Running Recap for Wednesday

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.

__________

@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.

__________

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.

__________

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.

__________

@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.

__________

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.

__________

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.

__________

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”?

 

44 thoughts on “Running Recap for Wednesday

  1. 1
    Neil L. says:

    John, in the absence of a real-time chat widget, this kind of running blog is the next best thing.

    I can’t wait for your breakdown of the Mets-Phillies game tonight. Wow, the Mets are an offensive machine. 🙂

    Will Mets fans start to really believe?

    Thanks for the tip of the cap to the Blue Jays faithful. Anything is better than Cordero closing for the Jays or, dare I say it, David Robertson for the Yankees. Ouch!

    • 2
      John Autin says:

      Johnny miss chat! 🙁

      • 3
        bstar says:

        B miss chat, too. Maybe we can talk Andy into having a once-a-week chat nite or something for a couple hours.

    • 4
      e pluribus munu says:

      For those of us (maybe just those of me) who could never keep up with chats from a knowledge base as deep as exists on this site, these recaps are a perfect baseball art form.

      • 38
        Neil L. says:

        e pluribus, what a great reference. JA, has never had his recaps referred to as an art form. 🙂

        • 39
          John Autin says:

          Neil, how do you know my mom doesn’t put these on her refrigerator right next to my preschool drawings? 🙂

          • 40
            Neil L. says:

            I stand corrected, JA.

            I’m just guessing that your mother doesn’t paper her fridge with printouts of your blogs. 🙂

            Bur that doesn’t mean there isn’t good quality in the runnin’ recaps.

            As many have said, they are solid gold.

            But, John Autin, I still pine for the opportunity to see you “manage” the Mets in real time on a chat widget!!

            Terry Collins should follow you on Twitter!

  2. 5
    Timmy Pea says:

    One bright spot for Philly is Juan Pierre!

    • 41
      Neil L. says:

      Timmy Pea, with all due respect, the fact that Juan Pierre is a starter/part-time player with the Phils is a testament to how offensively challenged yhey are.

  3. 6
    Doug says:

    Albert Pujols had his first multi-hit and multi-RBI game of the season tonight. It was his 3rd game of the last 4 with 2 RBI.

    It was also Albert’s first multi-hit game since getting 3 hits on April 19th in the last of a 9-game hitting streak. Since then (not including tonight) he had gone .104/.143/.164.

  4. 7
    Max says:

    I am going out on a limb here, but I don’t think Gary Cohen likes the Phanatic very much…

    • 8
      John Autin says:

      So you think the “unpleasant odors” line was less than objective reportage? 🙂

      • 42
        Max says:

        Actually, if you have ever been inside one of those mascot uniforms, they friggin’ reek…but decorum would dictate to keep it to one’s self.

        • 44

          Is was Rudy the Dinosaur at a Cardinal’s AA game in St Petersburg.

          The costume was actually an “inflatable”, with a fan in the butt.

          And still, it was about 150 degrees in that thing (July).

          I made the mistake of wandering under the stands to the concession area. About 25 kids attacked me, trying to send Rudy the Dinosaur back to extinction. Little monsters.

  5. 9

    The Yankees are done.

    • 10
      John Autin says:

      At least, Teixeira seems to be.

      • 11
        Mike L says:

        Teixeira is going to be one of those big money big deal free agent contracts that look fairly good when signed-maybe a slight overpay-work out fairly well early, and then just are albatrosses. I don’t fault Cashman for signing him-he looked pretty darn good. 07 and08, OPS+ of 149 and 152. It’s a little early to write him off, but this could end up like the Giambi contract (without the juice issues)

        • 12

          Definitely too early to write him off.
          Three seasons in he is averaging
          37 HR
          114 RBI
          308 TB
          Great D

          In his five full seasons before that (not including his rookie year), he averaged:

          35 HR
          119 RBI
          319 TB

          So, no regression at all.

          What we are looking at is his typical slow start.
          His career slashes for April are:

          .238 .342 .423 .766

          • 13
            John Autin says:

            He’s Mr. Unclutch.

          • 14
            John Autin says:

            … you understand, of course, that I am using a bit of hyperbole. What I really think is that Teix is in decline, as usual for a 32-year-old, and that his curve is somewhat steeper because he’s unable to adapt to the defensive shifts.

          • 15
            Mike L says:

            Not writing him off, but agreeing more with John A. He seems to have entered into his decline phas a little earlier than I would have expected for a first baseman. He’s not going to be terrible, but he’s likely to produce at lower rates over time, making the contract more expensive. Realistically, would you pay $20M per year for a guy with a 118 OPS+ (last year) who is getting older?

          • 17

            I’m not disagreeing with the observation that he seems to suck more than his “20 Million Dollar Yankee First Baseman” title would suggest he should….

            …just don’t see that the numbers back up the notion that he is quickly declining.

            And it is not “usual” for a 32-year old to decline. Yes, it happens. And sometimes it happens at 33. Or 34. Or 35. Or 36.

            I was in the best condition of my life at age 34, and my “decline” only became evident after getting crushed between an SUV and a brick wall at age 37.

            Teix just needs to start bunting.

          • 18
            John Autin says:

            Voomo, I know about his history of slow starts. I’m talking about the bigger picture.

            Offensively, Teixeira is now an average first baseman. Look where his OPS+ has ended up in the past two seasons among all 1Bs with 400+ PAs:

            — 2010, 12th out of 30. The average OPS+ was 120; Teix was 124.

            — 2011, 13th out of 25. The average OPS+ was 124; Teix was 118.

            Defense brings his value up some, but even using combined WAR, he ranked 10th in 2010 and 9th last year.

            I have nothing against him or his freedom to get overpaid. I’m just describing the player I see. He’s not an elite first baseman.

            And, yes, it is typical for a MLB player to be in decline by age 32. Yes, there are many exceptions, but the trend is undeniable. Take any random group of players and graph their OPS+, WAR or whatever overall measure you like. The curve will be pointing down at 32.

          • 19
            John Autin says:

            Re: decline by age 32 —

            Over the past 5 years, here’s the median OPS+ for certain ages (based on players with 300+ PAs in a season, with the number of such players in parentheses):

            Age 28 — 105 OPS+ (124 players)
            Age 30 — 105 OPS+ (108 players)
            Age 32 — 95 OPS+ (86 players)

            Not only is there a big drop in OPS+ by age 32, but the number of players deemed fit for MLB also fell sharply. And that’s despite my using a low 300-PA requirement.

            Median Wins Above Replacement, same period, same threshold:

            Age 28 — 1.70 (124 players)
            Age 30 — 1.65 (108 players)
            Age 32 — 1.25 (86 players)

            This doesn’t prove that Teixeira is in an irreversible decline, but it does show that what he’s done over the past 2 years is perfectly consistent with historical norms.

          • 20

            JA,

            Yes, I know that the numbers corroborate the 32-decline for baseball players.

            I should have specified that I was talking about Everybody. I’ve known a lot of elite athletes, most of them in the performing arts – dancers, aerialists, etc. And I’ve observed people whose attitudes and discipline have kept the age-monster at bay deep into their 30’s, and some into their 40’s.

            Not only kept it at bay, but have actually gotten better with age.

            And this is true for football quarterbacks, the ones who have made it to 35 physically sound. Steve Young first described the phenomenon of the “game slowing down” as he got older and wiser.

            Now, does the “game slow down” when you are 33 and trying to see and muscle-trigger the difference between a 95 mph four-seamer and and an 85 mph splitter? Maybe not.

            I’m just putting out there that attitude and perception (otherwise known as denial) have something to do with how a person (player) ages.

          • 21
            Nash Bruce says:

            …..or at 29. Twins lose again. Thankfully, we now understand that OBP is far more important than it was once understood to be. This makes Joe Mauer’s .278 AVG a lot easier to digest.

            Let alone his OBP being higher than his SLG.

            And, yeah, small sample size, but lets throw in the two errors in 7 games at 1B.
            I guess Joe Mauer is slowly d/evolving into Mark Grace, without the grace. (Or the doubles power, even.)
            –sighs–

          • 25
            John Autin says:

            Voomo @20 — I hear you. Still, when we’re talking about elite pro athletes with salaries in the millions, I don’t think we’re seeing the same spread in attitude/commitment/work to remain on top, as we see in broader social groups.

            Whether those elective factors play as big a role in individual aging patterns as sheer biological destiny, is another question.

          • 26
            Mike L says:

            Voomo and John A @25, I think it depends on the athlete. We tend to think of it as a fantastic game that we would do anything to stay in (and get paid gobs of money) if we could. But I really think that for most of these guys, it probably becomes increasingly difficult to stay in shape. A lot of pro athletes end up with significant physical disabilities when they have retired. The accumulation of dings (plus the size of the bank accounts) create hurdles for even the most motivated.

          • 27

            If I made 20 million a year, I would pay a personal trainer $250,000 to blow a trumpet in my ear every morning at 5:55 am, drag me out of bed, pour three raw eggs down my throat, and put me to work while hurling insults at me in Russian.

            Вы бесполезный кусок дерьма. Член мертвая собака могла ударить Curveball лучше, чем вы. Моя бабушка продала картофель на вокзале, и она будет выглядеть лучше в полоски.

          • 28
            Mike L says:

            Voomo, all I can say is LOL (in cyrllic, if I could). I get up before 555, skip the raw eggs, down a diet coke, dash for the train, and feverishly comb HHS for any new ideas….

            BTW, if I remember a very old post of yours, you played baseball on the oval underneath the Queensborough Bridge? Just wanted to let you know the 1 percent are at it again, and have got the city to agree to leave the tennis bubble up longer. I miss that red clay…

          • 29

            Mike L,

            You’ve got to stop with the Diet Coke.
            It is poison.
            Literally.

            I don’t usually give unsolicited advice about health, particularly on an unrelated blog, but the artificial sweetener in Diet Coke is THE worst thing there is, IMO:

            http://www.lovethetruth.com/truth_about_aspartame.htm

          • 30

            And I don’t know how Russians write LOL, but “Laughing out loud” is:

            Смех Вслух

        • 16
          brp says:

          At this point, do the Yankees have a player on their roster who ISN’T overpaid? Granderson?

          • 22
            Tmckelv says:

            Ivan Nova will make under 600K this year.

            David Robertson wasn’t overpaid until the 9th inning yesterday.

            And Jeter earned his monthly salary for April 2012. 🙂

            But that is about it.

          • 24
            mosc says:

            Granderson, David Robertson, Boon Logan, Cory Wade, Nunez (how can he be overpaid? he’s making min).

            You have very good odds that by the end of the year you’ll see Cano, Swisher, and ibanez on that list.

            And I’d say you have to go with Jeter for the time being too…

            And Mo is not overpaid, he’s just injured.

            So I just mentioned like 10 guys.

  6. 23
    brp says:

    @21, maybe Mauer just needs to find a slump-buster, like Grace would do.

  7. 31
    nightfly says:

    Bustin’ out the Fibonacci Sequence in a baseball blog! Love it.

    • 32
      John Autin says:

      Congratulations, Nightfly! You win my dog-eared copy of “The English-Russian Dictionary of Common Infield Chatter Idioms.”

      • 33
        nightfly says:

        If there actually IS such a thing, then life is even more awesome than I originally suspected.

        • 34
          John Autin says:

          It may be out of print, alas. 🙂

          But I really do have a dog-eared copy of this book, which was probably in the back of my mind when I tossed off that quip. And if you’ll just step backstage and give your address, financial records & account passwords to my colleague, George Fenneman, we’ll get that priceless tome right out to you.

          • 35
            Mike L says:

            All this linguistic repartee makes we wonder, should we be calling this “Wunning Wecap for Wednesday”

          • 36

            Ooh, nice. I didn’t see that.
            Too busy being traumatized by Houdini dying of Peritonitis.

          • 37
            John Autin says:

            I can’t bwog tonight, Mike — I’m weweading Wuthewing Heighth.

            (Can’t find my copy of Monty Python’s semaphore version….)

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