Last week ended in controversy with a no-hitter upon causing everyone to unlock their asterisks, replay arguments and prototypes for robot umpires. NBA fans that were following the Eastern Conference Finals listened intently between Twitter rants.
Here in Los Angeles, fans are praying for a quick end to the NHL Final. Their playoff beards are hardly comfortable while playing sand volleyball. The surname “Quick” has been confused for “Swift” on a couple occasions, which perhaps led to a resurgence of sales of “A Modest Proposal” on Amazon this week. No?
OK, I’ll step back between the white lines and review the week on the diamond. Remember, interleague play heats up again this week, thereby forcing several of your favorite sluggers to the bench. The Royals are going to put a glove on Billy Butler to keep his bat in the lineup, but there are lineups that will be juggled. Pay attention to the player notes and advance lineup cards as they are unveiled hours ahead of first pitch.
Let’s rewind the DVR in our minds to last Saturday, and the continuing saga of R.A. Dickey.
I will elaborate on Dickey’s run of dominance later in recapping his Thursday start, but I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge his fantastic follow-up to Johan Santana’s no-hitter. Dickey pitched a seven-hit shutout with nine strikeouts against the Cardinals.
Wandy Rodriguez struggled for the second straight start against the Reds. He allowed nine runs, seven earned, on nine hits (including FOUR home runs) and two walks in five innings. Rodriguez was also battered by the Rockies in his previous start, surrendering seven runs, four earned, on 10 hits, including another two home runs. His season ERA increased by a full run in those two starts.
Jed Lowrie of the Astros hit his ninth home run of the season, thus tying his previous career-high, in Houston’s 12-9 loss to the Reds. Lowrie went 2-for-4 in the game with two RBI. He later bested his previous career mark when he slammed his tenth home run of the season on Thursday against the Cardinals.
Fantasy owners continue to await the awakening of Hanley Ramirez’s bat in 2012. Ramirez hit two home runs and drove in three runs in a 5-4 win over the Phillies. He then homered in the season final on Sunday to extend his hitting streak to six games. During the short-lived hitting streak, Ramirez hit four home runs with three doubles and six RBI. Alas, he went hitless in 12 at-bats during the mid-week series against the Braves. Ramirez is batting .195 on the road this season in 113 at-bats.
Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak hit his tenth home run of the season in the Mariners’ 10-8 win over Chicago. Smoak went 2-for-6 in this contest, his third straight multi-hit game. He posted a 3-for-5 performance with two home runs and six RBI in the previous series finale against his former team, the Texas Rangers. Smoak is still batting a tepid .229 for the season with 13 extra-base hits (only three doubles?) and 29 RBI. He strikes out once in every 4.18 at-bats.
Washington starter Stephen Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings to run his record to 6-1. It was the 23-year-old phenom’s third straight victory and second straight against the Braves. Strasburg allowed four hits while striking out nine batters in the victory. He lowered his season ERA to 2.35 with a dominant strikeout rate of 10.9 batters per nine innings.
Trevor Cahill of the Diamondbacks shut out the Padres in San Diego. Cahill scattered six hits and three walks while striking out five batters to post his second strong start in his past three outings. His strikeout rate has improved in his past four starts to give owners some hope of an improved second half. In the short term, Cahill warrants a spot start this weekend against the weak-hitting Oakland offense.
Kansas City closer Jonathan Broxton continued his comeback campaign with a shutout inning against the A’s that resulted in his thirteenth save of the season. Broxton earned his fourteenth save in 16 opportunities on Tuesday against the Twins. His strikeout rate is down (14 in 22 2/3 innings), but he’s effectively erased any mistakes.
Chris Sale of the White Sox pitched a fantastic follow-up to 15-strikeout gem against the Rays. Sale pitched a complete game against the Mariners, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. He won for the fourth straight start since returning from that confusing stint in the Chicago bullpen. During this period, Sale has earned a scintillating 1.26 ERA.
Alex Rodriguez homered for the second time in three games, his ninth of the season, in a 5-1 win over Detroit. Rodriguez’s home runs were his first extra-base hits since May 23 and he’s only driven in 22 runs this season.
Rookie hero Bryce Harper of the Nationals hit his fifth home run of the season in a 2-for-3 effort against the Braves. The highly-touted prospect enters the weekend with a .276 batting average and 16 extra-base hits in 134 at-bats. Harper has hit safely in eight of his past 10 games.
Jonathon Niese produced a gem to finish off a weekend sweep of the Cardinals in New York. Niese scattered six hits and a walk over six shutout innings with 10 strikeouts. The 6-foot-4 lefty has struck out one batter per inning pitched this season.
To say that Eric Hosmer has been a disappointment for fantasy owners and Royals fans would be a grand understatement. Hosmer went 1-for-3 with a home run, his seventh, in the Royals’ 2-0 win over Oakland. The home run was just his second since April 25. Hosmer enters the weekend series against the Pirates with a nine-game hitting streak.
Barry Zito took advantage of a start against the Cubs and posted his best performance of the season. Zito pitched 8 1/3 shutout innings against the Cubs, surrendering four hits and two walks while striking out five hitters. The much-maligned veteran hurler doesn’t posses a dominant strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.39), but he’s pitched out of potential jams to the tune of a 2.98 season ERA. Zito has won four of his past five starts.
Infielder Kyle Seagar of the Mariners hit his seventh home run of the season and second in three games during a 1-for-4 effort against the Angels. Seagar has produced five multi-hit games in his past seven starts raise his season batting average to .274. He’s also driven in nine runs during this seven-game period.
Ervin Santana’s tortuous 2012 season continued in his latest turn against the Mariners. Santana allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and six walks while failing to escape the fifth inning. Following a brief return to fantasy relevance, Santana’s struggles with the long ball returned. He’s pitched to a terrible 9.82 ERA in his past three starts while allowing four home runs and walking 14 batters against eight strikeouts.
Josh Willingham contributed a home run and three RBI in the Twins’ 10-7 win over the Royals. Willingham went 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to eight games. He hit safely in the two remaining games of the series to carry a 10-game streak into the weekend. Willingham owns a .286 batting average with 30 extra-base hits (11 home runs) and 39 RBI this season.
Wilin Rosario extended his hitting streak to seven games with a 2-for-4 effort against the Diamondbacks that included his ninth home run of the season and two RBI. Rosario enters the weekend with a nine-game hitting streak, a period during which he raised his batting average by 21 points. He’s hit two doubles and three home runs with 10 RBI during this period.
Kila Ka’aihue went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in Oakland’s 12-1 beatdown of the Rangers. It was his fourth home run of the season (14 RBI). Ka’aihue went 1-for-4 the next day and was seemingly settling into the role of everyday starter. But, to the shock of his teammates and fans, Ka’aihue was promptly demoted to Triple-A Sacramento to make way for powerhouse Brandon Moss. Moss had hit 15 minor league home runs at the time of his call up.
Mike Moustakas of the Royals hit his ninth home run and doubled twice in a 10-7 loss to the Twins. Moustakas went 3-for-4 with two RBI. The 23-year-old former first-round selection has been one of few bright spots for the Kansas City offense. Moustakas enters the weekend with a .278 batting average with 23 extra-base hits and 27 RBI.
Oakland starter Jarrod Parker had his no-hit bid spoiled in the eighth inning of the 12-1 win over Texas. Parker allowed one hit and walked three batters against six strikeouts to earn his second win of the season. He has allowed one earned run in his past three starts spanning 21 innings with 18 strikeouts against eight walks.
While former teammate Roger Clemens remains mired in a legal mess, Andy Pettitte has returned to the Yankees in fine form following a brief “retirement” period. Pettitte won for the third time in five starts by pitching 7 1/3 shutout innings of two-hit ball against the Rays. He walked two and struck out 10 batters. In his three wins, Pettitte has pitched to a blistering 0.80 ERA.
Colby Rasmus’ recent resurgence continued with a fantastic 5-for-5 performance against the White Sox. Rasmus doubled, homered and drove in three runs in the 9-5 Toronto victory. He hit three doubles and three home runs with eight RBI while batting .366 (15-for-41) in his past 10 games.
Francisco Liriano turned in his second straight solid outing since returning to the Minnesota rotation, pitching six innings of one-run ball against the Royals. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out eight batters. In 12 innings against the A’s and Royals, Liriano has struck out 17 batters against three walks.
The Padres needed an infusion of life to a listless offense, and they found it in outfielder Carlos Quentin. Quentin homered twice and went 3-for-4 with two RBI in the Padres’ 6-5 win over the Giants. Since returning from the disabled list, Quentin has batted .481 (13-for-27) with four doubles, five home runs and nine RBI.
Adam Dunn hit his 18th home run of the season in Chicago’s 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays. He enters the weekend mired in a 3-for-36 (.083) funk, a tailspin that has reduced his batting average by 25 points. Dunn has struck out 92 times in his 200 at-bats.
A.J. Burnett hardly dominated the Reds in their return engagement, but he did pitch well enough to earn his fourth consecutive victory. Burnett allowed three earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out eight batters in five innings. He’s pitched very well overall this season. Twelve of the 23 earned runs he’s allowed this season were surrendered to the Cardinals in an atrocious start on May 2. Burnett owns a fantastic 1.89 ERA in his other eight starts.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 3-for-5 and hit his eleventh home run of the season and drove in two runs in Boston’s 8-6 loss to Baltimore. Saltalamacchia homered four times in his past 10 games while driving in eight runs. His total of 11 home runs leads all catchers.
Toronto ace Brandon Morrow dominated the White Sox with a two-hit shutout. He allowed two hits and walked two batters while striking out five hitters to earn his seventh victory of the season. A look inside his game log reveals that Morrow has been nearly perfect in eight of his 12 starts this season. In those games, he’s pitched to a ridiculous 0.46 ERA.
Ivan Nova earned his seventh win of the year with a fantastic effort against the Rays. Nova allowed one earned run on four hits and a walk in eight innings while striking out five batters. He’s earned three consecutive victories and has attained his strong 7-2 start to the season despite pitching to a dismal 5.09 ERA (1.47 WHIP).
Zack Greinke remained perfect at Miller Park with another dominant performance. This time, Greinke shut out the Cubs over seven innings with 12 strikeouts against two hits and two walks. He’s won four of his past five starts overall and owns a 3.13 ERA. However, a glimpse inside the numbers reveals that Greinke has obliterated opposing hitters to the tune of a 1.08 home ERA against a putrid 5.93 road mark.
Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt’s power surge continued against the Rockies. Goldschmidt went 3-for-4 and hit his seventh home run of the season with three RBI in the Diamondbacks’ 6-1 win. The 24-year-old first baseman has hit five of his seven home runs in the past 10 games while adding six doubles and eight RBI.
The Cleveland Indians ended Max Scherzer’s three-game winning streak and chased him during the fifth inning of a 9-6 win. Scherzer allowed eight runs, five earned, on seven hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings pitched. The strikeout master fanned two batters in the loss. His high strikeout rate (11.2 per nine innings) hasn’t been able to bail him out in 2012. Scherzer enters the weekend with a bloated 5.88 ERA and equally disastrous 1.59 WHIP.
Tom Wilhelmsen earned his second straight save by pitching a scoreless ninth inning against the Angels. He allowed one hit and struck out one batter in the Mariners’ 8-6 victory. Wilhelmsen has struck out 37 batters in 31 innings this season.
Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche homered for the first time since May 23, his ninth of the season in a 5-3 win over the Mets. LaRoche went 2-for-3 with four RBI. He’s been one of few consistent offensive contributors for the Nationals, having produced a .269 batting average with nine home runs, 14 doubles and 39 RBI (fifth in the National League).
The Cardinals have struggled mightily at the plate of late. The bats woke up in a big way to back the effort of Lance Lynn in Houston. Lynn allowed two earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out 11 batters. He’s pitched to a tremendous 2.66 ERA with nine victories and one strikeout per inning pitched (2.85 per walk). Lynn has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his 12 starts.
Alex Rios continued his strong bounce-back campaign for the White Sox in the series finale against the Blue Jays. Rios went 2-for-4 with a home run in three RBI as the White Sox salvaged the finale of the three-game set. Rios has hit safely in seven of his past eight starts, including six multi-hit games to raise his season batting average to .293 (six home runs, 31 RBI and six stolen bases).
Giancarlo Stanton went 1-for-5 in the Marlins’ 8-2 loss to the Braves. He homered for the fourteenth time this season, a solo shot, and struck out three times. Following a dismal April, Stanton has positively torn the cover off the ball. He’s batted .323 with 12 doubles, 13 home runs and 32 RBI.
Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward has been a tremendous disappointment to fantasy owners and Braves fans this season. Heyward broke a homerless drought with two home runs and two RBI in the Braves’ 8-2 victory over the Marlins. His home runs, Heyward’s first since May 25, increased his season total to eight with 28 RBI and a .246 batting average.
Former fantasy hero Clay Buchholz continued his resurgence with a complete game shutout against the Orioles. Buchholz allowed four hits and walked one batter while striking out four hitters in the 7-0 win. In his past three starts, Buchholez has pitched to a fantastic 1.50 ERA with 19 strikeouts against three walks. He’s rebounded nicely from a dismal first four starts, producing quality starts in five of his past six appearances.
Tim Lincecum has yet to rediscover his Cy Young magic. The Giants remain competitive in the NL West behind new ace Matt Cain. Cain won his sixth consecutive start on Thursday against the Padres. He allowed three runs, all unearned, and scattered seven hits and a walk with nine strikeouts. Cain lowered his ERA to 2.41 in the win.
You cannot stop the knuckle-baller. R.A. Dickey won his fourth consecutive start and for the sixth time in seven outings. Dickey pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. The 27-year-old former first-round selection struck has struck out eight or more batters in five consecutive starts.
Lucas Duda of the Mets went 2-for-4 with his tenth home run of the season and drove in two runs in support of Dickey. Dickey has hit safely in seven of his past eight games, a period during which he’s hit five home runs with 12 RBI.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were the team finally able to break through on super closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman allowed his first earned run of the season on two hits while striking out two batters to absorb the loss. He’s struck out 16.2 batters per nine innings and six batters per walk in his 30 innings pitched.