* Dayton Moore’s latest explanation
for acquiring Yuniesky Betancourt: “We have people who believe Yuniesky
Betancourt is going to continue to get better through a change of
scenery. When our top advisors, people I consider the very best
evaluators in the game, advise me that, ‘If you can get this guy, you
get him,’ that’s exactly what we did.”
I’ll surely revisit the trade and Moore’s various quotes
at the end of the season, when Betancourt has had the opportunity to be
a horrible player for another few months, but in the meantime what are
the odds that the Royals have “the very best evaluators in the game”?
And are they the same guys who thought trading for Tony Pena Jr. and
handing him a starting job was a good idea?
* Fausto Carmona has responded well to being sent down to the minors last month. He took a shutout into the seventh inning
last night at Triple-A and is now 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA in five starts
since the demotion. Perhaps most importantly he’s handed out just four
walks in 32.1 innings after walking 41 batters in 60.2 frames with the
* Ian Snell has also thrived following his self-imposed demotion to Triple-A. He allowed just one unearned run in 6.1 innings last night, giving him a spectacular 0.34 ERA and 34/8 K/BB ratio in 26.1 innings at Indianapolis.
* T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports
that the Rangers “have officially entered themselves in the Roy
Halladay sweepstakes.” While that just makes them one of many teams
interested in the Blue Jays’ ace, the Rangers’ superior stable of
prospects could make them the front-runners for Halladay if they decide
to take the plunge.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.