By Jason Wojciechowski on April 13, 2006 at 1:38 AM
We had twenty teams in action yesterday, not counting the A's and Twins, nor Houston and San Francisco, who got rained out.
- The Yankees found themselves down 7-4 to the Royals in the bottom of the eighth. Then came Andy Sisco and Ambiorix Burgos who gave up five runs to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Chien-Ming Wang and Tanyon Sturtze got the Yankees into the mess in the first place, allowing all seven Royal runs in 6 1/3 innings. Joe Mays didn't pitch any better, giving up four Yankee runs on three hits and five walks in just 2 2/3 innings. Wang is a ground-ball machine (13:4 GB:FB ratio in this game), but he's got to miss more bats (just one strikeout) if he's going to have any sustained major league success. Johnny Damon, by the way, hit his fifth double of the year, which is a lot.
- Boston improved to 6-1 by beating the Blue Jays. Mike Lowell went 4-4 with three doubles, and has a nice .320/.393/.600 line through his first 28 plate appearances. Keith Foulke showed why he's reversed roles with Jon Papelbon by giving up a two-run homer to Frank Catalanotto. That closed the Red Sox's lead to 5-3, necessitating an appearance by Papelbon in the ninth. The young closer has given up just one hit in his first five innings of the year while walking no one and striking out five. Josh Beckett had good results in the game, getting his second win by allowing one run in seven innings, but it looks a little lucky: he walked four and struck out just two, but only gave up three hits. You won't win too many games with a 2:1 BB:K ratio.
- Cleveland beat Seattle with offense: Jarrod Washburn wound up allowing six runs in just five innings. He also didn't strike anybody out. Travis Hafner hit his fifth homer of the year to, going back-to-back with Johnny Peralta in the fifth inning. Cliff Lee had a very nice outing, though he only lasted six innings because his pitch count was getting a little high. Lee struck out eight while allowing just five baserunners. On the other hand, three of the four hits he allowed went for extra bases, so it's not all good. Either way, Lee got his first win of the year.
- Baltimore evened its record at 4-4 by beating the Devil Rays. Anna Benson's husband threw a nice game, going seven innings while allowing two runs (one earned). The Orioles ruined Jason Hammel's major-league debut, hanging him with seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. The third batter he faced, Melvin Mora, hit a homer, and it was all downhill from there. Corey Patterson and Carl Crawford each stole their second bases of the year.
- The Angels scored two in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Rangers. The tying run scored on Adam Kennedy's double, and D'Angelo Jimenez's error on the same play allowed the winning run, in the form of Maicer Itzuris, to scoot home. This ruined a solid outing by Jack ... I mean Rick Bauer, who gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings. Hank Blalock hit a couple of homers off of Jeff Weaver and Vlad Guerrero went 4-4, but only managed singles.
- The Mets won an easy won against the Nationals on the strength of rookie Brian "Bruce" Bannister, who allowed just three hits and one run in seven innings. On the other hand, with thirteen fly ball outs and just one whiff, this one smells like a rat. A lucky rat. As I said in relation to Wang and Beckett above, you've got to miss bats to win consistently. Paul Lo Duca and Bannister ought to be ashamed of themselves, though: Nick Johnson (6'3", 225) stole second base against them.
- The Reds moved to 5-2 by dominating the Cubs, winning 9-2. Bronson Arroyo is wreaking havoc on the Cubs: he's 2-0 against them (and the league) now after throwing seven innings of shutout ball in this game. More importantly, he hit his second homer of the year, victimizing Glendon Rusch. Rusch gave up four homers in the game, and Will Ohman gave up two more. Ohman, in fact, gave up five runs on four hits without recording an out. Those six homers came from Ken Griffey, Adam Dunn twice, Arroyo, Edwin Encarnacion (who's just been waiting for his chance for years, hasn't he?), and Austin Kearns. Paul Dzien thinks it's ridiculous that Glendon Rusch gave up a homer to a guy who hasn't hit one in six years (Arroyo). I fail to see how the years matter, though: Arroyo got all of 55 at-bats in those six years. Jerry Narron ought to be ... well, let's just stick with fired: somehow, he thought that breaking up lefties Griffey and Dunn in the order was so important that he batted Rich Aurilia in the cleanup hole. Aurilia had a .444 SLG last year, which was his best season since his fluky 2001 in San Francisco. (Freakily, Aurilia has had a .444 SLG three different times in his career: 1999, 2000, and 2005.)
- San Diego beat the Marlins 9-3 behind a two-homer night by Khalil Greene. Greene, for his Baha'i faith, his surfer hair, his puka shell necklace, his acrobatic play at shortstop, and his offensive upside (2005 nothwithstanding), is one of my favorite non-A's, a guy I root for against everyone but Oakland. Looking at Greene's Baseball Cube page shows something interesting: he was hit by pitches 58 times in his four-year career at Clemson, nearly fifteen times a year. Remember that a college season is less than half as long, in terms of games-played, as the major league season. Some combination of Greene, Adam Eaton (no longer a Padre, of course), Kevin Towers, and Xavier Nady (also no longer a Father) made San Diego my favorite NL team a few years ago, a semi-fandom that's lasted. What I like about following the Padres-Marlins series, though, is that Florida is one of the other NL teams I'm rooting for this year. I like their Baby Fish top of the order, the fact that their second baseman is named "Uggla," and that a Cardozo alumnus is the team president. Those Baby Fish (Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Jacobs, and Josh Willingham; and yes, Cabrera is a veteran at this point, but a very young one; and yes, Willingham is 27 already, but it's not his fault Florida stranded him in the minors: he smacked the hell out of the ball for three years straight before the Marlins got their act straight) were best-represented by Ramirez yesterday, who hit his third double and second triple of the year.
- The Pirates won their second game, beating the Dodgers 7-6 behind four shutout bullpen innings and four homers. Craig Wilson (ahem!) started at first and hit a game-tying homer in the sixth against Lance Carter. Evil Willow (i.e. Ryan Doumit - and I'm just going to call him Evil Willow from here on out, with no parenthetical help) had the go-ahead sac fly and also made a throwing error.
- The Rockies improved to 5-2 by beating the Diamondbacks with a big game from Brad Hawpe: a single, double, and homer for four RBI. Terry Mulholland and Jason Grimsley each pitched out of the bullpen for Diamondbacks. I'm pretty sure I have their baseball cards from when I used to collect them. In fifth grade.
Some of today's games have already happened, but of the remaining ones, my top matchup is Pedro Martinez against Tony Armas as the Mets face the Nats. There's piles of speculation about whether Robinson will sacrifice Armas to go after Pedro, and it wouldn't exactly surprise anyone if he did. Robinson's old school, after all.