Some of you may recall a college-days phenomenon called “Pitcher Night.” You could buy approximately a gallon of beer in a pitcher-shaped container for about a dollar. Maybe a bit more, or a bit less (money or beer), depending on the state and decade in which you attended university. For those of you with a way-back time machine, this also occurred, sometimes legally, during high school days when you could vote, drink, saddle a mule, and kill the foreign devil all at the age of 18.
But my point is this: we now seem to have a regular Pitchers’ Night in the VZ baseball universe. On Friday, for the second straight week, on the very same night, at least three VZ pitchers took the mound, and this week two of them actually opposed each other. It’s a high-water mark for Venezuelan beisbol fans everywhere.
In Boston, Felix Hernandez took on the Red Sox, and for the second straight game, didn’t have his best stuff. He gave up a 3-run homer to Cuba’s own Yoenis Cespedes, after an intentional walk to Big Papi Ortiz. Cespedes always KILLED Seattle when he played for Oakland, and they probably were not happy to see him doing it again. King Felix did reach 200 K’s for the sixth straight season, a Mariners’ record, but left in the sixth trailing 3-0.
So it stayed until Valencia’s own Endy Chavez worked a 10-pitch walk with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. That began a four-run eruption against Japanese relief ace Koji Uehara, and voila, King Felix was off the hook for the loss and the Mariners remained in serious contention for the MLB playoffs. But credit the wily veteran Chavez for working that base on balls—his third of the game to go with a single single (ha!) to complete a perfect evening at the plate. Alberto Callaspo isn’t the only VZ man who knows how to work a walk. And to do it with two outs in the ninth–that’s gumption, son.
In Denver, it was face-to-face, mano-a-mano between Henderson Alvarez of Valencia (and Miami) and big lefty Franklin Morales of San Juan de los Morros (and Colorado). They both threw about 90 pitches, but Franklin’s came in four innings, during which he surrendered half-a-dozen runs. Henderson gave up two 2-run homers, but only that, as he worked carefully in Denver’s rarified air to keep his ERA at 2.57 (exactly half a tick higher than Felix Hernandez’) and raise his record to 10-5. “Shutout” Alvarez had no walks in six innings; Morales had two in only four innings and 90 pitches (53 of which were strikes).
Carlos Carrasco is lights-out since escaping the Cleveland bullpen a few weeks back–three starts, 18 innings, 17 strikeouts and a 0.50 ERA. The right-hander from Barquisimeto, home of the Winter League Cardenales de Lara, won 2 of the 3 games in question to bring his record to 5-4 and lower his ERA to 3.14. He topped out on the radar gun between 98 and 99 mph in the first inning–take that, Aroldis Chapman!
Martin Prado had the game-winning ribbies in Friday’s *and* Saturday’s games for the resurgent Bronx Bombers with 3 RBI on Friday (including a 2-run home run) and 3 hits and 2 RBI in Saturday’s victory. Martin hit .444 for the week, the sort of professional hitting the Yankees were looking for when they grabbed him from the Diamondbacks at the trade deadline. Sometimes, translations are unnecessary, i.e. Saturday’s headline in El Diario: Prado, El Heroe.
Today’s blog is dedicated to my niece Elizabeth Perrotti. She’s in heaven and is currently letting me borrow her old MacBook Pro. Miss you, kid.