I haven't done my "around the league" in awhile. It's fun.
The Yankees won their sixth game in a row, sending Kansas City to its fourth consecutive defeat, as Mike Mussina, Tom Gordon, and Mariano Rivera all pitched as they'll need to pitch for New York to be successful. Rivera and Gordon are racking up big meaningless numbers early in the season, too: six holds for Gordon and nine saves for Rivera. That's fairly impressive considering the Yankees fourteen victories.
TSN's on-pace-for gives Rivera 59 saves at the end of the year, in a whopping 91 games. In other words, he's been used heavily in this early part of the year, but he's been, except for a moderately high walk total, very successful.
The Phillies prevailed in phourteen after Pat Burrell hit a game-tying two-run homer in the 9th off of (who else?) Matt Mantei. Brandon Webb had a good start and Eric Milton had a not-too-awful one (four walks were essentially his big problem), but the Phillies bullpen held down the last eight innings (except for a top-of-the-fourteenth run allowed by Ryan Madson) while the D-Backs pen was surprisingly combustible. Obviously they weren't that flamy, though, given that the game lasted as long as it did.
Basically, I'm projecting Matt Mantei's failures onto the whole team. We'll likely see plenty more of the same so long as Mantei continues to pitch high-leverage innings. Stick a fork in him.
The Astros won their fourth straight, beating the Reds with three runs in the bottom of the eighth off of Todd Jones (another guy who you're likely to see continue to get lit up to bad effect if he's allowed to pitch those innings). The rally wasted Adam Dunn's ninth homer. Dunn's OPF 61 for the year. I'd be comfortable predicting him for 50.
Pittsburgh won their third in a row, getting above .500 on an 11th inning homer by Beaneball Guy Craig Wilson. This allowed Jose Mesa to get his ninth save of the year. It's 1995 all over again! Remember that? Forty-six saves, no losses, 1.13 ERA. He'd been a full-time starter (and not a very good one) in 1993, a non-closing reliever in 1994, then busted out with that huge year in 1995.
You almost wonder if the cliche that there's no closer pedigree isn't true. What if there is a closer pedigree: maybe all the good ones are failed (or just converted, for good reasons or bad) starters. I'm sure that's not any more true than the idea that you need to throw real hard and have ice-water in your veins to be a closer, but it's something to remember.
Anyway, the loss wasted the amazing Silent D's thirteenth and fourteenth steals of the year. What's amusing is that 14 is a pretty big number of steals to have at this time of the year, but Pod's OPF is 91, which is a long way from Rickey Henderson.
Despite starting Chone Figgins at short and in the leadoff spot, the Angels beat the Twins, overcoming a nice start by Johan Santana by beating JC Romero in the eighth. Anaheim was, of course, helped along by a strong start by John Lackey and excellent bullpen work by Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival. Teasing aside, Figgins's fourth triple of the year didn't hurt things, nor did his two singles. Who figured Figgins for a .385/.400/.565 line right now? The Goddess of Small Samples can put her hand down, please.
An exciting pitchers' duel between Matt Morris (nine innings, four hits, one walk, no runs) and Victor Zambrano (seven innings, three hits, three walks, twelve strikeouts, no runs) turned into a tenth inning win for the Cardinals, as St. Louis finally got to Kyle Farnsworth with the help of three walks. Is making Zambrano throw 122 pitches really necessary, though? Zambrano had already thrown 108 pitches when he came out to pitch the seventh, and dominating performance or not, he's only a few months older than me (22). No excuse, Dusty, no excuse. Not in May.
As if the Rockies needed help scoring in Denver, Atlanta made seven errors in their loss, including four (!) by Mark DeRosa. This allowed Horacio Ramirez to have a terrible game (3.1 innings, five hits, eight runs, three walks) yet lower his season ERA (no earned runs).
Miguel Batista had a strong eight-inning complete game wasted by the Blue Jays as Toronto could managed just two runs despite eleven hits and two walks, with ten of those hits and one walk coming in the first seven innings against Jon Garland. That's a terrible runs-to-runners ratio, with the situation not being helped by two double-plays and a runner thrown out at home.
Barry Bonds pinch-walked and scored the winning run for the Giants in the eleventh. San Francisco was also helped along by Yorvit Torrealba's grand slam earlier in the game. This came after AJ Pierzynski was a late scratch from the lineup. Not a bad day at the park for a guy who figured to sit the bench that game.
Someone should remind Tom Glavine that he's supposed to be done. Glavine allowed two runs in six innings to the Padres, raising his ERA all the way to 1.85, on his way to his fourth win of the year. This for a team that's won ten games total. It's not quite Steve Carlton, but it's pretty good.
Texas sent Boston whimpering into the night with their fourth straight win, sweeping the Red Sox in Arlington. They did it with pitching (!), as RA Dickey allowed just one run in 8.2 innings, despite four walks, and Boston couldn't manage even one extra-base hit in the game.
Dickey had to throw 131 pitches to get there, though. Since his run was allowed in the top of the ninth, I'm guessing he was only in to try to get his second career shutout (ever; he'd never even had one in the minors). Granted that he's 29 and well past the point where he's a young arm, he's also been a pretty good pitcher this year, and having him throw that many pitches, taking the chance of scragging him forever at worst, and for the next few games at best, simply for a personal milestone, strikes me as the worst kind of foolishness.
Do writers ever call managers on these things? I guess you can't compromise your only sources of information and quotes simply to be a little critical, though. God forbid a writer try to get anything but fluff from a ballplayer or coach. And it's not like you have to be enlightened to see the danger in throwing that many pitches. It's pretty common and accepted knowledge that around 100 pitches is generally the limit for most guys, and that throwing more than that can cause problems. Nobody's saying that we need to have guys going, "Hey, Buck, you know you just added like 30000 PAP^3 to Dickey's arm tonight?" I think we just need a little more room for pointing out of mistakes by the people who have access. That is all.