Thursday, May 8, 2008

Low For Leiber - High For Lee - Eh For Zito

CIN-9, CHC-0
I knew that Jon Leiber had given up four home runs in his start against the Reds, but I didn't know just how embarrassing it really was until I checked the boxscore. After sluggers Adam Dunn (4 straight 40+ HR seasons, with the last three being exactly 40) and Joey Votto (who homered three times in the game) went deep back-to-back to start the second inning, Leiber got an out. Unfortunately, he then faced the terrifying (19 HR... career) former Oriole, Paul Bako. With his fourth of the year, Bako (hitting 310 / 375 / 552!) tied his career high for home runs in a season. Later in the inning, it was another former Oriole (with 34 career HR) Jerry Hairston going yard. It is almost unimaginable to me that a pitcher could give up home runs to both Bako and Hairston in the same season, let alone in the same inning. Baseball is a crazy game sometimes. Oh, and Edison Volquez continued his dominant season (5-1, 1.06 ERA, 52 K's in 42.1 IP) with a very strong outing despite shaky control (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 6 BB, 10 K).

NYM-12, LAD-1
Brad Penny vs. John Maine sounds like it could be a pretty good pitcher's duel, but these guys had very different games. Maine had a shutout going into the ninth and finished with 8.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Penny, on the other hand, got rocked for 10 runs on 10 hits in 4.2 IP. His ERA rose over a run-and-a-half from 3.19 to 4.79. Maine actually beat the Dodgers himself, as he drove in a couple of runs at the plate.

ATL-5, SDP-2
The Padres bad season (especially on offense) continued as they dropped to 12-23. I didn't think they would win the NL West, but I expected them to at least stay in the race. Don't look now, but the Braves have won five straight as their record is coming up to meet their stats. Chipper Jones went 2-4 to raise his average to .429 - the guy's 36 and showing no signs of declining (he has an OPS over 1.000 three years in a row).

CLE-3, NYY-0
C-M Wang (I'm abbreviating it from now on since I never remember if it's Chein or Chien) took his first loss of the year as Cliff Lee continues his magical (how else do you explain it?) season. He's now a perfect 6-0 after going 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K. 0.81 ERA. 39 K's. 2 walks. I can put up those kind of numbers in a video game, but only if I get lucky. With Sabathia coming around, as soon as Carmona gets under control (and I assume he will eventually) the Indians will have a very formidable rotation. I know Cliff Lee isn't this good (nobody is), but at 29 he may finally be coming into his own as a pitcher - even if it's only a slightly above average one.

DET-10, BOS-9
Kevin Youklis homered twice, and Mike Lowell added one of his own, but it wasn't enough as Clay Buchholz got touched for 5 runs on 10 hits in 4 IP and the normally untouchable Jon Papelbon gave up two runs in the ninth to blow his first save of the year. Placido Polanco and his extremely square jaw line had 5 hits for the Tigers.

PIT-3, SFG-1
Barry Zito made his return to the rotation for the Giants and actually pitched OK (5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K). He might have even gotten the win if Matt Morris was still pitching for the Pirates. Instead, it was Phil Dumatrait shutting down San Fran (5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K). Xavier Nady hit a two run homer and is now sitting at 349 / 408 / 563 with 34 RBI on the year.

TOR-6, TBR-2
The Blue Jays have had a quality start (> 6 IP, < 3 R) from a pitcher in nine of their last ten games after Shaun Marcum's 8.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K performance. The good-up-to-this-point Rays bullpen gave up 5 runs in 2.1 innings of work, though starter Matt Garza (6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 K) took the tough-luck loss.

FLA-6, MIL-2
Ryan Braun is hitting .267, Prince Fielder is at .248, and the Brewers offense is continuing to struggle. The team dropped below .500 to 16-17 as Burke Badenhop picked up his first major league win for the Fish. David Bush (who I've liked for a while based on pretty strong peripherals) allowed only 7 baserunners in 6 IP, but 6 of them came around to score. He's 0-4 with a 6.98 ERA now. With Yovanni Gallardo likely done for the year, the Brewers may not be able to catch the Cubs unless Bush really turns things around in a hurry.

HOU-4, WSH-3
It's amazing to me that Houston's closer, Jose Valverde, already has 4 wins on the year after the Astros scored in the bottom of the ninth. Lance Berkman went 2-3 with a mammoth home run (it went onto the train-tracks above the wall in left field in Houston). Ryan Zimmerman homered twice for the Nats, but that's all they got against Roy Oswalt (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 9 K).

KCR-9, LAA-4
Zach Greinke was good (7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 8 K) and Jared Weaver really wasn't (3.1 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 1 K). Jared now has a 5.59 ERA and is doing a great job of keeping the Weaver tradition alive in baseball.

MIN-13, CHW-1
Mark Buehrle had another off game (5.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 4 K) while Livan Hernandez kept his (surprisingly) solid 2008 campaign going with a complete game (9 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K). Carlos Gomez hit for the cycle for the Twins, and has his average up to .282 - his OBP is still just .306 though, which is unacceptable for a lead-off man.

COL-4, STL-3
The Rockies tripled twice (Holliday and Iannetta) and scored four runs in the eighth to pull off the come-from-behind win. Adam Wainwright's start (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K) was wasted by the Cardinals. Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta was a guy I thought would do well last year, but some early struggle allowed Yorvit Torrealba to steal his job. This year, Iannetta's making the most of his opportunity, hitting 353 / 414 / 686.

PHI-5, ARI-4
Micah Owings pitched well (7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 7 K) but the bullpen (namely, Chad Qualls) blew the lead for him. He only went 1-3 at the plate, but the hit was a double and he stands at 417 / 481 / 625 for the year. He is handily outhitting the Phillies "slugger", Ryan Howard. Howard went 0-4 with 3 K's, and has been dragging the Philadelphia offense down with his 162 / 286 / 333 line. He has struck out 50 times in 123 at bats already - if he goes all season like this he'll easily break the record for K's (which he set last year with 199). Good thing they have Chase Utley, who's been hitting well enough for the two of them (he drove in the winning run in the game, by the way).

TEX-2, SEA-0
Oh that poor Seattle offense. After getting shut-down by Sir Sidney, they were shutout by Vincente Padilla (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K). Erik Bedard dropped to 2-2 despite pitching well (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K). He has a 1.99 ERA on the year, but his walks are up and his K's are down. Catching prospect Jeff Clement was brought up to try to help the M's offense, but he has hit just 130 / 259 / 130 with 11 K's in 23 at bats this year. Wladimir Balentein likewise has struck out 9 times in 28 at bats, and is hitting 250 / 250 / 500 (no walks, 2 HR). There are rumblings that Seattle may try to trade for Ken Griffey Jr. after he hits his 600th career HR for the Reds (if they remain out of contention). That would definitely help, but I don't know if it'll be enough. If they are serious about winning then they should definitely talk to Barry Bonds. I hope they stick to their principles though (and finish 77-85). They currently have the worst record in the AL at 14-21, and are 7.5 back of the Angels and A's.

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