An Old-School Sunday Morning with scattered Sunday Night Updates
I went a bit old-school this morning: I read the newspaper (that’s one of those large black-and-white printed documents) and checked yesterday’s box scores. What fun! The smell of the newsprint, the deciphering of the hieroglyphics; the endless search for undiscovered Venezuelan players.
A look at the league leaders shows Jose Altuve of the Astros second in the American League (one day I’ll get used to Houston being an A.L. team) in hits with 55. A friend and I were relaxing in the Burger Loft in Rockland County yesterday and were remarking on how big current players are—this was when Cuban giant Jose Abreu stepped up to the plate. Later, Altuve came up, and I told my mate Jose was only 5’5”—the size of second basemen a generation ago. He was shocked….and yet Jose slapped down a fearless tag on a stolen base attempt Saturday, and rocked 2 singles to keep his average at .304; he also stole his 14th base in the Astros’ loss to Chicago. (All rounder Merwyn Gonzalez, however, took the collar at 3B and saw his average drop to .275). On Sunday, Altuve added stolen bag # 15 and he and Gonzalez conspired on a double play in the Astros’ big victory.
Mighty Eduardo Escobar (SS, Minnesota) continues at a .354 clip for the Twins, and scored one Brian Dozier’s game-winning three-run blast again Seattle. In five of his last ten games, Eduardo has gotten 2 hits or more. He’s played in just 29 games with 82 at-bats, so he doesn’t qualify among the league leaders at present. (On Sunday, Eduardo played 3B and went 1-for-4 against King Felix to go to .349). In other Escobar-related news, on Saturday KC SS Alcides Escobar went hitless, with one sacrifice, as the Royals shut out Baltimore. He was also hit by a pitch. In the same vein, something which goes unnoticed by some, but Alberto Callaspo pinch-hit for the A’s yesterday and with his keen eye, drew a walk in his only at-bat of the game. That’s a professional (and disciplined) hitter. He was less fortunate on Sunday and went 0-for-5 in a big A’s victory. He left 7 runners on base; luckily for him, Oakland plated 13.
Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera form the best one-two punch in baseball right now and are a large part of the reason the Tigers have the best winning percentage in MLB. Saturday, they combined for a 5-for-10 against Boston; Victor leads the junior circuit in batting at .336 and each day the 30-million-dollar man Cabrera gets closer; his 3-for-5 with two ribbies got him to .305 and 37 RBIs, and you honestly have to think, why couldn’t this guy win another Triple Crown? On Sunday, V-Mart bashed a homer and Miggy had another 3 hits and 2 more ribbies. Who can stop Detroit with these guys hitting?
On the comeback trail of sorts, Edward Mujica (Boston) and Luis Avilan (Atlanta) each threw 2/3 of scoreless relief, though both their teams lost. Not exactly a Sabado Gigante, but not bad, either.
Wilson Ramos is finding his way at the plate, or at least finding his way *to* the plate in his first week of action after breaking a hamate bone in his left hand. After Saturday’s game, Wilson was only at .154 but will certainly improve upon that; in fact, on Sunday he went 2-for-3 with 4 RBI against New York to skyrocket his average over the Mendoza Line; on the opposite side Mets’ youngster Wilmer Flores got back in the side after a flu bug and Ruben Tejada’s sudden career resurrection sidelined him for a week. Wilmer went 1-for-3 with a walk in the Metropolitans
Martin Prado had a nice 3-for 5 with 3 RBI as the Diamondbacks stepped all over the Dodgers on the day it was announced Tony LaRussa would be joining the organization. Nothing like trying to impress the new boss on his first day. Carlos Gonzalez went 2-for-5 with a sac fly and 3 RBI in the Rockies’ loss to San Diego; he also made a throwing error from left field. In that game, the Padres turned five double plays—nice baseball, fellas. On Sunday, the quietly efficient Cargo went 2-for-4 in the Rox extra-inning win. His average stands at .275.
Back in the Bronx, Yangervis Solarte watched all his other teammates hit home runs on Saturday while his 0-for-4 dropped him to “only” .315 and fifth in the A.L. in batting. Pirates’ leadoff man Jose Tabata, who began his career in the Yankees minor-league organization, had a hit while playing right field in the House that Steinbrenner Built. On Sunday, both players made it through both games of a genuine one-admission double-header and Solarte indeed got his, knocking a home run and going 2-for-4 in the nightcap (the teams split the two games and probably, the beer sales).
Sunday, two of the best took the mound to represent Venezuela: Felix Hernández for Seattle, and Anibal Sánchez for Detroit. Sanchez came back from a lacerated finger which kept him out for three weeks; King Felix was back after (perhaps) flipping the bird to an umpire last week for his first-ever ejection. His middle finger, and indeed all of them, seemed to work fine in defeating Minnesota for his fifth win against one loss; Sanchez went the requisite 5 frames in his first game pitched in three weeks and got plenty o’ run support from the pitcher-eating Tigers to get a win, too.
Finally some good news in Panda-land: Pablo Sandoval hit his third homer of the year and is now above the Mendoza line at .220 for the front-running Gigantes. He’s a streaky hitter, to say the least: don’t be surprised to see some astounding numbers by mid-June from the Panda Man. His 14 for 39 tear in the last 10 games raised his average a stunning 49 points.