Thursday, July 3, 2008

And That Happened

Twins 7, Tigers 0: The Twins have owned the Tigers at the Metrodome this season, outscoring them 39-17. They took two of three in this series. They have won 13 of 15 overall. They aren't substantially outperforming their Pythagorean record, so it's not like they aren't legit. They're a strong team, on a roll, doing things no one thought they'd be doing this year. So somebody explain this:

Google News Search Results as of 5PM on July 2, 2008

"Chicago White Sox" 25,620
"Detroit Tigers" 15,926
"Cleveland Indians" 15,827
"Kansas City Royals" 14,253
"Minnesota Twins" 12,913

And you thought I was disrespectin' the Twins.

Yankees 18, Rangers 7: Forget what I said yesterday about the Yankees being vexed by Texas' pitching. Jason Giambi had a granny and six RBI. Alex Rodriguez shook off all the crazy-ass rumors swirling around him over the past 48 hours and managed a nice little 2-3, HR, 3 RBI performance. Following the game he had a three-way with Lisa Bonet and Warren Beatty, thereby completing the insane love pentagon he and his soon-to-be ex-wife seem to have embarked upon. Oh, and Sidney Ponson faced -- and got rocked by -- his old team. Not that anyone cares about a fat and belligerent drunk's revenge fantasies now that the Rodriguezes have turned the Bronx into Peyton Place.

Marlins 4, Nats 2: Washington had only three hits and one walk. They must have really been in a hurry to catch that flight to Cincinnati.

Angels 7, A's 4: According to the game story, "Saunders (12-4) became the first Angels pitcher with at least 12 wins before the All-Star break since 1991, when Chuck Finley and Mark Langston did it." Two guys! But that's not all. That year, not one, not two, but three Angels' pitchers piled up wins. In addition to Finley, who finished with 18 wins, and Langston, who won 19, Jim Abbott won 18 himself. Overall, the California Angels were second in the AL in team ERA that year, so it wasn't as though they were cheap wins. Those of you too young to really remember 1991 may be asking yourself how far that ace-laden Angels got into the postseason. Sorry, bub: they finished 81-81 which that year amounted to rock solid last place in the AL West. Seventh! Fourteen games behind the eventual champion Twins.

I offer that as a little reminder to one and all what life used to be like before three divisions and wild cards and interleague play that allowed one league to beat up on another. There really wasn't anyplace to hide back then.

Orioles 5, Royals 2: Daniel Cabrera (CG, 7 H, 2 ER) proves that you can mess with DeJesus (3-4, HR) and still beat the Royals.

Phillies 7, Braves 3: The Phillies jumped out to a 5-0 lead, which the Braves closed to 5-1 in the fifth. In the sixth, the Braves loaded the bases with no one out. If you're a Braves fan you know exactly what happened next: Jeff Francoeur hit into a double play. Sure, one run scored, but the life was sucked out of the rally and the Braves didn't really threaten again. Well, in the eighth Chipper hit a homer to pull it to 5-3, and a runner made it to second. Of course then Francoeur struck out. The only possible positive you can say is that he saw seven pitches on each of those occasions, but in the end, Frenchy is still Frenchy, and he's still killing the Braves.

Pirates 9, Reds 5: Xavier Nady was Xquisite (3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI), as he and his buddies beat the livin' tar out of Darrell Thompson and the Reds. This despite John Van Benschoten getting lit up his own self (2.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER). There are other guys out there who, like Van Benschoten, had potentially promising hitting careers derailed by a team who thinks he was going to make a better pitcher, but because of his unique name, I will always remember him. 2001 was eons ago in terms of online baseball analysis, but even then, in real time, everyone seemed to think that the Pirates were making a huge mistake. Everyone except for Cam Bonifay anyway. Of course, Bonifay was fired about a week after that draft, so it's not like Van B had to stay on the mound. I'll always wonder what kind of hitter he'd make.

Dodgers 4, Astros 1: For as bad a season as it has been so far for Los Angeles, they are amazingly still only one and a half games back in the West. Somebody has to win that division, and right now it could just as easily be the Dodgers -- who will have some important people come back in the second half -- as anyone else.

Rays 7, Red Sox 6: Suh-weep. These teams don't face each other again until September 8th. You can bet that the Red Sox will have a hell of a lot to think about between now and then.

Rockies 8, Padres 1: Randy Wolf (4 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 4 BB) isn't doing anything to help his trade value.

White Sox 6, Indians 5: Grady Sizemore had two homers, but A.J. Pierzynski's lone shot [I'm an idiot; A.J. homered twice too -- thanks to Sam for the correction] was better timed -- a walkoff -- leading the Sox over the Indians again.

Cardinals; 8, Mets 7: The walkoff bug was contagious last night. This time it was Troy Glaus for the Cardinals whose second homer of the night ended it in the bottom of the ninth. In other news, David Wright -- in an effort to keep the Mets visible on the back pages of the New York tabloids -- has recently been spotted shacking up with Debbie Gibson. And in a startling turn, Wright's wife has run away to Paris with the guy from Milli Vanilli. No, the other one. I'm pretty sure Rob's dead.

Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 3: The Brewers have just owned Arizona recently -- they've taken 10 of 13 -- yet if the music ended today, Arizona would be in the playoffs and Milwaukee would not, and that just doesn't seem fair.

Mariners 4, Blue Jays 2: According to the game story, Miguel Cairo "has built an 11-year major league career out of hard work and preparation. He said if he didn't have his strong work ethic, 'I'd be home [retired] already by now.'" Well, a strong ethic and the bad judgment of Bill Bavasi anyway. But I have not come here to insult Miguel Cairo -- well, maybe just a little -- I have come here to praise him! M-Cai goes 2-4 with two doubles and three RBI as Seattle takes down Toronto yet again.

Cubs 6, Giants 5: According to the game story, this game was broadcast around the world to 176 countries and more than 200 U.S. Navy ships as part of "Salute to the Military Night" by the Giants and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. My brother was in the Navy, and once when I was 16 I got to go on his ship for what they call a "dependent's cruise" in which sailors' families get to ride around Chesapeake Bay for a few hours and watch the crew do their thing. I hung out down on my brother's rack and took a long nap. There was a TV down there. For the entire five or six hours of the cruise, it was surrounded by a half dozen swabbies watching the worst porn you could possibly imagine. I offer this as a way of saying that I question how much of the Navy was tuned in to the Giants' game.


Vegas Watch said...

The Twins are beating their Pythag by 3 games, and half also hit .315/.385/.462 w/ RISP, compared to .276/.331/.403 overall. They're third order record its 40-45.

"Legit" isn't the word I would use. I really don't like the Twins, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the Metrodome.

Scott said...

It's DEBORAH Gibson now. I offer that in the name of journalistic integrity.

Vegas Watch said...

*have, not half. Sorry.

David said...

The Twins hate Vegas.

Drew said...

So was anyone else watching the Bosox and Rays? In the 9th inning, with the score 7 to 6 (nice catch by Upton in CF at that point, by the way) and 1 out, the Sox had Mike Lowell on first, and Captain Varitek at the plate. And for some insane reason, they put Lowell in motion. Multiple times, mind you.

The first time, 'Tek actually hit a hard line drive, but foul. The second time, he did what he does best, swing and a miss. Lowell, not by any stretch of the imagination a good runner, was gunned down by a mile at second. And then Varitek predictably struck out to end the game.

In what world did it make any sense to send Lowell? It just seemed like a situation where a manager made a decision just so he felt like he'd have an impact on the game. Well, I guess that worked out for him.

Anonymous said...


No mention of the A's- Angels mismatch yesterday. Too bad, as the game was illustrative of two things:

- There are 5 good teams in the AL who could take any NL opponent, the beloved A's are not one of those teams.

- The last two games of the series were carbon copies of each other, in that the supposedly punchless Angels took an early lead, the plucky A's fought back, and the Angels then whipped up on what was supposed to be an A's strength, the middle bullpen.

I almost posted yesterday about Geren's middle relief dilemma right now. If everyone were healthy and strong, he would have 4solid choices: Casilla, Brown, Devine, and Ziegler. He'd have Embree for lefty situations, Street for closing, and Foulke for mop-up.

Trouble is that Devine is hurt, Brown and Casilla, though back from the DL, are not right, and Ziegler is getting overused. That means Foulke is exposed in crucial situations and Embree is used out of role. With predicatble results. In those two games LA starters went 13.1 IP with 4 ER. Oakland starters went 10.2 with 6 ER.

The real difference was in the bullpen: LA relief was 4.2 IP with 1 ER, and OAK was 5.1 with 6 ER.
That's why LA's in first, and is one of those 5 teams I referred to (the others being TB, BOS, CHI and MN). When you have excellent starting pitching, a reliable closer, and solid middle relief, your offense can be merely opportunistic, to use a generous description.

Francona had the same problem yesterday with TB: how to get from Dice-k's short innings to Papelbon. Two innings and 6 runs later, no answer.

Why did he send Lowell? To stay out of the double play was the official explanation. It's unlike Francona to have an error in judgement, so I'm sure he was still noodling his bullpen dilemma.

Richard Dansky said...

To be fair, 12000 of those Royals hits come up with the Poz' blog...

Matt said...

I love how you can be objective with 29 out of the 30 MLB teams, but as soon as the Braves come into play your sabermetric instincts go out the window and you start blaming them for things like non-clutch hitting and ignore things like sample size. I do the same thing with my Phillies when they start losing.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Matt -- yeah, I suppose there is an element of that. I read Neyer's BABIP thing about Francoeur today, and he's got a point. I think that when you watch someone so often you tend to lose objectivity and you start feeling like you can look into their mind or soul and see things that may not be there. When I see Francoeur I see all of his obvious talent, but I also see exactly the same player I saw three years ago, and wonder why he hasn't progressed at all.