Drew Fairservice: May 2009 Archives

cody.jpgCan you believe it? Baseball's great and my Duel of the Day panned out for once! Just one of the many highlights from last night when you ran into the best chick in the mall.

Brewers 9, Reds 5: Your first place Milwaukee Brewers won ugly against their divisional rivals, surviving a poor Dave Bush outing by piling 7 runs on Aaron Harang's fatigued tendons. Surviving poor Dave Bush starts is something the Brew Crew are used to, they've done it 101 times. Prince, Braun, and Cameron notched dingers for the Brewers, Brandon Phillips and Jerry Hairston responding for the Reds. The also first place Cardinals didn't need Chris Carpenter to be perfect against the Giants, but he was still damn good. Albert Pujols hit two home runs because that's the kind of thing you expect when he's facing Barry Zito.

Tigers 6, Wieters 3: Justin Verlander is obviously the greatest pitcher in baseball, perhaps history. He'll certainly go down in history as the Guy that Surrendered Wieters's First Hits. Despite being overmatched by the rookie catcher, Verlander was able to pitch around the phenom thanks to an early barrage of TIger home runs. Wieters picked up his first two hits--a double anda triple, which is just showing off--and scored his first runs in a losing effort. Jeremy Guthrie actually outpitched Verlander, striking out 10 for the first time in his career. Not having to face Matt Wieters dismisses Guthries outing immediately. The White Sox picked away at the Royals bullpen, something Zack Grienke is too smart to allow. Gil Meche's seven strong innings ended going for naught. Get well soon Joakim!

Elsewhere: King Felix and his Mariners came back against the feeble Angels bullpen, Rocco sent my emotions on a rollercoaster ride (home run! against the Jays, injury, Jays win) while CC made things worse for the fine people of Cleveland. The Mets finally lost, the Phils finally bested Martis with Brad Lidge finally stringing together two good appearances. The Rangers won again because the A's, sadly, are terrible.

Image stolen generally but specifically from these people

invisibleman.jpgOnly two 1 o'clock starts today, meaning lots of interesting baseball on a Saturday night.

Any moment now, the Fox team will burst forth from within a series of NASCAR graphics and Viagra commercials with their afternoon trifecta. Duel of the 2011 Day pits "OMG" David Price against "what have you done for me lately: Francisco Liriano in Minnesota. Elsewhere the Braves battle the Snakes while the Dodgers try to exact revenge just outside Cameron's house. Let my Camerons go.

Flee the Cleve: Busy night on the lake, with the Cavs attempting to stave off elimination while CC returns to face the Tribe. The first place Yankees must contend with Tribe #2 Fausto Carmona. Considering how rudely they treated Cy Young last night, I don't have high hopes for the ground ball man and his deal with the devil.

Other People's Children: The back to awesome Justin Verlander leads his first places Tigres against the last placed Orioles. Wieters will learn what 95 mile-per-hour cheese looks like up close and personal. Kurveball King Wandy Rodriquez tries to keep his excellent season going against the Pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Lone Nats bright spot--Adam Dunn doesn't count--Sharon Martis places his 5-0 record in serious jeopardy versus Cole Hamel and the Phils. The fragile Chris Carpenter takes on the fleeting Barry Zito in San Fran later tonight while my official Duel of the Day kicks off in Anaheim. Upstart Matt Palmer challenges the throne of King Felix. Sounds good to me.

bigvlad.jpgSomehow, the much-maligned Anaheim Angels have re-inserted themselves into the AL West discussion. Some of their key pitchers returned from injury as they pushed themselves to the happy side of .500. The offense still lacks and they don't hit home runs. Luckily, help is on the way!

Enter Vladimir Guerrero. The larger-than-life slugger returned Monday ready to resume his middle of the order duties. Surrounded in the order by patient Bobby Abreu and defiantly all-world Torii Hunter, Vlad figures to provide the pop their diminutive infielders lack.

With questions about his age fresh in our heads, Vlady's come out terribly. Ortiz-level bad. In an admittedly small sample of games, Vlady's struggling across the board. His walk rate is half his career mark and his OPS is a frightful .526. He's hitting far more fly balls with even fewer of them leaving the yard.

Vlad's never been the most patient hitter, but things have been embarrassing since his return. Swinging at 50% of the out of zone pitches he sees, but only contacting 50% of them. Pitchers are throwing him more balls than strikes, letting him get himself out.

Hopefully this isn't the end for Vlad. Always an exciting and enjoyable player from beyond the typical baseball mold; his unique approach is clearly dependent on the skill set of a younger man. While he won't continue to hit .205 without any power, the decline is underway. Hopefully players like Guerrero and Ortiz won't spend their final years in the league dodging drug-related questions from a witch-hunting media.

AP Image courtesy of Daylife photo stealing fools


What happened last night while you were establishing a clear vision of boast and brag.

Rangers 6 (5), A's 3 (2): A rare doubleheader in Texas ends with an even rarer sight: the Rangers comfortably atop the American League standings. The Rangers may finally have realized the game isn't just a home run derby, using stellar defense to prop up their pitching. The Rangers held the anemic A's in check long enough to post 3 runs and post the victory in game 1. Game 2 started with the Rangers posting all the offense they'd need in the first inning. Bonus doubleheader fact: twice as many at bats means twice as many Chris Davis strikeouts! Give him 6 on the day and 77 on the year, or a strikeout in 46.7% of his at bats Impressive! Just like the pitching performance of Jason Vargas. The non-Claudio Vargas notched his first starting victory since 2006 against the poor, poor Angels. Jose Lopez hit a tater tot on batter after Russell Branyan's tot was revoked by the glove of Juan Riviera, with an assist to the step-stools built into the fence in Anaheim.

Mets 2, Marlins 1: Those tricky Mets won their fourth game in a row, vaulting them into first place in the NLeast. An extremely well-pitched game--only 5 walks combined--ended via the many tools of Gary Sheffield. Sheff singled and stole second, going to third on an errant throw. Sheffield puts pressure on the defense, it's what good crazypeople do. The Phillies bested the Nationals the only way they know how: via the fielder's choice. Chutley's accidental RBI allowed the Phils to outlast the Nats. Brad Lidge throwback night featured a 1-2-3 inning from the embattled closer.

Yankees 3, Indians 1: Don't look now, the Yankees are in first place. Andy Pettitte walked 5 and allowed 6 hits over 5 innings, but the smoke and mirrors approach worked for one night, must have been all the rain. The Jays returned home to beat the Red Sox and all was right with the world. Scott Rolen knocked two doubles as the Jays finally got to Tim Wakefield. Jacoby Ellsbury was the Star Sock, something we'd all better get used to saying. MATT WIETERS!!!! 0 fer 4 with a strikeout, death to false idols. The O's bested the Tigers, slightly derailing the D-train bound for Good Sentiment Town.

Rockies 3, Padres 0: I don't mean to alarm anyone, but Jason Marquis is 7-3. He's pitching into the eighth inning in three consecutive starts! I'm afraid. Marquis shut down the streaking Padres, scattering 6 hits over 8 innings. Brian Giles extended his hitting streak to 6 games, raising his average to a lofty .192. Matt Cain's Trade Value went out and gave itself a shot in the arm, throwing 6.1 solid innings. The win also moved the Giants over .500, something I never thought I'd say again. Pablo Sandoval is poised to become the America's next lovable fat man. The Dodgers won again actually lost for once. I'm shocked and amazzzzzzzzzz

There is something special happening in Dodgerland. Down 4-1, the LA Dodgers came back, forced extra innings and loaded the bases in the 10th inning for Juan Pierre, he of the 5.8% career walk rate. Juan promptly watched 6 pitches--FOUR OF WHICH WERE BALLS--and the DODGERS WIN!!!! Their third walkoff walk of this young season. Get your bets in now, they're winning the damn World Series.

Here's what you came for:

Over 1 million views for the greatest video of all time. Happy Memorial Day peoples.

squidbase.jpgLots of interesting stuff happened last night in the world of baseball. We were up to catch it since we can't sleep in the nation of imagination.

Padres 6, Reds 5: Sweet Revenge! The Padres responded smartly to my mockery and name-calling by winning their second straight game, their first successive wins in a month! The Padres came back against the viciously squeezed Reds bullpen, outlasting the undermanned vistors until the 16th inning. Nick Hundley hit a walkoff bomb off tired starter Micah Owings. The Padres move into third place in the West despite owning the league's world run differential. Max Scherzer picked up his first career win versus Braves in Atlanta. 6 innings of shutout ball will do it almost every time. The Dodgers couldn't pick up Eric Milton in his first start back. Not for a lack of trying .400 hitter Juan Pierre! Pierre went 3 for 5 with a triple and two steals in a losing effort. Juan Pierre is tired of carrying the Dodgers. It takes 25 men to walk away with a division title.

Blue Jays 2, White Sox 1: J.P. Riccardi has a pretty easy job. Find carcass, prop carcass on pitching mound, await results. Your first place Toronto Blue Jays got 8 innings of 3 hit ball from Robert Ray to sneak by the White Sox. 2 runs in the bottom of the eighth secured the win for the Blue Jays. Alex Rodriquez's only hit of the day proved to be a crucial won, a walkoff two run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning. The much-maligned Yankee bullpen blew another save but held the fort long enough for A-Rod to do his thing. The Red Sox beat the Mariners, the Rays beat the Tribe and even the lowly Orioles won on Saturday, meaning every single team in the American League East won on the same day. East coast bias indeed.

Mets 9, Giants 6: Now that's a duel of the day! The Mets touched Randy Johnson for 7 runs and 11 hits in only 4 innings, picking up mortal-for-a-day Johan Santana. The four earned runs sent Santana's ERA skyrocketing to a pedestrian 1.36. Carlos Beltran added three hits (two doubles) to raise his average to a cool .379. The Phillies beat the Nationals 1.67 times in a single day! The second game of the double dip was cut short due to rain and society's complete rejection of the Washington Nationals baseball club. Raul Ibanez hit three home runs on the day, an act of Spanish solidarity with his number 1 booster Rob Iracane.

Brewers 1, Cardinals 0: Suppan! I knew I should have selected this game as the Duel of the Day. Scattering 6 hits over 7 innings with only a single walk is good stuff, the 2 perfect innings from the bullpen is icing on the cake. Pity poor Adam Wainwright, his 8 innings of 2 hit ball was marred by a Corey Hart home run in the fourth. Milwaukee takes over first in the NL Central, winners of 4 in a row. The Cubs extended their hitting streak to five games against LeTroy Hawkins and the Astros bullpen. Cubs "Closer" Kevin Gregg gave up 4 runs in the top of the 9th without recording an out but Alfonso Soriano saved the day in the bottom of 9 with a game-winning single. I'm sure Real Cubs closer Carlos Marmol won't be shy about pointing out to whomever will listen that he struck out the side in the 8th inning.

Today: I'm taking my kid to her first game, my first of the season. You're on your own scumbags. Roy Halladay is pitching but Sandy Koufax is dead so that can't be your duel of the day. How about AJ Burnett versus Kevin Slowey? That sounds dueltastic! Texas will try to take the brooms to the Angels, who hope they're returning starter will last more than two pitches.

Image courtesy of Bostonist via Catshirt

SLIMPity the poor Friars as they sink to new lows. A hot start to the season saw them tied for first in the NL West just one month ago today. Since then, they've nearly plummeted to the bottom of the division (propped up by the slumping and slightly unlucky Snakes) and don't figure to rise any time soon. The pitching's bad, the offense worse. The poor geniuses at Gas Lamp Ball have taken to compiling ways the Padres can get any worse. Not pretty.

Recently GM Kevin Towers took to the airways, promising fans a slew of upcoming roster changes. Trades, call ups, demotions were all promised. Truthfully, as the GLBallers pointed out, they could improve at nearly every single position. Only all-world Adrian Gonzales and all-Hairston Scotty Hairston are significantly above replacement level. The Padres willfully employ David Eckstein, who's value over replacement sprite is at an all-time low.

So who could go? Or where? The oft-rumoured Jake Peavy trade now seems inevitable, though Towers vows not to speak of it lest it disappear once again. Gonzales seems unlikely to move lest Kevin Towers be crushed under a tidal wave of fish tacos. Young Kevin Kouzmanoff put up decent Petco numbers last year but can't do anything right in 2009. Never an OBP machine, his current mark of .263 is pathetically Gilesian. Brian Giles, singled out for mockery by yours truly 3 weeks ago as baseball's least valuable player, remains ahead by a comfortable margin in the race to replacement mountain. Catcher of the future Nick Hundley and other guy of the future Chase Headley are both struggling, the lack of internal options to replace them will at least see them working it out at the big league level. Bird-like pitcher Chris Young's game has evolved (de-volved?) to the point where his fly ball heavy attack can only function in the gigantic, ocean-misted environs of Petco Park.

In other words, the Padres might just be up shit's creek. Unless they're willing to overpay a team rife with young available pitching talent, there don't seem to be too many moves to make. Short of completely blowing the team up by trading Peavy and Gonzales, the Padres will have to suffer away in their Pacific paradise full of beautiful women, weather, and college pitching phenoms.

Fish Cokes to the good people at Gas Lamp Ball

invisibleman.jpgA busy Saturday afternoon will give way to a busy night and afternoon. Some lucky teams are even playing TWO games today. Which game will earn the coveted Duel of the Day?

Fox Never Stops: Some peculiar choices for national broadcast today. The struggling Angels take on the dominant Ranger? John Lackey's first start of the year is certainly newsworthy. Vincente Padilla's fierce mug drives the TV value down, down, down. The aforeshiton Indians battle against the Rays in Florida with the excellent Matt Garza hoping his lobo skills are up for a dance with Carl Pavano. Fox's likely choice for showcase game and my sentimental Duel of the Day selection goes to Johan's Mets against Randy Johnson's Giants. Randy Johnson, the finest of all Old Knives, is nothing short of a freak of nature. Gene Wojciechowski recently went over the Unit's high school scouting reports from 198-freaking-2. Intense. The Giant Ginger Giant is stuck on 298 career wins though Johan Santana will ensure that wait lasts 5 more days. For what it's worth, you can keep your Clemens: Randy Johnson is the best pitcher of our generation.

The Righttime More good stuff tonight. The unfortunate Dallas Braden faces the youthful Rick Porcello in Detroit while Eric Milton makes his first appearance in nearly two years for the Dodgers in Florida. I think they're just screwing with the rest of the division at this point. Part two of the Phillies/Nationals goes tonight with The Danial Cabrera Experience lulling tired infielders to sleep with his wildly inefficient ways. Attending both of these games is better than Ambien at only 1500 times the price! Offseason addition and former next-big-thing Garrett Olsen makes his first start for the Mighty Mariners tonight, facing rib enthusiast Josh Beckett. Will Stinky Papi get back into the lineup? Olsen's a lefty so we might see as much Rocco on the field as in my dreams.

cinema.majorleague.groundskeepers.jpgThe Cleveland Indians aren't a good baseball team. They have some exciting young players, but they currently find themselves in last place in the sad AL Central. While the starting rotation is no great shakes, the Tribe's bullpen is experiencing a truly terrible season.

So terrible they've been, analysts create new adjectives to describe them. ESPN's Keith Law dubbed them Zantacular on his Twitter page. Last night, the Tribe's pen coughed up a 7-0 lead to the Tampa Bay Rays. Last week they surrendered 7 runs in a seventh inning collapse against the Jays. Of the twelve pitchers to emerge from the pen, only four contribute positively to wins on a regular basis. Even worse, they almost all preform worse in high-leverage situations. That doesn't bode well for their run prevention.

Cleveland residents can take hope in a few things, one being Kerry Wood. He hasn't pitched nearly as bad as his numbers indicate. His excellent ratio of strikeouts to walks will win out over his extremely high BABIP. The home runs will come down and the strand rate will come up. Sadly, I can't say the same for the rest of the staff. The defense behind them isn't doing many favors, yet some of them (Jensen Lewis & Vinnie Chulk I'm looking at you) have been saved by their defense.

The Tribe were expected to be better this year, but the pitching has really let them down. The starters aren't going very deep while the bullpen appears incapable of bailing them out. Could be a long year by the lake cuz folks: CC Sabathia ain't walking through that LaPorta.


It seems last night featured one collapsing closer after another. Most were quoted after the game as saying "don't talk about anything else, we don't wanna know!"

Royals 8, Orioles 1: GREINKE PARTY! Not even a three hour rain delay could deter the Royals faithful from spending time with their favorite son. Grienke delivered too, pitching 7 innings of one-run ball. The Royals got offense by facing Orioles pitching and scoring early. You got the sense after the Royals pushed across two runs in the first (after miscommunication in foul territory let an easy out drop) that this one was all but done. The Tigers got 5 ribbies each from Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn in beating savagely on the A's. Edwin Jackson continued his surprising start with 7 innings of walk free baseball. I'm officially worried for the future of mankind.

Dodgers 6, Marlins 4: It took a while for the Dodgers offense to get going against Chris Volstad, but the tots came in bunches and the Dodgers are once again cruising. Casey Blake and pinch hitter Xavier Paul homered in the sixth inning to power the Dodgers offense. The Fish are losers of 5 in row. What should have been a Lincecum party in San Francisco turned into more unfortunate adventures from Twitter legend Brian Wilson. Wilson certainly didn't help his own cause by throwing a bunt into left field, taking an unearned run hit. More closer mayhem in Pittsburgh thanks to Matt Capps. 3 runs in the top of nine sent the Rockies past the Pirates,

Yankees 5, Twins 4: Joe Nathan, one of the closingest closers to ever close, couldn't close it out against the hot Yankee bats. Three runs plated in the ninth thanks to Nathan's two walks and three hits. Closin's hard! The Red Sox have a few Japanese players on their roster, but last night they learned not to mess with the finest of them all. Ichiro! hit two home runs, including the go-ahead runs in the sixth inning. The Jays beat the White Sox and the Rays came from way behind to beat the Indians because the non-Greinke Central is a wasteland of abject failure.

Elsewhere: Your first place Texas Rangers outlasted the Angels in a rare bad start from Joe Saunders. Ian Kinsler hit two more home runs but wonderlithe Derek Holland had his first bad big league outing. The NL Central was rained out while Nats and Phils used 15 pitchers in a twelve inning game. Exciting time!

Just like Trent said to Mikey in the immortal Swingers: "you act like you don't need the shit; they give you the shit for free." Write a complimentary post about Carlos Beltran - HE REPAYS YOU WITH A BASES LOADED, GAME WINNING WALK!!!!! Mets win!

Tough loss for the Braves, full win for everyone else.

We don't have much time today; I'm sure there are long distance phone calls to make, fritatas to nom, war profiteers to haphazardly purchase flowers from, and mothers to acknowledge. We should rush straight into last night's great stuff before we realize we're old as dirt with hair on our tongues.

Angels 1, Royals 0: Zack Grienke lost! He lost a game! He's over, he's been exposed. The complete game four hitter he threw together wasn't good enough for the W; meaning it had no intrinsic value. What a failure. The Angels won their third in a row as the reinforcements continue to stream in. The Texas Rangers, who yesterday claimed victory by holding the White Sox totless, turned the trick again today. The tables were turned however, as the Sox themselves held the only team more dependent on the home run inside the park to claim the victory. Young stud and overlooked lithe lefty Derek Holland pitching 0.1 of an inning. No joke Rangers, he's good. Why don't you go ahead and shoot him some more innings.

Mets 10, Pirates 1: Carlos Beltran responds well to flattery.

Tigers 4, Indians 0: The Tribe's bullpen doesn't respond well to being pressed into action. Fausto Carmona learned walking 6 men in 6.2 innings isn't good for business, it really isn't good for anybody. Back to back home runs and more walks than Ks wasn't good for my Duel of the Day prediction Felix/Franky matchup.

Reds 8, Cardinals 3: The Cards have dropped two in a row, Albert Pujols is 0 for his last 10, and Rick Ankiel is still experiencing general body soreness. Were I a Redbirds fan, I'd be afraid. The Brewers have nothing to fear when Yovani Gallardo's around. 100 pitches in 5 innings isn't making the best use of your time, but limiting the Cubs to 2 runs over that span will keep you in cheese for weeks.

Elsewhere: The Toronto Blue Jays, conscientious objectors in the AL East wars, stopped their two game mini skid against the slightly crappy A's. Evan Longroia continued to demolish the ball in frightening new ways. The Internet's Boyfriend hit a home run to dead centerfield as well as a double off the very top of the Green Monster in helping his Rays run roughshod over the Boston Red Sox. My singing heart informs me Rocco Baldelli homered against his former club. The Dodgers won a game on the same day every other team in their division lost. Their magic number is down to 18.

Hey Goat, I Like Your Beard: Kiss your mother, eat some brunch, watch some excellent afternoon baseball like young southpaws Brett Cecil & Dallas Braden going head to head. Not a brunchman? Wake and bake with Timmy Lincecum against Jeff Weaver; loser must surrender his favorite Kyuss record. Rick Porcello can only pitch 5 innings tomorrow, his mom won't approve if he misses dinner (THEY LIVE TOGETHER CUZ HE'S SO YOUNG!) Adam Wainwright and Edinson Volquez going head to head is good any day of the week.

Enjoy your Sunday, we'll be back tomorrow with wacky videos of mice playing, preferably on treadmills with Yackity Sax underneath.

invisibleman.jpgWith only one game currently underway (the aforementioned Carlos Beltran with a home run) there is still time to look forward to a full slate of afternoon and evening games.

The Yellow Sun's Glare: The Rays and Red Sox renew acquaintances in Boston on the FOX dial. Litheish lefites Kazmir and Lester hook up for what looks like a pitching duel if not for Kazmir's precipitous fall from grace. I predict many number-inflating balls bounding off the large green wall. The Dodgers and Giants also do battle on America's 7th highest rated network; I WONDER WHAT THEY'LL TALK ABOUT. Joe Buck is locked and loaded with a sanctimonious speech that ends but the games go on! The Phillies and Braves will hook up on some Fox affiliates also; the Braves sending the befuddling Javy Vasquez to the mound. The Phillies counter with the befudged Joe Blanton. As wise commenter Honeynut Ichiros said recently: Phillie Phans are waiting for a reason to hate Blanton for a while now, the free-swinging Braves should buy him some time. The mighty Jays take on the slowly growing in strength A's in Oakland. The pitching match up is so inconsequential that we'll just move on.

Nighttime Fun: Some nice pitchers will mix metaphors tonight, we're in luck! Wunderkind Zack Grienke leads his team of superlatives out against the hopelessly overmatched Joe Saunders. That may just be one to watch. The Duel of the Day distinction goes to King Felix against Franky Liriano. I know Liriano may never throw as hard or be as dominant as he once was; but he's coming off a strong start to face a meager offense. Felix Hernandez is 23 years old. Yikes. The exciting Yovani Gallardo faces the boring and predictable Ryan Dempster in another nice showdown. Let's not forget the surprising Kevin Millwood against the steady Jon Danks in Chicago.

voltron.jpgIt's easy to dismiss the Mets as a bushleague operation that embarrasses their highly-paid starting pitchers and/or places personal vendettas above winning. You'd be right, of course, this is a third-rate operation. They do, however, employ some excellent baseball players. Johan Santana is one of the best pitchers of his generation, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Delgado are all stars of stage, screen, and tabloid.

One name conspicuously absent from that list is Carlos Beltran. Over the past three years, Beltran's performed as one the 10 best players in baseball, providing the Mets with more than 13 wins above replacement. Beltran knows how to make use of all five tools, hitting for power, stealing bases and playing excellent defense. In 2009, Beltran's taken it to a whole new level.

While teammates struggle with huge strikeout numbers and the ravages of age, Beltran has carried the Mets offense. While Johan Santana is constantly buried in a thick praise paste, Beltran sees to go about his business without much fanfare even though both players of provided the Mets nearly identical output (1.7 WAR for Santana versus 1.5 WAR for Beltran.) Beltran may be performing at a level greater than we see here thanks to his curiously below-average defense. I'll give him a break and chalk that up to 1) Tiny sample size for a metric that requires lots of reps and 2) The first year in a vast, funky ballpark may prove difficult to establish true fielding zones.

Carlos Beltran gets an inordinate amount of shit from casual fans for his first terrible season in Flushing and Adam Wainwright's curveball shaming him before a nation. It would be ridiculous to overlook the incredible contributions the man they call Voltron makes to the Mets spotty record of success for the past years.

One case of new Coke Satire headed towards the good people at the Onion for the image

Bananas.jpgThe pitching last night was even better than a Basque travel agent upselling a young couple from Jersey into blithely donating their entire vacation budget into the anti-facist revolution movement. Let's sort it all out and look to today as it surely brings better things.

Tigers 1, Indians 0: The rumors of Justin Verlander's demise were greatly exaggerated. A quick look at his Fielding Independent Pitching numbers and the meager defense offered by the Tigers could tell you that. Oh, about that Tigers defense. Turns out every so often it proves to be somewhat valuable. Curtis Granderson's catch of Grady Sizemore's would-be walkoff ding dong was robbery worthy of the Spanish grifters currently eyeing up a Jersey jamook from a mile away. Verlander didn't need much else in the way of help, striking out 11 while only surrendering 2 hits. The Central leading Royals stumbled before the surging Angels behind the overwhelming offense of one Howie Kendrick. Gil Meche didn't pitch poorly but he didn't pitch well enough to prop up the meager Royals offense. Kansas City's still in first place by 2 full games in the parity-stricken Central. The Twins pounded three home runs in one inning in beating the struggling Mariners. Joe Mauer is pretty good after all.

Giants 3, Dodgers 1: Life without Manny continues to be a less than rosy proposition. The Giants handed their high-priced pitcher Barry Zito his first win of the year. Zito hasn't pitched terribly this year and with the help of his new perhaps-not-so-personal catcher Pablo Sandoval. The mighty Dodgers have now lost two games in a row, something I didn't think they'd do until October. The Snakes new boss must wonder what he signed up for, as his team lost to the white-hot Nationals. Adam Dunn and Jesus Flores totted while the Nationals bullpen improbably held a lead. AJ Hinch what hath you wrought?

Yankees 4, Orioles 0: Alex Rodriquez once again benefits from pitch tipping. Rather than the opposition tipping off A-Rod, it was the ESPN cameraman in centerfield providing the highlight of the month thus far. One pitch, one three run home run and all is forgotten in Yankeeland. CC Sabathia clearly required he not be the highest-paid guy in the dressing room as he pitched a complete game, four hit gem upon Rodriquez's arrival. The only person happier about A-Rod's return are headline writers relieved to be delving back into their A-______ bag of tricks. The Boston Red Sox taught James Shields and the Rays an important lesson: you don't get to be called Big Game just because your name is James. The Sox put a big old 5 spot on the Rays right hander in the sixth inning via home runs by Jason Bay and JD Drew. Bay currently sits second in baseball in OPS (1.154) and second in walks, too.

Really Quickly: The Phillies beat up on the Braves to remain up on the Mets in the NL East. Brad Lidge struggled in a mop-up appearance which should trouble the first place team every so slightly. The Rangers, the RANGERS got a complete game shutout from young Matt Harrison. If the Rangers are pitching shutouts, we know something's up. Harrison gave up just 5 hits, none of which were home runs incidentally, to beat the White Sox. That is all it takes to beat the White Sox, keep the ball in the ballpark. They don't even run the bases any more. Ball lands on grass, White Sock runs back into dugout crying. Ozzie's really into their heads.

francisfarmer.jpgKen Griffey returning to Seattle provided a lot of column inches and a lot of sold merchandise for the good people of the Emerald City. He got his ovations, the players got their clubhouse go-between, the front office got their old poster boy back. Everyone wins!

Unfortunately, signing a free agent and placing him on the active roster isn't quite like the serving as ceremonial starter of the Masters: you expect the man to make a contribution. Sadly, Griffey has not made any sort of contribution to the Mariners hot start. Ken Griffey Junior's current line is pretty rough: .190/.338/.317. An OPS of .655, or about what the Mariners got from designated hitter-come-punchline Jose Vidro in 2008. Offensively, he's at or below replacement level, something I'm not comfortable saying about the sweetest swing I've ever seen. Griffy's 2 home runs on the season tell part of the story, his swing information does the rest. Less contact, fewer line drives, more ground balls, more infield pop ups (juuusst missed it), and most telling of all, more fastballs faced. Opposing pitchers just don't believe he can get around on the hard stuff because Griffey doesn't give them any reason to believe it.

It's hard to watch one of the greatest players of his generation serve as little more than a mascot. In addition to being part of a strict platoon (Griffey doesn't start against right handed pitching), he's part of a DH platoon at that. The former web-gem-in-waiting spent a grand total of 23 innings in the field thus far. Exactly zero since Ichiro's return from the DL. New manager Don Wakamatsu is dedicated to defense, obviously at Griffey's expense.

I don't think it's all bad for Ken Griffey. If this is his victory lap around the league, he couldn't have picked a better team to do it with. The Mariners have a real shot in the wide-open west, if Griffey can inject some good tidings to both sides of the clubhouse with the (very) occasional long ball than I'm all for it. In the end, I hope this provides one of the best ever with a suitable coda to an incredible career, without trampling too much on his ultimate legacy.

Thumbnail image for shrimpbaby.jpgAnother day blessed with shrimp! Looking around the league will tell us what happened last night while we were saved from one more day of shrimpless misery.

Philles 6, Mets 5: I don't know if you noticed, but the Mets bullpen is much improved in 2009. As a staff they rank second in FIP, tied for fifth best in K/BB while surrendering home runs one of the lowest rates in the league. Guess how much that stuff matters when Shane Victorino steps in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning? A single, a pitch hits Matt Stairs in the foot, and back-to-back walks send them to the seafood buffet happy. The Mets hit consecutive tater tots with Raul Ibanez countering for the mighty Phils. The Nationals finally snapped their 5 year losing streak with a victory over the first place Cardinals. Shairon Martis pitched a hell of a game, going the distance without walking a single batter. The start time for tomorrow's rubber match may move back to accomodate the jersey retirement ceremony for Martis, having pitched only the 4th complete game since 2006.

A's 3, Mariners 2: The American League West is quickly becoming the division nobody wants. The Mariners squandered a good pitching performance by Jarrod Washburn in what experts call "a horrible waste of scarce natural resources." Jason Giambi knocked in two of the runs with a double in the sixth inning and a single in the eighth. The Texas Rangers heard two teams from the west were involved in a tight, well-played pitching contest so they stepped in to remedy the situation. Only one home run (slow night) but six doubles paced the Rangers behind a good start from Brandon McCarthy. The Angels beat the Yankees because Brian Cashman forget innings 6 through 8 count just the same as the rest.

Dodgers 2, Padres 1: Very, very, nearly our second WoW of the day. Andre Ethier faced a full count with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth inning, but mistakenly chose to drive an inside pitch off the right field wall rather than trying to make us all happy. I assume Ethier's moved on from seafood to something with a little more cache like Swedish-Indonesian fusion. The Padres aren't good at scoring runs. The Giants aren't either, which is why they were nearly shut out by Jason Marquis in a loss to the Rockies. Feeling my scorn yesterday surely motivated Marquis to go the distance, only giving up a home run to Pablo Sandoval in the ninth inning. The poor Rockies are last in the NL West but sport a positive run differential. Surely a factoid to steel them after the Dodgers clinch this division in early June.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 4: Aaron Hill giveth and Aaron HIl taketh away. The man who's positive contributions in 2009 rank behind only Raul Ibanez booted a straight-forward double play ball in the 10th inning allowing the Orioles to score a go-ahead run. This didn't sit will with Aaron Hill so he lead off the 10th with a home run to tie the game. One inning later, with a running standing on second base, Hill singled to center to cash Rod Barajas with the winning run. The Jays walked off for the 4th time this season, the OriLOLs lost their fifth straight game and currently have the worst run differential in baseball. Worsening. The Red Sox stopped worsening for one night against the Rays soft, supple back of the rotation. Tim Wakefield hardly baffled the hard-hitting Rays but he and the Sox 'pen held the line. The Rays bullpen, such a source of strength last season, coughed up 4 runs and issued 4 free passes. No team that employs Scott Kazmir should be cavalier about their bullpen innings.

Elsewhere: The Riot hit The Dinger for the second day in a row, the Duel of the Day materialized in the form of Dan Haren's 11 strikeouts, the Royals overcame three unearned runs to beat the Twins in extra innings. Good stuff, more later!

Year of the Oblique? No sir, this is the year of the SHRIMP! Shane Victorino watches ball four low and we're having shrimp two nights in a row. Get yours!


Apologies for the light schedule this morning, after some bumbling around ye olde Barbershoppe, there's still time to look at this afternoon's games.

Fox Trot: Any minute now, depending on your corner of the continent, you will either watch sworn enemies from Flushing and Philadelphia battle for distant second place in the NL East. The more midwestern among us can feast on the Indians/Tigers tilt, possibly featuring the big league debut of Matt "From the Window to the Wall" LaPorta. Aaron Laffey versus Zach Miner could be a Central duel for years to come. In fact, I shall anoint it today's Duel of the Day! No chance does that come back to haunt me. Finally, the Braves and Astros will offer viewers a glimpse into the elaborate joke network sports can become when broadcast schedules are decided over Pinochle games and Glenlivet. The Giants and Rockies engaged in a soggy pitchers duel last night so we will reward them with an afternoon game in sunny San Fransisco. Click here for a live weather look-in.

Night Train's Runnin': Can the Rays stay on track against the suddenly slumping Red Sox? Who will free themselves from the Tough Luck Express in Milwaukee: Braden Looper or Dan Haren? I'm betting on a derailment. Can the Royals edge the Twins behind the erudite moundwork of Mr. Brian Bannister? How many bases will the Dodgers steal from Chris Young? For every base Manny steals, the denizens of Mannywood get to throw an armrest at their in-seat server.

old-doghouse.jpgIf you are any kind of baseball fan, you know of Mark Hendrickson. There are two main reasons for his notoriety:

  1. Mark Hendrickson played four seasons in the NBA. He made his most notable contribution to the basketball landscape by offering his head as a convenient landing area for basketballs in a rather famous Michael Jordan poster.
  2. The journeyman's played for so many teams; your local nine is bound to be one of them.

Last night, Mark Hendrickson did what he always does: he went out there and sucked. Hendrickson pitched 5 innings, surrendering 4 runs on 9 hits & 2 walks. Pretty normal, mediocre stuff.

Normal until you realize those five innings helped push Mark Hendrickson over 1000 innings pitched in his career, into the upper troposphere of mediocre baseball players. Mark Hendrickson is now the proud owner of career ERA still comfortably over 5 or the 6th highest ERA of all time for pitchers with 1000 IP or more.

The saddest part of Mark Hendrickson's career dirge is he's not that bad. His career FIP is respectable 4.57, good enough to be a fifth starter on most big league teams. It's also lower than many pitchers with vastly superior career W-L or ERA numbers such as Jason Marquis or former Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen. Yet neither of these fine fellows must face the indignity of such distinctions (though Jason Marquis deserves some sort of prize for his 14 win, 6.02 ERA/5.90 FIP season in 2006. Make checks payable to Albert Pujols plz).

How could this have happened? How could an athlete of such incredible pedigree that he played two different sports professionally be so bad at one of them? Playing on bad teams doesn't help, neither do his obvious physical gifts (being very tall) that allow him shot after shot when others would have been left on the scrap heap. I say good for you Mark, keep grindin and keep serving it up. Two pensions are better than one my friend.

For the second time this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers win via Walkoff Walk!!! An incredibly well-pitched game ends in the worst possible way for Jake Peavy, but the best possible way for those of us that love shrimp! Silent J-ussel Martin doesn't bite on a high, hard fastball to end the ball game. 1-0 Dodgers.

Shake your delicious tail:

washingtonnatinals.jpgHold on to something secure, I'm about to blow your mind. The Washington Nationals are a bad baseball team. I know! Taking on the first-place St Louis Cardinals in front of 18 000 brave masochists with me watching from home, the Nats miraculously found themselves embroiled in quite a battle. Back and forth they went, a home run by Albert Pujols was matched by discount, in-house brand Ryan Zimmerman until the ninth inning arrived with the game tied at 4. The Nats survived 5 walks and 4 wild pitches from starter Daniel Cabrera, surely an omen of a karmic correction to come.

The top of the ninth inning began with new (old) pitcher Julian Tavarez facing the prodigious Pujols. Handsome Jules Tavarez coaxes a ground ball out of Pujols on the first pitch; bullet dodged. Slugger Ryan Ludwick fouls off a few tough pitches before earning a tough walk. You hate to see relievers issue free passes, but you hope they'll work through it. Unless you're the Nationals, of course. If you're the Nats you understand all manner of shit is due to hit the fan. Here we go, in numerical order of atrocity :

  1. America's Boyfriend Rick Ankiel slashes a ball towards the left field corner. Adam Dunn gives a game effort, chasing the ball a long way only to come just short. At this point I'll note that a game effort from Adam Dunn comes in just behind an average effort from an average outfielder. Ludwick scores, 5-4 Cards
  2. Career minor league Joe Thurston works another walk. Thurston drops his bat and sprints to first base in a most Ecksteinian fashion. More portents of doom! Two on and the wife asks "why the hell did he run to first like that?" Trouble in the Beltway, my dear. You just wait.
  3. Jason LaRue is hit SQUARE IN THE CHEST by the fourth pitch of his at bat. At this point Santana Moss complained to his agent that of the 1044 receiving yards he tallied in 2008, not one pass hit him as squarely between the numbers as Tavarez's pitch to LaRue. Bases Bloated
  4. Rookie Tyler Greene, playing in his first ever big league game, steps in to face Tavarez (just short of 800 career appearances) with the bases loaded in a one run game. Greene chops a weak bouncer down the third base line. ZImmerman charges, realizing his only play his to first if he can barehand the ball. Which he can't. The ball slips off his fingertips - everybody's safe. 6-4 Cardinals, ball still in play.
  5. Everyone but Hustlin' Joe Thurston that is. Seeing the ball get past Zimmerman, Thurston turns at third and chugs for home! Cristian Guzman dashes over from sorta covering third base, grabs the ball in foul territory and heaves a strike to the plate; beating Thurston by a good 6 feet. Jesus Flores, in his haste to make an easy play difficult, muffs the catch allowing Thurston to slide in safely to plate the second run from a ball hit 70 feet. 7-4 Cards, runners on the corners, Acta on suicide watch.
  6. Having seen enough of Tavarez's pock-marked visage, Manny Acta calls Joel Hanrahan from the bullpen. The erstwhile closer's had a rough go this season, sporting a FIP over 7. Good thing Fielding Independent Pitching doesn't count runs cashed by balks, as that is what Hanrahan promptly does. 8-4 Cards, runner on second, fans on the way home.
  7. Rookie Tyler Greene decides to up his fantasy value by stealing third base.
  8. Pinch hitter Brian Barden hits a sac fly to Austin Kearns in right field. 9-4 Cardinals, nobody on, this ship has sailed.

A fly ball mercifully ends the inning but not before the Cardinals manage to sneak in another infield hit for good measure. The damage on both the scoreboard and the psyche of a diminishing fanbase was already long done. 5 runs (3 unearned) turned a close game into a mind-bending laugher in one half inning.

The Nationals suffered their 16th loss of the season in a most spectacular way. There are sure to be many, many more losses this year, likely in more dramatic ways. That is what makes this loss so much more tragic: it somehow seemed inevitable despite being so unusual.

Image courtesy Comcast via D.C. Sports Bog