Saturday, April 21, 2007

MLB: Friday Night Notes

I don't normally celebrate a random night on the baseball schedule. After all, when a sport features a 162-game season, it is hard to get amped up for any one day. However, given that the Mariano Rivera Debacle and the A-Rod Mash Circuit taking place in Boston tonight warranted a post below, it kind of got the juices flowing. (Not to be confused with "getting the juice flowing," which is what 63% of late 90s power hitters used say when they would go into a slump.)

Here are some of the highlights and lowlights:

- As if he could sense his former bullpen mate's troubles at Fenway, former Yankee setup man Tom Gordon blew a 1-0 save opp on a Scott Hatteberg home run in the bottom of the ninth (Moneyball!) and then tacked on an L when he loaded the bases (a single and two walks) and then gave up a hit to Brandon Phillips (who, you might recall was purchased from the Indians last year for straight cash money).

- The winner of that Reds-Phillies game was the unfortunately named John Coutlangus. Gotta be extra careful as a play-by-play guy when he is summoned from the pen.

- My preseason choice for AL MVP Grady Sizemore is off to a great start with 4 homers, 4 steals, and a much improved batting eye that has led to 13 walks and a .460 OBP, but he is going to have to do even more to outplay Prison Break's Lincoln Burroughs. I mean, Travis Hafner. Pronk is now hitting .375 after homering early and driving in the winning run late in a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay. I was hoping for better than 7-6 at this point for the Tribe, but considering the scheduling nightmare they are dealing with, they are availing themselves fairly well.

- Whatever Tim Hudson's workout plan was over the offseason, he needs to get that baby to Men's Health ASAP. After suffering career-worst totals in losses (13-12), ERA (4.86), and WHIP (1.44) last year, Hudson has come out of the gate looking like a Cy Young candidate. He's 3-0 with a 0.62 ERA through four starts and in the only game he didn't win, he allowed two hits and just one run in a no-decision. Sick.

- Congrats to former Arizona State star Travis Buck, who hit his first career home run for the A's tonight. Buck drove in 5 runs as Oakland thrashed Brandon McCarthy (Kenny Williams is looking awful smart on this one) and the Rangers 16-4.

- Looks like the Stros decided to give the ball to Brad "Lit Up" Lidge in a non-save situation tonight. You know, to get his confidence up, or boost his trade value, or some such thing. He responded by walking Tony Gwynn Jr. (who then stole second) and Rickie Weeks before allowing a monster tater to Prince Fielder. 6-5 ballgame. Needless to say, it was Chad Qualls getting his first save of the season. Maybe facing "Gwynn" and "Fielder" made Lidge think it was an old-timers game?

- Anyone who thought Sidney Ponson was a good add to the Twins rotation (a group consisting of at least six people) has to be having second thoughts after the Royals slapped him around on their way to an 11-7 victory tonight. Someone get Matt Garza on the phone. (By the way, Michael Cuddyer homered tonight and continues to be one of the most underrated hitters in the American League. He's at .333 with 15 RBI, just sitting between Mauer and Morneau and raking nightly. He could be on his way to the quietest 125-RBI season in history.)

- Get to know Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Do it, do it. (Also nice to see the towering Chris Young get back on track tonight, and to do it at Coors Field no less.)

- You think K-Rod paid Hector Carrasco to give up four runs in 1 1/3 innings of work, so he could get a save chance?

- Randy Wolf goes to 3-1 with a 10-K performance for the Dodgers tonight, making it three sparkling outings on the week for former Pepperdine Waves. Danny Haren (1.44 ERA) and Noah Lowry (2.70) both got their first wins of the season by realizing that their teams were never going to score for them and therefore pitching absolute gems. Go Waves. (In a related story, the current edition of the mighty Waves are currently #11 in the nation after junior All-American Barry Enright mowed down Santa Clara earlier on Firday. Steve Rodriguez and Co. continue to run one of the best baseball programs in the country.)

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