Sidney Ponson, who's a pitcher I associate with conserving pitches in the same way he conserves food (he doesn't), threw an 88 pitch complete game last night. Of course, it was the Devil Rays he was throwing against, but whatever, they're a borderline major league team, so it's fairly impressive.
Matt Stairs had a neat six-RBI night for the Royals, leading the romp over Cleveland with a sixth-inning grand slam off of former Astro Jeriome Robertson. Who, mostly because of his name, I always assumed was black. Turns out he's a San Jose (CA)-born white boy. Assumptions, assumptions. Plus, it shows that I haven't watched enough ball on TV in recent years, because I don't know what any players look like.
An A's fan just has to hope that another former Astros starting pitcher (Kirk Saarloos) doesn't suffer the same 8.44 ERA fate that Robertson is suffering right now. Of course, Chad Gaudin's got it worse for the Indians: his six runs in 1 1/3 innings (as the starter) raised his ERA to 13.50. Gruesome early-year fun facts.
Roy Halladay took a loss for the Blue Jays, mainly because he was matched up against Pedro Martinez. Halladay gave up three runs in six innings, but Pedro did two runs in seven, then had a strong bullpen (Scott Williamson and Keith Foulke, tonight) bring the game home for him.
Foulke's save, by the way, was his classic eight pitch, seven strike affair.
Am I the last person to notice that Dontrelle Willis hasn't given up an earned run in 19 1/3 innings this year? How do I miss these things? Prior to the fourth inning of last night's game, he hadn't given up a run, period. Florida's three errors helped things along in breaking the more impressive streak.
It seems like every other day, the Cub offense is bursting out again. They've got an attack predicated on old, right-handed guys who were never all that great to start out with (Moises Alou, Aramis Ramirez (who's not really old, though it seems he's been around forever), Todd Hollandsworth, Todd Walker, Michael Barrett). But they scored nine more runs last night to whomp the Pirates, with four homers and four doubles.
Two of those doubles were hit by Moises Alou, who has seven on the year now, and one by Sammy Sosa. Sosa's was his ninth, which is a pretty incredible number, when you consider his 56 at-bat total for the year.
The Yankees slugged the White Sox to death last night, 11-8, powered by a seven-run first against Mark Buehrle. I picked them for third place this year. People called me crazy. Maybe I am, but if New York gets many more starts from guys like Jorge De Paula and Alex Graman, they could be in trouble. It's not like these guys are good prospects who just haven't gotten a shot or have flown under the radar; they're guys with 4.5 ERA's in AAA, with Graman doing that two years running. De Paula might aspire to be a good reliever, but it seems like Graman's pretty much filler.
Of course, no matter how many starts go to filler, I'm going to look foolish if Toronto keeps playing like they have been.
St. Louis is putting up some neat numbers, too. Reggie Sanders hit his fifth homer, Albert Pujols his sixth, both of which might be notable in a non-Bonds world. Maybe Pujols should just go play video games. There, he can be the best hitter in the universe, what with Bonds not appearing in the games anymore. It must be pretty neat for Cardinals/video game fans to see Pujols win MVP awards in their games, finally out of the shadow of His Greatness.
On an A's note, Chad Harville threw an inning and a third effectively for Houston in that game, giving up three base runners, but no runs.
Torii Hunter's going to get Pipped by Lew Ford. The man had two more hits yesterday to run his line to .419/.457/.710. He and Marco Scutaro are great examples of making the most of what might be a short opportunity.
And Ford is also a great example of another guy I had thought was black but turns out to be a shiny white guy from Beaumont, Texas. I'll probably start assuming white someday soon (though that bit me in the ass with Ken Harvey about a year ago), especially with the recent news of the declining percentages of black players in MLB.
I should note that these players skin tone doesn't matter to me (I feel very lame saying this, because it sounds like a classic thing that a racist-in-denial will say). It's just that when I read box scores or commentary or whatever, I tend to make up a face and/or body to go with a name. Those faces tend to be pretty persistent, actually, despite facts. I'll probably go on picturing Ford pretty much as I had imagined him despite having seen an actual face now, thanks to ESPN.
Joe Kennedy and the Dodgers forgot they were playing in Colorado last night, as Kennedy allowed just one run to Los Angeles over seven innings. Kennedy's easily the most interesting pitcher involved in that three-way trade this winter that sent Justin Speier to the Blue Jays and Mark Hendrickson to Tampa. It'd be neat if he had a Renaissance at 24 and became a successful pitcher in Colorado, as hard as that'll be.
Barry Bonds had one chance to swing the bat last night, as he walked thrice, but he made the most of it, popping his ninth (dear lord) homer of the year. Unfortunately for him, the Giants still aren't that good a team, as the Padres, led by an all-around offensive effort and just-enough pitching, won 9-6.
Bonds goes for a homer in his eighth straight game tonight. I'm hoping he breaks the record. Not the eight games in a row record. Joe DiMaggio's record. And not with some wimpy-ass singles, either. I want him to homer in 57 straight games. That'd be awesome.