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.
You DO realize that the "Teahen is back!" and "Guillen is pure garbage" stuff is just knee-jerk 1 1/2 week reactionary stuff, right? I mean, that's intentional, right? Not serious analysis? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
The thing that surprised me was that Hillman never had a pitcher warming up while Nomo was in the game.
Well, that and Nomo getting major leaguers out with an 86 mph fastball.
Another interesting streak that is still current is that the R's have had between 8-12 hits in every game so far.
10, 8, 11, 8, 9, 9, 12, 8, 8
The best they managed last year was over a 7 game stretch.
Hillman leaves all of his pitchers in for longer than I would expect. There has to be a half dozen times I have been surprised to see a pitcher not lifted. Sometimes it works, but quite often it hasn't.
The two troubling trends I see so far are this tendency and our atrocious baserunning.
I was at the game last night and wanted to choke Guillen after his at bat in the 8th. Two on, two out and he is swinging at pitches at his shoe tops. WTF??? He gave Joba two free strikes before striking out.
Last night was just a bad night overall though. Joey dropped that ball in CF that lead to the second run for NY. Pettite threw 30 pitches in the 1st and only about 85 by the time he got pulled in the 7th. It just seemed like we lost all our patience. When you see Pena and Gathright bunting for outs on back to back pitches you want to pull your hair out.
I love that "just a quickie today" means you only wrote 700+ words. That's pretty much a newspaper column.
I saw the same thing Anonymous did. First three innings I never saw a swing at the first pitch. Even Gload, Guillen and Pena took a called strike. I thought Butler and German worked 2 great walks.
Then it was if they decided to see if they could keep Andy Pettite in longer than they kept Scott Baker in (48 pitches in first 2 innings, 84 pitches total through 7). But they are young and it takes a while. Teahen looked like a real ballplayer.
What really torqued me, though, was when Callaspo "nearly castrated Cano" and Gathright, instead of bunting at the only time it would have helped the team, ground into a fielder's choice. Teahen's sharp single would have scored Callaspo from second to make it a 2-4 game.
But. kids will be kids. They won't remember to work counts during a entire series for a while yet. Maybe they will look at this game, in comparison to the two previous, and lights will come on...or maybe Grudz will open up a can on them and move the process along!
One more thing: JayhawkOwensJunior. That avatar is painful to look at, my friend!
To the orginial commenter...I'd disagree that the thought about Teahen is reactionary. Yes, its only nine games, but he just looks like he did a couple of years ago when he's at the plate. He really seems to be back into that groove that he never found last year. I don't expect him to keep a 1.000+ OPS all season, but he's definitely a different hitter in the early going than he was last season. Just take a look at his strikeouts for a clear indication.
I know he has 8 K's and only 1 walk, but it seems that Alex Gordon is MUCH more patient this year as well (as Mark Teahen). He's seen 148 pitches in 38 plate appearances, while Teahen has seen 150 in the same amount of PA's. That must mean that his BABIP is REALLY high, considering the8 k's in 38 PA's. To me that says that if he can simply stop swinging at the "bad strikes", and take those pitches, he'll be in for a monster year.
Why is Grudz carrying a reputation of a good teacher? F-in' rookie when one makes a baserunning mistake, but not a word from him when he makes an error? And considering his career best in BB is 45, I'm not sure he'd be the best to preach the value of walking and taking pitches.
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