A rocket amidst the balloons

sabathia_100_050409.jpgThis may be interesting only to me, but I’m fascinated by the fact that CC Sabathia, who is not fat, far outweighs — this is going by listed weights, which are at least partially fictional, but it’s what we’ve got — Hippo Vaughn, Fats Fothergill (who died young of his name), Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons (listed at 185), Jumbo Elliot, and Blimp Phelps. I’m pretty sure, though, that Rich “El Guapo” Garces and Jumbo Brown could take him. Especially if they teamed up.

THE AROUND (AND ABOUT)
Tigers 3, Indians 1: Yankees fans saw Justin Verlander shut down the Yankees, and he did the same thing to the Indians, limiting them to two hits, three walks and a single run in seven innings. Eleven Indians walked back to the dugout with their bats in their hands. Note that Matt LaPorta, slugging prospect, made his Major League debut in right field and went 0-for-4. By the way, Carl Pavano on Friday night: 7.1/5/2/2/0/3.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3: Birds swept by Bluebirds. It was easy to scoff at the idea of journeyman Scott Richmond holding up the Jays’ rotation in the absence of so many quality arms back in April, but it’s much harder to do so now that he’s 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA. Many of the bats that carried the Jays early have predictably cooled, and yet they’re still here. Their next three series are against the Indians, Angels, and A’s, so expect them to stick around a little longer. Then they get the Yankees at home, a test for both teams.

Houston 7, Braves 5: The Astros take two of three in Atlanta, an embarrassment for the latter club, a team with playoff aspirations. Braves pitching has been good, but they just can’t find the stick. It’s a strange day when once is forced to acknowledge that the return of a healthy Garrett Anderson could actually help — not that it will help a lot, but no one is hitting now, not even Chipper Jones.

Reds 5, Pirates 0: The two Pirates losses in this series were shutouts, one by Bronson Arroyo, the other by Johnny Cueto. Cueto has allowed one run in his last 23 innings (oppo: Cubs, Astros, Pirates). With Brandon Moss struggling, there’s an opening for team top prospect Andrew McCutchen, but his work at Triple-A (.261/.309/.466) doesn’t really demand it.

ortiz_100_050409.jpgRays 5, Red Sox 3: The Rays take an important series from the Sox and climb a little closer to .500. The Red Sox were never able to get things going with James Shields. He’s a tough pitcher no doubt, but you wonder how long Terry Francona can maintain faith in David Ortiz given his homerless .208/.298/.302 on the season — aside from the shortstops, the rest of his team is hitting. Also of note, the Rays have the capability to punish the Sox for sticking with Jason Varitek. Varitek has hit quite well this year, all things considered, but can’t throw. The league knew that, but they’ll certainly take note of the eight steals the Sox allowed today (six by Carl Crawford) and increase the pressure. At least Brad Penny pitched well.

Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 3: I mocked Tom Gordon’s advanced age in a previous installment, but it was still depressing to see him carried off the field with a serious hamstring injury after a play at the plate on Sunday. At this stage of his career, any injury could mean the end of what has been an extremely memorable career. Gordon spent a lot of time as a so-so starter when it was obvious from the outset that his outcomes were far better out of the pen. He had great stuff, a killer curve, and the apparent endurance to be a starter, but he struggled with control over longer outings and the required consistency was never quite there. He didn’t become a pure reliever until he was 30, and in that decade of his life, 30-39, he was 36-31 with 142 saves and an ERA of 3.10. It’s not hard to imagine that if he had spent his 20s in the bullpen — and he came up at 20 — we might be looking at a future Hall of Famer now.

Royals 7, Twins 5: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that over the weekend, Willie Bloomquist hit his first home run since June 26, 2007… Sidney Ponson is now 0-4, with a 7.16 ERA. Why not do what the Jays did and call up whatever pitcher you have closest to being ready and just gamble on the upside instead of the predictable downside? For the Royals, that might be Daniel Cortes, who they sent down for a Texas League encore (why?) – he hasn’t pitched well, but he has the stuff – and Carlos Rosa, a former starter who is bullpenning it at Triple-A Omaha… Luke Hochevar is off to a great start down there, 4-0, 1.44 ERA, though without dominant strikeout numbers. Their division is soft enough that one more pitcher could make a difference.

Cubs 6, Marlins 4: Time to panic about Ricky Nolasco (1-3, 7.03) yet? …It’s rather amazing that the Cubs are 13-11 with the middle or their order struggling as much as it has — Derek Lee, Milton Bradley, Geo Soto have yet to put their hitting shoes on, and Aramis Ramirez is hurt. As a team, the club has scored far more runs than you would have expected given the component parts.

zito_100_050409.jpgGiants 1, Rockies 0: A Barry Zito start. He’s not been half bad this year. Though written off long ago, Zito is just the latest exemplar of the old truism that pitchers can reinvent themselves ( the previous exemplar, Randy Johnson, pitched seven shutout innings on Saturday at the age of 64). The problem is that they can revert just as quickly, especially when they’re Giants and are unlikely to be supported by any kind of offense. That too is a truism.

Mariners 8, Athletics 7: Fifteen innings to bury Oakland’s hopes of a rebirth in the year of weakened (and fallen) Angels. As the Clash sang , “How many local dollars for a local anesthetic?” Matt Holliday: 0-for-7 and he hadn’t done anything before that. At least Josh Outman, wannabe superhero, pitched a strong game, and they can put a portion of the loss on Brad Ziegler’s unavailability due to illness. Darn it, I always want to type “Ron Ziegler.” Older types and historians know why.

Dodgers 7, Padres 3: At 11-15 the Padres are not yet where they belong, but they’ll have to play outside of the division to get there… Matt Kemp is 4-for-24 over the last seven games and Manny Ramirez has missed time with a bum leg, but the Dodgers roll anyway behind Chad Billingsley, who may prove to be Joe Torre’s greatest pitching legacy after Mariano Rivera. What, you thought it was Rick Mahler?

Rangers 5, White Sox 1: In which both teams reach the .500 mark. Ian Kinsler hit his ninth home run, which is one more than the Twins’ Scott Baker has allowed. Note Chicago’s starting outfield, from left to right: Carlos Quentin, who has eight home runs but is hitting .200 over his 

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