2012: A Chiefs Odyssey – Kevin’s #5
Jason, the Expectancy that the preceding game shows up on my list somewhere down the line is 100.0%. On to today’s #5
When starting pitcher Yunesky Maya gets into a groove, there are few better pitchers to watch in the International League. The Cuban baseball veteran hasn’t had a consistent major league career in his three seasons with the Nationals’ organization, but he’s been a solid starter for Syracuse, and he’s as much of a rhythm pitcher as perhaps anyone in baseball. When Maya’s on, the results take place at a breakneck speed. Get the ball. Throw the ball. Get it back. Throw it. Get it. Throw it. When the bases are clear, Maya works as fast as anyone in the International League.
What made last July 27 in Rochester such a gem was that the bases were always clear. Maya cut down the Red Wings 1-2-3 in the first inning. He notched his first strikeout in a perfect second. He claimed two more in a flawless third. He aced Rochester in the fourth and fifth, with three groundouts to second base in the two innings. And he got three consecutive outs in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Syracuse had staked Maya to a modicum of run support. RBI singles from Jarrett Hoffpauir in the fourth inning and Chad Tracy in the fifth had the Chiefs on top, 2-0. That seemed to be more than enough for Maya, who entered the seventh inning nine outs away from the unthinkable.
In the seventh, Brett Carroll entered the game in right field for rehabbing major league Jayson Werth. And the baseball gods, cruel as they are, would make sure Carroll’s number came up in some way. After groundouts from Brian Dinkelman and Tsuyoshi Nishioka put Maya just seven outs away from perfection, Chris Parmelee spoiled the party.
A visibly frustrated would punch out Wilkin Ramirez swinging to end the inning. The damage was done in terms of perfection – but Maya still did his part, tossing a 1-2-3 eighth, before Christian Garcia slammed the door shut with a scoreless ninth. The Chiefs had won behind Maya’s best pitching performance in his minor league career. But a few feet closer on one fly ball, and I’ve a feeling this post would be ranked four spots higher.