Sunday, April 6, 2008

"Wang Provides Lift For Yankees' Staff"

[That's an actual headline from last year, by the way.]

The pitching for the Yankees followed the script they'd like to see repeated many times this year. Chien-Ming Wang went 6 innings, giving up no runs on 4 hits and 2 walks and 6 K's; Joba came in for 2 perfect innings; and then Mo Rivera shut the door with a perfect ninth, as they beat the Rays 2-0. Hideki Matsui's two run homer was all they needed.

Josh Beckett came off the DL to make his first start of the year for Boston, but didn't look good giving up 5 runs in 4 2/3 IP. The Big Hurt hit a grand-slam, and Vernon Wells added a two run shot of his own as Toronto won 7-4. The standings in the AL East, as well as the Central, are looking a bit upside down at this point. It's BAL, TOR, TBR, NYY, BOS and KCR, CHW, MIN, CLE, DET. The West looks about right - the Angels are in first, followed by Oakland, Texas, and Seattle (thanks to their three losses to the O's) in last.

Pittsburgh had a pair of 4 run innings and Ian Snell dominated the Marlins (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 earned), 0 BB, 10 K) as the Pirates won 9-1. Snell might really break out this year, though people may not know about it since it's doubtful the Pirates will be very good.

Those young pitchers in Cincinnati are really getting the job done. Today it was Edison Volquez, acquired in the off-season from Texas for Josh Hamilton. He went 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K, and Reds offense put up 4 on Brett Myers and 4 more on the Phillies bullpen to win 8-2.

John Smoltz also came off of the DL to make his first start of the year, but Smoltzy was a bit more effective than Beckett was (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K). Big Tex hit a two run homer and the Braves beat the Mets 3-1.

Remember that post I did on how awesome Ben Sheets is? Well, he's pretty darn awesome (complete game shutout, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K). It was against the Giants, but it's still impressive. Barry Zito had another rough start (5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 HR) and both teams are where I expected them to be after the 7-0 Brewers win. Milwaukee's 5-1 and the Giants are 1-5.

Kansas City is 4-2 after a 3-1 win over the Twins. Brett Tomko made the start for the Royals and pitched 5 shutout innings, and Alex Gordon went 2-4 with 2 RBI. That KC team may surprise some people this year - they've got some good players.

The St. Louis Cardinals are playing well (5-1 on the year) and had a shutout victory over the Nationals, 3-0. Albert Pujols is hitting .353, but he has yet to homer so far. After a 3-0 start, Washington has dropped four straight.

Miguel Tejada hit his first HR for his new team, but Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee hit homers of their own for the Cubs. Carlos Zambrano avoided the walk and K'ed 7 as Chicago beat the Astros 3-2.

An exciting finish to the Arizona-Colorado game. The Rockies were up 1-0 going into the top of the ninth. Mark Reynolds hit a two run homer to give the D'Backs a 2-1 lead. Matt Holliday then homered in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 2. Arizona then scored 3 runs in the top of the tenth to beat Colorado 5-2. The first 8 innings saw one run scored, then there were 6 scored in the last two. The defending NL Champions are 1-5.

Texas puts 10 runs up against Angels' pitching, with catcher Gerald Laird going 4-5 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. That was more than enough for the Rangers as they beat LA 10-4.

Cliff Lee has fallen pretty from his 18 win season, but he had a pretty good start on his comeback trail against the Oakland A's (6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K) as the Indians won 2-1. Joe Blanton hasn't given up more than 3 runs in any start this year, but is 0-2 for the A's.

Juan Pierre got the start in LF for the Dodgers and went 0-4. Matt Kemp is scuffling, but he should still be the starter. Luckily for LA, they still have good pitching as Derek Lowe gave up 2 runs, 1 earned and the pen was solid as they beat the Padres 3-2. Trevor Hoffman took the lose. His career may be winding down, as he's 0-2 and has a 12.27 ERA on the year. Heath Bell may be taking over as closer sooner rather than later.

The Chicago White Sox are playing at Detroit tonight. Justin Verlander is pitching for the Tigers, and they need him to pitch well to stop their slide. Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle got roughed up in his last start, and if he isn't on his game, Detroit may get out of their slump and put up some runs. I'll call a 6-4 Tigers win.

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