MLB Thoughts & Theories 8/7/12
Angels Dominate On The Shoulders Of Its Devastating Duo
This is not hyperbole. The clear frontrunners for both the AL MVP and Cy Young awards play on the same team and stole the show on Monday night in Oakland.
In a game that decided second place in the AL West and, more importantly, second in the AL Wild Card standings, it was Jered Weaver, Mike Trout and the Angels who thoroughly dominated Oakland in a 4-0 win.
Weaver pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout and Trout got on base three times and stole three bases in the first of an enormous series between the two Californian clubs. It was the major league leading 15th win for Weaver to go with a 2.13 ERA that leads baseball by a quarter run over the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong.
Weaver has won in nine straight starts and won his last 10 decisions. His last loss was on May 13. Trout has stolen a franchise record 27 consecutive bases without getting caught and leads baseball with 36 steals. Are the AL’s two best players and MVP frontrunners on the same team? Don’t discount the value of the two Angels dominating stat sheets everywhere.
Snapped Sellout Streak Symbolizes Season For Phillies
It’s just been one of those years for the Philadelphia Phillies. They haven’t been able to survive injuries to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz and off years from Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Charlie Manuel’s club is now 11 games under .500 after Monday’s loss to Atlanta and their 257 game sellout streak at home came to an end.
“It’s kind of up to us that we get our team together, get better and get our crowd back,” Manuel said. “I’m sure we can. I’m sorry because we didn’t sell out. It just goes to show you what kind of a season we’ve had.”
The streak was the third longest in baseball history and the longest in the history on the National League. It won’t be the only streak ending this year. Philadelphia’s run of NL East titles and playoff appearances will go by the wayside as well. A symbolic night indeed.
Thoughts & Theories
-Speaking of streaks, Cleveland’s crippling losing skid is now at 10 games after a 14-3 home loss to Minnesota where they allowed 10 runs in the fateful second inning. The Indians have been outscored 88-31 (USA men’s basketball numbers) over that span and could challenge the Twins and Royals for the worst record in the American League. Manager Manny Acta is currently in a living nightmare. “I asked one of my coaches to pinch me tonight because I couldn’t believe it was happening again,” Acta said. “It continues to be rough and disappointing the way we’re giving up runs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it and I don’t think I’ll see anything like it again.”
It’s hard to imagine manager Acta surviving if they go from contention to the basement at this rate.
-While we’re on the Indians-Twins game, the second half performances of Justin Morneau and Ben Revere should be appreciated. Morneau homered twice on Monday night to improve his post-All Star Break slash line to .361/.407/.602. ”It’s one of those things I’m able to appreciate,” Morneau said. “When you’re younger you take it for granted you’re going to play until you’re 40. You go through some tough times. It’s something you can be proud of.” At 24 years old, Revere may not appreciate his current 20 game hitting streak to raise his season average to .331. He also has 27 steals on the season and is hitting .364 since the break.
-The Yankees may not want to rely on Ivan Nova in a postseason start. He allowed seven runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 7-2 loss to Detroit on Monday night and his ERA since the All-Star Break is an alarming 8.36. He leads the major leagues in total bases allowed by a wide margin and has allowed an MLB leading 42 doubles this season.
“Every pitcher goes through it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You’re going to go through struggles. For the most part, the kid has been pretty good for us but right now, he’s struggling. He’ll find his way out. Verlander, as good as he is, goes through struggles. He’s not 20-0 this year.”
What is alarming is that his poor start came on the road. His home ERA this season is a disastrous 6.16, but a good 3.87 on the road. New York will only be facing the best AL offenses in the playoffs, so the right move at this point would be to keep Nova off the postseason roster.
-Credit should be given to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo for adding catcher Kurt Suzuki and shortstop Cesar Izturis over the last several days. With the injury to Ian Desmond, Washington needed a stopgap and found that in the old Milwaukee Brewer. He may not hit and his fielding is below average but his veteran presence and low asking price made it at least worth getting until Desmond is healthy.
-This may be a coincidence but Mets reliever Tim Byrdak joined teammates Johan Santana and Chris Young as pitchers who need season ending shoulder capsule surgery. The lefty reliever’s season could be over and his career could be in jeopardy. It’s hard not to overlook overuse as the culprit behind the injury.
Byrdak may have only pitched 30 2/3 innings this season but he leads baseball in appearances with 56 and the constant getting up and sitting down in the bullpen does put a strain on the arms and shoulders. He also had 72 appearances in 2011 and probably could not handle the impact all those games had on his body.
I can’t help but be reminded of another overworked Mets lefty reliever in Pedro Feliciano. Feliciano led the major leagues in appearances for three straight seasons between 2008 and 2010. In 2007 he only had a mere 78 appearances. He then came to the Yankees in 2011 and has yet to pitch a game for the team. Overuse ruins careers and the Mets may have overworked another pitcher into oblivion.