Happy 25th anniversary Jose Oquendo game

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I knew it was the Tommy Lasorda anniversary. I had no idea it was the anniversary of the Jose Oquendo game, too. Though I do remember that game well as it came against the Braves back when my entire life consisted of watching Braves games on TBS.

Chris Jaffe takes us on a walk down memory lane of this 19-inning affair, with all of the details of what made this “The Jose Oquendo Game.” The fact that pitcher Jose DeLeon played the outfield — switching back and forth between left and right ELEVEN TIMES — didn’t even make it rate in naming it. The fact that Rick Mahler — a starter — came in from the pen and thew eight scoreless innings with just three hits and three walks while WINNING THE GAME for the godawful 1988 Braves doesn’t rate either.

No, it was the Jose Oquendo game, as the super-duper utility player, who may have been my favorite player on that field that day even though he wasn’t a Brave, pitched FOUR INNINGS in relief. He had no choice, really. As Jaffe explains, the Cardinals pitching staff was totally toasted after a stretch of nine straight days of games and an extended extra innings game just a couple days before.

Oquendo pitched two other times in his career, once in 1987, once in 1991. But he those were each an inning. This one was something else.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.