Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Unit Returns - McLouth Homers - Greinke Delicious

The Giants faced a tough challenge against Arizona (besides playing a really good team) - the return of the Big Unit, Randy Johnson. San Fransisco managed to score 3 runs against Johnson, and 2 more against the D'Back's pen, with all 5 being unearned. Randy's control was shaky, as he walked 4 in 5 IP, but the 7 K's are an encouraging sign (as if Arizona really needs more good players). Still, despite a Conor Jackson HR, the Giants picked up a 5-4 win, with the bullpen pitching 4 scoreless innings and Brian Wilson picking up his fourth save. Wilson is going to get a lot of chances, as I don't imagine San Fran will be winning many blowouts this year. Looking at the D'Backs line-up, they've got a guy hitting .194 (with a .375 OBP), a guy hitting .208 (Chris Young, who has a .323 OBP and 4 HR) and everyone else is at .280 or above. They're hitting 277 / 360 / 499 as a team - and that includes the pitchers! [The Orioles are actually at 264 / 338 / 425, which is about where they should end up. The 4.30 staff ERA should regress a bit (especially with a bad 69-49 K's to walks ratio in 113 IP), but this team isn't playing that far above their heads.]

I never really liked the Royals. Their management wasn't very good, and the team was bad, but not in that "we're on the way up" way. Things are different now. They have a GM who knows what's going on, as well as some of my favorite young players. I've talked about the sweet-swinging Billy Butler before. I've gone on and on about Brian Bannister (who has become something of a hero to all us stat-oriented fans who, for whatever reason, never made it in baseball... in my case it was an absurd lack of ability, which no amount of switch-hitting, righty submarining, or lefty throwing could make up for). Banny has upped his K-rate so far this year (by about 2 per nine) and I feel bad for saying that I didn't think he could do it. I hope he keeps it up. Zach Greinke I've liked for a few years now - partly because he was very talented, partly because of the novelty of a 95 mph fastball and a curve at 50, partly because he was compared to Greg Maddux, and partly because I like French Toast, which in Russian is called greinke (seriously - that's the first reason I started paying attention to him). Well those guys showed up against the Mariners (minus Banny, who had pitched a complete game against the Twins). Butler homered (his first) and Greinke pitched another complete game for KC. In a very "Bannister-like" performance, he gave up a run on 5 hits and a walk, and K'ed 4 - he got his third win, but raised his ERA to 0.75. He also threw only 107 pitches. KC is 8-5, Seattle is 6-8, and I'm a happy camper (at least for now).

I didn't mention Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth when discussing some players from around the league, despite his (now) .383 batting average. Perhaps Nate didn't want me to pass him over again, so he hit a two out, ninth inning, three run home run to beat the Dodgers 6-4. McLouth (the team's lead-off hitter) is tied with Xavier Nady for the team lead in RBI with 14. 11 of his 23 hits have gone for extra bases, and he has walked as many times as he has struck out. The Pirates are off to a strong start with a 7-6 record, while LA is just 5-8. Off-season addition Andruw Jones had an RBI (his second) and is now batting 7th in the order with a .114 average. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp look like they will be getting regular playing time now, as the batted 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Who still owns the best record in the AL? That would be the Oakland A's. I said this team wasn't bad (and that they had as good a chance of knocking of LA as Seattle, if not better) and they are playing good baseball. Greg Smith, acquired from Arizon in the Dan Haren deal, picked up his first major league win with a very good start (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K), and catcher Kurt Suzuki went 4-4 with an RBI in the 2-1 A's win. Daric Barton went 0-2 to drop his BA to .216, but also walked twice to raise his OBP to a solid .359. If he was hitting even .260, his OBP would be over .400.

The Angels moved to within a game of the A's with their 7-4 win over the Rangers. After struggling on the road last year (ERA of 8.38) Ervin Santana picked up his second win away from LA (or Anaheim, I suppose), with another quality start (7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K). Fransisco Rodriguez, bad ankle and all, pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

The Yankees out-homered the Rays 4-3, and got an 8-7 victory to bring them back to .500. Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez, Morgan Ensberg, and Robinson Cano (the game-winner) all went yard for the Bombers. All four were of the solo variety, but New York was able to put 4 more on the board. Tampa Bay scored five of their runs via long-ball with Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, and Evan Longoria (first of his career) all homering in the fifth inning.

O's closer George Sherrill gave up a two run homer in the ninth, but still got the save against the Jays. Unfortunately for the Indians, closer Joe Borowski gave up a two run homer (to Manny Ramirez) also, but they only had a one run lead going into the ninth. Joe gave up three runs as the Red Sox came from behind to beat Cleveland 6-4. Borowski saved 45 games last year despite a 5.07 ERA. With a fastball that sat at 83 mph, he may not be long for that role. Despite the 8-6, Boston should be a little bit worried. They are counting on young lefty Jon Lester and he didn't pitch well (4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 3 K) and now has a 5.31 ERA with more walks than strike-outs (15-10 in just 20 1/3 IP) on the season.

The Tigers' offense finally got on track against the Twins. Losing 5-0 going into the bottom of the fifth, Detroit scored 4, 1, and 6 in consecutive innings for a 11-9 win. They had multi-hit games from six players and only struck out once (and didn't walk). Miguel Cabrera picked up his third RBI, but also made an error, which means he still has more of the latter (4) than the former. The Twin's Carlos Gomez stole his 6th base of the year, but also went 0-5 with 2 K's - he's hitting just .246 on the year (which was to be expected - his bat isn't ready for the majors, even if his legs are.)

No comments: