By Jason Wojciechowski on April 11, 2006 at 9:51 PM
Yesterday was, while not hectic, fairly schedule-filling, so I didn't get a chance to recap Sunday's games. Luckily Monday was a lighter day (including no Oakland game), so I'll combine both days into today's recap. Here we go!
- Johan Santana is getting off to a bad start in the all-important "early buzz" category, losing to the Indians to drop to 0-2. He gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings, and may have run out of gas late (he threw exactly 100 pitches): he held the Indians scoreless through three and it was just 1-0 through five before he put runners on second and third with one out in the sixth. Juan Rincon relieved and did Santana no favors: an intentional walk to Ben Broussard, loading the bases, was followed by an Aaron Boone double, driving in runs two and three on Santana's line. Rincon got the next two outs, stranding the runners he put on base. That's just un-teammate-like. Bob Wickman picked up his third save of the year despite allowing a run in the ninth.
- Tampa Bay took out Toronto 5-2 behind Scott Kazmir's 8 2/3 inning, two-run performance. He did allow twelve hits, so it's not all good, and it took him 119 pitches to get to where he did, which is kind of a lot for a young pitcher early in the season. He was at 107 coming into the ninth and he didn't have a shutout running, so why not bring in Dan Miceli at that point, rather than after twelve more pitches (and two more hits)? We got an interesting usage of BJ Ryan in the game, as he came in for Roy Halladay in the eighth. The game was tied coming into the inning, but Halladay gave up three runs. With the bases loaded, one out, and a quickly evaporating chance of winning, the Jays needed to stop the bleeding. This is exactly a situation where you turn to your best or second best reliever, and that's what happened here. Moreover, it worked out, as Ryan got a pop out and a strike out to strand all three Rays. Toronto lost the game, but this bullpen usage is notable. If the Jays were to end up in a tight race with, say, the Yankees, this aggressive deployment of Ryan contrasted with Joe Torre's ultra-conservative use of Mariano Rivera (remember Scott Proctor getting beat by Oakland in their first series?) could mean a difference in the standings. That said, this post at Batter's Box has a win-expectancy graph for the game which shows that by the time Ryan got the call, the Jays were looking at maybe a 5% chance of a victory. Ryan probably did come in two batters or so too late. The optimal time was probably with the bases loaded but before any runs have scored (that is, to face Russ Branyan). Of course, hindsight is 20-20, and it's hard to fault relying on a guy like Roy Halladay, who's been a horse for the Jays, often throwing late into games with no problems. On the other hand, what are a pitching coach and catcher for if not to tell the manager, "Hey, he's got nothing left." This post, also at Batter's Box notes that Halladay will miss his next start with a forearm strain. You wonder when he first felt the pain, and whether it was the cause of the Devil Ray outburst. I'll also note that Travis Lee has three homers already for Tampa.
- Boston improved to 5-1 with a 4-1 victory over Baltimore. Adam Stern, hero of Team Canada, led off and started in center for the Red Sox and had a pair of singles. It was the B-squad all around, in fact, as Josh Bard was behind the plate (with Tim Wakefield on the mound) and JT Snow at first. Snow worked out offensively, getting on base three times. Let's hope the Red Sox don't get too used to that. Most notably for the Red Sox, though, Keith Foulke pitched the eight and Jon Papelbon threw the ninth, getting his third save of the year. Foulke struck out two in a perfect inning while Papelbon gave up a double to Luis Matos and had a runner reach on an error. The box score looks a little ugly, by the way: 24 combined men left on base, two wild pitches (neither by Wakefield, remarkably), three errors, three hit batsmen.
- The Tigers lost for the first time, falling to Texas 5-3. Kenny Rogers gave up all five runs as the Rangers singled and doubled him to death: eight singles and four doubles in 5 1/3 innings. Among the doubles was Michael Young's fourth of the year. Curtis Granderson doubled twice and walked twice as the leadoff man for the Tigers.
- The White Sox beat Kansas City 3-1, with the Royals' only run coming on a homer by Reggie Sanders in the ninth inning against Bobby Jenks. Mark Buerhle had a vintage game: eight innings, six singles, one walk, one strikeout, thirteen ground ball outs, 2:17 game time.
Scott Podsednik is hitting .045 after an 0-5 game, but he did throw out Tony Graffanino at second base. Podsednik is reportedly still limited in his running game, so he's a completely useless player unless he's getting on base all the time, which he was never going to do. In other words:
- OBP V Useless
- => Useless
- The Yankees killed the Angels 10-1. There's no bad result for an A's fan in a Yankees-Angels game, especially if one team gets embarassed. Bartolo Colon gave up eight runs (seven earned, but the unearned run came after his own error) in just two innings and mopup man Esteban Yan followed by allowing eight baserunners in 3 2/3 innings (just two earned runs, though). Jorge Posada led the attack with two homers, a double, and a walk. Seventeen players appeared for each team: thirteen position players and four pitchers.
- The Phillies phinally won a game, taking the opening half a doubleheader from the Dodgers on a three-run homer by Bobby Abreu in the ninth inning of a tied game. The homer came off Tim Hamulack, who was charged with no earned runs because of an earlier Rafael Furcal error, his second of the year. Ryan Madson showed that maybe there really is something to this "start off in the bullpen" thing for young pitchers, giving up three runs (one earned) in six innings before turning things over to a suddenly-solid Phillies bullpen: Arthur Rhodes, Ryan Franklin, and Tom Gordon allowed one baserunner (a Rhodes walk) in their three innings.
- The Mets beat Florida with a ninth-inning David Wright sac fly off of randomly generated Marlins reliever Carlos Martinez. Wright had all three Met RBI, giving him nine for the young season. Jose Reyes had an awful day, making two errors, and getting on base once in four trips only to get caught stealing by Miguel Olivo (who, if A's prospect watchers remember, was always reputed to have a cannon arm). Baby Fish update: Jeremy Hermida walked once more, Josh Willingham singled and doubled, and Hanley Ramirez stole his second base of the year. Craig notes that David Samson is going to be taking calls on a Florida AM radio station on Friday. I only mention this because Samson is a Cardozo alumnus. That'll be all.
- Pittsburgh won its first game of the year, beating the Reds. Brandon Phillips got a pinch-hit appearance with his new Ohio team and knocked a double against Pirate starter Victor Santos. Jack Wilson hit a homer, but he also made his third error of the year - isn't he supposed to be a no-stick, big glove guy? Craig Wilson is killing me: he gets a chance to start and promptly goes 0-4. I will never ever forgive Red Hot Mama for this: she does a side-by-side comparison of Ryan Doumit and Evil Willow. Wow.
- Arizona shut out the Brewers, sending Milwaukee to their first loss (it's a big day for firsts). Claudio Vargas, Greg Aquino, Luis Vizcaino, and Jose Valverde combined on the shutout, allowing four singles (three by Corey Koskie) and two walks between them. The D-Backs managed seven runs on just six hits. They did walk four times, but even counting that, seven runs on ten baserunners is pretty good.
- Houston beat the Nationals 7-3. Alfonso Soriano was all up in the action in this game: he homered, stole third base, and threw out Willy Taveras (one of the fastest guys around) at first base to complete a double play. The outfield assist went Soriano-Clayton-LeCroy, so I'm not envisioning some cannon shot from left to nip a diving Taveras. It's possible, even probable, that Taveras got caught off by a diving catch on a hit-and-run or something, and just never had a chance to get back. Regardless, it looks good in the box score. By the way, that is Beaneball fave Matt LeCroy at first base for Washington. He went 1-3 in the game. Preston Wilson got caught stealing for the second time this year. Didn't Wilson get moved out of center field because of bad knees? What's he doing running all the time?
- Colorado put up another big number in Petco, beating San Diego 10-4. Jake Peavy got slapped around for eight runs in four innings. Jason Smith, who came into the game with seven career homers, hit two in this game. Chan Ho Park had a funny line in relief of Peavy: three innings, six hits, two runs, but six strikeouts. Clearly the answer for Park is to just not let them hit the ball.
- The Giants scored two in the ninth against Chris Reitsma to beat the Braves 6-5. Lance Niekro's homer tied the game and Randy Winn's weak single won it later on. Jason Schmidt looked like a Three True Outcomes pitcher: five walks, ten strikeouts, one homer. That's sixteen TTO's out of 31 batters faced, slightly more than half. Braves Journal notes that Marcus Giles and Chipper Jones were both injured in the game, but apparently neither is life-threatening. The Braves don't look that deep (have they ever been deep?), and Giles is a very nice leadoff man, so Braves fans have to hope they don't miss significant time and/or have their play affected.
- The Dodgers took game two of their doubleheader with the Phillies as Brad Penny made Paul DePodesta smile somewhere in his Tibetan mountain retreat: seven innings, four hits (all singles), one walk, one run, six strikeouts.
- The Cubs beat the Cardinals in the ESPN game, scoring five times in the eighth to turn a 4-3 deficit into an 8-4 win. Jason Isringhausen looks like the culprit: without recording an out, he was charged with four runs on two hits and two walks. All four runs came on a Michael Barrett grand slam. Here's an interesting piece from Viva El Birdos about the Cardinals' bullpen management, specifically the use of Jason Isringhausen in the eighth (which didn't really work out so well, as we saw). This post at Reverend Redbird decries the performance of Ricardo Rincon. Welcome to the world of A's fans the last few years, Reverend. Sean Marshall made his major-league debut and gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
- Moving into Monday, the Tigers lost their second in a row, falling to the White Sox 5-3. Jeremy Bonderman struck out eight in seven innings, but also gave up two homers: Jim Thome and Joe Crede each hit two-run bombs. Thome's homer was his fourth of the year already. Chris Shelton reached the ten-RBI plateau already with a double off Freddy Garcia.
- Erik Bedard's seven shutout innings led the Orioles over Tampa Bay. Bedard picked up his second win and sent Seth McClung to his second loss of the year. Aubrey Huff managed a triple against LaTroy Hawkins in the eighth.
- The Angels beat West rivals Texas 5-2. John Lackey struck out eight in seven innings, settling down after Phil Nevin's two-run homer in the first. Francisco Rodriguez finished things off for his fourth save (the Angels have won four games total) already. Orlando Cabrera swiped his third bag of the year.
- Pittsburgh fell to 1-7, losing to the Dodgers 8-3. Odalis Perez allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings, besting Zach Duke's five-inning, seven-run "effort." Rafael Furcal made his third error of the year.
- Houston beat the Nats again, but this one took twelve innings. Washington had scored in the top of the tenth on a Daryle Ward homer, but Morgan Ensberg retied things with a homer of his own in the bottom half. Eric Bruntlett than sac-flied Craig Biggio to the plate to win things. Preston Wilson and Lance Berkman, who apparently do everything in pairs, homered together again: it was each player's fourth of the year.
- Mark Mulder was too much for the Brewers, leading the Cardinals to a win with an eight-inning, two-run outing. Mulder struck out five and got fourteen ground ball outs. Most importantly (for me, as a box score watcher), he doubled, homered, and walked in the game. Mulder now has a 2.114 OPS for the year. He's a big, strong, athletic guy, so it doesn't surprise me that he has some pop in his bat. Obviously, six plate appearances isn't enough to determine the worth of a hitter, but one wonders whether he applied some of his athleticism to learning how to hit this off-season? Albert Pujols, not to be outdone by ... well, anybody, hit his fourth homer of the year (and the first ever in the Cardinals' new ballpark) as well. Matthew Leach has some comments on the new ballpark and on Mark Mulder that you should find interesting. Dan notes that the new park has a Build-A-Bear. That's just disturbing.
- The Braves beat the Phillies as Oscar Villareal vultured a win. The victory was Villareal's third win of the year already. Andruw Jones added his third homer and thirteenth RBI of the season. Following up on the above note, Braves Journal notes that Chipper Jones went on the DL while Marcus Giles played, even though he wasn't expected to.
Today's top pitching matchup is Seattle's Jarrod Washburn going up against Cleveland's Cliff Lee (Harold Reynolds's (misguided) pick for best lefty starter in the AL). In terms of overall matchups, I'm excited about Toronto v. Boston. Josh Beckett is going against Josh Towers in that one, and you know I'm rooting for the Jays.