You know, if I had to make a prediction right now I’d probably say that the Red Sox were the favorites to win it all this season. But it wouldn’t be at all unreasonable to pick the Phillies either. Indeed, I bet something like 90% of the people who engage in the prognostication business will pick one of those two teams as champs in their spring predictions.
But even if everyone else is doing it — and even if it’s kind of a sucker’s game to project ahead eight months and pretend any of us knows anything about what will happen — people always seem to go crazy when a ballplayer makes the same sort of prediction. Shane Victorino is about to find that out. Here’s what he said:
“I’m not one to sit here and make predictions or make bold statements to stir the pot,” Victorino said, “but I think if you look on paper, we’re the favorites to win it all.”
Seems like a plain and sufficiently humble enough way to say such a thing. Yet I am 100% certain someone will call him out on it because we don’t like it when ballplayers say it, no matter how reasonable it is. They’re supposed to play the “aw shucks, we’re gonna try our hardest and see what happens game” and never ever suggest that the team they happen to play for is the best.
I’d like to be pleasantly surprised and have there be no one who claims that Victorino is creating so-called bulletin board material or whatever, but I’m guessing someone will run with this in some loopy direction.
Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.
Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”
“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”
Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.
Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.
The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.
The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.
The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.
The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.
The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.
Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.