Home runs aplenty, and one from the past

There were four games Monday, which is the last time this year  — barring a rainout – there will be more games than a doubleader in the same day. And there was more offense than a regular season Sunday in July. Four games produced 61 runs, 21 home runs, five lead changes, a four-run lead blown late and a three-run lead blown early.

It was a great day to watch baseball, if not to thrown one homeward.

We’re guaranteed two Game 5s and might get two more. Who will advance seems less certain than this: the winner of the World Series looks more and more as if it will be whoever wins the NLCS.

And that loud sound from Pittsburgh today at 3:36 p.m.? Don’t be alarmed. It’s just Pirates fans celebrating Bill Mazeroski’s 1960 home run — one more time.

Nine things to note on the 55th anniversary of the most famous, or second-most famous, home run ever (depending how close you grew up to Pittsburgh and the Polo Grounds):

1. The Yankees leftfielder going back to the wall was the late Yogi Berra.
2. The pitcher was Ralph Terry, who lost Games 4 and 7 of the Series. Terry lost the only game the Reds won in the 1961 World Series, and then Game 2 of the 1962 Series, 2-0, to the Giants and Jack Sanford. Having lost his first four Series decisions, Terry won Game 5 in ’62 on a complete-game eight-hitter, 5-3, and then shut out the Giants — their 3-4-5 hitters were Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda — on four hits to win Game 7, 1-0. Terry, who pitched 25 innings in the ’62 Series with a 1.80 ERA, was its MVP after a regular season in which he won 23 games and pitched 298.2 innings.
3. Mazeroski’s homer was no cheapie. It cleared the 406-foot sign in left-center.
4. Maz hit 11 homers in the 1960 season, and 138 in his 17-year career.
5. It was Mazeroski’s second home run of the series. His first, a two-run blow in the fourth, delivered the eventual game-winning run in a 6-4 Game 1 win. Maz hit half of the Pirates’ home runs in the ’60 Series.
6. The 1960 World Series was one of the weirdest ever. The Yankees scored more than twice as many runs (55-27), hit more than twice as many homers (10-4), had a team ERA less than half the Pirates’ (3.54 to 7.11). The Yankees won games by 10-0, 12-0 and 16-3; the Pirates by 6-4, 3-2, 5-2 and 10-9.
7. The winning pitcher of Game 7 was Harvey Haddix, who entered in the top of the ninth in relief of Bob Friend with a 9-7 lead, two on and two out. He got a blown save, but he set up one of baseball’s greatest moments.
8. Mazeroski never hit another postseason home run. He had eight more postseason at-bats (two hits) from 1970-72, but by the end of 1970 he had mostly lost his job to Dave Cash. Maz started Game 3 of the 1970 NLCS, which the Pirates lost to the Reds in three, and went 0-2 with two walks.
9. It took just two hours and 36 minutes to play Game 7. These days it would take that long to play five innings of a 10-9 game. And a 1 p.m. start would mean 1:10, given commercials and pregame nonsense. The attendance was 36,683, not all of whom were at home plate awaiting Mazeroski.

Trivia: Maz’s No. 9 is one of nine uniform numbers retired by the Pirates. Name the other eight. Answer below.

Back to 2015:

  • Royals 9, Astros 6: Carlos Correa was perfect at bat — a double, two homers, a single and four RBIs — but not in the field, where his misplay helped a five-run Royals’ eighth. Yordano Ventura fared better than his first start, giving up three runs in five innings (he did that in two last time), but Royals starters have a 6.27 ERA in the series. Ryan Madson — who gave up four hits and two home runs — in a single inning, was the winning pitcher. Wade Davis pitched two shutout innings behind Madson and got a save. So much for the discretion of the official scorer.
  • Blue Jays 8, Rangers 4: Somebody does love Marcus Stroman in Toronto, enough to use David Price for three innings of a blowout. Stroman will start Game 5 at the expense of Price, and why not? Price has pitched 10 innings in this series and given up eight runs; Stroman, who started Game 2, was hurt more by his own defense than the Rangers. Price broke into the majors as a left-handed reliever with the Rays in 2008, and that’s what he’ll be for Game 5. Given Brett Cecil’s season-ending injury, the Jays might need him there. Price got the win Monday, which means he’s now 2-0 in the postseason as a reliever and 0-6 as a starter. Of course, if the Blue Jays, who hit three homers Monday and have six in the series to Texas’ two, keep pounding, none of the pitching machinations will matter much.
  • Cubs 8, Cardinals 6: So who didn’t homer for the Cubs Monday? They hit six and now have nine for three games; the Cardinals have hit seven themselves. On average, there have been five home runs a game in this series. The Cardinals beat Jon Lester in Game 1 and hit Jake Arrieta — the four runs Arrieta gave up were the most since June 16, and the first time he’s given up multiple earned runs since Aug. 15. It was to no avail, because the Cubs, in the biggest upset of this series, have had the better bullpen. Four Cardinal relievers Monday gave up four runs and three home runs; the first four Cubs relievers kept the Cards scoreless from the sixth through the eighth. Cubs relievers have a 3.24 ERA in the series, haven’t walked a batter and have a .188 batting average against. Cards relievers have walked six, given up three homers and have a .455 slugging percentage against. The Cubs have two chances to win the series, with Jason Hammel Tuesday and then Lester starting Game 5 and Arrieta available if they need him. If you’re a Cubs fan, that’s not enough. The Cards have to start John Lackey on three days rest.
  • Mets 13, Dodgers 7: Winning is the best revenge, as the Mets reminded themselves Monday. They tried to make Ruben Tejada a cause, with pictures and hash tags and ovations, and loud booing for the protagonist, Chase Utley, who returned a stare as cold as his .212 average. This is the same Ruben Tejada the Mets once benched and called unmotivated; now he’s a cult hero. Like the Mets, Tejada has rehabilitated his image. And as Bud Harrelson can tell you, getting rolled over by the bad guy doesn’t hurt your standing. The Dodgers have to go to Clayton Kershaw on three days rest, but that’s a good thing for them if Alex Wood’s relief appearance Monday — two innings, four hits, four runs, a long Yoenis Cespedes home run and another by Wilmer Flores, filling in for Tejada — was any indication.

  • The Pirates have retired Nos. 1 (manager Bill Meyer), 4 (Ralph Kiner), 8 (Willie Stargell), 9 (Mazeroski), 11 (Paul Waner), 20 (Pie Traynor), 21 (Roberto Clemente), 33 (Honus Wagner) and 40 (manager Danny Murtaugh).

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