Fantastic news to pass along here, as Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that former Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola has fully recovered from open-heart surgery and is ready to serve as the pitching coach for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
Viola spent the past three seasons as the pitching coach in A-ball with the organization, but he was slated to move up to Triple-A this year. However, he had open-heart surgery on April 2 after an issue was detected during a spring training physical. Viola told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News last month that the surgery functioned as a wake-up call for him, as he has lost 19 pounds and has never felt better. Great to hear.
Viola will represent the Mets at the First-Year Player Draft next Thursday in Secaucus, New Jersey before joining Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday. He’ll be quite a resource for top prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is currently recovering from a flexor pronator strain in his right elbow.
With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.
Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.
After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.