Tag:Rockies
Posted on: September 25, 2010 7:28 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 7:38 pm
 

The Giants, Lincecum and the humidor

DENVER -- No matter what happens to the Giants the next two days at Coors Field, it's not the humidor's fault.

Oh, and the humidor was absolutely no factor Friday night, either, no matter what you saw Tim Lincecum say on YouTube .

Lincecum, in the middle of a sixth inning where the Rockies scored their only run, was caught by Giants television tossing a ball back to home-plate umpire Laz Diaz, and mouthing the words "juiced balls," with a couple of expletives added in.

"Obviously, the speculation, I just verbalized it," Lincecum said today. "It's one of those things that's in the back of your mind, whether it has happened or not."

What did the Giants think, or speculate? Well, for the last few years, the Rockies have used a humidor to store baseballs, which keeps them from drying out and takes away some of the Coors Field effect that caused so many crazy games in the park's first few years. The speculation was that the Rockies might have mixed in some non-humidor balls, to use when their batters were at the plate.

This week, after the issue was raised twice in the San Francisco Chronicle , including a Scott Ostler column that flat-out said that "The Giants are about to get cheated in Denver," the Giants talked to MLB about it. Just before Friday's game began, MLB official Mike Port spoke with umpire John Hirschbeck, and asked him to keep a close eye on the balls.

Saturday, Hirschbeck planned to walk to the humidor and oversee the process of bringing the balls to the field. But even on Friday, when Hirschbeck was umpiring at second base, he kept an eye on the ball bag during the game.

"There's nothing going on," Hirschbeck said. "I'll [watch] so MLB has their mind at ease, so the people at [MLB headquarters] can sleep easy."

Lincecum, of course, allowed the Rockies just two hits (and no home runs) in a 2-1 Giants win. The Giants seemed to understand today that raising the humidor issue didn't really suit them in the middle of a pennant race.

"We're not thinking about balls or anything," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're trying to win games."

One side note: Lincecum said he ran into Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the weight room this afternoon.

"He said, 'Good game, we couldn't even get you with our juiced balls,'" Lincecum said with a smile.


Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:45 am
Edited on: September 24, 2010 12:23 pm
 

3 to watch: The Giant issue edition

Even if you count the Rockies as now basically out of the National League West -- the standings say they're in serious trouble, their recent history says who knows? -- the Giants' three games this weekend at Coors Field are a potentially huge obstacle to San Francisco's chances of winning the division.

Despite what happened Thursday at Wrigley Field (a nine-run inning, a 13-0 win), the Giants' path to first place in the West has been built almost totally on pitching. Including Thursday, they've now gone 17 games since they last allowed four runs, a streak that according to the Elias Sports Bureau is the longest by any team in a single season since the 1917 White Sox went 20 games in a row.

Now they go to Coors Field, where the Rockies have scored four or more in 19 of their last 21 games, and where the home team hits so well that some Giants apparently think the Rockies have been monkeying with the humidor process .

Since Coors Field opened in 1995, only five teams have gone through an entire three-game series without ever allowing four runs. All five of those series have come in the humidor era (which began in 2002), but it still comes down to one series a season -- and it hasn't happened yet this year.

And the Giants, despite all their pitching and despite three trips a year to Colorado, have never done it.

Maybe that's why the Giants haven't won a season series at Coors since 2005. They're 2-4 in the first six games this year, so they'd need a sweep to win this season series.

Given the Rockies' collapse on the road this week -- they couldn't hold a 6-1 lead Sunday in Los Angeles, then got swept in three games in Arizona -- the Giants don't necessarily need a sweep this weekend. Their lead over the Padres is only a half-game, but San Diego also faces a potentially tough series, at home against the Reds.

Besides, the Giants' head-to-head showdown with the Padres next weekend will be at AT&T Park, where the Giants have allowed just 16 runs in their last nine games.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Tim Lincecum hasn't won at Coors Field since May 20, 2008. Then again, Lincecum hadn't won anywhere for a month before his 2-1 win over the Rockies on Sept. 1 in San Francisco. He's been very good the entire month, and maybe that means he'll win at Coors, too, when he opens the series in Giants at Rockies, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . While the Giants are 0-4 in Lincecum's last four starts in Colorado, he hasn't been awful, with a 4.32 ERA in that span.

2. The Reds enter the weekend with a magic number of 3, and that means the soonest they could clinch their first division title in 15 years is in Reds at Padres, Saturday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park . That would take a little cooperation from the second-place Cardinals, but all the Cardinals have been doing recently is cooperating. As Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse pointed out on Twitter, the Cards are 9-17 since Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols attended Glenn Beck's rally in Washington.

3. The biggest advantage the Braves have in the National League wild-card race is that the Giants and Padres play each other next weekend. That means for three of the remaining 10 days on the schedule, either the Giants or the Padres is guaranteed to lose (and that the team that wins could win the division and not affect the Braves' wild-card chances at all). For it to be an advantage, though, the Braves need to win. They need to do to the Nationals this weekend what they did to the Mets last weekend, and that means they need to beat Livan Hernandez in Braves at Nationals, Sunday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Nationals Park . Hernandez threw eight shutout innings in a 6-0 win over the Braves last weekend in Atlanta, and he's 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA in four starts against the Braves this year. The Braves starter Sunday, they hope is Jair Jurrjens, who missed his Monday start in Philadelphia with a knee problem. As manager Bobby Cox said, "He'd better be able to pitch." Sunday is also the Braves' final regular-season road game, which means it's the final time an opposing team will pay tribute to Cox, who is retiring at the end of the season. The best gifts he has received so far: a No. 6 from the scoreboard at Wrigley Field, a set of wine glasses with all the NL team logos from the Reds, and many checks to support his charity helping homeless veterans. Cox entered the weekend with 2,499 wins in 4,499 career games.




Posted on: September 12, 2010 8:51 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2010 9:05 pm
 

3 to watch: The Seeing the seeding edition

The players say it matters. The managers say it matters.

Ask Joe Maddon about the three games his Rays play against the Yankees this week, and the four games they play next week, and he'll tell you how important these games are. He'll tell you how great this is going to be.

"I definitely believe you're going to see playoff-like intensity in every one of those games," Maddon said. "I think you're going to see a very intense seven games. I do."

We don't.

They could be seven great games. They're definitely seven games that we wouldn't mind watching, especially the CC Sabathia-David Price matchup that kicks off the first series on Monday night.

"I want to see that, too," Rays left fielder Carl Crawford said. "When we have matchups like that, I become a fan."

It's a great matchup, between two teams that are separated by half a game now, and have been within 2 1/2 games of each other for 49 straight days. It's potentially a great series.

It's won't be playoff-intense, not the way Giants-Padres was playoff-intense, not the way Braves-Phillies next week may well be playoff-intense.

For playoff intensity, you need playoff pressure. And you only get playoff pressure if the loser goes home.

When the Yankees meet the Rays, the winner may well get to raise an American League East championship flag. The winner may well get home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The loser won't go home.

Instead, the loser becomes the wild card, with nearly as good a chance to hang the flag that matters on opening day next year. All they're really playing for is playoff seeding.

Baseball has had the wild-card system for 15 years, which means there have been 30 wild cards, and 30 teams that finished in first place in the same division as the wild card.

Twelve times, the division winner advanced further in October than the wild card did. Ten times, the wild card advanced further than the division winner. The other eight times, both the wild card and the division winner were eliminated in the first round.

So is there an advantage to finishing first? Maybe.

Is there a significant advantage? Definitely not.

In fact, with the AL East winner likely to face Texas in the first round, with Cliff Lee potentially going twice in a best-of-5 series, you could even argue that this year, the team that finishes second has the advantage.

In recent weeks, a few people have renewed the push for adding a second wild-card team in each league. The idea is that the two wild cards would have a play-in game (or a play-in series). Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated presented an excellent case last week.

In that system, Yankees-Rays would be huge. It still wouldn't be loser-goes-home, but at least it would be loser-is-at-a-big-disadvantage.

In that system, it might well be "playoff-intense."

In this system, it simply leads off this edition of 3 to watch:

1. No, we're not that excited about Yankees-Rays. But we are excited about Sabathia-Price, the pitching matchup in Yankees at Rays, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field . With Felix Hernandez allowing seven runs and losing to the Angels on Saturday night, we're even tempted to call this a Cy Young showdown. Sabathia would help his credentials with a 20th win. Price would help his with a win over the Yankees (especially since Hernandez has three of them). Sabathia is the seventh pitcher to go for a 20th win against a Tampa Bay team. Five of the first six succeeded. The one who didn’t? Sabathia, when he lost to Price last Oct. 2.

2. Through 143 games last year, the Twins were 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers. Through 143 games this year, the Twins are six games ahead of the White Sox. So are you ready to declare the American League Central race over? Not just yet, but it will be over if Chicago doesn't sweep the three-game series that opens with Twins at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field . The last time the Twins were swept in Chicago was in 2008, which is the same year that ended with a Twins-White Sox one-game playoff to decide the AL Central winner. The game-winning home run that night, of course, was hit by Jim Thome, then with the White Sox, now with the Twins.

3. Near the end of the Giants-Padres game Sunday, Giants announcer Mike Krukow asked partner Duane Kuiper who to root for when the Padres play the Rockies this week. Tough question, because the Giants begin the week percentage points behind the Padres, but just 1 1/2 games ahead of the third-place (and hard-charging) Rockies. It another fascinating series in baseball's most interesting division, with the team that just ended a 10-game losing streak meeting the team that now owns a 10-game winning streak. The Padres won't see Ubaldo Jimenez, but they will see Jason Hammel, who starts in Padres at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field . Hammel and Jimenez are the only pitchers who own three wins over the Padres this year, and if he wins Tuesday, Hammel could become just the seventh pitcher with at least four wins over a single opponent this season. The other six: Chris Carpenter (five wins vs. the Reds), Sabathia (four vs. the Orioles), Ryan Dempster (four vs. the Brewers), Chris Volstad (four vs. the Nationals), Roy Halladay (four vs. the Mets) and Price (four vs. the Blue Jays). Oh, and Kuiper's answer to Krukow: "I'm rooting for a 25-inning game."

Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:04 am
 

3 to watch: The Remember it's September edition

The big series in the National League West this weekend, as you may have heard, is taking place at Petco Park.

The Rockies are not there.

"That's great for the Rockies," ex-Colorado outfielder Brad Hawpe said this week. "It takes the attention off them. I've been there when we were counted out. And I've got a ring to show for it."

If the Rockies keep stealing home and overcoming 5-0 deficits, they might grab the attention right back. And if they take advantage of this weekend's Giants-Padres series -- every day, one of the teams in front of them will lose every day -- the NL West could become the hottest three-team race in baseball.

"It's kind of crazy over there," Hawpe said.

The Rockies dumped Hawpe late last month, and now he could end up playing in the American League playoffs with the Rays, who signed him and have been giving him something of a tryout for a spot on the postseason roster. Meanwhile, he'll watch from afar as the Rockies try to do what they did in 2007 and 2009, moving from nearly out of the race at the start of September to a spot in the playoffs at the end of the month.

Three years ago, the Rockies went 21-8 in the final month, famously winning 21 out of 22 (including playoffs) in their run to the World Series. Last year, they were 20-11 after Aug. 31.

This year? They're off to a 7-2 start in September. They were seven games out of the division lead and 4 1/2 out of the wild-card lead when the month began; now they're 3 1/2 back in both races.

It's a typical Rockies September, just as it has so far been a typical Phillies September (7-2) and a typical Twins September (7-1).

On to 3 to watch, on a weekend with so many good matchups that we had to leave out the Armando Galarraga-Jim Joyce reunion (Friday night in Detroit), and the Cardinals-Braves series in Atlanta:

1. Hawpe also said he's pulling hard for Carlos Gonzalez to be the National League's Most Valuable Player, and for Ubaldo Jimenez to win the Cy Young Award. Jimenez will need a strong finish to win, but he'll get a chance at becoming the NL's first 19-game winner when he starts in Diamondbacks at Rockies, Saturday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . In four meetings with Arizona this year, Jimenez is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA. In 11 games against the Diamondbacks (who originally signed him), Gonzalez is hitting .444 with five home runs, 14 RBI and a 1.500 OPS.

2. When the Yankees and Rangers met last month, it felt like an American League Championship Series preview. They meet again this weekend, but it feels like just another step for two teams anxious to answer their October question marks. The Yankees will be excited or frustrated after A.J. Burnett's start on Saturday, and the Rangers will be relieved or alarmed after they watch Cliff Lee's expected return to the rotation, in Yankees at Rangers, Sunday afternoon (3:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark . For all the worry about the Yankees rotation behind CC Sabathia, the Rangers don't have much chance if Lee isn't healthy, do they?

3. When Mat Latos had to miss his scheduled start for the Padres last Monday night, because of a stomach flu, it was seen as one more thing going wrong for a team in a tailspin. Instead, the Padres used their bullpen to beat the Dodgers that night (ending a 10-game losing streak), and Latos was able to come back and beat the Dodgers again on Tuesday. It also set up the Padres ace to face Giants ace Tim Lincecum in Giants at Padres, Sunday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park , in the final game of this weekend's four-game series (but not the final meeting between two teams that will play a three-game series in San Francisco on Oct. 1-3). Latos, who was signed by Giants manager Bruce Bochy's brother (a Padres scout), has allowed just three runs in 28 innings in four starts against the Giants this year (including two 1-0 wins). Lincecum has faced the Padres just once this season, and it didn't go well, as he was knocked out in the fourth inning of an 8-2 loss on Aug. 15. He has only four wins in 12 career starts against the Padres (his fewest against an NL West opponent), although his career ERA against San Diego is 2.16.
Posted on: September 3, 2010 11:02 am
 

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

We circle them on the schedule. We ask about the matchups.

We even feature them in 3 to watch.

And then, right before our eyes, the most important series of the summer can fizzle out before they even begin.

And we wonder if they were ever as important as we made them out to be in the first place.

Reds vs. Cardinals?

Remember what happened last time?

Yeah, we remember. In that all-important series last month in Cincinnati, the Reds did all the talking (and some of the fighting), and the Cardinals did all the winning.

Important series, right?

Yeah, except that the Cardinals seem to have forgotten that cliché about how every game is important, about how it doesn't matter if you win the head-to-head meetings if you then lose against somebody else.

Since those three wins at Great American Ball Park, the Cards are 5-13. They've won just one series (against the Giants), and lost five others -- all to sub-.500 teams.

The Reds, meanwhile, have gone 14-4. They've lost just one series (against the Giants), and won five others -- two of them against winning teams.

So now, as the Reds and Cardinals meet again, the Reds come in with an eight-game lead.

There's still plenty to talk about, and perhaps Brandon Phillips will open the series by doing more talking.

There's Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto. There's Walt Jocketty and Scott Rolen coming back to St. Louis as likely NL Central conquerors. There's Tony La Russa vs. Dusty Baker, and who knows if that's the last time we'll see them go against each other.

And, if you think the Cardinals still have a chance to catch the Reds, there's the point that now this really is the most important series of the summer.

And that's why we're still featuring it in 3 to watch.

1. Five of the last 10 teams to make the World Series had at least a seven-game losing streak at some point during the season. That's not a prediction that the Padres will make it, just a reminder that their current seven-game spin doesn't necessarily doom them to collapse. It does put huge pressure on them in the 10-game homestand that begins with Rockies at Padres, Friday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park . The first game would be an interesting one, anyway, because for the first time since May, the Padres are going away from their five-man rotation, in this case starting 25-year-old rookie Cory Luebke. For now, Luebke is only giving the other five starters an extra day of rest, but if he pitches well and ends the streak, manager Bud Black will have even more to think about in the days to come.

2. It's hard to blame the Cardinals' collapse on anyone in particular. You certainly can't blame Pujols, who has a 1.142 OPS over the 18 games. And as for the pitching, the Cards' team ERA over the last 18 games (4.15) is better than the Reds' team ERA (4.69) over the same span. But take a look at Adam Wainwright, who might have been the Cy Young leader after his Aug. 11 win in Cincinnati (which left him 17-6 with a 1.99 ERA). Wainwright is 0-3 with a 5.21 ERA in three starts since, heading into Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium . Travis Wood, Wainwright's 23-year-old mound opponent, didn't face the Cardinals in the series in Cincinnati. In the three weeks since, he's 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA.

3. The Yankees and Rays are both heading to the playoffs, but they say it's important to finish first in the American League East, in part because it means home-field advantage if the two teams meet in the American League Championship Series. In effect, there's the same kind of battle going on this weekend, in a series that ends with Rangers at Twins, Sunday afternoon (2:10 ET) at Target Field . The AL Central-leading Twins head into the series with a 1 1/2-game lead over the AL West-leading Rangers, which means that the Twins would have home-field advantage if these two teams met in the ALCS. The Twins have other things on their mind, with just a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place White Sox. The Rangers also have something else on their mind: Cliff Lee's back, which was sore enough that Lee had an injection this week in Texas. Lee's scheduled side session Saturday may be as important to them as any of the games they play this weekend.
Posted on: August 31, 2010 3:56 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2010 4:05 pm
 

Rockies add Delcarmen from Red Sox

The Rockies, making their usual late charge for a playoff spot, have strengthened their bullpen by acquiring Manny Delcarmen from the Red Sox.

Colorado traded minor-league pitcher Chris Balcom-Miller to Boston in exchange for Delcarmen, who has a 4.70 ERA in 48 appearances.

The Rockies have won three in a row and seven of eight to move within 3 1/2 games of the National League wild-card lead. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have fallen seven games behind both the Yankees and Rays in the American League East.

Even while the Rockies have been winning, their bullpen has allowed 11 runs in 17 innings over the last five games.

Balcom-Miller is a 21-year-old right-hander who has been pitching in Class A. He hasn't been ranked among Colorado's top prospects, but in 165 2/3 innings, he has 177 strikeouts and just 29 walks.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 29, 2010 9:37 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 12:08 pm
 

3 to watch: The Manny magic II? edition

Whether you like Manny Ramirez or not, you've got to admit that he carried the Dodgers into the postseason two years ago (and nearly carried them into the World Series, too).

Any chance he does the same for the White Sox, who he joins this week (possibly tonight in Cleveland)?

Your first instinct is to say no way. Manny was 36 years old then; he's 38 now. He had two months with the Dodgers; he'll have one month in Chicago. The Dodgers were just two games out of first place when he joined them; the White Sox are 4 1/2 games back now. The Dodgers had nine games remaining with the Diamondbacks, the team they were chasing (and went 7-2 in those nine games); the White Sox have only three games remaining with the first-place Twins.

Then again . . .

In Manny's first 32 games with the Dodgers, he hit .407 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs. And after dropping three games behind Arizona when they lost Manny's debut, needed just 39 games to turn that three-game deficit into a 4 1/2-game lead.

They needed help from the Diamondbacks, who went 15-23 over that span.

The White Sox would need help from the Twins (or at least from the teams that are playing the Twins).

Can history repeat? It sure seems unlikely, but it sure will be intriguing to see if it can.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Before Manny plays a home game for the White Sox, he'll visit his first two big-league homes, with series against the Indians and Red Sox. Not surprisingly, he has good career numbers at both Progressive Field and Fenway Park. He has incredible career numbers against the Indians (.352, 16 home runs, 46 RBIs in 51 games). Ramirez could be in the lineup as soon as White Sox at Indians, Monday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field , but in any case he should join the Sox during this series.

2. After A.J. Burnett completed a winless August by allowing nine runs to the Manny-less White Sox last Friday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi waited two days to announce whether Burnett would remain in the rotation. He will, Girardi told reporters Sunday, but the A.J. watch will be on in full force if he doesn't pitch well in A's at Yankees, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium . If there's one thing that is most worrisome for the Yankees heading into September and October, it's the rotation. Andy Pettitte remains on the disabled list, and in five August starts, Burnett had a 7.80 ERA.

3. Speaking of key pitchers who were winless in August, Tim Lincecum's next assignment is a big one, facing Ubaldo Jimenez in Rockies at Giants, Wednesday night (9:15 ET) at AT&T Park . The Giants lead the Rockies by three games entering this week's series, but both teams trail the Padres in the National League West and the Phillies in the NL wild-card race. Lincecum's August ERA, by the way, was nearly the same as Burnett's (7.82). Jimenez went 1-3 in August, losing his last three decisions, but his ERA for the month was 2.83.


Posted on: June 13, 2010 7:33 pm
 

3 to watch: The Rematch (or preview) edition

Given that most American League teams play only five National League teams in any given year, there should only be about a 31 percent chance of a "World Series rematch" in any given regular season. And yet, this is the fifth time in six seasons that the two World Series teams have played an interleague series the following year.

I'd like to say there's some great meaning in that. The fact is that it means basically nothing.

But with the Phillies due back at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, for the first time since Game 6 last November, this is one of the few times it has felt like not only are we seeing the two best teams from last year, but we also may be seeing the two best teams the two leagues have to offer this year.

Granted, the Phillies have played so poorly of late that they've managed to fall behind the Braves and the Mets in the NL East. Granted, the Yankees have spent most of the season behind the Rays in the AL East, finally catching them on Sunday.

There's obviously no guarantee that these two teams see each other in October, but it's still easy to think that we could have the first true World Series rematch (in October, that is) since 1977-78.

And if we're not seeing a World Series preview this week in the Bronx, maybe we're seeing one in Atlanta, or in Minnesota.

We'll touch on all three, in this week's 3 to watch:

1. The Yankees (and 12 other teams) were happy to see Roy Halladay depart the American League last December. They won't be nearly as happy if they see him in Game 1 of the World Series this October. There's a long way before then, but a Halladay vs. CC Sabathia matchup will give Phillies at Yankees, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Yankee Stadium even more of an October feel. Halladay is 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 37 career games against the Yankees.

2. The Phillies are behind the Braves. The Yankees have spent most of the season behind the Rays. So naturally, while the Phillies play the Yankees this week, the Braves will play the Rays. And if you don't believe Halladay vs. Sabathia is a look-ahead to what we'll see in Game 1 this fall, how about James Shields vs. Tim Hudson, in Rays at Braves, Thursday night (7:10 EDT) at Turner Field ?

3. Don't like Halladay vs. Sabathia or Shields vs. Hudson as a possible Game 1 World Series matchup? OK, then how about Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Francisco Liriano, who will meet up in Rockies at Twins, Thursday afternoon (1:10 EDT) at Target Field . The Rockies are four games out of first place in the NL West, which sounds pretty good when you remember that a year ago at this time, they were 10 1/2 games out.
 
 
 
 
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