Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Weird, Scary Night In Baseball

Last night, the Yankees and Mets both played 9-inning games and scored ZERO runs.  How often does that happen?

The Mets and the Chicago White Sox -- and did you ever think you'd see that? Between them, 5 Pennants in the last 53 seasons, and only once (2000) have they made the Playoffs in the same season -- were scoreless after 9, and the Mets won it 1-0 in the 10th.  Matt Harvey took a perfect game -- and a bloody nose -- into the 7th, had a 1-hit shutout after 9, and didn't get a decision.  Mike Baxter singled home the winner in the 10th, and Bobby Parnell was the winning pitcher.

The Yankees didn't even have that much luck in the opener of their series in Denver against the Colorado Rockies last night.  Hiroki Kuroda (4-2) pitched well enough to win, going 7 innings, allowing just 2 runs.  But Carlos Gonzalez hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 6th, and that was the difference, as Jorge De La Rosa (3-3) and 3 relievers (including Rafael Betancourt, 9th save) combined on a 4-hit shutout.  Rockies 2, Yankees 0.

The Boston Red Sox lost 6-1 to the Minnesota Twins.  This enabled the Yankees to remain 2 games behind the Sox in the AL East, just 1 in the loss column.

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But the scary part of last night's baseball action came in St. Petersburg.  J.A. Happ (and those initials, for some reason, are pronounced "Jay"), one of the heroes of the Philadelphia Phillies' back-to-back Pennants of 2008-09, was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, against Desmond Jennings of the Tampa Bay Rays, and took a line drive to the head.  Since the umpires couldn't stop play until the ball got back to the infield, 2 runs scored, although the Jays did go on to win, 6-4.

R.A. Dickey, now his teammate on the Jays, said the impact sounded like two bats being hit together, and it can be heard on the video clip:



Happ was taken to a local hospital.  At last check, he was listed in stable condition, and does not appear to have a skull fracture, as happened to Brandon McCarthy of the Oakland Athletics in a similar play last season -- he's back, and pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The most famous example of such an injury is Herb Score of the Cleveland Indians.  On May 7, 1957, after a sensational first 2 seasons in the majors, he was pitching against the Yankees in Cleveland, and Gil McDougald hit a comebacker that smacked him in the eye.

As it turned out, McDougald was more shaken up, emotionally, by the incident that Score was.  He said he would quit baseball if Score lost the use of the eye.  Score spent the rest of his life insisting that this was not the injury that short-circuited his career, but rather it was an elbow injury in the following season's spring training.  McDougald only played until 1960 and retired, while Score, who did have to wear glasses for the rest of his life, hung on until 1962, and then became a broadcaster, the Indians' answer to the Yankees' Phil Rizzuto or the Phillies' Richie Ashburn, the ex-player in the booth with the quirky stories and occasional "Did he say what I think he said?" moment.

Then there was Bryce Florie of the Red Sox.  On September 8, 2000, the Yankees were in Fenway, and Ryan Thompson hit a liner back to the mound that hit Florie in the eye and detached his retina, and fractured his orbital socket and his cheekbone.  His face was covered in blood.  He did return to play the next season, but injuries, including those from the line drive, reduced his effectiveness, and after 7 games the Sox released him less than a year after it happened.  He stuck with the minors for a while and is now a minor-league pitching coach.

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The Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers, to tie up their Playoff series at 1-1.  This is the closest the Knicks have gotten to the NBA Title in 13 years.  I'll have a "How Long It's Been: The Knicks Won a Playoff Series" up before the weekend.

The Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, to tie up their Playoff series at 2-2.  This is the closest the Isles have gotten to the Stanley Cup in 20 years.

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