Heading down the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut Tuesday on the way back from a weekend trip to New York, I hungered for some baseball talk. If I could just stumble upon some New York pundit talking about the Baltimore Orioles from a New York perspective … I knew I could pick up The Fan in New York, and after a while, I found it: 660 on the AM dial.
Mike Francesa’s afternoon talk show on The Fan came through loud and clear. Although it is debatable he speaks for most of New York, he does have that job because he knows whereof he speaks most of the time.
Francesa began discussing the AL East. He didn’t speak of any team as the team to beat. He said Toronto was an unconvincing first-place team, and he knew the Jays were bound to sink sooner or later, even after their several week hot stretch and lengthy stay in first place.
He did not cite Edwin Encarnacion‘s trip to the Disabled List as a reason for that. My own view is that if I were the Jays, I would even think about resting him for the remainder of July after he comes off the DL, because they’ll need him healthy for the nine games they have remaining with the Orioles. They host Baltimore for three games during the second week of August.
The Orioles, Francesa said, were “catchable.” Reason? Starting pitching. He added that the bullpen had cracks in it but stressed that the starters are the team’s weakness. The term “catchable” may have been the hopeful thinking of a New York fan, but most Baltimoreans know the pitching criticism to be true. He said Tampa Bay will be back in the hunt before it’s said and done, or at least out of the cellar, and that the Red Sox will be the eventual last-place finisher. Sure enough, the standings going into Thursday’s action have the Rays out of, and the Sox in, the cellar.
He mentioned nothing of the Yankees’ impending, three-game series at Camden Yards this weekend. Masahiro Tanaka was placed on the 15-day DL Wednesday and will, of course, miss the Orioles series. Francesa couldn’t know that yet, but it seemed to confirm any pessimism he already had about the Yankees.
He is 11-for-19 in four games since coming off the 5-game, enforced break, and has eight hits in his last 10 at-bats including last night’s loss to Washington. Since June 1, Machado is batting .309 in 31 games, with eight doubles, seven home runs and 15 RBIs. I was still listening to The Fan when the Yankee pregame show came on, just long enough to hear John Sterling say Machado topped his “Who’s Hot” list for the week.