The heroic struggle of Ed Hearn

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Folks my age and older might remember Ed Hearn, if not for his role as a dependable backup catcher for the 1986 Mets than at least for his presence in the trade that sent him to Kansas City in exchange for one David Cone.  That resume may be the sort of thing that keeps a guy in free lunches and attaboys during his retirement, but for Ed Hearn, baseball is but a tiny footnote in his life story:

As the baseball postseason unfolds this month, heroes will be
anointed, and star players feted. Nobody will say a word about Hearn,
who isn’t the best ballplayer to play in this city, but may be the most
courageous, and the most selfless.

At 49, Hearn has been through three kidney transplants, 25
surgeries, three dozen carcinomas and courses of radiation. He takes 20
medications a day, running his lifetime pill total to about 140,000.
When he was first diagnosed in the early 1990s, he was so distraught
that he went down to the basement with a loaded gun, and wrote a
suicide note to his wife, Trish.

Now he says it is his love for Trish, and their son, Cody, and his faith, that keeps him going.

Harrowing stuff indeed, turned uplifting by Hearn’s courage and equanimity in the face of something that would make even the strongest among us wilt.  If nothing else, it’s a story that truly puts baseball in perspective.

Mets beat Phillies to clinch wild card tie

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 30: Jose Reyes #7 and Curtis Granderson #3 of the New York Mets celebrate their win against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 30, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Mets defeated the Phillies 5-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.

Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.

The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.

Carlos Rodon strikes out 10 consecutive batters

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Carlos Rodon #55 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning on September 30, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.

During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.

Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.

Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: