Francisco Liriano held up his end of the bargain in last night’s marquee pitching matchup, taking a shutout into the seventh inning in Texas, but Cliff Lee turned in his third straight ugly start and dropped to 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 total outings since being traded to the Rangers.
Lee continues to post a ridiculously good strikeout-to-walk ratio, racking up 67 strikeouts compared to just six walks in 76 post-trade innings, but he’s served up nine homers after allowing just five in 104 innings before the move and has been knocked around for 23 runs in his last 24.2 innings.
There’s some bad luck at play here, because someone with a 67/6 K/BB ratio in 76 innings simply shouldn’t have a 4.50 ERA unless they’re giving up tons and tons of long balls, but that doesn’t change how disappointing Lee has been for the Rangers so far. Last night’s struggles were particularly interesting, because the Twins were among the teams in the mix for Lee and now probably feel pretty good about not emptying the farm system for him.
Texas is 3-7 in games started by Lee, although it looks like they’ll still cruise into the playoffs and the success of the trade will ultimately hinge on what happens in October. If he leads them deep into the postseason few people will remember that Lee had a losing record down the stretch. Lee went 2-4 with a 6.13 ERA in his final seven starts for the Phillies last season before going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the playoffs.
In talking to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News yesterday Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he wants to see both Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum get into better physical condition this offseason.
Grouping them together may seem strange given that Sandoval is one of the portliest players in baseball and Lincecum probably weighs about 170 pounds soaking wet (mostly because of the hair), but Bochy feels that a lack of conditioning has contributed to both players disappointing with their performances this season.
Really, the biggest goal is to get them in the best condition they’ve ever been in. In this game, I don’t think players should ever feel they’ve arrived. They should always seek to improve. And not only in how they play, but what kind of shape they’re in.
They are two young players with special gifts and talents, but you still have to work at all parts of the game, and that includes conditioning. Sometimes you learn in your second or third season how important that is. Players realize how hard they have to work to continue the level of performance they want to play at.
There were stories all the winter about Sandoval dieting and working out in an attempt to shed pounds, but the man they call Kung Fu Panda showed up at spring training as hefty as ever. Setting aside whether or not the extra weight hurts his offense, it definitely makes it tough to show good range defensively at third base and Bochy indicated that a full-time shift across the diamond could be in store if he doesn’t slim down.
As for Lincecum, according to Baggarly “the conditioning issue is a little more complicated” because “his unique mechanics rely on a gymnast’s flexibility to generate torque, so bulking up isn’t the answer.” However, he writes that “the coaching staff believes cardiovascular fatigue and a lack of lower-body strength are reasons his fastball loses steam after two or three innings.”
To his credit, Lincecum has apparently taken Bochy’s advice to heart and is not waiting until the offseason to change his routines. “He’s taken responsibility already for putting in more time and effort into his workouts,” Bochy told Baggarly. “He’s been spending more time in the weight room, but that has to carry throughout the offseason, too.”
This afternoon Wandy Rodriguez and the Astros completed an unlikely four-game sweep of the Phillies, in Philadelphia.
Not only is it the first time the Phillies have been swept in a four-game series at home since 2002–in other words, before they’d even moved into their current ballpark–they came into the series having won 22 of 29 and the Astros came into the series at 53-69.
It’s been a long season in Houston, but former Phillies general manager Ed Wade must have at least enjoyed this series quite a bit, particularly since ex-Phillies Brett Myers, J.A. Happ, and Michael Bourn played big roles.
And as the Associated Press points out the Astros are somehow now 30-16 against the Phillies since 2004, which makes them the only NL team with a winning record during that time against the reigning back-to-back league champs. When not playing the Phillies, the Astros are 529-528 since 2004.
Philadelphia drops to three games behind Atlanta in the NL East and now trail San Francisco by a half-game in the Wild Card race. And if they fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, you can be sure Phillies fans will think back to this brutal series as the reason.
Earlier this week Dustin Pedroia sought a second opinion on his injured foot and now Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that a “major league source” has told him the second baseman is “probably done for the year.”
According to Cafardo he’ll spend the next week or two wearing a boot to stabilize the foot and surgery remains an option if the “pace” of the healing doesn’t improve in that time.
If he’s indeed done for the season, Pedroia finishes with a .288/.367/.493 line that is just nine points of OPS below his MVP-winning mark from 2004, but he’s played in just 75 games. When he was in the lineup and the Laser Show was in full swing Boston went 45-30, compared to 28-25 (so far) without Pedroia.
Bryce Harper is holding his first press conference for the Washington media today, but first he took batting practice before the Nationals-Cardinals game and … well, he hit a whole bunch of homers.
Here’s how Gene Wang of the Washington Post described the scene:
In front of team executives, agent Scott Boras, players from both teams and a throng of media he promptly deposited a pitch into the third deck in right field. That display of power has been a rarity at Nationals Park. Only Adam Dunn has hit it to that area during a game this season.
In his second round, Harper homered to right center approximately five rows deep, then belted three homers in a subsequent round. He hit another ball over the letter E in GEICO adorning the wall in center, and later sent one into the lower deck. Harper’s best power output came in his final round of batting practice, when he homered on three straight pitches.
Meaningful? No, not really. Nice for Nationals fans to hear while they wait for the results of Stephen Strasburg’s second MRI exam? Sure.
UPDATE: Rob Dibble had no comment.