Don't ever pitch to Adrian Gonzalez

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Adrian Gonzalez has walked a league-leading 57 times so far in 2009. He’s on pace to receive 108 free passes over the course of this season.

That’s not nearly enough.

Let’s look at the line for the Padres’ slugger: .274/.415/.606. That’s 24 home runs in 69 games, and a 1.021 OPS.

In the Padres lineup, Scott Hairston (.951 OPS) has presented a
consistent threat, but is just coming off the DL. Otherwise Gonzalez is
surrounded by the likes of David Eckstein (.680 OPS), Kevin Kouzmanoff
(.678) and Chase Headley (.674).

So when is it OK to pitch to Gonzalez? When you’re up 10-0 and you
like your bullpen. Otherwise, never. OK I’m exaggerating, but it really
is amazing pitchers aren’t smarter about this. Just put your ego aside
and put him on. Or hope he gets impatient and chases something on the

The Mariners, for example, were leading 1-0 in the fourth inning
Tuesday night. Garrett Olson had a man on first with nobody out.
Instead of walking Gonzalez and having two on with nobody out, he
grooved a pitch to the big lefty that hasn’t landed yet. Watch it! Padres 2, Mariners 1. It’s just stupid.

And while we’re handing out advice, the same rule applies to Albert Pujols.
The Cardinals star has a 1.159 OPS. The players around him? Skip
Schumaker (.754), Chris Duncan (.746), Ryan Ludwick (.744), and Rick
Ankiel (.705).

Just makes sense.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.