May 23, 2013
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20th anniversary: Blue Jays mascot ejected (3)
And That Happened (4)
And That Happened (3)
50th anniversary: Jim Maloney: a star is born (1)
5,000 days since Eric Milton’s no-hitter (2)
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 4: One of four games to require 10 frames last night. This from the AP gamer:
Reliever Matt Reynolds tried to outthink his former teammate, guess what pitch Wilin Rosario would be looking for and throw the opposite. Only, Rosario knew Reynolds was trying to get inside his head, so ...
Long story short, Rosario spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder, thus his game-winning RBI single in the 10th.
Angels 12, Mariners 0: As Matt noted, Trout hit for the cycle. May be the first bit of actual fun the Angels and their fans have had all year. Now, pardon me while I go re-litigate the 2012 MVP race again like the Cabrera people did when he hit three homers the other night. Oh, wait, I won't do that because I'm not a crazy person.
Orioles 3, Yankees 2: This one ended on a Nate McLouth walkoff bomb. Chris Dickerson hit two homers. Those homers were Phil Hughes' only two blemishes, but they were enough to get it to extras.
Pirates 5, Cubs 4: A pinch hit grand slam for Travis Snider in the sixth spoiled Matt Garza's return. Garza pitched well but, unfortunately, the Cubs have a bullpen.
Tigers 5, Indians 1: Max Scherzer was dominant, allowing one earned run in eight innings and at one point retiring 22 straight Tribe hitters. Miguel Cabrera homered again and is now one bomb off triple crown pace.
Braves 5, Twins 4: Evan Gattis hit a tying homer in the ninth and Freddie Freeman singled in Jason Heyward in the 10th. It was Bobby Cox' and Kent Hrbek's birthdays yesterday. Glad one of 'em is sad and one of 'em is happy.
Rays 4, Blues Jays 3: The second straight Alex Cobb start that went 6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER. If he made that his thing he'd have a pretty nice career. A late rally for the Jays but it fell just short.
Reds 4, Mets 0: Mike Leake shut the Mets out on three hits over seven innings and the pen handled the other two. The Mets offense is, whoa.
Athletics 1, Rangers 0: Yu Darvish's last start was billed as a pitcher's duel. It wasn't. This one was, but Drew Straily bested him, tossing seven two-hit shutout innings.
Phillies 7, Marlins 3: I guess Ryan Howard's knee is OK. The big guy drove in three on a pair of RBI singles. Delmon Young homered. Most of the Phillies' damage came after Jose Fernandez left after five.
Brewers 5, Dodgers 2: Zack Greinke had a nice run at Miller Park when he was with the Brewers. Not so nice last night as he surrendered five runs on nine hits in four innings. The Dodgers offense all came via Greinke's helping his own cause and a Nick Punto RBI. In other words, the big guns.
White Sox 3, Red Sox 1: Sox win.
Royals 7, Astros 3: Houston took a three-run lead into the top of the seventh and then the Royals put up two-, four- and one-spots in the seventh, eighth and ninth. Is a one-spot a thing? OK, sure it is.
Cardinals 10, Padres 2: Adam Wainwright coulda sucked last night and the Cards still woulda been OK, what with five runs to play with while he was in the game. He didn't suck (7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6K). And the Cards woulda bailed him out with five more late runs anyway.
Giants 4, Nationals 2: The Braves rallied and won in the 10th, the Nats got rallied against and lost in the 10th. Trains heading in different directions this past week, with the Nats now 4.5 back.
Ejections happen most every day in baseball, but the ejection that happened 20 years ago today was like virtually none other.
Typically it comes when a player or manager argues with an umpire and says the magic word to earn the old heave-ho. But on May 22, 1993, it wasn’t a manager or player getting ejected. And the ejection didn’t happen due to an argument with the umpire.
Typically the ejection happens after a call that doesn’t go the team’s way. But 20 years ago, strangely enough, that wasn’t the case. This was a very different ejection indeed.
But the most notable part of the ejection was the person being ejected. You see, it wasn’t a person at all, it was a giant foam rubber costume. Specifically, it was BJ Birdy, the mascot for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It was May 22, 1993 when Toronto hosted the Minnesota Twins and it didn’t take long for Birdy to go bye-bye.
In the bottom of the first, Roberto Alomar came to the plate with none on and one out, and he promptly drilled one to left that Minnesota outfielder David McCarty tried to catch. Was it a hit or an out?
The man in the form rubber mask was sure he knew—it was a hit! Of course it was a hit! He knew it was a hit! And that wasn’t all. Birdy also knew that second base umpire Jim McKean blew the call.
Well no self-respecting mascot was going to take that lying down. So Birdy tried rile up the Saturday crowd of 50,510 against the ump. That’ll show him!
Yeah, well, there are a few problems here. First the good news. Birdy was right—the ball was trapped. But he was wrong in thinking the umpire blew the call. In fact, McKean called it “no catch” and Alomar skated into second with a double.
Oh, and Birdy doesn’t really have the authority to show up McKean. You know who does have the authority to show someone up? The umpire, that’s who. For trying to incite the crowd against the umpire—and not even realizing the umpire made the right call (a call that helped the home team), Birdy got the thumb.
The rest of the game was pretty generic. Alomar scored a few seconds later on a Paul Molitor single, and Toronto went on to romp, 7-0. But not before the Jays' mascot got ejected for arguing on a call that went his team’s way. Weird. And that weirdness was 20 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
Click for more...
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Dodgers 3, Brewers 1: After the last scene of Don Mattingly's managerial life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that at many times along the path of his time in Los Angeles, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints. Clayton Kershaw then whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you. Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you." (9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5K).
Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 1: Patrick Corbin continues to roll on, and this time he added some strikeouts to skew dominant. He allowed one run on three hits, striking out ten.
Marlins 5, Phillies 1: The Marlins have 13 wins this season, four of which have come against Philly. That's gotta make the Phillies angry. Cole Hamels was certainly angry, as he left the clubhouse in something of a huff. Maybe it's because Charlie Manuel pulled him early for a pinch hitter in an effort to get a run? Maybe it was because the Phillies have scored only 20 runs for him all season? Maybe because he saw Alex Sanabia throwing a spitball?
Indians 10, Mariners 8: Two homers for Yan Gomes as the Indians continue to roll. Winners of 18 of 22 and a team that doesn't look like it's going anywhere.
Braves 5, Twins 1: Sometimes I wish Gleeman and I were competitive rah-rah fans so when stuff like our teams meeting happens we could talk trash and all that. But we're not. I suppose if I sent him some "in your face" kind of message after this one he'd respond back with "oh well." Which is way better for the blood pressure, frankly. A three-run homer for Dan Uggla and a nice outing from Julio Teheran.
Reds 4, Mets 3: Jay Bruce hit a tie-breaking homer in the sixth. Arolids Chapman, who blew his previous two saves, locked this one down. Dusty Baker on his closer:
"Got to get back on the horse, right away," manager Dusty Baker said. "Otherwise it festers and grows."
The horse? So confused.
Blue Jays 7, Rays 5: R.A. Dickey is slowly righting the ship, winning his second in a row. You have to right the ship or else it gets all infected and oozes. Or something. Sorry, that Dusty Baker quote is still bugging me.
Yankees 6, Orioles 4: The Orioles are in a flat spin, losers of six straight. People usually say "tailspin" but I liked "Top Gun" a lot when I was a kid and flat spins are far more ominous and scary for me, Goose. With the Yankees down 4-3 in the ninth, Travis Hafner homered off Jim Johnson, who has now blown three straight saves. Vernon Wells and Hafner added RBIs in the 10th to seal the win. Mariano Rivera did not, in contrast, blow the save. Because he is Mariano Rivera.
Athletics 9, Rangers 2: It feels like these two teams have played 15 games against one another in the past couple of weeks. Oh well, too busy to check. Gonna assume that's right. Anyway, Seth Smith homered and scored three runs. Bartolo Colon pitched seven strong innings.
White Sox 6, Reds Sox 4: Sox win.
Padres 4, Cardinals 2: Jason Marquis has won five straight starts. He said after the game that he's "making better pitches." Bud Black said after the game that Marquis is "a guy that continues to make pitches when he needs to." I guess he's just making pitches, eh?
Astros 6, Royals 5: Matt Dominguez hit a three-run homer. Jason Castro hit a solo shot. Miguel Tejada hit a homer too. It was his first bomb since 2011. Jeremy Guthrie was shelled and has allowed 19 runs and 11 hits in his past two outings. The Royals are now a sub-.500 team.
Giants 8, Nationals 0: Ryan Vogelsong was cruising -- tossing five shutout innings -- until he broke his throwing hand while fouling off a pitch in the bottom of the fifth. Enter the DH people. Meanwhile, after the game Davey Johnson announced that Ryan Mattheus broke his pitching hand punching a locker in frustration Sunday. Jesus, people.
Fifty years ago today, a star was born. Though the player’s career ultimately didn’t pan out as hoped due to injuries, his pure talent was something for all to see.
It was May 21, 1963 when Reds pitcher Jim Maloney had his first great game.
Maloney made it to the majors in 1960 barely out of his teens, but at first he was just a background pitcher. From 1960-62, he made just 38 starts and 22 relief appearances, posting a 17-20 record.
But he had talent, and 1963 was his year to prove it. Maloney was already off to a nice start, with a record of 5-1 and a 2.60 ERA prior to this game. But May 21, 1963 would take him to a whole other level.
On this day Maloney and the Reds would be in Milwaukee to take on the Braves, a club on the downswing but still with a formidable lineup. In fact, the Braves would finish third in runs scored, behind big hitters Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews. Today they wouldn’t have much success.
In the first, Maloney fanned two batters, including Mathews to end the inning. Then Maloney struck out the side in the second inning. And then he did it again in the third. That was seven straight Ks, a nice achievement nowadays, and fantastic for 1963.
In the fourth, Maloney fanned Lee Maye to run the streak to eight in a row. He needed just one more to go through the entire lineup. Unfortunately for him, that last man left was Hank Aaron, who grounded out. Well, it was a moral victory for Milwaukee, I guess. No matter—Maloney then fanned Mathews to end the inning.
Through four frames, he’d allowed just one hit—and fanned nine. He was on pace for a record-setting performance. The one-game record for a game (not including extra-inning games) was 18 Ks. Maloney was already halfway there, with most of the game left.
Maloney fanned two more in the fifth, giving him 12 strikeouts. He whiffed just one in the sixth, but a baker’s dozen still put him on pace to break the record. In the seventh he fanned two more, including Eddie Mathews again, keeping Maloney stay on pace with 15. The young fireballer looked unstoppable.
However, it takes just one inning to mess it up, and Maloney didn’t strike out anyone in the eighth. In the ninth he finally fanned Hank Aaron, but he walked the other two batters he faced, and with just a 2-0 lead, manager Fred Hutchinson decided to pull him.
Still, Maloney struck out 16 batters, including an amazing eight in a row at one point. A star had been born. He’d go on to win 23 games that year, and two years later post another 20-win season. Twice in 1965 he’d throw nine no-hit innings—but both games went into extra innings. He preserved the no-hitter for a 1-0 win in one of them, but lost the other game 1-0 when someone finally got a hit off of him. Maloney would throw another no-hitter in 1969.
He remained a solid pitcher for the rest of the 1960s, but by 1969 he was wearing out. He fanned just 102 batters in 178 innings. Something was wrong with his arm, and in fact he never won another game, going 0-4 in 1970-71. It’s a shame, because the Reds had their Big Red Machine lineup just starting to take shape, with pennants in 1970 and 1972. If they had had a genuine ace—someone like Maloney—that awesome Reds team could’ve been even better. Born in 1940, he could’ve been around for their 1970s pennants, but life doesn’t always work out like storybooks.
But Maloney did have a storybook day 50 years ago today, the day he fanned eight in a row and flirted with the one-game strikeout record.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better items in bold if you’d rather just skim.
Click for more...
Monday, May 20, 2013
Phillies 3, Reds 2: Aroldis Chapman is usually automatic. But he surrendered back-to-back bombs to the murderers row that is Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis as Philly walked off Cincinnati. Heck, the inning started with Chapman walking Delmon Young on four straight pitches, so you know he wasn't on it yesterday. And Cliff Lee probably needs to buy Galvis dinner: Lee pinch ran for Young and was caught stealing. If he hadn't, Kratz's homer wold have been enough. Galvis saved his bacon.
Cardinals 4, Brewers 2: The Cardinals beat old friend Kyle Lohse for the third straight time. After the game he said "Baseball is a stupid game. Baseball is weird, man." They should have sent a poet.
Rangers 11, Tigers 8: Three homers, five driven in and a 4-for-4 night for Miguel Cabrera are still not enough for the Tigers to beat Texas. The Rangers rapped 18 hits, scoring five runs of Doug Fister and six off the bullpen. Four driven in for David Murphy. I was back and forth into this game all evening as I did and watched other things. It seemed to last eleventeen hours.
Red Sox 5, Twins 1: This one featured a three-hour rain delay during which the fans who stayed got to see the movie "The Sandlot" in its entirety on the video board. Secondary game highlights included a nice start from John Lackey and homers from Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks.
Pirates 1, Astros 0: Jeff Locke shut out the Astros for seven innings. A solo shot from Pedro Alvarez in the fifth was all Pittsburgh needed. This one was the anti-Tigers-Rangers game, as it was done in a cool two hours and 24 minutes.
Rays 3, Orioles 1: I knew Matt Moore had pitched a great game the moment I learned that my girlfriend inadvertently left him on the bench on her fantasy team. There was much cursing and such. Moore's seven strong innings ups him to 8-0 on the year.
Indians 6, Mariners 0: Justin Masterson struck out 11 in seven shutout innings and Cleveland roughed up Felix Hernandez for six runs (five earned) in five innings. The Tribe has won 17 of 21 and now leads the AL Central by two games.
Marlins 2, Diamondbacks 1: Ricky Nolasco adds to the parade of nice starts yesterday, striking out 11 in eight innings and helping the Marlins end their seven-game losing streak.
Mets 4, Cubs 3: When I was writing the Rangers recap I accidentally wrote "Daniel Murphy" instead of "David Murphy." I would have likely left that mistake up there had I not looked at the box score of this one and been reminded that Daniel plays for the Mets and David for Texas. I think I've made that mistake a half dozen times in the past couple of years. Anyway, here Daniel batted leadoff and hit the tie-breaking homer in the eighth. The Mets won their first series at Wrigley in six years.
Rockies 5, Giants 0: Barry Zito being relatively good recently has probably made some forget how much of a disaster he was for several years. Putting him in Coors Field is a helpful reminder. Zito was touched for five runs on 11 hits in five and two-thirds. The Giants have lost five of six. Their rotation has gotten bombed lately and now has the third worst rotation ERA in the NL.
Padres 13, Nationals 4: Speaking of beat up starters, Dan Haren surrendered seven runs in five innings and overall the Padres did a Gashouse Gorillas conga line around the bases against Nats pitching, getting the series split.
Braves 5, Dodgers 2: This game featured two hours of rain delays and the Dodgers bullpen failing to hold a lead for Matt Magill, who allowed only one unearned run in five innings. Atlanta didn't hit a homer, which is kinda rare for the Braves in a win.
Athletics 4, Royals 3: The Royals' skid continues -- they've lost 10 of their last 13 games and have sunk back to .500 -- as Oakland sweeps 'em. Yoenis Cespedes singled and scored and hit a homer.
Angels 6, White Sox 2: Jake Peavy walked guys with the bases loaded twice. He walked five in all and allowed four runs on four hits. Which is weird because when you see a guy walk the bases loaded once, let along twice, it feels like he's giving up, like, a dozen runs no matter what. Or maybe that's just some weird hangup of mine about bases-loaded walks.
Blue Jays vs. Yankees: POSTPONED: All at sea again. And now my hurricanes have brought down this ocean rain. To bathe me again. My ship's a sail. Can you hear its tender frame? Screaming from beneath the waves. Screaming from beneath the waves. All hands on deck at dawn. Sailing to sadder shores. Your port in my heavy storms. Harbours the blackest thoughts. I'm at sea again. And now your hurricanes have brought down this ocean rain.
5,000 days ago, one of baseball’s most impressive pitching achievements occurred, though for various reasons it was one of the least impressive examples of this most impressive achievement.
On Sept.11, 1999, Twins pitcher Eric Milton threw a no-hitter, defeating the Angels, 7-0.
Looking at Milton’s line, there seems to be no reason to minimize his achievement. Not only was it a no-hitter, but it was a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts. So it’s not like he relied very heavily on his defense. The outing wasn’t littered with line drives or anything. Also, Milton walked just two batters, so it’s not like he had terrible control but was lucky with balls in play.
Yet, it’s still one of the least impressive no-hitters of recent times. While Milton did dominate the Angels lineup that day, the issue is exactly who was in that lineup. It was September, and just like all teams, the Angels had several minor leaguers called up to the big league squad.
The best Angels hitters that season were first baseman Darin Erstad, DH Mo Vaughn, and outfielders Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon. None of them played on Sept. 11, 1999. In their place stood Jeff DaVanon, a 25-year-old who made his big league debut a few days earlier; Todd Greene, a journeyman backup with a career .286 on-base percentage; Steve Decker, a .221 career hitter who was one week away from the end of his unmemorable career; and Matt Luke, a backup playing in his third and final season.
So half of the day’s lineup consisted of scrubs standing in for stars.
As an added bonus, there were other starters missing the day, as well. Gary DiSarcina and Randy Velarde were never great-hitting middle infielders, but each was good enough to play in over 1,000 games.
In this game, Velarde sat while someone named Trent Durrington played second base. Durrington played in 140 major league games—and had 46 hits. DiSarcina’s replacement at short was Andy Sheets, who hit .216 in 356 games. Finally, the normal catcher, Matt Walbeck, had the day off while a man named Bret Hemphill worked the plate. Hemphill had the least impressive career of them all: just three hits.
So seven of the nine batting order spots consisted of fungible players. There are literally minor league lineups with more impressive talent on display.
There were two starters in the game, with one a name worth knowing: third baseman Troy Glaus. While he’d develop into a fine hitter and All-Star, in 1999 the young Glaus was a .240 hitter, albeit one with power. The most dangerous hitter facing Milton was outfielder Orlando Palmeiro. When Orlando Palmeiro is your most dangerous weapon, you’ve got a pretty weak lineup.
Still, Milton did dominate and no-hit them. He still deserves credit, and he did throw a gem. Saying it’s one of the least impressive no-hitters shouldn’t overlook the key point, that it was a no-hitter. And it was a no-hitter 5,000 days ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their “day-versary” or anniversary. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
Click for more...
Friday, May 17, 2013
Rangers 10, Tigers 4: So much for pitching porn. Darvish wasn't exactly sharp early but he ultimately settled down. Meanwhile, who put the benzedrine in Mr. Verlander's Ovaltine? He was a hot mess. And I do mean hot. He was lighting up the radar gun in the early innings but was overthrowing and seemed to have no idea where the ball was going. Just a mechanical disaster, really, unlike I've ever remembered seeing him. Darvish ended up going eight innings and improving to 7-1.
Mariners 3, Yankees 2: Andy Pettitte left with a muscle injury. Andy Pettitte is 40. So basically, this is his life now (warning: a bit of bad language, but if you're 40, you NEED to hear this because it's 100 percent true).
Mets 5, Cardinals 2: The Mets end a six-game skid behind five hits from Daniel Murphy and David Wright. From the AP gamer about Jon Niese:
Terry Collins thought it was no coincidence the lefty rediscovered his groove in shirt-sleeve weather and paved the way for the New York Mets' slump-buster.
That word he used: I do not think it means what he thinks it means.
Pirates 7, Brewers 1: Travis Snider hit a 458-foot homer that ended up in the Allegheny River. Snider went 3 for 5 with three RBI and the Pirates won their sixth of seven.
Red Sox 4, Rays 3: Down 3-1 in the ninth, the Red Sox loaded the bases off Fernando Rodney, and Will Middlebrooks cleared them with a double. Just bananas. Oh, sorry Fernando, not bananas at all. Rodney has already blown three saves this year. He blew only two last year.
Reds 5, Marlins 3: [Craig press three keys and his "The ____ sweep the Marlins" macro is activated]. This one was competitive at least, as Mat Latos ran out of gas in the ninth and Aroldis Chapman couldn't close the deal either, sending it to extras. Brandon Phillips, who had homered earlier, hit a sac fly for the go-ahead run in the 10th.
Giants 8, Rockies 6: Down 6-0 early, the Giants put up five in the fourth and three in the sixth. I didn't see the broadcast, but I'm gonna assume the announcers said "no lead is safe in Coors Field" approximately five times. San Francisco has beaten Colorado 10 straight times.
White Sox 5, Angels 4: Yet another rally on a night that seemed to have many of them. The Sox were down two in the eighth when they scored three. The go-ahead run came on a bases-loaded walk to Jeff Keppinger, who had not walked in over 140 plate appearances so far this year.
Nationals 6, Padres 2: Stephen Strasburg pitched eight innings allowing only one earned run. Bryce Harper shook off his ailments from the fence collision in L.A. and hit a 432 foot homer in the seventh.
Forty years ago today, one of the most gruesome and unfortunate injuries of the 1970s occurred. It ruined a promising career just as it was beginning— though the kid had a long future in baseball ahead of him anyway.
It was May 17, 1973, when Angels player Bobby Valentine broke his leg.
Valentine had been a huge prospect. As an 18-year-old in the Pioneer League, he was named league MVP. The club thought enough of him to bring him up for a few games in 1969, when he was still a teen.
At age 20, Valentine starred for the Dodgers’ Spokane club in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Valentine hit .340 with 29 stolen bases, 39 doubles, 16 triples, and 14 homers.
Figuring he was done with the minors, he became a major leaguer for almost all of 1971-72. The results weren’t quite what the Dodgers hoped for, though. Valentine had versatility in the field, playing all over the infield and outfield, but at the plate he was lackluster. He had virtually no power, and had a mediocre batting average.
In the 1972-73 off-season, the Dodgers sent him to the nearby Angels as part of a blockbuster trade also featuring Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, Andy Messersmith and Ken McMullen. Though Valentine’s career hadn’t quite taken off, he was still very young—just 23, an age at which many stars-to-be were toiling in the minors.
The change of scenery seemed to do Valentine a world of good. California settled on shortstop for Valentine, with occasional games in the outfield. A fifth of the way through the year, and Valentine was hitting over .300. The future appeared bright.
Then came May 17, 1973. This would be another of those games with Valentine in center. In the top of the second, Valentine’s career came to a sudden, shocking halt. Oakland’s Dick Green hit one to deep center field. Valentine went to the wall hoping to leap and rob Green of a home run. It didn’t work out that way. It really, really didn’t work out that way.
Valentine leaped up all right, but the ball missed his glove by a hair, for a home run. More importantly, gravity made a disastrous appearance. Valentine began descending, and when he did, his leg got tangled in the wall. It went between a pair of supporting poles. The wall gave way a bit, just enough to trap his leg. Then it flipped him to the ground. The middle part of his shin was bent. That middle part of a shin is never supposed to bend, but bend it did. It was the closest baseball got to a Joe Thiesman-Lawrence Taylor moment.
Valentine had multiple fractures to his right leg. He spent the rest of the 1973 season in various casts, but when they were taken off more bad news was in store for him. His bones hadn’t healed properly. Another surgery could fix it, but would mean Valentine would miss all of 1974, at the very least. He decided to play on his messed-up leg. He would play more than 100 games in 1974, but was soon relegated to backup duties. No more star-to-be, Valentine became a hanger-on. He bounced from the Angels to the Padres to the Mets to the Mariners, where his career ended in 1979, when he was still not even 30 years old.
Maybe Valentine wouldn’t have lived up to his potential. Plenty of prospects don’t. But maybe he would’ve. It’s a shame we’ll never know—and we won’t know because of the terrible injury that happened 40 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
Click for more...
Thursday, May 16, 2013
It seems way too easy to compare Jonathan Sanchez to Oliver Perez. They're both lanky left-handers with similar stuff and around the same age who had early success before the wheels came off. The comparison is so easy that it runs the risk of seeming lazy, something I've warned about in the past, but this is one of those situations where the fit is just really strong.
Sanchez, who was cut by the Pirates after posting an 11.85 ERA in five outings (including four starts), is about to sign a minor league deal with the Dodgers. Some are using the move to belittle the Dodgers as an example of how desperate they are, but like many minor league deals, this is a low-risk, high-reward transaction.
Perez and Sanchez both had their first big year in their third season in the majors. For Perez that was 2004, where he posted a 2.98 ERA in 30 starts thanks to a 3.45 FIP and 3.62 xFIP (good for 4.4 WAR overall). For Sanchez that was 2008, where he amassed 2.6 WAR thanks to a 3.85 FIP. His 5.01 ERA was obviously high, but a .317 BABIP (as compared to his .294 career mark) and a left-on-base percent of just 67.5 contributed mightily to that number.
After 2004 Perez imploded, tallying consecutive years of below-replacement level WAR and FIPs above five. Sanchez actually had a nice run after 2008, with ERAs of 4.24 and 3.07 the next two seasons.
After finding a home with the Mets in 2006 (and even starting and pitching decently in Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS), Perez had pretty good seasons in '07 and '08, posting solid ERA's that were significantly below his FIP and xFIP. In 2009, Sanchez hit a road bump when he started just nineteen games and walked 5.86 batters per nine innings, a career high. Still, he put up a 4.26 ERA and a nearly identical FIP, so it wasn't all that bad.
Then both pitchers simply became shells of their former selves in exactly the same way: they started walking everybody. For Perez it was the 2009 season, when he became a villain in Queens by posting a 6.82 ERA and walking 7.91 batters per nine innings. He was even worse the next year (if that's possible to believe), finishing at -1.1 WAR for the season. He was released by the Mets and could not make a major league roster for the 2011 season.
For Sanchez, the crash happened last year. Like Perez, he went from walking four to five batters per nine to walking over seven, and his strikeouts decreased as well, leading to a perfect storm of terrible pitching. In 15 starts he had a 8.07 ERA, a truly horrid number. But it was last season when Perez put himself together. After finding an opportunity in Seattle's bullpen, Perez had the lowest walk rate of his career (3.09/9) and finished with an astounding 2.12 ERA in 33 appearances, pitching primarily to left-handers.
This season has been even worse for Sanchez, who now finds himself, like Perez in 2011, off a major league roster. Although his ERA was 11.85, he did have a 5.03 xFIP (a HR/FB rate of 36.8 percent, as well as a .419 BABIP, really did him in). Perez is shining once again this year with a 1.17 ERA and 3.58 FIP.
What the Dodgers need to do is what the Mariners did with Perez: put him in the bullpen and make him a LOOGY. Here are the career splits for the two relievers:
vs. lefties: .223/.315/.364 (3.03 wOBA), 3.36 xFIP
vs. righties: .243/.355/.431 (.345 wOBA), 5.01 xFIP
vs. lefties: .215/.313/.363 (3.04 wOBA), 3.75 xFIP
vs. righties: .245/.356/.416 (.342 wOBA), 4.58 xFIP
Those numbers are strikingly similar, and it shows that neither is good enough versus lefties to make up for how mediocre they are versus righties. The best bet is the bullpen, where they can be mixed and matched late in the game. That's what the Dodgers should do with Sanchez, and if they don't figure it out, somebody else will.
Mariners 12, Yankees 2: This one was over almost before it started, with Phil Hughes getting knocked around for seven runs in the first inning, which he did not escape. Raul Ibanez hit two homers and drove in six off his old team. Which, I imagine, will cause some columnist who has been lauding Brian Cashman for putting together a chemistry-laden scappy bunch of no-names this past offseason to change gears and talk about how much of a mistake it was for him not to re-sign Ibanez.
Cardinals 4, Mets 2: Shelby Miller didn't get the decision and wasn't particularly sharp, but he did pitch five and two-thirds shutout innings and left with a lead. Rick Ankiel, like Ibanez, hit a homer against his former team. He said this after the game:
"It's unfortunate we didn't win but for me it's a positive, so I'm happy about it. For me it was just fun to do because it was against that team."
Yeah, you really want to stick it to that team if you're Ankiel. I mean, after all they did to him, sticking with him for years while he completely transformed himself in the minors and dealt with multiple career-threatening injuries when just about every other team would've released him. Yep, they really had it comin'.
Rangers 6, Athletics 2: Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer and made this diving catch off Brandon Moss. Not too shabby. Also not shabby: The Rangers have a seven-game lead in the division despite the fact they've played 25 of their 40 games on the road.
Diamondbacks 5, Braves 3: Paul Goldschmidt hit three doubles and Eric Chavez drove in three as the Braves lose yet again. They probably need to win a few in a row sometime soon or else the thing I'm comforting myself with -- that this team is gonna be streaky -- is not going to be true. They're just gonna be kinda blah.
White Sox 9, Twins 4: Who woke up Adam Dunn? He hit two homers and drove in five. But now he's gonna be up all night and that's no good.
Indians 10, Phillies 4: Cole Hamels is now 1-6 with a 4.61 ERA after being beat up by Cleveland. But at least Carlos Zambrano will be around soon to help out the pitching staff.
Astros 7, Tigers 5: Carlos Corporan hit a tiebreaking double in the top of the ninth and Miguel Cabrera's would-be game-winning three-run home run fell just short of the wall in the bottom of the ninth to end the game. Houston finally wins one against a Tigers team which has abused the the Astros in two straight series.
Padres 8, Orioles 4: San Diego sweeps Baltimore in the two-game series behind a 17-hit attack. The Padres are now 13-6 in their last 19. A nice bounce-back after dropping all three against Tampa Bay.
Reds 4, Marlins 0: Shin-Soo Choo with two homers. He's hitting .322/.465/.589 with nine bombs on the season. Mercy.
Pirates 3, Brewers 1: Yovani Gallardo was 7-0 in his last eight starts against the Pirates, but Wandy Rodriguez outdueled him.
Cubs 6, Rockies 3: Jeff Samardzija pulls a Baseball Bugs, hitting a two-run homer and pitching eight strong innings.
Red Sox 9, Rays 2: A costly loss for the Rays as they drop not only the game but lose David Price to an injured triceps (or is it tricepts?). Meanwhile, Jon Lester improves to 6-0. Stephen Drew hit a grand slam.
Dodgers 3, Nationals 1: Zack Greinke was apparently ready to return. He allowed one run in five and a third and didn't walk anyone while striking out four. He added an RBI single to boot.
Blue Jays 11, Giants 3: Shh! Four in a row for the Jays. If they keep this up and climb back into contention a lot of early-season memes will be obsolete, eh? Ryan Vogelsong gets rocked again. He may lose his slot in the rotation.
Royals 9, Angels 5: The Angels seem less into meme-busting, as they drop two of three to the Royals. Billy Butler came into Anaheim in a slump. Then went 8-for-13 with a homer and nine RBI in the series. They must serve some good country breakfast in Orange County.