Frazier continues hot streak
The playoff push is on in fantasyland, and anxious owners are working to steal every point possible. The wire is replete with stories concerning optimistic injury reports and the continuing saga in Boston. Forget “Hard Knocks” with the Dolphins. Just send some cameras to tail Bobby Valentine.
The AL East is the talk of the baseball world, as the beat-up Yankees are limping down the stretch with Tampa Bay in hot pursuit. I was in New York this week and listened to many long rants against the squad as they were swept by the White Sox. Those conversations were a welcome departure from the creepy costumed characters that litter Times Square, but I’ll save the diatribe for another time.
Jose Bautista is on the comeback trail and so is …. “The Rocket?”
Are you going to pause on Saturday to watch Roger Clemens pitch? No. I’m not, either.
Let’s review the good, bad and ugly in this latest edition of the “Week in Review.”
It’s funny how the ball jumps off the bat again once you hit someplace other than Petco Park. Ryan Ludwick has been a huge addition to the Reds lineup this season. On Saturday, Ludwick hit another two home runs to raise his season total to 25. He went 2-for-4 in the 9-7 loss to the Cubs with three RBI. Ludwick is batting .270 with 49 extra-base hits and 70 RBI.
Indians catcher Carlos Santana homered for the 13th time and drove in his 54th run in the 8-5 loss to Oakland. Santana has recovered nicely from a terrible first half of 2012, producing a .279 batting average with 17 extra-base hits (eight home runs) and 24 RBI. He’d batted .221 in the first half.
Ike Davis has become the “poor man’s” Adam Dunn in New York. Davis hit his 22nd home run for the Mets as part of a 2-for-4 performance with two RBI (68 this season). He’s batting just .220 and strikes out once every 3.6 at-bats, thereby drawing the Dunn comparisons.
Bartolo Colon won for the fourth time in five starts by pitching eight innings of one-run ball against the Indians. Colon allowed five hits and struck out three batters. Of course, this 10th win of the season by Colon would gain greater significance when it was announced that he’d tested positive for testosterone. He’d pitched to a 3.43 ERA with 91 strikeouts against 23 walks prior to announcement of his suspension. I will call off my expedition to find the fountain of youth.
Mike Moustakas homered, his 19th home run, and drove in four runs as the Royals took down Jake Peavy and the White Sox by a count of 9-4. The 23-year-old third basemen went 2-for-4 in the contest. Moustakas has struggled terribly in the second half of the season following a promising start. He entered the weekend series with the Red Sox batting just .211 in the second half.
Gio Gonzalez earned his third straight victory and 16th of the year against the Mets. Gonzalez allowed one earned run on seven hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Following a rough two-month period in June and July during which he pitched to a pedestrian 4.47 ERA, Gonzalez owns a 3.07 August ERA in four starts.
Adrian Gonzalez homered for the second straight game, a 4-1 loss to the rival Yankees. It was Gonzalez’s 15th home run and 85th run batted in this season. Gonzalez has also batted .338 in the second half to raise his season batting average to .300. He’s reportedly been claimed by the Dodgers.
Chad Billingsley pitched seven shutout innings to earn his sixth consecutive victory. He allowed three hits and two walks with four strikeouts. During his winning streak, Billingsley has lowered his season ERA to 3.44, a full 0.86 runs lower.
Ichiro Suzuki went 3-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI in the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Red Sox. Since joining the Yankees, Suzuki has batted .302 (29-for-96) with nine extra-base hits (three home runs), 13 RBI and four stolen bases.
Florida’s Josh Johnson was a tough-luck loser once again. Johnson allowed three earned runs on seven hits and four walks over seven innings, but received zero run support. During his current three-game losing streak, Johnson has registered a 3.00 ERA
It wasn’t a classic “Doc” Halladay start against the Reds, but the Philadelphia offense came to life and gave him enough support to even his record at 7-7. Halladay allowed five earned runs on 10 hits and a walk in his seven innings of work to raise his season ERA to 3.95. However, he’s pitched better of late overall. Halladay has won three of his past four starts and owns a 2.79 August ERA.
Ryan Howard went 2-for-4 with his eighth home run of the season and drove in two runs in the Phillies’ 12-5 win. Howard batted just .217 in 18 games during July, but he’s finally come around in August. He entered the weekend with a .275 August batting average, eight extra-base hits (four home runs) and 15 RBI.
Behold the power of Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton hit two home runs in support of Mark Buehrle and drove in four runs in the Marlins’ 12-3 win over the Diamondbacks. He’s back to his slugging ways after missing most of the month of July. This month, Stanton is batting .310 with five doubles, seven home runs and 16 RBI.
Madison Bumgarner won a pitcher’s duel with Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles. Bumgarner pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits with 10 strikeouts to earn his 14th victory of the season. He’s averaged five strikeouts per walk issued this season.
Atlanta slugger Jason Heyward hit his 21st home run and drove in three runs in the Braves’ 5-4 loss to the Nationals. Heyward has rebounded nicely from a dismal 2011 campaign. Entering the weekend, he owned a .279 batting average (.227 in 2011) with 64 RBI and 18 stolen bases.
Adam Dunn homered for the second time in three games, his Major League-leading 36th longball, in Chicago’s 9-6 win over New York. Dunn enters the weekend with a .205 batting average and has struck out at least once in eight straight games.
Man-crush candidate Todd Frazier launched a solo home run, his 18th of the season, in the Reds’ 5-4 win over the Phillies. Frazier has been a waiver wire gem for owners, producing 44 extra-base hits and 58 RBI with a .293 batting average. He carries an eight-game hitting streak in Friday’s game against the Cardinals.
Garrett Jones smashed another two home runs and drove in three runs in the Pirates 7-5 loss to San Diego. Jones matched his previous career mark of 21 when he trotted around the bases for the second time in the game. He’s produced 46 extra-base hits with 69 RBI and a strong .287 batting average (career .260).
Mark Trumbo finally connected for his 30th longball of the season following a mini-power outage for the Angels. Trumbo went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs in the Angels’ 5-3 win over the Red Sox. He hadn’t homered since August 8 and has hit just three home runs since July 20.
Stephen Strasburg won his fourth straight start in dominant fashion against the Braves. Strasburg allowed one earned run on four hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts. He threw 94 pitches with 61 strikes in his six innings of work and logged his 15th win.
Chase Headley went 2-for-6, including his 21st home run of the season, in the Padres’ 7-5 win over the Pirates. Headley has quietly posted a fantastic season in San Diego, producing 23 doubles, 78 RBI and 12 stolen bases with a solid .274 batting average.
Ricky Romero’s dreadful 2012 season continued in a 5-3 loss to the Tigers. The Blue Jays’ former No. 1 pick allowed five earned runs on seven hits and eight walks in 5 1/3 innings pitched and did not record a strikeout. Romero pitched to a 3.18 ERA in April, but has logged a dismal 6.32 ERA since May 1 (21 starts).
We’d wondered where Adrian Beltre’s power had gone, as the Texas slugger had hit a single home run since July 21. Beltre rediscovered his stroke against the Orioles with a 3-5 effort in which he slammed three home runs with five RBI. He also homered on Thursday night.
Chris Sale of the White Sox shut down the Yankees to complete a three-game sweep in Chicago. Sale allowed a single earned run on three hits and a walk while striking out 13 batters. He extended his record to 15-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.65. Sale has struck out 4.17 batters per walk this season.
Phil Hughes was no slouch in this contest, either. He limited the White Sox to two earned runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings. Hughes has pitched back-to-back gems (two earned runs in 14 innings pitched) following two rough road starts against the Tigers and Blue Jays.
Derek Jeter homered for the third straight game, prompting some tabloidal commentary about his power surge. I’ll leave it at that.
Former hot prospect Domonic Brown of the Phillies homered for the first time this season in a 3-2 loss to Cincinnati. Brown went 2-for-3 in the game and has hit fairly well overall since being recalled by the team (.286 on 24-for-84 hitting). He’s produced seven doubles and 11 RBI.
Kyle Lohse earned his 13th win for St. Louis against the Astros, surrendering two solo home runs in seven innings of work. Lohse has posted a ridiculous 13-2 record with a 2.61 ERA. He owns a 4.46 lifetime ERA across 348 appearances.
One of the home runs hit off Lohse came from the bat of Brett Wallace. The 25-year-old (he turns 26 on Sunday) is back for another run in the ever-shuffling Houston lineup. Wallace has hit well since his recall and owns a .288 batting average with five doubles, six home runs and 12 RBI in 104 at-bats overall.
Alex Cobb had pitched lights-out baseball for the past month before imploding against the Angels in an eight-run debacle. Cobb rebounded brilliantly by pitching a four-hit shutout against the A’s. He walked two batters and struck out eight to even his record at 8-8. Even with that awful start included, Cobb has pitched to a 4-1 record with a 3.03 ERA in five August starts while striking out 27 batters against five walks.
Jake Westbrook was hardly dominant, but he lasted the requisite five innings against the hapless Astros to earn his sixth win in his past seven starts. Westbrook allowed five earned runs on seven hits and two walks with a strikeout. He’s averaging just 5.42 strikeouts per nine innings, but strong offensive support and timely pitches have yielded 13 wins and a 3.67 ERA.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 33rd home run of the season in Toronto’s 3-2 loss to Detroit. Encarnacion has hit three home runs in his past six games to extend his career-high (previously 26). He’s batting 26 points above his career average and has also recorded new career marks with 13 stolen bases and 86 RBI.
It’s been a dismal season in Colorado, but I’m going to step back and celebrate the brilliance of Rex Brothers (an “All-Name” candidate) in the vulture role. Brothers earned his eighth win of the season by pitching two shutout innings against the Mets. His WHIP sits at a lofty 1.60. I can’t help to notice his 67 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched.
The Red Sox and Angels battled into the night during a 27-run slugfest in Boston.
Among the highlights were Mike Trout’s two stolen bases to raise his season total to 41. Trout went 3-for-6 in the game to raise his batting average to .345. He also drove in two runs (72).
Kendrys Morales went 2-for-5 with his 16th home run of the season and two RBI.
Dustin Pedroia rapped out four hits in six at-bats with a home run (his 11th) and five RBI. Pedroia has done well in August to ignore the press, posting a .349 batting average (30-for-86) with 13 RBI and five stolen bases.