Poor Rondell! by Jason Wojciechowski Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 10:40 PM
Continuing with Saturday, May 8.
Jason Jennings had an interesting day. He retired the first two batters he saw, gave up Sammy Sosa's eighth homer, then gave up Moises Alou's eighth also. Later on, Todd Walker popped a shot. In the end, though, those three runs were all Jennings gave up, and his fifth inning two-run homer off of Greg Maddux tied the game at three. The Rockies scored in the top of the next inning to complete the scoring, so, especially since Jennings's blast came with two outs, the homer was key. For six ok innings and one big homer, I think Jennings earned a game ball.
Jody Gerut and Travis Hafner each hit three run homers, but the Cleveland bullpen (4 runs in 1.2 innings) and defense (three errors, including Omar Vizquel's seventh) were awful, so the Orioles were able to overcome a bad Kurt Ainsworth start (seven runs on six hits and five walks in 4.2 innings) to win. Brian Roberts continued his chase of Scott Podsednik with his fifteenth steal of the year.
The San Diego-Florida line score is a cute mirror, with a run for each team in the second, fourth, and fifth innings. The Padres pulled out the win with three runs in the top of the tenth, though, against Franklyn Gracesqui (who I'll admit is a new one on me), followed by a perfect ninth from Trevor Hoffman for his ninth save of the year. The last three relievers (of four) for the Padres were Scott Linebrink, Akinori Otsuka, and Hoffman. Their ERAs? 1.50, 1.06, and 1.50. Granted that ERA is often not the best measure of reliever performance, especially non-closers, those are fun numbers to have on your side.
On the losing side, did anyone thing Miguel Cabrera would already be this good? He hit his tenth homer in this game, singled twice, and walked once. The Padres never got him out. This is a 21 year-old with less than 300 AA plate appearances, and no AAA at-bats. In the jump from Carolina last year to Florida this year, he's lost all of 38 slugging points. He didn't hit quite this well last year, and he's probably on a hot streak right now, so we shouldn't really expect him to maintain this all year, but if he did, it wouldn't really surprise anyone. The comparisons to Albert Pujols are abundant, but also somewhat apt. If Cabrera can keep his throwing arm healthy, though, he won't have to move to first base, as Pujols has, which will help his overall value to the team.
Crazy game in Atlanta: two Brave runs in the eighth tie the game, one in the top of the ninth for Houston gives them the lead, but Brad Lidge blows things in the bottom of the ninth, allowing the run that sends the game to extra innings; Antonio Alfonseca, of all six-fingered pitchers, holds down the Astros in the tenth, and Andruw Jones blasts a game-winning homer with two outs in the Brave half.
Jones is a guy who has similar minor league credentials to Cabrera, but who, to most people, hasn't lived up to his promise. Jones never made those promises, though; other people made them for him. Jones had a very good 1995 in Macon, then destroyed everyone in 1996, when he played at four levels, including not embarassing himself in the majors, hitting five homers in 106 at-bats. When you look at his 1996 numbers, you start to unfairly expect Willie Mays. Well, not everyone who kills in the minors is Willie Mays. Someday, baseball fans will learn this. Sometimes they just end up damn good ballplayers, guys who could be Hall of Famers without quite being in that inner circle. And that's what Jones is.
He's just 27, but he should get to 250 homers this year. His home run totals since 1998, his first full season: 31, 26, 36, 34, 35, 36. He hits about 30 doubles and a few triples to augment those homers. His career line is .268/.342/.494 as a Gold Glove center fielder, someone who, while he may not be one of the greatest anymore, could legitimately be compared to the best of all time in his defensive prime. His top ten "most similar through age 26" list contains five Hall of Famers, including one who just happens to have hit the most homers of all time.
I'm not sure why I don't follow Shawn Green as much as I used to, but he popped his seventh homer of the year against the Pirates, a three-run job in the first. The Dodgers couldn't score again over the next seven innings, and the lead slowly eroded, but they pushed one across in the top of the ninth to take the 4-3 lead, at which point it became Gagne Time. I don't need to tell you what happened.
Speaking of disappointing, Tomo Ohka shut down St. Louis for eight innings, giving up no runs on three hits and a walk. He earned just his first win of the year, to go with five losses, even though the game lowered his ERA to 3.93. Wasn't someone saying something about wins being irrelevant? I swear someone was.
Woohoohoo, this one was fun. Texas took out Detroit 16-15 in ten innings after a fifth inning that saw the Tigers score eight to take a 14-4 lead only to allow ten runs in the bottom half. Some of the pitching lines are predictably (and hilariously) ugly: Mike Maroth: four innings, seven hits, nine runs, six walks; Danny Patterson: two walks, two runs, no hits, no outs; Al Levine: three runs, four hits, one walk, one out; Craig Dingman: no runs, no hits, but three walks in 1.1 innings; Ugueth Urbina finally took the loss, giving up a run on two walks and a hit, getting just one out; on the other side, RA Dickey: nine hits, six runs, eleven outs; Doug Brocail: one hit, four walks, five runs, one out; Ron Mahay: four hits, three runs, two outs.
On the offensive side, there were basically a lot of singles and a lot of walks. Out of 32 hits, nine went for extra bases, but the teams combined for 21 walks, including 15 by the Rangers.
Of course, any game like this always has the one guy you feel terrible for. This time around, it was Rondell White, the only starter for either team who didn't earn his way on base, going 0-6 and leaving seven men on.