Scoring up in baseball? And other musings
By Jason Wojciechowski on April 8, 2006 at 10:40 PM
All thirty teams were in action yesterday, so there were fourteen other games on the slate.
- The Indians dropped the Twins to 1-3 by winning 11-6. Paul Byrd was uninspiring for Cleveland, but does it really matter when Travis Hafner hits two homers (amidst four hits and a walk) and the Indian offense racks up twenty baserunners (17 hits, three walks)? Of course not. Justin Morneau's two homers for the Twins were wasted as all three Twin pitchers were scored on: Kyle Lohse gave up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings, Matt Guerrier allowed two in 2 1/3, and someone named W Eyre gave up Hafner's second homer.
- Boston trounced the Orioles 14-8. Does it seems like there have been a lot of high-scoring games early on? Are the hitters ahead of the pitchers? Is offense back league-wide despite the steroid crackdown? Or is it something of an illusion? I think it would be hilarious if scoring rocketed up this year, in the first year of heavy PED suspensions. That would just shoot to hell the criticisms leveled by various members of the media, wouldn't it? I'm not saying PEDs weren't a significant part of the game, necessarily, but maybe the focus, always on the hitters, should have been leveled a little more evenly. Wouldn't PEDs help Omar Vizquel maintain his range at shortstop just as well as they gave Jason Giambi a power edge? Anyway, the Red Sox-Orioles game was never even as close as it looked. The Sox were up 11-0 going into the bottom of the seventh, when Matt Clement lost his quality start by giving up four runs in an Oriole rally. Boston scored three more in the top of the eighth, though, making it 14-4 before Baltimore dropped four more runs on Rudy "Traction Action" Seanez, three on a David Newhan (is he still around?) homer. Boston had 32 baserunners in the game, on sixteen hits, two hit batsmen, and a whopping fourteen walks. Every starter walked at least once. Compare that to Orioles, who grabbed only one free pass. Kevin Millar (the former Red Sock, of course) was the only Bal'moreian to trot down to first. Remarkably for a 22-run game, seven double plays were turned. Keith Foulke closed the game for the Red Sox. How far has he fallen that he's trotted out in a six-run game?
- The Devil Rays eeked one out, 9-8, against Toronto. Damon Hollins's insurance-run homer in the top of the ninth proved key for Tampa Bay when Vernon Wells homered for Toronto in the bottom half. Dan Miceli held on, though, earning his first save of the year. Beaneball fave T. Wigginton also homered for the Devil Rays. Reed Johnson went 0-0 with two runs scored as the leadoff man for Toronto. Frank Catalanotto pinch-hit for him in the 6th inning. It appears, though I fear a typo, that Casey Fossum actually hit Johnson with a pitch all three of his times up. Is that unprecedented? Especially since Johnson apparently didn't charge the mound (he was pinch-hit for, after all, which would imply that he wasn't ejected)?
- Detroit stayed undefeated, sending Texas to its fourth loss in five games. Chris Shelton continues to rake for the Tigers, popping his fifth homer and second double of the year. The Tigers lost two baserunners to caught-stealings. From the ATM Report: "The Rangers sent P R.A. Dickey to the minors, called up P Rick Bauer, signed DH Erubiel Durazo to a minor league contract and released P Nick Regilio." Dickey gets what happens when you break pitching records. Durazo was released not long ago. I'm not convinced he couldn't help somebody, especially in a world where Scott Hatteberg is still considered a viable first-base option.
- Kansas City won its first game of the year, sending the White Sox to 1-3. Jeremy Affeldt pitched poorly (six runs in four innings), but Jon Garland pitched worse (nine runs in 5 1/3). It was a doubles attack by the Royals: six of their thirteen hits went for two bags. Mark Grudzielanek also added a triple. Emil Brown and Mark Teahen stole bases for the Royals. Some guy named S Costa started in center for Kansas City.
- Anaheim (yes, they're still, and always will be, even if they moved to Portland, Maine, Anaheim to me) sent the Yankees to 1-3 as well. It's not a good week to wear pinstripes, apparently. The box score is as unremarkable as 4-1 games usually appear. Kelvim Escobar's line looks nice: one run in six innings, but just two strikeouts isn't that great. Johnny Damon remained on pace for 162 doubles and Orlando Cabrera made his second error of the year already.
- St. Louis lost for the first time as Greg Maddux did what he does: 6 1/3 innings, four hits, one run (on a Jim Edmonds homer). There were two outfield assists in the game: Matt Murton turned a double play from left field, throwing out Juan Encarnacion at first; and Encarnacion threw out Jacque Jones at second.
- The Phillies phell to oh and phour. Gavin Floyd's five runs allowed (three earned, helped out by Ryan Howard's error at first) wasted a Sal Fasano homer (you don't get too many of those). James Loney managed a triple for the Dodgers and Bill Mueller, batting .500, hit two doubles. From the ATM Report: "Dodgers P Eric Gagne had his elbow surgery. According to Dr. Jobe, he should be back in 6-8 weeks." See my later comment about the weakening of the NL West. It's looking more and more like Gagne's had his historic years, and he'll now pay the price for the rest of his career. It won't help if he keeps being stubborn about telling people that he's in pain.
- The Reds withstood a spirited Pirate rally in the top of the ninth, capped by a pinch-hit Craig Wilson homer that brought the score to 7-6, to send Pittsburgh to 0-5. Sean Casey went 2-4 with a homer, a double and a walk, probably justifying to some people the fact that Wilson is rotting on the bench. If the A's weren't already filled up with first-base types (Swisher, Thomas, Johnson), I'd advocate for a trade. There aren't 5-10 teams out there who want Wilson? Hell, the Reds' starting first baseman in this game was Rich Aurilia! Who is San Francisco starting at first these days? Sixty-five-year old Willie McCovey? By the way, Felipe Lopez hit two homers, further proving my point that he should not be laying down sacrifice bunts.
- The Mets improved to 3-1 behind Steve Trachsel's intimidating 83 MPH fastball. I caught part of this game, and Trachsel looks like a JV pitcher at this point. Or Esteban Loaiza, depending on your perspective. A few notes from my watching more than from the box score. Jeremy Hermida looks like a ballplayer. I have no idea if he is one, but 1-2 with two walks certainly makes his case. He did get thrown out at third base by Xavier Nady, though, so it's not all good. Also, David Wright's homer on a mistake high fastball by Jason Vargas was ripped. Wright and Eric Chavez are clearly the best third basemen in the game today, and it doesn't seem particularly close. I don't really have a handle on Wright's defense. He makes spectacular plays seemingly every game, but if we've learned nothing else from Derek Jeter, it's that spectacular plays are not the measure of a defender. That said, he might be a very good defender who also makes spectacular plays. I just don't have his numbers in front of me.
- The Brewers! Milwaukee improved to 4-0 by beating Arizona behind David Bush's seven inning performance. He struck out seven and gave up just one run (a homer in the 2nd by Luis Gonzalez). Prince Fielder singled and walked, but didn't strike out. He somehow strayed off second base far enough to get picked off by Russ Ortiz, though. Hint: if you're over 250 pounds, you should be no more than two feet from the base when leading off. Derrick Turnbow: still on pace for 162 saves. And shoulder surgery. Also, the guy on Sportsnet New York (or whatever the new sports channel here is called) said he might be the best closer in the game. Tell that to Huston Street, Mariano Rivera, Frankie Rodriguez, and Billy Wagner. The closer makes the saves, but the saves don't make the closer.
- Brandon Backe and his bullpen mates shut down Washington, sending the Astros to a 6-1 win. Some kid named Bergmann gave up four runs while getting no outs for the Nats. Lance Berkman and Preston Wilson did the damage, popping a pair of two-run homers, the second for each man.
- The Rockies scored ten runs in Petco, led by Eli Marrero's 4-5 game (two doubles, a homer). Marrero also stole a base, but with Mike Piazza behind the plate, you kind of just shrug. From the ATM Reports: "Padres 1B Ryan Klesko will have shoulder surgery on Monday and is expected to miss 2-4 months." That's pretty bad news for the Padres. The NL West just gets weaker and weaker. Also: "The Padres placed P Shawn Estes on the 15 day DL and called up P Scott Cassidy." That would be addition by subtraction if Cassidy were anything other than a bad pitcher. Which he's not.
- The Braves and Giants nearly got rained out and ended up playing a 20-run game on a sloppy field. Atlanta won 14-6 as Ryan Langerhans contributed five RBI, two on his second homer of the year. Moises Alou had a pinch-hit homer in the sixth which briefly gave the Giants the lead. The Braves scored eight in the top of the seventh, though. T Walker and J Taschner got smoked for seven runs without recording an out. Taschner now has an infinite ERA for the year.