Friday, May 28, 2010

5/27/10 Gwinnett Braves 0, Louisville Bats 6

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
(Game 1 of 4)

Here it is, fellow Baseball first 'live' Aroldis Chapman game. The last time I 'saw' him pitch was his disastrous performance for Cuba versus Japan during the WBC. In the flesh, I can report not very much improvement. My friends Bill and Don were at this game with me, they tried to lead the crowd with a rousing rendition of "Wild Thing" but didn't get much response.

GWN 0 5 1
LOU 6 10 0

Chapman was somewhat impressive, but my vote for 'player of the game' went to the catcher Wilkin Castillo. You have to have arms that move 5 feet away from the strike zone, in any direction, at 100mph if your pitcher is sending bullets at that speed in those same random directions, and Castillo was marvelous at this. Forget the holiest of Catcher defensive skills (throwing from the knees), Castillo can grab just about anything from the crouch. First Braves batter to face Chapman was last year's Braves rookie phenom Jordan Schafer; you could see his knees knocking from the grandstand. I suppose there is no fear in the Minor Leagues greater than facing Chapman.

But, let's be fair about Aroldis - this really was a good outing for him.

5 IP, 3H, no Runs, 1 BB and 7 K (only one of them called) and 2 WP. Time will tell if he's going to 'get the call' for the Reds, as many speculate, but this guy is no Stephen Strasburg and if I was a Reds fan I would be very, very afraid of that phone ringing for him this year, no matter how well the season is going (or NOT going) for them at any point in time.

Combined, the Bats pitching staff held the Braves scoreless. The Bats scored all but 2 of their runs in the first inning against Jo Jo Reyes. The start of the game was delayed until 7:46 due to lingering light rain.

I charged the Braves' Mitch Jones with a throwing error on Balentien's extended single but the Official Scorer did not.

Official Scorecard, and Bat Chat

Monday, May 24, 2010

5/23/10 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 1, Louisville Bats 5

Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
(Game 2 of 4)

A great day for baseball, hotter than the dickens for this time of year but what a preview of the SUMMER (oh please oh please, arrive SOON!) and hey...boiling alive at a game is better than freezing!!!

My eldest daughter Kei and I headed for this day game as Travis Wood took the mound for the Bats (Travis pitched in the last Bats game I attended, the home opener). Curtis Granderson was starting in his second rehab game for the Yankees.

SWB 1 7 1
LOU 5 10 0

Quite an exciting rout as Todd Frazier knocks back-to-back HR in back-to-back AB, and Wilkin Castillo joined Frazier in back-to-back HR in the 4th inning.

Yonder Alonso at bat, facing Jason Hirsh

Wood was great last time I saw him; even better today: 6IP, 4H, ER, 3BB, 5K, and 3 BLS (Broken Louisville Sluggers - Golson, Corona, and Montero; none were broken-bat singles). With the offense backing him up, this game belonged to the Bats by the end of the 4th.

Travis Wood FIRES IT UP!!

Wood really does have great stuff - not Justin Lehr-type great, but good enough to retire batters in order and bring back a self-imposed inning-getting-out-of-hand with minimal damage. Alonso went 2 for 4 with an RBI, Drew Sutton also drove in a run, and Zack Cozart racked up 2 SB (one for a run). Bats pitchers in relief Jesus Delgado and Jared Burton held the Yankess scoreless for the remainder of the game.

For the Yanks, Granderson went 1 for 2, with a K and a BB - he was lifted in the game in the bottom of the sixth. Eduardo Nunez drove in the Yankees' only run and went 2 for 4.

I managed to keep score, *almost* catch a few foul balls up in the club level, take a few camera-phone shots, and also post pics and tweet game updates!! Multi-tasking in my old age!!!

The sunburn testifies: I LOVE baseball season, nothing beats a day at the park - this park is one of the best!! We had a great time and can't wait until our next outing!!

Official Scorecard Cover and Gameday Stats (Bat Chat)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sayonara, Hirumanu-san!!

As if we didn't know this was coming, what we call a textbook 'visit from the inevitable' occurred immediately following a great Royals game on Wednesday.

Trey Hillman was no doubt informed when the Royals returned from their road trip that he should start packing right away; the club made the announcement at the end of the Indians @ Royals series. 5 minutes after I turned the game off, the messages started pouring in...

It's pretty fair to say that this just didn't work out right from the start. I was optimistic about the possibilities, but in all fairness...I've been a Japanese baseball fan for many years (longer than MLB in recent times) and Hillman's success in NPB just can't translate over here.

Nick at Broken Bat Single hit the nail on the head during his 5/13/10 Podcast: Trey 'knew everything' and this pretty much led to his downfall. I want to take that assessment one step further and attempt to grasp this - he thought he "knew better" than everyone else. In the Japanese leagues, this works most of the time, but if the front office disagrees, you submit to them and that's that (dependent upon which club you are managing). Hillman in MLB pretty much took his headstrong way into the Royals organization, without any checks and balances from the Royals front office, and this is one way you can speculate on his early exit as the club manager.

So, "that didn't work" and it's time to move on. Trey will make a fantastic bench coach for any team, probably better in the AL unless he shows some signs of strategic flexibility. As a bench coach, he can still profess that he 'knows better,' but has a direct voice next to him in the dugout that can rule out when he's wrong and not carry an unpredictable situation on the field into a predictable disaster.

He probably won't be returning to Japan...he burned a few bridges there.

Hillman really is one of my favorite people in baseball, here's a toast to gave it your best shot (seriously) and here's hoping you find something soon in the type of position for the type of organization that can utilize your prowess to a harmonious advantage.

As for the Royals...this team does deserve better. Kauffman is Holy Ground, and there seems to be enough talent on the team that can make a difference with the right leader. Ned Yost probably isn't that leader, but who knows?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

5/15/10 Pittsburgh Pirates 3, Chicago Cubs 4

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

Is this truly bliss, or are we just sliding down a pole with razor blades at the bottom (again)?

It's hard to believe I have such a sense of celebration over a WIN that avoids a sweep by the Pirates AND finishes a 3 game series with a loss, but that's what we Cubs fans have been used to this season so far.

PIT 3 6 1
CHC 4 8 1

The Buckos have won their games against us by scoring in the first inning. This is still true, as they did not score in the first (they waited until the 2nd, thanks) and subsequently did not win. The key seemed to be 'don't let McCutchen hit safely'...he did hit safely but was subsequently caught stealing (1-3-4)and that was really the end of his offensive threat.

Soriano...flied out once, hit safely twice, scored a run, stole a base (going on a wild pitch, snagging an extra base in the process), drove in a run, and was walked. Nice! Derrek Lee with 2 hits, an RBI...Fukudome, a hit and a run, Byrd (2 for 4)...Fontenot was walked and scored the tying run on a wild pitch by Evan Meek (whom we had feared when we was "throwing up in the bullpen")...Xavier nady delivers his first pinch hit RBI as a Cub, and suddenly our offensive power is easily matched with our ability to cross the plate. Defensively, the most honorable mention has to go to Fukudome's amazing catch in the top of the 7th, robbing Ross Ohlendorf's potential extra-bases drive with 2 men on base; this would have blown the game to a 5-1 advantage for the Pirates had Fukudome not reached the ball as efficiently as he had. As for Ohlendorf, see my post about Latos...moments like these don't -and can't- happen in AL games.

Yes, even if only for one afternoon...the nicest W of all is one that was fought for valiantly, and after such a dry spell.

I want to also comment that this year's Pirates really don't look or smell like last year's Pirates...they aren't really playing like the cheapo AAA team they have been for the past few years, so maybe they have the advantage in 2010 games with us 5-1 partly because we aren't performing as well as we should be, but also maybe because they are performing a little bit better than others have expected them to. Like they stole some of that 'mysterious spoiler mojo' from the Brewers (who could use some this year so far).

Lilly looked fine, but I still don't know what the hell happened in the 2nd inning. Sean Marshall = YES, and hey Carlos Marmol is effective as a closer in a Save situation. Theriot sat out the game due to a sore elbow from being hit by Carrasco yesterday.

WGN-TV broadcasters Len Kasper and Bob Brenly did their broadcast from the bleachers (with a visit from Bleacher Veteran Tom Ricketts as well) and no, this wasn't the first time they've done it but the weather was beautiful, no homers to catch out there today, and all is well.

5/13/10 San Diego Padres 1, San Francisco Giants 0

AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
(Game 3 of 3)

Mat Latos *almost* throws a perfect game (no thanks to Eli Whiteside!) as the Padres sweeeeep the Giants.

SD 1 5 1
SF 0 1 3

Latos goes for his first career Complete Game and his first career Shut-Out Win, this feat is twice as admirable due to the prowess of his opponent, the ever-incredible Jonathan Sanchez (who gets a tip of the hat for going 8 innings). Sanchez winning this was nearly a 'sure thing,' but Latos and the Padres have had such a great start this season, so there you go. Latos also drives in the only run scored in the game...again, this is what's truly part of the strategic edge in well-played and skillfully executed National League games. Managers can pull the strings with the pinch hitter gamble, or they can expect some of their hurlers to pull offensive surprises now and then.

Padres 'temp' Lance Zawadzki is the run that Latos scores. Zawadzki was called up from AAA to cover for Evereth Cabrera on the DL, with prospects like him the Padres have much to look forward to. Also, baseball players named Lance are KOOL.

Enjoyed this game on XPRS, with Jerry Coleman, Ted Leitner, and Andy Masur.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

5/15/10 Chicago White Sox 5, Kansas City Royals 4

Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO

After a nearly hour-long rain delay and some interesting but very blurry vintage White Sox footage, the game gets a rocky start for Jake Peavy (he's still one of my favorite pitchers, ever) as he allows 3 quick runs in the 1st. Luke Hochevar holds his own for nearly 7 innings, but Peavy hangs on after his early mistakes and the Royals pay the price.

CWS 5 8 0
KC 4 7 0

Of course, I like Luke Hochevar quite a bit. Between Trey Hillman and Ned Yost, 2010 was Hochevar's season to "hang in there" and help himself out...or not. He has to learn sometime, that time is now. Peavy was a beast tonight, no question about it.

A great game for Mike Aviles, who set the table for the 3-run first inning, Billy Butler, and even...heyyyyy...Alberto Callaspo and Yuni "Yunigma" Betancourt!! Unfortunately, when Hochevar does unravel in the 7th inning, it's not pretty. 4 runs on 5 hits not pretty. By the end of the 7th, the Royals are behind the White Sox 5-4 and that's where it sits.

Ah, yes...but wait, there IS more! The call to the bullpen in the 9th goes to none other than Kyle Farnsworth!!

This section of the post is for KYLE FARNSWORTH fans only, as we fire up the Official TBE Farnsworth PitchTracker 2010(sm). Here I present the details of Kyle's 9th inning workout against the White Sox, pitch by pitch:

Farnsworth vs. Ramon Castro (bats R)
1: 98mph (called strike)
2: 89mph (called strike)
3: 100mph (low, outside corner)
4: 99mph (fouled back)
5: 92mph (fouled back)
6: 97mph (popout to left fielder in foul territory)
Farnsworth vs. Juan Pierre (bats L)
7: 96mph (bunted foul)
8: 99mph (outside)
9: 95mph (flies out to shortstop)
Farnsworth vs. Gordon Beckham (bats R)
10: 99mph (called strike)
11: 99mph (high)
12: 90mph (grounds out to first base, farnsworth covers the bag and makes the tag)
AVG. PITCH SPEED = 96.1mph

I scored this game on 3/5/11

Friday, May 14, 2010

5/9/10 Tampa Bay Rays 0, Oakland Athletics 4

Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA

Whither A-Rod?

So much press about this milestone (and very early in the season yet); if not for what it is, then because of the 'you don't cross my mound' controversy with A-Hole. Interesting, as the pundits profess, how Braden's Mother's Day gem made that incident nothing more than a footnote.

Hothead Oakland pitcher with bad teeth and old skool reputation throws MLB's 19th perfect game. Chilling resemblances to Mark Buehrle's PG for the Sox last year, starting with "They beat the Rays at home" and ending with "Gape Kapler."

You can read about all that logic online on various blogs (and get the box score as well) but here's my scoresheet for your review.

TB 0 0 1
OAK 4 12 0

Umpire Jim Wolf moves on his 'premature' called Strike 3 pose not once but twice in this game. Kinda funny because he really got me on the first one.

All batters used Pink Bats for at least one plate appearance, with the exception of OAK DH Eric Chavez. The only batter I noticed 'ditching' the pink bats for later PA was Eric Patterson.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I miss this guy...

"I could have played another year, but I would have been playing for the money, and baseball deserves better than that."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

5/9/10 Chicago Cubs 3, Cincinnati Reds 5

Great American Ball park, Cincinnati, OH
(Game 3 of 3)

The rubber match of this infamous series modestly showcased the talents of the lad Mike Leake of Cincinnati, he with enough skill to skip the Minor Leagues entirely, pitted ferociously against his ally, the mature and experienced Chicago Cubs Ace Ryan Dempster.

OK, not with as much ferocity as in velocity.

CHC 3 5 1
CIN 5 6 0

Leake pretty damn near no-hit the Cubs on this day, in one of the better pitching performances yet seen this season. He did make it look fairly easy in making the Cubs look fairly incompetent at the offense, and even when trouble reared its head for him in the 7th (with 2 outs already recorded...and Marlon Byrd behind in the count...he was that close to shutting us out for 7 innings) his composure was as solid as tempered steel. It was Byrd's double with 2 outs that started a spark the Cubs thought they could fan into flames; Aramis Ramirez makes it on base with a crack single to 3rd, then with Colvin at bat a wild pitch scores Byrd and moves Ramirez into scoring position.

As if to respond to the rookie theme of this series...well, at least of the first and third games...Colvin crushes a tater to right field and just like that the Cubs have a one-run lead over the Reds. Leake gets Starlin Castro to ground out to short, ending the top of the 7th with 6 strikeouts and 1 walk. The Reds respond in the bottom of the 7th with a 3-run homer from Votto that pretty much underlined the question of the day: "why, with 2 on and 2 out, and with 0-3 Scott Rolen on deck, why do you pitch to Joey Votto?"

In case you're wondering, the answer really is: you do NOT pitch to Joey Votto in this scenario. NO. I'm using Joe Posnanski italics to emphasize this point.

Yes, Dempster strikes out 7, yet walks 3 and allows 5 ER and gets an L besides. he throws 114 pitches in 7, Leake throws 90. He just made it look so damn easy, that's all.

Best play of the game was the shocking "Fake Bunt/Stolen Base" play executed by Drew Stubbs at the plate and a very elated Scott Rolen literally walking to third as Stubbs' "I'm going to bunt" scquare draws the infield towards the bunt zone and Stubbs takes Demptser's strike with his eyeballs.

As it was Mother's Day, players who used pink bats are noted as such for each at bat.

I scored this game on 2/28/11.

5/8/10 Chicago Cubs 2, Cincinnati Reds 14

Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, OH
Game 2 of 3

The second game of the infamous "lopsided series" of May 2010, always remembered and otherwise known as the "Starlin Castro debut series." The first game of the series shocked all but a handful of Cubs fans (and some Reds fans also), this game provided nearly as many surprises, but not nearly enough to the Cubs' benefit.

CHC 2 12 2
CIN 14 15 0

So this was really a nearly-evenly matched pitching duel, just looking at the SP lines:
Aaron Harang (CIN) 6.2IP, 7H, 2ER, BB, 9K, WP, 27 total batters faced
Tom Gorzellany (CHC) 6IP, 9H, 3ER, BB, 9K, HR, 27 total batters faced

Harang had a slight edge over Gorzelanny. As Len Kasper and Bob Brenly would comment during the next game, this was a very close game until the Cubs bullpen had the door shown to them by the Cubs defense. Yes, two routine ground balls, two back-to-back errors (one of them Starlin Castro's first MLB error), two Reds on base and IT hits the fan. When the brick dust settles, 4 Cubs pitchers face the entire Reds lineup twice in 2 consecutive innings, 11 runs scored by the Reds (only 6 of those earned) on 6 hits. Can't throw a phone book at all of them at once.

Rather than go further into game detail, I want to officially unload on the Fox Sports Ohio broadcasting team of Chris Welsh and Thom Brennaman. I've been unreasonably forced to watch baseball games on this channel, as it is my local sports affiliate (things have been better since MLB Network came along)'s bad enough they are Reds games, better when they are Cubs/Reds games, but sometimes nothing can disguise the smell of manure.

In a way very different than the dream team of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, Welsh and Brennaman continue to demonstrate consistently their own brand of incompetency. Where Miller and Morgan (mostly Morgan) were inspired by egotism and a personalized and unsightly view of the game (as it relates or not to the game you are watching), these bozos are usually barely entertaining in their gaffes behind the mic.

Factoring out forgetfulness...I mean, we loved it when Ron used to forget who was up next, and Pat would tease him about it, it was part of their banter. When Welsh says the pitcher's spot is due up at the top of the next inning and you know without looking at your scoresheet that the pitcher was the last batter of the last inning, I guess that happens. Blame it on your scorebook, Welsh, as you always do. But what follows are example from this game of things these two boobs do all the time.

When Carlos Zambrano is entering the game out of the bullpen, after the obligatory discourse over his controversial assignment to the bullpen and anger management issues, the pitcher's stats appear onscreen and Welsh attempts to let all of us know what to expect.
WELSH: So here we get a look at Carlos Zambrano...the thing about Zambrano here, you know, we've seen him so many times as a starter, but take a look at the number of innings pitched...

There is a pause as K/BB numbers are circled on the screen graphic:

WELSH: ...and the number of striekouts. He's got 11 strikeouts in 24 innings, that's 4 and a half, bases...or, uh...4 and a half bases on balls per 9 innings, he's walking a lotta guys is what I'm saying...

Well, Chris Welsh, at this point even fans of the Reds don't know what the hell you're saying, I had trouble following it, and you obviously didn't even understand the graphic in front of you that you were circling as you were speaking...if you don't have a clue just don't even go there. It's apparent that up to this point he had 30 strikeouts in just over 24 innings, which means over 1 strikeout per inning, and a walk every other inning. This makes a little more sense than the oatmeal you were trying to squish through your teeth. Stay away from the stats, leave that for Joe Morgan. The punch line: right after this Brennaman says "All I know is the Reds need at least one more run." Well said, Charlie...

Welsh and Brennaman make it worse by trying to say Zambrano's 2.99 ERA is deceiving, again, with more random stat analysis. All in defense of Harang as a great pitcher, of course.

One of their typical 'baseball strategy' quotes also appeared in this game, as Jay Bruce gets a complement on defensive play, grabbing a big fly ball on the warning track:
WELSH: well, you know, when you think about right field, you don't think defense, I mean you think first of all, that right fielder is gonna give you plenty of pop at the plate...

WHAT?!? So if a guy is a big hitter, and lousy at defense, he's suitable for right field? This is why Welsh isn't a manager, I guess.

The rubber match is tomorrow, on WGN though. I can't stand Fox Sports Ohio.

I scored this game on 2/27/11.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

5/7/10 Chicago Cubs 14, Cincinnati Reds 7

Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, OH
Game 1 of 3

Starlin Castro's memorable debut. Also known as Homer Bailey's memorable choke.

Many Louisville Bats fans will tell you we are all still wondering why Homer gets the hype he does. He has always been this unreliable, and you'd think the Reds would have learned their lesson based on his record from last year's appearances.

This game really shows you why they call him "Homer." Reds phenom-in-the-hopper Chapman is starting to follow the same 'great fastball, poor control' pattern.

CHC 14 15 1
CIN 7 16 0

Castro homers in his first MLB at bat; racks up 6 RBIs to set a new MLB record. Carlos Silva pitches effectively for 4 innings, only to lose some control in the 5th. Just the same, as bad as Homer was, he was that much better.

Lest we forget some other great Cub performances...Fukudome, Byrd, and Soto enjoy offensive superiority, and even the slumping Lee and Ramirez hit safely. Add a special notch for Mike Fontenot, who's one-pitch first career Grand Slam in some ways overshadowed the great game that Castro is known for (and, of course, will have that much more of a challenge living up to).

Sean Marshall has been a stud in the bullpen this year, I'm finally forgetting about his stint as a start last year and I'm enjoying his effective appearances on the mound.

I had to watch this on Fox Sports OH, but found myself logging in to At Bat and turning the volume down on the TV while I listened to Pat and Ron. The Reds TV team of Welsh and Brennaman - it was fun to see them squirm but difficult to listen to.

Maybe it was because I had a sinking feeling as to how the rest of the series was going to go...

Good job, Starlin! WORLD SERIES HERE WE COME!!!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

5/1/10 Milwaukee Brewers 2, San Diego Padres 1

Petco Park, San Diego, CA
Game 3 of 4

A pitchers' duel, or Rob Drake Dementia? Two effective arms battle, but a salty HP umpire's bizarre strike zone may or may not have made this the toe-to-toe confrontation this game may or may not have been.

MIL 2 9 0
SD 1 7 0

It's Mat Latos (SD) vs. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) as the Brewers try to snap the Padres' home-winning streak. Consider it snapped, but don't blame the ump.

Let me explain, without watching the game all over again. Rob Drake made at least a dozen 'questionable' calls (off the top of my head), ultimately Adrian Gonzalez and then Bud black both would be ejected in the bottom of the 8th after Gonzalez argues his 3rd strikeout of the game, his 2nd called. I could go back and watch the game again and count the number of 'iffy' called strikes, against BOTH teams, but really I still think that one thing made the difference: Yovani Gallardo's solo Home Run gave the Brewers the one-run lead that counted at the start; the Padres tied the game in the same inning, but with Rickie Weeks' solo shot a couple of innings later and Tim Stauffer's great performance for the Pads in later start to wonder how many extra innings we'd have seen if it wasn't for Gallardo's blast.

I forgot to mention, Gallardo fanned 11 batters total. Wobbly strike zone or not, he did a fantastic job and moved way up on my 'enemy starting pitchers in the NL Central to despise and admire simultaneously' list.

I really like watching Padres home games on 4SD much better than others, 4SD has the best fly-over shots of Petco and also the best inside-the-park shots.

I scored this game 2/24/11.

4/30/10 Minnesota Twins 9, Cleveland Indians 3

Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH

The Twins are in town to scalp the Indians, and they do it well. The Indians get on the board due to an inning-extending outfield near-collision.

MIN 9 12 0
CLE 3 12 2

With one out, Mike Redmond pops a routine fly to RC, Cuddyer and Span nearly neail each other but the ball drops and Redmond gets a double. This collision should have been an error, but it was ruled a hit. That would have been 2 outs, with the top of the order coming up in Asdrubal Cabrera, who had grounded out in his first 2 ABs and might have again. At any rate, Slowey earns the 3 runs that happen next, but the Twins remain on top.

Orlando Hudson, Justin Morneau both drive in 2 runs apiece. The only Twins who don't hit safely are Denard Span (who reaches on a fielder's choice, driving in a run, and eventually scores) and Delmon Young (who walks and eventually scores).

The game was called by Dick Brenner and future HOFer Bert Blyleven on Fox Sports North.

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