The Tampa Bay Rays finished the month of April with an astounding 15-12 record to give them their first winning April (14-12, played first game March 31st) in the club’s history. In fact, they’ve only had 3 better months in their entire history: Aug 99 (16-12), June ‘00 (15-11), and June ’04 (20-6). In just the past 10 games they’ve gone 8-2 and swept both the Blue Jays and the Red Sox.
The Red Sox sweep concluded with a 2-hit CG shutout by James Shields. The pitching staff set a club record for ERA (3.74) for any single month in club history. Individually, Andy Sonnestine became the first Rays pitcher to ever win four games in the month of April and James Shields set a new Rays record for ERA (2.54) in April. For hitters, Carl Crawford set a Rays April record for runs scored (24) and came one run shy of tying his own club record (25) set in June ’04.
Who is the only other pitcher in the past ten years to pitch 3 consecutive complete game losses? Answer later.
SERIES OF THE WEEK
CHICAGO @ ST. LOUIS
A Cubs/Cardinals series is always good, no matter when it occurs, but with St Louis at 18-11 and Chicago at 17-11, .5 games out of first, this promises to be a fantastic series with a lot of meaning, despite how early it is in the season.
Rich Hill (1-0, ERA 3.79) vs. Adam Wainwright (3-1, ERA 2.79)
Chicago Cubs pitcher Rich Hill has appeared in four games this season, despite only getting one decision. His last appearance was against Colorado where he gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in 5 innings. Hill won in his only game against the Cards last season. Career against Hill, Chris Duncan is hitting 2 for 6 (.333) against him while Albert Pujols is hitting 3 for 9 (.333).
Adam Wainwright is one of three Cardinals’ pitchers that is playing this season far greater than anyone anticipated and is a large reason why the team is currently sitting on top of the NL Central with the 2nd best record in baseball (18-11). In 38.2 innings pitched this season, he’s given up 12 earned runs on 30 hits and 28 K against 9 BB. Opposing batters have a mere .213 average against him. His last outing was a CG win against Houston where he gave up only five hits, but 3 of them were HR, all solo shots. It was Wainwright’s second complete game of the season. The Cubs have had pretty good success against Wainwright. Aramis Ramirez is batting 7 for 18 (.389) with 3 doubles and 4 RBI. Ryan Theriot is batting 6 for 13 (.462) with 2 doubles and 2 RBI. And recently activated outfielder Alfonso Soriano may get some playing time. He’s hitting .250 (2 for 8 ) career off of Wainwright with a double and a triple.
Ted Lilly (1-4, ERA 6.46) vs. Kyle Lohse (3-0, ERA 2.36)
Ted Lilly does not appear to be off to the type of season he had last year (15-8, 3.83 ERA). His last two games, he lasted only 6 innings each, but pitched over 100 pitches in each of them (107 in a win against the Mets and 108 in a loss against Washington). In four games against the Cards last season, Lilly went 2-2 with a 3.55 ERA, but only allowed them to hit .217 off of him. He gave up 26 hits and 13 runs in 33 innings. Pujols has done well against him, hitting .313 (5 for 16) with a HR and a double. Meanwhile, Lilly has owned both Troy Glaus (1 for 8, .125) and Rick Ankiel (1 for 6, .167).
Kyle Lohse, on the other hand, is having what could be a career year so far (I know it’s only May 2nd, but what the hell). He hasn’t pitched this well since he went 13-8 in 2002 with Minnesota, but even then he didn’t have the ERA he has now (7th in NL). In his last time on the mound, he gave up one run on 4 hits against the Astros. Last season Lohse pitched 3 times against the Cubs, but walked away with only one decision, a win. In 15.1 innings, he gave up 3 runs on 16 hits and had 15 K with a 1.76 ERA. Over the years, however, certain players on the Cubs have hit him pretty well. Alfonso Soriano has a career .429 average (12 for 28) against him. Ryan Theriot has a .571 average (4 for 7). And Aramis Ramirez is batting 1.000 (5 for 5) with 2 doubles and a HR against Lohse.
Jason Marquis (1-1, ERA 4.45) vs. Todd Wellemeyer (2-1, ERA 4.14)
Jason Marquis’ last outing was not a pleasant one. He only lasted 5 innings against Houston before getting the hook. He gave up 5 runs on 10 hits and only had 2 K. So far this season, in 28.1 innings, he’s given up 15 runs on 36 hits with 17K and 10 BB. Last season against St. Louis Marquis posted a 3-1 record in 4 games. He gave up 22 hits and 10 runs in 25 innings. Cesar Izturis has done particularly well against him going 7 for 17 (.412) with 2 doubles and a triple. Troy Glaus has also done well, hitting 4 for 6 (.667) against him with a 1.381 OPS.
Todd Wellemeyer started out the season well, but he’s slowly gone downhill since his very good start. His ERA was 2.25 after his 2nd game, 3.24 after his 4th game, and 4.14 after his last game. Last season, Wellemeyer split his time between the KC Royals as a set-up guy (0-2, 6.00 ERA) and St. Louis as a starter (3-1, 3.65 ERA). He didn’t face the Cubs at all last season.
- TRIVIA ANSWER:
Randy Johnson lost the following 3 consecutive Complete Games:
June 25, 1999: vs. St. Louis, 0-1
June 29, 1999: vs. Cinc, 0-2
July 5, 1999: vs. St. Louis, 0-1
Despite losing all 3 games, Johnson’s collective line score for those 3 games was amazing: 25 IP, 16 hits, 4 runs, 1 HR, 6 BB, 43 K, 1.44 ERA