Tag:Diamondbacks
Posted on: September 9, 2011 1:30 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kennedy notches 19th win

Ian Kennedy

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: Kennedy picked up his 19th victory of the season as the Diamondbacks beat the Padres 4-1 on Thursday. It was the 13th consecutive victory at Chase Field for Arizona, which is now 83-61 on the season and gaining on Milwaukee (85-60) for the second seed in the NL playoffs. Kennedy allowed just one run on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out 11 Padres. Kennedy has won each of his last four starts and 11 of his last 12. While most expect Roy Halladay or Clayton Kershaw to win the National League's Cy Young Award, Kennedy will have to be in the discussion.

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays: Toronto's left-hander entered Thursday's game against Boston with a 2-6 ERA in 11 career starts -- more than double his career ERA of 3.76. In two starts against the Red Sox before Thursday, Romero had given up 11 runs on 17 hits and eight walks in 8 2/3 innings. WIth that in mind, Thursday had to be a relief, as Romero silenced the Red Sox through 6 2/3 inning before giving up an RBI double to Jacoby Ellsbury to break up the shutout and ending his night. Reliever Casey Hansen gave up a two-run single with both runs charged to Romero. In all, Romero allowed three runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking three -- but most importantly for him, picked up the 7-4 victory against the Red Sox.

Robert Andino, Orioles: Baltimore's second baseman tied Thursday's game against the Yankees in the eighth inning with an RBI single and then won it with a single down the third-base line to score Nolan Reimold with the winning run in a 5-4 Orioles victory. Baltimore beat New York in extras on Wednesday as well, even though that game was in New York, not Baltimore.


Drew Storen, Nationals: The second game of the Dodgers-Nationals game was rained out, but Storen probably wishes the first game was called, too. The Washington closer had only pitched in two of the Nationals last 14 games and looked rusty when called into the tie game in the ninth inning. Storen gave up three hits, hit a batter and walked another in 2/3 of an inning before being lifted for Collin Balester who got Matt Kemp to fly out to end the inning, but not before the damage was done in an eventual 7-4 Nationals' loss.

Corey Luebke, Padres: Luebke didn't pitch poorly, allowing just two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings -- but against Kennedy, two runs were enough. Both runs came on solo homers -- by Paul Goldscmidt in the fourth and Justin Upton in the sixth.  Luebke has given up 11 homers this season and seven of them are to the Diamondbacks -- three by Upton. Xavier Nady, Collin Cowgill and Aaron Hill have also taken Luebke deep this season.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: Pedroia was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and left five men on base in Boston's loss to Toronto. But it wasn't just Thursday's game that gets Pedroia here. THe Red Sox second baseman and former MVP had just 1 hit in 20 at-bats in the series against the Blue Jays, ending with a strikeout with two men on to end the game. It was only the second time Pedroia has struck out three times in a game this season and the third time since the All-Star break that he struck out more than once in a game.

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:24 pm
 

On Deck: Potential NLCS preview

OD

By Matt Snyder

It's a light night of action in Major League Baseball, but there's still enough to keep us entertained. Keep your eyes on CBSSports.com's live scoreboard for all the action.

NL showdown: The best two teams in the National League -- at least in terms of record -- begin a four-game series Thursday night in Milwaukee. The Brewers have an 8 1/2 game lead in the NL Central while the Phillies are up 10 1/2 in the East. With the season ending in less than three weeks, suffice it to say that playoff seeding is starting to come into play. The Brewers hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Diamondbacks for the No. 2 seed and certainly don't want to have to deal with the Phillies' starting pitching in a five-game series (since the Braves are the likely Wild Card and can't face a team from their own division, the three seed will get the Phillies in the NLDS). Thus, this series takes on huge importance for the Brewers. They are at home, where they're an MLB-best 50-19, so that helps. Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.63) gets the start for the Phillies while Chris Narveson (10-6, 4.26) looks to end the Brewers' two-game losing streak. Phillies at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET.

Kennedy goes for 19: The Diamondbacks have opened up a seven-game lead in the NL West and look primed for a playoff berth. When in the playoff race, teams are bound to have players in the conversation for individual awards. One of the D-Backs' chances lies in the NL Cy Young race with ace Ian Kennedy (18-4, 2.96). It will be tough for Kennedy to win the award over the much more recognizable Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee or Clayton Kershaw, so he needs to continue piling up those wins and hoping the old-school voters take note. Thursday night he has a great shot at No. 19, as the Diamondbacks host the offensively-challenged Padres. Cory Luebke (5-8, 3.29) gets the nod for the Padres. Padres at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET.

Miller looks to bounce back: With Josh Beckett's injury, the Red Sox desperately need someone to step up and provide some kind of depth in the starting rotation behind Jon Lester. They've fallen to 2 1/2 games back in the AL East and if they lose any further ground they'll have to start worrying about holding onto the Wild Card (not yet, though). Andrew Miller (6-2, 5.27) will start for the Red Sox Thursday night. He had made two good starts in a row before being crushed by the Rangers last time out (6 ER in 1 1/3 innings). His counterpart Thursday is no slouch, either, as All-Star Ricky Romero (13-10, 2.97) takes the hill for the Jays. On the flip-side, Romero has been awful (11.42 ERA) in two starts against the Red Sox this season. Anything is possible. Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 10:37 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 9:45 am
 

Phillies crowd NL Cy Young chase



By C. Trent Rosecrans

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Cy Young Award winner.

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP | AL Cy Young

Over in the American League, the engraver can already get the Cy Young Award ready, but in the National League it's a different story -- at this point it's not even an easy discussion when asking who is the Phillies' best pitcher. And just as surprising is that the answer to that question may not be the winner of the National League's Cy Young. Here's five of the leading contenders to be named the National League's best pitcher.

Roy Halladay, Phillies: Last year's winner could certainly repeat. Halladay's been… well, Roy Halladay. He's 16-5 with a 2.49 ERA and pitched seven complete games (although no shutouts). Halladay's so good and so consistent, he's just kind of boring. Sure, he leads baseball with 7.5 strikeouts for every walk and he will strike out 200 for the fourth year in a row, it's just… lacking the sizzle. He may be the best, but there's at least a question.

Cole Hamels, Phillies: While he's often an afterthought in the Phillies' rotation, the 27-year-old lefty is easily the best third starter in baseball. He's 13-7 with a 2.63 ERA and leads the National League with a .968 WHIP. Hamels did miss a couple of starts when he went on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation last month, hurting his counting stats, which probably knocks him out of contention for the big award. But voters have to vote for five pitchers, so he'll get some votes.

Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: The National League's leader in wins (18), Kennedy is the newcomer to this race and also gets bonus points for helping his team to the playoffs (while not as big of a factor as it is in the MVP vote, it can't hurt). The 26-year-old right-hander also leads in winning percentage (.818), but his ERA (2.96) isn't in the same neighborhood as the others in this list. He'll get votes, but won't win the award.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Now here's your hard charger in the race, putting up an 8-1 record with a 1.44 ERA in the second half of the season. Overall he's 17-5 with a 2.45 ERA and a league-leading 222 strikeouts. Wins for a pitcher don't mean what they once did, but the fact that he's won 17 games (and could end up leading the league) with a bad Dodgers team may make his stats even more impressive. His ERA is second-best in the league behind Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (2.36).

Cliff Lee, Phillies: And finally there's Lee, who has lived up to the offseason pursuit of his services. Lee is 16-7 with a 2.47 ERA and six shutouts -- only Pittsburgh and St. Louis have as many as three complete-game shutouts by starters this season. He's had two historic months -- going 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA and three shutouts in June and then going 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA and one shutout in August. He allowed just one run in June and two in August. He followed up his hot August with another shutout in his first start of September. He's also second to Kershaw in strikeouts (204) and second in strikeout-to-walk ration (5.1).

Who is the best candidate to win the NL Cy Young Award? We'll answer that later in the year, but have your say in the comments. 

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 11:04 am
 

Pepper: Crane's purchase of Astros in doubt

Crane
By Evan Brunell

Limbo: The saga of Jim Crane as Astros owner continues to take a strange path, and that path may be headed toward a rejection.

BizofBaseball.com outlines the reasons behind why the deal has stalled... and why approval may be a pipe dream at this point. You'll have to click through to get the full breakdown, but the main takeaway is that Crane shares some sobering similarities with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, and we all know how that turned out.

For one, Crane had a contentious divorce himself that ended up in the papers back in 2000, where he reportedly came to blows with his son. Crane's history in court is also checkered, as allegations of racism and war-profiteering are very real concerns, and baseball understandably may not be interested in being affiliated with such a person, especially one whose companies were in federal court 130 times in 15 years.

Current Houston owner Drayton McLane expects a vote to be passed at any minute. But it won't come this week, and might not come at all unless commissioner Bud Selig and all 29 current owners can get on board. But even that might be rendered moot, as Crane is reportedly having a hard time keeping his investment group together, which is large and has investments as low as $25 million committed. Eventually, these investors may tire of having their money tied up in a venture that looks less and less ideal.

Time for a four-man: For a few years now, I've strongly believed that the best rotation would be that of four men plus a fifth starter who could start every now and then. I've blogged on it before, and now Jeff Passan comes out in favor of a four-and-swing rotation, even as teams move to six-man rotations these days. (Yahoo! Sports)

Managers of the year: You know it's September when you start seeing articles on who should win certain awards. Today, two candidates for manager of the year are discussed: The Angels' Mike Scioscia by the Orange County Times while Ron Roenicke of the Brewers gets love from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Return of Strasburg: The return of Stephen Strasburg was highly anticipated, and the phenom delivered Tuesday night with a dazzling performance. Here's a pitch F/X review of the outing. The biggest takeaway? Strasburg is throwing a new changeup. (Fangraphs)

Finally: It took three years, but Dustin McGowan has finally moved past all his injuries, surgeries and rehab. For the first time since July 2008, McGowan pitched in a game when he threw four innings Tuesday night. He wasn't lights out, but that's besides the point. (Toronto Star)

Done in Pittsburgh? Paul Maholm is shut down for the year due to injury, which may bring an end to his Pirates career. The club holds a club option, but it's anyone's guess if the option is exercised. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Venable a Bear: Wil Venable's brother has made the Chicago Bears football team. Winston was an undrafted free agent, but made the squad on special teams. (North County Times)

Beer me: If you're looking for a good beer, give AT&T Park in San Francisco a try, a destination that received a glowing beer review. (Fangraphs)

Montero wants to return: 'Zona catcher Miguel Montero will be in his final year of arbitration next season before becoming a free agent. The backstop has indicated his desire to stay, and the team has reciprocated, with both sides likely to discuss an extension after the season. (Arizona Republic)
 
Team USA
: Brett Jackson won't be called up to the Cubs this season, as he will instead play for Team USA in the Pan American Games. With a solid spring training, Jackson should cement himself as the Cubs' center fielder. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Back in L.A.: Rod Barajas has found a home in Los Angeles and is interested in returning. The Dodgers may disagree, though, and may prefer to go young at the position next year. (Los Angeles Times)

Social day: Speaking of L.A., it's hard to argue against the fact that the Dodgers have taken the biggest step back in public relations this year. As an attempt to reconnect with fans, the team is holding a Social September campaign, a month-long campaign that will give fans the ability to win prizes and interact with the team. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:37 am
 

Pepper: Capping Strasburg's 2012 innings

Strasburg

By Evan Brunell

Inning limit: As Stephen Strasburg prepares to dazzle baseball with his skills Tuesday night in his much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery, the question arises as to exactly how many innings the Nats can get out of its presumptive ace next season.

As the Washington Times writes, Washington determines inning limits on an individual basis, taking into account "their age, conditioning, innings in the previous season and big- league innings before the injury." For example, Jordan Zimmermann was shut down at 161 1/3 innings this season, the season after his own Tommy John surgery. That represented a 20 percent increase over his previous career-high set in 2009, which is a traditional barometer in baseball.

Assuming the same 20 percent increase, Strasburg would throw 147 innings in 2012, up from 2010's 123 2/3 innings between the majors and minors. That limit is based off his previous high, not off any complications from the surgery, which could factor in -- although other pitchers have cracked 200 innings a year after surgery, so that shouldn't hold Strasburg back. Washington won't make any type of determination until spring training, which is the smart move. Bank on a cap similar to Zimmermann's 160, but that could always change if the Nats find themselves in a postseason race down the stretch.

Mattingly eager
: Don Mattingly, skipper of the Dodgers, is eager to see Strasburg at work against the Dodgers.  "He's created a buzz, that's for sure, last year, and [he] continues to," Mattingly told MLB.com. "And he's produced. When he's pitched, he's pitched well."

Span back: The concussed Span is back with the Nationals after resting at home in Tampa for the past week. Span, who suffered the injury on June 3 and later hit the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3, still harbors hope of returning this season. "I do truly believe that I will be back on the field," Span told MLB.com. "When? I don't know. But I will be back out there. If things go good, I would like to go into the offseason having played in some games here. I'd rather do that than go into the offseason not playing at all."

It's always interesting to hear a player's take on concussions, as it remains a relatively new (at least, as far as admitting the injury and properly diagnosing it goes) injury and one that is still undergoing plenty of research. Here's Span's take:

"It's not a normal injury," he said. "Sometimes you start wondering if people believe what you're telling them about how you feel. So mentally, it's little things like that. You know how this game is and all masculine sports -- everybody feels that if you're not bleeding, you should go out there and play. And I tried doing that, so it's not like I didn't try. So that's been tough for me."

Retirement? Hideki Okajima doesn't know what his future will hold, but it's definitely not Boston. Despite pitching well in Triple-A after a failed early-season stint with the Red Sox, Okajima hasn't returned since being outrighted off the 40-man. Once a strong setup man, the ensuing years haven't been kind to the Japanese left-hander, but he didn't help himself by saying he'd rather remain in Pawtucket than return to Boston when he was first demoted back down to Triple-A.

Now, Okajima isn't sure what type of offers he will get from other clubs in the winter, but wouldn't rule out a return back to Japan or even retirement.

"I didn't expect to be in this situation, but this is reality," he told the Providence Journal. "I am here. It's obviously very disappointing to be in this situation in this point in the year, but this is reality and this is where I belong right now. I've accepted that fact and just have to rethink how I approach the game so I can be where I want to be next season."

Ziegler adjusting: It took some time for the former A to adjust to life as a Diamondback, both with the transition to the NL and trying to conform to Arizona's philosophy of varying times to the plate to help control the running game. He hasn't allowed a run or walk in his last 4 1/3 innings over six games, stranding eight baserunners. "The National League style of ball is different and it took a little getting used to," Ziegler told MLB.com. "Hitters are more aggressive early in the count and it made a difference just in how I had to approach each at-bat."

9/11: The Yankees won't be in the city for the 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 this Sunday, so will hold a ceremony on Wednesday. Click through to read what the ceremony will hold. (MLB.com)

Furcal wants to return: Rafael Furcal hopes to return to the Cardinals after the year, a prospect St. Louis is hoping comes to pass. The Cards have a busy offseason on their hands, so Furcal may have to wait, but given the shortstop's brittle body, isn't expected to command a significant deal. Ideally, the Cards would ink Furcal for one season on an incentive-laden contract. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Social media: After being part of one of the more controversial plays -- and certainly the most controversial in replay history thus far -- the Marlins' Bryan Peterson discussed the play for a half-hour on Twitter before calling it quits when tweets got derogatory. It's incredible how fast the social media revolution has hit baseball, as now players are taking to Twitter to discuss controversial plays with the fanbase. That would have been unheard of five years ago. (MLB.com)

Drafting time: Baseball players take their fantasy sports seriously. Just check out this photo Matt Kemp tweeted of the Dodgers' fantasy football draft. (Kemp's Twitter)

Rookie time: The Marlins called up third baseman Matt Dominguez as part of September callups. It's the first stint in the bigs for Dominguez, who was considered a heavy favorite to open the year as the starting third baseman. He won't play extensively down the stretch, but will be showcasing himself to be next season's starting third baseman. (MLB.com)

Good news: The Mets got encouraging reports on two injured players integral to the team. Johan Santana is proceeding on pace and will throw on Friday in a minor-league game. With playoffs likely over after the weekend, that would line up Santana's next stint to come in the majors, where he'd throw two or three innings. Meanwhile, Ike Davis participated in baseball activities all weekend pain-free. Doctors still need to sign off on his ankle, but it appears as if he will be 100 percent for spring training. (ESPN New York)

Speaking of... Speaking of Davis, here's some more stuff on the Mets first baseman, who believes he won't need surgery on his ankle. "The bottom line is there are gonna be some effects from this my whole life," Davis told the New York Post. "Either arthritis or something else later on, but as long as it's not sharp pain, [I can play]." While doctors are expected to sign off on his ankle, Davis says it's a day-to-day thing at this point, so surgery remains possible.

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Posted on: September 5, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Remembering the best races of the past 5 years



By Matt Snyder

This coming Wednesday will mark three weeks until the final day of Major League Baseball's regular season for 2011. While it's possible we'll have something go down to the wire -- Rangers-Angels, perhaps? -- many of the races seem to be turning into a yawnfest. With that in mind let's re-live the best race in each of the past five seasons.

2006 - NL Central
The Cardinals won the World Series that year, but almost blew a chance at the playoffs. With an injury-depleted roster, the Cards lost nine of 11 games from September 18-28, seeing a seven-game lead dwindle down to just a half-game over the Astros. A four-game sweep in Houston didn't help. The funny thing was, the Reds were actually tied for first with the Cardinals after winning on August 24 but went through a similar swoon to fall back. After pulling into that tie with the Cardinals, the Reds lost nine of 10 games. The Astros had simply been a mediocre team all season, but the futility of the teams above them made this a three-team race. The result was the Cardinals winning the division after buckling down and winning three of four to clinch with one day left in the season. They finished an uninspiring 83-78, with Astros finishing 1 1/2 games back and the Reds 3 1/2 back. Still, they won it all and proved all you have to do is get there to have a shot.

2007 - The entire NL
The Rockies get most of the ink here, and rightfully so, but every single race in the National League was a good one in '07 while the AL races weren't overly exciting at all. The Central division was actually the least exciting of the races in the NL, and the Cubs only won it by two games. The Brewers were tied with the Cubs on September 18, but the Cubs won four straight and built a 3 1/2 game lead. Like I said, that was the least exciting race in the NL. The Phillies trailed the Mets in the NL East -- and sometimes the Braves -- for the overwhelming majority of the season. In fact, the Phillies never saw first place until September 27, and even then it was a tie with the Mets. The Mets had a seven-game lead on September 12, but proceeded to lose six of seven games and see their lead shrink to 1 1/2 games. The Mets then won three straight and looked like they would hold on, but five consecutive losses then handed the lead to the Phillies. The Mets did win a game and pull to within a tie prior to the last game of the season, but lost that while the Phillies won and took the East. And now we get to the West/Wild Card race(s). It looked like the Padres and Diamondbacks were going to have a two-team race with the loser getting the Wild Card, but then the Rockies historical run happened. They won 14 of their last 15 games, including that extra-inning victory over the Padres in the one-game playoff -- in which Matt Holliday may or may not have touched home plate when scoring the winning run. The game was an absolute classic, with the Padres scoring two runs in the 13th, followed by the Rockies getting three off future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman in the bottom half of the inning. This game was for the Wild Card, as the D-Backs were able to finish the regular season with a one-game lead over both the Padres and Rockies. The Padres actually held a two-game lead over the Rockies with two games to play, and lost both of them -- only to lose in the one-game playoff as well. It should be noted that the Mets were only one game behind the Padres heading into the last day of the season, so a win would have made for a three-way tie in the Wild Card. Basically, what looked like a Mets, Diamondbacks, Padres and Cubs/Brewers playoffs became totally different after the Phillies and Rockies got different degrees of hot in the last few weeks. Maybe that season provides hope for an interesting September in 2011?

2008 - AL Central
The White Sox led by as many as six games in June, but a 10-game winning streak by the Twins knotted the two and they'd stay neck and neck for the rest of the season. The two teams were tied on three different days in September and weren't separated by more than 2 1/2 games all month. What was interesting here is the White Sox finished the season a half-game behind the Twins. There was a lingering rainout against the Tigers that the White Sox had to play the Monday following the conclusion of the actual season. If they won that, it would be a tie for first in the Central and the White Sox would host a one-game playoff. They beat the Tigers 8-2 and then took down the Twins 1-0 behind a masterful performance from John Danks (eight shutout innings, only two hits allowed). The only run the White Sox scored was a solo home run from Jim Thome in the bottom of the seventh.

2009 - AL Central
The Tigers had a seven-game lead after winning September 6, but went 11-15 the rest of the way. The Twins went 18-8 and ran them down, ending the season in a tie for the AL Central crown and forcing what would become an epic one-game playoff. Interestingly enough, the Tigers had a two-game lead heading into the penultimate series of the year, which was a four-game set against, yes, the Twins. It was in Detroit and the Tigers came away with a split. That should have been good enough, as the Tigers now had a two-game lead with three to play. Instead, the Tigers dropped two of three to the White Sox while the Twins swept the Royals. Thus, the one-game playoff would be played in the Metrodome. It would be one of the more exciting baseball games in recent memory. Nine innings weren't enough, as the game headed to extras knotted at four. The Tigers scored in the top of the 10th, but the Twins answered in the bottom half, spurred on by a leadoff triple from Michael Cuddyer. The Twins nearly won the game that very inning, but Alexi Casilla was hosed at home plate by left fielder Ryan Raburn on a potential sacrifice fly. Casilla came away the hero in the 12th, however, as he plated Carlos Gomez (pictured left with Joe Mauer) in the 12th with a walk-off single.

2010 - NL West/Wild Card
Like the Cardinals in 2006, the Giants ended up being the World Series champs after nearly missing out on the postseason. The Giants trailed the Padres by 6 1/2 games on August 25, but from September 4 until September 30, no more than two games separated the two teams. The pivotal series ended up being the Padres losing three of four at home to the lowly Cubs. This put them down three games with three to play. Wouldn't you know it, though, that the final three games were against the Giants. So the Padres could sweep the Giants and force a one-game playoff. Essentially, they controlled their own destiny, but would have to beat the Giants four times in a row. They did win the first two, but Jonathan Sanchez and five other pitchers would shut the Padres out on the final game of the regular season, and the Giants won the West by two games. In the Wild Card race, the Padres had the lead until that fateful Cubs' series, during which the Braves swept the Marlins and passed the Padres. Still, the Braves lost two games as the Padres took the first two from the Giants in the final weekend, meaning the Braves and Padres were tied with one game left. The Padres lost while the Braves survived two late rallies by the Phillies, winning 8-7.

So, will any of the present races provide the kind of excitement we've seen in the past few years? Considering the runner-up of the AL East is going to be the Wild Card, it appears our only chance is the AL West. Then again, would we have predicted the '07 Rockies or '09 Twins to make up the ground they did? That should at least provide some hope for fans of teams like the Giants and Indians this year.

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Posted on: September 5, 2011 12:17 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Bloomquist kills Giants' hopes

Willie Bloomquist

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Willie Bloomquist, Diamondbacks: Bloomquist's two-run triple in the eighth inning may have been the final nail in the defending champions' 2011 coffin. Ryan Vogelsong held the Diamondbacks scoreless into the eighth inning before Ryan Roberts homered and then after Gerardo Parra singled and Geoff Blum walked, Bloomquist fired Ramon Ramirez's first pitch into the corner in right, scoring the eventual winning runs. With the 4-1 victory, Arizona leaves San Francisco up seven games in the division with 22 games remaining for each team.

Shaun Marcum, Brewers: Marcum again showed why the Brewers could be a team to be reckoned with in the postseason. Although Zack Greinke was the team's most high-profile pickup in the offseason, Marcum's been just as good, if not better. Marcum, acquired in a trade with the Blue Jays, improved to 12-5 with a 3.11 ERA after allowing just one hit and a walk in seven innings in a 4-0 victory over the Astros. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning when Jordan Schafer singled up the middle with one out. No Astro made it to second base until the eighth when Francisco Rodriguez walked J.B. Shuck and then a single to Jason Bourgeois. However, Rodriguez recovered to retire the next two batters he faced to quell the scare. With the win and the Cardinals' loss to the Reds, Milwaukee now leads the NL Central by 9 1/2 games.

Derek Jeter, Yankees: Many of us said Jeter was too old and should just be sent out back and shot (or, you know, out to stud or whatever Derek Jeter will do after he's done with baseball), but those of us who said that (with me raising my hand right here) were wrong. The Captain didn't just go 2 for 5, tying a career-high five RBI in Sunday's 9-3 rout of Toronto, but since the All-Star break he's hitting .343/.397/.448. The one thing he hasn't done much of in that span is hit homers, but he had his second of the second half on Sunday and first since July 25. However, on a team with Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees don't need Jeter to hit homers, just be on base when the others do.


John Lackey, Red Sox: A favorite whipping boy of Red Sox fans, Lackey looked as if he were getting it together -- going five straight starts without giving up more than four earned runs (baby steps, people, baby steps). That streak ended on Sunday. Lackey allowed six runs on eight hits in five-plus innings of work. He didn't retire a batter in the Rangers' seven-run sixth inning, leaving after allowing three straight singles, threw a wild pitch and then walked a batter before being lifted. Lefty Felix Doubront gave up Lackey's final three runs and then three of his own in a 11-4 Rangers victory.

Mark Reynolds, Orioles: The Orioles third baseman committed two errors in the Orioles' 8-1 loss to the Rays, taking over the lead in the majors for errors, leapfrogging shortstops Elvis Andrus of the Rangers and Starlin Castro of the Cubs, who both have 25 errors. Reynolds hadn't started a game at third base since Aug. 14, but was moved back to third on Sunday to give Robert Andino a day off. Reynolds booted a two-out grounder with bases loaded in the third inning and led to four unearned runs in the inning. Reynolds' fielding percentage is down to .897 at third base. He's dead last in pretty much any fielding stat you want to name, UZR, UZR/150 and fielding percentage among them -- and it's not really close. Among qualified third basemen, none have a fielding percentage less than .940.

David Herndon, Phillies: His 2-1 pitch to Mike Cameron with bases loaded in the bottom of the 14th was close -- but his 3-1 pitch wasn't, as Herndon walked in Emilio Bonifacio to give Florida a 5-4 victory. Herndon loaded the bases in the 13th inning, but got out of it. He couldn't repeat the feat in the 14th, despite not allowing a ball out of the infield. In 3 2/3 innings, he walked seven batters -- so really blaming one call on one pitch doesn't carry much weight.

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Posted on: September 4, 2011 10:56 am
 

On Deck: D-Backs pulling away in NL West

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


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Pulling away: The National League's closest race is on the verge of being decided -- the Diamondbacks can take a commanding seven-game lead in the NL West with 23 games remaining with a victory in Sunday's series finale at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Arizona's Daniel Hudson looks for his 15th victory of the season and third straight. In his last four starts, he's gone 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA, pitching seven scoreless innings in his last start, a win over Coloardo. He's just 1-2 against the Giants this season, but limited them to a run on six hits in a victory at AT&T Park on Aug. 6. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong has lost each of his last three starts and four of his last five. Diamondbacks at Giants, 4:05 p.m. ET

Matt HarrisonWelcome back: Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison will get another chance against the Red Sox, returning to the team's rotation to face the same team that roughed him up in his last start. Texas manager Ron Washington inserted Scott Feldman into Harrison's spot in the rotation last week and used Harrison in relief on Wednesday. Harrison gave up seven earned runs on 11 hits in five innings on Aug. 24 against the Red Sox, prompting Washington to give the 25-year-old a short break. Harrison had a 3.04 ERA before the All-Star break and 4.56 afterward, so the Rangers hope the time off returns him to his pre-break form. Red Sox starter John Lackey hasn't had much success against the Rangers, either. In two starts against Texas this season, he's given up 13 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. Rangers at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. ET

Clayton KershawCy Kershaw: While the American League Cy Young race is about as excited as most of the races around baseball right now (read: not very), the National League competition has heated up because of the performance of Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw. The 23-year-old is 17-5 with a 2.45 ERA overall and 8-1 with a 1.32 ERA since the All-Star break. Kershaw has won his last four starts, allowing just two runs in those four games. Kershaw has five starts to win three games and become the Dodgers' first 20-game winner since Ramon Martinez won 20 in 19990. Dodgers at Braves, 1:35 p.m. ET

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