First, let’s focus on the good stuff. As you know, Felix Hernandez has dominated pretty much everyone he has faced this season, but entering last night’s action, he was 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in four starts against the first-place Rangers. No longer.
King Felix carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in last night’s 2-1 victory over Texas. The no-hit bid was broken up by a screaming solo home run off the bat of Nelson Cruz to begin the top of the eighth inning. Hernandez would go on to allow just three hits over eight innings while striking out eight and walking just one. With the win, he improved to 12-11 with a 2.35 ERA on the year.
You’ll hear a lot about how this will boost his case for the American League Cy Young award — and I suppose that is true — but if you needed last night’s performance to tell you that he is deserving of the hardware, you’re probably doing it wrong. But hey, better late than never, right?
Okay, so why am I down on King Felix this morning? Well, unfortunately his brilliance on the mound doesn’t extend to his brain. Here’s what he told Kirby Arnold about Julio Borbon attempting to bunt during the sixth inning (!) of last night’s game.
“You shouldn’t do that,” Hernandez said. “Sixth inning and a guy is throwing a no-hitter, it’s disrespect.”
That’s right, Hernandez was offended by a bunt attempt during the sixth inning of a baseball game. I could find a place to defend him if we were talking about the ninth and perhaps the eighth, but geez, the sixth? That’s ridiculous. The Rangers had a ballgame to win, and if Derek Jeter has taught us anything, it’s that you try to get on base by all means necessary.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.