Showing posts from September, 2023

On This Date in...

1993 ... Ruben Amaro Junior helps the Phillies set the National League record for most consecutive games without being shut out.  He walks in the 3rd inning and comes around on Mickey Morandini's double for what turns out to be the World Series-bound Phils only run of the night in a 9-1 loss to the Pirates.   It's the 174th straight game where they score at least once. 1968. .. Dick Allen 's only three home run game in a Phillies uniform comes in a season-ending 10-3 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium.  After a two run blast off Tom Seaver in the 6th, and a solo bomb against Cal Koone in the 8th, the Phils left fielder faces Ron Taylor with the bases loaded in the top of 9th -- and clears the bases.  (He's seen here with the Phantic during 2015's Alumni Weekend.) 1915 ... Grover Cleveland Alexander tosses a one-hit shutout as the Phillies clinch their first pennant ever, as they blank the Braves in Boston 5-0 .

Difference Maker

Johan Rojas  made his reputation in the minors with elite defense and baserunning skills.  Still, when the Phillies summoned him from AA Reading in mid-July, few expected him to make an impact with the bat.  But that's exactly what's happened the past two-and-a-half months.  Timely hits and a surprising average right around .300 -- with more proof Tuesday night.  With one out in the bottom of the 10th at Citizens Bank Park with the Phils and Pirates tied 2-2, he wasted no time in lining a single up the middle that scored ghost runner Cristian Pache for a walk off win -- and more. The victory clinched a post-season spot.  And within the hour, as the Braves capped their come-from-behind win over the Cubs, a second clinching -- as the Phils locked in the top Wild Card with home field for the three game playoffs. And the difference maker: Rojas, the overachieving rookie who keeps exceeding expectations. ( My image of Johan Rojas is from the August 11th game against the Twins in Phi

Random Images

Here's proof of why I enjoy covering the minor leagues in Central New York : The Yankees, who'll miss the post-season for the first time since 2016, drew encouragement yesterday when top prospects Austin Wells (above) and Oswald Peraza (below) both homered in their 6-4 win over the contending Diamondbacks. While former top prospect Estevan Florial , who was only called up after Jasson Dominguez blew out his elbow, delivered the 8th inning sacrifice fly (scoring Peraza) that gave the Yanks the lead for keeps. Justin Verlander 's report card from his half-season with the Mets was, at best, "incomplete." Back with the Astros, he's a difference-maker.  Last night, in the opener of a crucial rivalry series at Seattle, he held the Mariners to a run and three hits while striking out eight and working one batter into the 9th. The victory moved Houston closer to a Wild Card playoff spot and was the 256th of his career, pulling him even with Andy Pettitte on the all t

If Your Birthday is September 22nd...

Image share it with Tommy Lasorda .   A successful pitcher in the Dodgers farm system, where he won 66 games for Triple A Montreal between 1950 and '54, things didn't go as well with the big club.  the suburban Philadelphia native never won a game in eight Brooklyn appearances -- and was sent back to the minors in June 1955 to make room on the roster for then-rookie Sandy Koufax, a move that he often joked about. Tommy later appeared with the Kansas City A's, but in his heart, he never left the Dodger organization. After his playing days, he worked his way up the L.A. system as a scout, then manager, before joining Walter Alston's coaching staff and succeeding him in 1977.  He earned a pair of World Series rings: in 1981, when his Dodgers dropped the first two games before knocking off the Yankees; and 1988, the "Kirk Gibson" series. Spanning both coasts, Lasorda spent 71 years in Dodger Blue.  He died at age 93 in 2021. Let's also remember : Bob Lemon ,

On This Date in 1983...

... Joe Morgan celebrates his 40th birthday at Veterans Stadium.  The future Hall of Famer goes 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs -- the second one, in the bottom of the 8th, providing the margin of victory -- as the Phillies continue their September resurgence as they  edge the Cubs 7-6 . After struggling all season for "The Wheeze Kids," Morgan turned back the clock in September '83, hitting .337 for the month, reaching base 45% of the time and posting an OPS of 1.045.  The Phils went 21-7 and nailed down their fifth NL East crown -- eventually reaching the World Series for the second time in four years. ( My photo of Joe Morgan is from the 2013 BAT Dinner in New York.)

On to the (Minor League) Post Season

The Mets' Double A affiliate, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, have enjoyed one of the biggest turnaround stories of the minor league season.  Taking advantage of  the Eastern League tradition of separate first and second half records, the "mini Mets" took full advantage of deadline trades that brought in a wave of fresh, impressive talent.   Front and center is centerfielder Drew Gilbert .  Since coming to the Mets from Houston for Justin Verlander, the St. Paul, Minnesota native has dazzled.  40 hits in 35 games, a .325/.423/.981 slash line and an aggressive approach that Binghamton coach Mariano Duncan told me reminded of his 1993 Phillies teammate Lenny Dykstra.  High praise, indeed! Middle infielder Luisangel Acuna -- Ronald's kid brother -- got off to a slow start but kicked into gear as the Rumble Ponies moved in on clinching a playoff spot. Just 21, he was the Mets return for Max Scherzer -- a deal increasingly favoring New York as Scherzer again fell injured. 

If Your Birthday is September 15th...

Image share it with the late Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry.    Seen here at the 2012 BAT Dinner, alongside fellow inductees Sandy Koufax, Mike Schmidt and Tony Perez, the North Carolina native won 314 and struck out 3534, admittedly with the help of the spitball and similar "doctoring tricks"; amazingly, he wasn't caught using one on the mound and ejected from a game until his 21st season in the majors!! While he enjoyed a long and productive career, Perry only saw post-season action once -- in the 1971 NLCS where he went 1-1 for the Giants, who lost to the eventual World Series champion Pirates. The Giants retired his number 36 in 2005; 11 years later the club erected a statue of him outside what is now Oracle Park in San Francisco. Also worth remembering:  Charley Smith .  The 3rd baseman -- originally signed by the Dodgers -- is the only player ever to have played for both Chicago's Cubs and White Sox and New York's Mets and Yankees.  

On This Date in 1978...

Roy White 's two-RBI single in the top of the 4th put the Yankees ahead to stay, as they cruised to a 7-3 victory over the Tigers in Detroit.  Jim Beattie worked the first 6-1/3 innings, while Goose Gossage got the final eight outs (striking out future Yank Steve Kemp to end the game). The win gave the Yankees undisputed possession of 1st place in the American League East, overtaking the Red Sox, whom they'd trailed by 14 games in mid-July. With 18 games to go, nothing was truly settled.  The Yanks would go 12 and 6, finishing in a tie with their forever rivals and forcing a one-game playoff at Fenway Park.   And Yankee fans know, and will forever celebrate, the rest of that story.  

Bronx Heartbreak

Jasson Dominguez had been so darned impressive since joining the Yankees at the beginning of the month.  Starting with a home run in his first at-bat -- and four in his first seven games -- he'd displayed power, good strike zone judgement, base running skills and outfield defense.  He also handled himself like a Yankee: calm, mature, driven but not edgy, Eight tantalizing games that gave Yankee fans hope for the immediate future.  Those hopes went on hold Sunday afternoon when the club announced that the 20-year old phenom had a torn elbow ligament that needs surgery which will shelve "The Martian" until next summer. It just seems unfair.  A rising star, with a serious injury that will cost 100 games or more.  Not just that, but a charismatic youngster I enjoyed seeing earlier this season while with AA Somerset.  He was as impressive a hitter as any prospect I'd seen. Best of all, he joined a Yankee team loaded with disappointing -- and in many cases, older -- players

If Your Birthday is September 8th...

Image share it with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole .  Now in his 11th big league season, and fourth in the Bronx, he's already passed 2000 career strikeouts and should reach 150 victories early next year.  On a roster with too many underachievers, the Southern California native and two-time Cy Young runner-up has been a rock of consistency.   It's not a stretch to expect that should Cole remain at this level of performance for another three or four years, that he'll be a lock for the Hall of Fame.  So, it's rather fitting I used a photo of him from 2021, the year the Yankees wore a memorial patch for the franchise's greatest pitcher, Cooperstown honoree Whitey Ford.  

Welcome to 400

It was impressive enough last night when Giancarlo Stanton belted his 400th career home run -- making him the fourth fastest ever to reach the milestone.   Now, add on that it snapped a 6th inning tie and gave the Yankees the lead to stay.  Plus, it bailed out Gerrit Cole, who, although holding the Tigers to just one run, wasn't in top form.  The game-turning bomb helped him secure his 13th victory, while Cole lowered his ERA to an AL-best 2.90.  The 5-1 win also brought the Yankees back to the .500 mark, as they try and avoid their first losing record since 1992. It hasn't been the kind of season the Yankees expected.  Nor the kind of tenure in the Bronx that Yankees fans hoped for.  Injuries, inconsistency and the club's now 14-year absence from the World Series, have kept the former Marlin from becoming a fan favorite.   Still, 400 home runs is something to celebrate. At age 33, Stanton got to 400 in the 1,520th game of his career.  Only Mark McGwire (1,412), Babe Ruth

A Visit to Rogers Centre

My late summer vacation included a stop at the park that proves that baseball can thrive in a domed stadium: Rogers Centre in Toronto. Below: the first pitch between the Blue Jays and Nationals, there was an on-field salute to Canada's Little League World Series team. The stars were on display... Washington's dynamic young shortstop CJ Abrams   singled to lead off the game and soon came around to score, driven in by DH Joey Menesses. The rest of the night belonged to the home team:  Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. gave the Blue Jays their first lead with a two-RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd.  And catcher Danny Jansen boosted it to 5-1 with a 3rd inning homer. And... there was Dancing in the Seats... more accurately, in the aisles. Along with an in-house DJ, Rogers Center keeps the energy level high with a squad of dancers during several breaks between the innings. In the top of the 9th, with Toronto comfortably ahead, I even got to capture a minor milestone.  This was the MLB deb