Not so long ago Mark Trumbo seemed headed for a breakout season, making the All-Star team on the basis of a huge first half and hitting .307 with 27 homers, 16 doubles, and a .988 OPS in 85 games through July 20.
And then he just stopped hitting.
Since then Trumbo has played 43 games, batting .194 with three homers, zero doubles, and a .499 OPS while striking out 65 times compared to 11 walks.
He’s been so bad for so long that manager Mike Scioscia has recently been semi-regularly benching him in favor of Vernon Wells, who’s sporting a .227 batting average and .701 OPS after being incredibly unproductive last season.
Here’s how Scioscia explained the situation to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:
There are a finite amount of games right now. With a guy like Trum, it’s a Catch-22. He has to go out there and swing, and right now, his struggles are taking some at-bats away from him. When he finds it, he usually keeps it, and it can come quickly for him. We need him, and we’ll definitely give him enough chances to get there with the option of spotting Vernon or some other guys to give us a little boost if he continues to struggle.
Here’s the thing, though: Dating back to mid-July, when Trumbo started slumping, Wells has hit .190 with four homers and a .696 OPS in 25 games. That’s better than Trumbo, sure, but it’s still really, really bad. If Scioscia is going to bench Trumbo for someone he ought to think about it being Peter Bourjos, because at least then the Angels will be getting amazing defense.
Scott Kazmir went winless with a 6.52 ERA in six September starts. He allowed 41 hits, eight of them homers, in 29 innings, posting an 18/11 K/BB ratio. When the Astros got five innings of two-run ball from him Friday against the Royals, they should have thanked their good fortune and moved right along to the pen.
And they knew this. They must have. Josh Fields got up in the pen after Kazmir issued a one-out walk in the fifth. The left-hander got out of the frame, making himself eligible for the victory in what was then a 4-2 game, but it was still very surprising to see him come back out for the sixth, particularly with the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist (.926 OPS against lefties) and right-handed Lorenzo Cain due up.
Kazmir retired Zobrist, but he gave up a double to Cain. He was then pulled, even with the left-handed Eric Hosmer coming up. Manager A.J. Hinch had committed my biggest baseball pet peeve: he sent his starter back to the mound with the idea of pulling him after his first mistake.
It worked out terribly. Oliver Perez gave up a pair of soft hits to Hosmer and Kendrys Morales before walking Mike Moustakas. Fields then entered and walked the unwalkable Salvador Perez to tie the game at 4. The Astros gave up another run in the seventh and lost the game 5-4.
Maybe that’s the way it would have worked out anyway. Kazmir did give up just the one baserunner. It might not have even harmed the Astros if Perez had better luck.
Still, the thinking that went into the decision was disturbing. It’s always better to bring that reliever in with no one on base when you can. That’s especially the case with this Astros pen, which lacks a double-play specialist, much less a Wade Davis. But anyone in that pen would have been a better choice than sending Kazmir out to face Zobrist and Cain for a third time. Hinch needs to be more aggressive going forward.
The Cardinals have won so many division titles, it’s tough to keep track of them all. At least, it would be tough if it weren’t for Baseball Reference.
40,000 rally towels were given away to fans at Busch Stadium ahead of Friday’s NLDS Game 1 against the Cubs. The towel listed all of the years the Cardinals won the NL Central… and 2001. That year, they tied with the Astros for the best record in the National League at 93-69. However, because the Astros won the season series 9-7, they were awarded first place and the Cardinals took the Wild Card.
The Blue Jays’ and Rangers’ benches emptied in the bottom of the 13th inning after Josh Donaldson barked at reliever Keone Kela. Donaldson had smoked a Kela offering home run distance but foul, then sent a salvo of not-fit-for-TV words in the right-hander’s direction. Kela barked back and both benches emptied. There was no violence and no ejections.
Donaldson apparently believed Kela was trying to quick-pitch him, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That the pitch was quickly thrown didn’t seem to bother him any, considering the type of swing he put on the ball.
Here’s video of the incident at MLB.com.
Quick pitching has been one of a handful of unwritten rules getting more attention, it seems, this year. In August, Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa took issue with Mets reliever Hansel Robles quick pitching.