MLB Thoughts & Theories 8/8/12
Is Anyone Talking About The AL’s Two Hottest Teams?
The Late Birds Get The Worm
While many writers fawn over the Rangers, Angels and Yankees, the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles have emerged as the hottest Junior Circuit teams so far this month.
Despite an atrocious run differential, the Orioles could be here to stay. Baltimore staged a mighty fine comeback on Tuesday against Seattle, overcoming a five-run deficit to win 8-7 in 14 innings. It was not only their fourth straight win overall, it was their incredible 12th straight victory in extra innings.
“I don’t know if anybody can give you an exact answer other than just keep playing,” said Baltimore Catcher Matt Wieters, who homered twice in the game. ”There is no quit in this team. We know with our bullpen, they keep putting up zeros and eventually somebody’s got to score.”
Adam Jones’ single won it in the 14th as Baltimore’s bullpen, fourth in baseball with a 3.06 ERA, threw nine scoreless innings. With the Yankees’ struggles, the Orioles are just 4 1/2 games out in the AL East and tied for the AL Wild Card.
Cabrera Paces Torrid Tigers
If there’s a reason the Yankees are still pitching to Miguel Cabrera, it’s surely eluding them. According to Baseball Reference, Cabrera is a lifetime .366/.431/.761 hitter in 153 plate appearances against New York with 14 home runs.
He couldn’t be contained on Tuesday either, homering and driving in three as the Tigers held on for a 6-5 win at Comerica. It was the team’s sixth straight win to get the team within a half game of the White Sox in the AL Central. Manager Jim Leyland knows who to thank.
“I’ve been in this game for 50 years, and I’ve never seen opposite-field power like Miguel Cabrera,” Leyland said. ”Never. Anybody.”
Cabrera has brought himself into the AL MVP discussion and will remain there as long as the Tigers continue to win at this rate.
Thoughts & Theories
-Staying on that Tigers-Yankees game, New York has lost its last eight games decided by one run. It’s the team’s longest streak since 1944 and it’s hard to explain given that the team’s 3.17 bullpen ERA is actually very good along with their 3.10 ERA from the seventh inning on.
-The Giants have recently stormed back into first place in the NL West and you don’t need to look much further than Buster Posey for the reason why. His first inning three-run homer was his fifth of the month and all San Francisco needed in a 4-2 win over St. Louis.
In 87 at bats since the All-Star break, Posey is hitting a softball-like .448/.495/.805 with eight homers and 30 RBI’s.
-Chipper Jones is 40 years old and not many people realize that what he’s doing in his final season is nothing short of historic. He’s batting .320/.395/.514 at age 40! Jayson Stark reports that only five other players in history above the age of 40 with at least 300 at bats maintained a .300 average and a .500 slugging percentage: Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Harold Baines, Moises Alou and Cap Anson. That’s the company Jones keeps.
-In a lost season for the Milwaukee Brewers, 27-year-old Michael Fiers is emerging as a bright spot. The righty took a perfect game into the seventh inning in a 3-1 win over the Reds on Tuesday and is 6-4 with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. The reason why his record is even that poor is that he dropped three straight decisions in July where his team scored a total of three runs for him. ”He pitched an outstanding ball game,” Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke said. “He’s been baffling hitters. And not just average hitters, he’s been doing it against some very strong lineups.” Fiers has amazingly allowed two runs or fewer in his last nine starts.
-Mike Trout turned 21 years old on Tuesday. Let that sink in before I tell you he celebrated by hitting his 20th home run and has 87 runs scored in 88 games. He leads the AL in batting average by 20 points and leads the major leagues in stolen bases by six. He’s 21 years old. Just let it sink in. I’ll wait.
-Ryan Dempster’s second start in the AL was a whole lot better than his first. He allowed three unearned runs in 6 2/3 innings as Texas took a 6-3 win over Boston on Tuesday. After Dempster surrendered eight earned runs against the Angels, he was happy to do well this time out. ”Those five days take a long time,” he said. “I think just knowing the lineup a little bit facing these guys. I was able to use the fastball and had a good split.” With Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz injured and Yu Darvish Roy Oswalt struggling, the Rangers need Dempster to produce alongside Matt Harrison and Scott Feldman atop the rotation.