:) Saturday recap

On the same night that the 1st overall pick of 2010 made his big-league debut, the 68th pick in that draft, Drew Smyly, earned his first win by holding the Yankees to 1 run on 2 hits in 6 innings, with 7 strikeouts.

Smyly, who logged just 128 IP in the minors, has begun his MLB career with 4 straight starts allowing 1 run. Since 1918, only Fernando Valenzuela has a longer streak of starts allowing 1 run or less from the start of his career. Fernando went 7 straight in 1981, with 5 shutouts. (His 10 games in 1980 were all in relief.) Smyly is the eighth pitcher and first Tiger to reach 4 straight.

  • For the second straight start, Freddy Garcia didn’t survive the 2nd inning, allowing 6 runs. He had just 4 such starts in his career before this year.

— Boston’s still in last place, but they’ve reached .500 for the first time this year. They had scored 44 runs in the first 5 games of their win streak, but Jon Lester kept the White Sox off the board for 7 IP and Ryan Sweeney scored the game’s only run after a leadoff double in the 4th. He’s now hitting .391 (25-64), without a HR but with eleven doubles and a triple. The last four 1-0 games between the Sox have all gone Red.

  • Jake Peavy followed up his 3-hit shutout with a CG 4-hit loss. It’s the first consecutive CGs this year by any pitcher, and the first ever for the former CYA winner. Peavy’s 37.2 IP over 5 starts ranks 2nd in MLB; he hasn’t topped 112 IP since 2008.

Erik Bedard finally got his first NL win after 4 losses, allowing a run over 5 IP. Pedro Alvarez had 2 doubles and his third 2-hit game in the past 6, after starting the year 2 for 30.

Kyle Lohse gave up his first 2 HRs in his 5th start, but both were solo shots, allowing him to set a personal best with his 9th straight Quality Start, dating to last year. Yadier Molina paced the Cardinal attack with 4-2-4-2 and his 4th HR, pushing his OPS up to 1.000.

— The Angels had their 6th straight game scoring 3 runs or less, but they still beat Cleveland 2-1 behind Dan Haren, ending a 5-game slide. Scott Downs got the save, a day after the team announced that Jordan Waldenwould no longer be the closer.

  • Downs has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the last 5 years; his 196 ERA+ ranks 4th among the 127 relievers with at least 200 IP in that span, and 2nd in WPA among non-closers.

Albert Pujols (4-0-1-0) set new personal lows with:

  • his 27th straight game without a HR (dating t0 last year);
  • his 12th straight game without an RBI; and
  • his 8th straight with negative WPA.

He’s also gone 8 straight games without an extra-base hit (his record is 12) and 8 straight with 1 hit or less (his record is 11).

You may remember Pujols starting slowly last year. But there’s no comparing the two seasons. After 21 games last year, his slash line went .250/.309/.512, with 7 HRs and 17 RBI. This year, he’s at .226/.278/.310, with no HRs and 4 RBI.

— Albert’s not the only premier 1B to have a power outage after signing a giant contract this spring: Joey Votto has gone 19 games without a HR, one shy of his longest streak. The good news for Cincy was 7 scoreless innings by Johnny Cueto, lowering his ERA to 1.39 through 5 starts.

Brandon Morrow had his first HR-free game this year, fanning 9 without a walk over 6 scoreless innings. Morrow began this year with a career average of 10.1 SO/9, but had just 12 Ks in his first 4 starts — the first time he’d ever gone more than 2 games without topping 4 Ks.

— Baltimore has 13 wins after 21 games for just the second time in the last 15 years.

— How long ’til the playoffs start? The 16-5 Rangers have outscored their opponents 118-62. They’ve outscored their foes in in all seven series to date, and have yet to lose two straight games or more than one game in a series. Three of their five losses have been by one run. They’re 8-1 on the road. The only time they were held under 2 runs, they won.

— Arizona scored 2 in the first, but Miami got singletons in the 7th, 8th and 9th. Anibal Sanchez had the year’s high game with 14 strikeouts, also a career high. He allowed no hits after the 1st, and retired his last 18 batters before leaving for a pinch-hitter. That was Omar Infante, whose triple began the comeback; he’s now slugging .764. Randy Choate extended his season-long hitless streak to 9 games (5.2 IP).

— Tim Lincecum’s first Quality Start of the year got the Giants back over .500. Lincecum has a 1.96 ERA in 19 starts against the Padres.

— After 22 career starts, Stephen Strasburg has a 2.18 ERA, 10.9 SO/9 and a SO/BB ratio of exactly 6. On the other hand, Matt Kemp is on another planet, orbiting a sun far larger than our own. In fact, the sun may be orbiting him.

Erik Bedard finally got his first NL win after 4 losses, allowing a run over 5 IP. Pedro Alvarez had 2 doubles and his third 2-hit game in the past 6, after starting the year 2 for 30.


:) Saturday recap — 25 Comments

  1. I know it is silly and “bush league,” but I am still waiting to see an outfielder try to throw his glove at a ball sailing over the fence. You throw your glove it is an automatic triple, which is better than walk-off home run. I’d bet that Rick Ankiel could hit a flying ball with his glove.

    And tell you what, Bryce Harper will have a memory of an Amazing first game in the Show, both his performance and the Show itself.

    • Unfortunately, the umpire would rule it a home run in that situation:

      7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—
      (a) To home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight and he touched all bases legally; or if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have gone out of the playing field in flight, is deflected by the act of a fielder in throwing his glove, cap, or any article of his apparel;

      • Well done, both of you.

        So he can’t throw his glove or any article of apparel … but what if he throws something else, like a tin of chewing tobacco, or a trained bird that he had secretly concealed under his cap?

        I’m sure he wouldn’t get away with it, but — like Voomo — I like to consider the possibilities.

    • I’ve seen the “thrown glove” trick used by the designated shaggers during batting practice many, many, many times over the years. I have yet to see any instance in which the thrown glove actually made contact with the ball (outside of Bugs Bunny cartoons)…

  2. “You may remember Pujols starting slowly last year. But there’s no comparing the two seasons. After 21 games last year, his slash line went .250/.309/.512, with 7 HRs and 17 RBI. This year, he’s at .226/.278/.310, with no HRs and 4 RBI.”

    Your comment about Albert Pujol’s slow start gives me a chance to complain about Jose Bautista losing his batting stroke and eye.

    Which is more concerning to their respective fans?

    Pujols’ .226/.278/.310 no HR and 4 RBI or
    Bautista’s .187/.337/.333 3 HR and 10 RBI

    Add to Bautista’s horrible line his very poor second half last year and there is real pessimism about him coming out of it.

    So who is more likely to snap out of their hitting funk and post decent numbers? Pujols or Bautista?

    • Neil, I feel your disappointment in Bautista so far. But “very poor second half” seems a harsh description of an .896 OPS which, had it been his season mark, would have ranked 7th in the AL.

      I counsel patience. Despite the .187 BA, Senor Bats is actually striking out less than he ever has with Toronto, on pace for 85 whiffs in 162 games. His BAbip is .175, 100 points below his career average. And while 3 HRs is below expectations, if he had just 2 more he’d be on pace for 39.

      I expect both Bautista and Pujols to “snap out of it” and post solid season numbers.

  3. With Dillon Gee’s win last night, SPs on their birthday are now 3-0 (all Quality Starts) with a 1.61 ERA. Birthday hitters are batting .283 with .525 slugging.

    Vegas must know about the Birthday Effect … right???

  4. it’s interesting, looking at Harper’s minor’s state, he seems just solid/average in his AA and AAA stints. admittedly both very short — does he get the callup now just because it didn’t take him long to adjust to either? The only place he really creamed it was in A ball.

    • I know this doesn’t really speak to your question, Michael, but anyway … Harper was the youngest player in AAA this year, and the youngest position player in the I.L. by about 3 years.

    • Listening to the GM (Rizzo?), it was more about the team needing a better hitting option in LF, and Harper was the best available. The other piece that is missing from the ‘official’ stats record is the Arizona Fall League, where he tore it up last year, against much older competition.

      • Indeed this was more about need than anything else. The Nats’ two primary leftfielders this year, Xavier Nady and Mark DeRosa, were hitting a combined 5 for 64(.078) with one extra-base hit in their collective 16 starts in LF for the Nats.

  5. Highest OPS for the Dodgers in the team’s first 21 games (1918-2012) (min. 3.1 PAs per team game):
    Matt Kemp (2012) 1.428
    Ron Cey (1977) 1.365
    Jack Fournier (1925) 1.347
    Roy Campanella (1953) 1.280
    Wally Moon (1961) 1.264

  6. I’m not sold on Todd Helton going to the HoF. I understand he has the BA and OBP, but he also has a lot of average years after age 30. He doesn’t have a ring and not much done in the playoffs really. Can 5 years as a great first basemen get your ticket punched? That’s 5 years before the humidor.

    • Timmy, I’m not sold on Helton = HOFer yet, either. It’s a tough call, though, because he’s no Dante Bichette — Helton really has been a very good hitter for a long time, and today was no exception. And he’s still a plus fielder.

      The other thing is that he’s still playing, and he’s already signed for next year. If he can keep it together to get his career WAR up into the mid- to high-60s (59.9 going into this year), it’s going to be hard to ignore a .421 OBP.

      (But then, if Helton, why not Dick Allen? Or John Olerud?)

      • Helton’s biggest problem is that there are just too many first basemen with similar records in the past few decades.

        To start, Jason Giambi and Carlos Delgardo are roughly as good, but are not getting a whole lotta HOF love or buzz right now. Fred McGriff has better career numbers (tho probably not a better peak), and he’s only gotten up to 23.9% after three years on the HOF ballot. Frank Thomas and Jim Thome are clearly better and Helton is probably not going to come close to the career totals of those two. That’s not even considering the great first baseman in their prime now, such as Pujols, Fielder, Cabrerra, or Votto.

        Another problem is that almost everyone looking at his numbers is going to discount them somewhat, for playing in Coors Field his whole career.

        EXAMPLE: Helton and Frank Thomas have very similar OBA/SLG numbers (.421/.550 and .419/.555 respectively). Adjust it by OPS+, and Thomas is waaaaay ahead, 156% to 136%. That seems to summerize their careers; Helton was overall excellent, elite for a few years; but Thomas was overall a truly dominant hitter.

  7. Looks like Joey V broke his streak today. Not quite sure what they were thinking throwing a nice juicy one down the middle, but there you go.

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