Before last night’s White Sox game, a short scoreboard video celebrated Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez’ relief appearance in the 2005 playoff game vs. the Red Sox. “El Duque” came in with the bases loaded and no outs and retired the next three batters without a run scoring. Following the video, “El Duque” threw out a ceremonial first pitch to fellow Cuban Alexei Ramirez.
Before the National Anthem, there was a moment of silence to honor Tony Gwynn. During the National Anthem, there was a problem with the sound system, which went dead for a few seconds a couple of times. About half way through the Anthem, the sound went dead for an extended time, and a funny thing happened – as if on cue, virtually the entire crowd started singing the National Anthem! It seems that now-a-days crowds just listen – maybe to hear a celebrity singer, maybe because the artist’s version is too stylized to follow along, or maybe because singing along is “not cool”. But, the experience was uplifting, and maybe the Sox can promote fan participation in the future.
In the bottom of the 4th, with the score tied 2-2, singles by Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez, and Dayan Viciedo loaded the bases. An astute fan, Chuck, pointed out that the bases were loaded with Cubans. This may be the first time three Cubans have filled the bases? Then, with two outs, Tyler Flowers was up with a 3-2 count (The Sox 4th Cuban, Adrian Nieto, usually catches Johnny Danks, but not this game). Tyler was in an 0-for-22 slump with 19 strikeouts, but drew a walk to force in Abreu with the go-ahead run. Ramirez and Viciedo scored one batter later for a 3-run lead and the Sox went on to win 8-2.
Back to Tony Gwynn — Among his many accomplishments in his 20-year career (batting titles, all-star games, gold gloves, silver sluggers, etc.), two things especially amaze me – while averaging 500+ plate appearances/season, he never had more than 40 strikeouts; and, in 100+ plate appearances against Greg Maddux, he averaged .415 and never struck out.
My favorite site for stats is Baseball Reference. Here’s a link to Tony Gwynn.