It seems like a year ago that the Giants took two of three from the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park, but it was only about a week. For that matter it seems like ten years ago that the Giants beat the Phillies in the NLCS, but it was less than ten months. But one thing is exactly as it seems: these are two teams heading in starkly opposite directions.
The Phillies won their seventh game in a row last night. Cliff Lee was the master of ceremonies, shutting out the Giants on seven hits. He took only 106 pitches to do it, 76 of which he threw for strikes. And of course he didn’t walk a batter. If there was any doubt that things have changed, know that Cody Ross struck out four times.
Meanwhile Hunter Pence continued his excellent play since coming over in the trade from Houston. He had three hits, a homer included, and drove in two. He’s 9-for-25 with five batted in since joining the Phillies. And of course, they haven’t lost since he arrived.
The Giants are skidding and look outmatched against Philadelphia. For that matter, so does every other team in the National League.
Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.
Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.
Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.
Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.
Jim Leyland also got in on the action:
Go Puerto Rico.