Around the Horn: May 12
Yangervis Solarte continues to light up the Bronx. In the first game of the Subway Series, Yangervis went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .330—the only regular in the Yankees lineup with an average over .300. He also leads the team in RBI. The Yankees lost a high-scoring contest 9-7, but Solarte proved his mettle. (On the opposite side, 40-year-old Bobby Abreu got his first start for the Mets in an American League park, as DH. Bobby has struggled thus far with 4 hits in 20 at bats, although he’s hit the ball hard at times).
Speaking of the Yankees, they were the first team to draw blood off the otherwise unhittable Francisco Rodriguez. They hit a few deep outs in K-Rod’s 15th save on Saturday night, but on Sunday Mark Texiera turned on a fastball and sent it practically into Lake Michigan. Ironically, K-Rod got the win while giving up his first run of the year, as the Brewers scored in the bottom of the ninth for the victory.
More research turns up more Venezuelans….. Atlanta’s Luis Avilan did wonderfully as setup man in 2013 after Eric O’Flaherty went down with injury. The lefty’s line at season’s end: LHP; 75 games, 65 innings, 1.52 ERA, 5-0, 0 saves. He decided for the first time in a while not to play winter ball in the off-season, because his arm got a workout last year. In 2014, so far he has a 6-plus ERA and 0 saves. Maybe they’ve figured him out, but for now the Braves aren’t giving him the ball in key situations.
Maybe the man who can sort Avilan out is a fellow countryman: another interesting discovery this week was Braves’ bullpen coach Eddie Pérez (from Ciudad Ojeda, on Lake Maracaibo’s northeast shore), who gained notoriety in his career as Greg Maddux’s personal catcher for a few seasons in Atlanta. Of course those Braves teams ruled the NL East with an amazing pitching staff, but Eddie had some bang in his bat too, practically winning the 1999 National League Championship Series against New York with a 10-for-20 performance (and MVP Award of the series). Of course the Braves ran into a buzz-saw from the other side of New York in the World Series that year and lost in four games.
That was the end of Pérez’s magical run—the next season, he tore a rotator cuff and played only three more seasons. But when Greg Maddux goes in to the Hall of Fame, does Eddie Pérez get to hand him his plaque?