Home > Uncategorized > A Post About Baseball From The Previous Day — April 15

A Post About Baseball From The Previous Day — April 15

DING-DONG, THE PITCH IS BACK!

WHICH OL’ PITCH? THE SLIDER PITCH!

DING-DONG, THE WICKED PITCH IS BACK!

As much as I will preach about not putting too much stock into early season performances, Thursday’s gem from Francisco Liriano is just too good for me to deny. Seven innings, four hits, zero runs, just two walks and eight strikeouts. Liriano was fairly economical (96 pitches) and faced just three 3-ball counts. He had a little early trouble, but he started trusting his slider more in the later innings and became nearly untouchable, retiring 11 consecutive batters at one point. You can argue that he hasn’t been this dominant since a July 2006 outing against the Devil Rays.

In July 2006, Liriano was pre-surgery and taking the league by storm with that slider. But that pitch put so much stress on his arm. He was sidelined for all of 2007 due to Tommy John surgery. He struggled with his control and efficiency in 2008 and 2009. He then torched winter ball this offseason and showed that his left arm is healthy enough to throw that devastating slider again. It’s the pitch that separates him from the mediocre starters and it’s the pitch he used to get six of his eight strikeouts by my count.

The cynics will point to Liriano’s underwhelming first start (six innings, five walks, three Ks) and the Red Sox’s lineup on Thursday sans Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and David Ortiz*. But that still leaves a fairly fearsome starting nine. This is the best Liriano we’ve seen in four years and I’m buying, big time. He’s not going to be Felix Hernandez or Zack Greinke, but I think Liriano can give you 12-15 wins, which really depends on run support, 170 Ks, a sub-3.50 ERA and a sub-1.30 WHIP.

*No Ortiz probably help people validate Liriano’s performance even more . He could have had 10 or 11 strikeouts if grand Papi was in there.

  • I’m sure everyone thought David Huff v. Matt Harrison was going to be a pitcher’s duel. Both were solid Thursday and were as much in their first start. Keep an eye on them. I like Huff’s chances more to be successful this year. Harrison would have had a win if Rangers’ defense didn’t think it would be better to see how much it could screw over the starter.
  • The Houston Astros are ON THE BOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD, YYYYYES! YES! Still no contributions from Carlos Lee, but at least the bus picked up Bud Norris. His RBI single in the third propelled them to victory. Oh, and he pitched well too.
  • Albert Pujols struck out twice Thursday. He has just 12 multiple-strikeout games since the start of the 2008 season. He struck out twice during the last game of the ’07 season, Sept. 30, 2007. And those were his only two strikeouts for the entire month! You already know he’s the best hitter in the game, but I just wanted to throw that out there. Amazing.

The wind was blowing out at Wrigley on Thursday, but Carlos Zambrano's performance still would have blown in calm conditions

  • Carlos Zambrano: Stat sheet stuffer! Five innings, eight hits, seven strikeouts, three walks, four runs (one unearned) and a couple of wild pitches. The unearned run came from his throwing error in the fourth. Big Z needed 121 pitches to get that far and evidently walked off the mound at the end of the of the fifth with a forearm cramp or something. I guess you could say it was a rather taxing day for Zambrano. Ho. Ho. Ho.
  • With all these changes at closer for so many teams, it’s easy to become paranoid with those whom you perceive to be safe. Case in point, Trevor Hoffman. The game’s all-time leader in saves had blown his last two opportunities and the run he allowed Thursday actually lowered his ERA to 12.60. But that run never would have scored and Hoffman would have had a pretty uneventful ninth if Corey Hart doesn’t lose a one-out pop-up in the sun. He also missed played another ball in short right field later in the inning that went for hit. Hoffman’s line shows a 9.00 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP from Thursday. But it certainly wasn’t his fault.
  • After missing some time due to thumb inflammation, Derrek Lee seems just fine. He hit a home run. Marlon Byrd almost hit a plane.
  • Adam Dunn notched his first home run and just his second extra-base hit of the season. He’ll still have about 40 and 70 in those respective categories by early October.
  • J.A. Happ must be exceptional at stranding runners. He has walked eight in 10.1 innings this season. He had no strikeouts in his 5.1 innings of work Thursday. His overall WHIP is 1.64 and yet his ERA is still showing triple zeros. Yep, it’s early.
  • Good starting pitching from the Mets? Hahahaha! Oh, mercy. But Mike Pelfrey threw seven shutout innings against the Rockies. He has some pretty decent numbers this season, but I am not trusting  any Mets starter right now not named Santana. And even that relationship has its moments of reconsideration.
  • Another thing you don’t see too often is a caught stealing, two unassisted. But it happened to the Mets in this game as Luis Castillo got caught between first and second on an apparently aborted double steal. Catcher Miguel Olivo ran out from behind the plate and tagged Castillo by second base. Only the Mets ….
  • Again we learn that Jason Heyward can crush a fastball. Please tell me that scouts and managers watched him during the Braves’ series in San Francisco last weekend. Just reminds me of “Major League.”

“No hit curve ball. Straight ball, hit it very much. Curve ball, bats are afraid.”

Until he proves that he can drive a curveball or a slider, pitchers should continue to stay soft with Heyward.

  • Appropriately, the league’s final No. 42, Mariano Rivera, has pitched on Jackie Robinson Day for the past five years. Curiously, he has converted just three of five save chances on those days.
  • I turned on “Baseball Tonight” to see the analysts talking about Mark Teixeira. He is hitting .091 — Carlos Lee feels good about himself now –and everyone wants to speculate if his struggles are of a physical, technical or psychological nature. It’s none of the above. It’s simply statistical. Teixeira is a career .243 hitter in April. He batted .200 during the month last season. He’ll be up around .200 by the end of this April and continue to tear it up this summer. I know it’s New York and everyone needs something to debate, but settle down, kids. And remember that history can be your friend.

    Jorge Cantu probably doesn't realize that we'll forget about his current streak forever as soon as it snaps.

  • I’ll write off Thursday’s performance from Scott Kazmir. It was his first of the year after a hamstring injury put him on the disabled list coming out of spring training. But there was absolutely nothing positive for him to take away. OK, he made it out of the disaster without a new injury. That’s it. Kazmir’s control was pathetic once again. He allowed three homers in four innings. He didn’t miss many bats when he was able to find the zone. And there are many components of that Yankees lineup he used to baffle. Phil Hughes wasn’t worlds better, but the six Ks were nice.
  • Jorge Cantu extended his one-hit, one-RBI record streak to start the season. But it was thanks in large part to some smart baserunning by Hanley Ramirez. In the bottom of the fifth, Hanley led off with a single. With Cantu up, Aaron Harang — who was firing blanks all night — unleashed a pitch that hit the dirt and popped up into the air over the catcher’s head. The ball didn’t go past the catcher, it just bounced up high. But Hanley didn’t hesitate. He broke for second and went in standing up. Cantu doubled later in the at bat. Maybe Hanley would have scored from first anyway, but his heads-up work on the base path left no doubt and helped continue this rather pointless record.
  • Brian Roberts can’t possibly make this much of a difference for the Orioles. Baltimore scored two or fewer runs for the fifth time in six games on Thursday. The team hasn’t faced any truly great pitchers and has scored MLB’s third-fewest runs (29). It would be different if the Os were losing a string of 9-8 games. Their young pitchers are going to take plenty of lumps. But there has to be someone to blame for this lack of offense. It’s probably going to end up being manager Dave Trembley shortly.
  • Walks have never really been a problem for Ben Sheets, but he has walked 10 batters in 17 innings this season. In 2006, he walked just 11 batters in 106 innings. Last season, he issued just 47 walks in 198.1 innings. Thus, he’s not able to make it past the sixth inning this year. His strikeouts are also down. Right now, his name is looking larger than his game.
  • Man on third, up by two runs with two outs in the ninth. That’s when it all went horribly wrong for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Manny Ramirez singled to make it a one-run game. James Loney singled and then Stephen Drew displayed one of the most horrid throws from shortstop I have ever seen. I’m not sure why he’s trying to rush such a throw when it is Casey Blake who’s running down the first-base line. He’s not exactly Carl Crawford. The error tied the game and the Dodgers went on to win in 10.
  • In that tenth inning, I found it shocking that A.J. Hinch would want a right-handed reliever to pitch to the ultra-clutch, left-handed Andre Either rather than loading the bases, creating a force at home and seeing what Blaine Boyer could do against the right-handed Ramirez.
  • Simple question: If I’m watching Diamondbacks reliever Blaine Boyer, does that make me a Blaine voyeur?
  • Lastly, I wouldn’t be a nice baseball man if I didn’t send a posthumous thank you to Jackie Robinson, whose courage allowed thousands of future players — including 20 I’ve mentioned in this post — to realize their dreams.

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  1. Ruzzo
    April 16, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Blaine voyeur? You’re better than this, Brian.

    • spokes310
      April 16, 2010 at 6:32 pm

      It was 2 a.m. and I had a Matos moment. Forgive me.

  2. Anonymous
    April 22, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Marlon Byrd with complete disregard for human life.

    Jeff Suppan is so sub-par it hurts. Even BaseballReference lists that HR as “deep center” in its box score.

    I love it.

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