On this Memorial Day weekend Saturday, baseball reached its peak of excitement for the 2016 season. Two heart-stopping comebacks, a replay-review-aided win, and a bizarre game-ending double play highlighted this unparalleled Saturday. A closer look now at the wild MLB day that was yesterday:
Blue Jays 10, Red Sox 9
The Red Sox had yet another offensive explosion, and it looked like this one was well in hand heading to the bottom of the eighth. But an 8-4 lead was not safe, as the Jays rallied for four runs. That included a game-tying single by Jose Bautista with two outs against Craig Kimbrel after manager John Farrell brought in his closer for a five-out save.
Things looked to be perfectly scripted for Boston when David Ortiz hit his 30th career home run that gave his team the lead in the eighth inning or later to make it 9-8 Red Sox. But the Jays showed incredible resolve, thrice battling back from 0-2 counts to keep the line moving. Justin Smoak smoked a single on an 0-2 pitch, then manager John Gibbons called on Ezequiel Carrera to pinch run. Carrera stole second and advanced to third on catcher Christian Vazquez’s throwing error. Russell Martin fell behind 0-2 and eventually doubled home Carrera, then Devon Travis hustled down the line after grounding an 0-2 pitch to Travis Shaw at third. The errant throw allowed Martin to score the winning run.
It was a day in which Toronto needed everything to go perfectly, meaning there could be trouble today with an angry Red Sox team sending David Price to the mound against the mercurial R.A. Dickey.
Royals 8, White Sox 7
This was as shocking a finish as we’ve seen in years. Not only did the White Sox bring a 7-1 lead to the bottom of the ninth, manager Robin Ventura called on his closer, David Robertson, to finish things off. What ensued was complete madness.
The Royals channeled their inner 2015 self, stringing together hits and walks galore to amp up the pressure in a game that seemed long over. In even more typical Royals fashion, it wasn’t so much the guys you know but rather the new kids on the block. Whit Merrifield really started the domino effect with a two-run single. After Lorenzo Cain barely beat out a relay throw on a potential double-play ball and Eric Hosmer doubled to make it 7-6, Salvador Perez’s spot in the lineup came up. Only it wasn’t Perez.
In the top of the ninth, Perez collided with third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert (playing for Mike Moustakas, who is out for the season) and had to be helped off the field with a leg injury. Backup backstop Drew Butera smoked a double over the head of Melky Cabrera to tie the game against Tommy Kahnle after Robertson was yanked (and charged with six earned runs), and the Sox issued two intentional walks to face Brett Eibner, who did not have a Major League hit. That changed after a long at-bat in which Eibner worked the count full and fouled off several pitches before slashing an opposite-field single for cap a seven-run ninth.
The resilient Royals are incredibly banged-up, with Moustakas and Alex Gordon shelved and now possibly Salvador Perez. But that speaks to a team with championship pedigree, experience, and an unfazed manager in Ned Yost. This win was only one game, but it signified that the Royals will hang around all year in the competitive AL Central.
Reds 7, Brewers 6
This game shouldn’t be newsworthy by any means. But the Reds came in riding an 11-game losing streak while the Brewers were on an equally-inexplicable four-game winning streak. Both runs ended on a strange replay-review play in the ninth inning, but really, the Brewers were already kicking themselves for squandering a five-run lead in the seventh.
Milwaukee closer Jeremy Jeffress got himself into a bases-loaded, one-out pickle, but appeared to get out of it when he induced a tailor-made double-play grounder from Adam Duvall. Two innings earlier, Duvall had been the hero when his three-run homer – his ninth in May – tied the score at 6-6. Luck really was on Duvall’s side on this day, as second baseman Scooter Gennett came off the second-base bag on the dreaded “neighborhood play,” allowing the go-ahead run to score from third. Tony Cingrani pitched a rare, clean ninth inning to secure the save and the 7-6 win.
This game just goes to show that not only can you not “win ’em all” in sports, but apparently you can’t lose ’em all, either.
Twins 6, Mariners 5
First of all, let’s start with this question: what the heck is wrong with the Mariners at home? The club is 10-13 at Safeco Field yet an MLB-best 18-7 on the road. They seem to find new and uninspiring ways to lose in the Pacific Northwest, however.
Minnesota, the American League’s worst team, stole a second-straight win in Seattle when the Mariners tried to steal a base. Actually, two bases, really.
With runners at first and third and one out – they were there with no outs before Dae-Ho Lee hit a shallow fly ball to right that didn’t score the run – Franklin Gutierez fell behind 0-2. Kevin Jepsen’s next offering bounced in the dirt and was kept in front by Juan Centeno, but Kyle Seager broke for second. Centeno fired to second and Seager retreated as second baseman Brian Dozier gave chase.
Shawn O’Malley then broke from third before also retreating, but Dozier’s throw was on point and nabbed O’Malley. On that throw, Seager then broke back towards second, and third baseman Eduardo Nunez fired to shortstop Eduardo Escobar, and Seager was toast. Both parts of the play were reviewed, but the calls stood, and the Mariners were befuddled.
The lesson in this one? Maybe there is none. But at least for the scuffling Twinkies, every blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.
Giants 10, Rockies 5
The Giants on this day showed the Rockies why they’re still the team to beat in the National League West. Madison Bumgarner was far from his stellar self, but the Rockies shot themselves in the foot in some big moments and the bullpen ultimately imploded. Oh, and Buster Posey had a pretty good game.
Bumgarner was handed a four-run lead thanks in large part to Posey’s three-run homer in the first, but ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth. Both times, Colorado failed to capitalize. They got a run out of a first-and-third, no out situation in the fifth, but loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and failed to score.
After that frustrating sixth, the Rockies got to face San Francisco’s bullpen in the seventh and put up a four-spot, and it looked like that may have salvaged the day. But the 5-4 lead was short-lived on a day in which the Rockies went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position – compared to 6-for-13 for the Giants – and things turned ugly in the eighth.
Posey went back to work against Charlie Sheen – er, Carlos Estevez – as he jacked another three-run shot. That chased Estevez, and Gonzalez Germen proceeded to give up three more runs and the Giants won going away, 10-5, with a six-run eighth.
The lesson in this one? The Giants are very good, and the Rockies aren’t at that level just yet. Also, even if you come up with a big hit or two, missed opportunities always seem to come back to haunt you against good teams. This isn’t necessarily news, but it bears repeating.