Derek Holland pitched his second straight shutout last night, helping the Rangers to a 5-0 win over the Mariners. In fact, it was his third shutout in his last eight starts. He has more shutouts this season than Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and Clayton Kershaw.
But the man is not consistent. In between shutout number one and shutout number two he had a stretch of five starts, four of which were pretty bad, one of which was a win, though not a particularly impressive one. Before that first shutout there were a lot of crooked numbers too. On the year he has a 4.32 ERA and has allowed 125 hits and has walked 42 guys in 118 innings.
I’m fascinated when guys go on runs like this. Is he as good as he looks when he’s good? Is he as bad as he looks when he’s bad? Are the recent good performances a sign that something has clicked and we’re about to see a Cliff Lee-style career pivot? Or are we really seeing the games we’ll point to a couple of years from now when we say “look, he always had potential, but …”
Maybe it’s a less-than-deep thought, but I’m sitting here right now, just marveling over the fact that we’ve been playing organized baseball for for close to 150 years and we still really have no idea about how pitching works. Or at least why some guys put it together and some don’t. At least not until after they’ve either succeeded and failed and we give our post-hoc explanations.
What’s Derek Holland gonna do? I have no idea. And I think that’s pretty neat.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.