On Saturday evening, separated by five minutes and two time zones, three Venezuelans took to the hill: Felix Hernandez, Seattle; Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland; and Henderson Alvarez, Miami.
Given Carrasco’s up-and-down career, and Alvarez’ first-start-return from the disabled list with shoulder woes, you’d think Hernandez the most likely winner on the night. But reality is always more interesting than statistics, and Carrasco and Alvarez won, while King Felix got plunked with a batted ball and left his start in the fifth inning, eventually shouldering a loss to rival ace David Price.
Carrasco, an imposing righty from Caracas, seems to be rounding into form for The Tribe with each start. Last week he shut out the Yankees for five innings; last night it was seven white-wash frames against the previously high-flying Birds of Baltimore. Surely Indians manager Terry Francona would love to see C.C. develop into a reliable starter; he’ll have the rest of 2014 to do so. (Naturally, on the 45th anniversary of Woodstock, Carlos Santana had to homer for Cleveland.)
Alvarez continues to impress for a middling Miami squad. After a shaky first inning which was saved from further disaster by another wonderful outfield assist from Dominican centerfielder Marcel Ozuna, Henderson settled into a nice groove, in fact, retiring the last 9 batters on only 21 pitches. Among those pitches was a wonderfully loopy 58-MPH curveball (a tribute to El Duque Hernandez, no doubt). #37 has a nice future with the Fish, and could even put up 15 wins this season, if things fall into place.
Meanwhile, Señor Cy Young faced down four of his Venezuelan compatriots on the Tigers, and in truth wasn’t bad, giving up 2 runs over five innings. His run of 16 games giving up 2 or fewer runs in seven-plus innings ended, however, despite a handful of his “King’s Court” making a special Motor City mecca. His ERA ticked up to 1.99, and Seattle fell a notch behind the Tigers in the wild-card race—I’ll bet Felix will take a playoff berth over any individual accomplishment. Endy Chavez had a pinch-hit RBI for the M’s, and of course Victor Martinez and Miggy Cabrera had two hits apiece for Los Tigres.
A nice comeback tale in Chi-town, as Avisail Garcia came back from a shoulder injury to get two hits for the South Siders. It seemed his season was sunk by a sinking line drive in April, but ah, the magic of youth (and a good medical staff). According to manager Robin Ventura, “Avi” was the first to arrive at the park every day in his effort to return to the lineup. Well done, son. His reward: a double down the line, and a shot that nearly cleared the fence but ultimately ended up as a single.
In the “It’s a girl!” category: Catcher Wilson Abraham Ramos, a week after the birth of he and wife Yely’s first child, continues to contribute to the Nats’ playoff run. His walk-off double against Pittsburgh kept Washington, as the old saying goes, first in war, first in peace, and first in the NL East.
In the showdown of the Escobars, Eduardo of the Twins scored an important insurance run as Phil Hughes shut down his compatriots on the Royals, Alcides (Escobar), Salvador Perez, and Omar Infante.
Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez both went 2-for-5 for the Astros.
Leaving the Big Apple for last: Martin Prado hit a two-run homer for the Yankees in a 3-2 win in the amazing indoor hothouse of Tropicana Field, while Wilmer Flores was outstanding in the New Shea Stadium with two RBI, two outstanding individual fielding stops, and two double plays turned. I still believe in Wilmer as the Mets shortstop of the future. It’s been nearly a year since his first call-up, but with a solid month to show his mettle, I believe he’ll do just that. (And the Mets’ announcers say his speaking voice sounds just like Edgardo Alfonso.)