch well for the Dodgers to contend in 2013. Diamondbacks took a hit when Adam Eaton, who was having a great spring was placed on the DL. It will be interesting to see if Padres can hit more home runs in 2013, but missing Chase Headley to start the season may be a bad omen. Rockies are a question mark, but have enough talent to contend for the AL West title.
I am excited about the 2013 season. Just hope my health is good enough for me to see the entire season unfold.