Monday Night Baseball (roundup)

The anticipated duel between multiple Cy Young Award winners went off the rails early, as Tim Lincecum yielded 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk before getting the second out. He settled down, but finished by allowing 5 runs in 6 IP, the third straight time this year that he’s allowed 5+ runs (and fourth straight dating to 2011). He has not otherwise been touched for 5+ runs more than two straight starts at any point in his career.

  • Does anyone answer the Opening Day bell better than Roy Halladay? Since 2007, his record in his first three starts is 15-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
  • It was  Halladay’s first win (and first quality start) in three games in San Francisco; he now has a win in 32 different MLB parks, including Estadio Hiram Bithorn in Puerto Rico. The only parks where he’s started and never won are Wrigley Field (0-3 in 3 starts), the defunct Shea Stadium (0-2 in 2 starts), the new Busch Stadium (no decision in his only start), and some confection known as Disney’s Wide World of Sports (0-1 in his lone start).

There’s old school, and then there’s Jim Leyland. In Kansas City Monday, Justin Verlander carried a 3-1 lead into the 9th in search of his first win. But with two out, he allowed a run-scoring single on a 3-1 pitch, then loaded the bases by walking Mitch Maier with four straight balls and hitting Alcides Escobar with his next offering. That was also his 126th pitch, and brought up leadoff man Alex Gordon. Closer Jose Valverde was ready in the bullpen.

Who could have guessed that Verlander would not only stay in the game, but strike out Gordon with a 100-MPH fastball on pitch #131 for the AL’s first complete game win of 2012?

  • The last 130-pitch outing within a team’s first 10 games was in 2002 by Randy Johnson.
  • In both of his prior starts, Verlander saw wins slip away in the 9th, and many had written off his chance of matching or topping last year’s 24 wins. And the odds on that are still very slim, but keep in mind: After seven starts last year, Verlander was 2-3 with a 3.75 ERA. He tossed a no-hitter in start #8, and from that point on, he went 22-2, 2.08.
  • In fact, April has always been his cruelest month; even with this win, Verlander’s career line for the opening month is 10-15, 4.45. His record in all other months is 98-43 (.695), 3.33.
  • In 20 career starts vs. KC, Verlander is 14-2, 2.37. He has beaten them 5 starts in a row.
  • He took the loss, but young lefty Danny Duffy had his second strong start of the year. In 12.2 IP, he has allowed 3 runs on 8 hits, with 5 walks and 15 strikeouts. He has half of KC’s four Quality Starts through 10 games. Duffy’s minor-league stats suggest a bright future.

Steve Lombardozzi hit a go-ahead 2-run double in the 6th as Washington improved to 8-3. Lombo collected 4 hits in his 19th career game; it took his dad 387 tries to notch the only 4-hit game of his career.

  • Was it a rainy night, or has Strasburg-mania run its course? The crowd of 16,245 was Washington’s first of under 25,000 this year, and the first of less than 21,000 ever to watch Strasburg in any MLB park.
  • Houston’s J.D. Martinez had his season-opening 9-game hitting streak stopped, registering the first golden sombrero of his career.

Carl Pavano got his first win over the Yankees in five career games. He’s now beaten 28 teams, all but the Reds & Cardinals (three starts each).

  • OF Clete Thomas, who went from Detroit’s bench to the waiver wire to the Twins’ starting lineup, is a career .254/.338/93 hitter (that’s BA/OBP/OPS+) in the majors, about the same as his career AAA numbers. But it’s always good to have a Clete in the majors, whatever his actual merits.
  • Freddy Garcia‘s first two starts of 2011: 12 IP, no runs. Of 2012: 10.1 IP, 9 runs.
  • Minnesota’s 7 RBI were distributed among 7 different players, as were their 7 Runs.
  • Joe Mauer had 2 doubles, raising his total of extra-base hits to 3.
  • Win Probability Added so far by Minnesota’s former MVPs: Mauer -0.195; Justin Morneau -0.152 (0 for 8 with RISP).

For the third straight start, Erik Bedard took a loss while allowing 2 runs or less, matching the longest such streak of this century (done five other times). Pittsburgh has scored a total of 2 runs in Bedard’s outings and 19 runs for the season’s first 10 games.

  • As usual this year, Chris Young was the offensive engine for Arizona. Young is tied for 2nd in NL OPS (1.392), and leads the majors with 1.258 Win Probability Added (Matt Kemp is 6th at 0.956). Young is batting .405, the rest of the D-backs .219. He has struck out just 5 times in the first 10 games, half his career rate, and has more walks than Ks. (More from Buster Olney.)

The A’s were shut out for the third time this year. They’re averaging 2.5 R/G and batting .198 over all and .130 with RISP (9 for 69).

Hector Santiago, recently anointed closer for the White Sox, blew a 2-run lead in the 9th on a leadoff HR by Nolan Reimold and a 2-out blast by Adam Jones. Matt Wieters had his second career 2-HR game, including a grand slam that capped Baltimore’s 6-run 10th.

  • The last Orioles extra-inning outburst of at least 6 runs was way back in 1970, a 14th-inning rally that started off Jose Santiago.
  • The win went to Pedro Strop, who pitched the last 2 innings perfectly. Since being dealt from Texas to Baltimore last September, Strop has allowed just 2 runs in 19.1 IP.
  • Robin Ventura’s choice of closer has raised some eyebrows. Although Santiago was used in relief for his first 4 pro seasons, he never got above Class A. Last year they made him a starter and he did pretty well, with a 3.60 ERA in 23 starts split between high-A and AA.  He made his big-league debut last July with 2 relief outings.

Dillon Gee and the Mets bullpen held Atlanta to 5 singles and a walk, and Tommy Hanson learned the folly of throwing five straight curveballs to a lefty slugger — especially with a runner on 3rd in a tie game (so you don’t want to bounce ’em).

  • The laser shot by Ike Davis was the Mets’ first 3-run HR this year. In 15 ABs with RISP this year, it was just his second hit and his first RBIs.
  • The Mets have beaten the Braves 4 straight this year and 5 in row over all, both matching their longest win streaks against Atlanta since 1989.

With a season-high 14 hits, the Padres raised their team BA from .191 to .210.

  • Runs per team-game in Coors Field so far: 5.79. In all other NL parks: 3.89.
  • Out of 59 pitchers with at least 500 IP over the past 3 years, Jeremy Guthrie has the 3rd-highest HR rate. So, naturally, the Rockies had to have him.

Whatever his investment, Kevin Youkilis is off to a very poor start. Besides the surface numbers, he’s 0 for 7 with a GIDP in high-leverage situations, contributing to a WPA of -0.655 that’s next-to-last in MLB.


Monday Night Baseball (roundup) — 20 Comments

  1. we don’t get any Steve Lombardozzi Sr love from baseball-reference on his son’s page. No mention at all – where as on some guys like the Alou’s they mention cousin’s. Where’s Joey Gallo and the Italian anti-defamation league when you need him?

    • Paul — You should use the B-R “Feedback” link to let Sean Foreman know about the missing links for the Lombardozzis. Sean is usually responsive to such things.

  2. “For the third straight start, Erik Bedard took a loss while allowing 2 runs or less, matching the longest such streak of this century (done five other times).”

    Conversely 5 is the longest streak of Wins this century when allowing 3 runs or more, by Jim Parque in 2000 and Jon Lieber in 2004 carrying over into 2005.

  3. “The A’s were shut out for the third time this year.”

    Oakland is the 76th team since 1918 (and 8th since 2001) to be shutout 3 teams in its first 11 games, including 10 teams that were shutout 4 times (most recently, Montreal in 2004).

    This fate has befallen 3 teams in the same year in 1991, 1990, 1981, 1968, and 1943.

    • The 1947 Browns and 1963 Mets are the only teams to be shutout 4 times in the first 8 games of the season.

      After 8 games, those Mets were 0-8 with only 10 runs scored and 39 runs allowed. The Browns fared somewhat better, going 2-6 with 19 runs scored and 35 runs allowed.

    • 1943 was the year of the balata ball. Due to wartime shortages the baseball, manufactured by A. G. Spalding, contained reclaimed cork and balata. There were 20 shutouts in the first 61 games and just 9 HRs in the first 72 games. After a multitude of complaints from the players Spalding admitted that the ball contained an inferior grade of rubber cement which had hardened. By May 1 the ML teams reverted to using a leftover supply of 1942 balls and a few days later Spalding released a revised balata ball and things returned to normal.

  4. ” …. as Tim Lincecum yielded 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk before getting the second out. He settled down, but finished by allowing 5 runs in 6 IP, …”

    JA, the inevitable question about Tim Lincecum is are there arm or shoulder problems that are affecting his delivery or his velocity? With the number of innings already pitched, it will take a long time for his ERA to come back down to previous-season levels.

    I haven’t seen any of Lincecum’s games on the tube in my part of North America, but are there any HHS posters with eyeballs on games in the Bay area who can speak to Lincecum’s velocity.

    Was it only a matter of time until his mechanically unsound delivery caught up with him, or have hitters finally figured out their timing against his high-motion release?

      • John, Tim Lincecum is not “allowed” three bad games. :-)

        Do you think that Jim Leyland’s 1920’s treatment of Verlander in his latest outing will come back to haunt him later in the season?

        After all, only Lee Majors has a bionic arm!!

        Very interesting managerial decision about leaving Verlander in …. and sort of throwing Valverde under the bus.

    • Out of curiosity, I took Lincecum’s 2011 game log, deleted the first 3 games, swapped in his first 3 games of this season, and ran the totals.

      His ERA rose from 2.74 (5th in the NL) to 3.32, which would have been tied for 13th.

      A 3.32 ERA would be about 1/4 run above his career average, but it wouldn’t be his worst season. He had a 3.43 ERA in 2010, and that year worked out just fine for him.

    • Or has throwing so many games early in his career with a pitch count in excess of 120 caused the decreased velocity? Ubaldo Jimenez also has a ton of those games early in his career and is having similar velocity issues.

      • bstar & Neil — Nobody should casually imply a link between simple pitch counts and injury without pointing to some statistically significant evidence. It may exist, but I haven’t seen it.

        • I was simply passing along a comment I heard that pertained to Verlander’s game last night and how Lincecum and Jimenez were 2nd and 3rd behind Justin since 200? in 120+ pitch games. Phrasing my comment in the form of a question seemed appropriate.

        • Over the past 10 years, the most 120-pitch games in a season:
          – 15, Livan Hernandez, 2005
          – 13, Kerry Wood, 2003
          – 13, Javier Vazquez, 2003
          – 12, Livan, 2003 and 2004
          – 11, Verlander, 2009 and 2010
          – 11, Randy Johnson, 2002

          Out of those 5 pitchers, Wood is the only one who had significant arm trouble afterwards. Johnson did miss half of the season after the one above, but that seems a small price to pay for a 6-year run averaging 248 IP, 20 wins and 340 Ks, and besides, he bounced back the next year.

          Livan and Vazquez are #1-2 in innings this century. Verlander is #4 in IP since 2006.

    • You can find his velocity at Fangraphs. (Sorry I don’t know how to do this interweb thingy well enough to provide a link.) His fastball velocity is down at least 2 mph. That is quite a bit. I think SF should be worrying. I guess what needs to be done is look at all pitchers whose velo was down 2 or more in their first 3 games of a season, and see how many regained their speed, or at least adjusted and regained their effectiveness with the lowered speed.

  5. 2 hits for Pierre coming off the bench tonight. Also an SB. Victorino and Polanco could do nothing, and the Phils lose.

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