A quickie today:
- The Royals were due for a game like this, when the bats went silent and no amount of speed or manufacturing was going to change that. This ends a streak in which the Royals scored between 3 and 5 runs for eight straight games. According to my colleague Jason Pare at Baseball Prospectus, the Royals tied the longest such streak in their history: from April 14th to April 22nd, 2001, they also scored between 3 and 5 runs in eight straight games. (In 2001, they went 4-4. In 2001, they didn't have their 2008 pitching staff.)
The all-time record, in case you're interested - going back to 1957, when the Retrosheet database starts - is a remarkable 13-game stretch by the Expos from April 10th to 22nd. There's something about April. My guess is the cooler weather makes it less likely for teams to have a big offensive day.
- Tony Pena may be 1-for-27, but Hillman still hasn't allowed him to bat in a game the Royals were losing after the fifth inning. Callaspo hit a sharp liner that bounced in front of Robinson Cano and nearly castrated him; he's now 4-for-10 on the season, and you have to figure that if Hillman is smart enough to pull Pena from the game when the situation emphasizes offense over defense, he's smart enough to start Callaspo more and more at shortstop. Like, say, tomorrow.
- I thought signing Hideo Nomo was a publicity stunt more than anything, and I guess he proved me wrong. But having seen him pitch, I can't say I'm all that impressed. I don't think he broke 86 (and that's on the Fox gun, which means he probably was topping out around 65.) He's trashed the Tornado windup, but something about his delivery - he still has that herky-jerky stutter - must be deceiving the hitters, because he was still fooling hitters with a 74 mph splitter when he located properly.
Hillman's decision to send him out there for a third inning was quite stunning, and that's not hindsight - I was questioning the decision in real time. Nomo was trying to compensate for his lack of stuff by nibbling all night, and had thrown 41 pitches in his first two innings. I know he's a converted starter, but he's been working in relief for weeks, he's already thrown 41 pitches, and he wasn't exactly dominating out there in the first place - he had allowed two hits and two walks, without any strikeouts.
It's still a 3-run game in the ninth inning, and Mariano Rivera is 38 years old, so you've got a shot if you keep this game close. Ramon Ramirez has thrown a total of 11 pitches in the last five days. Why are you sending Hideo Nomo out to pitch another inning when he's probably gassed, and wasn't throwing all that well when he was fresh? Nomo almost got out of the inning - Damon had a homer that twisted just foul - but with two outs, he hung splitters to A-Rod and Posada, and it was like watching them hit off a pitching machine. I know it didn't impact the game, but come on, Trey - don't you want to see if you can break the all-time record for lowest bullpen ERA?
- If I were starting the Top 23 reasons over again today, I might have to make a place for The Comedian. In addition to being the funniest quote on the team, Mark Teahen is looking more and more like the player he was in 2006, when he was the best player on the team. He had three hits today, including a sharp single off a Joba Chamberlain slider. You have to tip your cap to anyone who can win a battle against Joba, who made Jose Guillen look like an amateur at the plate. (If I were starting the Top 23 reasons over again today, The Hothead would not be under consideration. Maybe not even the Top 123.)
- Speaking of Top 23...I hope to have #1 posted sometime this weekend. See, all that time I had to write about baseball before the season began now goes to actually watching baseball. Funny how that works out.