Recent review: Bautista stars
“Wait for it. Wait for it."
It’s a line frequently uttered in tense moments of Hollywood blockbusters. It’s also a line offered in these columns during the rainy, hazy and miserable days of April when proposed superstars are struggling. As the calendar hits the middle of May, owners are now teetering toward “panic” mode on some of their top options.
Will Carlos Gonzalez or Ubaldo Jimenez turn things around?
Will Carl Crawford eventually live up to his contract now that Adrian Gonzalez’s bat has exploded?
Next week, we’ll hit the quarter-pole of the season and start in on the heated buy/sell part of the season. You can stop wringing your hands for a moment.
Let’s look at some of the recent highlights (lowlights). There’s no bigger hero on the diamond than the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista.
Bautista extended his home run lead with three bombs on Sunday against the Twins, bringing his season total to 16. Bautista homered five times in the three-game series at Target Field, a total equal to the number of home runs hit by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau combined since the park opened last season. He also extended his hitting streak to seven consecutive games with his 3-for-5 performance. Bautista is batting .400 (12-for-30) with seven home runs and 11 RBI during this current streak.
Things continue to spiral out of control in Minnesota. The Twins have lost eight consecutive games. Minnesota has scored a total of 21 runs during this period. Overall, the team is averaging just 3.1 runs per game this season.
Mat Latos finally earned his first win of the 2011 season against the scuffling Rockies. Latos allowed one earned run on four hits and three walks with five strikeouts in his 5 2/3 innings pitched. The 23-year-old righty has averaged one strikeout per inning of work, but has already surrendered seven home runs with 17 walks in 39 innings.
While Latos finally notched a victory, Colorado starter Jimenez remains in search of that elusive first win. Jimenez took a loss in his last start against the Mets, allowing five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. As usual, Jimenez’s walk rate was his downfall. He walked six batters in this latest outing to bring his season total to 22 in 29 2/3 innings. Jimenez’s high-strikeout rate (one per inning) is just an afterthought. He carries a bloated 6.67 ERA with a 1.58 WHIP into his next start.
There is some positivity to be found in Denver. Former fantasy hero Todd Helton has rediscovered his stroke of late. Helton has homered three times in his past 14 at-bats to bring his season total to six. He’s batting .325 overall (.362 in May) with 19 RBI. Take advantage of the surges afforded by Helton and fellow rebound hero Lance Berkman of the Cardinals while you can.
Derek Jeter elicited groans early in the season because of his slow bat. Jorge Posada is now the subject of myriad scathing columns and blog posts after asking out of the lineup against the Red Sox. Lost in the ink spilled on these stories is the fact that Alex Rodriguez has hit a single home run since April 23. Following a solid April in which he posted strong power numbers (11 extra-base hits and 18 RBI), Rodriguez has batted a nice, round .200 (11-for-55) in May with one double, one home run and four RBI.
Posada’s status will be interesting to watch going forward. He’s reportedly apologized and made things right with Joe Girardi, although the disappointment he expressed regarding Brian Cashman isn’t likely to fade away altogether. Posada is batting .165 with six home runs and 15 RBI in his 109 at-bats and now cites a back issue as the reason for his removal from the weekend lineup. Russell Martin remains the everyday catcher. Posada has yet to play the field in 2011. With Jesus Montero obliterating Triple-A pitching, the rumor mill is churning.
Javier Vazquez got pounded in his latest start for the Marlins against the Nationals. Vazquez allowed six earned runs on seven hits with two walks in four innings to raise his season ERA to 7.55. The 35-year-old righty has registered a dismal 1.91 WHIP (24 walks in 39 1/3 innings), and his strikeout rate has plummeted (4.6 per nine IP).
Baltimore starter Jake Arrieta continued his fantastic run against the Rays on Sunday. Arrieta allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks in six innings to claim his fifth win of the season. In fact, Arrieta has turned in eight quality starts in his nine turns in the rotation. He was obliterated by the Rangers in his second start of the year, allowing eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Arrieta has pitched to a brilliant 2.81 ERA in his other eight starts.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy has hit well in six games since returning from the disabled list. Hardy hit his second home run of the season and drove in four runs to lead the Orioles over the Rays on Sunday. He’s batted .400 (10-for-25) with two home runs and seven RBI during this period.
Josh Beckett’s comeback season continued with a fantastic effort against the Yankees on Saturday night. He pitched six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts against four hits and two walks. Beckett has pitched a total of 19 1/3 innings in his past three starts, striking out 17 batters against six walks. He’s pitched to a dominant 1.75 ERA in eight starts and has surrendered just 5.4 hits per nine innings.
Johnny Cueto earned his second straight win since being activated from the disabled list. Cueto allowed three unearned runs in his 7 2/3 innings against the Cardinals. He struck out five batters while surrendering three hits and two walks.
San Diego shortstop Jason Bartlett has finally started to rediscover his stroke. Bartlett has batted .393 in the past week (11-for-28) with eight RBI and two stolen bases. Bartlett has raised his batting average 37 points during his current seven-game hitting streak.
Tampa Bay outfielder Matt Joyce now sits atop the American League in the batting average category at .368. He’s registered six two-hit games in his past eight starts with four home runs and six RBI.
The Indians placed Grady Sizemore on the 15-day disabled list because of a deep bruise in his right knee. Five days of rest and rehabilitation were not enough to alleviate the discomfort, thus prompting the move. It should be noted that the MRI showed no structural damage. Former Oakland prospect Travis Buck was recalled from Triple-A to take his roster spot. Buck was batting .333 with three home runs and 21 RBI in 18 games at the time of his recall.
Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones has been diagnosed with a minor meniscus tear in his right knee. He received an injection on Sunday to try to lessen his discomfort, but surgery may be in the offing if the issue persists. Brooks Conrad stepped into the starting lineup in his absence and went 0-for-3. Conrad batted .250 with 20 extra-base hits (eight home runs) and 33 RBI in 156 at-bats for Atlanta last season.
Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy left his most recent start with a strained oblique, thereby paving the way for a quick return from the minor leagues by Julio Teheran. Teheran allowed three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in his major-league debut against the Phillies on May 7.
Detroit called up outfielder Andy Dirks to replace Magglio Ordonez, who was placed on the disabled list because of an ankle injury. Dirks was batting .328 (43-for-131) with six home runs, 20 RBI and 10 stolen bases at Triple-A Toledo prior to his promotion.
According to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram , Josh Hamilton might be cleared to begin a rehabilitation assignment later this week. Hamilton is reportedly going to have his shoulder scanned on Wednesday. If cleared, there’s a chance that he’s back in Texas before Memorial Day weekend.