MLB Thoughts & Theories 6/13
-The phutility of the Phillies continued in Boston Saturday after their second straight loss to the Red Sox while giving up double-digit runs. Philadelphia certainly didn’t expect to be just two games over .500 60 games into the season and in third place in the division. I don’t know what Charlie Manuel thinks he has in Joe Blanton, but it probably can’t be much better than what he has in his minor league system. Blanton allowed nine earned runs and 13 hits over four innngs in their 10-2 loss to Boston on Saturday, making him 1-5 with a 7.28 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP in eight starts. How many starts are they willing to give him? At a relatively cheap $3 million, biting the bullet and sending Blanton to pasture could be a legitimate option. Count the Phillies among the teams who should be going after starting pitching this summer.
-And on the Red Sox side, does it get much better than a grand slam in your first major league at bat (given the debuts of Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton the answer is clearly yes, but go with me here for a second)? That’s exactly what happened with OF Daniel Nava, who went deep off Blanton with the bases loaded on the first pitch in his first career at bat to really put the game out of reach. Only four major league players in history hit grand slams in their first big league at bats and only the second (Kevin Kouzmanoff is the other) to do it in on the first pitch. Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on the DL and scratched from his start but Scott Atchison and Manny Delcarmen allowed two runs over five and did a nice job.
-In New York, Derek Jeter blasted two home runs and Javier Vazquez continued his mini resurgence against bad teams as the Yankees defeated the hapless Astros 9-3. Vazquez has gone seven innings in three straight starts and has allowed just six earned runs in 21 innings, albeit against Houston, Toronto and Baltimore. Speaking of Baltimore, the Orioles are just the elixir the Mets needed for their notorious road woes after New York won their second straight against the Orioles with a 3-1 win behind Hisanori Takahashi. The Mets have won three straight and eight of 10 as they improbably remain 1.5 games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
-If you’re an Indians fan, you had to be excited about what happened on Saturday, with their future prominently on display against Washington. C Carlos Santana hit his first career homer in his second major league debut (he’s been batting third in the two games he’s played, no pressure right?) and had two hits and three RBIs. Fausto Carmona pitched a complete game three hitter, allowing just one earned run on a homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the 8th inning of a 7-1 win. The battery in Saturday’s game could be their ace and top hitter going forward so it was a good day for baseball in Cleveland.
-It was also a good day for baseball elsewhere in Ohio as the Reds got 11 runs in the first four innings off Brian Bannister en route to an 11-5 rout. Jonny Gomes homered twice and drove in six and Arthur Rhodes ran his scoreless streak to 26 consecutive innings, and lowered his ERA to 0.32, in the win. Cincinnati is now up 1.5 games in the NL Central after St. Louis fell in Arizona.
-It was also a day in major league baseball that was kind to the Guillen family name. In Detroit, Carlos Guillen hit a walkoff solo shot in the 10th inning as the pesky Tigers defeated Pittsburgh 4-3 for the Pirates’ 7th straight loss. Ozzie Guillen, who always seems to excel in the most adverse conditions, got his White Sox their 4th straight win 2-1 as his public rift with GM Kenny Williams continues. Chicago always seems to play well when things are at their most volatile and this winning streak is certainly no exception.
-Out west, the winning and losing pitchers in the Mariners-Padres game at Petco Park could not have had different nights. Wade LeBlanc outdueled Cliff Lee in a 7-1 San Diego win to put the Friars back in first place in the NL West and gave the impetus for Lee and Milton Bradley (HE’S a veteran leader??) to call a players only meeting to address their 5th straight loss and their 23-39 record, which is the same as the aforementioned Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that no team has been more disappointing than the Mariners this season.
-Tom Haudricourt’s tweet from last night reminded me how poorly Prince Fielder is playing this season and he’s been a big reason (literally and figuratively) why the Brewers have also been a monumental disappointment this season. The batting average and OBP aren’t bad, but his slugging percentage (.428) should be at least 100 points higher and his .161 average with runners in scoring position is one of the reasons why he has 22 RBIs this season after leading baseball with 141 in 2010. Fielder is 2 for his last 19 and is batting .238 in June.