Saturday:

@Mets 3, Cubs 1: Ike Davis had the big hit — a 2-out (of course), 2-run, 0-and-2 HR on a splitter that never forked — but I think Mets fans (who’ve seen so many bullpen blowups) all agree that this was the play of the game.

  • If Ruben Tejada can stay healthy, the Mets will have chosen right in letting Jose Reyes go. With another 2-hit game tonight, Tejada is batting .327 with a .384 OBP in 40 games, and playing a fine shortstop. I’m not blind to Jose’s advantages — Tejada lacks the speed and (so far) the power that Reyes brings. But Jose’s 29, he’ll probably never have another year as big as last year, and he’ll get $19 million a year for 5 more years. He’s not that 60-SB guy any more, maybe not even a 40-steal guy; he didn’t reach 40 in the last 2 years, and he’s just off that pace this year. Tejada is 22 and has improved each year; for 2011-12 (almost one full season), he has a .367 OBP (same as Reyes) and 105 OPS+, despite no HRs. Hitting in the top of the order this year, he’s scored 27 runs in 40 games, a full-season pace of 109 runs. He’s a right-handed tonic for a lefty-heavy lineup, hitting .382 off southpaws this season. His doubles rate is solid, 21% of career hits, and since they’re not speed doubles, it suggests more power may come as he matures. If he can just stay healthy….
  • Through 85 games, Davis has a .205 BA and 49 RBI, a pace of 93 for the year. Only one man has ever driven in 90+ while batting .217 or less — a tall fellow who manned the initial sack in Flushing for some years.

@Nationals 4, Rockies 1 (9th): Ian Desmond hit his 16th HR. Believe it or not, that’s 1 shy of the Nats/Expos record for a shortstop, set by Orlando Cabrera in 2003. (If you remember Hubie Brooks hitting 20 for the Expos in 1988, you’re right, but that’s the year he was moved from SS to RF.)

  • Desmond is on track for 97 RBI, which would be 3 shy of the club SS record, set by Hubie in 1985 (with just 13 HRs). His pace of 83 extra-base hits would obliterate Cabrera’s mark of 66 in ’03. Lastly, his pace of 340 total bases would be the first over 288 by a Nats/Expos SS (Cabrera ’03 again) and would be the highest by any MLB SS since 2007, when Jimmy Rollins had 380 and Hanley Ramirez 359.
  • Nats’ pitching had hit a little slump, with a Coors Field asterisk: After holding foes to 2 runs or less in 31 of their first 70 games (team ERA 2.95), they had allowed 3+ runs in 11 straight games (starting, quite understandably, with 4 games in Colorado), with a 4.93 ERA in that span. But they still won 7 of those 11 games.

@Tigers 8, Royals 7: Four straight wins have put Detroit over .500 for the first time in almost 2 months. Prince Fielder‘s HR erased a 2-0 blot in the 1st and made Detroit the first team with two 60-RBI men; it was just his 3rd HR with anyone aboard, though he’s hitting .369 with RISP.

  • Doug Fister (6 IP, 4 R) got the win, but his magical spell seems broken. He has just 4 quality starts in 11 outings this year, has allowed 33 hits and 23 runs in his last 4 games (20.1 IP), and today’s 3 walks ended his 21-start streak of 2 walks or less.
  • Jose Valverde before today had allowed a .143 BA in save situations, .290 otherwise. Sure enough, he began the 9th with a 4-run lead and damn near lost it: 4-pitch walk, double, 5-pitch walk to load the bags, single to put the tying run aboard with no outs. Three runs would score, and the tying run reach 2nd on a steal, before Grandpa Grande finally escaped.
  • Detroit is also the only team with 3 qualified hitters with OBP of at least .375 — Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson (5-1-3-1), who’s hitting .417 in a 13-game hit streak. Delmon Young has batted 5th in each of his 74 starts this year. His 9th HR today gave him 36 RBI; he should have at least 50 with all those men on base.
  • Remember Jackson’s rookie first half, when all the pundits just knew his .429 BAbip could not be maintained? Well, that was true. But he’s around .420 again this year; and with over 1,600 career ABs, his BAbip is .381 — about 15 points higher than anyone else with even 700 PAs over the past 3 years. I looked at every 3-year span going backward: the last guy to BAbip over .375 was Derek Jeter, .385 for 1998-2000. So Jackson is unusual, but not unprecedented: special. (Oh, and remember how Jackson had no power? He’s slugging .552 this year.)

@Pirates 3, Giants 1James McDonald allowed a run on 4 hits in 7 IP (10 Ks, no walks); walked and scored the first run all the way from 1st base on a 1-out double; singled in his other at-bat to start the 5th; and single-handedly captured a division of Huns. (The last bit might have been Sgt. York; I get the two mixed up sometimes.)

  • This is silly, but … Tonight’s Bucs total of exactly 8 hits, 5 doubles, 1 HR and 2 singles has now been done 3 times in searchable Pirates history: Once in 1990, and twice in their last 12 games. Those exact totals have been produced in just one other game in the past 2 years.
  • More good news for the Pirates: attendance is picking up. Seven of their last eight weekend home games have virtually sold out, and even their last 4 non-weekend home dates have drawn over 21,000.

@White Sox 2, Jays 0: Fifth straight win for the Southsiders marks the first time this year that an AL Central team has reached 10 games over .500. Kevin Youkilis broke the scoreless tie with a 2-out, 2-run HR off Ricky Romero (when did they plant that ivy?), giving Youk 6 straight games with a hit and an RBI, the 2nd-longest streak of his career.

  • Youk vs. Romero: 9 for 25, 4 HRs, 6 walks. (So that‘s what Steve Stone meant when he said, “Ricky Romero decides to throw to Youkilis, and it costs him 2 runs.” Without that stat, I couldn’t understand why Stone thought Romero might rather face Adam Dunn.)
  • Third scoreless start in the last four by Gavin Floyd (7.2 IP, 4 H). ChiSox lead the AL in IP by their starters and are 3rd in SP ERA.
  • The Jays’ ace had his best game since mid-May, but still lost his 3rd straight start. It’s the first time this year that Toronto scored less than 3 runs for Romero; last year they scored 2 or less in 10 of his 32 starts. If he’d had this year’s run support last season, he would have won 20 easily; if he had last year’s support this year, he could be 4-10 instead of 8-4.

Mariners 7, @Athletics 1Jason Vargas went the distance allowing only a 1st-inning HR, and Jarrod Parker allowed 6 runs, boosting his ERA to 2.86 just as he reached the qualifying threshold.

  • Vargas has allowed a HR in 11 straight games, the 2nd-longest this year (Phil Hughes had 12). It was already the longest streak in Seattle history. He’s allowed 23 HRs in 126 IP, but has mounted 3 strong starts in a row since a 5-HR disaster.
  • Kyle Seager‘s 3-run double closed the scoring and upped his team-high RBI count to 52. He’s hitting .355 with RISP (27-76), but .202 with the bases empty.
  • Parker has allowed 2 runs or less in 12 of 15 career starts. In the other 3 games, he allowed exactly 6 runs.
  • Josh Reddick is the first Athletic with 20 HRs by game 85 since Nick Swisher in 2006. That was also the last year they had a 35-HR man.

Yankees 6, @Red Sox 1 (Gm.1):  In the sunlit tilt, the Bombers executed their corporate manifesto, powering 4 over the Fenway barricades, and did themselves proud with strong pitching by Freddy Garcia and 3 double plays. It was 6-0 before David Ortiz got Boston’s first hit in the 4th.

  • Just like old times, Andruw was a factor on both sides of the equation, with a home run double-double (twice involved in back-to-back HRs) and doubling off a runner after a textbook leaping catch to take a double away from the Monster. In 586 ABs for 2010-12, Andruw has 41 HRs, 99 RBI, 88 walks, and 174 strikeouts.
  • New York came to town with just one 1st inning of 4+ runs this year. Now they have three.
  • Mark Teixeira batted 2nd for the first time in 9 years. He went 0 for 4 with a walk, 0-2 with RISP.
  • Adrian Gonzalez isn’t striking fear into pitchers. Boston drew 3 walks, all by Big Papi in front of Gonzalez, who made out each time. His 17-game hitting streak has 26 hits, 1 HR, 22 singles, 9 RBI.

Yankees 3, @Red Sox 0 (Gm.2, 2nd): Boston will not go 0-17 against the Evil Empire this year. After a hitless Boston debut in the day game, SS Pedro Ciriaco had 4 hits and 4 RBI in the nightcap, including a go-ahead 3-run double in the 6th.

  • Ciriaco had the first 4-hit, 4-RBI game by a #9 hitter since Atlanta’s Joe Mather did it in May 2011 in an interleague game, including an extra-inning game-winner; the last such 9-inning game was in 2009. Counting his cameos with Pittsburgh the last 2 years, Ciriaco is 17 for 48 with 11 RBI.
  • Another Boston newby, Mauro Gomez, went 4-2-3-1 with 2 doubles out of the #8 spot. The BoSox #8 spot began the day with a .275 BA and tops in the majors with 44 RBI.
  • Five, four, three: If the series goes long enough, Boston hurlers might actually put up a zero in the 1st. Tonight they dug a 3-0, no-out hole after just 9 pitches, thanks to the first career errors by 3B Gomez (two on one play), a bunt single by Curtis Granderson, and (of course) a Big Fly, this one by Mark Teixeira.
  • Yanks recalled Cory Wade under the new rule that allows a 26th roster spot during doubleheaders. Wade got 2 outs and allowed 4 hits, bringing in an inherited runner and 3 of his own. It’s Wade’s 3rd straight relief appearance allowing 4+ hits and 3+ runs, the first such streak since 2010.

____________________

Friday:

Cubs 8, @Mets 7: Question: If Carlos Marmol hadn’t stabbed Lucas Duda‘s liner up the middle and turned it into a game-ending DP, would it have gone through and brought home the tying run? Or would one of the middle infielders, shading for the DP grounder, have been able to field it on a hop and turn a conventional double play? I’ve watched the clip 3 times, but I still can’t decide.

  • After going 2 straight games without a walk — his longest streak since last August — Marmol was up to his old tricks again, walking 3 in a row in the 9th to put the tying run on base. It was the 8th time since 2009 that Marmol finished a game while walking 3 or more; no other pitcher has more than 3 such games. The Cubs must have a strict policy on Marmol’s walks, though; he’s never been allowed to finish a game in which he walked 4 men.

Braves 5, @Phillies 0:

  • First time in 390 career starts that Hudson went more than 6 IP without a strikeout. It was the 3rd scoreless, whiffless game this year of 7+ IP; since 2000, only Derek Lowe and Scott Erickson have registered a SHO without a SO.
  • Hudson is 3rd among actives with 13 shutouts (Halladay 20, Carpenter 15), but he leads all active pitchers with 52 scoreless starts of 7+ IP (Halladay 42, Carpenter 38).
  • 7th time this year that opposing starters each went 7+ IP without a run. Kyle Kendrick matched Hudson’s totals of 7 IP, 4 hits and 1 walk.
  • The inglourious side of Antonio Bastardo: The Philly southpaw walked 3, forcing in the game’s first run in the 8th, then serving a salami to Brian McCann. Marmol has … I mean, Bastardo has allowed 5 HRs and 18 walks in 28.2 IP.
  • “I have often smiled with the bases full” is a great line attributed to the HOFer Rube Foster, but if it came from McCann’s mouth you’d know why. In 129 PAs with the pillows plumped, he has 9 slams, 10 doubles, a 1.099 OPS and 118 RBI — 20% of his career RBI total.
  • Welcome back, Ryan Howard. After going 10 for 20 in a minor-league tune-up, he kept the pace with a double and single in season MLB debut.
  • 37-48 is Philly’s worst record after 85 games since 1997.
  • There are 8 NL teams with a winning record, and none is more than 1.5 games out of a wild-card berth.

Orioles 3, @Angels 2: First big-league start for 28-year-old Miguel Gonzalez: 7 IP, 1 R, 3 hits. After getting a 3-1 lead on Steve Pearce‘s HR in the 5th, Gonzalez faced the minimum over his last 3 innings.

  • Gonzalez never put up prospect numbers before this year at AAA: 1.61 ERA, 53 Ks and 10 walks in 44.2 IP. He appeared 3 times in long relief for Baltimore before this first start, allowing 3 runs total in 11.2 IP, with 12 Ks.
  • O’s are now 16-6 in one-run games. They have a winning record record in just about every split — home/road, vs. lefty/righty starter, vs. winning/losing team, vs. AL/NL — but their Pythagorean record is 6 games below their actual.

Yankees 10, @Red Sox 8: Wish I could check how often both starting pitchers allowed 5 runs or more in the 1st, but lasted at least 5 innings.

  • Yanks had lost 6 in a row started by Josh Beckett, including all 5 last year by a combined 30-10 margin.
  • Curtis Granderson snapped a career-long 79-game triples drought. He averaged 12 three-baggers over the past 6 years, ranging from 7 to 23, but has just 2 this year.
  • So I was trying to understand why Joe Girardi left in Boone Logan in to start the 7th against lefty-slayer Cody Ross after Logan had gotten the last out of the 6th, then been helped to a 3-run lead. (Ross would homer, giving him 7 HRs and a 1.205 OPS in 68 PAs vs. LHBs this year, and a .935 career OPS against southpaws.) The next batter was Adrian Gonzalez, who has a normal career platoon split but a reverse split this year. But the man after that, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, was the key: Salty is a real threat hitting right-handed (.263/.791 career), but he’s lousy batting from the right side: .205 BA, .261 OBP, .603 OPS. This year, 16 of his 17 HRs have come against righties. Logan whiffed Salty, and then took a seat.

Giants 6, @Pirates 5:

  • Nobody seems to be talking about this, but … Pedro Alvarez homered on a 1-2 pitch from Javier Lopez, snapping what appears to be the longest streak of homerless appearances in the live-ball era at 136 games. The longest active streak is now 128 by Brad Ziegler. Lopez’s record (?) streak spanned just 91.1 IP, since he’s often used as a lefty specialist. The famous 132-game streak of Greg Minton covered 189.1 IP, twice as much as Lopez. Ziegler’s streak covers 115 innings.
  • Andrew McCutchen keeps hitting .360. Since 1940, the only qualifying Pirate to hit .350 or better was Roberto Clemente (.357 in 1967, .351 in .1961).
  • Aaack! “Bad” Penny is back!! I honestly don’t understand this world sometimes. Penny (a) stinks had a 5.11 ERA over the past 4 years, (b) really stinks got rocked in his 1 game in Japan this year (?), and (c) reeks to high heaven allowed 8 runs in 8.1 IP at Fresno this year. Why is he now in the major leagues? And what form of chicanery has led to 3 straight scoreless appearances? Please forgive my vehemence, but I began having “Kramer-hearing-Mary-Hart’s-voice“-type seizures during Penny’s ALCS appearance last year — Jim Leyland couldn’t find a white towel, so he threw Penny out there — and I fear for my health if I should see him in action again. I’m supposed to attend a Phillies-Giants game later this month; something must be done, and quickly!

 

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