Afternoon updates! Newer stuff is on top.

Marlins 5, @Astros 3 (12):

  • Did Sports Illustrated do a cover story on closers? Through May 4, setup man Steve Cishek allowed just 1 run in 14 IP. Then he was anointed The One, and blew his very first save chance.
  • Meanwhile, the demoted Heath Bell pitched a scoreless inning after the horse had left the barn. Naturally.
  • Carlos Lee has 19 triples in almost 2,000 games. How many do you suppose went something like this?
  • Houston used 21 players, ten of them in the #9 spot. Pitcher J.A. Happ (then with a career .100 BA) made the last out as a pinch hitter and careened off the Interstate, straight onto the Aughtobahn.
  • Look, I don’t really know what to make of the new dWAR ratings, or the fact that Jordan Schafer is 3rd in TZR among CFs. But this is a nice play. He also had 4 hits and sports a respectable .352 OBP.
  • Donnie Murphy got the start at 2B for Miami and finished with the year’s first 0-for-6+ without a single strikeout. He also was 0-3 with RISP. In 23 ABs, Murphy has 2 HRs, a double, and no other hits. He’s one of 5 active nonpitchers with a career BA under .200 and 500+ PAs. (But among that group, he’s a batting-and-OPS champ!)
  • This highlight brought to you by Johnson & Johnson.
  • Believe it or not, I found a clip to justify the inevitable groaner: “The Buck stopped here.” Incidentally, they’re the only two last-name Bucks ever to play in the majors.
  • Jeff Luhnow must be secretly cackling with glee, if not actively sticking voodoo dolls. The longer the Closer Curse lasts, the higher the price on Brett Myers come July 31. He’s 8-for-8 in save opps.

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@Dodgers 6, Giants 2: Odd numbers:

  • 0 — Previous AB, Hits and RBI in the majors for Scott Van Slyke.
  • 1 — Quality Start by Tim Lincecum this year.
  • 1 – Dodgers with more than 2 HRs.
  • 2 — Runs Chad Billingsley had allowed through 4 IP and 85 pitches when Don Mattingly sent in a pinch-hitter with the sacks full and 1 out.
  • 3 — Bases and RBI produced by that pinch-hitter, Tony Gwynn, Jr., reversing a 2-0 deficit.
  • 5 — The MLB-high caught-stealing total for Dee Gordon, who has as much business batting leadoff in the majors as I do. Also the number of fruitless ABs last night by the .268-OBP Gordon, who would have come up with 2 out in that inning if Billingsley had batted and failed.
  • 8 — People who will comment that this is not an odd-number sequence.

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White Sox 8, @Indians 1: Jake Peavy‘s 8th straight Quality Start (including his last in 2011), tying a career best. You always fear the other shoe dropping, but he seems to be all the way back — averaging 7.5 IP, 5 hits, 1 walk and 6.3 Ks per game.

  • Peavy and a 6-run 4th helped keep the closers out of the picture, to the delight of all.
  • Last year, Adam Dunn‘s 10th HR came in Sox game #102; in the same game, he whiffed 3 times to reach 130 for the year. The curious thing about his improved line this year is that there’s barely any difference in his K rate — 34.1% of PAs this year, 35.7% last year. He leads MLB in strikeouts by 47-39.
  • Looks like Konerko was shooting for the 1B line to boost his .345 BA, but Kotchman hasn’t brought his batting troubles into the field. He’s currently 2nd in TZR by first sackers.
  • Dayan Viciedo: 3 walks, 28 whiffs.
  • Suddenly, Chicago’s $22 million option on Peavy for next year isn’t such a joke.

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Mets 10, @Phillies 6: It’s not trash talk when I say: I’ve never seen the Phils look worse since they started owning the NL East. Despite Cliff Lee‘s strong return on both sides of the ball; despite taking the lead in the 2nd, 4th and 6th; despite racking up 15 hits; their bullpen (8 R in 3 IP) and normally reliable outfielders (5 misplays) turned it into a rout, as the Mets swept through The Bank and raided the vault.

  • New York’s 3-run 7th started with a walk by Nieuwenhuis, who’s shown some plate sense while compiling a .379 OBP. Then the Flyin’ Hawaiian had the wrong flight plan, having earlier let a single get past him for 3 bases. The tying run scored on a HBP. Four more runs came in the 8th.
  • After this nice play in the 1st, you wouldn’t have guessed that Hunter Pence had three misadventures to come, including a dropped fly ball. (MLB doesn’t feature “negative” videos, but trust this eyewitness: two high flighs to right landed at the base of the wall behind a cautious Pence. Announcers invoked the name of Bobby Abreu. It wasn’t pretty.)
  • Best news for the Mets was a double and a dinger from Ike Davis. He had no HRs in 17 games, 2 RBI in his last 15 games, and no multi-XBH game in over a year.
  • Charlie says what he sees.
  • Gary Cohen trash-talks the Phanatic in a funny visit to the booth.
  • Philly started 14-18 in 2007, when they rallied late to begin this run of division crowns. And they haven’t always had a blazing start since then. But from 2008-11, the Phils were never below 3rd place after April 21. It’s now May 10, and they’re in last. And the Mets are half a game from 1st.

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@Pirates 4, Nationals 2: The Andrew McCutchen Show!

  • The Bucs won without drawing a walk for the first time in over 2 years; they’d lost 19 such games since then.
  • After Erik Bedard‘s early exit (uh-oh), a quintet of relievers bent but didn’t break, allowing 10 baserunners but just 1 run in 8 IP.
  • Despite all his injuries, this was just the 3rd time Bedard has left a start after less than 5 IP while allowing 1 run or less. In the same span, both Josh Beckett and Kevin Millwood have 7 such games
  • That’s another 3-game losing streak for Washington. They’re 4-8 since their high-water mark, and now three teams are separated by half a game atop the NL East.
  • Fresh wheels can outrun a wrong turn.

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Rays 4, @Yankees 1: The notion that David Robertson intentionally loads the bases because he’s so comfortable and successful in that situation is kind of funny … until it isn’t.

  • Mark Teixeira‘s body and batting average are both under the weather,. He began the night with a season WPA of -0.433, then went 0-4 while thrice stranding men in scoring position, including a K with a man on 3rd and 1 out and an inning-ending DP in the 8th with 2 aboard.
  • The last time Mariano blew a save allowing 4+ runs: April 6, 2005.

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Plenty of stout pitching in the day games, with pairs of aces matching zeroes into the late innings.

Reds 2, @Brewers 1: The first double-digit K output this year by Zack Greinke (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K) matched his career-best 89 Game Score. But as effective if not as dazzling was Johnny Cueto, who shaved his ERA to a familiar 1.12 with a septet of circles, and the untouchable Aroldis Chapman kept the scoreboard clean through the 8th. Cue the closers, and wake up the bats; we’ve seen this script before.

In the top of the 9th, John Axford fanned the first two rather quickly, giving him 17 Ks in 9.1 IP. But the next three Reds got hits after falling behind (1-2, 0-1, 0-2), with Joey Votto’s well-placed double as the linchpin of a 2-run rally.

Now it was Sean Marshall‘s turn. The lead was quickly halved by a leadoff blastoff from the suddenly scalding bat of the reigning MVP (now with 10 HRs and a 1.033 OPS). The Crew’s next two sluggers went quietly, but Jonathan Lucroy‘s persistence (5 full-count fouls) paid off with a bingle and his fifth 2-hit game in his last 7 contests, leaving him with a .321 BA (tops among qualified catchers) and an .846 OPS. Two walks filled the bags, one each by Marshall and by Logan Ondrusek, who entered when Dusty felt his landmark win slipping away. But pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa took the first offer and popped to left, giving Ondrusek his first career save.

  • Chapman throws hard and you can’t hit him; it was ever thus. The difference this year is not falling behind as often. His first-strike rate hasn’t changed much, but he’s throwing more strikes as the at-bats wear on. Last year, just 33% of all PAs were resolved with the count in his favor; that’s up to 44% this season. His 3-ball rate of 30% in 2011 is down to 23% this year. Those numbers aren’t exactly night and day, but these are: his walk rate is down from an ugly 7.4 BB/9 to a sterling 2.3.
  • In 215 NL innings, Greinke has 247 Ks (10.4 SO/9). He’s always been a strikeout pitcher, but that’s a 24% rise over his last three seasons with KC (which includes his Cy Young year). In 5 starts and 36 IP against Cincy, he has 49 Ks against 21 hits.
  • Dusty Baker has taken part in over 2,500 wins, with a record of 1,047-989 (.514) as a player and 1,500-1,381 (.521) as manager.
  • Reds Ondrusek and Chapman have combined for 29.1 scoreless innings while stranding 20 of 21 inherited runners.

@Cubs 1, Braves 0: In Wrigley Field against one of the top offenses, Paul Maholm (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R) notched his first scoreless outing since a run of 3 in 4 starts last spring. It’s his 4th straight win, each with 1 run or none in 6+ IP.

  • In 54 prior games allowing 1 run in 7+ IP, Tim Hudson was 41-0.
  • Bryan LaHair is a K-prone slugger, but you don’t hit .384 by trying to jack everything. He delivered with 2 out in the 7th by going with the pitch to slip one through the vacant six hole for the game’s lone run.
  • It’s hard to go inside-the-park in the Friendly Confines. There’s been just one ITPHR in Wrigley since 2003.
  • The Cubs’ last 1-0 win over Atlanta was this 1993 classic between Jose Guzman and John Smoltz. Guzman was perfect through 7 and was 1 out from a no-hitter when Otis Nixon singled.

Blue Jays 5, @Athletics 2: His scoreless streak ended at 23 innings, but Brandon Morrow fanned 10 in 6 IP and won his 4th straight start to match a career high. (His prior streak was capped by his brilliant 17-K 1-hitter.)

  • Perhaps more comforting to the Jays’ faithful was the role reassignment of Francisco Cordero, followed by a clean save from Casey Janssen, last year’s outstanding setup man who had struggled to a 5.23 ERA in his first 10 games. It was the club’s 5th save (with an equal number blown in the 9th inning), and their first of the 1-2-3 flavor that fans and managers crave.
  • Toronto had just 7 hits, but 3 were HRs, including Edwin’s 10th that snapped a 5-game ohfer. and this 2-run blow by Adam Lind, who was 2 for 29 in his last 8 games.

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No word on what Josh Beckett ate or drank during his day on the links, but do you get the feeling that the BoSox are slipping back to the days of “25 men, 25 golf carts”?

 

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