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April 27, 2010: A Red-Letter Date in the History of Baseball
by Asher B. Chancey,
April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 may go down as a watershed day in the history of Major League Baseball. For those of you who missed it, here is a brief recap of the milestone events from yesterday:

Washington’s got a live one. In Reading, Pennsylvania, Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg was in town with the Harrisburg Senators and went five near-perfect innings (a passed-ball on strike three accounted for the only base-runner) while striking out six. Not only that, but Strasburg also drove in the first run of the game for Harrisburg.

Meanwhile, in an at-least-for-now wide open National League East, the Nationals are currently a game over .500 and one game out of the divisional lead. Sure, the Phillies have had some injuries and the Mets are playing over their head, but what if the Nationals are one player away from competiting for the NL wild card, and that one player just threw five perfect innings in Double-A ball?

The Mets are back. For now. The New York Mets swept a double-header against the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday to run their winning streak to six games. The Mets also took over first place in the NL East for the first time since May 29th of last season. The Mets were a team for whom so much went wrong in 2009, but thus far everything seems to be going right in 2010. The hitters are hitting, rookie call-up Ike Davis looks like everything the Mets were hoping for, Mike Pelfrey has remembered how to pitch, and the bullpen has been nigh unhittable. Even Oliver Perez is giving up less than a hit per inning.

We Don’t Need Joe Nathan. In Detroit, Francisco Liriano continued his impressive comeback against the Tigers, running his scoreless streak to 23 innings while striking out 10 and walking one in eight innings of work. The ninth inning was pitched by Jon Rauch, the Twins replacement for the injured Joe Nathan, and all Rauch did was nail down his seventh save in eight chances, striking out two batters and running his ERA down to 1.80. Rauch has never been as dominating as his six-foot-eleven frame would imply, but the closer’s role certain seems to suit him for now.

Olivo Five, Kansas City Zero. The on-going Miguel Olivo/Zack Greinke/Ubaldo Jimenez saga took centerstage last night as all three players were in action for the Rockies and Royals. In Colorado, the Rockies scored 11 runs in the first three innings in a laugher against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Rockies were laughing more because of their pitching than their hitting. Jimenez threw 95 pitches over six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out six. Jimenez also ran his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 22.1 innings.

In addition to attending to his catcher duties, Olivo also went 1-for-2 with two RBI and a walk, and is now hitting .319.

Meanwhile, Zack Greinke enjoyed his best outing of the season, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing six hits, walking none, and striking out five. Unfortunately, it took Greinke 119 pitches to get through the five innings, and his reliever Josh Rupe promptly gave up three runs in the eighth inning as the Royals fell to the Mariners, 3-2.

It looks as though it will be Miguel Olivo, and not Zack Greinke, who will be winning consecutive Cy Young Awards this season.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, the End of the Beginning of the End.

Here are some fun stats: in 2010, the Milwaukee Brewers’ pitching staff has allowed six homeruns, seven doubles, and 22 hits in the ninth inning of games. In all of 2009, the Brewers’ staff allowed ten homeruns, 17 doubles, and 101 hits. The 2009 Brewers’ Opponents RSL in the ninth inning was .222/.284/.330/.615. In 2010, that RSL is .319/.338/.710/1.048.

The Milwaukee Brewers are a young talented team being absolutely destroyed by their bullpen. More specifically, the Brewers are being destroyed by Trevor Hoffman. Last night, Randy Wolf went eight innings and handed a 3-2 lead to Hoffman. T-Hoff allowed four hits, two walks, two homeruns and five earned runs in blowing the lead and the game for the Brewers. Hoffman’s ERA is now 13.50, he has allowed more earned runs in 2010 than he did in all of 2009, and he is 1-2 with three blown saves. At the age of 42, it is starting to become difficult to deny the obvious, and if he is hell-bent on Bert Blylevening his way to 600 saves, the Brewers would be well served to let him do it somewhere else.

Did the Philadelphia Phillies batters do enough to win Tuesday night in San Francisco? No – two runs on five hits and three bases on balls is not the Phillies’ recipe for success, and no team can succeed when its first two hitters fail to get on base for an entire game.

Nevertheless, the San Francisco Giants are one of the best lop-sided teams (meaning, they can pitch but they can’t hit) in baseball, and the Phillies should know what they need to do to win in San Francisco – keep the ball in the ballpark and score at least three runs. Unfortunately, Phillies’ starter Jamie Moyer was not up to the task, allowed ten hits and two homeruns in only six innings. Moyer’s ERA is now 5.25, he is allowing nearly 11 hits per nine innings pitched, and he almost seems to be in a hurry to become the all time leader in homeruns allowed.

This is the point in this note where I wax about how Moyer is done, and how at the age of 47 he just doesn’t have it any more. I’d do more to try to drive that point home if not for one inconvenient truth: Moyer’s numbers are actually quite similar to those of Cole Hamels, and that guy is supposed to be an ace.

A Look at the Standings, and What Do We See?

Today is April 28, 2010. The first month of the 2010 baseball season is almost behind us. In a game in which much is made of competitive balance and the need for a salary cap or some other type of structure to level the playing field between big-market teams and small-market teams, we find that five small market teams – San Diego, St. Louis, Oakland, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay – are currently in first place in their respective divisions. Additionally, if the playoffs started tomorrow the San Francisco Giants would be the NL wild card team. Meanwhile, with the exception of the New York teams, big market teams in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston all find themselves without winning records.

I don’t know if it means that there isn’t a problem, but I do know that I like it this way.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at

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