Thursday, April 30, 2009

On This Date In 1944...

Phil Weintraub of the old New York Giants had 11 RBIs in a game against Goody Rosen and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Weintraub hit a HR, 2 doubles, and a triple. Had he gotten 1 measly single, he would have hit for the cycle. Still, his 11 RBIs are tied for 2nd all-time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On This Date In 1952...

Al Rosen hit 3 HRs in a game against the Philadelphia Athletics.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Braun Takes Karstens Deep, Then Gets Plunked

Ryan Braun hit his 5th HR of the season tonight - and paid a price for it. In Braun's very next AB, Jeff Karstens hit him square in the back. Braun subsequently took a bigger lead than normal from first (presumably to steal second base) and was picked off.

It reminded me of a similar play that involved my brother his senior year in high school. Zach (that's his name) was taking his lead off first in a playoff game and dove back on a pickoff attempt. He got back in plenty of time, but the first baseman gave him a hard tag. On the very next pitch, Zach informed the first baseman that he was "taking off." True to his word, he did take off and he stole second. I've always liked that story.

Back to the Brewers-Pirates game. Braun would eventually face John Grabow, but it was anticlimactic, as Braun was intentionally walked. Grabow's scoreless innings streak came to an end tonight. He gave up 2 runs in 1/3 of an inning of work. His ERA is now 1.74.

On This Date In 1999...

Shawn Green stole 3 bases in a game against the Anaheim Angels.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Marquis off to a Strong Start

Jason Marquis earned his 3rd win of the season earlier today against the division rival Dodgers. He went 7 1/3 innings, gave up 3 runs on 6 hits and 4 BBs, and had 5 Ks. He was also 1-2 at the plate with 1 run scored and 1 sacrifice bunt.

John Grabow pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief in a win over the Pirates.

Craig Breslow pitched 1 1/3 of scoreless relief for the Twinkies.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Good On Ya, Scott Feldman

In a spot start for the Rangers today, Feldman earned his keep. He went 5 innings, gave up 1 run on 4 hits and 1 BB, and struck out 2. Feldman got the win and also some run support from teammate Ian Kinsler. Kinsler has been teeing off on Baltimore this season, and today was no exception; he went yard twice. That gives him 7 HRs on the year. It also gives him 20 RBIs - from the leadoff spot.

Ryan Braun continued his hot hitting with a 4-6 performance tonight against the Astros. Braun's last hit of the game was a big one. In the top of the 11th, Braun singled up the middle and plated Corey Hart for what turned out to be the winning run. Hard not to see the parallel with what Youkilis and Ausmus did yesterday. Pretty cool.

Youkilis had another great game, going 2-3 with 1 double, 1 BB, and 4 runs scored. His average? A pedestrian .444.

Scott Schoeneweis tossed an inning of scoreless relief. The lefty's ERA is now 2.70.

Gabe Kapler got another hit tonight. Surprise, surprise. It was a double.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kevin Youkilis: The Greek God of Walk-Off Home Runs

Red Sox-Yankees. Best rivalry in baseball. Bar none. Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain with some history. Bad blood between them after Chamberlain's blazing brushback pitch last summer.

Present day. Red Sox losing 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th. Youkilis singles to center off the nearly flawless Mariano Rivera. Jason Bay ties the game with a home run to deep left center.

Extra innings.

Damaso Marte in relief for the Yankees. Strikes out Nick Green, gets Jacoby Ellsbury to pop up, and strikes out the reigning AL MVP in the 10th.

Bottom of the 11th. Marte still pitching. David Ortiz goes down swinging. Youkilis steps up to the plate. And hits an absolute bomb to left over the Green Monster. Ball game.

It almost seems trivial by comparison, but Brad Ausmus had a big hit of his own tonight against the Rockies. Ausmus delivered in the clutch for the Dodgers with what turned out to be the game-winning hit in the top of the 9th inning. He hit a single through the left side that plated James Loney from second. Looks like this grizzly veteran won't be going into retirement quietly.

On This Date In 1962...

Sandy Koufax fanned 18 Cubs hitters en route to a complete game, 6 hit, 2 run, 4 BB performance.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Braun's Bat Comes Alive

Coming into tonight's game against the Fightin' Phils, Braun's line was .222/.340/.356. Well, that was about to change in a hurry. Braun was 5-5 tonight with 2 HRs, 2 runs scored, and 4 RBIs. The 2 long balls were his 2nd and 3rd of the season.

Ian Kinsler also went yahtzee. It was his 5th jack of the season. The Rangers slugger is hitting .453. Kevin Youkilis is hitting .469. When you're hot, you're hot. Kinsler and Youkilis were both in the running for the batting title last year. I know it's still early, but given Joe Mauer's status I wouldn't be a bit surprised if either of them won it this year. And the way Kinsler is hitting, we could be looking at a 30/30 season.

In other news, John Grabow pitched another scoreless inning for the Bucs. He hasn't allowed a run all season.

Scott Schoeneweis also pitched a scoreless inning for the D-Backs, bringing his ERA down to 3.18.

Filling in for B.J. Upton, Gabe Kapler made a spectacular catch in center field tonight. Also hit a double and drew a walk. Kapler has 5 hits on the year so far, and 4 of them have been doubles.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ian Winslers at Life

Not to be outdone by Orlando Hudson hitting for the cycle on Monday, Ian Kinsler hit for the cycle on Wednesday in spectacular fashion. Kinsler was 6-6 on Jackie Robinson Day. You read that right. 6-6. He had 2 doubles, 2 singles, a triple, and a home run against the visiting Orioles. He crossed home plate 5 times while driving in 4. Also swiped a bag. He's hitting .474 on the year so far. So, he's pretty much hitting everything in sight.

No other player in the modern era has ever gone 6-6 and hit for the cycle at the same time. As far as the JMLs are concerned, you'll recall Shawn Green's record-breaking 6-6 performance in 2002 where he hit 4 home runs, scored 6 times, and had 19 total bases. Kinsler joins Harry Danning as the only other MOT to hit for the cycle. Danning did it all the way back in 1940.

Since 1954, only 4 players have combined for 6 hits, 5 runs, and 4 extra base hits in a single game. Kinsler and Green make up half of that group.

The scary thing is had the Rangers been on the road, Kinsler would have actually gotten a crack at going 7-7.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Small Measure of Revenge for Marquis

Jason Marquis wasn't good enough to be the Cubs' 5th starter. Well, that's not true. But maybe that was his mindset when he took the mound earlier today and dominated against his former team. Marquis went 7 innings, gave up just 1 run on 5 hits and 2 BBs, and had 3 Ks. He also had 2 RBIs on a base hit off Rich Harden.

One thing I'll say about Cubs fans jeering Marquis during the introductions: classless. Marquis was very effective in his two years here, considering he was the 5th starter. It's not his fault the team was swept in the NLDS. Two years in a row. By teams that didn't even make it to the World Series.

To all of the bitter Cubs fans out there who took part in the booing, ask yourselves this: would you also boo Mark DeRosa? Or Kerry Wood? Or Henry Blanco? If the answer is no, then maybe you should cut Marquis some fucking slack. That or stop going to Wrigley Field. Because knowledgeable fans you are not.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dirty Thirty Gets Downright Nasty

So, the Yankees were blown out tonight. They were getting thrashed so bad by the Rays that they actually used Nick Swisher as a pitcher, just for shits and giggles. And would you believe it, he struck someone out. Unfortunately for us, that someone was Gabe Kapler. And as a Ray, that has to sting even more than it normally would.

Hey, can't blame a guy for trying to find some humor in this. At least Kapler can say he's never looked this ridiculous.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Kind of Opening Week Has It Been?

I don't think Mr. Sorkin would mind me borrowing and tweaking one of his favorite episode titles for this post.

Kevin Youkilis and Ian Kinsler are off to red hot starts. Ryan Braun has been solid so far. John Grabow picked up the W on Opening Day for the Pirates. Grabow is the first JML to get a win on Opening Day since Steve Stone in 1981. Jason Marquis put on a clinic today against the defending champs in his debut for the Rockies.

Youkilis is 10-16 with 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 3 runs scored, and 1 BB.

Kinsler is 7-17 with 1 HR, 3 doubles, 6 RBIs, 3 runs scored, and 1 BB.

Braun is 5-17 with 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 1 run scored, and 1 SB.

Marquis pitched an absolute gem against Cole Hamels and the Phillies to pick up his 80th career win. He went 7 innings, gave up 2 runs, 5 hits, 2 BBs, and had 2 Ks. He was also 2-2 at the plate with a double, a sacrifice bunt, 1 run scored, and 1 RBI. Talk about helping out your own cause!

Gabe Kapler is 1-7 with a double, 1 run scored, 2 BBs, and 1 SB.

Grabow has pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Craig Breslow gave up an unearned run in his 1 inning of relief.

Great Scott! Feldman and Schoeneweis have been throwing batting practice so far.

Brad Ausmus was 2-4 with 1 RBI in his debut with the Dodger Blue today.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Who Says Spring Training is Meaningless?

For minor leaguers, Spring Training is a time of hope. It's a time to show management what you can do. It's a time that potentially separates the prospects from the projects. Some players gain favor while others do not. Players like Josh Whitesell, Sam Fuld, and Brian Horwitz have already had a cup of coffee in the Majors. But coffee can be addictive, and one cup is usually never enough. Hopefully, these guys become java junkies, in the metaphorical sense. Let's take a look at how the aspiring and established JMLs did this Spring.

The Good
Josh Whitesell: 52 ABs, .308/.429/.519, 3 HRs, 2 doubles, 12 RBIs, 12 runs scored, 11 BBs
An excellent Spring, but he's facing fierce competition at first base. Chad Tracy, Tony Clark, and Connor Jackson will all hurt his playing time. Still, Whitesell may have the most upside. Clark is old, Tracy is injury prone, and Jackson seems like he's still trying to get comfortable in his own skin.

Sam Fuld: 28 ABs, .250/.364/.500, 2 HRs, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 9 runs scored, 4 BBs, 1 SB
Play It Again, Sam. A fine Woody Allen film. You just wish the Cubs would let Sam play. How long before they give up on Fukudome? A platoon with Reed Johnson and Fuld would be nice. I look at Fuld as a Brett Gardner with more power and a little less speed.

Jake Wald: 10 ABs, .400/.462/.700, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 5 runs scored, 1 BB
You never know. Renteria is getting up there in age. He's not the shortstop he once was. Wald hasn't exactly put up numbers that jump off the page in the Minors, but a good Spring has to count for something, right?

Brian Horwitz: 6 ABs, .333/.556/.333, 2 runs scored, 3 BBs
You'd like to see the young man get more ABs, but I guess he'll take what he can get. Horwitz was hot for awhile when he was called up last season. Stay hot, kid!

Brad Ausmus: 49 ABs, .286/.386/.408, 1 HR, 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, 5 runs scored, 6 BBs, 1 SB
What got into him?

Ian Kinsler: 77 ABs, .299/.329/.403, 1 HR, 5 doubles, 11 RBIs, 15 runs scored, 5 BBs, 2 SBs
So far, he hasn't been able to play more than 130 games in a season. If he can stay healthy, you may be looking at the best offensive second baseman in the game.

Mike Koplove: 10 1/3 innings, 1.74 ERA, 1 save, 7 BBs, 10 Ks
Remember Mike Koplove? You should. He was outstanding for a few years with the Diamondbacks. Looks like he can be outstanding once again.

Craig Breslow: 11 2/3 innings, 3.09 ERA, 2 saves, 6 BBs, 14 Ks
Impressive, but after last year would you expect anything less?

John Grabow: 7 innings, 3.86 ERA, 8 hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks
Good showing in the WBC to go along with a solid Spring.

The Bad
Scott Schoeneweis: 9 innings, 11.00 ERA, 5 walks, 4 Ks
Ugly, but he just came off one of his better seasons. You never can tell with these LOOGYs.

Jason Marquis: 25 innings, 10.08 ERA, 10 BBs, 22 Ks
A rough Spring to be sure, but his last outing was a quality start. And 22 strikeouts in 25 innings is uncharacteristically dominant for Marquis.

Jason Hirsh: 10 1/3 innings, 12.19 ERA, 8 BBs, 4 Ks
Looks like the Hirsh-Marquis Rockies rotation will have to be put on hold, for the moment. Hirsh was sent down to AAA to work out some kinks. At 6'8" Hirsh has the frame, but does he have the stuff to go with it? Cutting down on the free passes should be a priority for the young man.

Gabe Kapler: 60 ABs, .150/.215/.217, 1 HR, 1 double, 6 RBIs, 8 runs scored, 5 BBs, 1 SB
Guess this means the AL East is tougher than the NL Central. But like Schoeneweis, Kapler is also coming off one of his better seasons.

The Mediocre
Ryan Braun: 25 ABs, .280/.345/.440, 1 HR, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 5 runs scored, 2 BBs
Braun has been battling some nagging injuries since September of '08. But when he's healthy, he's dangerous. Expectations are high for the Brewers' left fielder. Will he meet them or exceed them?

Kevin Youkilis: 30 ABs, .233/.343/.333, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 runs scored, 5 BBs
Are you worried? I'm not.

Scott Feldman: 20 innings, 5.40 ERA, 6 BBs, 14 Ks
Feldman will be moved to the bullpen for the start of the season, and maybe with his sidearm delivery that's the right move. Hey, it worked in '06.

Aaron Poreda: 13 1/3 innings, 6.08 ERA, 7 BBs, 7 Ks
His fastball is the real deal. At this point, I don't believe he's ready to be a starter. But he could be effective as a middle reliever. Poreda has a bright future ahead of him.

The Non-Factors
Adam Greenberg: 0 for 1
Just 1 AB, huh? Story of your life.

Adam Stern: 0 for 3, 1 SB
What's that Elvis song? It's now or never.