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Just Another Reason Why Baseball Is Crazy

August 28, 2012 Leave a comment

If you attended a Major League Baseball game on Tuesday, you had a 33 percent chance of seeing a current great on the mound.

Yeah, how did that turn out?

Jered Weaver: He allowed four earned runs to a recently gutted Red Sox offense. He was bailed out from getting a loss because apparently Bobby Valentine wanted to watch Alfredo Aceves burn.

Stephen Strasburg: Apparently unaware of what month it is, “Pardon the Interruption” had an idiotic debate earlier in the day about whether this would be Strasburg’s most important start this season.

Washington certainly hopes not. Strasburg turned in his worst start in a month, allowing seven runs — five earned — over five innings to a similarly vacant Marlins lineup.

Chris Sale: He made his shortest start this season, allowing four runs over four innings to the Orioles. Seeing that Sale just didn’t have it, manager Robin Ventura pulled him after 75 pitches.

Justin Verlander: Most shocking of all, the reigning MVP had already been tagged for seven runs in Kansas City by the end of the second inning. Overall, he gave up a career-high eight earned runs and 12 hits in 5.2 innings. Going by game score, his 16 on Tuesday night rates as the second-lowest score of his career (He has scored a 15 three times). Verlander gave up eight runs for third time in his career, and it was against the Royals, a team he has had a lot of success against.

Of course, Verlander has success against everyone, and many teams have success against the Royals, but that’s missing the point …

Meanwhile, Ricky Nolasco, with his 4.21 FIP, was busy shutting out one of the best team’s in baseball.

It happens every night, and that’s why we love this game. But damn, just when you think you have something figured out, baseball lets you know that you know absolutely nothing.

*I should have rightfully included Matt Cain in this field of aces. But he pitched kinda good and just so my slant works, he was excluded.

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Max Scherzer Has A Pretty Nice Strikeout Streak Going On

August 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The obligatory Scherzer Eyes photo. I never tire of it

I can’t say Max Scherzer is finally putting it all together this year for the Detroit Tigers. Many of his numbers this year are close to what he’s done in the past. He’s still a little too wild. His ERA is up over 4.00 again. Many casual fans probably aren’t paying much attention to him again. But along with his history of mercurial starts, there’s no denying that Scherzer’s has always had dynamite power stuff.

Our heterochromatic (not a word?) friend is your current MLB leader in strikeouts with 194. It’s a lead that Scherzer has given/will give up and regain many times over a matter of days considering that his teammate Justin Verlander is at 192. Strasburg, Kershaw and Dickey are at 183.

But there’s Scherzer at 194, ahead of that company. If it feels like he’s out of place, it could be because he has never been an All-Star. Actually, if Scherzer were to lead baseball in strikeouts this year, he would become the first non-All-Star to lead that category since Frank Tanana in 1975.

If we’re just talking about strikeouts — and we are — Scherzer is one of the best. His 194 Ks are already a career high, and after Sunday’s nine-K outing against the Angels, Scherzer has now recorded at least eight strikeouts in eight consecutive starts. That is baseball’s second-longest such streak since 2003. Tim Lincecum struck out at least eight in 10 consecutive starts during the 2009 season. Dickey went seven straight starts with eight or more Ks while he was shutting out everything and everybody earlier this year.

If you search prior to 2003, you see a lot of Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. The longest streak of 8+ strikeouts belongs to the Big Unit with 17. Then it’s Pedro with 16. Then Pedro and Big Unit at 15. Then Johnson at 14. You get the point. Other names on that list include: Ryan, Schilling, Koufax, Clemens, Smoltz, Gooden, Gibson, Feller … and Max Scherzer is creeping up.

Maybe it’s a hot streak, but he’s always had that stuff. And just maybe Scherzer is putting it all together now. He has allowed five runs in his last four starts (27 innings). More importantly for Scherzer, he allowed no more than two walks in any of those starts, giving him a 1.07 WHIP. He sawed through the Angels, Blue Jays and Rangers in three of those starts, not exactly softies with the lumber.

Scherzer will be on the bump next weekend versus the White Sox. Hopefully more and more people tune in to check out one of the game’s best power pitchers, a man who is learning more and more about becoming a great pitcher while still possessing the power.

The Colorado Rockies, With Their 5.31 ERA, Post A 1-0 Road Shutout

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Hey, don’t be so quick to bash that 75-pitch limit that the Rockies have placed on their starters. Today, it worked! And it helped complete a four-game sweep of the Mets. Only, of course, the Mets.

Somehow, someway, the Rockies shut out the Mets at Citi Field this afternoon, 1-0.

Yes, the Rockies scored one run. And won. Miracles do happen. Tyler Chatwood, Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, Will Harris and Matt Belisle split the duty and kept the Mets scoreless. It helped that New York left 12 runners on base and had another man thrown out trying to steal, but don’t let the details get in front of a good story. ROCKIES PITCHERS DOMINATED, OVERPOWERING ALL WHO OPPOSED THEM WITH THE FURY OF A RUSHING AVALANCHE.

It was the Rockies’ first 1-0 win since 2010 in Arizona. The Mets hadn’t been shut out at home since 2008 against the Nationals.

Barring an all-but-impossible hot streak over these final six weeks, the Rockies will finish the year with a team ERA of more than 5.00. Today’s sterling performance brought it down from 5.31 to 5.27. The 2009 Orioles were the last team to record a 1-0 win during a season in which they had the league’s worst ERA. That game came on June 1 in Seattle, and the O’s finished up that season with a 5.15 ERA — the Rockies will be fortunate to even reach that mark.

Finally, what terrible luck for Collin McHugh. He makes his MLB debut for the Mets, pitches really well — seven innings, zero runs, nine Ks — and it just so happens to come on one of the finest days Colorado pitching has experienced in more than two years. According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Sports and Info), McHugh is the first pitcher since 1900 to throw at least seven innings with at least nine strikeouts and no runs in his major league debut and not get the win.

Get’em next time, kid.

Perfect Game Baby? I Don’t Like Him

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I try hard to see as much live baseball as possible with the money I have. It’s not easy, but I’m able to attend about 15-20 games a year, 90 percent of them at Dodger Stadium. When I was in high school, I went to about 30 games a year, 90 percent of them at Angel Stadium — or rather what was Edison International Field of Anaheim.

I think I’ve been in attendance for 3oo-4oo MLB games in my 28 years. I did see a one-hitter way back in the early ’90s, but I have never seen a no-hitter. As I’ve said here before, the closest I came was in 1995when Yankees pitcher Jack McDowell went into the eighth without giving up a hit to the Angels. Then the Angels got their act together.

I know I’m still young and that there are people who have been at thousands of games but have never seen a no-no. I hope those people are just as angry as me that this freaking baby can come along and have two perfect games handed to him in the span of four months. At the age of five months, he was probably sleeping when Philip Humber was flawless against the Mariners. At the age of nine months, he was probably drooling when Felix Hernandez did his thing against the Rays.

Really cute story, yes. But why, fate? Why do you have to waste something so special on a brain that is still months away from having any autobiographical recall skills? I’m a good person. I love baseball. What do I have to do? I’ll throw up all over myself and defecate in my pants without a care; you seem to favor those types. I don’t care what it is, just tell me!

(sigh)

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A Battery In The Making Since 1883

August 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Timeliness? Obviously not a premier issue on this blog. That’s why I have no shame in writing about something that happened Saturday afternoon on a Wednesday night. Something like this:

Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Breslow came in during the eighth inning of Saturday’s game versus the Yankees. The catcher was Ryan Lavarnway.

Why is this significant? Because both players attended Yale University (Breslow graduated with a B.A. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and was once named the smartest active athlete).

It was the first time that a Yale battery played in an MLB game since 1883, 16 years prior to the creation the American League.

Well, this just made FOX’s broadcasting team of Kenny Albert and Tim McCarver go giddy. Albert had been actively calling for the Red Sox to make this move just so he could empty his notebook. And there’s no doubt that it is pretty cool. I mean, 129 years is a long time. Only 19 Bulldogs have reached the majors since 1893. Ron Darling is the only other Yale alum to make it to that level in the last 45 years. Now you have two of them playing on the same team, in the same game, as pitcher and catcher?

Damn.

I would have paid more attention to things said about the Bresl0w-Lavarnway connection, but my mind was still numbed by some things McCarver said earlier in the game. I know I shouldn’t let such nonsense get to me because, yeah, it’s McCarver; what do I expect?

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Ricky Romero Walks 8, Strikes Out 8 Less Than 8

August 22, 2012 Leave a comment

I was going to write something about this last month when he gave up eight earned runs three times in the span of a month, but last night gave me another chance to ask this question: Where did you go, Ricky Ro?

His wretched 2012 season reached a another low Tuesday night as he walked eight Tigers in 5.1 innings. Even worse, he struck out none. That’s not going to do the K:BB ratio well. Romero was the first pitcher to put up such a line since 2006 with the Rockies’ Greg Reynolds, who has been quite the bust since being drafted with the second pick in that year’s draft Before that, you have to go back to go back to Jose “Don’t Call Me Juan” Guzman in 1991. On May 23 of that year, Guzman actually walked nine with no strikeouts in a start that lasted just 3.2 innings.

It was the second start in Romero’s career that he had gone without a K, and both have come this season. He walked five and struck out zero Twins on May 13. He is just the eighth pitcher in the last 20 years to have two games with at least five walks and no Ks in a single season.

The other esteemed names on that list? Tim Belcher; Pat Rapp; Joe Mays; this year’s version of Derek Lowe; 35-year-old Pat Hentgen; 37-year-old Tom Glavine; and 46-year-old Charlie Hough.

It’s hard to believe that the 27-year-old Romero, a man who struck out at least 170 batters in each of the past two seasons and had a decent 7.24 K/9 career average heading into this season, is now a part of that company.

So what’s wrong?

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First The Miami Marlins Quit The Season, Then They Quit Showtime

August 20, 2012 Leave a comment

From left to right: traded; disappointing; disappointing; increasingly boring; hurt; good; hurt. The Franchise!

I enjoy “The Franchise,” Showtime’s version of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” but with baseball. I religiously watched the maiden season of the show last year, which documented the defending champion San Francisco Giants, and wrote about it every week on this here canvas.

This year’s edition about the Miami Marlins had the makings of a fantastic show. The personalities of Ozzie Guillen, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Heath Bell, Logan Morrison, Jose Reyes and others blending together, set against the backdrop of a glitzy beach city with a baseball team ready to make a splash. Not a bad pitch.

Much like the 2012 Marlins, expectations were high. Much like the 2012 Marlins, the plug has been pulled before the end of the season.

It was announced today that a mutual decision has been reached between Showtime and the Marlins to end the show one episode early, with this Wednesday’s episode, the seventh of the season, acting as the finale. The Marlins had originally agreed to eight episodes, but they will instead count a preview episode that aired in April to fulfill the contract.

Marlins president David Samson told the Palm Beach Post, “There was an option to do more but given the state of our season, it was decided that the original eight would suffice.”

My headline is unfair, because it was a joint decision. But this development sure does a nice job of putting Marlins’ dispair in a nutshell.

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