Thursday recap (f/k/a/ “Running amok”)

Angels 3, @MarinersDan Haren‘s 4-start losing streak (5.79 ERA therein) was no match for Seattle’s .232 BA/.291 OBP. Haren bested his previous high by 2 with 14 strikeouts in a 4-hit, no-walk shutout. His 126 pitches were the 3rd-highest total in MLB this year.

  • Haren is 11-5, 2.43 in 20 starts against the M’s.
  • Albert Pujols hit his 5th HR and added 2 other hits — his first HR/multi-hit game of the year and 244th of his career. Feeling frisky, he even threw in his 2nd steal.
  • Baseballissimo! A day after hitting a decisive grand slam against Texas, Seattle’s Alex Liddi had a different four-of-a-kind: a Golden Sombrero. The 2nd Italian-born player to HR in the majors has whiffed 29 times in 88 PAs this year, 46/132 for his career.

@White Sox 11, Twins 8Alejandro de Aza lost a game-tying HR to video review in the 5th (they got it right), but his grand slam in the 6th — the 3rd HR of the inning — provided the final margin for the team’s 6th victory in 7 games. Chicago clubbed a season-high 5 HRs, including Paul Konerko’s 10th.

  • de Aza has one other 4-RBI game in his short career, also against the Twins.
  • A.J. Pierzynski hit his 7th HR. His career high is 18, but he hasn’t reached double figures since 2009. It’s early yet, but there are currently 10 catchers with OPS+ of at least 110 who are on pace for 400 PAs. No more than 8 backstops have reached that mark in any season 1983. Three are currently over 160 OPS+, a level reached just 9 times in all since 1901.
  • Joe Mauer hit his 2nd HR of the year — on the road, natch. In his last year in the Metrodome, he hit 16 HRs in 65 home games. In the new park, 2 HRs in 126 games. (OK, but he has a .443 OBP at home this year; that’s a winning number even if he never goes yard.)
  • Philip Humber is winless in 6 starts since his perfect game.
  • In his first game since being officially dubbed the (latest) White Sox closer, young Addison Reed gave up a 2-run HR to Justin Morneau in a non-save situation, giving Morneau 2 HRs in the game and 11 RBI in his last 7 games (20 for the year).
  • Konerko (4-2-2-2) is hitting .384. The White Sox season record is .388 by Luke Appling in 1936. Shoeless Joe is #2 at .382 in 1920, his final season. Since 1937, the highest mark is .353 by Frank Thomas in 1994. In 2009, Konerko (age 34) had a season that almost perfectly matched his career averages to that point: .277 BA (same as career), .353 OBP (.352), .489 SLG (.491), 114 OPS+ (116). It’s been said that such a year by a veteran represents the end of his growth as a player. But over the last 2+ seasons, Konerko has hit .315 with a .399 OBP (his previous best season was .381) and 157 OPS+ (136).

Niners 14, @Dolphins 7: San Francisco had a season-high 15 rushing first downs … er, base hits, and obliterated their previous high of 8 runs. The red-hot tandem of Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan combined for 8 RBI on 5 hits.

  • SF trailed early, but Pagan drove in the tying run in the 4th, then added a go-ahead 2-run double. He has hit in 33 of his last 35 games, and is on a 26-for-71 run (.366).
  • Gregor Blanco (2 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs) has his OBP up to .387, and has scored 17 runs in his last 18 games. He leads the club with 20 walks in just 111 PAs.
  • Fish gotta swim; Giancarlo gotta fly.
  • Omar Infante (4 hits) is batting .340/.969.
  • Ryan Vogelsong left after 6.1 IP. (Scratch the rest of this paragraph — I didn’t realize he left 2 runners behind, and both scored.) That (would have been) 5 straight starts of 6+ IP and 1 ER or less, tying Johnny Cueto for the longest such streak this year. It also (would have) tied Matt Cain (twice) for the longest such streaks in one season by a Giant since 1989, when Rick Reuschel had 6. (Bill Swift had 7 across 1993-94, split 4 and 3.)

@Indians 2, Tigers 1Justin Time — Masterson beat the Bengals for the first time in 8 career starts, completing Cleveland’s sweep. He walked 5, but Detroit’s offensive woes continued with an 0 for 9 with RISP. That wasted a typically strong Verlander effort (CG, 1 walk, 7 Ks); he lost to Cleveland for the first time since 2010.

  • Shin-Soo Choo (monster HR and walk in 4 trips) is coming on after a slow start. In his last 15 games, he’s hitting .340 with an OBP near .450.
  • The Tribe has been Verlander’s toughest out; he’s now 13-12, 4.70 in 28 career starts.
  • Tigers haven’t won consecutive games since April 17-18, and are 11-21 since then. Attention has focused on the inconsistency of Fielder and Cabrera, but the  bigger problems are lower in the order.

Phillies 10, @Cardinals 9: Philly matched their season high with 4 in the 1st, then let a 6-0 lead get away. But rookie Freddy Galvis broke a 7-7 tie with his 3rd RBI, matching a career high, Mike Fontenot added a 2-out pinch-RBI hit (now 3-4 as a PH and 7-14 over all), and erstwhile 20-HR man Ty Wigginton added his 3rd of the year (and first in 4 weeks) for what proved to the the deciding run.

  • The Cards tied it up in the 5th on HRs by Holliday and Yadier Molina (5-1-4-3), another catcher having an excellent year. That knocked out Joe Blanton and brought in Raul Valdes, retired his only 2 men and picked up the win. He’s retired 16 of 17 batters this year.
  • STL has yet to win after trailing by more than 3 runs.
  • Through 46 games last year, Philly allowed 3.17 R/G; this year, 4.02. But their SO/BB ratio has actually improved, from an excellent 3.08 to an astounding 3.62; the Nats are #2 at 3.01. So where are the extra runs coming from? HRs, mainly: 28 through 46 games last year, 48 this year — tied for most in the NL.
  • Carlos Ruiz (3-5, .366) began the day batting .341/.963 when he’s ahead in the count, and .354/.970 when he’s behind. On a 1-2 count, he’s 9-22; on 0-1, he’s 8-17 with 2 HRs. His .996 OPS is 75 points above the Phillies’ record for a qualified catcher (Spud Davis, 1932, .921). His .357 BA is 8 points ahead of Spud’s club record for BA. Davis holds the top two spots on that list, as well as nos. 4 and 8, all in the hitter-friendly years 1930-33. (For example, in 1930 Davis hit .313/.844, with just a 96 OPS+.)

@Reds 6, Braves 3Broom at the top: Devin Mesoraco came in with 3 RBI in 67 PAs, but his grand slam helped Cincinnati complete a 4-game sweep over Atlanta (see below for history). The Reds have taken over the Central lead with a 6-game win streak, their longest in a season since Aug. 2010, and knocked the Braves into 2nd in the East. Homer Bailey won consecutive starts for the first time since last July.

  • Mesoraco teed off on a 2-0 pitch from fresh reliever Kris Medlen, who hadn’t allowed a tater in 24 IP this year.
  • All or nothing: The Reds at home have a .300 OBP, but have hit 28 HRs in 21 games.
  • That’s 6 straight Braves games with no more than 3 runs or 7 hits. Since 1989, they’ve had just one other 6-game streak at those levels; their last longer streak was in 1985 (7 games). They have one 8-game streak in the live-ball era (1952, their last year in Boston).
  • The Reds went 3-24 with RISP in the series, but Atlanta was 0-12 — 0-3 in all 4 games.
  • Michael Bourn has 4 HRs in 28 games in Cincinnati. In all other parks, 12 HRs in 733 G.
  • Through Aug. 22 last year, opponents batted .154 off Jonny Venters and slugged .182, with 1 HR in 74 IP. He faded down the stretch, with a .278 BA and 5.64 ERA in his last 15 games. Through Wednesday, the league was hitting .317 despite 23 Ks in 75 PAs; would you believe a .487 BAbip?
  • Cincy’s last 4-game sweep of the Braves (by my count) came at the start of the 1980 season; they went 16-2 that year against their West division foes, who were 79-64 against everyone else. Three of those four games were shutouts, by Frank Pastore (age 22; 3-hitter), Mike LaCoss (age 24; rain-shortened) and Charlie Leibrandt (age 23; first start ever). The other game saw The Mad Hungarian serve up a 2-out, turnaround, walk-off HR by Dave Concepcion, who batted 3rd and had 3 extra-base hits for a career-best 0.958 WPA; that was the only game-ending HR of his 19-year career. (It’s hard to picture now, but Davey was their primary #3 hitter from 1979-83.) Phil Niekro started and lost games 1 and 4 of that series en route to a 15-18 season, leading the NL in losses for the 4th straight year.
  • Wednesday, Brandon Phillips drew 3 walks for the 2nd time in 1,078 career games and the first time in 6 years, ending a streak of 916 games with 2 walks or less. That was the 3rd-longest active streak; Ichiro has a 1,003-gamer, while Frenchy has a 1,033-game streak spanning his entire career.

Padres 11, Mets 5: In a rain-delayed game in Flushing, San Diego set team season highs with 10 Runs (they hadn’t scored more than eight) as well as 16 hits. Those are also season highs for any team at Citi Field this year; no one had topped 13 hits, and no visitor had more than 8 runs.

  • Everth Cabrera, a career .231 hitter and 2 for 21 this year, had his first 4-hit game, and the first this year by an NL #8 hitter.
  • Manny Acosta came in with a 10.53 ERA and fattened it, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits in 2 IP. In 21.2 IP, he’s allowed 31 hits, 15 walks and 30 runs (27 ER). (The Mets announced before the game that they do not intend to send Ike Davis to the minors, but if the bus is still in the lot, I know a guy who could fill that seat….)
  • David Wright went 3-5, hitting .405/.500/.628. His 2-run HR was the 8th at home by the Mets in 770 PAs: 3 by Wright, 2 by Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
  • WPA leaders through Wednesday: (1) Joey Votto, 3.3; (2) David Wright, 3.0; … (25) Josh Hamilton, 1.2. Mets and Rangers both have been involved in 13 blowouts; Mets have 14 one-run games, Texas 11.
  • Who will steal more bases this year — Jose Reyes, or the team he left behind? The Mets held a slim 16-13 lead as play began.
  • During one of the dull moments, Ron Darling said something that I’ve never heard from anyone but myself: The best left fielder he ever saw at cutting off balls down the line and throwing to the bases was Kevin McReynolds in his Mets days. K-Mac had 17 assists from LF in 1988, tops in the NL.
  • Tonight aside, the Padres’ offensive malaise is not all about the parks. Away from Petco, they were averaging 3.4 R/G with a .303 OBP and .656 OPS; both would be in the bottom four of the over-all NL tables.
  • Mets are 12-9 at home despite being outscored 70-84; they’ve averaged 4.9 R/G away, but just 3.3 at home.
  • There have been 85 win streaks of 3+ games so far in MLB, but none by the Friars.

29 thoughts on “Thursday recap (f/k/a/ “Running amok”)

  1. 1
    Ed says:

    Verlander’s problems against the Indians have mostly been about Progressive Field. Going into last night’s game, he had a 6.10 ERA there. Even last year, during his MVP/Cy Young campaign, he had a 4.85 ERA there in two starts (though the Tigers won both games).

    • 2
      Hartvig says:

      Even though he’s 5 and 1 on the season, Verlander really should be 7 – 1 or 8 -0, at least in my world. The Tigers are going to have to pick it up a bit for him to win 30 like I predicted before the season started.

      And even though Mauer is having a decent season, the Twins fans of my acquaintance have really started to turn on him. I’ve tried to point out to them that 2009 was an aberration and Smith should have known that but it’s pretty much been to no avail.

  2. 3
    bstar says:

    The Braves need their daddy, JA. I said this about a week ago but it bears repeating now: Atlanta is 19-5 when Chipper Jones starts, now 7-15 without. Normally this is a bsh*t stat, but this one might have some credence. The Braves are imminently more confident when the Old Man plays, and he’s clearly one of their best players (and I think their best hitter overall, still). But apparently the bruise on his calf from the screaming line drive that hit him a week ago is, as color man Joe Simpson said tonight, “one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen”.

    I feel good about the Braves at least making the playoffs this year, but I am really worried about next year.

  3. 4
    Ed says:

    Too late for JAs update but how about Dan Haren last night? Complete game 4 hit shutout, 0 walks, 14 Ks. Only the 11th time a pitcher has met those requirements (CG shutout, 4 or fewer hits, 0 walks, 14 or more Ks).

    • 8
      John Autin says:

      Good job, Ed, and with the Kipnis picture, too. And a bitter congrats to your Indians. BTW, I’ve now reorganized the “no-one-came-to-my-party” running commentary into a standard recap.

      • 10
        Ed says:

        I actually found the Haren tidbit all on my own! Course, since I’m not a PI subscriber, I’m not sure who the other 10 are to accomplish that feat.

        As for the sweep, obviously it’s better than getting swept. But this time last year, we were 7 games up (and also owned a sweep of the Tigers). And we all know how that turned out.

        • 11
          John Autin says:

          Yeah, but you guys didn’t have … um … um … Kotchman and Caveman then! 🙂

          (Hey, I said I was bitter.)

          • 12
            Ed says:

            Yeah, I still don’t understand why the Tigers gave Prince Fielder $214 million when they could have had Casey Kotchman for a mere $3 million. Really, what were they thinking??? People should get fired over that. 🙂

        • 27
          Neil L. says:

          Ed, why are you an Indians’ infidel?

          How long will it take you to become a true believer?

          Orioles and Indians all the way!! 🙂

  4. 6
    John Nacca says:

    Funny that Darling said that….I used to watch a lot of Mets games in the mid 80’s (and yes, I stayed up to watch the whole Braves-Mets July 4th/5th game!), and I always considered McReynolds one of the best leftfielders I had ever seen, and his overall fielding stats seem to back it up somewhat.

    • 9
      John Autin says:

      McReynolds didn’t have nearly the speed that Brett Gardner has, but like Gardner he had a CF’s instincts, took excellent angles, and came up throwing with no wasted motion.

      • 23
        Mike L says:

        I always thought the 88 Mets were in many ways comparable in quality to the 86 Mets, and their core players, with the exception of Hernandez and Carter, and their pitching staff had Darling, Gooden, Cone, Fernandez (the oldest was 27) and Ojeda, who was 30, but they seemed to just take steps backwards in the following years. I know, there was the partying, but it seemed odd that so many really good young players seemed to decline faster than expected

  5. 13
    kds says:

    Joe Jackson batted .408 in 1911 and .395 a century ago. Were you using a database that only covers the Retrosheet era? (Back to 1918)

    I guess I should hope ole Chipper stays off the block for my Nats.

  6. 14
    RJ says:

    Angel Pagan: another trade the Giants are getting the better end of?

    • 19
      John Autin says:

      Oh, very much so, RJ. Andres Torres has contracted Ike Davis Disease (a.k.a. Mendozalineitis), and Ramon Ramirez — the player I was actually excited about getting in that deal, the steady reliever with a 151 ERA+ over the last 4 years — has been mediocre, to put it mildly.

      But Angel had lost his way on the Mets and I don’t think he was going to find it again. He was a real pleasant surprise for us in 2009-10, starting as the CF fill-in during Beltran’s injuries. When Beltran was healthy in those years, Pagan would play RF — even though the stats suggest that Pagan played brilliantly in CF.

      Last year, the Mets acknowledged reality and started Pagan in CF and Beltran in RF. Even though Carlos never complained, Angel seemed uncomfortable displacing the established star, and his play in CF fell off the cliff — he made a couple of high-profile blunders early in the year out of apparent deference to Carlos, and he simply would not “take charge” as a CF must — and then his hitting suffered, too. It was easy to believe that 2009-10 had been a fluke; that we were now seeing why Angel didn’t get established in the majors until he was 27.

      I’m happy for him, though. He seems like a really nice guy.

  7. 15
    Tom says:

    Ruiz has accumulated 2.3 WAR already after only 2.5 all last year. And he is looking good to top his previous high in a season of 3.9 in 2010. Plus he is the only current Phillies batter who can see, let alone hit, a breaking ball.

    Here’s hoping he makes his first AS game just because he deserves some recognition.

    • 20
      John Autin says:

      It’s a crowded field among NL catchers — Ruiz, Lucroy, Ellis, Posey and Molina all have OPS+ over 140. And Montero, although he hasn’t hit up to his recent standard, has thrown out a whopping 59% of base-stealers (16 CS in 27 tries); no other regular is over 44%.

      It will be interesting to see how the All-Star voting goes. McCann is the best-known, I guess (along with Yadier), but he doesn’t have the stats this year and I don’t think ATL fans are known for stuffing the ballot box. STL, PHI and LAD all have big attendance and good reason to vote for their guys.

  8. 16

    I continue to be amazed at the amount of work that goes into these recaps. They are awesome and I always look forward to reading through them!

    Now that I’ve said that…. 🙂

    STL has yet to win after trailing by 3 or more.

    I do not think this is accurate. The Padres took a 3-0 lead on St. Louis after the top of the first in the game I saw Wednesday night, which the Cards went on to win 6-3. Of course, it was 3-3 after the bottom of the first, so is that only relating to the relative score after each full inning?

    • 18
      John Autin says:

      You are correct, E.S., and good catch. I jumbled the wording. I should have said “… more than 3 runs.”

      “The fault is mine, and so must the remedy be.”

    • 26
      e pluribus munu says:

      ES: “I continue to be amazed at the amount of work that goes into these recaps. They are awesome and I always look forward to reading through them!”

      Second that!

  9. 21
    John Autin says:

    It’s official: Alex Liddi is the first Italian-born player to don the cappello d’oro. (Or should it be cappello dorato? I’m not sure if the imaginary golden sombrero is actually made of gold, or merely gold-colored.)

  10. 25
    Tristram12 says:

    FWIW, Albert’s slash line over the last 14 days (13 games): .308/.362/.558. Six bad weeks, followed by two good ones – so far.

  11. 28
    Andy says:

    JA, congrats, your note about Brandon Phillips was sourced in print in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer. Photo here:

    • 29
      Andy says:

      Confirmed it’s Paul Hoynes, beat writer for the Indians, who made use of the stat…he’s watching the blog!

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