Around The Bases – Vol II

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. 

  • How happy can the San Francisco Giants be right now?  Aside from having one of the worst teams in baseball, they picked up Barry Zito, who was supposed to be one of their saviors for the ’08 season, and he spends his first month with his new team going 0-6 with a ridiculous 7.53 ERA.  His last game against Cincinnati on April 27th, Zito lasted only 3 innings but gave up 8 runs on 7 hits.  He also has only 10 strikeouts so far in 23.2 innings pitched, but 33 hits given up.  Last season after 24.1 innings pitched, Zito had a 2.2 record with a 3.70 ERA, 15 Ks and 20 hits.
  • On the other side of the pitching coin we have Arizona Diamondback’s phenom, Brandon Webb at 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA (4th in NL).  In 41 innings pitched, Webb has given up 29 hits, only one of which was a HR, and recorded 39 Ks.  His 1.05 WHIP is 8th in the NL and he has made other teams look silly with a .192 batting average against him (3rd in NL).  The Diamondbacks should consider saving Webb for away games.  While he’s undefeated both at home (2-0) and away (4-0), his ERA at home is more than double in half the games than away games: 3.21 at home vs. 1.33 away.
  • And on the third side of the pitching coin, which would have to be the coin’s edge if push came to shove, we have another D-Backs’ pitcher, Michah Owings.  Owings makes this column not for his pitching, which there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with at 4-0, 3.48 ERA, 28 Ks against 9 BBs), but for his hitting.  He’s not just a good hitting pitcher, he’s a good hitter.  How good?  Good enough that when he came in to pinch hit in the 6th inning on Wed night against Houston, Astros’ manager Cecil Cooper put in a new pitcher to face him.  Unfortunately for new pitcher Dave Borkowski, Owings sent his first pitch over the right field fence for his 1st HR of the season.  That goes along with his eight hits, 3 RBI, 5 runs, .421 batting avg, and .632 slugging pct.  This is no fluke, either.  Last season, Owings posted a .333 batting average, .683 slugging pct, 4 HR, 15 RBI, and 20 hits.  In 79 career at bats, he has 5 HR and a very respectable .354 average and a whopping .671 slugging pct.  I did mention that he was a pitcher, right? 
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  • If there were possibly a way to find a fourth side of a coin, it would have to go to Toronto Blue Jays’ staff ace Roy Halladay.  Halladay has completed not one, but two unique feats in the past few weeks.  First, he has four complete games in a row.  No pitcher has done that since, uh, Roy Halladay in 2003.  Since the start of the 1998 season, only workhorse Curt Schilling has more consecutive CG with 5.  Now for the bad news.  Halladay’s last three CG were all losses.  The sad part is he pitched pretty well in all three games.  With the exception of the actual won-loss record, the rest of the line score is more than respectable:  3.51 ERA, 16 Ks, 3 BBs, 25 hits in 25.2 innings pitched, 10 runs.  But that 0-3 is a killer.  Just for the record, Halladay’s 4 CG is greater than or equal to what 19 of the 30 Major League teams had throughout the entire 2007 season. 
  •  TRIVIA QUESTION:

    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. 

    Friday’s Match-Up:

    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.

    Saturday’s Match-Up

    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. 

    Sunday’s Match-Up

    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