The highlights from the box scores on April 16th are these.
A couple of power-house offensive teams, the Indians and Tigers, played to a 1-0 standstill, the only run coming on (of course) a Chris Shelton homer, his eighth of the year. Mike Maroth threw seven shutout innings for Detroit, lowering his ERA to 0.93 for the year. Aaron Boone had two of the Indians' four hits.
The Devil Rays moved over .500 with a 9-5 win over the Royals, powered by Johnny Gomes and Ty Wigginton, who each hit their fifth homers of the year.
This is remarkable for Wigginton, because it pretty much looked like his career was over. After a poor year with the stick in full-time play with the Mets in 2003, he was traded (well down the ladder) to Pittsburgh midway through 2004. He was slugging .487 when he was traded, but managed just a .341 SLG thereafter. Finally, he got just 170 PA's last year with the Pirates, though he did slug .465. If you're not getting 200 PA's in a year for the Pirates and you sign with the Devil Rays, you're basically one step from a professional surfing career. Instead he's had a great 50-PA start to the year, cementing the kind of season that looks good even if he goes into the tank from here on out (such is the power of the hot start - it's hard to notice the declining slugging percentage).
Steve Stemle gave up six runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief for the Royals, raising his ERA to 15.00. At least by throwing 54 pitches, he made himself unavailable for a day or two. That's helpful.
Anaheim even its record with a 9-3 win over the Orioles. Vlad Guerrero hit a couple of homers and stole a base for the Angels. Chone Figgins also homered and stole a base.
The Angels actually gave up their DH in the game. Tim Salmon started at that spot, then was pinch-run for by Juan Rivera. Rivera later moved to right field while starter John Lackey was still in the game, putting Lackey in Guerrero's #3 spot. Francisco Rodriguez and Brendan Donnelly followed Lackey in the three-hole, but nobody got an at-bat.
It's odd to see that Rodriguez started the ninth with the Angels up 9-2. It's odder that after giving up one run, he was pulled in favor of Donnelly. Both the giving up of the DH and the removal of Rodriguez smell like injury. The recap says that Salmon did indeed leave with an injury, but that only explains Rivera coming in for him, not why Rivera later moved to right. Rodriguez also hurt himself, leaving with a hamstring cramp.
The Salmon injury isn't huge for the Angels. Juan Rivera would probably hit just as well in that spot (though obviously it costs them a valuable pinch-hitter). The Rodriguez injury is more problematic, but the Angels have to be happy that if he's going to be leaving games in pain, it's due to his legs, not his right arm.
The Red Sox beat the Mariners 3-2 behind Josh Beckett's third win of the year. Beckett allowed two runs (one earned) in seven innings. Kevin Youkilis was back where he belongs, in the leadoff spot, though he went 0-3 with a walk. Jason Varitek actually stole a base for the Sox. Adrian Beltre contributed two errors for the Mariners.
The White Sox beat the Blue Jays 6-4 in a 4 1/2 inning game. Toronto scored four runs in the top of the fifth, but their rally was stopped, so Chicago didn't have to bat in the bottom half. Josh Towers gave up five runs in two innings to take his third loss of the year for Toronto. Scott Podsednik finally stole his first base of the year, and Jim Thome contributed his seventh homer.
The Yankees beat the Twins 9-3, evening both teams' records at 6-6. The Yankees hit four homers, including two by Jason Giambi, lost one runner to a caught-stealing (Robinson Cano, who also homered), grounded into two double plays (both by Derek Jeter), and had two errors (including one by first-base caddy Andy Phillips, who went 0-0 with a walk). The MVP, though, was Chien-Ming Wang who allowed two runs (one earned) in seven innings while walking none and striking out eight. A ground-ball pitcher with strikeouts is one almost destined for success in this league. Wang was an adequate strikeout pitcher in the minors, winding up with 7.05 per nine in his five years on the farm.
San Diego beat Atlanta 4-3 by getting to the Brave bullpen. John Thomson threw six innings of shutout, one-hit ball, walking none and striking out six. He left with a 3-0 lead, but saw Kenny Ray cough it up in the seventh without even recording an out. Mike Remlinger gave up the go-ahead run in the eighth, and Trevor Hoffman finished things for the Padres in the ninth. Woody Williams struck out nine Braves in his six innings for the Padres.
The Nats beat the Marlins 7-5 by scoring three in the top of the ninth against Matt Herges. Ryan Church hit two bombs for Washington, including a two-run shot in the ninth, and also stole his first base of the year.
Chris Aguila has been starting in right for the Marlins, and he'll continue to do so for a little while longer, as the Fish had to put Jeremy Hermida on the DL with a hip problem. That's unfortunate for me because it removes a player I like to look for in the box scores. Aguila's a 27-year old out of a Reno high school. He was a mediocre minor-league hitter until breaking out in Portland (AA) with a .294/.369/.420 mark. The lack of power was worrisome, but it'd come: he hit .320/.384/.499 in Carolina (also AA) the next year, then .312/.380/.494 in Albuquerque (AAA) in 2004. He split 2005 between Florida and New Mexico, hitting .355/.412/.630 in about 160 PA's in AAA.
His numbers are obviously very batting-average driven, but a .180 ISO isn't too bad, even if his walk rate doesn't stun anyone.
The Mets won again, beating the Brewers 9-3. It was a good game until New York scored five in the bottom of the eighth to put things away. Jorge De La Rosa was the main culprit, giving up a three-run homer to Carlos Delgado. That was the only hit he gave up, but that's enough when you walk three, and then turn things over to Jared Fernandez, who was all too willing to let an inherited runner score.
Jose Reyes stole his fifth base of the year and Prince Fielder, who walked three times in the game, likely the first of many three-walk games in his career, embarassed Aaron Heilman and Paul Lo Duca with his first major-league steal.
Ben Sheets, true to form, struck out six and walked no Mets. Brian Bannister, auditioning to get sent back to AAA, walked five in his five innings. Each allowed six hits, and Sheets actually allowed one fewer extra-base hit, but somehow Sheets gave up four runs while Bannister allowed just one. Peripherals aren't everything within a single game, I guess.
The Cubs beat the Pirates 7-3 with a couple of big innings, a three-run first and a four-run sixth. Each inning was helped along by a two-run homer, the first by Todd Walker, the second by Aramis Ramirez. Juan Pierre stole his fourth base of the year, and Craig Wilson, continuing to put the Pirates to shame for picking up Sean Casey, hit his sixth homer.
The Cardinals edged Cincinnati 8-7 on a two-run homer by Albert Pujols in the bottom of the ninth. It was Pujols's third homer of the game, his eighth of the season, and his 14th and 15th RBI (in the Cardinals' twelfth game). Jason Marquis (a pitcher, as you'll recall) had the pinch-single in the ninth to set up Pujols's blast. Adam Dunn hit his seventh homer of the year for the Reds, and even Quinton McCracken contributed with a pinch-hit homer in the eighth. That three-run eighth inning for the Reds put them up 7-6.
The Astros beat the Diamondbacks with a seven-run sixth inning, powered by a Morgan Ensberg three-run homer. El Duque struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings for Arizona, but also walked four, and took his second loss of the year. The Astros needed seven pitchers to nail down the Snakes. Brad Ausmus made himself useful with a three-walk day.
The Dodgers got shut out by the Giants, 2-0. Brad Hennessey and three relievers did the job for San Francisco despite walking a combined five while striking out just three. They managed to give up just three hits, though, which is what you call defensive efficiency. Tim Worrell (I may have called him Todd in an earlier post) earned his fifth save of the year. Rafael Furcal and JD Drew each walked a couple of times for Los Angeles.