Mo, Swish and the around

rivera_250_050109.jpgOVERTURE
Mariano Rivera has had two one-two-three innings this year, one on April 9, the other on April 15. Since then, he’s allowed 11 hits in 6.2 innings, including two home runs, along with no walks and 10 strikeouts. Not drawing any conclusions here, just sayin’, though one does wonder if the occasional five-day layoffs he’s had are too long to keep him sharp.

A QUESTION I’D REALLY LIKE TO ASK
I’m not going to get up to the Stadium again until next week, but I really want to ask Joe Girardi this: “What are you seeing from Nick Swisher now that you did not see during Spring Training, the absent thing that caused you to call Xavier Nady a starter? Have you considered that if Nady was still healthy you might have left all this production sitting in the freezer?”

That sounds critical, but it’s not meant that way — well, mostly not. I’d really like to know.

THE AROUND (AND ABOUT)
Rays 13, Red Sox 0: About the best thing that’s happened to the Rays all year. Of course, if you listen to the Joba-to-the-pen fetishists, anyone like Matt Garza who throws a near-perfect game as a starter would be more valuable in the bullpen. That way lies madness. Now all they really need is a few players beyond Evan Longoria and Jason Bartlett to feel like hitting. Pat Burrell one home run? B.J. Upton .177/.320/.226? Speaking of the latter, there’s a guy whose career we’re still going to be scratching our heads over 20 years from now.

A’s 4, Rangers 2: Dallas Braden keeps pitching well, but as a scary fly ball guy without great control or a terrifying strikeout rate it’s not clear that he can keep it up. Given how thin the A’s are, they desperately need him to keep it up. For gosh sakes, Landon Powell had to play first base last night. That reminds me to check on Daric Barton’s progress at Triple-A: .149/.274/.209 in 20 games. Farewell, shooting star.

Royals 8, Blue Jays 6: Credit the Jays for this: after a second consecutive thrashing of Brian Burres, they seem to have come to the enlightened point of view that they’re ahead, they may never be ahead again, so they might as well try to win the race with pitchers who have an upside. As such, they demoted three pitchers, including Burres, and called up two of their top prospects, Brett Cecil and Robert Ray, as well as veteran minor league reliever Brian Wolfe. Maybe it was the sight of John Buck pounding balls all over the yard that dropped the scales. All things are possible when the deity is rolling his infinite-sided die, but yeesh, you’d think the outfielders would have had to suffer a spontaneous kidney stone attack for that particular combo to assert itself. Anyway, good move by the Jays going with their best hopes for the future instead of trying some Ponsonian nightmare form the past… Last 11 games for Billy Butler, .333/.458/.564, three doubles, two home runs, nine walks. The nine walks are more than a quarter of the free passes he took all of last year.

Cardinals 9, Nationals 4: I must stop eating these candied cashews I bought yesterday at Target. Other than that, another day, another Nationals loss, though it is good to see Ryan Zimmerman hitting like a star should (.289/.354/.544) — this franchise needs a star or 10. Catcher Jesus Flores hitting .281/.356/.438 is almost as exciting, because if you can’t have stars at least your second-line guys can be good (the key to winning any battle is good interior lines). Meanwhile, Daniel Cabrera throws four wild pitches in six innings but actually gets the quality start as the bullpen gives it up — again. Ask the Joba guys if any of those relievers would be more valuable in a different role, perhaps concessions. “Gentlemen, we concede this game.”

Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 1: One of the best starts of Matt Scherzer’s young career gets tossed aside so that Flash Gordon can “pitch” at 41. Must have seemed like a good idea at the time. I wonder if that girl that loved him still does — she must be in grad school by now, or married with two kids. At some point, we put childish things away. Then again, I still read comic books, so what do I know? On the other side, The Brewers get a rare good start from Jeff Suppan, and Trevor Hoffman resumes his quest to put the saves record out of Rivera’s reach.

Florida 8, Cubs 2: In 10 innings, no less. Groundballer Chris Volstad allowed back to back shots, but otherwise was without blemish in seven innings. The Cubs were fine until they turned things over to Aaron Heilman, who didn’t get an out. It used to be you could see that kind of show here in New York almost any day of the week. Milton Bradley hit one of those two home runs, which was the one good thing the Cubs got out of the game — a sign that Bradley is ready to come to work.

Dodgers 8, Padres 5: All I have to say is, “Four scoreless innings from Jeff Weaver? I just swallowed my gum.” With this loss, the Padres hit .500. Next stop, basement level: luggage, lingerie, Padres. 

3 Comments

Anybody else a tad worried about Mo? I’m not really worried since even he keeps up this level of production he’s doing pretty well, but it does magnify Melancon’s role in the future.

I think I’m more curious about why he gave up the homers than worried. The second HR I chalk up to pitching to the score, with a large lead there’s more wiggle room and he can attack the zone more and not live on the edges quite so much. The Boston home run can probably be explained by the fact that the Red Sox have seen Mo so many times they have an idea of how to hit him. Mariano is amazing, but he can’t be perfect every single time.

I’d be kind of worried if it wasn’t for the crazy K rate. That’s a good sign.

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