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June, 2010

6/27/10: A New Home Run King - No, Barry Bonds' record of 762 home runs has not fallen. Instead, Jaime Moyer gave up the 506th homer of his career on Sunday, breaking the record previously held by ex-Phillie Robin Roberts for over 50 years.

Moyer's home run - surrendered to the resurgent Vernon Wells - was his one mistake in an 11-2 victory that marked Moyer's ninth win of the season. Moyer appears to be a lock to break Phil Niekro's record 11 victories in a season by a 47-year-old pitcher set back in 1986.

6/27/10: Broxton Brings Dodger Blues - Jonathan Broxton entered the ninth inning of Sunday night's game against the New York Yankees with a four-run lead and a 0.87 season ERA (three earned runs in 32.2 innings). He left with the game tied and a 1.87 ERA in a contest that the Yankees would win 8-6 in ten innings.

Besides allowing more earned runs in one game than he had in his previous 33 combined and more than doubling his season ERA, Broxton got off the hook rather easily. Because he entered with a four-run lead, he did not get saddled with a blown save, and because the Yankees only tied the game against him, Broxton did not take the loss. Whenever you hear someone say that a closer's ERA is irrelevant, this outing should be on the back of your mind and the tip of your tongue.

June 20, 2010 - The Worst MVP Voting Ever? - PNC Park was filled to capacity Saturday night as the 50-year anniversary of Pittsburgh's 1960 World Series Champions was celebrated in a pregame ceremony. The PA announcer certainly engaged in some excusable hyperbole during the ceremony, trying to convince us that backup outfielder Joe Christopher was an integral part of that 1960 team and rather matt-of-factly grading the Bill Mazeroski Game Seven homer as the most memorable moment in MLB history.

What isn't excusable, looking back at the 1960 season, was the MVP voting that year. National League MVP winner Dick Groat probably wasn't the worst MVP selection in history, but the NL voting top-to-bottom may well have been.

June 17, 2010 - Ubaldo Jimenez Is on His Way to an Exceptional Season - It's easy to get in trouble projecting a player's June stat line to a full season total. Juan Gonzalez had 101 RBI in the first half of the 1998 season, and although he actually hit much better in the second half (.353 vs .293), he collected only 56 RBI after the break. Ten years later, Chipper Jones had a .400 batting average on June 18, but hit "only" .320 the rest of the way to finish at .364.

Still, projecting June stat lines can be a lot of fun, and there's no stat line in baseball more fun to look at right now than that of Ubaldo Jimenez. After 14 starts, the Rockies' ace is 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA. It's time to consider whether Jimenez could possibly be heading towards one of the greatest pitching seasons of all time.

6/17/10: Geren Not So Good Outside of His Wheelhouse - Bob "Pitch it in his wheelhouse and he'll hit it far" Geren spent most of his five-year playing career in the American League and managed an American League club for all 553 of his games as a manager. Still, it is hard to believe that he had never heard of the double-switch before today. Geren used his closer Andrew Bailey to get out of an 8th-inning bases-loaded jam against the Cubs Bailey, who had only pitched two innings in the past 12 days, retired the two batters he faced, but because Geren failed to double-switch Bailey upon inserting him into the game, the closer was lifted for a pinch-hitter to begin the 9th.

The A's failed to score in the top off the inning, so the score was tied 2-2 when Jerry Blevins walked the first batter of the bottom of the ninth. After a sacrifice, Geren made his second mistake, which was to intentionally walk Koyie Hill - a career .218 hitter - to get to Ryan Theriot and the top of the Cubs lineup. Blevins continued to struggle with his command and walked Theriot before Kosuke Fukudome eeked a single past a drawn in infield to win the game.

Apparently, Geren not only has difficulty with the concept of the double-switch, but also the concept of not issuing free-passes to light-hitting backup catchers to bring the top of the lineup to the plate. Perhaps having been a light-hitting backup catcher himself, Geren was afraid that Blevins would pitch it into Hill's wheelhouse.

6/13/10: Lilly Outlasts Floyd in No-No battle - Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd each took no-hitters into the seventh inning of Sunday night's Cubs/Sox game. Floyd lost his no-hit bid and the shutout in the bottom of the seventh, while Lilly's no-hitter was broken up by pinch-hitter (and ex-Cub) Juan Pierre in the ninth. There have already been three (or four, if you count Armando Galarraga) no-hitters this year; the record for no-hitters in a season came in 1991, when seven pitchers accomplished the feat.

There was no word from the Commissioner's office on whether a Lilly no-hitter would have counted against the White Sox, who are batting just .247 as a team.

6/8/10: Smooth Sailing for the S.S. Strasburg - Stephen Strasburg used 94 pitches to record 14 strikeouts in seven innings without walking a batter in his major league debut Tuesday. His fastball ranged from 95 to 100 mph with considerable movement, and his low-80s curveball was simply unfair. The two runs he allowed in what ended up a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates came on a 90 mph changeup that Delwyn Young deposited over the right-centerfield wall.

Although Strasburg did not walk any batters, the movement on all of his pitches is so great that his command was not terrific; he often missed Ivan Rodriguez' target by a wide margin. But his delivery was easy considering the unreal pitches he was heaving towards the plate and he remained poised throughout the entire game.

Mike Moore has the most career wins by a #1 overall pick with 161. After Stephen Strasburg's major league debut, it's hard to imagine that 2009's #1 overall selection won't top that mark.

6/5/10: Dr. James Andrews Will Hunt Hunter - 23-year-old Tommy Hunter pitched a gem of a game against Tampa Bay today, going the full nine innings, walking no one, and allowing just one run on five hits.

Unfortunately, this was Hunter's first big league start of the season, and he threw 117 pitches. He averaged 4.5 innings in each of is six minor league starts this season and had never gone further than 104 pitches in any of his previous 22 major league starts. This abrupt increase in workload is exactly the sort of thing that will send young Tommy Hunter out for old Tommy John surgery.

June 2, 2010 - Editing the Official List of Perfect Games - Last night, Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game with two outs in the ninth because of a missed call by first base umpire Jim Joyce. To Joyce's credit, he admits that he blew the call and apologized to Galarraga. But anyone who watches a replay of that ground ball knows that the runner was out at first and that Galarraga should have been credited with the 21st perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball.

So why isn't AG credited with a perfect game? If an official scorer sees video replay postgame that refutes one of his decisions, he changes the scoring of the play. Can't an umpire who changes his mind do the same given the special circumstances? (A perfect game has been amended before, as you will soon discover).

Whether or not June 2, 2010 is considered a perfect game in the official history books, it is considered a perfect game by Baseball Evolution. Actually, if you look at the list of Baseball Evolution perfect games, you'll note several discrepancies from the official list.

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