Tag:Cliff Lee
Posted on: July 3, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: July 3, 2011 11:14 am

On Deck: Cliff Lee looks for 4th straight shutout

By C. Trent Rosecrans 

Cliff LeeTHE AMAZING Cliff Lee: Things aren't looking good for the Blue Jays in their rematch of the 1993 World Series, Toronto dropped the first two games and now face Cliff Lee. Lee enters Sunday's game riding streaks of three consecutive shutouts and 32 consecutive scoreless innings. The Phillies' lefty allowed just one run in five June starts, sporting an amazing 0.21 ERA in the month, lowering his season mark to 2.66. Lee is 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA in five career starts at Rogers Centre. Jo-Jo Reyes, no stranger to streaks, is on the hill for the Blue Jays. Phillies at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Every year the Indians and Reds play for the Ohio Cup, an actual three-foot high trophy, awarded to the winning team of the season series. Since the actual trophy debuted, it had belonged to the Reds, but with Cleveland's win on Friday, coupled with a sweep at Progressive Field in May, the Indians clinched their first Ohio Cup and today will go for the first sweep in series history. Right-hander Mike Leake (7-4, 3.89 ERA) is making his first start against the in-state rivals, while Mitch Talbot allowed just one run in seven innings in his lone start against the Reds, last season at Great American Ball Park. Indians at Reds, 1:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

BIG DEBUT: Nearly a year after last year's big trade that sent Lee from Seattle to Texas, one of the key pieces of the trade will make his big-league debut. Right-hander Blake Beavan, a 2007 first-round pick by the Rangers, starts today against San Diego's Mat Latos. Beavan was acquired along with first baseman Justin Smoak, reliever Josh Lueke and second baseman Matt Lawson. Beavan was 5-3 with a 4.45 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma, with 64 strikeouts and 20 walks in 93 innings. Of the four players acquired by the Mariners in the trade, Beavan is the third member of the group to appear in the big leagues. Smoak is hitting .242/.344/.446 with 12 home runs for the Mariners, while Lueke pitched in eight games -- allowing 12 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings -- before being sent down to Triple-A and the Mariners traded Lawson to Cleveland for lefty Aaron Laffey. Lawson is still at Double-A. Padres at Mariners, 4:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 1:23 pm

Players of the Month: Reyes edges Kemp, Lee rolls


By Evan Brunell

Baseball is at the halfway point in the season, and the man getting all the attention lately is Cliff Lee, the runaway pitcher of the month for June as voted by CBSSports.com experts. With a 5-1 advantage, Lee took home the honors after posting a sparkling 0.21 ERA (no, the period is not transposed) and running up a 5-0 record.

June's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Reyes Lee
Miller Reyes Lee
Brunell Kemp Lee
Rosecrans Fielder Lee
Snyder Kemp Lee
Fantasy Reyes Verlander

Lee didn't pitch the most innings in the month -- the prize goes to Justin Verlander there ... or even whiff the most (Zack Greinke); or walk the least batters (Josh Tomlin). But when you put the whole package together, it's hard to deny Lee's month as one for the ages, allowing just one earned run in the month and it's not as if he was pitching against the Mariners of the world. He shut down the Dodgers and Matt Kemp, who finished second in batter of the month balloting. He handcuffed the Cubs for eight innings and then kicked off his three-straight complete-game shutouts by stifling the skidding Marlins. There was nothing skidding about his next two opponents, though, as he baffled the Cardinals and baseball's best offense in the Red Sox.

Kemp, meanwhile, fell to Jose Reyes to be named batter of the month although Kemp was one of the best offensive hitters in the game during June along with Prince Fielder.

Why Reyes, then?

Because he's been a wrecking ball no matter what aspect of the game. Fielding? He ranks positive in that mark for the month, continuing a yearlong trend of reversing the perception he had slipped in the field. His .385/.425/.598 slash line proves that he can hit for average and power just fine and knows how to wait for his pitch, while his 11 stolen bases were second in baseball to Michael Bourn's blistering pace of 14. Fangraphs' new baserunning metric shows him excelling in that mark as well, his 0.8 mark tying for 16th in baseball.

Even Kemp's sublime .375/.472/.795 line with nine home runs, 23 RBI and 18 runs can't outstrip Reyes. Prince Fielder himself was no slouch, with a .337/.491/.747 line and 10 blasts, driving in 27 and scoring 19.

Past players of the month: April | May

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
Jose Reyes Jose Reyes
Three guys hit 10 home runs in June. But only one guy had seven triples, only one guy scored 29 runs, and only one guy made the Mets watchable, all by himself. That's enough to win my vote, and it should be enough to get Sandy Alderson's cell phone buzzing with trade offers.
Jose Reyes Jose Reyes
Nobody in the game is more exciting and fun to watch right now. Reyes scored 29 runs in the month of June, the most he's ever scored in one month and the second-most of any month in team history (Edgardo Alfonzo scored 31 in August 1999). He runs, he hits, he fields ... doubles, triples, steals ... take your pick. This is the Jose Reyes the Mets thought they could get if he could stay healthy. Sit back and enjoy.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Matt Kemp Matt Kemp
Let's bust out some advanced metrics to try and figure out just how good Kemp was this month. wOBA is basically OPS, just jiggered a bit to correct flaws present in OPS and is scaled to OBP. Kemp's wOBA was a jaw-dropping .537, best among mortal men. (Jose Bautista, far from mortal, topped Kemp in April.) Put another way, Kemp created 151 percent more runs than the average player in June. Even below-average fielding can't obscure how damaging Kemp was at the plate.
Fielder Prince Fielder
It's not just that he hit 10 homers this month while batting .337/.491/.747, it's that he's done it when his team has needed him the most. In the thick of a pennant race, Fielder's delivering, with a 1.76 win probability added -- dwarfing every other player in baseball during the month. In a 10-game stretch earlier in the month that saw the Brewers go from 2 1/2 games back to first place in the NL Central, Fielder clubbed eight homers and had an OPS of 1.828.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Matt KempMatt Kemp
Very similar numbers to Fielder, but Kemp gets the nod with a bit higher average (.375), slugging percentage (.795) and eight stolen bases. As everything else with the Dodgers seems to be falling apart around him -- both on and off the field -- Kemp has been a steady force.
Jose ReyesJose Reyes
In June, Reyes boosted his MVP candidacy by making the Mets actually look like a contender with a 16-11 record. He had an MLB-leading 45 hits, putting him on pace for 248 this season, and once again showed the value of healthy legs with 11 steals and an astounding seven triples. He led all hitters in fantasy points and did it at arguably the weakest position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee
I almost made Luis Montanez of the Cubs the player of the month, because of the 147 batters who came to the plate against Lee in June, he was the one -- the only one -- who drove in a run. Not that it mattered. Lee won that game, 7-1. And he followed that Montanez hit with 32 consecutive scoreless innings -- and counting.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee
As pitching has re-emerged over these past two seasons, Lee right now is changing our thinking from staying on no-hitter alert to hawking shutouts. Three in a row and counting, Lee has been untouchable. And he's showing why these Phillies are the best in the NL: With their rotation, it's like that old game of Whack-A-Mole. You knock one or two of their starters down, another ace pops up somewhere else. Good luck, opposing hitters.
Brunell Rosecrans
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee
Lee or Verlander? Verlander actually outpitched Lee in peripherals, besting Lee in strikeout and walk metrics, but the bottom line is that Lee allowed exactly one run to cross the plate, induced over half of his batted balls allowed as groundballs and looked like he was playing catch the whole time.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee
The only thing more ridiculous than Verlander seeing his June ERA rise after allowing just one run in seven innings in his sixth win of the month on Thursday is that Verlander with a 6-0 record and 0.88 ERA for the month wasn't the best pitcher in June. With all due respect to Verlander, it was Lee, who went 5-0 with an 0.21 ERA, allowing just one run in five starts and 42 innings this month. Unreal.
Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee
It's a toss up between Lee and Verlander, but I'm going Lee due to going an entire month only allowing one run and having pitched in all but three possible innings (42 IP in five starts) when he took the hill. That's just absurd. Verlander's been the top pitcher for the entire season, but in looking only at June, Lee's month was slightly better for me.
Justin Verlander Justin Verlander
In the world of real baseball, Cliff Lee would be my choice for pitcher of the month. In Fantasy, though, strikeouts count, and Verlander delivered them in much greater quantities. Like Lee, Verlander limited his walks, and he also remained one of the best pitchers in the majors at getting batters to pop out.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

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Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:00 am

Pepper: Don't buy me peanuts or Cracker Jack

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to talk sweeps week in Major League Baseball, as the Phillies, Yankees and Mets go for sweeps in interleague series today.

BASEBALL FOR EVERYONE: A friend of mine has spent a good 15 years of his professional career around his great love, baseball. He's hoped to share that love with his son, named for his favorite player, Nolan Ryan. The two watch games on TV, but haven't been able to experience the game live.

Nolan hasn't been able to sit in the stands and wish for a foul ball to come his way or walk out of the concourse and see the field, hear the crowd roar as Ichiro Suzuki rounds second on his way to third or hear the pop of a Felix Hernandez fastball.

You see, two years ago, like any other toddler, Nolan ate some peanut butter. Soon, he could't breathe and broke out into hives. His parents loaded him into the car and rushed to the hospital. At one point, his mother decide they couldn't wait any longer and called 911 and they pulled over to the side as an ambulance rushed to their aid, closing the I-5. The paramedics were able to get it under control and doctors told them Nolan wouldn't have lasted much longer.

Nolan was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. Since then, they've noticed symptoms in their son if there is even peanut dust in the air. Safeco Field or any stadium was like walking into a poison trap for Nolan. 

Well, that won't have to be the case -- as the Mariners are one of the teams hosting peanut-free games this season, an increasing trend according to this Reuters article. Peanut allergies have doubled over the last decade, and nobody is sure why.

Five times a season, the Tigers offer peanut-free suites at discount prices, the next is Sunday against the Giants and all 70 seats are sold, the Detroit News reports. That's a good sign and hopefully encourages more of this.

PHILLIES GOOD: OK, this is hardly breaking news, but the Phillies' rotation is really, really good -- and that's even without Roy Oswalt.

David Hale of the News-Journal does the math for us, the current five starters in the rotation -- Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick -- are a combined 12-3 with a 1.33 ERA in June with hitters managing just a .194 batting average against. WIth Halladay, Lee and Worley starting this month, the Phillies have gone 13-0.

BLAME BUD: While Bud Selig is 100 percent right to want Frank McCourt out as the Dodgers' owner, Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan writes that it's Selig's fault McCourt is in this position to begin with. Instead of finding the best owner for the team in 2004, Selig went with someone who would be on his side.

EXTENSION FOR HARDY: Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is on several team's trade wishlist, but he may not be going anywhere. The Orioles have reached out to Hardy's agent to talk about an extension. Hardy is a free agent after the season. [Baltimore Sun]

NO FIRE SALE: After the Cubs released Doug Davis, general manager Jim Hendry met with the media and assured them there would be no "fire sale." While nobody wants the bloated contracts of Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Zambrano, Hendry insinuated he wouldn't trade the likes of Carlos Marmol or Ryan Dempster. [Daily Herald]

NO FIRE SALE… YET: The Dodgers haven't started "substantive" trade talks yet, but could begin doing so after the break, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets.

ZIMMERMAN'S CHANGES: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has struggled after rebuilding his throwing mechanics during a season, including allowing the game-winning run with a throwing error on Wednesday. But Zimmerman is convinced he's doing the right thing and it'll pay off in the end. [Washington Post]

WOOD CLOSER: The Cubs could get reliever Kerry Wood back in time for this weekend's series with the White Sox, CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney tweets.

ROENICKE, GREINKE MEET: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke met with right-hander Zack Greinke to "clear the air" after Roenicke felt some of his postgame comments were misinterpreted by the media after Greinke's two-inning start against the Yankees. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

BUCHHOLZ OUT PAST BREAK: After throwing a bullpen Tuesday, Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz said he won't make his next start and could be out until after the All-Star break. Buchholz is dealing with a muscle strain in his back. [Boston Herald]

STRASBURG'S MECHANICS: Stephen Strasburg is back throwing off a mound, but his mechanics look the same, some observers say. Does he need a change? Sports Illustrated's Will Carroll says he doesn't know (and if Will doesn't know, I certainly don't), but it would be wise for the Nationals to look into some biomechanics analysis to make sure his mechanics weren't the reason for his arm injury.

SWISH BEING SWISH: Nick Swisher said his recent turnaround on the field has allowed him to be himself in the clubhouse. [Wall Street Journal]

ECKSTEIN NOT RETIRED: Former Angels (among other teams) shortstop David Eckstein says he's not retired, he's just choosing not to play. There are teams that would be interested in the game's leader of grit, but isn't sure if he wants to return. He sounds like he just needs to be wined and dined in the right way and he'd return. [Los Angeles Times]

NAME GAME: Just as Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was responsible for Pete Rose's nickname, "Charlie Hustle," another Hall of Famer hung the moniker "Donnie Baseball" on Don Mattingly. Mattingly said Kirby Puckett gets credit for the nickname. [MLB.com]

NAME CHANGE: Remember the old XFL and Rod "He Hate Me" Smart? The CPBL -- the Chinese Professional Baseball League of Taiwan -- is apparently trying some sort of similar name-changing gimmick with its foreign players. One of those is former Royal Dan Reichert who is now Robert 38. [FanGraphs.com]

DODGERS DREAM TEAM: Steve Garvey has put together what he calls a "Dream Team" to buy the Dodgers, including another former Dodger, Orel Hershiser. [SportsRadioInterviews.com]

DIFFERENT DERBY: The Midwest League featured a different type of home run derby, which featured a hitting contest with more than 50 targets and prizes, including a dunk tank. Really, though, the biggest improvement over the big-league version is the absence of Chris Berman. [Benjamin Hill]

BUTCH'S TIRADE: Former big-leaguer Butch Hobson is now a manager in an Independent League, but his tirade from the other night is certainly worthy of the majors. Check him out has he does a combination of Lloyd McClendon and Terrell Owens. [h/t ItsAlwaysSunnyInDetroit.com]

MASCOT FAIL: Is that a sock or are you just happy to see me? Check out this independent league mascot in Amarillo, Texas. Yep. That's not good. [h/t Big League Stew]

BRING A PACKED LUNCH: I've always wanted to go see a game on one of the Wrigley Field rooftops, and I'd still like to -- I'm just not sure I would eat anything they have. Several rooftop businesses failed their health inspections recently. [Chicago Tribune]

CONGRATS CHONE: FanGraphs.com looks at the worst players in baseball based on 2010 and 2011 -- with Mariners infielder Chone Figgins edging Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for the title.

CIVIL WAR-STYLE GAME: If you're in Savannah, Ga., this weekend, you have plenty of entertainment and dining options, but how about checking out some baseball at a Civil War fort? Fort Pulaski will host a game Sunday featuring rules from 1860. [Connect Savannah]

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 1:44 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 9:40 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Lee dominates Red Sox


By Evan Brunell

3 UpCliff Lee, Phillies -- Lee is so dominant, he befuddled the best offense in baseball. The lefty gave up two hits and walked one while punching out five in a complete-game shutout, his third straight. As Jayson Stark reports, Lee is just the third Phillies starter to ever run up a 30-plus inning scoreless streak -- Robin Roberts in 1950 and Grover C. Alexander twice, setting the record at 41 1/3. James Shields also has three complete games, but not shutouts, which pushed Lee's overall June ERA to a scorching 0.21 and Lee is proving once again why he is one of the best players in the game.

Jose Reyes, Mets -- Reyes has appeared often in this space, and for good reason. He had a 4-for-4 night, contributing a double and triple. The triple was his 15th on the year, which @dte421 notes would have led baseball in 20 of the past 25 seasons, and he's in his 67th game. Reyes was hitting .300 mere days ago and is all the way up to .349 now.

Gio Gonzalez, Athletics -- Gio Gonzalez tossed a one-hitter over eight innings, and if he had some luck against Emilio Bonifacio to lead off the game, could have entered the ninth with a chance for a no-hitter. Instead, after Bonifacio's single to right, Gonzalez held hitters to 0-for-23 with three walks, throwing 106 pitches, which no doubt contributed to him not coming out for the ninth. Gio still has shaky command, but it's progressed dramatically and he's having a fine year with a 2.38 ERA. The Marlins have now dropped 13 in a row and are 3-22 in June.

3 DownZack Greinke, Brewers -- Greinke had a scintillating 80/9 K/BB ratio, but somehow a 4.77 ERA. That pointed to better things ahead, but Tuesday, Greinke collapsed entirely by walking three batters and not striking a single Yankee out in being crushed over two innings. He gave up five hits and seven earned runs, including a Nick Swisher blast. Greinke's peripherals still point to a great season, but he's clearly not right.

Jo-Jo Reyes, Blue Jays -- In 282 2/3 innings as a major leaguer, Jo-Jo Reyes has given up 44 homers. One of those was Tuesday when he was rocked in 3 2/3 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits with one walk and five strikeouts in a loss to the Pirates. But that walk number is misleading as to how his command was -- just six of his 30 four-seam fastballs hit the strike zone, as The Score notes.

Michael Pineda, Mariners -- Apparently it was a bad night for good pitchers. The rookie Pineda, who has absolutely dazzled this year and is in pole position for Rookie of the Year, gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings to the Braves. Not great, but he walked five and gave up a homer. Those looking on the bright side will note just four hits allowed and five strikeouts. That's all well and good, but it was a bizarre loss of command for Pineda. For now, chalk it up to an off night.

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Posted on: June 28, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 5:22 pm

On Deck: BoSox, Phils headline marquee matchups

On Deck

By Evan Brunell

Red SoxPhilliesMARQUEE MATCHUP: The highly anticipated series between possible World Series contenders is finally here, and there's a marquee matchup to kick things off with Josh Beckett and Cliff Lee dueling. Beckett has been otherworldly in the early going, a stark reversal from his forgettable 2010 season. He hasn't pitched since June 15 because of the flu, but is coming off a one-hitter and has a 1.86 ERA on the year. Cliff Lee, meanwhile, is striking out batters like never before and has been just what Philly wanted. "Anytime the Red Sox come in, it's big for us," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told the AP. "It's big for our fans. ..."It's good for us to play Boston. I think we're going to get a good look at some good pitching and also a good team, a very good hitting team. That's good for us. That's a good test for us." Red Sox at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

PinedaYOUNG PHENOMS: Twenty four-year-old Tommy Hanson is a spring chicken, but he's two years older than his competition this evening. Hanson, who is one of the better young pitchers in the league no one really talks about, is being activated off the disabled list and will have high expectations heaped on him after Braves starters posted a 1.80 ERA over the last eight games. Hanson missed time with right shoulder tendinitis and has a 2.48 ERA on the season. Pretty good, but Michael Pineda has a sparkling 1.99 ERA in seven home starts and boasts his own 2.45 ERA. This should be quite a duel to see. (Now watch it turn into a slugfest.) Braves at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

Zack Greinke will make his first appearance against the Yankees since 2008, but will come in with a less than impressive 4.77 ERA. And yet, once you strip out luck and defense, it would be at 1.84 as xFIP reveals. That's nasty, and that's on the strength of 80 strikeouts and just nine walks in 60 1/3 innings. The ERA may not reflect it yet, but Greinke has been incredible. He's coming off a seven-inning win over the Rays, allowing just one run and punching out 10 -- his second game in a row with 10 strikeouts. He'll oppose Freddy Garcia, who continues to defy logic with a 3.30 ERA. That would be a career low if he sustains it. (He won't.) Brewers at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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Posted on: June 23, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 1:38 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Heisey hammers homers


By Evan Brunell

UpChris Heisey, Reds -- Heisey went deep three times in Wednesday's night game against the Yankees, allowing the Reds to split the doubleheader with Johnny Cueto on the mound. As the Associated Press pointed out, only Pete Rose and Jay Bruce are other Reds players with three home runs out of the leadoff spot, and Heisey now joins them in a performance that should give him an even stronger grip on the left-field job. "When you get a hit in your first at-bat, it takes the pressure off the rest of your day," Heisey told the AP. "It relaxes you. Nobody likes to go 0-for-4 or 0-for-5. One home run's a good day, let alone three." Heisey stuffed the boxscore with a 3-for-5 day with three hits (those three homers, duh), five RBI and four runs, reaching base on a fielder's choice in the seventh.

Cliff Lee, Phillies
-- As mentioned On Deck, Cliff Lee doesn't usually face a pitcher with an ERA lower than him, but that was the case on Wednesday when Lee toted his 3.12 ERA to the mound against St. Louis' Kyle Lohse and his 2.88 ERA. Well, Lee corrected that with his second straight complete game, stifling the Cardinals en route to pushing his scoreless streak to 23 innings on a career-high 126 pitches, giving up six hits, one walk and whiffing three. Lee has had three other scoreless streaks reach double-digits with a 14-, 16- and 17-inning scoreless streak with the latter two coming in 2008 and the 14-inning one in 2005. Only one player -- Lohse himself -- reached third base against Lee, hitting a leadoff double before moving over to third.

R.A. Dickey, Mets -- Dickey wasn't around to earn the win as the Mets needed 13 innings to knock off the Athletics, but the knuckeballer did everything he could to keep New York in the game. The Mets pulled ahead by a run in the bottom eighth after Dickey had left, but closer Francisco Rodriguez promptly blew the game to send the game into extras. Dickey went eight strong, limiting Oakland to just three hits and one run, while allowing one walk and striking nine out. Overall a fine game for Dickey, who is proving last season was no joke as a breakout for the 36-year-old, and his ERA drops to 3.76.

DownRamiro Pena, Yankees -- Poor Ramiro Pena just couldn't figure things out in the first game of a doubleheader against the Reds.  Pena received the start at third base as Alex Rodriguez took a breather and made three errors -- all on plays involving Drew Stubbs, as fellow Eye on Baseball sage C. Trent Rosecrans so sagely points out. Pena had two errors in the fifth, hitting Stubbs in the face with a throw. Pena then followed that up with a bad throw on a Ryan Hanigan grounder, allowing Stubbs, who had gotten to third at that point, to score. He then let one go through the wickers in the seventh before starting a double-play. He also contributed an 0-for-3 night at the plate. So yeah, bad day.

Neftali Feliz, Rangers -- Neftali Feliz was absolutely horrid, allowing four runs in the ninth inning to blow the game 5-3 against the Astros. How did it unfold? Glad you asked. Carlos Lee greeted Feliz with a double before the righty was able to get his first out. But then a RBI double followed, then an infield single, a back-breaking passed ball by catcher Yorvit Torrealba  to tie the game, then a two-run blast by Matt Downs. Feliz got one more out before being relieved, and the Rangers went quietly in the bottom half. Feliz now boasts a 3.21 ERA on the season. Not bad, right? But it's much worse than you think, as he's walked 15 and whiffed 19 in 28 innings, without adding to either total Wednesday night. Compare that to last season, when Feliz walked 18 and punched out 71 batters in 69 1/2 innings. This is a guy who was asking for a severe wakeup call and finally got it.

Ryan Raburn, Tigers
-- Detroit's had a fetish for Raburn for quite some time and while he looked to be delivering on that promise lately, he's collapsed in 2011 as a 30-year-old in his first year as a full-time starter. He won't get the entire year, though, if he keeps performing poorly, as he dragged his overall line to .204/.244/.336 with an 0-for-4 performance with three strikeouts. Why he was batting second, I have no idea. Raburn shifted over to play second base after starting the year in left, and the Tigers gave up on Scott Sizemore after yanking him around and shipped him to Oakland, where Sizemore has a .343/.425/.486 line in 11 games. Think the Tigers may want a do-over?

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Posted on: June 22, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 12:57 am

On Deck: Twins, A's look to continue surge

On Deck
By Evan Brunell

LeeLohseBEST MATCHUP: It's not often that you can say Cliff Lee goes up against a pitcher with a lower ERA than him, especially since Philadelphia has cornered the market on aces. And yet that's what's going to happen on Wednesday when Lee takes his 3.12 ERA and goes up against... Kyle Lohse. Yup. You may not have realized it, but Lohse is actually putting together a fine season -- in fact, his finest yet. Lohse is inducing weak contact like never before and has become stingy with control, and there isn't anything much screaming for a regression, although he, like most other pitchers, is still in over his head with a 2.88 ERA. Phillies at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET (Watch live)

The headline for this game is about Ryan Vogelsong, who is 4-1 with a sparkling 1.96 ERA in 65 2/3 innings. This is Vogelsong's first year in the majors since 2006 and he entered the season with a career 5.86 ERA. Those waiting for the wheels to fall off may have to wait a bit longer, because luck isn't part of Vogelsong's success; he's pitching well, thanks to a myriad of reasons but in part due to junking his slider and returning to his changeup. He's also had tremendous success with his fastball. But Vogelsong will go up against an opponent that has roared out of seemingly nowhere in winning 15 of their last 17, pulling to 6 1/2 games out of first place. Minnesota still has a long road to go, but it's still an impressive return to relevance. Nick Blackburn will toe the hill for the team. Twins at Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET (Watch live)

A'sMIDAS TOUCH: The Athletics have won 7 of 11 since new manager Bob Melvin took over, but it's not just Melvin that's responsible for Oakland's success. You can add the alternate gold tops to the mix, as the A's are 10-3 while wearing the alternate jerseys and have worn them over the past six games. It will be seven on Wednesday even though the club is in New York, as the A's want to keep the good times rolling and starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez is a big fan of the gold tops. Gonzalez will battle R.A. Dickey. A loss would send the Mets to a 35-39 record, while the A's would improve to 35-40. Athletics at Mets, 7:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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Posted on: June 11, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 7:03 pm

On Deck: Garza/Lee showdown, Pirates see Bay


By Evan Brunell

One of the 4 p.m. games that we'll be chatting about pits two of the better pitchers going up against each other in Matt Garza and Cliff Lee. Both pitchers are less than impressive when you look at win-loss record (and hopefully the only ones that care about that mark at this point are fantasy baseball players with wins as a category) with Garza checking in at 2-5 for the bumbling Cubs while the Phillies are trying to hang onto first with a 5-5 mark from Cliff Lee. Garza's 4.07 ERA is a major disservice, as his 2.58 xFIP and 10.71 K/9 numbers indicate. Garza is pitching better than he ever has in Tampa, but you wouldn't know it from ERA. Lee, meanwhile, has a similar disparity between ERA and xFIP with a 3.62 ERA and 2.51 xFIP. This is actually a marquee pitching matchup -- you just wouldn't know it on first blush. Cubs at Phillies, 4:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

The Reds are in danger of slipping to .500 if they lose on Saturday to the Giants and are already five games behind the Cardinals  and now have the Brewers making noise, too. The Reds are too good to let this recent funk last, but the Giants have their own problems. Still in first place up by two games, San Francisco has a lousy offense that has been compounded by injury troubles. The club appears to be on the verge of signing Bill Hall to step in at second base after Freddy Sanchez went down, but he probably won't be on deck for Saturday when Mike Leake, seeking his sixth victory, goes up against Tim Lincecum, also chasing his sixth victory. The similarities end there, as Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young Award winner with a 2.85 ERA while Leake has a 4.63 ERA and was demoted to the minors earlier this season. Reds at Giants, 4:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

BayCHASE FOR .500: A team going after a .500 record isn't really of interest to the regular fan, sure, but .500 would be a moral victory for the clubs of the Pirates (who haven't reached that mark in 18 years) and Mets (what isn't wrong with the team?). Pittsburgh is just two away from the mark while New York's win will put them at .500 for the first time since May 20. R.A. Dickey, the erstwhile knuckleballer, will toe the mound for New York  while Pittsburgh counters with James McDonald. If the Pirates want to turn their fortunes around, they might want to muster more than singles, as there have been zero extra-base hits by the team in the last two games. Saturday is also a milestone in Pittsburgh of some sort, as the team will finally play against Jason Bay (pictured) at PNC Park for the first time since the slugger was traded to Boston midway through 2008. Mets at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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