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Tim Lincecum and the multi-award pitchers

Tim Lincecum‘s 2012 regular season was so poor that many folks believed he had to be hiding an injury. The speculation began in April, after just two rough starts that followed a rocky spring training, and intensified through June and July, as the Giants’ erstwhile ace lugged a 6.42 ERA into the All-Star Break. As far as I’ve heard, no injury was ever disclosed; Lincecum never missed a start, and his second half was passable, with a 3.83 ERA. But his final numbers remained unsightly enough — a 5.18 ERA despite a friendly home park — that I wondered:

“Was that the worst full year by a multi-award-winning pitcher?”

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Yankee lament – never had the lead

The Yankees were dismissed by the AL champion Tigers, who not only swept the Bombers, but never allowed them to take a lead at any point in the 4 games.

How unusual is that? Let’s find out.

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Tigers 8, Yankees 1: The pennant comes to Motown

It came a day late, but there was nothing short about Detroit’s sweeping victory. Max Scherzer supplied the latest stellar start, holding the befuddled Yankees hitless for 5 innings before departing in the 6th, while validating his MLB K-rate title by fanning 10 of the first 19 batters, nine of them swinging. As in the opening round, the Bengal bats broke out their one big inning in the clincher, spanking CC Sabathia to the funky beat of 6 runs on 11 hits in 3.2 IP.

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Wednesday game summary

Cards 3, Giants 1

The Cardinals’ Señor Octubre (aka Carlos Beltrán) is out of the game with an injury, said to be his knee – will have to wait and see how serious it is. Losing Beltran didn’t hurt too much today as his replacement, Matt Carpenter, provided all the runs the Cards would need with a two-run homer in the 3rd. The two bullpens were stingy again, allowing a combined zero runs on only 2 hits and a walk in 4.2 innings of work. The Giants cranked 9 hits, but only one for extra bases, leaving 11 on base with an oh-fer in 7 RISP opportunities. In comparison, the Cards went 2 for 4 in those situations.

Yanks and Tigers go tonight, and it’s do or die time for the pinstripers. They have their ace on the hill, so they are set up to at least prolong the series, and maybe start a comeback to get the ALCS back to the Bronx.

If you were trying to think of the last left-hander before Phil Coke to save consecutive LCS games, well, it’s been a while. Hasn’t happened since Randy Myers in games 2 and 3 of the 1990 NLCS. Coke is the first to do it in the ALCS. Last time in the World Series – Tippy Martinez of the Orioles in games 3 and 4 of the 1983 classic.

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Carlos Beltran is Señor Octubre

These are Carlos Beltran‘s career postseason stats, through game 2 of this NLCS:

G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
30 137 111 38 42 9 0 14 25 9 0 24 15 .378 .489 .838 1.327 93 1 1 0 1 1

You’ve seen those numbers before. But let’s have a little fun and project them out to 150 games, roughly a full year for an every-day player: Read the rest of this entry

Where Have All the Good Teams Gone?

Even before the addition of the second Wild Card, baseball’s postseason was not structured to reward the league’s best team with a championship.  It is the nature of baseball that a 162-game season says far more about a team’s abilities than a best-of- five or best-of-seven (or one-game!) series.  Most of the teams who have recently won championships- most notably the 2006 and 2011 Cardinals- have little claim to the title of Best Team in Baseball other than the rings they wear.

One convenient narrative to describe the 2012 postseason to-date is that four up-and-coming teams, whose preseason expectations varied from last place to fringe contenders, were exiled by four usual suspects, each of whom has played in a League Championship Series in the past two seasons.  If this is true, why does it feel like all of the good teams have been knocked out of the playoffs, leaving two weeks to determine which mediocre team can take advantage of bracket chaos and back into a championship?

Who were the best teams in Major League Baseball in 2012?  We could answer this question a number of ways.  Find out after the jump.

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Sunday double-header game notes

Tigers 3, Yankees 0

The early game is in the books, and Detroit is heading home up 2 games with their ace, Justin Verlander, to start game 3. The complexion of today’s game turned on a blown umpire’s call at second base with 2 outs in the Tiger 8th inning. The Yankees should have been out of the inning still trailing by just one but, to Detroit’s credit, the Tigers took advantage of their good fortune to add two more tallies in that frame.

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Rau-ool – the legend grows

For the second time this post-season, Raoul Ibanez has delivered a 9th inning, game-tying HR, this time a two-run blast with 2 outs. Ibanez joins Joe Morgan (1983), Dave Winfield (1992) and Julio Franco (2001) as the only players aged 40+ with HRs in two games in the same post-season. With three HRs total, Ibanez stands alone among the over-40 crowd for the most HRs in a single post-season. Ibanez also stands alone among all players, with 3 HRs in the 9th inning or later in a single post-season.

For the second time in as many appearances, Tiger closer Jose Valverde failed to protect a 9th inning lead, this time giving up a 4-run advantage on twin two-run HRs by Ibanez and Ichiro. This is the 3rd time in Valverde’s post-season career allowing 3 or more runs in an appearance, tied for second all-time among relievers, trailing only Jeff Nelson with four such games. Valverde’s career post-season ERA now stands at 8.79.

Tigers score two in the twelfth off rookie David Phelps, the last man in the Yankee bullpen. Derek Jeter goes down and has to leave the game with what is now identified as a fractured ankle. No more Yankee magic in the home 12th. Tigers take the opener, with Delmon Young the unlikely hero with a HR and 3 RBI, including the game-winning tally.

Friday finale – what an LDS round!

Two series down and the final two to be decided tonight. What an LDS round we have had:

  • first time all series have gone the distance
  • first comeback from 0-2, having to win every road game
  • most strikeouts in an LDS series (Justin Verlander‘s 22 Ks)
  • most game 5 LDS complete games (two; tied with 1981)
  • two HR performance by a pinch-hitter, for a 9th inning tie and an extra-inning win
  • melt-down by a closer (actually, make that two melt-downs) with a 2-run lead and 3 outs to win the series
  • four walk-off games and counting, already the most ever in an LDS round (thanks to ATarwerdi96 for confirming this)
  • a chance for both wild cards (or neither) to advance (both advanced to LCS in 5 out of 6 seasons from 1999 to 2004, but in no other year)
  • the league’s highest paid player (I think that’s still true) benched for the deciding game (that’s actually happened before, in the LCS round)

Enjoy the games and tell us what catches your attention.

Champ Summers 1946-2012

As the Tigers celebrate their ALDS victory, news comes (thanks to HHS reader Steven for this alert) of the passing of a former fan favorite in the motor city, albeit in a brief stint with the Tigers.

Champ Summers (so nicknamed, according to Wikipedia, by his prize-fighter father who remarked at Champ’s birth that he looked like he had just gone 10 rounds with Joe Louis) came up with Oakland in 1974 and, through 1978, bounced between the majors and minors with the Cubs and Reds, being used with the big club mostly as a pinch-hitter. His fortunes changed early in the 1979 season with a trade to Detroit where, under new Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, Summers finally got to play on at least a semi-regular basis.

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