“SADDENED BY THE LOSS and devastation in the Houston community, my family and I began arranging a relief supply drive in Asheville, North Carolina shortly after the storm struck.”
The storm was Hurricane Harvey, of course, and the words appeared on the website of a baseball player many hundreds of miles away, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels. Thanks of course to the wall-to-wall coverage afforded the tragedy by the national media, the news that a California player from North Carolina would immediately begin working with the Houston Food Bank to coordinate relief efforts here didn’t seem the least bit unusual. Decent people everywhere felt a calling to do more.
No, the unusual thing was just how much more the player, Cameron Maybin, would be called to do. “Little did we know, God had a more hands-on plan in mind,” he wrote on his Maybin Mission website. “As of this morning, I have been traded by the LA Angels to the Houston Astros.”
Given Maybin’s ho-hum stats in La La Land this season (a slugging percentage of .351, 22 RBIs, just 6 home runs), Astros fans might have been forgiven for thinking he’d do more for them off the field than on. Oh, ye of little faith. In just six games with the ‘Stros, Maybin already has 8 RBIs, an SLG of .813, and three homers. That’s right: half as many as he hit for the Angels all season. Oh, and those last two home runs? Both were game-winning.
Wednesday night’s effort—barely long enough, barely fair—had neither the majesty nor distance of the towering seventh-inning shot Maybin stroked the previous evening. Nevertheless, it landed like an anvil on the heads of Seattle fans, coming as it did in the top of the ninth inning at Safeco Field. (A crickets moment if ever there was one.) The Mariners, stunned too, limped off the field just minutes later, still not quite sure how the Astros had accomplished the 5-3 victory, much less a sweep of the series.
Much of the credit for Wednesday’s victory belonged to Lance McCullers Jr, who pitched five-plus innings, four of them truly dazzling. And his return from the DL was celebrated by the ‘Stros with all the superlatives we’ve come to expect—a sensational dive-rolling catch by Josh Reddick in right field, RBI drives by Marwin Gonzalez and George Springer, and superb plays in the infield.
But the Seattle nights belonged to Cameron Maybin, who—on the strength of two swings alone—secured a pair of victories, extended the Astros winning streak to seven, and contributed to the city’s relief efforts in more ways than he’ll ever know.