Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Walk in the Park

Was our anticipation to Tuesday's matinees rewarded with results matching up to our prognostications? I doubt it. However, our expectations were exceeded by a few memorable surprises. Let's recap.

What Happened to Roy Oswalt?
The first thing I saw yesterday morning was that Oswalt was facing the Nationals on a getaway day matinee. I thought Astros fans should be salivating at the idea of Roy-O throwing up seven or eight goose eggs on the board.
Instead, their ace gave up 4 earned runs before a bone bruise on his right index finger forced him to leave the game in the top of the 6th. What's wrong with Oswalt? Is he going to be okay? At least, with all his injury history, he hasn't really had debilitating arm problems. I am still giving him the benefit of the doubt that he will right the ship and become a force again, but that benefit has a propensity to expire unexpectedly.

One of yesterday's memorable surprises: the Astros are actually still tied with the Nationals, as the game was postponed due to rain in the 11th.
3rd Place Blue Jays?
The way Canada's club continues to develop impactful rookie starters could potentially save J.P. Ricciardi's job. I think that if they were to leapfrog just one of the preseason perceived "Top 3" (Red Sox, Rays, & Yankees), that would be a positive enough accomplishment that they Blue Jays would have hope that in 2010, they could be next year's 2008 Rays! In fact, it might even give the Orioles hope that they can make the playoffs in 2010.

Brett Cecil posted promising numbers with six hits allowed, two runs (one earned), six strikeouts, and zero walks, in six innings. Anthony Reyes battled, allowing three runs in his six innings of work. Cecil was in line for a win, in his Major League debut, but his bullpen blew it. At least the offense came back and vultured a win for Brian Wolfe, in his first appearance of the season.

Matt LaPorta had a rough day. 0 for 3 with a run scored and a strikeout (looking). In his first plate appearance, LaPorta took one for the team, from Cecil, and later scored the first run of the game.

The Legend of Bobby Scales
Tim Lincecum let me down yesterday, but it was my fault. Why did I expect him to tie a Major League record for 20 strikeouts? Was it because of weather similarities to Kerry Wood's 20 strikeout day eleven years ago? That had a lot to do with it. I didn't realize until right now that I was off by one day. Kerry's masterpiece was on May 6, 1998. Maybe Rich Harden can strikeout 20 Astros, just like Kerry Wood did eleven years ago today. I would settle for 6 or 7 solid innings with less than 95 pitches.

Anyway, the delightful surprise that yesterday was all about is the Major League debut of Bobby Scales, a man that people would call, for literal and obvious reasons, "a career minor leaguer". In an uncanny form of symmetry, this happens to be Scales' eleventh year in professional baseball.

Some of his minor league numbers: 1,013 games / 3,303 at bats / .375 OBP / .432 SLG

According to some reports, his questionable defense is one of the reasons he never advanced to MLB until now.

According to Bob Brenly, his versatility to play around the infield is one of the reasons he was called up to replace Carlos Zambrano on the 25-man roster.

In my opinion, the .432 slugging is why he hasn't had anyone carrying his luggage until now.

None of that matters, though. The special part of this story is that Bobby Scales is no longer a "career minor leaguer". He's had his cup of coffee, and he's had his moment in the sun. He got a hit off of freaking Tim Linecum!

I didn't know Bobby Scales was a position player until after the game started. In the bottom of 5th inning, Scales inside-outed a fastball down the left field line. This sparked an unexpected 2-out rally. Number 8 batter, Koyie Hill, drew a walk, and Sean Marshall drilled an RBI single to straight away center field. The outfield defense obviously shaded the opposing pitcher away, so the shot up the middle landed in the outfield grass. The next thing that came to mind was that Bobby Scales already looks better than Aaron Miles.

I love that Scales' first hit came off the reigning Cy Young winner. It feels like a shame that he is expected to be sent back down when in a couple of days, when they need a pitcher to step in for Big Z. At least no-one will ever be able to take this moment away from Mr. Scales.

AL East UnRivalry
Does anyone at your office have Rays/O's fever this week? Haven't people been talking about how if the Blue Jays finish in 3rd place this season that the Orioles will have enough confidence to make the playoffs next year?

Felix Pie did not even play in the game, and the rest of yesterday's match up between the Rays and the Orioles went pretty much as expected.

Matt Garza continues to impress, throwing 8 innings, giving up 3 runs (2 earned), on 4 hits and 2 walks. He was touched for homers by Brian Roberts and Greg Zaun, but survived.

Koji Uehara pitched better than his number would indicate. He struck out eight, only walked one, but he gave up 7 hits and 6 runs (3 earned).

Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, and Adam Jones continue to shine on the field and in the box scores.

Extras in Seattle
Vicente Padilla and Erik Bedard engaged in a pitcher's duel at Safeco Field. Bedard and the Mariners had a 1-0 lead that could have held up if not for the heroics of Nelson Cruz who tied it up with a solo shot in the 7th.

With the game tied 1-1, a fellow by the name of Denny Stark came in to pitch the Top of the 10th for the Mariners. He promptly gave up six runs, capped off by a Grand Slam to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Perhaps the Mariners need a healthy Brandon Morrow to be serious competitors.

PTI Big Finish Style...
  • Rick Porcello's box score looks terrific! 7 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
  • Edinson Volquez's numbers are even more impressive: 8 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts. If he pitched in a neutral or pitchers park, forget it.
  • Colby Rasmus went 1 for 3, with an RBI double. He also had an outfield assist, nailing Raul Ibanez at second. Is Rasmus starting to make a difference?
  • Jeff Weaver surprised me by getting good results. I was not surprised that Max Sherzer pitched admirably well and the Dodgers still won.

Quickly, looking forward to tonight...

  • Can Rich Harden strike out 20 Astros? Or, at least, can he match Rick Porcello's line from last night.
  • Felix Pie is starting. Can he hit Kevin Slowey and stay in the big leagues?
  • Justin Masterson is facing a real challenge against Cleveland tonight.
  • Two of the worst starting pitchers in all of baseball are sharing the hill in Kansas City tonight. Carlos Silva and Sidney Ponson. I never thought that I would expect Carlos Silva's team to win a game.

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