There were three 1-0 games and a 2-0 game. What is this, 1968? It’s Monday, so are we watching “Laugh-In” tonight? Is the Zodiac Killer still at large? Is Elvis making his big comeback? Because if you’re lookin’ for trouble you came to the right place.
Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
Orioles 8, Astros 7: Apparently this is one of the bigger upsets, based on pregame betting lines, in recent baseball history. The hapless O’s against Justin Verlander on getaway day, the day after they got utterly shellacked and demoralized, etc. etc. That may be important to some but to most of us it’s merely example 1,493,638 of “anything can happen in any given game and nobody knows nothin'” which, in my view, is what makes baseball great. Within the context of the game after it began it was an improbable win for the O’s too, as they had blown 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth by giving up three to the Astros on a ridiculous play to make it 7-5, but then Chris Davis hit a sac fly to make it a one-run game and then Rio Ruiz hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth for the walkoff win. Verlander struck out 11 in only five innings but gave up four runs and a season-high nine hits. Baseball is chaos and thank God for that.
Angels 5, Red Sox 4: The Angels blew an early 3-0 lead but Kole Calhoun tied it back up at four with a solo shot in the eighth. On to extras and the Angels rallied in the tenth with Anthony Bemboom knocking in Calhoun with a go-ahead single. With a name like Bemboom that guy had better become a serious slugger because otherwise it’d be a total waste of some good onomatopoeia.
Yankees 1, Blue Jays 0: Stan Bahnsen tossed a three-hit complete game shutout, backed by three hits from Roy White and an RBI single from Joe Pepitone for the game’s only run. OK, not really — Masahiro Tanaka tossed eight shutout innings and Brett Gardner‘s ground rule double scored the game’s only run — but y’all should spend some time learning about guys like Roy White and Stan Bahnsen (and maybe less time on Pepitone; he already gets a lot of press). We have this bad habit of only remembering Hall of Famers and forgetting fantastic players simply because they weren’t All Time Greats. White: 15 years, all with the Yankees, with a .360 OPB in a low-offensive era. Bahnsen was, ultimately a tad below average pitcher in his 16 seasons, but in 1968 he posted a 2.05 ERA that, even in the Year of the Pitcher, was fantastic and won the Rookie of the Year Award. Now he’s all but forgotten by most fans, I suspect. Damn shame.
Royals 10, Tigers 2: The Tigers could’ve used Denny McLain in this one. Wait, who am I kidding? You couldn’t really rely on McLain back in the day. Let’s say they could’ve used Mickey Lolich or Earl Wilson. Heck, Joe Sparma would do in a pinch, because as it was their pitchers got hammered. Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler each homered twice. It was the third time Dozier has hit two homers in a game in the past ten days. Soler hit four homers in the final three games of the series and, with 35, is now only three dingers behind Mike Moustakas for the single season record for the Royals.
Nationals 7, Mets 4: The Mets’ eight-game winning streak comes to an end thanks to Asdrúbal Cabrera hitting a tiebreaking two-run double against his old mates and Víctor Robles hitting a two-run homer to give Sean Doolittle some breathing room in the ninth. Anthony Rendon had four hits.
Braves 5, Marlins 4: The Braves maintained their six and a half game lead over Washington thanks to their not, for once, blowing a late lead. It wasn’t for lack of trying, as Luke Jackson worked around three hits to save it, but it’s been pretty damn dicey in that department for Atlanta lately. To keep up with the 1968 theme, let’s say that they could really use, let’s say, Cecil Upshaw right around now. In his absence Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 33rd home run and his sixth dinger in his last six games, and Ender Inciarte hit a three-run shot. No one kicked a metal trash can into a fire extinguisher causing it to blow up. Which is the first time that’s happened since Friday for the Braves.
Cubs 6, Reds 3: The Reds led 3-0 after five but the Cubs rallied with one in the sixth and four runs in the seventh, capped off by Kris Bryant‘s three-run homer. Ian Happ homered in the eighth for some insurance to help Chicago earn a split of the four-game set. Chicago’s bullpen allowed just two baserunners in the last four innings of the game. That stinks for the Reds but, on the bright side, they looked absolutely fantastic in their throwback uniforms:
No piping or drop-shadow letter or anything. Just a clean as a fresh haircut look. I can smell the Pinaud Clubman aftershave just by lookin’ at these photos, man.
Athletics 2, White Sox 0: Chris Bassit tossed seven shutout innings and three relievers finished the job, allowing five hits total and bupkis in the runs department. Matt Olson‘s two-run homer in the fourth was all the scoring in the game. My 1968 Oakland A’s factoid: a 22-year-old Reggie Jackson led the team with 29 homers. Second in that category: Sal Bando with . . . 9. 1968 was tough, brother.
Rangers 1, Brewers 0: Neither of these teams existed in 1968. Well, not really. The Senators v.2.0 were still flopping around D.C., a few years away yet from moving to Texas and the Seattle Pilots were at least putting minor leaguers together in anticipation of their debut the following year, but if you told someone in 1968 that Texas was playing Milwaukee they’d laugh at you like you were Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. or something. Mike Minor tossed eight shutout innings, striking out 11 and Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s sac fly was the game’s only scoring.
Indians 7, Twins 3: Carlos Santana hit a grand slam off of Taylor Rogers to break a 3-3 tie in the tenth inning and power the Indians to victory. The Twins would’ve won in walkoff fashion if it wasn’t for a tremendous relay from left fielder Tyler Naquin to shortstop Francisco Lindor to cut down Luis Arraez at the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Here it all is:
Cleveland took three of four from the Twins and leave Minnesota in a tie for first place in the AL Central. One hundred and eighteen games and nothin’ is decided in that division.
Cardinals 11, Pirates 9: The 1968 Cardinals gave up nine runs or more six times in the entire season. This was the 11th for the 2019 Cardinals. I don’t suppose that means that much. Just know that (a) Bob Gibson ain’t walkin’ through that door; and (b) they won anyway, so who cares? Lane Thomas hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to bring the Cards back from an 8-5 deficit. Earlier, in the fourth, he tripled in a run to tie it at four. Paul Goldschmidt and Dexter Fowler also homered as the Cards sweep the Buccos and move into second place, two games in back of the Cubs. They haven’t been pretty this year but St. Louis is far from out of it.
Rockies 8, Padres 3: Germán Márquez went eight innings, allowing three, and Yonder Alonso homered. His 100th career homer, actually, so viva round numbers and the base-10 counting system. The Padres led 2-0 until that homer in the sixth, which tied things up, and after that Colorado didn’t look back. Even Márquez got into the act, singling home a run. Ian Desmond knocked in two as well.
Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 3: Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven scoreless innings of five-hit ball, Justin Turner hit two homers and Cody Bellinger and Will Smith homered too. Ryu’s ERA is now 1.45. The lowest ERA in the NL since Bob Gibson’s 1.12 in 1968 was Dwight Gooden’s 1.53 in 1985. The lowest in the AL since 1968 is a tie between Pedro Martinez in 2000 and Ron Guidry in 1978, each of whom posted a 1.74. So, yeah.
Rays 1, Mariners 0: Two more teams that didn’t exist in 1968. And unlike the other two, they weren’t even twinkles in the expansion committee’s eye back then. Still, they played this game as if it were Luis Tiant vs. Sam McDowell or something, with the Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough blanking Seattle into the ninth, coming one out away from a complete game shutout. The Mariners used an opener, followed by six innings of Wade LeBlanc, whose only blemish was a gopherball to Eric Sogard for the game’s only run.
Giants 9, Phillies 6: San Francisco takes three of four from the Phillies, with this last one being a backbreaker. Tied at six with two out in the bottom of the eighth, Kevin Pillar hit a triple that scored Evan Longoria and then Will Smith — the other one –followed with a two-run single in his first career at-bat. Beginner’s luck. He also faced five hitters — a lot for him — and got the win. Scooter Gennett and Mike Yastrzemski each homered. The Phillies left the bases loaded twice in this game. They’re now in fourth place, nine games back of the Braves, and two games out of Wild Card position with four teams in front of them. Not great, but I guess that’s better than the 1968 Phillies who finished 21 games out of first place in an era in which only the first place team made the playoffs. Wait, there were no playoffs. It was just the World Series. Everyone talks about 1968 being a drag — and I suppose it was — but that part of it was pretty spiffy.