Francisco Liriano and Felix Hernandez had a great pitchers’ duel last night, with the Twins taking a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning in Seattle.
With a runner on first base and one out Jack Cust hit a ground ball to third baseman Danny Valencia, who decided to throw to second base for the force out.
His throw was late–on replay, Miguel Olivo’s was already at the base when Alexi Casilla caught the ball, although there’s some question about whether Casilla’s foot blocked Olivo–but umpire Jerry Meals called him out.
Eric Wedge came storming out of the dugout, went face-to-face (or mustache-to-face) with Meals, and got himself ejected pretty quickly, although he was relatively subdued once tossed.
Instead of having the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on base with one out, the Mariners were down to their final out with a runner on first base and Adam Kennedy grounded out to end the game. At this point the Twins will take any help they can get, as the victory snapped their nine-game losing streak.
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.