It was another wild week in MLB. A perfect game, some soap operas, some surprising starts, and some early panic button pushing all at the front and center of this week’s topics.
The Texas Rangers continue to mow down opponents and look like the team to beat in 2012. The Rangers went on a six game road trip that started with two games in Fenway and ended with four games in Detroit. The Rangers went 5-1 on their road trip and in those six games scored 49 runs, allowed 18 runs, and had 83 hits with 11 of those hits being home runs. This is a team that continues to have by far the most potent and balanced lineup in MLB.
The Washington Nationals continue to ride stellar pitching and a balanced hitting attack to the top of the NL East. Starters Stephen Strasburg(1.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, .193 BAA), Jordan Zimmerman(1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, .181 BAA), Gio Gonzalez(2.04 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, .175 BAA), and Edwin Jackson(4.26 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, .188 BAA) have been MLB’s best staff. Those four have combined for 76 strikeouts while allowing only 16 walks and have given up only 1 home run.
As The World Turns
The Boston Red Sox clubhouse saga continues this year right where they left off last year and shows no signs of stopping. Bobby Valentine’s bizarre timing of negative comments made about Kevin Youkilis after taking the first three games of a four game set with Tampa was followed with five straight losses. In the past week, Dustin Pedroia openly defended Youkilis while stating this his manager would soon learn that “we don’t do things that way here” The drama didn’t stop there though, with ESPN’s Gordon Edes writing on Monday that there was reason to believe that Youkilis was one of the players called out by Josh Beckett in an attempt to identify the clubhouse snitch who leaked information to the media last September about the Red Sox’ clubhouse situation.
After blowing a 9-0 lead against the Yankees on Saturday manager Valentine said ”I think we’ve hit bottom. That’s what I told them after the game. You have to sometimes hit bottom. If this isn’t bottom, then we’ll find some new ends to the earth or something.”
Valentine had better hope the Red Sox have hit bottom, or he could find his tenure as the Red Sox’ manager a very short one. As little as his comments probably had to do with the five losses, the fact remains that after last season’s September debacle and its aftermath that his players and management were definitely not looking for more controversy this season. Valentine can’t seem to help himself, he’s just got to be at the center of attention.
The 21st perfect game in the history of MLB was thrown on Saturday by Phil Humber of the White Sox. Humber is never going to be confused with Justin Verlander, although he was taken just one pick after Verlander in the 2004 draft. Humber, who has endured Tommy John surgery, a line drive to the face, and two waiver claims, needed only 96 pitches to claim his place in history.
In The Cellar
At the beginning of the season the Phillies, and Angels were commonly viewed as having three of the best starting rotations in baseball and favored by many to win their respective divisions and to meet in the World Series.
The Phillies, currently last in the NL East, just placed Cliff Lee on the 15 day DL with a strained left oblique. The Phillies are batting just .239 as a team, with only 7 home runs. There is definitely cause for concern in regards to the Phillies. Their anemic offense coupled with a stronger NL East this year will make it difficult for them to win with less than their best baseball this year.
The Angels pitching staff currently has an ERA of 4.34, definitely not what was advertised before the season began. The addition of free agents C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols were supposed to bridge the gap between the Angels and Rangers in the minds of many. To be trailing the Rangers by 7 games only 16 games into the season does not bode well for the Angels and their chances of winning the AL West.
Pineda or Pi-NADA?
The Yankees huge trade acquisition in the offseason, pitcher Michael Pineda, will be examined by Yankees’ team doctor Chris Ahmad and undergo a dye-contrast MRI. Pineda was acquired for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi in the most high-profile trade of the offseason. Yet to throw a pitch in a regular season game for the Yankees, Pineda was shut down again after experiencing shoulder pain after throwing only 15 pitches in an extended spring training outing on Saturday.
The Yankees are holding their breath that the injury isn’t season ending or even worse, career threatening. Elbows, which were formerly the biggest danger with pitchers, have become a lesser career concern thanks to Tommy John surgery and its incredible progress and refining over the last few decades. Pitchers like Stephen Strasburg have returned even better than new from elbow issues. Shoulders are a different story, and just hearing the words “shoulder issues” strike fear in the heart of GM’s and managers. When you’re talking about a twenty-three year old power pitcher, it’s even more unsettling. If the MRI shows no damage, Pineda wouldn’t be expected back to the big team until some time after the all-star break at the earliest.
The AL East continues to be the tightest division in baseball. The top four teams are separated by only half a game, with the Red Sox trailing by only 4 1/2 games. No other division has its top four teams separated by less than four games.
The Rays lead the way this week, taking five of seven games. The Yankees and Blue Jays both took four of six games, and Baltimore continues to look good, taking four of seven on the road this past week against the White Sox and Angels.
Tweet Of The Week
“Garcia was never that good. You’re all blind. Delusional, even.” @turtleslikealex after watching Freddy Garcia get destroyed again on Saturday by the Red Sox.