Tag:Ichiro Suzuki
Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:15 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 1:19 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Pirates surge to second place

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Pittsburgh Pirates: With their 5-1 victory over the Astros, the Pirates improved to four games over .500 (45-41) this late in the season for the first time since 1992. The win, coupled with Milwaukee's loss to the Diamondbacks, moved Pittsburgh into second place in the National League Central, 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals. Jeff Karstens allowed one run on seven hits in seven innings, improving to 7-4 on the season and lowering his ERA to 2.55. Brandon Wood added a two-run homer in the win.

Dan Haren, Angels: The Angels' right-hander allowed just two hits in a shutout victory over Justin Verlander and the Tigers on Tuesday. Haren struck out nine batters, earning his ninth win of the season and the 100th of his career as he retired the last 15 batters he faced. The Angels have now won 10 of their last 12. Verlander struck out eight, while allowing a run and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. He was ejected from the game as he left the mound and was credited with his first loss in his last 12 starts.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: Sometimes the best part of baseball isn't the towering shot or the big strikeout, but the other things a player can do to help his team win. With one out and runners on first and second in the top of the 10th, Brendan Ryan hit a grounder to A's second baseman Jemile Weeks who flipped it to Cliff Pennington, but Suzuki was on the move and slid wide, disrupting Pennington's throw to first. The throw went by first baseman Connor Jackson and allowing the go-ahead run to score. Adam Kennedy followed with an RBI double to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory. None of that would have happened without Ichiro's slide.
Randy Wolf, Brewers: Milwaukee's left-hander gave up four runs in the first inning and then allowed two home runs to put the Brewers in a 7-1 hole. Wolf did throw three more scoreless innings to at least give the bullpen some rest, but when that's the best that can be said about a start, it's not a very good start. The Brewers lost consecutive games at home for the first time this season and fell to third place in the National League Central.

Chris Volstad, Marlins: Perhaps Jack McKeon should just skip Volstad's next start against the Phillies. In two games against Philadelphia this season, the right-hander has allowed 15 runs in 9 2/3 innings, including seven runs in four innings in Tuesday's 14-2 in Florida.

Jeff Baker, Cubs: With bases loaded and no outs in the first inning of Tuesday's game in Washington, Ramon Ortiz got Laynce Nix to do exactly what he wanted him to do -- a tailor-made ground ball to second base. It would cost the team a run, but two outs for one run is fine in the first inning. Instead, the Nationals would get two runs and the Cubs no outs as Baker airmailed the short throw into left past shortstop Darwin Barney. The Nationals would score one more run in the inning, but that was all they needed, beating Chicago 3-2.

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 9:00 pm

Picking a better Derby field

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Prince Fielder and David Ortiz have picked their teams for next week's Home Run Derby, and while all the picks are good, I'd pick a different squad.

If I were in Fielder's or Ortiz's shoes, here's who I'd pick:

National League
Wily Mo Pena, Diamondbacks: Five of Wily Mo's eight hits have reached the seats. He's struck out 17 times and hasn't walked, but that's real baseball. This is the Home Run Derby -- few can hit them as far as Pena -- especially when they're all straight and all in the strike zone. You know who agrees with me? The American League captain. Ortiz was asked about adding Pena and told WEEI.com, "That's not good. We would lose right away."

Check out this homer at Comerica Park -- which is hardly a bandbox.

Mike Stanton, Marlins: Like Pena, Stanton is a big, big man. Twelve of Stanton's 14 home runs have traveled more than 400 feet. I don't care if he's not seeing the ball clearly, this is a batting practice show and few can put on a show like Stanton.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: This is the one that Fielder and I agree on, and not just because Upton has the homefield advantage (which is a real advantage in this case). Upton has 13 home runs this season and according to HitTrackerOnline.com, only Fielder has hit a ball further than Upton's 478-foot bomb off of Chris Carpenter on April 12.

American League
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: The guy has 81 homers since 2010 began, you'd be a fool not to pick him. It's no surprise he was the first guy Ortiz called. He'd be my first call, too.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers: His 28-homer first-round performance at the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium is probably the most memorable Derby of all time. Hamilton said would have listened had Ortiz called him. He'd be my second call after Bautista.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: And here's my wild card. Suzuki has just one homer this season and has averaged less than 10 a year in his career, but anyone who has watched Suzuki in batting practice knows in that setting he can put the ball into the seats at will. In the Derby, you not only want the big boppers, but also the guys who can put together a streak of homers. Suzuki can do just about anything he wants with a bat, plus it'd be fun to watch the tiny Suzuki with all the other hulking players I've picked.

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Posted on: July 4, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: July 4, 2011 12:58 pm

Pepper: Head indoors during All-Star Weekend

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's not that I'm not looking forward to heading to Phoenix on Saturday; it's just that, well, it's going to be really, really hot and that doesn't sound like fun.

The average temperature in Phoenix on July 12? 107. I don't care how dry that heat is, it's still hot.

Phoenix has wanted to host an All-Star Game for years, but with the All-Star Game comes more than just nine innings of baseball. There's the Futures Game, a celebrity softball game, the Home Run Derby, FanFest and an influx of people, all walking around the area around the ballpark. Anyone outside is going to be hot.

The Diamondbacks are planning as many things indoors as they can, according to this Arizona Republic article. The team may open the roof for a possible flyover during the national anthem, but that would take place during the hottest part of the day.

Also, the usual parade will be about two blocks and players have been told not to wear suits and ties.

Team president Derrick Hall tells the newspaper, "I think everyone is going to be shocked how comfortable it's going to be."

I hope so. Then I can get ready for Kansas City next July -- and that could be even worse, just ask Ichiro (language NSFW).

CLOSER QUESTION: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stood behind closer Matt Capps after pulling him Sunday, but Capps may not be the closer for long. He has blown six saves in 19 chances, and Joe Nathan is back and healthy. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

FREAK OR FISH?: Marlins manager Jack McKeon questioned Bruce Bochy's selection of Tim Lincecum for the All-Star team. "He's a good pitcher, don't get me wrong," McKeon told reporters, including Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. "But do we reward for what you're doing now or do we reward for what you've done in the past."

DERBY LOBBYING: Not only are two captains picking the sides for this year's Home Run Derby, they can pick players who aren't in the All-Star Game to participate. Here's two non-All-Stars I'd love to see. Bob Young of the Arizona Republic suggests Ichiro Suzuki, which may sound odd, but Suzuki's batting practice displays are the stuff of legend, and what is the Derby but glorified batting practice? I'd give Suzuki a better shot than most at winning the deal. While Suzuki doesn't look like a guy who would be a Home Run Derby favorite, the Marlins' Mike Stanton does. Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez wants to see his teammate in the derby, and so do I. [Palm Beach Post]

NO REHAB FOR PUJOLS: Albert Pujols "doesn't need" a rehab assignment before he returns to the Cardinals, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday.

RECORD DEAL: The Rangers signed Dominican outfielder Nomar Mazara with what is believed to be a record $5 million signing bonus. The 6-foot-3, 16-year-old left-handed outfielder is said to have the most raw power in Latin America. [Baseball America]

SELLOUT RECORD: Saturday the Dayton Dragons, the Reds' Class A team in the Midwest League, recorded their 814th sellout in a row, tying the all-time professional sports record set by the Portland Trail Blazers. The team expects to break the record July 9.

While the Dayton Daily News has the news, the New York Times takes a look at just why the Dragons have been so successful.

HISTORICALLY BAD: As bad as the Padres' offense has been this season, it's not as bad as the Mariners' last season -- so there's that. Otherwise, the outlook is bleak for San DIego bats. [North County Times]

STEREOTYPES DISPUTED: Former Cubs and current White Sox TV analyst Steve Stone says the stereotypes of Cubs fans and White Sox aren't exactly true. Cubs fans are usually believed to be more interested in being at Wrigley Field than what's going on at Wrigley Field. The stereotype of White Sox fans is best displayed by the buffoons who get liquored up and run on the field to attack either the umpire or the opposing team's first base coach. [Chicago Tribune]

VLAD'S BATS HEATING UP: Vladimir Guerrero isn't producing at the plate, but his bats are. Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis is crushing with Guerrero's bats, hitting .436 in his last 21 games since switching to Guerrero's heavier bats. [Baltimore Sun]

PADRES DRAFT COULD BE GREAT: Well, the Padres' draft could be a great one if the team spends the money to sign the players it drafted. The Royals stopped worrying about "signability," and David Glass started paying the going rate for drafted players. That's how the Royals built the best farm system in the majors. If the Padres follow suit, it could certainly pay off in the end. [InsideThePadres]

HOSMER USED TO OVERCOMING: Check out this fantastic feature by my friend Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star on Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer and his family. Hosmer's dad was a firefighter and his mother a nurse who immigrated from Cuba.

RACIAL BIAS BY UMPS: A study recently published in the American Economic Review shows a small difference in called strikes when the umpire and the pitcher are the same race. But the bias disappeared in games with computer monitoring, which is now standard across MLB. (H/T to BaseballMusings.com

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Posted on: June 11, 2011 1:26 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Sizemore helps stop A's skid

Scott Sizemore

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Scott Sizemore, Athletics -- Sizemore's two-out, three-run double in the ninth gave the A's a 7-5 victory over the White Sox on Friday. With the hit, the A's snapped their 10-game losing streak and gave Bob Melvin his first victory at the helm in Oakland. Sizemore was 3 for 4 on the night and is 5 for 9 since joining the A's.

Dillon Gee, Mets -- Gee became the first rookie to start a season 7-0 since Jered Weaver won nine in a row in 2006. It's the fourth-best streak to start a season in Mets history. Gee gave up a run in the first, but nothing else as he went eight innings in the 8-1 Mets victory. Gee allowed eight hits, all singles, while striking out five and walking none.

Ichiro's replacements --  Carlos Peguero started in right field for the slumping Ichiro Suzuki, while Chone Figgins was leading off instead of Suzuki. Both notched a pair of hits, with Peguero hitting a homer and a triple, scoring twice. Figgins, who entered the game hitting .187, recorded a single and a double in the Mariners' 3-2 victory over the Tigers.

Charlie Morton, Pirates -- Morton looked more like the 2010 Charlie Morton than the 2011 version on Friday, allowing seven runs -- six earned -- and nine hits in just four-plus innings. His ERA rose more than a half-run, from 2.52 to 3.08, dropping the Pirates to two games under .500 on the season. 

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs -- Carlos Marmol didn't have a chance to blow a lead as Zambrano put the Cubs in a seven-run hole in Philadelphia, exiting following Placido Polanco's seventh-inning grand slam. Zambrano, of course, criticized his teammates and closer following a blown save in St. Louis on Sunday.

Kyle Lohse, Cardinals -- Lohse gave up four runs on five hits in five innings in the Cardinals' 8-0 loss to the Brewers. He hasn't won at Miller Park since June 26, 2005, when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins and hasn't beaten the Brewers since July 25, 2007, as a member of the Reds.

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Posted on: June 10, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 6:24 pm

Mariners sit slumping Suzuki

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ichiro SuzukiFor the first time since Aug. 31, 2009, Ichiro Suzuki is not in the Mariners' starting lineup.

Chone Figgins will lead off for the Mariners, hitting third, while Carlos Peguero takes over in right field against the Tigers and Brad Penny.

Suzuki has started 1,635 of the 1,651 games of his career, but Suzuki has just five hits this month and is hitting just .252/.306/.294 overall. He's hitting .119/.157/.164 in his last 16 games and is hitless in his last three.

Suzuki has just 66 hits this season, putting his streak of 10 straight seasons (all his seasons) with at least 200 hits in jeopardy.

While Suzuki is aging, it's tough to imagine him falling off a cliff that quickly. Perhaps it's a slump and bad luck combining to hurt his production. Still, he is 37, so age may be catching up to him.

His replacement at the top of the lineup, Figgins, has been worse than Ichiro, hitting .187/.232/.247 this season -- just the type of presence you want at the top of your lineup. Manager Eric Wedge told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that he hoped the move would not only help Suzuki, but also help Figgins.

"He had his greatest success in the leadoff spot," Wedge told Baker before the game. "It's a great opportunity to throw him back up there and maybe get him kickstarted. I've seen it happen before. So, that was the thought process there."

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Posted on: June 5, 2011 12:16 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Pujols is back

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- You didn't think Pujols would struggle all season, did you? After hitting just two home runs in all of May, Pujols has three so far in June, including two on Saturday. His second -- a solo shot with two outs in the 12th -- gave St. Louis a 5-4 victory over the Cubs.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Like Pujols, Kemp hit two homers on Saturday -- a solo shot in the seventh and a grand slam in the eighth, tying the game at 7. He finished the game with six RBI, adding another in the Dodgers' four-run 11th inning.

Dillon Gee, Mets -- The Mets rookie improved to 6-0 throwing seven scoreless, while allowing four hits. He walked two and struck out two, toping Jair Jurrjuns and the Braves.

Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox -- Papelbon lost his cool and nearly cost his team the game. Brought in with a 7-3 lead in the ninth, the A's jumped on Papelbon for three hits and four runs. Both Papelbon and catcher Jason Varitek were tossed for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo. While Randazzo may have overreacted to the pouting Papelbon, there's no excuse for Papelbon rushing Randazzo and bumping him. Expect a suspension for Papelbon.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners -- For the third day in a row, Suzuki was hitless, going 0 for 4 in a 3-2 loss to the Rays. He now has 20 hitless games this season. His .261 batting average is his lowest at this point in his 11-year career. Only once, in 2008, has his batting average been less than .300 on June 5.

Ernesto Frieri, Padres -- Heath Bell was set to get a much-deserved night off, having worked five of the last seven days with the Padres leading 6-2 going into the ninth. Frieri walked the first batter he faced and then gave up a single, forcing Bud Black to call on Bell, who picked up his 16th save, and sixth in the team's last eight games.

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Posted on: June 1, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 4:03 pm

AL All-Star balloting update: Bautista tops all

By Matt Snyder

Tuesday, Major League Baseball unveiled the first update on the All-Star balloting for the National League, so Wednesday we found out the American League update. Needless to say, non-Yankees fans won't be happy, but we'll get to that in a second. The big story is that the fans nailed the top overall vote-getter (that goes for both leagues). Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays leads the majors in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS-plus and total bases. You can add top vote-getter to the list for now, because he's gathered 1,261,659 votes. If this holds, he'd become the first Blue Jays player ever to receive the most votes and the first to start the game since Carlos Delgado in 2003.

As things stand now, here are the would-be AL starters: Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson -- yes, those are actually the leaders in votes; I didn't accidentally start listing the Yankees' starters -- Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young (DH).

So, yeah. Six Yankees starters if this was the final version. Here are some observations:

- Asdrubal Cabrera trails Jeter by about 260,000 votes at short. I guess I'm not shocked for several reasons. First of all, the voting began pretty early in the season and Cabrera was a relative unknown when it started. Secondly, you have Jeter and the whole chase for 3,000 hits thing going on. Third, it's the Yankees. If this is a lifetime achievement thing, OK, but if we're looking at just 2011, it's egregious. Cabrera's been the big offensive force for the most surprising team in baseball -- one that has the best record in the AL.

- Teixeira's having a big power year and him starting the game wouldn't be completely undeserved, but I'd rather go with Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera there. If you have a problem with Cabrera's off-field issues in the spring, well, vote for Gonzalez or Tex.

- Third could shape up to be a real good battle between A-Rod, Adrian Beltre and Kevin Youkilis -- who were all probably helped by the injury to Evan Longoria.

- Martin is the correct selection behind the plate. Oh, and Joe Mauer's second in voting (tsk, tsk).

- Granderson certainly deserves to start and Cano probably does as well. So Yankees haters need to lay off these guys.

- The outfield voting isn't awesome, that's for sure. Hamilton has been hurt most of the season and sits third. Matt Joyce isn't even in the top 15, nor are Carlos Quentin, Adam Jones, Michael Brantley or Alex Gordon. But Ichiro Suzuki, Nelson Cruz and Carl Crawford are all in contention.

View the full voting results by clicking here.

There are obviously a lot more issues, but it's the initial ballot release and many of the votes were cast when it was released without having a good grasp of how the 2011 season would turn out. Fortunately, there's still time to support your guys and rectify any problems you might have. Voting doesn't end until the end of June.

Click here to cast an online ballot.

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Posted on: May 30, 2011 3:04 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 4:09 pm

Worst hitting, pitching performances of May


By Evan Brunell

On Wednesday, CBSSports.com will reveal its picks for hitter and pitcher of the month for May, much as was done for April's top performers.

But there's also a flip side: the worst performers of May. In other words, which players did the most to harm their value during the second month of the season?

Here are the three worst hitting and pitching performances to date among those who received near-regular playing time:


Sam Fuld, Rays -- The Legend of Sam Fuld had an unsavory chapter written into it as the left fielder crashed back to earth after an unsustainable start to the season. No matter how intoxicating Fuld's offensive and defensive exploits were for the Rays, he was still a 29-year-old who struggled for years to keep a big-league spot on the Cubs. His batting line so far in May is a putrid .159/.178/.261, but he's still holding onto his starting job. Desmond Jennings is faring well down in the minors, so before June is out, Fuld may become a bench player.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners -- The Japanese phenom has led baseball in hits five straight seasons and seven of 11. Unfortunately, his streak might be broken this year as he's scuffled in May, hitting just .204/.262/.325 and collecting 20 hits in 98 trips to the plate. Suzuki has never had a month with less than 25 hits, but unless he goes 6 for 6 Monday against the Orioles, that will change. Suzuki previously collected a personal-worst 25 hits in September of 2002, matched in April 2007. In addition, May has historically been one of his hottest months, and he has never gotten fewer than 32 hits in the month of May, regularly registering 40-plus. That has zero chance of happening this season -- unless the team plays about 27 innings of baseball before June 1.

Placido Polanco, Phillies -- With the Phillies' stagnant offense missing Chase Utley until recently, Polanco has been batting second or third much of the year. In such a crucial part of the lineup, he tossed up a brutal line in May: .228/.268/.277. This, after a scorching April saw him finish at .398/.447/.524. Suzuki and Polanco need to break out of their slumps, as their entire value on offense is predicated on batting average. Suzuki is 37 and Polanco 35, so they're approaching the ages where they could completely lose it at the plate. That's not going to happen just yet, but it's something to keep in mind. Polanco was signed before the 2010 season and has one more year left on his deal.


Zack Greinke, Brewers -- Here's a stat from the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner that doesn't make much sense. Despite 39 strikeouts and just three walks in 28 innings, Greinke somehow has a 5.79 ERA, coughing up 18 earned runs. One problem is that five of his 29 hits allowed have gone over the fence, a highly unsustainable mark that can't continue. He's also had balls fall into play 35 percent of the time, which is a big number compared to the league average of 29 to 31 percent. In fact, his career mark in this category is 31, so that should drop as well. All in all, there's nothing to be worried about thanks to his fantastic K/BB rate, which contributes to a sterling 1.58 xFIP. Don't be surprised if Greinke is the pitcher of the month for June.

Brett Myers, Astros -- Last season, the one-time Phillie turned heads by hurling a career high 223 2/3 innings for the Astros, just the second time he broke the 200-inning barrier (2005) and only the fourth time he went over 190 innings. In his career year, Myers posted a 3.14 ERA, also a career best and just the third mark of his career under 4.00 (2005-06). This year? Well, there's a reason it was so rare for him to get an ERA under 4.00 and innings pitched over 190. He's got a 5.11 ERA this year, and while he's been unlucky, it hasn't been by a wide margin. His walk and strikeout numbers have suffered, and he's simply not pitching as well.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds -- There were plenty of relievers that had awful Mays -- Ryan Perry of the Tigers springs to mind -- but Aroldis Chapman takes the cake. The lefty appeared in three games but could only get one measly out. He allowed just one hit but delivered nine walks, coughing up eight earned runs in total. His 100-plus mph fastball was useless to him, as he didn't strike anyone out. Chapman doesn't appear hurt, but he was placed on the DL with what is effectively a phantom injury. He's been making inroads on his rehab assignment in the minors, so he should be back before long. The question remains, though: Why did Chapman completely and utterly lose it? And will it happen again?

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com