Anyone in need of a reminder of the impressive role Independent Baseball plays at the major league level should think about Houston's 4-2 win over Arizona Saturday. Okay, it probably did not have major postseason implications, but it certainly entertained the 39,412 fans who were at Minute Maid Park.
Max Scherzer, who started his professional career with the Fort Worth (TX) Cats in the American Association, opened on the mound for the Diamondbacks, and while he took the loss (7-8) the four runs he gave up in five innings were not exactly a pasting. Scherzer fanned seven.
Once he was lifted, with all of the scoring complete, Clay Zavada (Southern Illinois, Frontier League) hurled two perfect innings, striking out one and lowering his rookie season ERA to a tidy 2.87.
For the winning Astros, Chris Coste (Fargo, ND, Northern League in addition to the departed North Central and Prairie Leagues) went 0-for-3, but did the calling of pitches for the five Houston hurlers. One of those was Tim Byrdak (Gary, IN and Joliet, IL, Northern), who worked 1.2 innings in relief of winner Brian Moehler, allowing a harmless double and striking out two as his ERA dropped to 3.13.
That's four former Independent players, all playing key roles in a single game.
Even though Seattle sent Chris Jakubauskas (reportedly tired arm) to Triple-A Tacoma over the weekend, ending what had been a full season of rookie mound duty for the M's, 22 players with Indy ties remain in the majors. That number probably will go up once rosters expand September 1.