Four Vultures, One repeat offender. Last week we didn’t have any! It never rains but it pours!
July 19th, Mark Melancon of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mark is an old hand at the closer business. He used to do it for the Astros. I wonder if he wishes he was still closing for them. Now I wonder if the Astros wish he was still closing for them. His current tenure with the Pirates is on year 4 of pretty good pitching. He’s been an all star three of the last four years including this one. Suffice to say the “Pitcher Whisperer” seems to work his magic on just about any arm Pittsburgh acquires.
He should have stocked up on pixie dust that night. Leading the Brewers 2-1 in the top of the 9th, it seemed business as usual for Melancon. Except he started on the wrong foot with a walk to Ryan Braun and allowing a single to Jonathan Lucroy. Lesser men would have crumbled but not Mark. He struck out the next two batters. Too bad a guy called Hernan Perez singled to bring in the tying run before Melancon got the last out.
Have no fear though Josh Harrison would triple in the bottom of the 9th and score on an error by center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (I dare you to pronounce that name out loud), he was out #2 in the top of the 9th by the way. Really, Mark should buy Kirk the beer.
July 22th, Andrew Miller of the New York Yankees. It’s Miller Time! Up till today the Yankees had their own mini version of the three headed monster that Kansas City has deployed the last few years. Betances, Miller and Chapman. Chapman has gone to Chicago so I suppose we’ll need to update the meme.
Last Friday Miller was charged with holding a 2-1 Lead over the Giants. Suffice to say it didn’t work this time out. Miller is otherwise a normally excellent relief arm. When you have the bare minimum 1 run lead any error will get magnified.
Brandon Belt flew out to right field starting the inning. Trevor Brown singled to get on base. Brandon Crawford struck out swinging. Bochey sensed that Miller was suffering from temporary color blindness and put in Grant Green to pinch hit for Conor Gilliespie. It worked for him as he got a single and moved Brown to third. Oh Andrew really needed another Brandon to pitch to. Bochey ran out of colors so in went Mac Williamson to pinch hit for Jarrett Parker and laced a double to bring in the tying run. Ramiro Pena struck out to end the side.
The Yankees got their lead back immediately in the bottom on the frame on a Brandon Crawford throwing error (this was clearly a bad night to be named Brandon). Chapman sealed the deal in the 9th and Andrew vultured his second win of the season to earn his Carrion Eater badge.
July 24th, Ryan Dull of the Oakland Athletics. This man with an unlikely name had actually ridden a string of consecutive inherited runners stranded for most of the season. I think he managed to reach 36 straight inherited runners left on base or something like that. I guess the name is appropriate if you’re the other team trying to score. But Ryan had an uncharacteristic off night.
The A’s were ahead 2-0 over the Tampa Bay Rays, Ryan Dull came to the mound in the top of the 8th inning to relieve Jesse Hahn with 2 outs and noted Cat-Scorner Kevin Kiermaier on first base. Facing Logan Forsythe he whipped out two wild pitches allowing Kevin to move to third. Then he served this 89.5 MPH fastball which Logan swung at…
Yeah that went well. Ryan came out a winner though because Billy Butler homered to put the A’s back in the top in the next half inning. Make sense right?
July 24th, David Robertson of the Chicago White Sox. The best for last? Robertson made history when he won two games in one day. Of course he vultured the second one. It was just totally bizarre how this game went down.
The “Pale Hosers” were up 4-1 going into the 9th inning. You’ve seen me write before that 97% of the time your team wins the game with a three run lead in the 9th inning. Robertson had the most margin for failure of all the vultures this week and he frittered it away like he was dumping Nintendo stock. Really, twas a thing of beauty. They should just take a clip of the 9th inning, suppress the audio and sub in the “Blue Danube”.
First came Nick Castellanos to the plate and he hit a homerun to reduce the deficit 4-2. Just a blip right? Justin Upton struck out and Mike Aviles ground out for outs one and two. Tyler Collins came in to pinch hit and homered! Well, no matter. It’s still a one run game right? Just one more out to go! One mound visit later and Salty ties the game with his own dinger (by which I mean another home run). All three can be seen in glorious 3D below (well maybe not 3D but glorious nonetheless)
That has to be demoralizing. Fortunately for the White Sox the Tigers Bullpen came to pitch in the bottom of the 9th and they naturally lost the game to a Melky Cabrera single after they walked Adam Eaton and the ChiSox bunted (!) the winning run into scoring position.
And there you have it. Join us next week for either more vultures or another look back at the birds of yore. We’ll see which one it is when Monday rolls around again.