MLB Thoughts & Theories 8/9/12
Boston’s Defeat Epitomizes Lost Season
Boston attempted to trade Josh Beckett last month, but it ended up falling short and ending up a lost cause. Sounds like a metaphor for Wednesday’s 10-9 loss to Texas and the Red Sox’s season.
Beckett allowed a season-high eight runs as Boston fell to two games under .500 and 10 games behind the first place Yankees. The team’s pitching staff has been consistently poor, with the 24th ranked team ERA not only for the season (4.35) but the 24th ranked ERA since the All-Star break as well (4.76).
“The back felt good. Just too many pitches down the middle of the plate and everything was up,” Beckett said. “Even when I was on the corners it was still up.”
Five of those eight runs came on homers and another two came on a first inning triple by Josh Hamilton. But the Red Sox kept fighting, tying the game with a four-run seventh inning capped by a Will Middlebrooks three-run shot. But Adrian Beltre’s sacrifice fly in the ninth gave Boston a deflating defeat…or was it?
“I don’t think it’s deflating. I think the offense feels good when they’re scoring runs,” Boston Manager Bobby Valentine said. “They think they’re swinging the bats well and that they can come back.”
The way Beckett and the Red Sox are pitching, they’re not coming back. And a tumultuous calendar year for the franchise will likely extend into 2013.
Thoughts & Theories
-Baltimore isn’t messing around. They’re undoubtedly defying all metrics by being 60-51 despite a -47 run differential, which ranks 11th in the American League. Steve Johnson struck out nine in his major league debut, a 9-2 win over Seattle, but the Orioles are really upping the ante by promoting top SS prospect Manny Machado from AA for the stretch run.
Is it the right decision? CBS’ Jon Heyman has his doubts, as do many others. ”He’s really good, one of the top ten prospects in MLB,” an opposing general manager told Heyman, “but I still think it’s too early to recall him.” The plan is for Machado to play 3B, where’s he’s played two games in his career, and leave JJ Hardy at shortstop. Perhaps the Orioles realize their current run is too good to be true, but it does show some reckless desperation a little. We’ll see if it’s the right move, but it’s probably more than likely going to backfire.
-How good does Jeremy Guthrie probably feel right now? After a disastrous run in Colorado, where he was traded in the offseason from Baltimore for key contributors Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, he was traded to the Royals. He was also horrible in Kansas City until Wednesday night, when he threw eight scoreless innings against the White Sox for his first win since May 31.
“That arguably could be the best-pitched game we had all year,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He was in total control … locating his pitches down, changing speeds, great command of the strike zone (and) never really got into any spots where they really threatened.” The ironic sadness of that quote could encapsulate the team’s 47-63 record.
-Giancarlo Stanton made up for lost time, blasting two homers and driving in four as Miami mauled the Mets 13-0 on Wednesday. After trading Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante last month, the two cornerstones of the offense are clearly Stanton and former Met Jose Reyes.
The two took center stage at Citi Field as Stanton went deep and Reyes extended his hitting streak to 26 games with a homer in the first, just two batters earlier. ”It was good to get in a little groove there and hit some balls hard back-to-back,” Stanton said. “We were all swinging the bat pretty well and we fed off each other and that’s what made it work.” For Miami to “make it work” going forward, the two guys who got it done on Wednesday will have to be the focal points of the offense for years to come.
-There are 93 hitters who have had at least 100 plate appearances since the All-Star break. You’ll never guess which player has the worst batting average among those 93 players: Nationals phenom Bryce Harper. Harper has hit the rookie wall quite hard, posting a .176/.276/.265 line since the Midsummer Classic. Not coincidentally, the players with the worst averages after Harper are also youngsters: Dustin Ackley of Seattle and Jason Kipnis of Cleveland.