Martindale Park was the place to be Sunday during the Eastern Baltimore County Over-40 Baseball League’s next-to-last week of the regular season.
Not for the game itself, a 26-1 drubbing of the Diamondbacks by the Astros. But the Essex ballfield has the best shade of any field used by the Over-40 league.
Shade was important on a day that featured oppressive heat in the high 90’s and heat advisory warnings that caused the postponement of several other events last weekend.
The Over-40 League did make one concession to the weather: games were seven innings rather than the usual nine innings.
With the results of last week’s game, the league re-did the schedule for the final week of the regular season.
The Cubs’ 11-0 win over the Padres raised their record to 10-2, while the Astros are 9-2. The Astros had a game postponed earlier this season and were unable to reschedule it.
The Cubs were originally to again play the Padres this week, due to a scheduling quirk.
Instead, the Padres (1-10) will play the Orioles (1-12) as a “play-in” postseason game.
The Cubs and the Astros will face off at St. Helena Park to determine the regular-season champion, the top seed in the playoffs and which will open the tournament against the Orioles-Padres winner.
The two teams have already met once, an 8-6 Astros’ victory on June 30 at Dundalk High.
Also on Sunday, the Rays (7-4) will play the defending champion Royals (6-5) the American Legion Post 38 Field, while the Dodgers (7-4) play the Diamondbacks (2-10) at Martindale Park.
The Cardinals (9-3) have a bye this week. Should the Astros lose to the Cubs and tie for the second seed with the Cardinals, the Cardinals win the tie-breaker and get the No. 2 seed and will open the playoffs against the Diamondbacks rather than the Rays, Dodgers or Royals (all of whom could have the sixth seed).
The two teams split during the regular season, the Cardinals winning 10-6 and the Astros winning 13-11. The Cardinals win the tie-breaker on run differential.
In other games last weekend, the Dodgers beat the Orioles 9-1 and the Cardinals beat the Royals 14-2.
During the Astros win over the Diamondbacks, Lamar King had four hits and seven RBIs, while Jermaine Johnson had two hits, including a home run over the centerfield fence, and four RBIs.
Mike Aubele had four hits and four RBIs, and Corey Randolph had three hits and three RBIs.
Jim Cundiff pitched the first four innings for the win, giving up four hits, one run and striking out four.
The Diamondbacks loaded the bases three times, but were only able to turn those opportunities into one run.