Baseball Review //
M&T Bank 0, Record-Journal Expos 1
M&T Bank 2, Record-Journal Expos 15
July 31st 2023
Ceppa Field

Additional photos can be found here :::

Official box scores :::

As the GHTBL regular season comes to a close this week, things couldn't be more tense.   The Record-Journal Expos, M&T Bank, Rainbow Graphics and Vernon Orioles all sat atop the league, very close in rankings though M&T Bank was at number 1 while the Expos were at number 4.   But after this doubleheader sweep by the Record-Journal Expos, they have taken first place along with the Vernon Orioles (both at a 15-7 record) and dropped M&T Bank down to fourth place.   

Before we get into what the rest of the week will bring (and tonight) let's talk about these two games.    The first game was a pitcher's duel that lasted only about ninety minutes.   Eric Malinowski pitched an absolute gem for M&T Bank, only allowing one run, while JD Tyler pitched a complete game shut out for the Expos.    This game was a lot of one baserunner on and then the inning ended, so it went by really quickly for both teams.

The run scored by the Expos during the first game was not any sort of normal circumstances either.   It was a process.  Jon Remillard singled onto base.   A flyout to right field by Sebby Grignano advanced him.   Javon Malone singled on, and then as Kyle Hartenstein also singled on the throw to first base went past the base so Remillard was able to come home.   That one play after a series of hits made the difference for the entire game.

I want to take a moment to talk about JD Tyler, who has just been impressive as hell for the Expos this season.   He has appeared in 10 games, 7 complete games and his record is 8-1.  He is currently leading the league in innings, wins and complete games.  In a lot of ways I feel like the Expos, in seasons past, relied on a few pitchers and that was where they needed depth.  Adding Tyler to this team and all he's done has just been remarkable and come the end of the season he certainly deserves some sort of award.

After the quick first game that relied heavily on the pitching, things seemed to fall apart for M&T Bank by the second game.   This was a longer game, but it was a little over two hours so it was a normal time of game for baseball, but M&T just couldn't seem to settle in with a pitcher, letting their starter go two innings and then bringing in a reliever for two more innings and then the fifth and sixth innings both saw their own pitchers as well.

The first run of this game came right in the first inning with a solo homerun by Kyle Hartenstein.    In the second inning though, the pitching for M&T began to fall apart.   Two runs were walked in.    In the bottom of the third inning, Will Kszywanos got a triple to drive in another run and then he would go on to steal home as well, putting the Expos up 5-0 after three innings.  Kszywanos would go on to be the MVP of this game, hitting a two run homerun over the right field wall in the fifth inning and even bringing in Hector Gonzalez in the sixth.  

Now, the sixth inning was where it fell apart for M&T and it felt like that inning last as long as the entire first game.   The Expos put up seven runs and a lot of them were walked in or otherwise strange.   With the bases loaded, two runs were walked in then Hector Gonzalez hit a triple to bring in three more runs and clear the bases.   Will Kszywanos singled in Gonzalez and then a throw past first would bring Kszywanos home for the seventh and final run of the inning, making it 15-2.  

As much as I feel like JD Tyler has been an asset as a pitcher for the Record-Journal Expos this season, let's take this time now to recognize Chase Swain who started this game for the Expos, went six innings and struck out seven.    This kid can throw the heat and when I was thinking about who the Expos had for pitchers yesterday, after their doubleheader on Friday, I didn't even know who Chase Swain was.   But adding this arm to the Expos roster, going into the playoffs, is quite possibly going to be a deciding factor as it will give the Expos a definite advantage.

I know that the score may not look like it, but Chase Swain was in there against the first place M&T Bank.   And what's most impressive to me is that the times when he was in trouble, when the Expos were up 5-0 and he gave up a run and then another, he stayed calm and focused and got out of the inning without giving away the lead.   Giving up a run or two is fine, a lot of pitchers do, but the lead is what has to hold.   

Following these two games, the Record-Journal Expos are now tied for first place with the Vernon Orioles who they play tonight in Vernon.   The third place Rainbow Graphics are right there behind them at 15-8 and the Expos meet them tomorrow night.    This season really isn't going to be over until the very last game because of how close these top four teams are.  Plus, with the Bristol Greeners now at 1-22, will they be able to defeat the Middletown Mets tomorrow night or will they end the season with only one win?

Last week, these games this week felt like makeup games and since they were rained out and rescheduled they technically are.   But the way that the Expos are facing M&T Bank, the Orioles and then the Graphics, it feels like so much more.   It feels like they're playing for the regular season championship.   And they are.   After tonight the Orioles only have one game left and it's against the Phillies, who seem to be able to upset them quite a bit this season.   This is going to be a very interesting next couple of days to say the least. 


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