The around (and about)
Twins 6, Tigers 5: It has to be special for the Tigers when Justin Verlander strikes out 13 in 6.1 innings and they still lose. The Yankees get to face a Twins team emboldened by a dramatic sweep of their divisional rivals, including a walk-off grand slam on Wednesday and the explosive uprising against Verlander on Thursday. The good news is that the three pitchers the Yankees get, Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey, have all been beatable this year, so while the Twins have a number of hot hitters right now, especially Joe Mauer, on the rampage since he finally got healthy, they may be able to beat these fellows by putting the ball in play (walks are a different matter — Blackburn and Slowey don’t do walks). It would also be good for the Yankees if Phil Coke is healthy, because some spot southpaw relief against Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel could go a long way in this series. Could Zach Kroenke be helpful, maybe as a court of last resort?
Brewers 5, Marlins 3: Almost unnoticed, the Marlins have dropped a game under .500. I’m still waiting for a word or two from some colleagues who prematurely jumped onto the fish cart. Nothing wrong with the Marlins that surrounding Hanley Ramirez with a real team wouldn’t solve… Trevor Hoffman still hasn’t allowed a run, has eight saves. It’s just nine innings, but it’s always good to see an older Hall of Famer do well.
Dodgers 5, Phillies 3: Russell Martin is 17-for-36 this month. It’s pretty much all singles, but every little bit helps when your Manny has gone… The Phillies lost, but the game held some very glad tidings for them, as they got a terrific start from Cole Hamels. If they’re going to win, he has to be healthy and at the top of his game… Who turned off Chase Utley? He’s having Robby Cano’s May.
Rangers 3, Mariners 2: Matt Harrison has had four solid starts in a row, including consecutive complete game wins. In his last 30 innings, he’s struck out just 18, which is a problem, but he’s also walked two, which isn’t. Chris Davis hit a walk-off shot off of Brandon Morrow (Morrow the closer isn’t working out, and Morrow the starter isn’t going to happen, that leaves Morrow… the deep-sea explorer? ), and even if he does strike out 210 times this year, we all gave up on him too early.
Cubs 11, Padres 3: It’s just a reflection of how bad the Padres are, but it’s still somehow impressive that the Cubs can be reduced to playing their B team (Soriano, Theriot, Fukudome, Hoffpauir, Soto, Reed Johnson, Scales, Miles) and yet still were able to score 11 runs. Ten walks in a regulation game will help with that. Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez hit his 14 home run, Kyle Blanks waits in the minors, and which contender needs a first baseman badly enough that they would restart the Padres in exchange for one? If the Giants went for it, they could sure make things tough on the Dodgers…
Astros 5, Rockies 3: In fairness to Ed Wade and his various man-crushes, I’m obligated to report that Michael Bourn is currently batting .317/.382/.439. If that’s not just dumb luck, then someone should give hitting coach Sean Berry a Man of the Year award. Of course, the same could be said for the Yankees and Melky Cabrera. Note also Wandy Rodriguez’s terrific start (4-2, 1.90 ERA, 48 strikeouts in 52 innings) and that LaTroy Hawkins just picked up his fifth save. Perhaps the Yankees should have been more patient.
Angels 5, Red Sox 4: Sure it was a 12-inning game, but one so rarely sees a hitter go 0-for-7 and leave 12 runners on base. That the hitter in question was David Ortiz has to be disturbing for the Royal Rooters. The Red Sox are in a delicate place, but at some point they’re going to have to shuffle things around. It would no doubt be easier if Kevin Youkilis was healthy, and perhaps Ortiz will get that much longer to turn things around. Papi is an all-time team great, but even team greats can’t stick through .208/.318/.300… The Angels got Ervin Santana back, giving them another weapon towards making a run at this very soft division.
Cardinals 5, Pirates 1: The Pirates score once on 12 hits, a double, a triple, and three walks. They hit into three double plays and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Scary Fly Ball Guy Jeff Karstens gave up a Scary Fly Ball to Colby Rasmus and that was decisive. The Pirates are now six games under .500. All credit to the oversized Cardinals bullpen, which shut down the opposition after starter Mitch Boggs was pulled in the fifth.
Indians 11, Rays 7: Three of the runs were unearned, but make no mistake, James Shields was pounded, as were those famed explorers Nelson & Balfour. There’s still a run in the Rays, but lately it’s harder to believe that it’s coming…. Victor Martinez’s 4-for-5 raised his average to .400. It seems like the odd day at first base has been liberating for him. Note the Indians still playing around with their defensive alignment. Would have been nice to have gotten this sorted out during spring training, when everyone was asking, “Hey, Eric, when are you going to get around to sorting this out?”
Orioles 9, Royals 5: All I can think of just now is, “Matt Wieters is batting .280/.368/.500 in May.” Oh, and Kyle Farnsworth pitched a scoreless inning of relief down by four runs.
Mets 7, Giants 4: A roller coaster ride of a game in which the Mets stole approximately 46 bases (are they trying to show up ol’ Bengie Molina?) but still finished the game chasing after their own bullpen, just like old times. David Wright stole four bases, continuing his unexpected transformation from Mike Schmidt to Paul Molitor. Sure, he’s been caught stealing in six of 15 attempts, but in at least one of those the umpire really blew the call, so it’s all working out okay. Really! My XM receiver ran out of juice in the car today, so I spent some time listening to sports talk radio for the first time in awhile. Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar David Wright. It’s unfortunate that he’s signed through 2012 or 2013 (the latter season a team option), because I feel for player and fans alike that they won’t be rid of each other any time soon.