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Daily News and Notes
by Richard Van Zandt, BaseballEvolution.com



Notes through games of Thursday, May 18

Highly touted Phillies prospect Cole Hamels made his big league debut on Friday night and after having held opposing hitters to a

Kerry Wood made his debut on Thursday and after watching his teammates shut out Washington the previous two nights, Wood allowed 4 runs (including 3 HR) in 5 innings as the Cubs lost 5-3 to the Nationals.  Mark Prior meanwhile will throw 40 to 45 pitches in a rookie league game on Friday as he continues to rehab his strained right shoulder.

 

Rivalry weekend begins tonight as cross town and cross state foes square off in the first round of Interleague play.  Among our favorite match-ups here at DN&N are the Yankees/Mets, Rangers/Astros, Dodgers/Angels and the Giants/A’s.   But perhaps the most intriguing match-up on Friday will be the afternoon tilt between the Cubs and their South Side rivals.  That game will feature future HOF’er Greg Maddux going for career win number 324 against White Sox ace Mark Buehrle.

 

Trivia Question – With the first round of Interleague play upon us, can you name the first National League player to serve as a DH in a regular season game? 

 

Trivia Question II – What former major league player had the most base hits in the 90’s? (answers below)

 

Carlos Silva walked just 9 batters in 188.1 innings last year and had just 4 walks in his first 46 IP this year.  In his first appearance out of the bullpen on Thursday afternoon Silva walked 2 in one inning of work.

 

Ichiro had four hits in a 6-3 loss to Oakland last night and in doing so pushed his batting average back over .300 (.311 actually) for the first time since April 6, Seattle’s fourth game of the season.   

 

Free Swingers Update Pt I DN&N’s favorite free swinger was back at it again on Thursday afternoon as the Braves clobbered the Florida 9-1 to finish off the four game sweep of the Marlins.  Jeff Francoeur extended his hitting streak to 16 games with 3 hits (including 2 home runs) while at the same time failing to draw a walk in 4 at bats.  This gave the hot hitting 22 year old OF just 1 BB total in 175 AB this year, and put him on pace to bat 690 times this year and draw just 4 walks.

 

Free Swingers Update Pt II – Meanwhile teammate and fellow free swinger Matt Diaz did not walk in four at bats (and also homered in the win) leaving him with a total of 57 at bats without a base on balls this year, the most currently in the Majors.  He has in fact, a very Francoeur-like 6 walks in 176 lifetime at bats.

 

During his hitting streak, Jeff Francoeur is batting .351 (26 for 74) with 6 HR and 22 RBI.  What is possibly even more interesting to note is that during the streak, he has not had one single game with less than four at bats and has had seven games with at least 5 or more (including a 2 for 7 night on May 5). 

 

As noted yesterday, MLB owners on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of the sale of the Washington Nationals to the group headed by Ted Lerner and Stan Kasten, officially putting an end to the saga of the wayward Expos.  The new owners have promised a Grand Re-Opening night on July 21, their first homestand after the All-Star break. 

 

Close the Door! Pt I – Among the best so far at closing the door (when opportunity permits) are Red Sox rookie closer Jonathan Papelbon (14/14 in saves, 0.42 ERA), Blue Jays free agent pickup B.J. Ryan (9/9, 0.48 ERA) and long time Padre Trevor Hoffman (7/7, 1.20 ERA). 

 

Close the Door! Pt II – Among those who have gotten hot recently are Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen (7 saves in last 7 games, 7 IP, 1.28 ERA), Tigers stopper Doug Jones (6 saves in last 6 games, 6 IP, 1.50 ERA) and new Devil Rays reliever Tyler Walker (8 games, 7/7 SV, 7.1 IP 0.00 ERA)

 

Close the Door! Pt III – Phillies closer Flash Gordon has one loss and one blown save this year (getting a win in the latter) but in his other 17 appearances he is 1-0 with 13 saves in 13 chances and a 0.00 ERA (15.2 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 24 K, 3 BB).

 

The Longest Streak Pt I – Detroit won their ML best 7th in a row on Thursday and then saw Tampa Bay beat the White Sox to help lift the Tigers into sole possession of first place in the AL Central.  In the win, Kenny Rogers recorded his ML best 7th win of the year to help give Detroit (27-13) the best record in Baseball. 

 

The Longest Streak Pt II – Cincinnati’s win over Pittsburgh left Kansas City, losers of their last 6, as possessors of the longest losing streak in the majors.  At 10-28, the Royals are the worst team in baseball. 

 

Casey Blake, the majors’ top hitter at .370, had two more hits for Cleveland in the win over KC on Thursday and is now hitting .426 with 5 HR and 12 RBI in May. 

 

After hitting .375 in April, Giants SS Omar Vizquel has cooled down considerably in May, batting just .183 (11 for 60).  The defensive wiz has not taken it to the field where he has made just one error all year (170 chances, 10th in MLB). 

 

Carl Pavano was shut down after he threw just one inning a minor league rehab start on Wednesday and his availability for the entire 2006 season may now be in doubt. 

 

Trivia Answer IGlenallen Hill became the first NL player to serve as a designated hitter in a regular season game when the San Francisco Giants took on the Texas Rangers on June 12, 1997 in Baseball’s very first Interleague game at what was then known as The Ballpark in Arlington.

 

DN&N would like to lend its support to colleague Keith Glab in calling on the Cubs to permanently retire Mark Grace’s number 17.  The face of the Cubs franchise for more than a decade, he will always be remembered by Giants fans for his remarkable performance in the ’89 LCS (11 for 17, .647).  Sadly for Cubs fans, it was a performance that was matched by his counterpart Will Clark (13 for 20, .650) as the Giants went on to the World Series (more commonly remembered for Loma Prieta earthquake that interrupted it).  Nevertheless, DN&N thinks it’s high time that the Cubs mend their broken fences and pay proper tribute to one of the top players of the 90’s. 

 

Trivia Answer II – Mark Grace, of course, led all Major Leaguers with 1,734 base hits in the 90’s. 

 

Finally, the PAMF slow pitch softball team earned their first win of the year on Thursday, 21-9 in just 4 innings in a mercy rule shortened game.  Contributing 3 hits and 2 RBI despite a strained quad was yours truly, pushing my average on the year to .888 (8 for 9). 




Questions or comments for Richard? Richard Van Zandt is a staff writer for Baseball Evolution who lives in San Francisco, California. You can reach him at richard@baseballevolution.com.


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