Daily Dose: Pedro out-duels Lincecum

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Pedro Martinez began Thursday’s start versus San Francisco by serving up a leadoff homer to light-hitting Eugenio Velez. And then he hurled seven scoreless innings to out-duel Tim Lincecum, striking out nine, walking none, and giving up just four more hits. It wasn’t quite vintage Pedro, but he was damn close while dropping his ERA to 3.52 ERA and improving to 3-0 with a 23/3 K/BB ratio in 23 innings.
Lincecum was no slouch himself, racking up 11 strikeouts while surrendering just two runs on four hits and one walk, but the story of the night was Pedro. San Francisco’s lineup is hardly imposing, but he set down 13 straight batters at one point, needed just 87 pitches to record 21 outs, and has now won all three of his starts that haven’t been shortened by rain, beating the Giants, Mets, and Cubs on the road.
While the Phillies improve to 38-17 in their last 55 games, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Colorado received some good news on Huston Street when an MRI exam revealed no structural damage in his injured biceps Thursday. Street remains unavailable for now, but barring a setback may be able to resume closing at some point next week. In the meantime, Franklin Morales will handle ninth-inning duties for the Rockies and is a must pickup in all formats.
* Jarrod Washburn revealed earlier this week that he’s been pitching through a knee injury for several months now, so manager Jim Leyland has decided to skip his next turn in the rotation after he posted a 6.81 ERA in six starts since being traded to the Tigers. Armando Galarraga is back up from Triple-A to fill in and doesn’t figure to be any better, but luckily Detroit has a nice cushion is the horrendous AL Central.
* Wade Davis will make his MLB debut Sunday against Detroit and the 24-year-old is someone to keep tabs on for 2010. Overshadowed somewhat by David Price of late, Davis remains one of baseball’s better MLB-ready pitching prospects after posting a 3.40 ERA and 140/60 K/BB ratio in 158.2 innings at Triple-A. He has a low-90s heat, good secondary stuff, and No. 2 starter upside. Worth an AL-only flier for now.
* I’ve become more or less addicted to Twitter in just a month and have been posting tons of stuff on there nearly every day, so if you’re interested in my various ramblings with some baseball-related stuff sprinkled in check out @aarongleeman.
AL Quick Hits: Jorge Posada went 4-for-5 and knocked in four runs Thursday as the Yankees roughed up Ricky Romero … Nate Robertson will stick in Detroit’s rotation after tossing six shutout innings Thursday … B.J. Upton left Thursday’s game with an ugly-looking ankle injury, but X-rays were negative … Mariano Rivera (groin) may be available as soon as Friday if his afternoon bullpen session goes smoothly … Josh Hamilton has been diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his neck … Chris Perez had three strikeouts over two perfect innings Thursday, giving him 19.2 straight scoreless frames … Because of workload issues Toronto has shut down Marc Rzepcynski for the remainder of the year … Tim Wakefield (back) threw a 25-pitch mound session Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s scheduled start … Carlos Torres shut out the Cubs for seven innings Thursday to pick up his first MLB win … Clay Buchholz won his third straight game and turned in his sixth Quality Start in seven tries Thursday.
NL Quick Hits: Derrek Lee has left the Cubs for the birth of his second child, so Jake Fox filled in at first base Thursday … Hanley Ramirez was out of the lineup Thursday with an injured hamstring that he classified as just 10 percent healthy … John Smoltz allowed four runs in six innings Thursday, but looked solid with six strikeouts versus zero walks … Alcides Escobar started at shortstop Thursday after sitting out for two games in favor of J.J. Hardy … Fresh off the disabled list, Dave Bush (triceps) said Thursday that he’s “still not feeling quite right” … Carlos Beltran (knee) played five innings of center field in Thursday’s rehab game at Single-A and is aiming to return next week … Nick Johnson came off the shelf Thursday after missing 18 days with a hamstring injury … Justin Upton was limited to pinch-hitting duties Thursday thanks to issues with his contact lenses and delivered a double off the bench.

Rougned Odor didn’t technically steal home, but he basically did

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Just saw this from last night’s Tigers-Rangers game. It was pretty wild.

Rougned Odor walked in the seventh inning. He broke for second on a steal and was safe due to the throw going wild, allowing him to reach third base. The Tigers called on reliever Daniel Stumpf and he was effective in retiring the next two batters, leaving Odor on third with two out.

Stumpf, a lefty, was paying no attention whatsoever to Odor, so Odor just took off for home, attempting a straight steal. Stumpf was so surprised that he tried to throw home to nail Odor, and in so doing, he balked. That technically means that Odor scored on the balk, but I think it’s safe to say he would’ve scored on the strait steal regardless. Watch:

 

He definitely gets points for style.

 

Aroldis Chapman is pitching himself out of a job

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman looked shaky again last night, coming in to the game with a three-run lead before allowing a two-run homer to the Mets’ Amed Rosario. He would nail down the save eventually, giving Sonny Gray his first win as a Yankee, but Chapman’s struggles were the talk of the game afterward.

It was the third appearance in a row in which Chapman has given up at least one run, allowing five runs on three hits — two of them homers — and walking four in his last three and a third innings pitched. He’s also hit a batter. That’s just the most acute portion of a long slide, however. He posted a 0.79 ERA in his first 12 appearances this year, before getting shelled twice and then going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, missing over a month. Since returning he’s allowed 12 runs — ten earned — in 23 appearances, breaking out to a 4.09 ERA. He’s also walked ten batters in that time. At present, his strikeout rate is the worst he’s featured since 2010. His walk rate is up and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has.

It’s possible that he’s still suffering from shoulder problems. Whether or not that’s an issue, he looks to have a new health concern as he appeared to tweak his hamstring on the game’s final play last night when he ran over to cover first base. Chapman told reporters after the game that “it’s nothing to worry about,” and Joe Girardi said that Chapman would not undergo an MRI or anything, but he was clearly grimacing as he came off the mound and it’s something worth watching.

Also worth watching: Dellin Betances and David Robertson, Chapman’s setup men who have each shined as Yankees closers in the past and who may very soon find themselves closing once again if Chapman can’t figure it out. And Chapman seems to know it. He was asked if he still deserves to be the closer after the game. His answer:

“My job is to be ready to pitch everyday. As far as where I pitch, that’s not up to me. If at some point they need to remove me from the closer’s position, I’m always going to be ready to pitch.”

That’s a team-first answer, and for that Chapman should be lauded. But it’s also one that suggests Chapman himself knows he’s going to be out of a closer’s job soon if he doesn’t turn things around.