The Wednesday Takeaway
Over the 2,430 games of the Major League Baseball season it’s inevitable that we will see some notable improbabilities pop up. An MVP candidate will strike out eight times in a day. A big ol’ fat guy will steal second base. A pitcher will club a home run, then trot the bases in disbelieving wonderment. And, at least once, some unheralded back-end starting pitcher will step onto the mound and twirl a career-defining gem.
Sam Gaviglio was a fifth-round draft pick in 2011. It took him until 2017 to crack a big league roster, and after twelve ugly starts Seattle waived him. He was claimed by Kansas City and even saw action in four games for them last September. But after spring training, the Royals designated Gaviglio for assignment. Looking for rotation depth, the Blue Jays snapped him up in a trade.
Gaviglio has never has his name appear in a BP Annual. On the aggregate, his Major League career has been worth less than replacement level. But none of that mattered Wednesday night. Gaviglio shut down the formidable New York Yankees lineup over seven innings, yielding just three walks and hits apiece while striking out four. Sam Gaviglio might hang on for a long Major League career or he may not. But no matter what happens from here on out, nothing can change the fact that on Wednesday, June 6, 2018, Gaviglio went toe to toe with one of the most formidable lineups in all of baseball and whipped them like a team of sled dogs.
It was an effort fully deserving of a win. The complication is, his counterpart was just as good. New York’s Sonny Gray lasted a full eight innings, striking out eight and surrendering just two hits and walks each. The Blue Jays threatened in the bottom of the fifth when Justin Smoak led off with a double and Kendrys Morales singled him over to third, but Kevin Pillar‘s grounder to third left Smoak hung up for an out. A five-pitch walk to Russell Martin loaded the bases for Devon Travis. It was an ideal double-play situation, and Gray got just the ground ball he needed.
In the tenth, Miguel Andujar led off with a double off of Tyler Clippard. But Clippard struck out Austin Romine and got Gleyber Torres to fly to center, then LOOGY Tim Mayza came on to retire Brett Gardner and end the threat.
That was the offense, until the thirteenth inning. With one out, Gardner went the other way for a single off of Joe Biagini. That set the stage for Aaron Judge: goat of Monday’s doubleheader, GOAT of the Bronx. And after 65 total outs had been recorded, the first runs of the game went on the board and a meme was born:
The kid’s excited, in his zone, and officially the most fire-emoji reaction .gif of 2018. But the Yankees weren’t done. After a Greg Bird flyout, Giancarlo Stanton one-upped Judge by vaporizing the single hardest-hit ball of the 2018 season out of the ballpark.
How fast is 119.3 mph, you’re asking if you haven’t gotten your driver’s license taken by the state? It’s so fast it broke poor John Sterling‘s home run call. Poor John was still on Verse Two, “it is far,” when the left-field bleachers were scrambling for cover from the incoming mortar shell. The 3-0 score would hold up as the final.
Jason Heyward got to live out every kid’s dream Wednesday night. Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, your team is down but it’s close enough you can end the game with one swing. Two outs, and you’re down to your final strike. The pitcher deals—it’s a high fastball, but he didn’t dial it quite high enough. Walk-off home runs are awesome. Walk-off grand slams are magical.
Last summer, Bryce Harper and his batting helmet made headlines in the worst of ways, when he charged the mound on Hunter Strickland and waywardly chucked it with all the pinpoint accuracy of 50 Cent throwing out a ceremonial first pitch. Last night, Harper dropped a bloop hit down the left-field line for what looked like a sure double. But as he rounded first base, his helmet decided it had other ideas.
Bryce Harper and his helmet being the baseball version of Sideshow Bob and rakes will never stop being funny.
Elsewhere in the genre of “things you couldn’t repeat if you tried for a month straight,” Baltimore’s Adam Jones lost control of his bat whiffing on a pitch. The bat flew behind him, bounced perfectly off of the railing around the field, and bounced perfectly and softly to a disbelieving Manny Machado on deck.
Shohei Ohtani started on the mound for the Angels last night, but left the game after just four innings with a blister on his finger. This marked the second time this year that Ohtani left a start prematurely because of a blister. Despite this, the Angels beat the Royals behind home runs from Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton. The Angels have off tomorrow, and their handling of Ohtani dictates that he will likely not play against the Twins on Friday, which means Ohtani has two days to figure out if the blister is a long-term problem which will require a DL stint or not.
Parenting Achievement of the Night
A Cincinnati fan out there is setting the pace for dads around the country after Wednesday’s game. His kid’s not even old enough to sit alone without constant supervision, but Junior already has his first souvenir baseball thanks to Dad’s Buxtonian ball-hawking:
Father’s Day is right around the corner and this guy deserves to sweep the awards this year.
What to Watch on Thursday
We already know the Angels are off, but they’re not alone. A third of the league gets to rest, but we’ve still got ten baseball games on the slate. They’re evenly split between five afternoon games and five night games.
Dodgers’ pitching prospect Dennis Santana got kicked around in his first Major League start to the tune of six runs in 3 and 2/3 innings. In his defense, that was Coors Field. Santana will look to do better this time at PNC Park, with Jameson Taillon opposing him for the Pirates.
The Red Sox’ Jalen Beeks has been called up and he will make his first Major League start on Thursday. Beeks has a 2.56 ERA and 80 strikeouts in just 56 and 1/3 innings pitched for AAA Pawtucket—impressive numbers, but we’ll see how they hold up against superior competition.
The Rays have used Ryne Stanek as their opener several times as of late. On May 26 he struck out three of the five batters he faced against the Orioles. Five days later, he surrendered two runs in 1 1/3 innings. Stanek will pitch the first inning for the third time this year on Thursday. Starting more conventionally for the Mariners will be Mike Leake.