Author: Matthew Pouliot

Shaun Marcum

Shaun Marcum shuts down White Sox to avoid 0-10 start


After nine straight losses to begin the season, the Mets’ Shaun Marcum blanked the White Sox for eight innings on Wednesday and picked up his first victory in a 3-0 game.

Bobby Parnell pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save.

Marcum was in danger of becoming the first pitcher since the Cardinals’ Anthony Reyes in 2007 to start 0-10. He was the sixth pitcher to start 0-9 since 2000, joining Mike Maroth (2003 Tigers), Edgar Gonzalez (2004 Diamondbacks), Reyes, Kenshin Kawakami (2010 Braves) and Chris Volstad (2012 Cubs).

Marcum allowed just four hits over eight innings while facing what should be considered the American League’s worst offense. The White Sox had outscored the Mariners entered the night (3.74 runs per game to 3.60), but they have a big ballpark advantage over Seattle. They had the league’s worst OBP (.296) and OPS (.673), and both of those figures took another hit tonight.

Mark Teixeira’s contract another expensive miscue for Yankees

Mark Teixeira

When it was signed following the 2008 season, Mark Teixeira’s eight-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees was the third biggest in MLB history and largest to go to someone not named Alex Rodriguez. Now it rivals Rodriguez’s as one of the worst in baseball.

With the news Wednesday that Teixeira would undergo wrist surgery, the 33-year-old first baseman ends his fifth season with the Yankees having played in just 15 games and hitting .151. The Yankees are still on the hook for another three years and $67.5 million after paying him $22.5 million this season.

If it were just the wrist injury, there’d be better reason for hope that Teixeira could come back and be a quality regular, if not an All-Star, next year. But he already seemed to be in obvious decline before 2013. Here are his OPSs and OPS+s since 2007.

2007: .963 – 149 – Rangers/Braves
2008: .962 – 152 – Braves/Angels
2009: .948 – 141 – Yankees
2010: .846 – 124 – Yankees
2011: .835 – 121 – Yankees
2012: .807 – 116 – Yankees

The Yankees would surely take it if Teixeira could come back and be a 120 OPS+ first baseman in the last three years of his deal. He wouldn’t be worth nearly $22.5 million per year in that scenario, but that’d still make him an above average regular at first base.

It’s probably overly optimistic, though. While Jose Bautista has come back and produced since returning from a similar tendon sheath surgery, he hasn’t been nearly what he was in the two years before he got hurt. He was also a couple of years younger than Teixeira will be. Mark DeRosa’s wrist problems ended his career as a regular. Nomar Garciaparra came back and had his moments, but he was never the same quality of player after Al Reyes hit him in the wrist.

So, the Yankees should be very worried. That they’ll be overpaying Teixeira and Rodriguez going forward is a given. Maybe CC Sabathia, too. But as long as those guys are reasonably productive, then the Yankees should continue to contend. If those players become liabilities on the field as well as in the budget, that’s the recipe for disaster.

John Lackey ties career high with 12 strikeouts in win

John Lackey

Turning in yet another impressive performance, John Lackey matched his career high with 12 strikeouts while pitching seven innings of two-run ball in the Red Sox’s 5-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday.

It was the third straight start in which Lackey has pitched seven innings and given up two runs. He’s turned in quality starts in seven of his last eight outings.

Lackey matched his career high in strikeouts established back in 2008, when he was still with the Angels. It was his 14th career 10-strikeout game, but his first since 2010.

Lackey became the 10th pitcher this year to strike out at least 12 and walk none in a start, joining Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Matt Harvey and others. Yu Darvish has done it twice. In 2011, there were just six such outings of 12 strikeouts and no walks over the course of the season. In 2006, there were three.

The last Red Sox hurler to pull off the feat was Pedro Martinez in 2003.

Raul Ibanez hits 18th homer, on pace for major league record

Raul Ibanez

Raul Ibanez hit his ninth homer of June and 18th of the season Wednesday against the Pirates, putting him on record pace for a 41-year-old.

No player has ever hit 30 homers at age 41 or beyond. Ted Williams tops the list with 29 at age 41 in his last season prior to retirement. Barry Bonds hit 26 at 41 and 28 in 42 before he was forced out of the league. Here’s the list of players 41 and over:

1. Ted Williams – 29 – (41, 1960)
2. Barry Bonds – 28 – (42, 2007)
3. Barry Bonds – 26 – (41, 2006)
4. Darrell Evans – 22 – (41, 1988)
5. Dave Winfield – 21 – (41, 1993)
6. Stan Musial – 19 – (41, 1962)
7. Carlton Fisk – 18 – (42, 1990)
7. Carlton Fisk – 18 – (43, 1991)
7. Raul Ibanez – 18 – (41, 2013)
10. Craig Nettles – 16 – (41, 1986)
10. Carl Yastrzemski – 16 – (42, 1982)

So, with 83 games still left in the Mariners’ season, Ibanez is sixth in homers among 41-year-olds and tied for seventh among anyone 41 or over. Even more impressive is that he’s gotten there while playing in just 58 of the Mariners’ 79 games so far. He certainly figures to fade from here, but given that his approach now is much more geared towards homers than singles and doubles, there’s a realistic chance he’ll get to 30 and set the record.

R.A. Dickey shuts out Rays in no time flat

R.A. Dickey

Well, technically, it was 2 hours and 10 minutes. Still, it was a breeze.

Toronto’s R.A. Dickey, finally throwing his knuckler with authority again, pitched a two-hitter Wednesday against the Rays for his first shutout and complete game of the season. Dickey entered with a 5.15 ERA in 16 starts. He had three shutouts and five complete games while winning NL Cy Young honors last season.

Largely due to a back injury, Dickey hasn’t been throwing his knuckleball as hard this year as he was previously. Today, though, he was often hitting 77-78 mph on the gun with the pitch, which is about what he averaged last year. And he was still getting great movement, obviously. He ended up striking out six and walking one.

Dickey threw just 93 pitches on the day, the second lowest total in a complete-game this season. The Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann threw 91 pitches in his one-hit shutout against the Reds on April 26.