Thursday roundup (extended club mix)
Cardinals 14, @Astros 2: Lance Lynn hardly needed the run support to become the second 9-game winner, as he had a career-best 11 strikeouts in just 6 innings. David Freese had his first 2-HR game, NL leader Carlos Beltran snapped a 9-game tater famine, and the Cards won a series for the first time in 2 weeks.
- Before the laughter set in; before Brian Bogusevic made his mound debut; Jed Lowrie hit his career-best 10th HR on an 0-2 pitch, matching J.J. Hardy for the HR lead among MLB shortstops. Lowrie’s year to date looks almost exactly like his excellent partial season for Boston in 2010. He leads all NL shortstops with a 138 OPS+, and he’s 10th in the league in offensive WAR.
- Bogusevic began his pro career as a pitcher. I’ve seen pitchers get to the majors with worse minor-league stats than his, but it was clear that his future lay elsewhere.
- Obviously no game impact from this, but it still pains me to see that J.A. Happ struck out trying to sacrifice with men on the corners and 1 out in the 2nd, leading 2-0 at the time. Yes, he’s an .092 career hitter (13 for 142). But he’s not a great bunter, either; he’s been successful in 22 of 32 sacrifice attempts, with no hits or RBI. More importantly, the value of moving the runner from 1st to 2nd with 2 out is negligible compared to the chance of getting the man home from 3rd. An .092 hitter gets a hit 1 of 11 times, maybe hits the ball somewhere to get the runner home another couple of times. Happ has never hit into a DP. You’re up by 2 runs — go for the big inning! Sacrificing there is a losing strategy.
- St. Louis has scored 7+ runs 20 times (16-4), tops in the NL — but only the 2 worst NL clubs have a lower W% in such games. Atlanta is 17-0 with 7+ runs, Washington 11-0. Meanwhile, the Cards are 2-16 when scoring 3 runs or less — the fewest such games in the league, but a W% that’s half the combined total of the other teams. The Mets are 9-14 with 3 runs or less, the Giants 9-15, the Nationals 12-18. Bottom line: STL’s run distribution has been highly inefficient.
- Long time comin’: Between his 2007 no-hitter (in his 2nd MLB game) and last night, Clay Buchholz made 85 starts without a Game Score above 80.
- You know you’re having a tough year when you toss a CG shutout and still lead the majors in ER allowed. For the 3rd straight game, Buchholz went at least 7 IP on 2 runs or less, trimming 2 runs off his ERA. After 27 walks in his first 49.1 IP, he’s walked just 4 in these past 3 starts.
- Buchholz was drafted late in the 2005 1st round, one of the deepest drafts ever: 7 of the top 12 picks have already been All-Stars, and 3/4 of the 48 picks have played in the majors.
- Matusz, the 4th over-all pick from 2008, has a career 78 ERA+ through 64 starts. He had just 30 games in the minors, 18 above class A. He’s only 25; maybe he should be honing his craft outside the pressures of a pennant race.
@Tigers 7, Indians 5: In their 6th try, Detroit finally prevailed over their neighbors to the south. Casey Crosby did just enough for his first big-league win, while Derek Lowe met with disaster for the 2nd time in 3 starts, nearly doubling his ERA in that stretch. Miguel Cabrera homered and has 27 RBI in his last 27 games, while taking over the AL hits lead, a category he’s never led the league in. He’s on pace for his first 200-hit season
- It’s clear that having Prince Fielder behind him is giving Cabrera more chances to hit. In 2010-11 combined, he walked in 34% of all chances with a base open; this year, just 7%. He’s on pace for a career-high 139 RBI and a career-low 51 walks, with 11 IBBs (after averaging 27 the past 2 years). But even though Fielder is hitting .392 with RISP, it remains to be seen whether Detroit will actually benefit from this “protection.” Cabrera is on pace for 97 runs, after scoring 111 each of the past 2 years; he’s also on track for career highs of 28 GIDPs and 480 outs, or 80 more than his 2010-11 average.
- A hit, 2 RBI and even a walk for Jose Lopez, but no runs. He’s played 16 straight complete games without touching the irregular pentagon, the longest AL streak this year. He has 18 RBI and 5 Runs in his 25 starts.
- Lowe reached 4 strikeouts for just the 2nd time this year. He has the 2nd-lowest K rate of any MLB qualifier (3.0 SO/9).
- It was the 5th time that a Hudson-Cordero showdown ended a game, but the first time Hudson came out on top. In 14 prior ABs against Cordero, Hudson had never batted with a man in scoring position.
- Omar Vizquel makes for good copy, but could we just acknowledge that he’s not a major-league hitter any more? Why John Farrell let him bat in the 8th with the go-ahead run on 3rd and 1 out is beyond me. He struck out there, and also in the 2nd with the bases full and no outs; his game WPA of -0.251 was the worst in the AL yesterday.
- Two hits by Paul Konerko ended his 2-game hitless streak, just the 2nd time this year that he’s gone that long without a hit.
- In his last 24 games, Adam Dunn is 14 for 87 (that .161 sounds familiar, no?) with 45 Ks. He has fanned at least once in 54 of 57 games this year; that number, as well as his total of 92 Ks, are the most ever through 57 team games. Just for laughs … he’s on pace for 261 Ks, 133 walks and 51 HRs. A thoroughly modern man.
- Henderson Alvarez, the only pitcher whose K rate is lower than Lowe’s, got no decision, yielding 3 runs in 7 IP, with a walk and 2 Ks. In 79 IP, he has 23 strikeouts, 18 walks and 13 HRs, with a 3.76 ERA/113 ERA+. The last pitcher with a K rate as low as Alvarez (2.62 SO/9) and an ERA+ of 100 or better was Jeff Ballard in 1989.
@Athletics 7, Rangers 1: The walks are starting to catch up with Yu Darvish. He walked 6 today, including 3 (plus a HBP) in a 4-run 4th that blew the game open. Oakland took 3 of 4 in the series and outscored Texas by 24-8, giving up 1 run or less in each win; the Rangers had only 3 such games before this series.
- Darvish began the year 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA, but averaging 4.6 BB/9 through 5 starts. In his last 7 starts, he’s 3-4, 5.22, averaging 6.1 BB/9.
- Brandon McCarthy (7 IP, no walks) won his 2nd straight since a DL stint. He’s averaging 2.3 BB/9 and hasn’t walked more than 3 in a game in 52 straight starts.
- First HRs of the year from Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss were welcome news for the AL’s 11th-ranked HR team. Crisp added a 3-run triple; he came in hitting .158 with 2 extra-base hits in 32 games. Moss, 28, had his only long-term trial with Pittsburgh in 2008-09, but hit .223 with 13 HRs in about a year’s at-bats. He’s fresh up from AAA, where he led Sacramento with 15 HRs.
- Some bad news for Oakland: Yoenis Cespedes left the game in the 1st with a hamstring injury after going 1st-to-3rd on a single.
- Texas has dropped 3 straight series to division foes, going 3-7. Now they head across the Bay for a weekend series with the red-hot Giants, who’ve won 9 of 11.
Giants 8, @Padres 3: San Fran made 4 errors for 3 unearned runs, but still cakewalked behind season highs of 3 HRs and 15 hits. It’s just the 3rd time in 76 Petco games that they’ve gone deep 3 times.
- In the 3-game set, Gregor Blanco had 7 hits, 17 total bases and 6 runs. The Giants are 2nd in the NL with 43 Runs from the leadoff spot, 1 behind St. Louis.
- Matt Cain won his 6th straight start, during which run his ERA has gone up. Just a fraction, but he could easily be 10-1 instead of 7-2.
Braves 8, @Marlins 2: They’ve adjusted to life without Chipper. Atlanta trailed through the 5th, but unloaded 4 HRs in the last 4 innings, including a lime-green matching set by Jason Heyward. He had just 1 HR in his last 23 games, and his only prior multi-HR game was in 2010.
- Jose Reyes scored a run! … on his first HR of the year. Besides their 2 solo HRs, Miami had 7 more hits (including 4 doubles) plus 6 walks, but went 0-13 with RISP.
- Michael Bourn hit his career-high 6th HR. He began the night 2nd in NL WAR.
- They needed replay to know this was a home run?
Rays 7, @Yankees 3: Russell Martin‘s HR to start the home 9th made the Yankees officially eligible to win, but the brooms had to stay closeted. Tampa leaped back over the Yankees to grab a share of first place.
- CC Sabathia had a season-high 12 Ks with just 1 walk in 7 IP, but matched his season high with 5 runs (3 ER) on 7 hits. It’s the 5th SP loss with 12 Ks this season, and 3rd in the last 3 days.
- Fill ‘em up, flush ‘em down: Yanks went 0-2 with the bases full (A-Rod and Cano in the 5th with a chance to tie it) and are now 10 for 66 (counting 4 sac flies). They went 1-10 over all with RISP, hitting .210 there.
- The Captain‘s last 30 games: .246, 12 Runs, 7 RBI, 8 GIDPs.
- David Price labored — 109 pitches in 5 IP — but allowed just a run and joined Felipe Paulino as the only starters to beat the Yankees twice this year.
@Brewers 4, Cubs 3 (10): Coming-out party for Norichika Aoki: he started the scoring with a HR in the 4th (his 2nd), scored the tying run in the 8th after an infield hit, and won the game with another blast in the 10th on a 2-0 pitch. It was the Crew’s first game-ending HR this year, and the 2nd straight 3-hit, 2-XBH game for Aoki, now hitting .303/.844 in 134 PAs.
The only problem for Milwaukee is, they’re using up these gimmes too early; they’re now 7-3 against Chicago, leaving them just 7 more the rest of the way. Cincinnati has 11 games left with the worst team in baseball.
- Frankie Rodriguez lost the lead in the 8th on Bryan LaHair’s 2-run HR, spoiling a rare good start by Randy Wolf. K-Rod’s 2012 line: 4.68 ERA, 1.48 WHIP. For all the Mets’ bullpen woes, we don’t miss him.
- Wolf has 2 starts this year allowing no ER — both against the Cubs. Against everyone else, his ERA is 6.71.
Mets 3, @Nationals 1: New York salvaged the series finale as Lucas Duda became the first Met with 10 HRs, and we close with some numbers on baseball’s leading winner, R.A. Dickey. The mountaineering author (finger)nailed his 9th win with 7.1 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits with 8 strikeouts. He’s won 4 straight starts and 7 straight decisions.
It was his 3rd straight game without a run, and 5th straight with at least 8 strikeouts.
The Mets record for consecutive scoreless starts is 3, so he’s tied that. Of the 5 prior Mets to do it (Al Leiter did it twice; Tom Seaver never did it), none had 3 full shutouts. Jerry Koosman had 2 shutouts and totaled 25.2 IP. Dwight Gooden had 1 shutout but totaled 27 IP; the first 2 games in his streak went extra innings. Dickey has totaled 23.2 IP in his 3 starts, which ranks 3rd in this group. Dickey’s 27 strikeouts are 1 behind Gooden; the others had 17 or less. Dickey allowed 18 baserunners in his 23.2 IP; Gooden allowed 17 in 27, John Maine 17 in 22.
The Mets record for consecutive games with 8+ Ks is 10 by David Cone in 1992. Gooden did it in the last 9 games of his rookie season (including the 1-hitter that was the first Mets game I ever attended, and totaling 105 Ks and 13 walks in 76 IP), plus another 5-game run earlier that year.* Seaver did 7 once, 6 thrice and 5 once, and Pedro did 6 and 5 once each.** Dickey’s 5-game streak has totaled 46 Ks and 4 walks in 36.2 IP.
Dickey’s “mulligan ERA” (minus his one bad start) is 1.56. Eleven of his 12 games were quality starts, the highest total and percentage in the majors this year. He has 9 “strong starts” (6+ IP, 2 runs or less), tied for the lead with Zack Greinke. He also leads with seven starts of a caliber I’ve yet to name, 7+ IP on 1 R or less.
Dickey’s 3 scoreless starts of 7+ IP ranks one behind Greinke and tied with 4 others.
His run support has been about average; before today, when he left with a 3-0 lead, his support of 4.2 R/9 innings (while in the game) ranked 33rd out of the 73 NLers with 8+ starts.
The Mets record for wins in the team’s first 58 games is 10, done first by Koosman in ’68, then by Seaver in 1969 and ’75, and by Bobby Jones in 1997. (Jones won his next start and was the fastest Met to 11 wins, getting there in game #61 with a mark of 11-2, 2.22, before slumping to 15-9, 3.63.) Others who’ve won 9 by this juncture are Seaver in ’72, Gooden in ’85 and ’88, Frank Viola in ’90 and Tom Glavine in 2006. Unless he starts hanging out with their shortstops, Dickey will presumably get 2 more starts through game #68; no Met has ever had more than 11 wins by that point.
* Doc averaged 11.39 SO/9 in ’84, more than twice the league average and shattering the K rate record, held then by Sam McDowell at 10.71. It has been surpassed only by Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Kerry Wood and Nolan Ryan. Johnson’s all-time record of 13.41 SO/9 was set in 2001 against a league average of 7.0.
** Pedro’s 6-game streak came not in 2005, his one big year with the Mets, but in 2006, when he got off to a brilliant start — through 11 starts he had a 2.50 ERA, 10.5 SO/9 and 2.0 BB/9 — before the injury got him. Oh, by the way, in that 6-game streak totaling 55 Ks and 6 walks in 42 IP, Pedro’s record was 0-1. I remember it all too well.
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