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Summer still alive in baseball memories

Majors, Legion ball make for unusual situations

August 19, 2012
The Mining Journal

It's almost the end of summer, I hate to say, now that we're past the midpoint of August.

High school girls tennis started four days ago, volleyball, cross country and boys soccer were going on this weekend, high school football games are coming toward the end of this week, and college football isn't far behind.

I thought about jumping into football season with the first installment of the Armchair Quarterback this week, then I thought, "Why rush it?"

Instead, I want to share a couple of odd baseball plays I saw and heard about in the past month or so, just as a way to hold onto that summer feeling for just a few more days.

First off is one that got plenty of attention in mid-July, the three straight starts by Zack Greinke, then of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Any pitcher can make three starts in a row, each spaced four or five days apart; nothing unusual there. But starting three consecutive games for his team? Like if the Detroit Tigers followed up Justin Verlander's start on Friday night against Baltimore with starts both Saturday and this afternoon against the Orioles.

Greinke did just that with the help of his temper and the All-Star break, becoming the first pitcher to "accomplish" this feat in 95 years.

He made it through four pitches on July 7 before getting ejected for spiking the ball on a close play at first base. Then the future Los Angeles Angel was called on to start the next day, the Sunday before the all-star break, and made it through three innings.

The Brewskis then had four days off like every other team, so they started Greinke again on the following Friday with normal rest, and he threw nearly 100 pitches.

By the way, he had a win, a loss and a no-decision in the three games.

The last pitcher to start three in a row for his team was in 1917, needless to say in a different era, since Red Faber of the White Sox accomplished the feat in consecutive days, starting both ends of a doubleheader against the Tigers and coming back to start again the next day.

You think that'll ever happen again?

Another situation I thought was even weirder was two pitchers hitting home runs off each other in the same inning on July 21 in Philadelphia, the first time that had happened since 1990.

San Francisco's Matt Cain homered leading off the top of the third against the Phillies' Cole Hamels, so Hamels returned the favor with one out in the bottom of the inning off Cain.

Before that day, the two had hit a total of five major league home runs, all by Cain.

Finally, my last story happened much closer to home, at the American Legion state baseball tournament held in Marquette two weeks ago.

In a nutshell, have you ever seen three runners advance on the bases, two moving up to the next base, then all turn around and go back to where they started - and nobody gets called out?

That's what the Menominee Red Wave did against the Marquette Blues in the game that eliminated the host team on Aug. 3 at Haley Memorial Field.

The Blues led 3-0, but Menominee had the bases loaded with one out in the third when Landen Maccoux struck out on a pitch in the dirt.

Maccoux alertly thought he had a chance to get to first base and took off out of the batter's box, prompting all three runners to also go on the move.

But Maccoux forgot that with less than two outs and first base occupied, the dropped third-strike rule doesn't apply. But it's not a dead-ball situation, meaning each runner put himself in jeopardy by leaving his base.

Menominee's Derek Reiswitz and Ryan Woods moved ahead to second and third bases, respectively, while lead runner Sean Budzynski moved halfway toward home plate.

Budzynski was less inclined to advance with Marquette catcher Ryan Hanson holding the ball in front of home plate. Hanson eventually made a throw to first base thinking he had to get Maccoux out that way, but eliciting no call from any umpire.

In the ensuing confusion, Budzynski retreated back to third where Woods already was. A delayed throw came across the diamond, allowing Woods time to scamper back to second. Just before reaching that safe haven, Reiswitz decided to take off in reverse, too, and got back to first before another throw back across the diamond could catch him.

The play resulted in a strikeout and no change in the runners, despite the four Menominee players covering the 90-foot distance between bases six times over.

Once the play was finished, the umpiring crew conferred - with a little unsolicited advice from Marquette manager Derek Swajanen and Red Wave skipper Tony Hofer - and declared nothing illegal happened on the play.

Menominee went on to score three times in the inning, igniting a comeback that resulted in a 10-8 victory.

I was sitting with some Legion baseball officials, including tournament director and past Post 44 commander Mike Trickey, and we pretty much agreed we had never seen anything quite like that.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

 
 

 

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